DALIT - About 1500 BC the light skinned invading Aryans set themselves above the darker skinned aboriginal people in the HINDU caste (varna meaningcolor) system. The Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), and Vaishiyas (merchants and farmers) were the twice born who wore the sacred thread. The darker skinned Shudras (servant caste) were viewed as inferior. At the bottom of the pile were the outcastes or untouchables. That social stratification continued unchanged for three thousand years. Since Indian independence (1947) the government has made the caste system illegal, but this made little difference in social attitudes. In 1956 Dr. Ambedkar persuaded thousands of his oppressed people to join him in becoming Buddhists, but in the last forty years the condition of the untouchables (now renamed Dalits) has hardly improved. On November 4, 2001 a new leader named Ram Raj gathered 100, 000 representatives of the Dalit people in Delhi and told them to "Get out of casteism! All human beings are equal . . . go and convert to any faith of your choice." Then he shouted, "Let my people go!" (a quotation from Exodus 5:1, 8:1). It seems likely that a proportion of the 300 million Dalits of India will now experience their Exodus (liberation) from the oppression of caste as they are accepted as brothers and sisters in the Christian churches of India.


DAMASCUS This is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It was founded by ARAMEANS (c. 2000 BC) and became the capital of Syria. It was a focus of trade for the Middle East, and it had a flourishing church that Paul wanted to destroy (Acts 9:1-22). At that time the Syrians of Damascus spoke ARAMAIC, but when they were absorbed into the Arab nation and became ARABS, their language became ARABIC which was very similar.

DAMASCUS CALIPHATE Muawiya (Ibn Abu Sufyan) had been Commander in Chief in Damascus for fifteen years, and his army took over Egypt and Arabia, When Ali, the fourth Caliph was killed by a poisoned sword, Muawiya was soon accepted as the fifth Caliph (661-680) to begin the Ummayad Dynasty (661-750). In contrast to the second Caliph, Omar, who expelled Jews and Christians from Arabian soil, Muawiya placed capable Christians and Jews, as well as Copts, Greeks and Persians, in important administrative posts. "His minister of finance, his court poet, his doctor, and even his wife were Christians (Anthony Nutting, The Arabs, Mentor Books, 1965, p.72). He moved the CALIPHATE away from Arab tribal rule, delegated his authority, appointed independent judges, and allowed the poorest and weakest to bring their complaints direct to him. A later Caliph, Abd al-Malik, replaced Greek and made Arabic the official language of Syria, which it has remained to this day. He also built the DOME OF THE ROCK (687-691) in Jerusalem. Walid 1 (Caliph 705-715) built asylums for the blind, lunatic, and lepers. He also built the Ummayad mosque in Jerusalem, and the magnificent mosque in Damascus. By 715 the Omayad Arab empire stretched from Spain and southern France to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and down into Africa. No wonder Syria eyes Israel as a bitter enemy and would love to see the restoration of the Caliphate in Damascus.

DAMASCUS Church The Syrian capital was only 80 miles (128 km ) from Capernaum, which was where Jesus began his preaching. So there were Christians there, and Paul decided to exterminate them. "From them I also received letters to (against) the brothers in Damascus, and I went there to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment" (Acts 22:5) But when Jesus met him on the road, and he was blinded, he went into the city where he stayed on the street called Straight (still in existence to this day, Acts 9:11), and was probably at a loss as to what to do. Later he told how "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said 'Brother Saul, regain your sight!' In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him . . . 'And now why do you delay? Get up be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name'" (Acts 22:13). Then "for several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues" (Acts 9:19-20). But soon there was a plot to kill him, and "his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall" (Acts 9:23-25). From there he went into ARABIA for a time and returned to Damascus (Galatians 1:17).

DANCE Dancing has always been a sign of joy. "You shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers" (Jeremiah 30:19). There was music and dancing when the prodigal son came home (Luke 15:25). David sang "you have turned my mourning into dancing" (Psalm 30:11), and Jesus contrasted the wedding dance of his good news with the funeral mourning of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:17). There is a long tradition of dancing as a solo performance to please men (as did Salome, Matthew 14:6). But the last two of the psalms invite us into the greatest kind of dancing of all. "Let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing" (Psalm 149:2-3). And if this can be with a full orchestra, all the better (Psalm 150:3-5). Perhaps we will learn from African Christian who dance to the singing of their hymns.

DANCING As an expression of individual JOY people would DANCE and clap their hands. "You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy" (Psalm 30:11). But dancing was also
an expression of praise to God. "Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre" (Psalm 149:3). It was evidently part of public worship accompanied by strings, woodwind, and percussion instruments. "Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging symbals" (Psalm 150:4-5). In the New Testament dancing is not mentioned as part of public worship. "Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father" (Ephesians 5:18-20). This was perhaps because the early Christian weekly gatherings were much smaller than the thousands who gathered three times a year to celebrate in the temple. Also there was a strong emphasis on teaching one another. "Let the Word of the Messiah dwell in you richly and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Colossians 3:16).

DANIEL Among those taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar (597 BC) were four Jewish young men, who were chosen to be educated in "the literature and language of the Chaldeans." This was with a view to them being given senior administrative posts in the Babylonian empire. They were already "without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight" (Daniel 1:1-4). The transition to Babylonian would have been easy because Hebrew was the language of the CANAANITES, and the Bible views them as belonging to the HAMITIC group of languages (Genesis 10:6), as closely related as Italian, French, and Spanish. The four men were given permission to be vegetarian (Daniel 1:8-17). This was probably to avoid having to eat pork and seafood which were not KOSHER. As a result of being able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel was made governor of the province of Babylon and his three friends had important posts under him (Daniel 2:48-49). For refusing to worship the golden statue of the emperor Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace, but they escaped unhurt (Daniel 3:1-30). Similarly Daniel was thrown into a den full of lions, and God "sent his angel and shut the lions' mouth" (Daniel 6:16-24). Because the book was written after Malachi, who was viewed as the last of the Old Testament prophets, and partly in Aramaic, it was placed among the WRITINGS in the Jewish Bible (see CANON, Old Testament).

DANTE (1265-1321) was orphaned. As a young man he fell in love with Beatrice who died before he could marry her (she is referred to in his Divina Comedia). He was trained under the DOMINICANS, but when he opposed the Pope his property was confiscated and he was exiled from his home in Florence. In De Monarchia (c.1313) he advocated a sharp separation between church and state. In the next few years before he died he wrote La Divina Comedia which vividly pictures the torments of the damned. The poem is brilliant, but a total misrepresentation of the New Testament (see HELL, ANNIHILATION).

DARWIN, Charles (1809-82) After sailing round the world (1831-36) on the survey vessel, H.M.S. Beagle, the naturalist published his observations of small continual changes in plants, birds, and other animals (1859). On the basis of this and later research he proposed that complex species evolved by natural selection, and only the fittest for their biological purpose survive. The theory was published in The Origin of Species (1850), The Descent of Man (1871). ATHEISMassumes that chance mutations are quite sufficient to explain the EVOLUTION of all species, including man, without the need to believe in God. THEISM does not deny the fact of change and development among species and the survival of the fittest for their purpose. But the astonishing complexity of the working of human, animal, and plant DNA cannot be explained without a personal CREATOR (see QUILT, Making). This model is set out in Creative Love, 1999.

DAVID was a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), but he had problems with his unruly instincts (as we all do one way or another). "It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful." (2 Samuel 11:2). As a result he committed adultery with the wife of one of his army commanders, and when she got pregnant he had her husband killed in battle. God used the prophet Nathan to show him the enormity of what he had done. Among the many psalms that he composed for all the world to sing there are the words we need when we have failed miserably. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." He not only asked for forgiveness, but knowing his frailty he asked for the Holy Spirit to keep him in the future. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me" (Psalm 51:1-2, 10-11).

DAVIDIC LINE The keeping of an exact GENEALOGY was (and still is) important to establish the right to royalty (John 7:42). Jesus' mother Mary came from NAZARETH, but her child was born in BETHLEHEM. Joseph had this recorded in the census records there (Luke 2:2-4). Joseph was apparently the only surviving heir of the royal line of DAVID (Matthew 1:1, 16, see Psalm 89:3, Isaiah 9:7, 11:1, 16:5, Jeremiah 33:15-26). And when Joseph accepted Jesus as his legal heir, no one ever questioned Jesus right to be the Messiah (this would have been easy to check from the census records in Bethlehem).

DAY OF THE LORD Most of the time the Messiah Son of God does not interfere in our personal and national lives. But he never lets things get out of hand. The Old Testament prophets noticed what they called a periodic "Day of the Lord" (Isaiah 13:6, 9, 22:5, 34:8, Jeremiah 46:10, Joel 1:15, 2:1, Amos 5:18, as in 1 Corinthians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Isaiah often shortened the expression to "that day" (Isaiah 7:18-23, 10:20, 11:10-11, 17:4, 7, etc. as Paul does (1 Corinthians 1:8, 3:13). Such interventions were also called comings of the Lord ( Genesis 11:5, 18:21, Exodus 6:1, 12:12, Isaiah 13:6,9, 19:1, 31:4, 40:10, Zechariah 14:1, 5, as in Matthew 21:40, 24:27, 30, 37, 42, 50, Revelation 2:5, 16, 25, 3:11) For some there was terrible wrath and for others redeeming, deliverance, or vindication (Exodus 12:51, 15:6-7, Isaiah 34:8, 52:9). The day of the Lord of Babylon's destruction (539 BC) is pictured with portents in the sun (emperor), moon (empress), stars (dignitaries), foundations shaking (Isaiah 13:6, 9, 10, 13). And Jesus used exactly the same words to describe his Day of the Lord coming in the generation of his hearers (AD 70) to destroy the temple and city of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:28-30).

DEACON A servant (Greek diakonos) has been defined as someone whose task is to free others to do their work. .And in that sense we can all engage in deacon ministry. The gift of being a servant (deacon) is one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:28 calls it "forms of assistance"). Paul mentions Phoebe as the deacon of the church at Cenchreae, the seaport for the city of Corinth (Romans 16:1-2). Deacons (diakonoi) were servants of local church congregations (1 Timothy 3:8). And John Mark was the assistant or secretary for Paul and Barnabas as they went out on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:4-5). When we feel we are not given a function in our local congregation, a good way to begin is to notice which people are doing a worthwhile job, and quietly help them. As Paul said, "Those who serve well as deacons (helping others) gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith" (1 Timothy 3:13). Jesus himself "took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and explained "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom (for the freedom) of many" (Mark 10:45, see RANSOM).

DEAD SEA SCROLLS The Wadi Qumran flows down from the Judean Hills into the Dead Sea 20 miles due east of Jerusalem. On the north side of the wadi one can visit the excavated ruins of the Qumran community (established c.135 BC). They lived as celibates. Like the ESSENES, they emphasized separation from the world and purity by ritual cleansing with water. But in contrast to Jesus, they excluded the lame, blind, and others with deformities. The community was destroyed (68 AD) by the Roman advance before the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70). They just had time to put their precious scrolls of the Old Testament and other writings into pottery jars (Jeremiah 32:14), some of which were preserved till they were found by Bedouins in 1946. In November 1947 Eleazar Sukenik realized their importance and purchased them for Hebrew University. Since then every book of the Hebrew Old Testament (except for Esther) has been identified among the fragments. Among the scrolls was a complete book of Isaiah, which proves that there was no division of this book between Isaiah chapters 39 and 40 ten centuries before the first Masoretic text of the Jewish Bible. They also prove that the emphasis on light and darkness was already a common idea among the members of the Qumran community. This demolishes a main argument for a late date for John's Gospel.

DEATH When Jesus was on the cross his certainty of coming out the other side of death was his experience of the Holy Spirit who had conceived him and empowered every part of his ministry (see HOLY SPIRIT). But by his death and resurrection there was an astonishing change. "As all die in Adam (our human body), so all will be made alive in the Messiah" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Instead of going down into sheol (the abode of the dead), resurrection is now guaranteed for all. Paul pictures it as moving from a tent to a permanent building. "If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." But it is only by the Spirit that we are given this assurance. "He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 5:1, 5). That means death is conquered, though many live with no assurance of the resurrection. In addition to our physical death, Paul uses the metaphor of spiritual death. "You were dead . . . following the course of this world" (Ephesians 2:1). And John reminds us of the awesome freedom of those who reject the light and love of God and deliberately choose the darkness of eternal death
( John 3:19)

DEATH, Causes The World Health Organization reported (May 12, 2003) that in the year 2000 four times as many people were killed in traffic accidents than in wars. The figures were : Deaths in car accidents 1,260,000, Suicides 815,000, Violence between individuals 520,000, Drowning 450,000, Killed in wars 300,000. Deaths from Malaria have been estimated at 3,000 a day, which would mean 1,100,000 in a year, which is still less than deaths from traffic accidents. A few years ago AIDS was news in Canada, but now the media hardly notice the human tragedy in other countries. The number of deaths from SARS in Canada (April-May 2003) was infinitesimal, but it gained huge media attention when Toronto was declared a dangerous place to visit by the Word Health Organization. The point is that what is reported in the newspapers and on television in our country bears very little relationship to the actual numbers who die all over the world. Nor do the media ever report that death is God's way of moving us from this life to the life of heaven. That is no reason to be hard-hearted. We mourn with the bereaved in any country, pray for them, and do what we can. We learn to love neighbors. We also care about HEALTH and avoid unnecessary risks. Drinking and driving is never right. And we look to the Holy Spirit for wisdom about our DIET and life-style. We keep informed, but every day we put the media into God's perspective by reading the Bible.

DEATH OF GOD The announcement by some theologians that "God is Dead" was taken up with delight by the media, but it has turned out to be premature. There is no evidence that less people are talking to God or that God is inactive in our world. The root of the idea is usually ascribed to DietrichBONHOEFFER (1906-45). What he wrote was that he did not need the support of church services or proofs about the existence of God to survive in the prison where he was hanged (1945). Another influence was a book by Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations (1949). He used the term "Ground of all Being" which changed the meaning of the word God as Creator to whatever is ultimate reality. In his best selling book Honest to God (1963) Bishop John A. T. Robinson expressed his debt to Tillich and Bonhoeffer. Then ROBINSONdecisively abandoned Christian THEISM, and proposed a form of MONISM. He did not admit that this was a 2500 year old Hindu model since the time of UPANISHADS(see Religion: Origins and Ideas chapters 3 & 9). Thorough-going secularists then felt free to declare the very idea of God was dead. In fact all that had happened was a model shift from the Trinitarian Theism of the Christian CREEDS to a model already known among the Greeks in which matter is the only reality.

DEFINITION Science works by using precise definitions. In botany there can be no doubt that Cistus incanus creticus cv is a Pink Rock Rose. But this definition completely misses my joy in the petals and color and FRAGRANCE of an actual ROSE. . The human animal is defined as homo erectus because it stands erect and can walk on two feet. But anthropologists deduce the species merely by the shape of their skull and dry bones. In that sense we belong to a long line of HOMINIDS that go back seven million years. These days humans are defined by their DNA, but that fails to capture our enjoyment of roses, sunsets, classical music, or Zimbabwe marimba music. The Bible works with Genesis Man, and his or her definition is nothing to do with skull or bone shape. "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness . . . so God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). We therefore define human life as the ability to talk to God, thank God, hear God's voice. Our most important characteristic is the ability to choose among alternative models (see VISION) for living our life. Each species of spider has made webs of exactly the same pattern for a million years. They can't live any other way. Admittedly humans can train animals to go against their natural instincts. Cats use kitty litter, dogs learn to mind sheep, trainers can put their head inside a lion's mouth. But it is humans who are free to become artists, musicians, scientists, work among lepers, love enemies, pray for others. That freedom is what gives us our precise definition.

DEFINITIONS Created Words and concepts do not have inherent meanings (see WITTGENSTEIN, LANGUAGE GAMES). Languages are continually changing as people give new meanings to words for particular purposes (as in science, medicine, politics). This is illustrated in Edward Schiappa, Definining Reality: Definitions and Politics of Meaning, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, May 2003. He shows that many arguments in law are based on how concepts are defined. On this website we use MODEL THEOLOGY to work at the internal logic of 24 personal religions and ideologies, and in each case we can see how definitions are created to distinguish each model from other visions. In the first chapter of God of Many Nameswe show how the word GOD is given alternative definitions by the use of metaphors. We then go on to clarify how words (e.g. DEATH, LOVE, SALVATION) are defined very differently in each religion and ideology, and also within Christian Theism (e.g. BAPTISM, CHURCH, FAITH, HELL, LAW, SIN). In the New Testament the Gospels can be viewed as the creation of definitions by means of the life, parables, and teachings of Jesus. The Book of Acts illustrates the use of these definitions in the life of the early churches. The Epistles are designed to correct definitions which confuse the clarity of theTrinitarian Theistic model. The CREEDS give an outline of the definitions which the church lives by. And Christian Theology is the study of attempts to change these definitions to yield other religions and ideologies.

DEISM From the Latin deus which is the ordinary word for God deism is a model in which God does nothing more than create our world, and there is no life after death. It emerged in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But ROUSSEAU (1718-78) extended the deistic explanatory model into a form of naturalism applying to politics and children's education. If the model includes some moral intervention by God in our world, it is better to label it as a form of THEISM.

DELEGATING In a small business the owner knows everything and makes all the decisions. But when the organization grows there has to be delegation. It is hard to improve on the advice given by Jethro. "The next day MOSES sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. When Moses' father-in law saw all that he was doing, he said, 'What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around? What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you; you cannot do it alone. Look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, and fifties. Let them sit as judges for the people at all time; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves" (Exodus 1813-22). Similarly Paul wrote "What you have learned from me through many witnesses (by witnessing what I did on many occasions) entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well" (2 Timothy 2:2). Again and again Timothy had seen Paul entrust churches to others and move on. This was why Paul could say "From Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum (present day Croatia) I have fully preached the good news of the Messiah" (Romans 15:19).

DELEGATION It is a wonderful experience having a leader who trusts you to learn by your mistakes. Nobody enjoys working for someone who is insecure, fussy, possessive, interfering, trying to do it all. Greatness comes by delegation. Jesus quickly trained twelve very ordinary disciples to do all that he was doing. "The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works" (John 14:12). In the Gospels the Messiah has outlined our mission statement, and then leaves us to do as much as we are willing to do. We get to make the plans and work out the details. He loves to be in touch with us and hear how we are doing. And when we fail, as Peter did, the Lord is right there to pick up the pieces and encourage us to try again without guilt or reproach. So when people complain about the church's faults, they are faulting the Lord for allowing weak, sinful human beings to be responsible. They want regimentation instead of his delegation.

DEMOCRACY The American ideal of the rule of the people by the people for the people is not as simple as it sounds. Major decisions have to be made at the top by a President or Prime Minister, and in each city by a Mayor. And these depend on laws that have to be passed, and then enforced by officials at every level of government. Judges and a police force are needed. And there are many ways of choosing those who are responsible. The ideal is that the will and/or best interests of the people are effected by those who serve them. This ideal is reflected in the terms minister, civil servant, secretary, representative, delegate, councillor. But a bureaucracy quickly becomes an OLIGARCHY of those entrenched in power. Jesus said that "Among the nations those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them (see AUTOCRACY). . But it is not (will not be so) so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:42-43). We can observe among nations that genuine democracy can only flourish where sufficient people in a country have moved from the ideal of feathering their own nest to engaging in SERVANT LEADERSHIP. That involves choosing "not to be served but to serve, and to give one's life a ransom for others" (Mark 10:45). Here the word lutron suggests the costly sacrifice needed for others to enjoy freedom).

DEMYTHOLOGIZING In relation to the Bible the term means the discarding of stories, metaphors, and other kinds of language which deny the known facts of science (see BULTMANN). That means the rejection of miracles and other interventions of God in the normal course of our world. In his Honest to God Bishop John ROBINSON said that modern man can no longer believe in a God "up there." In some cases the problem disappears when we understand metaphorical language. Sunrises, sunsets, falling in love, and most experiences of what is important in life are stated in unscientific language. Science is also discovering that things which were considered impossible are perfectly normal. Modern man now takes for granted the power of mind over matter, telepathy, the effectiveness of prayer, the navigation of salmon, a cat finding its way home across Toronto, birds migrating by the stars, and more recently the discovery of the phenomena of QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT. If there is a God who created our world and loves us, the fact of his interventions are not surprising.

DENOMINATIONS In the New Testament there is only one church in each city (Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Rome). But in a big city there will be numerous buildings where members can meet for worship, prayer, and instruction. These will be given names to identify the location and the characteristic emphasis of that meeting place. Denominations perform an important function as franchises to offer training, ordination and support for ministers for each kind of local church expression. But they go wrong when they demand exclusive loyalty and view themselves as competing branches of a divided church. These days church members feel free to attend any of the different kinds of meeting place in their city, and work together to build up the body of the Messiah in that area (Ephesians 4:16).

DENOMINATION, Claims Fifty years ago J.B.Phillips wrote about our denominations: "They give the outsider the impression that God works almost exclusively through the machinery they have erected, and what is worse damns all other machinery which does not bear their label." He rightly denounced this as "the outrageous folly and damnable sin of trying to regard God as the Party Leader of a particular point of view" (Your God is Too Small, London: Epworth Press, 1952, p.36 & 37). Happily by the beginning of this century most Christians no longer believed the outrageous claims of their own denomination, and they feel free to learn and attend church wherever they feel nourished. They also read books by members of other denominations, pray and do Bible Study with each other, sing hymns and songs without asking who wrote them, and have no doubt that all sorts of people of every denomination or no denomination will be welcome into heaven by our loving God. There are still churchmen who refuse communion to members of other denominations. Their theory is that until all denominations are merged (or swallowed) into their system it is premature to share at the Lord's Table. But, apart from a few bigots, no one believes the theory. The useful function of DENOMINATIONS is that they support a wide variety of different clumps of flower in the Lord's garden.

DENOMINATIONAL Doctrine At the turn of the century Mark Parent made a prediction. "The Pentecostal emphasis upon the Holy Spirit will become dominant within the Christian tradition. Denominational groups which cannot find doctrinal room for the activity of the Spirit will be marginalized and in some cases disappear. An emphasis on sin and redemption will give way to an emphasis upon creation and recreation" (Spirit Scapes: Mapping the Spiritual & Scientific Terrain at the Dawn of the New Millenium, Kelowna, B.C.:Northstone, 1998, p.41). The problem is that during the previous century hundreds of new denominations began, and they imagined their first priority was to issue a statement of faith to explain what distinguished them from all others. Those antique statements are still posted on websites. But when the Holy Spirit begins to explain "That is not what I had in mind," it is very hard to change what is graven in denominational stone. The safe way is to stick with the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, and leave the way open for the Holy Spirit to guide us "into all the truth" (John 16:12). What do you do if dancing is forbidden by the head office, but you find yourself praising the Lord as you dance in the Spirit?

DEPRESSION We all feel depressed when things have not worked out as we had hoped. Paul said about one occasion in Ephesus. "We were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself." But this made him "rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). His faith enabled him to face "imprisonments, floggings, five lashings, three beatings, a stoning, terrible journeys, three shipwrecks (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). In one storm, when all the passengers and crew had given in to DESPAIR, he was able to renew their courage (Acts 27:20-25). But such examples do not help those who are depressed due to a chemical imbalance, and in danger of committing SUICIDE. They should seek medical help from a psychiatrist without delay. Having done that it is also good to take Paul's prescription when he cried out "Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" His solution was to turn from minding his FLESH (his natural instincts and the demands of his body), and set his mind on the Holy Spirit to do in him what he could never do himself (Romans 7:28, 8:4-6).

DERBE After being stoned in LYSTRA, Paul moved 25 miles (40 km) south-west to Derbe. He and Barnabas did not move back into his home Province of Cilicia (TARSUS was only 120 miles, 192 km further east). But they retraced their journey, and ordained ELDERS in each church (Acts 14:23). Paul and Silas revisited this church during the second missionary journey on their way across Turkey, and that was when Timothy joined their team (Acts 16:1-3). Paul again visited the churches in Galatia at the beginning of his third missionary journey (Acts 18:22-23).

DESIRES As originally taught by Gautama Buddha, the root of misery is in our desires. Happiness is therefore the eliminating of desire. This was best done in a monastery with others who were committed to the discipline needed to achieve this. Nirvana or perfect bliss would be the eradication of every last desire. Christian perfection is the exact opposite. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul" and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." In the Psalms love for God is not the elimination of desire but expressing them boldly. "Yahweh, heal me" (Psalm 41:1). "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border" (Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10). When a child is dying a perfected Buddhist will say "Whether my child lives or dies I have no desire." But loving parents genuinely care about the rich variety of their children's longings. And God is much more than a loving parent. "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). That may take time but it is what God has in mind for us.

DESPAIR "Hope dawns eternal in the human breast." But despair sets in when HOPEdies. "Hoping against hope" Abraham had hope in God "who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist." Though there was no hope of having a child, and no sign of being a blessing to all nations, he believed what God had revealed (Genesis 12:1-3) that he would become "the father of many nations" (Romans 4:17-21). In a humanly hopeless situation Paul wrote "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair" (2 Corinthians 4:8). On another occasion Luke included himself when he said "When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned" (Acts 27:20). But he describes how Paul had hope in what God had said about surviving the storm. And when this life comes to its end we can give in to the resignation of despair. But, like Jesus bleeding to death on the cross, we can choose to believe that "the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies" (Romans 8:11). The Christian blessing is "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans15:13).


DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE Having left the Church of England and made his submission to the authority of the Bishop of Rome (1845), John Henry NEWMAN wrote his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845). The VINCENTIAN CANON (c. 440 AD) had defined universal Christian Doctrine as "what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all." Obviously that could not be true of some of the doctrines Newman had to assent to as a Roman Catholic. These included transubstantiation, Mary's perpetual virginity, her assumption, her name as Mother of God, and her mediation. His solution was to view the Roman Catholic Church as appointed to define doctrine by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That would permit the Pope to be defined as infallible in matters of faith and morals (1870), and for Anglican and other ordinations to the priesthood to be declared as invalid (1896) and not in the APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION.

DEVIL Many people say there is no such thing. Others are obsessed with the devil at work in their lives and the lives of others. It is hard to explain all that keeps going wrong with our world without some power of evil at work. Jesus was certainly conscious of very personal opposition to the good news he came to bring. "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Greek diabolos, French diable). This term was used in the Old Testament as a translation of hasatan as in Job 2:1, Zechariah 3:1 (see SATAN) meaning slanderer. He is constantly on the attack, not by physical force, but by lies (John 8:44) that cause us to doubt the love of God.. "Like a roaring lion, your adversary the devil (diabolos) prowls around looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9). But we have the weapons to resist him by the Word of God (Ephesians 6:16-17, James 4:7, 1 John 3:8, Revelation 12:11). Whenever we are conscious of a destructive force at work in our work or family or nation, rather than be paralyzed by fear, we can look to our MESSIAH, the Son of God, to intervene. He is more powerful than any power of evil in our world (1 John 4:4).

DHARMA Hindus describe their religion as sanatana dharma (the eternal law). And dharma includes both the ideas of law and religious commitment (see HINDUISM). As a preliminary to the search for moksha (release from the miserable round of REINCARNATION) there are ceremonial duties to observe. These might improve our KARMA for this life or a future existence, but they cannot enable us to attain union with the Absolute. In modern India the idea that Hindu dharma requires the maintenance of the caste system has been abandoned, and the making of caste distinctions is officially illegal.


DICTIONARY "There can be no definitive dictionary definitions, but only an interim report on what a word generally means for the time being" (Kenneth Hamilton, To Turn from Idols, Erdmans, 1973, p.45). WITTGENSTEIN said that the meaning of a word is the way it is used (its LANGUAGE-GAME) in a particular human activity (FORM OF LIFE). And since human activities and the use of words change continually, there is no "correct" meaning for any word. A science may choose to adopt a DEFINITION to give a precise meaning to a word for a particular purpose but that is always open to change in every generation.

DIET Many religions think diet is very important. Hindus don't eat beef. Muslims forbid pork. Pythagoras said "Abstain from beans." Western secular religion creates more and more rules for a longer life. Many Jews still keep kosher according to the animals, fish, and birds listed in Leviticus chapter 11. But Jesus abolished all diet rules by saying "Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" Mark, the gospel writer, added the comment "Thus he declared all foods clean" (Mark 7:18-19). Jesus' rule for health was "do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you drink" (Matthew 6:25). That is why after coming to faith in Jesus the Messiah, Paul wrote, "Do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink" (Colossians 2:16). It was the false prophets who "demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:3). Obviously being thankful is a powerful healing agent. That leaves every person free to assess what is good for his or her health in every country of the world..

DIET, Family It is interesting that the foods commended in the New Testament have all been proved to be part of a healthy diet. Jesus called himself the Bread of life (John 6:51). In an ordinary household WINE was served with the bread (see BREAD AND WINE). The little boy who offered his lunch for Jesus to multiply had five barley rolls with two small FISH to flavor them (John 6:9). Children were given milk before they were ready for solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-14), and he suggested that children need eggs (Luke 11:12-13). LAMB was eaten for PASSOVER, and beef was appropriate for a family celebration (Luke 15:23). Jesus obviously enjoyed FIGS which we might apply to the eating of fruit from every other area of the world (Luke 13:6-7). We also need fresh water (John 4:10; Matthew 25:35). In the Old Testament Jews already knew that fat was not good for health (Leviticus 7:23), and blood should be drained from meat before eating it (Leviticus 3:17, 7:26, Acts 15:29). It seems there is not one item of food commended in the Bible which is dangerous to eat. The Jews were given a list of prohibited animals, fish, birds, and insects, which they must not eat in their wilderness journeys (see KOSHER). But the Apostle Peter (knowing Jesus words in Mark 7:18-19) was shown that the many kinds of food enjoyed by Greeks were permitted for Christians (Acts 11:6-9). But we know the caution that some of these, such as seafood must only be eaten in season with care.

DIGNITY "Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart" (2 Samuel 6:16). She said sarcastically "How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself before the eyes of his servants' maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself" (2 Samuel 6:16, 21). We need not judge whether David behaved appropriately on that occasion, but obviously a LEADER is expected to behave with dignity and proper decorum. There is "a time to mourn, and a time to dance" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Paul wrote that "a bishop must be above reproach, married only once (as opposed to keeping a harem) temperate, respectable" and "deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine" (1 Timothy 3:2, 8). But dignity in speech, dress, manners, and the ceremonial rituals of the occasion, should not be confused with the stuffy, gloomy pomposity of joyless leadership.

DIGNITY, Right to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' book (On Death and Dying, New York:Macmillan, 1969) brought to our attention the importance of letting people die with dignity. Dignity has also become a basic concept in relating to the living in our modern world. There is a United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and dignity includes the right to freedom and respect. People should not be humiliated. In the Bible human dignity begins with the fact that men and women are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They can become children of God (John 1:12, Romans 8:15-17, 21). They are also invited to share the ROYAL PRIESTHOOD of the Son of God in his KINGDOM. And they have a right to discuss the work with him and to influence the details of his plans at any hour of the day or night by prayer. Perhaps most astonishing of all, they have a right to be given by the HOLY SPIRIT all the wisdom and the power of God needed to serve in the world. Hopefully nations will respect the dignity of their people. But assuring people of their dignity in the mind of God is the best news we can give them. And when we plant and nurture churches that do this the idea of human dignity works like LEAVEN to permeate the society around them..

DIMENSIONS When you can measure something (across, lengthwise, up and down) you have what we call the three dimensions in geometry. We can also measure the passage of time, for example by hanging a pendulum in a room and counting each movement. We are can therefore be located exactly in the four dimensions of space and time. But by that definition we could add other dimensions such as energy, gravity, light, sound, smell, each of which can now be measured by scientists. There are other experiences that cannot be measured, such as fear, joy, beauty, love, melody, justice, compassion. So we cannot "prove" their existence or locate them in the dimensions that are defined by measurement. This is why none of the proofs for the existence of God can ever work. How could you quantify God? (See GOD, Location).

DISCIPLES Throughout the ancient world the usual method of learning anything was by finding a teacher (guru, tutor, rabbi, coach) who could deliver what one needed. Usually the teacher taught disciples one on one, as did the Sophists (in our day people have a personal counselor). When numbers increased a school was opened. Among the Greeks there were the schools of Pythagoras, the Academy, the Lyceum, the Stoa, the Garden of Epicurus. In Jerusalem there were the schools of Hillel, Gamaliel, Nicodemus, and many others. In our day we have short term music, Judo, and business schools. For extensive learning you join a college or university. In each case there is an enrolment before you begin intensive learning. John the Baptist and Jesus both used BAPTISM as their means of enrolling disciples (John 4:1). Jesus had a traveling school, and he also appointed some of his disciples as apostles to go out and teach. But ordinary disciples would join him when they could for a day of teaching (as in the Sermon on the Mount). After the Day of Pentecost disciples of Jesus (CHRISTIANS, Acts 11:26) could be enrolled in any country of the world (Matthew 28:19-20) at no cost, and taught in a school of the Holy Spirit (see CHURCH, SCHOOL).

DISCIPLINE, Church What do we do in a congregation when someone breaks a law of the country we live in (child abuse, sexual abuse, peddling drugs, violent behavior, stealing)? Paul ordered a man guilty of incest (which was a crime according to Roman law) to be handed over to be judged by the civil magistrates. "Hand this man over to the god of this world (as opposed to God's kingdom) for fleshly ruin" (1 Corinthians 5:5). When there is outrageous behavior, which is not viewed as criminal by the state, we cannot hand a person over to the police. But we have no business setting up a church court to assign physical punishment, as in the INQUISITION. And the use of EXCOMMUNICATION (which made it hard for the person to survive in that community) has usually been unjust and divisive. A member of a loving family is never excluded from the family table. It is in the community gathered around the bread and wine that the Holy Spirit changes us. But what we can do is to avoid associating ourselves with the behavior we disapprove of (1 Corinthians 5:10). That decision has to be made and enforced by each member one on one. "If you insist on immoral behavior, getting drunk or abusive, you are no longer welcome in my home." That is far more creative than dividing the congregation by making church decisions which some will not agree with.

DISCIPLINE, Self Any purposeful activity (engineering, driving, dancing, medicine, quilt making) requires learning and abiding by its rules. But those rules only apply if we have chosen to engage in that form of life. Self-discipline is relevant to what we have chosen to do. There are of course consequences for those who reject the rules a particular group has agreed to live by. If everyone else drives on the left and stops at stop signs, and you reject that discipline, you will be in trouble. As Wittgenstein pointed out, we cannot understand each other in any language without the discipline of agreeing to use words in the same way. And those rules change subtly every year. Many rules get out of date, and lose their usefulness. But good rules have a logic which ordinary people can easily understand. The problem of discipline is that people love to make the "correct" rules for others, and there are no "correct" rules for language or any other activity unless we agree with others to obey them to achieve what we want to do. Even with the TEN COMMANDMENTS the content of each moral principle needs to be worked at. LEGALISM is the attempt to force others to abide by religious rules that we have made for ourselves or inherited from our elders. And what Jesus did was to question the burdensome rules the PHARISEES had made.

DIVORCE By Old Testament law a man could divorce his wife because "she does not please him." The only requirement was to give her a bill of divorce to indicate she was free to marry another (Deuteronomy 24:1, Matthew 5:31). A woman had no right to divorce. Jesus said "But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground unchastity, causes her to commit adultery" (see Matthew Commentary under 5:32). Obviously a woman cannot be caused to commit adultery by her husband divorcing her. Whatever the good or bad reasons, a divorce is always the adulteration of what both partners hoped would be a happy lifelong relationship. That means a woman (or a man) who is divorced has her life and family adulterated (Mark 10:11,12). That means Jesus views every divorce as a disaster, even it should be necessary in the case of child abuse, or abandonment (as in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, 15). It should be recognized as such, and like a sea captain who has lost his ship on the rocks in a storm, there are painful consequences, but he can still hope one day to go back to sea again.

DNA When Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA (see James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, 1968) the science of modern genetics opened up. But it was not new facts that they discovered. What they were able to picture was a model based on a double helix (a spiral staircase) that explained and interrelated hundreds of already well-known facts. It is now clear that all the complex instructions for making every part of plant and animal life is written into their DNA. Spider DNA tells every spider how to construct a web of a particular shape. In the DNA of the Manx Shearwater gull there are all the instructions needed for a baby gull to take off from South America and fly by the stars and the earth's magnetic field to land (without having been there) within a few meters of its parents in the Isle of Man. Human DNA is encoded with all that is needed for us to enjoy and create music, engage in moral discussion, and choose among alternative scientific and religious models (see IMAGE OF GOD). It is becoming more and more difficult to imagine how our DNA could have evolved by chance. And some even suggest it must have been designed as part of the "big bang" of the creation of the universe.

DREAMS The dream I remember when I get up often includes a coded message from the Holy Spirit. He does not force ideas into our minds, but prefers to leave us the option to explore what he has in mind for us. This morning I dreamed I had a fat envelope to post for Kay Mein, who twenty years ago was secretary to the Dean of McArthur Teacher Training College here in Kingston. I conducted her funeral service back in 1999. As I walked by a trash can I threw the letter away because I couldn't be bothered to go to the post office and put stamps on it. That is something I cannot imagine doing, and happily in my dream I went back, pulled out the soiled letter, and decided to put it in a new envelope for posting. The dream must have originated because I was writing the Word Thought about wearing "the belt of truth around your waist" before engaging in spiritual warfare.I decided it was a good idea to ask the Holy Spirit to warn me, if necessary through a dream, if ever I was set on a disaster course, and perhaps encourage me in anything that he thought needed doing.

DISPENSATIONALISM How do we relate to the Jewish Old Testament? Dispensationalism claims there was a dispensation of law for the Jews, but we live under the dispensation of grace and faith. Some suggest that Jewish people are saved by obeying Old Testament laws, and the teaching of Matthew's Gospel only applies to Jews. What Jesus actually did in the Sermon on the Mount was to enrich some interpretations of Jewish laws and customs. Similar "But I say to you" corrections are needed for the culture and traditions of every nation. But no one can ever be saved (put right with God), in any other way than by faith looking to the Son of God. There are no exceptions to "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Some may only be groping for his light (Acts 17:27). Babies, retarded persons, and the ignorant, may not have the ability to explain how their heart is looking towards the love of God. And many have wrong opinions (religions) to explain how he saves us. But it is heart direction towards the light of the Son (John 1:9, 3:19), not a correct explanation, that God welcomes. There may be dispensations in a political sense within the story of a nation, but there is no dispensationalism of salvation with God.

DNA of God   In discussing the mystery of God as a Trinity it is helpful to move from mathematics to organic chemistry. A mathematical unit tells you nothing about the content, or purpose, or function of something. And there is no such thing as equality anywhere in nature. Are ants equal to one another? Can parts of our body ever be equal? This is why a living thing is best defined, not by mathematics, but by its genetic structure. Every cell in our body is stamped by the DNA of what we are. And this can still be recognized long after we are dead. But even without knowing their DNA we can learn to recognize the uniqueness of others from their voice and behavior. We do not have access to the DNA of God, but we can learn to recognize his uniqueness. In the first chapter of Genesis we look at our world as a masterpiece and we picture God as the Artist. He can't be a vegetable, or an ordinary human, and he speaks of himself in the plural (Genesis 1:26). But that tells us nothing about character. Does the Artist care about us, intervene in our world, answer prayer, condemn or forgive us, have a purpose for us beyond death? The Bible helps us to notice those aspects of God's uniqueness by what he does in history and how he relates to us personally (see TRINITARIAN Oneness).


DOG LOVERS There is not one example of a dog being kept as a pet in the Bible. But we know from history that they were trained for hunting. Some breeds are wonderful sheep dogs. Dachshunds (rudely called wiener dogs) apparently went down badger holes. And retriever dogs bring back ducks that fall dead in the water. Police dogs can follow a scent and confront a criminal. Who would want to send a child to play with a Rotweiler. People describe fox hounds as great pets, but Oscar Wilde described fox hunting as the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable. But why do so many prefer a dog as a companion for a walk? They get wildly excited, and love every moment of human company. They greet you when you come home, and wag their tails when you talk to them. But they don't expect you to listen to their frustrations. And they never complain about human faults. Rev. Warren J. Keating, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Yuma, AZ, said that the best prayer he ever heard was: "Lord, please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am." The main thing to learn from pet dogs is to be a friend who overlooks faults, welcomes a chance to go walking, and listens enthusiastically without needing to share every detail of medical history.

DOME OF THE ROCK The rock under this dome has a long history. Abraham ate there with MELCHIZEDEK king of Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18). He also went to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2). Arabs claim it was ISHMAEL who was willing to be sacrificed. King David offered sacrifice there (2 Samuel 34:18, 24-25). That was where Solomon (960-926) built the first temple (1 Chronicles 21:26, 22:1, 2 Chronicles 3:1). The temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians (586 or 587 BC) and rebuilt on the same rock seventy years later (516 BC). As Jesus had predicted (Matthew 24:1-20) the temple was destroyed in that generation (AD 70). Abd al-Malik, Calph in Damascus, built the Dome of the Rock (687-691) again over the same location. Muslims believe that MUHAMMAD ascended to heaven from that rock. The Crusaders occupied Jerusalem (1099-1187) and to the horror of all Muslims their kings actually lived in the Al Aqsa mosque next to it. The Dome was damaged by grenades in the war of 1948 (when Israel was established) and devoutly reconstructed by Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Some Fundamentalist Christians imagine it will be destroyed and a new temple built, but in each city there is now TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit made up of living stones (1 Peter 2:5).

DOMINICANS The order was established in Bologna (1220-21). They wore black cassocks, and so were named the Black Friars (Jacobins in France). Their main interests were preaching, study, and education, and they adopted the summa Theologica of THOMAS AQUINAS (c.1225-74) as their main text book. By establishing houses in the universities that had been founded (Bologna c.1100, Paris 1150, Oxford 1167, Cambridge 1209) they supplied most of the leaders of Europe. The Popes used them to preach the CRUSADES, go on diplomatic missions, run the INQUISITION, and follow the early explorers as missionaries. Martin LUTHER (1483-1546) preached against a Dominican named Tetzel (c.1465-1519) who was sent to raise money by selling INDULGENCES for St. Peter's in Rome. As a result, Dominican teaching was both a long term and immediate cause of the REFORMATION and they opposed it tooth and nail.

DREAM Some of the great turning points of the Bible took place as a result of a dream. By seeing a ladder going up to heaven Jacob was changed from a deceiver to be the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 28:12 -17). When he told his brothers of a dream that they would bow down to him Joseph was hated and sold into Egypt (Genesis 37:5-11). By interpreting the dreams of the butler and baker, and then the Pharaoh of Egypt, Joseph became the chief executive of that country (40:8, 41:25, 40-41). Joseph of Nazareth was told in a dream "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20, see other dreams in 2:12-22), and as a result Jesus was given the legal right to the throne of David. Paul dreamed that a man of Macedonia was inviting him over into Europe. To his surprise when he arrived in Philippi this turned out to be a business woman named Lydia (Acts 16:9-10, 14-15).

DONATISTS A group of African Christians refused to accept Caecilian as Bishop of Carthage. (Bishop 311-c.345). They complained that he was consecrated by traditors who had surrendered the Scriptures to save their lives during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian (245-313, emperor from 284). When they appealed to CONSTANTINE to settle their case he heard the opinions of two church councils and sided against the Donatists. The Donatists were again condemned at a council in Carthage (411) but they persisted in opposition till the African churches were taken over by the advancing Arabs and Carthage fell (698). For all practical purposes North African countries have been Muslim to the present day.