Ask Tejdor Tiewsoh (July 1-5, 2019)

Hello, everyone! (@Interested_In_Ask_RZIM)

Tejdor Tiewsoh of RZIM India joins us in the hot seat this week!

Tejdor holds a Science degree from the prestigious St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, and went on to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Divinity from Union Biblical Seminary, Pune. He completed a short term course on Christian Mission in Malaysia, a three-month course on Biblical Expository Preaching at All Nations Christian College, UK, and a three-week course on Christian Apologetics at the Academy of Apologetics, Chennai. Tejdor worked with the Union of Evangelical Students of India (UESI) for eight years and served as its Regional Secretary overseeing the North Eastern Region comprising of eight States for six years.

Tejdor’s heart has always been for an in-depth study of the Word of God and its relevance in contemporary settings. Currently he serves as RZIM India’s Itinerant, having speaking engagements with academia, corporate, youth groups, and churches across India. Tejdor is a regular contributor to the quarterly magazine Engage as well as A Slice of Infinity. (See links below!) He has had the privilege of addressing various institutions and universities including Rajiv Gandhi University, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, National Institute of Technology (NIT), and Guwahati University on topics such as “Beyond Opinion,” “True Spirituality,” “Can Man Live Without God?,” “The Pursuit of Happiness,” “Who Am I?:The Question of Identity,” and “The Problem of Pleasure.”

Tejdor resides with his wife, Gayreen, in Shillong, India.


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Good day Tejdor, how do you describe true spirituality?
Thanks
Bill

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Hello Tejdor, I was curious if God will judge us on the way we lived our lives on judgement day?

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Hello Tejdor,

How would you answer a hindu who asked the following questions-

  1. Do you not think that the concept of God in Hinduism is more appealing than the peculiar idea of redemption in Christianity as it allows man to worship God according to his nature in the way he feels most comfortable in approaching God - Gnana, Karma, Bhakti ?

  2. How does Christianity explain the differential privileges and suffering at birth?

Thank you!

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Good day Tejdor, in what ways is the Bible relevant for the Gen Z and the generation that will follow them?
Thanks
Bill

Hello Tejor, during all these days of your ministry, which area do you think Christian Youths in India in general should improve upon to make Christ more appealing to the non-believers in the country?

Thanks Bill for your question. In my article on ‘True Spirituality’, I mentioned that one needs to be truthful about oneself and one’s condition. We need to come to God just as we are, with all our brokenness and bankruptcy. “A broken and contrite heart, oh God! You will not despise,” says King David in Psalm 51. This is the opposite of spiritual hypocrisy, where we appear to be spiritual on the outside while our hearts and our innermost beings remain untouched and untransformed. We may worship God outwardly but are hearts are far away from Him and we used religion for our selfish gain, like those whom Jesus rebuked in the temple courts - ‘you have turned my house into a den of robbers’.

When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, he answered “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). In a nutshell, true spirituality is first and foremost a loving relationship with God, and out of that seminal relationship should follow our relationship with our fellow human beings. Relationship with God is expressed in our intimacy with, and worship of Him. Relationship with our fellow human beings is expressed in our respect of, and service to others.

In fact, ‘true spirituality’ is best summed up by Jesus’ sermon on the mount which, according to Mahatma Gandhi who was greatly influenced by its teaching, said “…the Sermon on the Mount was the whole of Christianity…”. The beatitude is a description not a prescription, and through these he described what ‘true spirituality’ looks like. Dallas Willard in his book ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ talking about the beatitude writes, “they are among the literary and religious treasures of the human race. Along with the Ten commandments, The Twenty-Third Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, and a few passages from the Bible, they are acknowledged by everyone to be among the highest expressions of religious insight and moral inspiration. We can savor them, affirm them, meditate upon them, and engrave them on plaques to hang on our walls. But a major question remains: How are we to live in response to them?” Thus, true spirituality entails living out in our day to day life the ideals described by Jesus on that mountain a few thousand years ago.

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This question is asked in every generation - is the Bible relevant in our contemporary culture? Paul in 2 Timothy 3, while writing about the last days, reminds Timothy on how from infancy he has known the Holy scriptures which are able to make him wise and also affirms that the scripture is “God-breath’. The philosophies and ideas of this world will keep on changing but the Scripture is eternal because God is eternal. The Psalmist says, “all your words are true ; all your righteous laws are eternal(Psalm 119:160). Since the word of God is true and eternal , it speaks to all generations. But the problem lies with the way it is being interpreted and lived out. In all my interaction with many people cutting across age group, cultures and settings it is exciting to see the continuing relevance of God’s word in contemporary culture. The Bible continues to speak to people in their different situations and needs because God continues to reach out and speak to people.
Another thing is that though the cultures and ideas change through time yet the basic fundamental questions about human realities such as life, death, destiny, God, meaning and purpose, suffering, love, morality and so on remains unchanged and will continue so as long as human beings exist. As mentioned, the Bible addresses these universal and perennial questions of life so therefore it will continue to be relevant to whatever generation.

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Hello Tejdor!! I am having difficulty understanding the bible verse Mark 16:17-18. Can you help me clarify the meaning of the verses? Thank you.

Hi Lakhmi Mehta,
Thanks for your questions. These are deep philosophical questions and I need more time to think on these questions. In the meantime, I would suggest that you read books by E.Stanley Jones and Leslie Newbegin. They worked as missionaries in India for many years and what is unique about them is that during their time in India they both interacted with the Indian intellectuals. In fact E…Stanley Jones met Mahatma Gandhi a few times and he started a Christian Ashram in North India to
facilitate interaction with friends from other faiths.

Coming to your questions -
Firstly, in Hinduism, there are many forms and traditions being practiced and adhered to and when we talk of the concept of God in Hinduism, it becomes a bit of a problem because there is no one fixed idea that all the different traditions will agree upon. In his article, Challenges from Eastern Religions, L.T. Jeyachandran opines that unlike Islam and Christianity, Hinduism is not a creedal religion; it is always in a state of flux and is able to absorb aspects of other religions and philosophies without much trouble. Hinduism can be comprised of several contradictory beliefs in the purely analytical sense. At an existential level, the hindu could be quite comfortable in moving from one position to another that would seem to be mutually exclusive. A Hindu would insist that we are all one with the divine but yet would at the same time go to temple to worship a deity.

Secondly, I can understand your point about why the Hindu idea of the divine would seem more appealing. In his article, How does Christianity relate to Hinduism ? Ravi Zacharias writes – “The Christian should also understand the attraction of Pantheism, the Hindu view of seeing the divine in everything. It superficially appears more compatible with scientific theorizing because it presents no definitive theory of origins. Life is cyclical, without a first cause. Pantheism also gives one a moral reasoning, through Karmic fatalism, that one is trapped in the cycle until one escapes, without the need to invoke God. But in the final analysis, it is without answers when one needs to talk about the deepest struggles of the soul. Hindu scholars even admit this in their creation of a path of bhakti (love, devotion) to satisfy the inescapable human hunger for worship”.

Thirdly, all three – Gyana (Knowledge), Bhakti (Devotion) and Karma (Good works) are found in Christianity:

  • J.P.Moreland’s book, The Kingdom Triangle, deals on the importance of ‘knowledge’ in Christian tradition. I would refer you to this book.
  • When it comes to the question of ‘devotion’, the Bible, especially the Book of Psalms talks inexhaustibly about it. Jesus’ call to people is always towards a personal relationship with, and devotion to him.
  • The Apostle James talks about the importance of ‘good works’ when he asserts that “faith without work is dead”. The difference is, that in Christianity, good works is a result of salvation whereas in Hinduism, good works is to earn salvation.

On a personal note, in my interaction with friends from the hindu background, I realized that more than the spiritual aspect, it is the familial and societal aspect that is involved here. In the Indian tradition, religion is an inextricable part of one’s family and community. It is not just a personal spiritual experience but one that involves family and even society. Just to illustrate the point, two years back, I spoke at a seekers meet in the eastern part of India. Many of the participants, mainly college and university students, come from the Hindu worldview and were extremely interactive and responsive to the message about Christ. On the last day when the call to commitment was given, though some responded, yet, many didn’t. I was surprised because I thought I had convincingly answered their questions. In further personal interactions, what they shared was that though they have clearly understood the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ is appealing to them, yet, following Christ would amount to a betrayal of their family, culture and the tradition of their forefathers and community. It seems that this is their biggest hurdle.

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Hi Spencer, I am not sure whether I have fully understood your question but let me attempt to answer. Paul in 2 Cor. 5:10 writes –“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Yes, according to this verse, we all have to face God’s judgment one day. Those who have not heard the Gospel will be judged on the basis of their works, conscience and general revelation. Those who have heard and rejected the gospel will be judged according to what they have heard and what was revealed to them. Those who have believed will be judged on the basis of how they have lived their lives after conversion and will be rewarded accordingly. In John 5:24, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life”.
I would like to suggest that you can read and study some good commentary on passages relating to the topic of judgment such as Romans 1 & 2, Revelation and others.

So if we receive what we deserve based on the good and the evil we have done on earth, then is it correct to say that when someone accepts Christ as their lord and savior, that they are saved? Because in John 5:24 when God says that someone hears and believes, I would infer that means they must also act out their beliefs to achieve eternal life (James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves).

Thank you very much @tejdor for the book recommendations. I will look into more of the works by these authors. I haven’t been able to find many resources on interreligious dialogue between orthodox Christian theologians and Hindu philosophers. It would be great to find the book where Stanley Jones addresses these questions.

Yes, I fully agree with you. Both in the Old Testament and New Testament the pattern is the same. First come redemption then the Law. The Israelites were redeemed from Egypt, then the law was given. Although it is impossible to be perfect in this life but the NT clearly teaches that the mark of our conversion is a transformed life. Jesus said to the adulterous woman “neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore”. We cannot claim to be saved and yet continue to live in darkness.

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Thank you very much! I agree! I’m curious what you think of my next conclusion though. I would say the most important question then is: What consists of a transformed life? I think Peter laid out the way we transform our lives in Acts 2. Specifically in verse 38, it says “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. If this was the first message of the church on how to transform your life, shouldn’t we be preaching the same message today?

Hi Moses, you have have ask a very important question because India is a young country with more than 50% of its population below the age of 25. It is expected that in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years. Considering the population in India (1. 37 billion), these numbers are staggering. When we think of witnessing and Mission, youths play a vital role and if we have to reach India, we need to reach out to the youth. Let me share with you some brief thoughts from my recent talk with a group of Christian workers serving among university Students:

  1. Intimacy with God – this must be the top priority of all Christians, young and old. Spending time with God in our daily devotion through prayers and meditation of His Word gives us the strength, wisdom and grace to live out the Gospel. Daniel is a good example of this. He prayed three times a day, meaning he sought God’s face and counsel unceasingly.
  2. Incarnation – As Christians in India, we need to identify and incarnate our self in our society. We are not to segregate ourselves but to build bridges and forge meaningful connections with our non-Christian friends. The Apostle John talking about Jesus said, “the Word became flesh and dwell among us”. Incarnation in our lifestyle, thinking, worship, mission, etc, without however, compromising on the truth and integrity of the Gospel of Christ. E. Stanley Jones book “The Christ of the India Road” is a good resource to read on this topic.
  3. Integration – If Jesus is above all, He is the Lord of both the ‘secular and the sacred’. Nancy Pearcey puts it very well – “We don’t need to accept an inner fragmentation between our faith and the rest of life. … the promise of Christianity is the joy and power of an integrated life, transformed on every level by the Holy Spirit, so that our whole being participates in the great drama of God’s plan of redemption”. We can’t afford to separate our faith from our academics and professions.
  4. Innovation – this is a very important word today, especially in the corporate and business settings. I strongly feel that as Christians, we need to be innovative and creative in finding ways of expressing and sharing our faith. The God of the Bible is a creative being and the universe is evidence of that creativity.
  5. Imitation – Paul said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”. Our young people today are in desperate need of role models and mentors who live genuine and authentic lives. This is, therefore, both a challenge and a call for the older generation to be living examples for the younger ones. However, it is not only the elders who are to be models. The apostle Paul challenged young Timothy to also be an example. Youths can and should mentor others and set good examples for others to follow.
    I hope I have answered your question. The youth will definitely grow in their faith and become more effective in their witnessing if they incorporate these basic principles in their life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
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