SEED The Bible is like seed in our heart to bring us to new birth (1 Peter 1:23)
MILK It is what a baby needs to begin growing (1 Peter 2:2).
SOLID FOOD It is also strong meat to strengthen us for tough situations (Hebrews 5:12-14)
HONEY is to sweeten the unpalatable experiences of life (Psalm 119:103)
LIGHT The Bible is like a lamp to find the way on a dark night (Psalm 119:105).
FIRE The Bible is like fire that removes the dross from metals (Jeremiah 23:29).
TREASURE TROVE The Bible is full of varied and rich treasures (Matthew 13:52).
HAMMER The human heart can be impenetrable. The Bible breaks it open (Jeremiah 23:29)
TWO-EDGED SWORD The Bible is effective
in spiritual warfare (Hebrew 4:12).
BIBLE, Modern Versions The King James Version was published in 1611. The first revisions of this were 270 years later with the English Revised Version (1885), the American Standard Version (1901), the Revised Standard Version (1952), and the New King James Version (1982). It was J.B.Phillips' translation of St. Paul's Epistles, titled Letters to Young Churches (1947) that revealed the huge appetite for God's Word in ordinary simple language. Completely new translations included the Jerusalem Bible (1966), the New American Bible (1970), the Living Bible (1971), the Good News Bible (1976), the New International Version (1979).
In the year 2002 The whole Bible became available in 405 languages, up 13 from
the previous year. This does not seem much compared with about 6,500 languages
spoken all over the world. But we should note that many of the remaining
languages belong to small groups and tribes, and all the major nations of the
world have the whole Bible available in their own language. The New Testament is
now available in 1,034 languages compared with 1012 languages in the previous
year. And some parts of the Bible have been translated into 2303 language
compared with 2,287 a year ago. In addition to offering them the Word of God,
the existence of the Bible in the tongue of a people "can affirm the identity of
the whole community as a symbol of its status and culture. Among those who
cannot read, it can initiate a literacy movement or add impetus to educational
development." There are two Bible Society deposit libraries: the American Bible
Society in New York and the British and Foreign Bible Society, which is housed
in the Cambridge University Library. (From the United Bible Societies Scripture
Language Report for 2002).
BIBLE TRANSLATION The Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint - LXX for the 70 translators) by about 200 BC. The first translation of the Greek New Testament was into SYRIAC, the trade language of the area from Damascus to China. By 200 AD a first versionof the Syriac Peshitta was available to nourish the hundred of Syrian Christian churches which mushroomed to the east. By the same time an early Latin translation was available in North Africa. Unfortunately the New Testament was not translated into Arabic till long after MUHAMMAD had completed the QUR'AN. The Vulgate Latin translation used in Europe for fifteen hundred years was produced by JEROME(c.342-420 AD). Parts of the Bible were translated into Anglo-Saxon, but the first printed version of the New Testament into English(1525) was by William Tyndale (c.1494-1536). Ten years later Miles Coverdale (1488-1568) had completed the English Bible, which made possible the King James Version (Authorized Version) of 1611. The whole Bible is now available from the Bible Societies in over 600 languages, and among many tribes the Bible originated their written language. The Wycliffe Bible Translators keep producing the New Testament in the hundreds of tribal languages of the world.
BIBLE, Unity The oneness of the human body is not found by dissecting its pieces, but by knowing a living person over a period of years. In the twentieth century Bible scholars cut up the Bible into fragments, and studied these in detail. With vast learning they missed what the Divine author was about. Creative Bible study begins with the assumption that God the Holy Spirit was involved in bringing the 66 books of the Bible into being as the Word of God. This was over a long period of time and involved the work of dozens of different writers using many different styles. Robert Farrar Capon said it perfectly: "The Bible is not a collection of discrete passages, each of which has only the single meaning it possesses in its isolated spot; rather it is the vast and unified work of a genius of an author who is constantly cross-referencing himself. Like a first-rate novelist, the Holy Spirit 'buries bones' all over the place" (The Parables of the Kingdom, Zondervan,1985). That means that we can find any part of the Bible suddenly illumined as the Spirit connects it for us with another part. Or we could say that the whole Bible is created as a single explanatory model to introduce us to God and what he is about.
BIG BANG Most scientists believe our universe began suddenly from a high ENERGY source which exploded galaxies out in all directions. Some even call the source of that energy God. But that is a name without any personal content. In the first chapter of Genesis our world is viewed as a work of art, and God (Elohim, Dieu, Allah) is the name we choose to give the creative Artist. Those who view our world as a chance happening (see CAKE MAKING) are called Atheists. THEISM still does not tell us what the Artist is like. Does he care about us, or are we his lila (the Sanskrit word for a game). Does God have a purpose for us beyond death (see RESURRECTION). And if so how does he relate to us now? In the Bible God is defined as LOVE (1 John 4:16-19). But it is impossible to love as an eternal solitary being. Which is why God is pictured as a TRINITYof three persons held together by love. And that means that the immense energy of the big bang is love, and matter (stars, earth, sea, vegetation) is only its expression.
BINGO For many people a couple of hours of bingo with friends is a cheap way to pass the time. Whether they win or lose makes no great difference. We might want to suggest more creative activities, but it is important not to rush into condemnation. What is needed is a line beyond which compulsive GAMBLINGbecomes addictive and disastrous.
BIRDS Jesus said "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them" (Matthew 2:26). This is not to suggest we sit and do nothing waiting for God to provide. Birds are busy finding food, building nests, caring for their chicks. But having done what they can, they go to sleep without worry about the next day. Unlike the birds in his field, a farmer has to plough and sow for a harvest which is still several months ahead. And every farmer has to face the inevitable hazards of drought, pests, and market prices. So what did Jesus mean by saying "Do not worry about your life" (Matthew 6:25)? Having done what we can, we know that some things will go wrong beyond our control. But as we go to sleep we remember that God loves us more than any human Father, and he can bring good out of any disaster in our life. So before we go to sleep we thank him for providing for us today, and tomorrow we can again pray "Give us this day our daily bread."
BIRD WATCHING God is the original bird watcher. "I know all the birds of the air" (Psalm 50:11). Actually the Hebrew is "I know all the birds of the mountains." Ordinary bird watchers know the names of the birds in their city, but God knows the names of every bird in the forests of Lebanon and Hermon. This is not surprising because the LORDGod (the eternal Son of God) "formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19). As languages developed, the names of birds changed in every country, so. Ornithologists solved the problem by giving them a Latin nomenclature, but the LORD can identify both the species and the common or garden name. But he does not want us to have a merely scientific interest. "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26). Obviously birds get killed and eaten in due course, but their life is designed to be a joy to us. Birds know how to migrate over vast distances to find the food they will need, so they don't need barns to store their harvest, and they don't worry about the next day. "Give us this day our daily bread."
BISHOP In the New Testament the terms Bishop and Elder are interchangable. This was proved by the CHURCH OF ENGLAND Bishop of Durham Archbishop J.B.Lightfoot in his Dissertation on "The Christian Ministry " (Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, London: Macmillan & Co., 1891, pp. 181-269). The Greek term episcopos was the ordinary word for an overseer, superintendent, and it is used for the Christian synagogue ELDERS (in Philippians 1:1; 1 Tomothy 3:2, Titus 1:7). By the second century the elders of the various congregations were called priests, and one of them became the Bishop of that city. Ignatius (c.35 - c.107 AD) was the second or third Bishop of Antioch. On his way to being martyred in Rome he wrote The Epistles of Ignatius which stress the importance of submitting to the Bishop in each city. In our day with the development of DENOMINATIONS each calling themselves a church, there can now be a Roman Catholic Bishop, an Anglican or Episcopal Bishop, and other Bishops of Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, and other groupings in a city. This appears to divide the church. But on this website we speak of one church in each city meeting under different names in many different locations. That means the term Bishop is now used for the head of a denomination in a city or group of cities.
BITHYNIA Among the Jews present on the Day of Pentecost were some from "CAPPADOCIA, PONTUS, ASIA Minor, PHRYGIA, and PAMPHYLIA" (Acts 2:9). Some of these must have taken the good news of Jesus the Messiah back to the Province of Bithynia which was the province next to Pontus. During his second overseas missionary journey Paul, accompanied by Silas, and joined by Timothy (Acts 16:1), traveled across present-day Turkey intending to go straight west on the main road to EPHESUS. But they were "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia" so they turned north to the east of MYSIA, and "attempted to go into BITHYNIA, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas." Paul had probably wanted to make contact with Christians in Bithynia, but God had another sequence in mind. We do not know if the apostle Peter visited the area, but he wrote a letter to "the exiles of the Dispersion," and one of these churches was probably located in NICEA the capital city of the Province of Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1).
BLACK DEATH A first form of the Bubonic Plague began as black swellings the size of an egg in the armpits or groin, and death occured in five days. It appeared in India(1346), and a Genoese trading ship brought it by the next year to Messina (Sicily). It arrived in Marseilles (1348) and ravaged Europe for two years (1348-50). The second form was a violent infection in the lungs which killed the person in three days. There was no cure and over 23 million people died. The population of England was reduced by fifty per cent. In a bull of September 1348 the Pope called it a "pestilence with which God is afflicting the Christian people" (1348). Preachers ascribed the cause to the WRATH of God. Ordinary people blamed the Jews for infecting the wells, and in France, Germany, and Switzerland thousands were thrown into bon fires for causing the plague. When half the population of Paris died, the King demanded a scientific explanation and the Medical Faculty of the University of Paris"proved" that it was due to a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the 40th. degree of Aquarius on March 20, 1345. And this became the accepted scientific explanation. But the plague kept reappearing in Europe for five hundred years. In England the PLAGUE devastated London (1665). Eventually it was shown that it was caused by rats carrying fleas that transmitted the disease. Plague is now controlled easily by a vaccine.
BLACK Voting Rights see KING, Martin Luther; POLITICAL EQUALITY
BLESSED Matthew and Luke offer us two versions of Jesus' Beatitudes (ways in which God blesses us). Jesus must have preached this paradoxical approach to life with variations in many situations. How can the poor, the hungry, those who weep, the hated and excluded (Luke 6:21-23) ever be called happy? Matthew records that Jesus qualified the literal meaning of these words by referring to being "poor in spirit" and "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness"(Matthew 5:3-12). The self-confident and self-satisfied cannot experience the power of the Spirit. It is the artist who hungers for supernatural inspiration who creates the masterpiece. And it is turning the other cheek to love enemies that makes us like God who is "kind to the ungrateful and the wicked" (Luke 35-36). Paul grasped the paradox when he heard the Lord say "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" and he concluded "Whenever I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It was the weakness of the crucifixion that released the power of the resurrection. Which is why the Apostle wrote "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death" (Philippians 3:10). And Paul was very conscious of being blessed in his ministry.
BLESSING, Aaronic "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26). This was the blessing that the first Jewish high priest Aaron, and his sons were to use. The capitalized LORD indicates that this is a translation of the third person of the Hebrew verb to be (yiheyeh, or Yahweh, transliterated Jehovah). So it clearly refers to the second Person of the Trinity who called himself I AM when he spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15). As John explained, "No one has ever seen God (the Father). It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18). The Son's task is to keep coming into personal contact with humans to make the Father known. In some cases he was actually seen physically (Genesis 15:1-5, 17:1, 18:1, Exodus 31:18, Daniel 3:25). In the fulness of time he came and took birth among us. The name we give signifies the quality and characteristics of the person, in this case the LORD. The Aaronic blessing was a prayer that the priests were to use : "So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them" (Numbers 6:27). This is why ministers and pastors pray that the people they serve will experience the Son of God's personal protection, grace, and peace.
BLOOD Long before modern science discovered this, the Jewish priests knew that "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). Medical science can replace more and more parts of the body, but when our blood stops doing its work we are dead. This is why we describe murder as bloodshed, there are blood feuds and blood baths, and wars are fought with blood and sweat and tears. The Romans devised crucifixion as a slow very painful way to drain away a person's blood. But in times of persecution we say it is the blood of the martyrs that is the seed of the church. And these days we give blood to save the life of others. The night before Jesus died he said "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28). Which is why the early Christians wrote and sang about the blood of Jesus being shed for them.
BODY The word "body" is not defined by what looks like a human body. It can vary as much as the body of a caterpillar changes when it becomes a butterfly. For any kind of being its body is defined by the way it impacts its environment and others with which it communicates. Paul explains "There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earth is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory." But he adds, " If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:40-44). And theRESURRECTION of the body does not mean the resurrection of the same physical body, but resurrection into another kind of body that is suited for heaven.
BODY, Church members In three places Paul pictures the church as a body with a variety of different kinds of member (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-30; Ephesians 4:11-16, see CHURCH, Body). As in the various functions of a human body (bones, muscles, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, glands, stomach, liver, kidneys) there are men, women and children functioning in a variety of ways in a church. For each of these functions Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit (see HOLY SPIRIT, Gifts). I used to teach that these gifts were exercised in one church congregation, and APOSTLESworked in the moving bloodstream (see CHURCH, Bloodstream) that planted and nourished the world-wide church (The Church: An Organic Picture, chapter 6-14). More recently we have seen that for Paul there is only one church in each city (see CITIES). Working together in hundreds of different ways Christians permeate the whole life of each city (like yeast Matthew 13:33). This suggests that in a city God does not differentiate among Christians by the labels of their DENOMINATIONSbut by the spiritual gifts that they exercise.
BODY-MIND Gilbert Ryle proved our essential body-mind oneness in The Concept of Mind, 1949. But that does not prove that we are extinguished when our present BODY is destroyed. Obviously we can not hear, talk, think, walk, love, or react to others in any way without some kind of body. In the Old Testament SHEOL (abode of the dead) people did not have a functioning body, but they awaited a resurrection. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit resurrected Jesus (Romans 8:11) into a resurrection body. And in the same text Paul assures us that we also will be resurrected by the Spirit into the resurrection body which is suited for us to enjoy the life of heaven (see My Android Helen). When we die we leave our corpse behind, as Jesus did. We will not be disembodied spirits (see BODY, Trinitarian).
BODY, Trinitarian In the section on BODY-MIND we saw that it is impossible to hear, talk, think, walk, love, or react to others in any way without some kind of a body. The Cappadocian Fathers pictured a dance of three eternal Persons who loved, and shared, and rejoiced together. That means each Person had a body (as defined under BODY). The three Persons of the TRINITY are not disembodied spirits. When the Father loves us, watches over us, comforts us, he uses his heavenly eyes and ears, lips and arms. Metaphorically he runs to welcome the prodigal home. That does not mean he has physical legs like ours, but it does mean he rejoices when we turn to him.. The Son of God who appeared and conversed with Abraham, Hagar, Moses, the prophets and psalm writers, could only do that through a body. And when the Holy Spirit inspires, empowers, gives wisdom, imparts gifts, speaks to us through others, he has the means to do that (as is pictured in Proverbs 8:1-31). The Holy Spirit can be resisted and grieved (Acts 7:51, Ephesians 4:30). The three Persons decided together to make us in their image (Genesis 1:26, 28). And they decided together that the eternal Son of God would use a human body to live among us for thirty years (Philippians 2:5-8). When he was crucified, the Holy Spirit gave him a resurrection body, and we will receive the same kind of body (Romans 8:11), obviously not organized by the flesh and blood of organic chemistry.
BOHEMIA The Romans called the land Boiohaemum because it was inhabited by the Boii Celtic tribe. About 450 AD a Slav tribe of Czechs took over control of the land. As a result of the work of Irish-Scottish monks the people became Christians. Two Greek monks were sent to them (863). Partly as a result of the new faith, PRAGUE Castle was built (870), Saint Vaclav (Wenceslas) was martyred (929), and a Bishop was appointed by the Pope (973). Vladislav II was crowned King (1158) of Bohemia. Prague was the capital of the Bohemian Kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire (1346-78, see John HUSS).
BONNHOEFFER, Dietrich (1906-45) After a brilliant academic career in theology, Bonhoeffer denounced the Nazi system when Hitler came to power (1933). For seven years he directed an underground Church Training College. As he continued to write and preach against what he saw was going on, he was imprisoned (1943), and was hanged by the S.S. as a traitor to Germany just before the end of the war (1945). In addition to being admired for his courage, Bonhoeffer is remembered for his "religionless Christianity" That did not mean atheism, but a faith that did not need a reliance on religious practices or theological explanations. His point was that Christianity does not depend on the premise of religion. What counted was voluntary simplicity lived totally for others (see Letters and Papers from Prison, 1953, 2nd. edition, 1956, American Edition titled Prisoner for God). Bishop John A. T. Robinson's Honest to God (1963) has many quotations from Bonhoeffer. Others took his ideas in a direction that Bonhoeffer does not seem to have intended when they announced a theology of the DEATH OF GOD.
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER A first Communion Service in English (1548) was expanded with other services to form the First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549) which became the first prayer book of the Church of England. The English Parliament issued the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI (1552) to take care of some objections by Reformers on the European continent. It was repealed by Queen Mary (1553) and reissued by Queen Elizabeth (1559). That book was superseded by the Directory for Public Worship (1645) under Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth (1649-60). The Book of Common Prayer authorized by the Act of Uniformity (1662) continued almost unchanged for the next 300 years. A revision was passed by Church of England Assembly (1927) but it was rejected in the House of Commons (1928). The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America accepted (in 1789) the Book of Common Prayer with minor changes but included prayers for the President instead of the Queen of England. Since 1976 the American Episcopal Church has used a combination of the 1928 book proposed in England with some alternatives in modern English. The Church of England also began using their Alternative Service Book (1980), as did the The Anglican Church of Canada with its Book of Alternative Services (1985). These all authorize the continued use of the Book of Common Prayer together with many modern forms of service.
BORE Voltaire said the secret of being boring is to tell everything. And the astonishing power of the Gospels is that they work with an incredible economy of words. They give us just us enough to make us look to the Spirit to know more (John 14:26). Someone else said a bore is someone who talks about himself when you want to talk about yourself. But what grips me is that everything Jesus said seems to talk about me. Which is why Dorothy Sayers wrote "The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore" ('The Greatest Drama ever staged"). Why then is church going such a pain to most people? Perhaps we explain too much again and again in too much detail. Jesus hardly explained his parables, which is why they grab us, make us think, and we see them in a different light each time we hear them. But most prayer book liturgies, and the liturgies of those who think they are praying freely, as well as the great mass of sermons, keep repeating the obvious. We find it hard to let people explore the unthinkable and ask the questions that really bother them.
BORN AGAIN Nicodemus needed to be born (again) into the family of God by experiencing the new life of the Spirit (John 3:3, 7-8). This is the result of receiving, or believing in, the Son of God (John 1:12, 1 Peter 1:23-25). The assurance that we are children of God is not by some physical sign or legal transaction but by the fact that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). This means that the new birth immediately effects a change in heart attitudes. "Everyone who keeps doing (Greek present continuous) what is righteous has been born of him" (1 John 2:29). "The person who has been born of God does not keep sinning" (1 John 3:9 literal translation). But that is only the beginning. It has not yet been revealed (we cannot yet conceive) what we will become in God's family (1 John 3:1-2, as in 1 Corinthians 2:9). But as the Spirit begins to create love in us, we know that the end result is that we will be like the Son of God. As Paul explained, it is by "seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, that we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
BOUNDARIES Jabez prayed "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border" (1 Chronicles 4:10). A boundary is the limit of our ownership or authority. For a farmer "I own fifty acres" is too little. He needs two hundred acres to make a living. A rock group hopes to move from the limit of one bar in town to a world-wide audience. For Paul the enlargement of his border was planting churches in all the cities from Jerusalem to Croatia (Romans 15:19). A woman with a happy marriage and six children might say "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage" (Psalm 16:6). A boundary can also be a restriction on our freedom. In jail it is the cell the prisoner occupies, and parole is an enlargement of space to move. So Jabez' prayer reminds us to see how exactly we long for our border to be enlarged, and express our longing to God. And when we have received what we need for our freedom, it is good to recognize it and thank him (see THANKSGIVING). As we grow older it is also good to see death, not as a boundary, but a huge enlargement of our border in HEAVEN.
BRAINWASHING In his Battle for the Mind; A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing (1957) William Sargant showed how politicians and preachers have used brainwashing (thought control) as a means of forcing "the surrender of strongly held beliefs and the adoption of new beliefs" (pp.14, 79-80). He described the effect of dancing to the drums in VOODOO (p.93). Our website commends the investigation of alternative religions and ideologies and we offer a method for analyzing the explanations that are given (God of Many Names, chapters 1-4). In CONVERSION there is always a consideration of at least one of two or more alternatives. Prayer to Holy Spirit does not force a submission, but it enables the person to see the issues clearly. So when conversion occurs as a free choice without manipulation, we cannot fault the change of mind that is involved. It is only immoral when a person is converted as the result of psychological pressure (see PROSELYTIZING).
BRAND LOGO When I was a boy I loved Tate and Lyle's Golden Syrup. It had a picture of a dead lion with bees making honey from its carcase (Judges 14:8-9). It had the same label and tasted just as good when I had some last week. Canadians think Marmite is like axle grease, but I still relish Marmite from exactly the same old jars. Rolls Royce continues with its logo on the hood. But Morris and Hillman were unable to provide parts to fix their cars the same day, so they disappeared from Canada, as did BSA and Matchless motorbikes in competition with the Japanese. If Maytag cannot retain customer loyalty for washing machines that last a lifetime, and Colonel Sanders fails to deliver better chicken, or IBM cannot offer better service than Dell or Hewlett Packard, they will soon lose out. The Royal bank has a fine regal lion for its logo, but it explains "we have grown one customer at a time." The point is we need a brand logo, but we have to deliver what we profess to offer. The Christian logo is the CROSS, and our brand is Jesus the Messiah (compare Colonel Sanders) which flourishes because there are enough of us who are willing to deliver at any hour of the day or night his quality of the love of God to anyone anywhere. And we give it for free.
BRAZIL The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) allocated a vast area occupied by aboriginal tribes to Portugal. By the importing of African slaves Brazil provided most of Europe's demand for sugar, and in 1800 Brazil had become more prosperous than Portugal. When Portugal was invaded by Napoleon (1808) the Portuguese royal family ruled the two countries from Brazil. The independent empire of Brazil was proclaimed (1822). It became a federal republic (1889), and the new constitution was based on the separation of church and state (1891, see the FIRST AMENDMENT in the United States). The newly created city of Brazilia became the capital (1960). In the face of opposition from the landless poor the big landowners and industrialists backed a miliary coup (1964), but President Figueiredo (1978-84) reestablished a democracy. There isFREEDOM OF RELIGION, but everyone is required to list themselves as belonging to one of the DENOMINATIONS. Though the Roman Catholics claim 76% of the population of about 165 million, other groupings have a far bigger influence, especially among the poor. The Episcopal Anglicans for example are organized under seven dioceses in Recife, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegro, Santa Maria, and Pelotas. They are also growing rapidly up the Amazon valley from the city of Belem.
BREAD AND WINE In Bible times bread and wine (safer than polluted water) were the diet of ordinary families. The cheapest bread was made from barley (e.g. the five barley loaves the boy offered (John 6:9). It was rolled out flat (like chappatis or pita bread), and usually served with a small amount of fish for flavor (Luke 24:42 , John 21:9, and as in the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000). The bread was leavened (Matthew 13:33), and unleavened bread was only used in memory of the Passover. Wheat bread was a luxury (choice flour, Genesis 18:6). New wine came right out of the wine vat (on a hot day fermentation began immediately) but the best wine (Luke 5:39) was kept in wine skins for several years. Wine was always served at a wedding (John 2:3, 10). The ceremonial serving of bread and wine goes back at least to the time of Abraham. "King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High" (Genesis14:18). It expressed the invitation of the Spirit to God's table. "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed" (Proverbs 9:5). This is why the Christian communion meal (called the Breaking of Bread, Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7) uses bread and wine (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-26) to express the ideas of being welcomed to Jesus's family, remembering his cross and resurrection, and reconciliation with one another.
BREAD of life When Jesus called himself the Bread of Life his hearers would picture the pita bread that they ate every day (John 6:35) . He explained that this was metaphorical for eating the "living bread that came down from heaven." And he added that "whoever eats of this bread will live for ever" (John 6:51). This connects with the petition in the Lord's Prayer "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). This is both a prayer looking to God for the physical food we need and the spiritual food that nourishes our eternal life (John 6:57).
BREAKDOWN The fact that humans can suffer a nervous breakdown is often described in history. The INQUISITION knew that under torture even the strongest of humans have a breaking point. A confession and total admission of guilt can be extracted by BRAINWASHING. In his Battle for the Mind; A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing (1957) William Sargant compared this with the methods used by some preachers. He referred, perhaps without understanding what was really going on, to John WESLEY's Journal of 1739-40 (p.18). We cannot deny that some hell-fire preaching is designed to effect the submission and conversion of hearers. But we also note that the results in the lives of early Methodists were very impressive.
BREASTPLATE To protect his heart, lungs, liver, and spleen, a Roman soldier wore a reinforced breastplate. The modern equivalent is a bullet proof vest. For Paul this piece of spiritual armor was "the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14). The word "righteousness" here is dikaiosune which does not mean we are already righteous, or made righteous, but it refers to the righteousness which the Holy Spirit is willing to work in us. In another epistle Paul writes about "the breastplate of faith (faithfulness) and love" (1 Thessalonians 5:8), which are two of the fruit which only the Holy Spirit can produce in us (Galatians 5:22). Obviously "righteousness" did not mean that Paul was convinced he was better than others. In fact he wrote to his assistant Timothy "Jesus the Messiah came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15). But the assurance that the Holy Spirit can do in us all that we need, not only to fight, but to be perfected in faith and love gives us tremendous protection from the arrows and spear thrusts of those who oppose us.
BRIDLE Horses and mules need a bit
in the mouth and a bridle to steer them in the right direction. Some think
that is the only way to get people to behave. The Psalmist offers us a
quite different way to learn from God. "I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not
be like a horse or mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed
with bit and bridle" (Psalm 32:8-9). Similarly in our day we shift
from a legalism enforced by church discipline (see YOKE)
to a free enjoyment of learning from the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. Which
is why Paul was horrified when the Galatians were persuaded to move from
enjoying the freedom of the Spirit back into legalism. "Did you receive
the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?
For freedom the Messiah has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do
not submit again to a yoke (see YOKE)
of slavery (Galatians 3:2 & 5:1). And in a later letter the
apostle went on to explain "Now we are discharged from the law, dead to
that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written
code but in the new life of the Spirit" (Romans 7:6).
BROW, Robert (b.1924) & Mollie (b.1926) live at 116 Rideau Street, Kingston, Ontario, K7K 2Z9 (613, 542-9838). They worked in Allahabad and Varanasi (Benares) in North India for eleven years, and came to Canada in 1964. They have four children, Rachel Bloomquist (Ottawa), Peter Brow (Vancouver), Timothy Brow (Toronto), and Susanne Stewart (Aurora), and ten grandchildren. For more detailed biographical information see Autobio 2000.Bob and Mollie write Word Thoughts jointly as a web resource for churches throughout the world, and the material can be used freely in any form without permission. Their joint book, Adultery: An Exploration of Love and Marriage (1993) still gets more accesses than any of the other materials on this site.
BUBER, Martyn Ich und Du (1923) was translated into English as I and Thou (1937, new translation and introduction by Walter Kaufmann, 1970). It has proved to be one of the most creative influences in both Jewish and Christian theology. Martyn Buber (1878-1965) was born in Vienna and received his doctorate at the university there at the age of 22. As a student he took part in the Zionist movement with Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann. But a deeper interest became the revival of a mystical movement called the HASIDIM. After Hitler took over, Buber moved to Israel and taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1938-1951). His I and Thou describes the experience of encountering God in a personal way as a Thou (not an It). That is certainly the experience of the Psalm writers (e.g. Psalm 3:4;5:1-3; 51:10-12; 77:1-3). The Bible describes sin as emerging from a conversation with Satan, or with oneself (pride, hate, lust, worry, despair, e.g. Galatians 5:19-21; James 1:14-15). In our Christian TRINITARIAN model, faith emerges in a conversation with God (thanksgiving, prayer). As opposed to a UNITARIAN model of God we have an "I and Thou" relationship with the LORD (KING, MESSIAH, SON OF GOD). We also have an "I and Thou" love relationship as a little child with the Father. And those who know the power of the Spirit (who was experienced by prophets and artists and leaders in the Old Testament period) find themselves in a very personal "I and Thou" experience of conversation with God the Holy Spirit.
BUBONIC PLAGUE see BLACK DEATH, PLAGUE
BUDAPEST When the Roman armies took over the CELTS living in the area later called Hungary, they made Buda the capital of a Roman province (106 AD). Three hundred years later that Roman civilization was swept away by the GOTHS and then (441-43) by Attila the Hun (434-453, see HUNS). In the confusion that followed a group of MAGYARS led by Prince Arpad settled in Hungary and set up an empire around the town of Buda (896). King Geza, the great grandson of Arpad, married a Christian wife, and sent for missionaries to teach his people (973). Under his son Istvan (Stephen, reigned 997-1038) Hungary became a Christian nation. His successors had the right (till 1920) to found episcopal sees, and to administer the church in Hungary. The Universities of Pecs (1367, and Buda (1395) nourished the golden age of Hungary under King Matyas (1458-1490). The Muslim Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566) seized Buda (1541), and the city came under Turkish control for 150 years till it was again freed (1686) to grow and flourish. The united city of Buda, Pest, and Obuda had electric lights (1873) and a subway system (1896) before other cities in western Europe. Budapest retained some independence through two world wars till it was finally freed in the DAY OF THE LORD that toppled the IRON CURTAIN (November 1989).
BUDDHA Siddharta Gautama (c.560- c.480 BC) was born in India where his father was the Rajah (king) of the kingdom of Kapilavastu near the Nepal border. He was raised in royal luxury, and was married with a harem of beautiful dancers. But he continually felt dissatisfied with himself and the suffering of the world. At the age of 29 he left his wife and children and became a wandering ascetic in search of illumination. Finally sitting under a fig tree (bodhi "tree of enlightenment") he saw a way to escape the cycle of pain and reincarnation. He belonged to the warrior caste (kshatriya), and now with many others he rejected the Hindu caste system and the authority of the Brahmin priesthood (see Religion: Origins and Ideas chapter 3 on "The Sixth Century Revolt). In Varanasi (previously Benares) there is a stupa that marks the place where he preached his first sermon in a deer park. His preaching, based on losing all desire to attain NIRVANA, later became known as BUDDHISM. (from the name Buddha which meant "the awakened or enlightened one"). His disciples formed a SANGHA (community) but this was not a settled monastery, and he quickly sent his first sixty followers out to make the message known all over India. Later the residential sangha became an essential part of the new religion.
BUDDHISM Seven new models of religion emerged in the sixth century BC. They all rejected the need for priests, temples, idols, and even a Creator God.. Original Buddhism was taught by Gautama Buddha (c.560-480 BC). He retained the ancient Hindu theory of REINCARNATION. But he offered a way of escaping from the round of rebirths by losing the desires that hold us in the grip of this miserable cycle of suffering.. This could only be done by becoming a monk in a sangha (monastery) where the rigorous discipline of eradicating desires one by one (like weeds in a garden) could be practiced in a community with others. With the loss of every desire there is the experience NIRVANA when we lose our personality in the peace of the Absolute. Mahayana (the great vehicle) form of Buddhism was later offered as a popular alternative to the severe discipline of eradicating desires. Salvation from the round of rebirths was now by faith in Buddha or one of the Bodhisattva who have experienced the freedom of nirvana. In time this reintroduced temple worship, with Buddhist priests and statues of the Buddha. For a form of Buddhism popular in the West see ZEN BUDDHISM.
BUDDHISM, Hinayana As opposed to the mahayana (great vehicle) Buddhism of North India and China, the Buddhism of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was called hinayana (little vehicle). This is more accurately described as Theravada (the teaching of the elders). The Theravada explanatory model is much closer to the original teaching of BUDDHA (c.560 -c.480 BC) himself. Its goal can be analyzed (see God of Many Names, chapter 3 & 4) as NIRVANA. What prevents the attainment of that goal is trishna (desire, longing). And the way salvation is learning the FOUR TRUTHS in a SANGHA as a preparation for the tough discipline of losing all desire. Sri Lanka is still viewed as the centre of pure Hinayana Buddhism, but it also flourished in BURMA, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. In those countries Mahayana Buddhism was brought in from China, and the Pagodas have statues of Buddha, which would not be permitted in strict Hinayana teaching.
BUDDHISM, Mahayana In Varanasi (old Benares) very close to the stupa in the deer park where BUDDHA (c.560 - c.480 BC) preached his first sermon there is a magnificent Buddhist temple with a statue of Buddha. Buddha himself would have been horrified at being worshiped in the form of an idol. As opposed to original Buddhism, which proved too severe for ordinary people, Mahayana (the great vehicle, which originated about 100 BC) deified Buddha (as Adi Buddha). He is pictured as taking birth in a series of Bodhisattvas before and after the incarnation of Buddha himself. The severely ascetic monastic life of the SANGHA was usually abandoned in favor of simple faith in Buddha and other Bodhisattvas. Faith was nourished by contemplation and prayers to a big statue of Buddha in a temple. Instead of losing all desire to merge in the Absolute, salvation was by faith and there was a personal heaven to be enjoyed. Mahayana Buddhism had originated in India, but it mostly disappeared under the influence of the GITA and Hindu BHAKTI. It flourished in China before the Communist revolution, and also in Korea, and Japan before it was weakened by secularism. Mahayana practices also came into BURMA from China, and as a result statues of Buddha are found in the Pagodas (temples) although in theory the country is usually described as committed to the Theravada (HINAYANA) form of original Buddhism.
BUDDHISM, Four Noble Truths Based on the original teachings of BUDDHA (C.560-C.480) a disciple should first learn that (1) suffering is the universal human experience. (2) The cause of suffering is desire or craving. (3) Desire can be systematically eradicated. (4) This can be achieved by the right DHARMA (wisdom, ethical conduct, mental discipline) which is best learned in a SANGHA (monastery). The result is the attainment of NIRVANA. By way of contrast we should note that the New Testament does not suggest the eradication of desire, but rather that it should purified (and intensified) by the Holy Spirit for the perfect love of heaven.
BUDDHISM, Sangha India had a long tradition of ascetics who engaged in meditation alone. But those who sought to attain Buddhist NIRVANA soon felt the need of a community to support them in this arduous task. The sangha (religious community or monastery) provided a place for undistracted contemplation. Unlike most Christian MONASTICISMthe sangha permitted men and women to come for shorter or longer visits to learn the DHARMA (Buddhist disciplines). Conversation was permitted, as long it did not descend to worldly matters, and everyone joined in the morning and evening worship. Boys would attend for their schooling. And many young men would shave their head, put on the saffron robe and spend a year or so in the monastery before returning to live in the world. .
BUDDHISM, Soka Gakkai see SOKA GAKKAI
BUDDHISM, Theravada see BUDDHISM, Hinayana
BUDDHISM, Tibetan see TIBETAN BUDDHISM
BUDDHISM, Zen seeZEN BUDDHISM
BUILDER A house builder creates a home to be lived in, but without a proper foundation it will collapse. Jesus pointed out that we also need a foundation for building our life . The impressive externals, fittings, and paintwork do not help when the storm hits us. It is only the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, who has the right to say: "Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock" (Matthew 7:24-27)
That is why he said "Go and make DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). To build a life that will survive the pressures of our world, we need to mind the specifications that Jesus gave about our relationship to God as Father, God as Son, and God as Spirit in the GOSPELS. That leaves us a huge amount of freedom for creativity, but without the foundation that he gives us we can have no confidence for this life, and certainly no assurance for our life after death.
BUILDING In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus stressed our foundation for life. "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). But the kind of house we build is also important. As Paul explained, "If anyone builds on the foundation (Jesus the Messiah) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - the work of each builder will be visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire" (1Corinthians 3:12-15). Even spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues, prophetic powers, understanding mysteries, mountain-moving faith, and willingness to be burned at the stake, can turn out to be nothing. "Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love: (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13).
BULTMANN, Rudolph (1884-1976) Bultmann was a brilliant New Testament scholar, and he was one of the originators of the form criticism of the Gospels. After studying and teaching at various German Universities, he taught at Marburg for 30 years (1921-51). In his Jesus (1926, English translation 1934) he interpreted the Christian good news of Jesus as a form of EXISTENTIALISM. That meant the message of the Kingdom a call to authentic living. He then adopted a model in which "It is impossible to use light and wireless . . . and at the same time believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles." He therefore asserted that "The cosmology of the New Testament is essentially mythical in character" (Kerugma and Myth, 1961, p.1-5). The four GOSPELS need be "demythologized" to make sense to modern man (see Bishop Robinson's HONEST TO GOD). He therefore denied the incarnation, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus as historical facts. In his model these "myths" call us to faith which he defined as existential decision. He also assumed that the parousia (coming of the Messiah) which Jesus predicted (Mark 13, Matthew 24) did not occur in AD 70 (we offer another model to understand the parousia in Advent Comings of the Lord among the Nations). Bultmann's work proved that there is no such thing as unbiased New Testament commentary. Which is why Model Theology assumes that the model we adopt will influence our interpretation at every point. And, having derived our Christian Trinitarian model (see CREEDS) from the Bible, we will have no difficulty with any of the facts in the Gospels which Bultmann declared to be myths.
BUNYAN, John (1628-88) At the age of sixteen John Bunyan fought with Oliver Comwell in the English civil war that ended with the execution of Charles I (1649). He later joined an independent Puritan congregation (1653), and was ordained as a preacher (1657). With the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II (reigned 1660-85) Bunyan spent the next twelve years in Bedford gaol for refusing to submit to the Church of England. During that time he wrote his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). During a second six months' imprisonment (1676) he wrote the first part of Pilgrim's Progress (published 1678). The persons that Christian encountered in the journey, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Legality and his son Civility, Mr. Talkative, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Greatheart, and the places he had trouble with, the Slough of Despond, the Hill of Difficulty, and Vanity Fair, have appealed to millions of Christians. The book has been translated into over 100 languages.
BURMA After three wars (1824, 1852, 1885) the British were able to make Burma a province of British India (1886-1937). The main purpose was commercial, and that was why they did not interfere with the people's popular religion. Where there were tribal people (e.g. the Karens) who became Christians in large numbers, the British authorities tried to discourage this.. Burma became a crown colony (1937) till the Japanese invasion (1942-45). It became an independent country on January 4, 1948, and it opted out of the Commonwealth. A sudden coup (1962) toppled U Nu's government which had been devoutly Buddhist. The new military leader, Ne Win, established a socialist state with a program of industrial development and nationalization. English was dropped and Burmese became the national language. The official policy (1963) was to make religion a partner in the state, and Buddhism was made the official state religion. "To be Burmese is to be Buddhist." As a result every town will have a Pagoda (temple with one or more statues of BUDDHA, which he would have abominated) for worship and a SANGHA where monks not only meditate and pray but teach the DHARMA (Buddhist disciplines).
BURMA, Modern see MYANMAR, AUNG SAN
BUTTERFLIES At a funeral children love the story of the caterpillar. He lived by crawling and chewing leaves on the branch of a tree. What worried him was that one by one hisfriends and members of his family went into a cocoon and died. One day he was sick, and lay on his back looking up at the sky. He could see strange and beautiful butterflies flying above him, but he did not know they were the friends and family members he was missing. Then the day came when he found himself being gripped by the cocoon of death. When he lost consciousness the next thing he knew was a different kind of energy, and his wings had grown. He shook himself free, took off, found a flower full of delicious nectar, and there around him were the other butterfly members of his family and other friends. Satan tries to make us believe death is the end, but of course it is only the beginning.
BYZANTINE EMPIRE The Roman Emperor CONSTANTINE (reigned 306-337) made BYZANTIUM the eastern capital of his empire, and renamed it Constantinople (330 AD). This empire included Greece and the Balkans to the north, the whole of TURKEY, and the eastern Mediterranean coast, including Jerusalem, down to ALEXANDRIA in Egypt. The Emperor Justinian (reigned 527-565) built the great Byzantine cathedral of Santa Sophia. He extended the Eastern Empire to include what had been the Roman empire in Italy and North Africa. The ARABS took over Jerusalem (638) and Egypt (640).The churches of western Turkey virtually disappeared after the Byzantine army was routed (1071) by the SELJUK TURKS who were Muslim. But the Greek speaking Byzantine Empire based on Constantinople continued to control the eastern Balkans, and Greece and its islands. The influence of the Byzantine empire finally ended with the fall of Constantinople to the OTTOMAN Empire (1453)
BYZANTIUM Founded by Greek colonists (657 BC) Byzantium was chosen by the Roman Emperor CONSTANTINE to be his eastern capital and he renamed it CONSTANTINOPLE (330 AD). As a result, the Christian churches of TURKEY were freed from Roman persecution. Constantinople continued as the Christian capital of the BYZANTINE Empire for 700 years. But when its army was routed by the SELJUK TURKS (1071) Christian churches virtually disappeared from Turkey.