SABBATH The fourth of the ten commandments required a day of rest (Hebrew sabbat) once a week "Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor (do your work). But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work - you, your son, or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns" (Exodus 20:8-10). But there was no universal day of the week to begin counting. Muslims rest on Friday, and Jews begin Friday evening. Seventh Day Adventists still keep Saturday as their sabbath. But people on shift work obviously can't keep to their own nation's day of rest. The reason given for a day of rest is that even God keeps to a rhythm of creative activity and relaxation. "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is them, and rested the seventh day," which in Genesis 1 obviously does not refer to our human 24 hour days - the Lord has his own time scale. The Pharisees made a "hedge" of 39 acts which were prohibited on the sabbath, and they even condemned Jesus for healing on that day (Mark 3:1-6). A Celtic warrior boasted that he used to kill an enemy every day of the week, but when he became a Christian he killed two on Saturday so as not to profane the sabbath ! (see SUNDAY Observance). Jesus' answer was that the sabbath was made for humankind (ordinary men and women), and not humans for the sabbath (Mark 2:27).

SABELLIANISM We know very little of Sabellius, except that he taught (perhaps about 23O AD) in Rome that the one eternal God is only one Person but experienced in a succession of modes or operations. There is no difficulty in saying that we sometimes experience God as Father, and often as God the Son by our side, and in another ways as God the Holy Spirit working within us. But the Church's doctrine of the TRINITY declares that each of these manifestations is by a distinct eternal Person in the loving family oneness of the eternal God. Sabellius model was decisively rejected at the Council of Constantinople (381).


SACRIFICE Thanksgiving In addition to the meat sacrifices offered by the Aaronic priests (Leviticus 1:1-17, and 3:1-7:10), there was a cereal offering (2:1-16) which could be offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving (7:11-13). Already in the psalms the LORD expresses his feelings about ANIMAL SACRIFICE. "Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving" and "Those who bring thanksgiving as a sacrifice honor me" (Psalm 50:13-14, 23). And the prophets joined in with "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats" (Isaiah 1:11, Jeremiah 6:20). The LORD delights in our expressions of thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30, 95:2, 100:4, 116:17, 147:7). At the last supper Jesus showed his disciples how to use the bread and wine of an ordinary meal to express our THANKSGIVING. We are to eat and drink with thankful hearts in remembrance of him and the good news of the covenant he has made with us (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The early Christians called this COMMUNION service the Eucharist (Greek eucharisteo meaning to be thankful, give thanks).

SADDAM HUSSEIN Born in 1937, his father was killed by bandits, and his mother remarried a man who tormented and beat Saddam. He was jailed (1964) for two years for opposing the government, but Saddam Hussein came to power (1968) when the Bath party took over the government. He fought a terrible war against Iran (1980-88) and attacked Kuwait (1990) which resulted in the Gulf War (1991). As total dictator (since 1982) any opponents were jailed, tortured and shot. He had the husbands of his three daughters liquidated (1996). His official wife is Sajjida, but three other wives are reported. His oldest son, Ujjay, is dangerous and erratic. Qusay, the second son is his heir. Some claim that Saddam loves Cuban Cigars, Johnny Walker Scotch, and Portuguese Rose wine. If that is true, he would not be a strict MUSLIM, But over two years he gave his blood for the writing of a copy of the QUR'AN, which is deposited in the holy of holies of the huge Mother of All battles MOSQUE (see BAGHDAD MOSQUES). The Saddam Hussein Mosque will be five times as large when it is completed (2015). Saddam Hussein admires Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC) who took the Jews of Jerusalem into exile and built the hanging gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the world). He also looks back to Harun al-Rashid (Caliph 786-809 AD) and his son Mamun (Caliph 813-33) who made BAGHDAD the glittering focus of world civilization. Another hero is Saladin who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders (1187).

SADDUCEES Whereas the Pharisees came mainly from the middle class, the Sadducees came from the families of the high priests. Allied with the Herodians and the Roman government, they became rich and very powerful. They laid more stress on the five books of Moses than the later additions to the Torah. As opposed to the Pharisees who believed in a future resurrection, the Sadducees "say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit" (Acts 23:8). The two groups were continually at loggerheads, but they made an unholy alliance to have Jesus crucified (Matthew 16:1, Mark 3:6) . After the resurrection many of the priests, who would have been Sadducees, came to faith (Acts 6:7). But it seems that the Sadducees as a religious grouping were decimated when the priesthood and temple were destroyed by the Romans in the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70). Jesus warned the church about the danger of Pharisee teaching (LEGALISM) on the one hand and the Sadducee mentality that rejects miracle and the work of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:6, 11-12).

SAILING the Wind of the Spirit A sailor is not someone who knows the theory of how the wind changes, or the dynamics of hull pressure in the water. What counts is actually taking the tiller and sailing a boat. Jesus knew that the great Rabbi Nicodemus was an expert in theological theory, but he was like a man sitting in a boat with no experience of letting the wind move him (John 3:5-8). The Hebrew word for Spirit is the same as the word for WIND (ruakh). And the way the Spirit works is as unpredictable as the light breezes and strong gales on a lake. "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes" (John 3:8). A sailor knows she cannot change the water or the rocks and shoals of the lake. Nor can she force the wind to increase or decrease, or to change direction. Our sailing parable suggests that there is no point in complaining about what we cannot change, but we are free to set the sails of our life to let the wind of the Spirit move us in the direction we want to go. When the wind is contrary we will have to take a tack to one side, and come back on another, to make slower progress. We may have to wait for the wind when we are becalmed, or sit quietly in harbor during a storm. But the New Testament assures us that the Wind of God can give us the wisdom and inspiration to do all that is important for us to be perfected in the love of God (Romans 8:1-39).

SAINT BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY For the massacre (23-24 August 1572) see HUGUENOTS

SALADIN (1138-93) In the first of the CRUSADES (1095) Jerusalem was taken (1099), and thousands of Muslims were massacred. Godfrey of Bouillon was made king of the new Frankish state of Jerusalem. To celebrate this he organized another massacre of Muslims in Haifa. Salah al-Din, known as Saladin, had been a Muslim theologian, but he found himself appointed as the Vizier of Egypt (1168). He gave up drinking wine and all the amusements which rulers normally enjoyed, and vowed to retake Jerusalem from the Franks. Two years later he was proclaimed the Sultan of Egypt and Syria (1171). He finally felt ready to declare a jihad (holy war) against the Franks (1187). He took Tiberias, and a Crusader counter attack was decimated on the hills of Hittin above the Lake of Galilee. Acre and Nablus surrendered to him, and all other cities to the north. After 88 years of Christian occupation, when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem (1187) he was generous in victory, and Christian life and property were protected. But a third Crusade (1189-92) was quickly mounted to take back the city. Richard I , King of England (1189-99), took Acre (1191) and butchered the entire garrison with their wives and children. The Crusaders managed to hold the coastal area, but did not regain Jerusalem (it was taken briefly in the sixth crusade in 1229 and finally lost in 1244). . Saladin died aged 55, greatly lamented as the restorer of Muslim honor against the invading infidels from Europe. Naturally he was viewed as a role model by SADDAM HUSSEIN.

SALAMIS When Paul and Barnabas sailed from ANTIOCH in Syria "they sailed to CYPRUS, and they landed at the port of Salamis at the eastern end of the island As they would do again and again in other journeys "they proclaimed the word of God in the SYNAGOGUE of the Jews" (Acts 13:5).

SALVATIONEvery religion and ideology offers a way of being saved from what is wrong with us or our world (SIN). Original BUDDHISM sought salvation from the desire that bound one to the interminable wheel of TRANSMIGRATION. MARXISM was based on salvation from the grip of class differences. One form of Christian Theology offers salvation from ORIGINAL SIN. An analysis of some ways of salvation is given in God of Many Names chapters 2 to 4. The model
of salvation presented on this website is salvation from all that prevents us being perfected in the love of God.

SAMARIA The building of the city (1 Kings 16:24), and its importance as the capital of Samaria is mentioned again and again in the Old Testament (1 Kings 22:39). The city was taken by the Assyrians (722 BC), the people exiled and other people settled there (2 Kings 17:24-28). As a result the Jews of Jerusalem despised them and had no dealing with them (though Jesus ignored this prejudice, John 4:9, see SAMARITAN). The city was taken over and rebuilt (named Sebaste, modern Sebatiye, 9 km (5.6 miles) north-west of Nablus ) by the Romans (57 BC) and became part of the kingdom of Herod the Great. After the Day of Pentecost PHILIP the Evangelist preached and baptized converts there, and the apostles Peter and John came down (35 miles, 56 km as the crow flies) from Jerusalem to constitute them as a church of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:5-25).

SAMARITAN She was from a despised mixed race with whom good Jews had no dealings. She was also a woman. Every day devout males would say "Blessed be thou, O God, for not making me a woman," and they would certainly not speak to a strange woman at a well. In her story we also discover she was promiscuous, having lived with five different men, and she was currently into adultery with a married man (John 4:7-18). She knew nothing of the love of God, or the gracious character of the Messiah that she expected. To her astonishment, not only did the Messiah come to talk to her, but she discovered that in his books no one is too bad or beyond the pale. All she needed was the "spring of water gushing up to eternal life," the Spirit that was free for the asking (John 4:7-24). He could take care of the hurts and mess of her life.

SAMOS During his third overseas missionary journey, Paul's ship "touched at Samos" (anchored) for only a day on the way from Assos to Miletus (Acts 20:15). The island was the birthplace of Pythagoras (c.580-500 BC). It became part of the Roman Province of ASIA Minor and was made independent under Roman rule (17 BC). There is a narrow strait (1.2 miles, 2 km) that separates Samos from the mainland just 25 miles (40 km) south-west of Ephesus. So we can assume that a church was planted there while Paul "argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord" (Acts 19:9-10).

SANCTUARY One modern term for "sanctuary" goes back to the cities of refuge which were set aside to protect whose who had accidentally killed someone (Numbers 35:6, 9-12). And there are still cases of people finding "sanctuary" in a church building. There are also animal sanctuaries where endangered species can find refuge. More often we refer to a building set aside for the worship of God as a sanctuary. In the Bible this goes back to the making of the movable tabernacle and later the temple of Solomon. "Have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8, 1 Chronicles 22:19, 28:10). But Jesus announced the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-2), and there is no suggestion of building another temple at a future date. Instead, each gathering of Christians becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:16, Ephesians 2:21, 1 Peter 2:5). And these often met in homes - church buildings came much later. These gatherings prepare us for worship in the temple of heaven (Revelation 7:15, 11:19) which is called "the temple of the tent of witness in heaven" (Revelation 15:5). But that temple is not a physical building. John "saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb" (Revelation 21:22).


SANHEDRIN In Jesus' day the Sanhedrin (Greek sunedrion meaning seated together) consisted of the High Priest as President and seventy members (based on Numbers 11:16-17, 24-27). These were an OLIGARCHY of priests, theologians (scribes), and elders (probably drawn from the Jerusalem synagogues). Under Rome they had been delegated power in legal and religious matters, but they had no authority to carry out a death sentence John 18:30-31). This was why they had to get Pilate the Roman Governor to order Jesus' crucifixion . They could be convened by the governor's order (Acts 22:30). The Sanhedrin trial of Jesus was seriously illegal. There were no defense witnesses. The actual trial was during the night before Caiaphas (Mark 14:53-64, Matthew 26:57) but they kept to the letter of the law by confirming their decision at daybreak (Mark 15:1, Matthew 27:1). A death sentence could not be pronounced till at least one day after the trial, but Jesus was put on the cross by mid-morning. There was the same illegal haste in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 6:12, 7:57-60). The Sanhedrin President had authority over synagogues in other cities (Acts 9:1-2). But where there were over 120 Jewish men in a city, they could have a local Sanhedrin (as perhaps in Matthew 5:22, 10:17, 2 Corinthians 11:24).

SARACENS The Greeks called the nomadic tribes of the Syrian and Arabian deserts sarakenoi, so in their ignorance the Crusaders from Europe dismissed all Arabs as barbaric Saracens who had occupied the Holy Land (see CRUSADES).

SARDIS The Apostle John wrote to the seven churches of ASIA Minor (Revelation 1:4). Sardis (Revelation 3:1) was 50 miles (80 km) as the crow flies north-west of Ephesus, but there is no evidence that Paul visited there. But Luke recorded that, as a result of teaching in the hall of Tyrannus for two years, "all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord" (Acts 19:10). So Sardis was a daughter church planted by members of Paul's team or by Christians of Ephesus traveling inland.

SARGON of Agade (Akkad) The name Sargon (Akkadian sarru-ken meaning the King is legitimate) may be another name for NIMROD who came up from CUSH and took over theSUMERIAN cities (Genesis 10:8-12). But Sargon of Agade (2371-2230 BC) is more likely to be the son or grandson of Nimrod who claimed an empire from Telmun (Dilmun) to Cyprus, but viewed himself as the rightful heir of the previous Sumerian kings and used their language for many purposes.

SATAN The Old Testament Hebrew term that was translated diabolos in the Greek New Testament was hasatan, the adversary (as in Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7, Zechariah 3:1-2). The Hebrew and Greek terms are combined in "The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). Satan was defeated by Jesus on the cross. As Paul said, God "has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption (freedom), the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14). But, as noted under DEVIL, Satan can still do his work by persuading us of lies about God, lies about who we are, and lies about others (as in Luke 22:31-32). Often he "disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14), and those who work for him often sound very plausible. The obvious result is being possessed by guilt, and making others feel guilty (see Living Totally: Without Guilt). This suggests that satanic possession occurs when a person first accepts and then is given over to the lies of Satan (Luke 11:14-20). This is why delivering people from the lies of Satan is as essential part of our good news.

SATANISM Being deceived by Satan's lies is bad enough, and being possessed by a Satanic force is a terrible condition. But Satanism is the deliberate worship of Satan instead of God the Father. Instead of serving Jesus as Lord, Satanism demands the serving of the Devil himself and promoting his interests. Instead of living by the Holy Spirit of love, joy and peace, Satanism offers the unholy spirit of attacking these and all that is true and good. A favorite method is encouraging the OCCULT to find guidance, and the use of black magic to harm others. In Philadelphia the church was opposed by the "synagogue of Satan" who say they are Jews and are not" (Revelation 3:9). In Thyatira the theologians of Satanism taught "The deep things of Satan" (Revelation 2:24, see SATAN).

SAUDI ARABIA The name comes from the Saud family, which goes back to the 15th. century. The family became powerful when Muhammad ibn Saud allied himself with the WAHHABI Sect of SUNNI   ISLAM. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed (1932) with Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud as the first King. The first oil concession was given the next year to the Standard Oil Company of California (reformed as Aramco in 1944). As a result Saudi Arabia soon had a quarter of the oil reserves in the world, and the Saudi became very rich and powerful. Though King Fahd (1982) had tried to develop the country into a modern state, the Wahhabi mullahs continued a powerful fundamentalist influence. No Christian churches were allowed to meet, except in secret, the religious police required women to be covered from head to toe on the streets, and any Arab who became a Christian was publicly executed. Meanwhile the giving of alms (zakah) was a requirement for every Muslim, and much of the millions of dollars given for charity every year was channeled into building MOSQUES, anti-American teaching, and fundamentalist organizations all over the world. The planes that crashed into the Manhattan towers and the Pentagon on September the 11th. 2001 were all flown by Saudi citizens. They belonged to Al Quaida, which was brilliantly organized by Osama bin Laden, a member of the Saudi royal family. And his main objective was the Wahhabi demand for foreigners, especially Americans, to be removed from Arab lands.

SAVONAROLA, Girolamo (1452-98) was an austere Dominican monk who moved to Forence (1482) where he preached with great passion against immorality, luxury, vanity, and the corruption of the clergy. He had a huge following, and by 1494 he controlled the city by denouncing all who disagreed with his interpretation of the Bible. He was forbidden to preach, and summoned to the Pope in Rome. When he refused, he was excommunicated (1497) and hanged as a heretic. Jesus said "Give to the emperor (the government) the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). And Savonarola illustrates the danger of preachers of any religion controlling the political process (see CALVIN, SAUDI ARABIA). State control of religion is equally obnoxious (e.g. MARXISM). The United States and most modern countries are based on a sharp separation of religion and state authority.

SCHWEITZER, Albert (1875-1965) After qualifying as a physician, being a brilliant organ player, and then becoming a theologian, at the age of 38 Schweitzer moved (1913) to serve in a medical mission at Lambarene, Gabon, in Africa. This was originally financed by organ recitals of Bach music, and his theological writings which made him world famous. As a result he was given a Nobelprize. Visitors flocked to visit his hospital, but when they found they had to sit in a line of very public toilet holes over a stinking trench, they moved on quickly. Other mission hospitals were horrified that he only used Africans as menial workers, and never trained them as nurses or physicians. His form of religion (compare JAINISM) did not allow him to kill mosquitoes or termites, and he hated to see in his microscope the amoeba that caused amoebic dysentery being killed by modern drugs. He even halted an extension to his hospital in Africa because the work would require destroying a nest of termites.

SCHOLASTICISM As universities developed in Europe (Bologna, c.1100; Paris, 1150; Oxford, 1167; Cambridge 1209) theology was viewed as the queen of the sciences. Truth about God was established by a process of exact word definitions and deductive argument. The method was based on the writings of Aristotle (384-322 BC) and AUGUSTINE of Hippo (354-430 AD). Later this approach was used by Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-74). But William of Occam (Okham, 1285-c.1349) rejected the attempt to establish the Christian faith by human logic. On this website we use the insights of WITTGENSTEIN(1889-1951) who proved that words (such as beauty, justice, love, God) have no essential meaning. In each case we need to note the FORMS OF LIFE (is this Music, biology, politics, a joke, a discussion of creation?), and then learn carefully how the particular speaker or writer uses a word (see LANGUAGE GAMES) in that precise context.

SCHOOL In the New testament the only reference to a school is the Hall of Tyrannus that Paul rented for two years to explain the good news in Ephesus (Acts 19:9). But it is important to remember that the definition of a Christian is a disciple (Acts 11:26). And a disciple is someone enrolled to begin learning from a teacher. The enrolment sign that Jesus used for his traveling school of learners was baptism (John 4:1). There were no prerequisites, and baptism did not guarantee that the enrolled would continue as disciples. This is pictured in the parable of the Sower, and in fact there were many drop-outs (see John 6:66). When the Messiah planned to build his church (Matthew 16:18), he sent his apostles like Paul to plant schools of the Holy Spirit in every city of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). In that sense the church consists of disciples who are being taught the love of God by the Spirit. And learning is hands-on by exercising one or more gifts of the Spirit in the community (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). This school model of the church is set out in Go Make Learners. See CHURCH.

SCIENCE Richard Dawkins said "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference." The problem with this statement is that there is no language for evil or good in physics. And the fact that Dawkins himself is a brilliant scientist proves that he is not blind, and we hope he is no pitiless. But how could he study his own blindness or brilliance, his own compassion or pitiless indifference, with the existing scientific language at his disposal? The Bible gives us the language we need to discuss evil and good, being caring or pitiless, and a possible purpose for human beings. After learning that language, it makes sense to discuss the patterns and processes that science can illustrate for us. And more and more scientists are beginning to see that, without God, nothing makes sense, especially the scientific enterprise.

SCIENTOLOGY L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986 ) wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, 1950. This offered a way to "get rid of the reactive mind - the source of your stress, depression, anxiety, psychosomatic aches and pains, negative feelings, stress." The book spawned hundreds of Dianetics Clubs, which grew into The Church of Scientology. What is the goal of those who get involved in this multi-million dollar enterprise? In God of Many Names (1993 web publication, chapters 2 & 3) I suggest four options for a person's ultimate goal (summum bonum): a theistic heaven, a monistic oneness, a personal state in this life, and a social state in this life. The main appeal for new disciples of Scientology is the learning of psychological techniques to survive, face their problems, and enjoy a happier life on earth. In that sense it is one of the many means that are offered for self-help by psychological methods. But as it has grown into The Church of Scientology, with all the services that other denominations offer, there is also a concern for a social state in this life which will preserve our world, animal and plant life, and some kind of continuing spiritual existence. When he was alive every effort was made to encourage faith in the founder, Ron Hubbard. That is still the main thrust of the vast Church of Scientology website. It leaves no room for faith in God as Creator, or Jesus as Messiah Son God, or the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

SCOFFERS One of the signs of a proud despising spirit is scoffing at the opinions of others. Instead of taking the other seriously, we adopt a contemptuous, mocking attitude. Solomon noticed that the scoffer has no interest in learning from others (see PRIDE). "How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?" (Proverbs 1:22). Scoffing is the direct opposite of wisdom. "A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked will love you" (9:8). By scorning every unfamiliar idea "a scoffer seeks wisdom in vain" (14:6). And he is hated for his arrogance. "The proud, haughty person, named "Scoffer," acts with arrogant pride" (21:24). Even one scoffer in a family or group of friends (or a committee working together) will cause disruption. "Drive out a scoffer, and strife goes out; quarreling and abuse will cease" (22:10). The opposite of scoffing is a humble willingness to learn from others, even if we disagree with them (see HUMILITY). One of the principles of Model Theology is that other ways of looking at things are to be understood without caricature. We can clarify our mind by understanding clearly what alternatives are adopted by others. And those who disagree with us are always worthy of respect.

SCOPES TRIAL In July 1925 a biology teacher was fined $100 by the State of Tennessee for teaching the theory of evolution (see DARWIN, Charles). On appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States the law of Tennessee was upheld, but John T. Scopes was acquitted because he had been fined "excessively." The law against teaching evolution was repealed in 1967, but the discussion continues among Christians. Some maintain that Darwin's theory of evolution is a denial of God's CREATION as pictured in the first chapter of Genesis. We prefer to say that EVOLUTION is merely a term for the changes that occur for example in the development from a wheelbarrow to carts and carriages, the Model T Ford and the evolution of the Mercedes (see CAKE MAKING). Evolution in that sense allows for some chance happenings (mutations) but it can never imply the mindless design of automobiles, cakes, quilts, or humans (see THEISM).

SCOTLAND The Romans had found it hard to control the northern part of Britain, and the Emperor Hadrian (Emperor 117-138) had Hadrian's Wall built from the Tyne to the Solway. From the time of the Normans (1066) the English kings tried to control at least the lowlands, leaving the Highlanders to themselves. The Scots revolted from English control under Robert the Bruce (1306). He defeated Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) and gained recognition for Scottish independence (1328). Before the REFORMATION the churches in Scotland were controlled by Bishops appointed by the Pope in Rome. Under the influence of John KNOX the CHURCH OF SCOTLAND became PRESBYTERIAN (1560) with a confession of faith based on CALVINISM. After James VI of Scotland became the joint King of England and Scotland (1603) Scotland had a long struggle to retain its own institutions and Presbyterian form of religion. The Scottish Covenanters supported Cromwell in the civil war (1642), and after the restoration the CHURCH OF SCOTLAND has remained independent and Presbyterian since 1690. There is an interesting compromise whereby the Kings and Queens who reign in London are required to belong to the CHURCH OF ENGLAND while in England and they worship in the established Church of Scotland when north of the border.

SCRIPTURE Sola Scriptura (Latin for "by Scripture alone) expresses the fact that for the leaders of the Reformation the only given is the Bible (66 books, see APOCRYPHA). It should be used to argue Christian doctrine without including church traditions. But Sola Scriptura tells us nothing about how the Bible is to be interpreted (if your eye offends you, pull it out, if your hand offends you, cut it off). It does not clarify the relationship of Jesus' teaching to the patriarchy and genocide of the Old Testament. So different groups invent their own rules for doing this. What counts is not the words as written or as originally written but what God intended the Bible to do. In that sense the Bible is infallible for what He intends it to do in the world. And there is plenty of evidence that in hundreds of languages God infallibly uses the Bible to effect all sorts of wonderful purposes. Our assurance is not based on the scientific meaning of some texts, but on God who does not fail (infallibly) to use the Scriptures to bless and transform us.

SECOND COMING Throughout the Bible the Messiah Son of God is described as coming to intervene among nations and in the lives of individuals. He came in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8), he visited the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:5), came to ABRAHAM (Genesis 12:7, 17:1) and MOSES (Exodus 3:4-6), and he came again and again in DAY OF THE LORD interventions among the nations (Psalm 96:13, 98:9, see Advent Comings of the Lord Among the Nations). The words come and coming are used ten times to refer to the Lord's coming in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24 and 25). There are twelve other references to the parousia (coming) of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:15, 5:3,23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, James 5:7-8) but there is not one text that speaks of that coming as a "second coming." The one exception is "The Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (Hebrews 9:28). But this "second time" coming is a Day of the Lord intervention (Hebrews10:25). The purpose of the parousia (coming) is to rescue us "from the WRATH that is coming (1Thessalonians 1:10). It will be a time of hope and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 5:4) when "the lawless one" is annihilated (2 Thessalonians 2:8), and Christians will "not be put to shame" (1 John 2:28). Using this model the church's faith in the coming again of the Lord is not looking to a final end but a coming again to intervene in world history and judge among nations (Apostles' and Nicene Creeds).

SECULARISM a previous Archbishop of Canterbury set out four assumptions of a secular model of living. "1. The temporal world is the only world which exists. Eternity is irrelevant and meaningless. 2. Religion is to be dismissed. 3. Man's knowledge is based solely upon observable phenomena. 4. Man's own potentialities of knowledge suffice for all man's needs" (Arthur Michael Ramsey, God, Christ and the World: A Study in Contemporary Theology. New York: Morehouse- Barlow, 1969). On this website our response to secularism is first to admit that there is no absolute scientific or historical proof for our model of Trinitarian Theism. But there is also no scientific or historical proof for any of the assumptions that people without faith in God take for granted. "We should respect and be kind to others, love is better than hate, the weak should be protected, murderers, rapists, and child abusers should be sent to jail." Secularists try to answer that these values are necessary for the preservation of the race. But why should the human race be preserved, and for what purpose? As soon as we begin to give reasons for a human goal, what is wrong with our world, and how we intend to correct it, we are into one of the 24 religions and ideologies set out in God of Many Names (chapters 1-4). But why do I personally choose to live by Trinitarian Theism? Because that is the only model that views love as the very heart of our world, and offers a way to enjoy it.

SECULARIZATION Leslie Newbigin defined secularization as "the prying loose of one after another of the elements of human thought and action from the direct control of religious principles or of the Christian Church" (Honest Religion for Secular Man, London: SCM Press, 1966, p.17). But there is no evidence that this process has in any way hindered what God has in mind for our world. On the website we again and again commend the FREEDOM OF RELIGION set out in the First Amendment of the Constitution the United States of America. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." No one can ever be pressured to conform to a particular set of beliefs or moral standards. But that did not prevent the flourishing of AMERICAN RELIGION. Rather it permitted a rich variety of hundreds of Christian DENOMINATIONS in close contact with other religions and ideologies. People have the opportunity to weigh and compare the Christian good news with other options. And we thrive in that free for all. In nations where genuine secularization has occured, a church will emerge in each city. And as it meets in many locations, and offers a variety of denominational emphases suited to different temperaments, it is able to permeate the culture of every area of secular life.

SEEING GOD Isaiah reported that "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne" (Isaiah 6:1, 5). But, as John explained, "No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18). Which proved that the Person Isaiah saw was not God the Father but the eternal Son of God. His function is to come into personal contact with humans. When Hagar was promised a great future for the Arab people, "she named the LORD who spoke to her, 'You are Elroi' (God sees me); for she said, 'Have I really seen God and remained aliveafter seeing him'" (Genesis 16:10, 13). The same Person was seen by Abraham when "the LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1, 22). The eternal Son of God was also seen when "the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend" (Exodus 33:11, see 34:29). We also know that the Son of God took birth and lived among us for all to see (John 1:1-2, 14, as in 1 John 1:1-2). And after the resurrection Jesus not only appeared to the apostles but he actually ate with them (Luke 24:15-31, 36-43, John 20:19, 21:1, see Acts 23:11). In addition to such rare appearances, the Psalm writers saw the Son of God reigning as KING among the nations. We may not have the privilege of seeing him in bodily form (as Paul did, Acts 9:17, 23:11) but we can have our eyes opened to see him intervening in our
daily lives

SELF-CONTROL One of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23). But this is not the ordinary human self-control which enables us to tame our bodily functions, to mind our tongue, to avoid rude and unacceptable behavior. The problem is that our instincts have no desire to love enemies, to turn the other cheek, or go the extra mile. They don't know how to love God, or pray for others. That is why the self-control that Paul describes is by the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit enables us to reject worldly wisdom to receive inspiration (1 Corinthians 2:12). He can give us the self-control to move in the right direction (Romans 8:14), enjoy the freedom of being children of God (Romans 8:15), and pray according to the mind of God "with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). No amount of human effort can produce the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). And only the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can assure us of our resurrection (Romans 8:11). The human self-control of the disciplined person inevitably results in pride. But, as Paul explains, what the Spirit does in us is "not your own doing . . . not the result of works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

SELJUK TURKS The Turkic people who originated in Mongolia spoke one of the ALTAIC languages. As they moved west (as the HUNS and AVARS had done) a chieftain named Seljuk converted to ISLAM. His grandson Tughrul (Togrul) became the Sultan of BAGHDAD (1055), and his nephew Alp Arslan routed the BYZANTINE EMPIRE (1071) in Anatolia. The Seljuk Turks who were MUSLIM made KONYA (previously ICONIUM) their capital. As a result Christian churches virtually disappeared from Turkey for nine hundred years till KEMAL ATATURK (President 1923-38) abolished the CALIPHATE (1924) and granted the country some FREEDOM OF RELIGION.

SELLING everything The rich young man came running because Jesus was on his way out of the house to go on a preaching tour with his disciples. This suggests he hated to see Jesus leave, and he would have loved to accept the invitation to "come, follow me" (Mark 10:17-21). He asked about eternal life, but the real question was what he should do with his life right now. There was nothing wrong with his business interests and successful political career, but a choice had become necessary. A longing to climb mount Everest is incompatible with playing tennis at the club. "Yes, I long to study Opera in Germany but I have a boy friend and I don't want to lose him." Jesus invitation to "sell what you own" is not a condition of eternal life, but for this week-end disciple the cost of full time service on the road with Jesus was more than he really wanted.

SEPHARDIC JEWS The Hebrew word sepharad (Obadiah 20) refers to a place where Jews were dispersed. The Jewish traditions identify it as Spain, and as a result the Jews who settled in Spain and Portugal before the INQUISITION were called Sephardic Jews. Many of them were given responsible positions under the ARABS who occupied Spain (712-1492). They were persecuted (from 1391) as the Arabs were driven back. Jews were finally expelled under the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada from Spain (1492) and then from Portugal (1496). They scattered in all directions, mainly into the Middle East, but also into England, Greece, and the Americas. Unlike the ASHKENAZI JEWS who spoke Yiddish, they used the language of the countries they settled in. When they arrive in Israel, by the second generation Jews are melded together as they speak and read Hebrew.

SEPTUAGINT About 250 BC Jewish scholars produced the Septuagint (Latin septuagint usually written as LXX in Roman numbers) in Alexandria. This was a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Jews all over the Roman Empire who could not read Hebrew. The LXX included some Old Testament books written in Greek (see APOCRYPHA) which were never part of the Hebrew Bible. This was the translation used by the first Greek speaking Christian congregation (synagogue) in Jerusalem (Act 6:1-6) and Antioch (Acts 11:19-20). The LXX was read with great interest by thousands of Roman and Greek citizens, who were horrified by the immorality of their heathen gods. Many of them attended the Jewish synagogues, and Paul found it easy to explain the faith to them from the Septuagint translation (Acts 13:4, 14, 43, 14:1, 17:1-4, 10-11, 17, 18:4, 24-26, 19:8-10). Beginning with Peter's visit to the Roman Centurion Cornelius and his family, the door was opened for non-Jews to be baptized to form a congregation in the church of CAESAREA (Acts 10:15, 44-48). This was recognized by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11), and at the Council of Jerusalem a way was found for Roman and Greeks to have table fellowship with their Jewish brothers and sisters (Acts 15).

SERMON ON THE MOUNT When a senior tax collector named MATTHEW was called to follow Jesus, and then became one of his apostles, he apparently wrote down a collection of sayings of Jesus (usually called the document Q). These were notes from sermons which Jesus gave again and again with minor variations (as is done by all great teachers). When Matthew translated these into Greek, and incorporated them into his Gospel, he arranged them in the form of a typical day of instruction that Jesus gave for disciples who had gathered to hear him on a mountain slope (See Matthew Commentary 5 - 7). It began with a session on how God's blessing is very different from the world's idea of happiness. Then Jesus pointed out the heart implications of two of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. He also freed his hearers from the legalities of rabbinic interpretations of the Old Testament laws. A third session was devoted to the heart attitude required for almsgiving, prayer, fasting, and serving God as opposed to serving mammon the God of money (chapter 6). A final set of teachings focused on dangers they would face as disciples, and God's willingness to help them and teach them from his Word (chapter 7). Much the same teaching is collected by Luke in his Gospel (Luke 6:20-49, 11:1-13, 33-36), but it is arranged in different contexts.

SERVANT You can be a servant if you are forced or paid to do a job. You can also take the form of a servant when there is no compulsion to do it. "He emptied himself taking the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). A servant heart is being excited about the best interests of another. Most of us are excited about the best interests of two or three other persons. Christmas is about the one who is excited about my best interests. To my astonishment I then discover he is excited about the best interests of all those other people.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP "Among the Gentiles (nations) those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave (unpaid servant) of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom (to obtain FREEDOM) for many" (Mark 10:42-45). Servant leadership is an attitude of mind which is deliberately adopted. "Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus the Messiah, who though he was in the form of God (with all the majesty and rights of heaven) did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave" (Philippians 2:5-7). And this was exemplified at the last supper when Jesus "got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him" (John 13:4-5).

SERVICES Every congregation needs four Sunday services. FINDERS for those new to the faith. KEEPERS for those who want traditional worship. LOSERSfor those losing their faith. WEEPERS for those who get miffed.

SETH After Cain had killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:3-10), Eve conceived another son named Seth (Genesis 4:25). From Seth there was a genealogical line that continued till the time of Noah (Genesis 5:3-32), and through him to ABRAHAM, and the MESSIAH (Luke 3:23-38). But the line descended from Cain (Genesis 4:17-22) was ended with the flood. The Kanza Rama holy book of the Mandean Sabaeans of Iraq lists Seth as their first prophet (see JOHN THE BAPTIST Followers).

SEX see LOVE, Physical

SEXUAL CRIME In the TEN COMMANDMENTS the only reference to sexual morality is "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). As explained in Adultery: An Exploration of Love and Marriage this does not tell us what adultery is. It is a category of moral judgment that needs to be filled out by moral discussion. Having done that, each country has to decide what kinds of behavior should be part of the criminal code. In Arabia for example adultery can result in the death penalty. In Canada the sexual abuse of minors is a serious offence. In the Old Testament there was a list for judges giving ten kinds of sexual behavior for which the death penalty could be assigned : the sexual penetration of another man's wife; a married woman allowing herself to be penetrated by a man other than her husband; two kinds of incest resulting in death for both parties, a male penetrating another male, a male allowing himself to be penetrated, a male penetrating an animal, a woman allowing herself to be penetrated by a male animal (Leviticus 20:10-16). In each of these cases sexual penetration had to be proved, and a conviction required two male witnesses, which explains why so few executions or stonings were reported among Jewish people (but see John 8:2-11).

SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616) The language that Shakespeare used had been developed in previous Bible Translations (Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Great Bible1539). But his great plays (Hamlet 1603, Othello 1604, King Lear 1605, Macbeth 1606) were written while the King James Version (1611) was in its final stages of preparation. Shakespeare does not claim to have been a religious person, but his plays are full of allusions to the Bible. And he certainly had a strong moral sense expressed by words such as nature, right, order, truth. He pictures for us how his characters struggled with these in the working out of complex life situations. We are also given a rich psychology of human experiences such as tragedy, revenge, murder, double-mindedness, loyalty, betrayal, racial prejudice.

SHANKARACHARYA One of the most influential Hindu philosophical systems is the Vedanta taught by Shankar (788-820 AD), a Brahmin from Kerala in south India. After wandering around India as an ascetic, he taught from the UPANISHADS a model in which Brahman (the ultimate reality) and human soul (Atman) are one (Advaita meaning non-dualism). The problem is that humans live under the illusion (maya) that they and the world around them are somehow what is real. The way of salvation (escape from TRANSMIGRATION) is to engage in the discipline of YOGA and deep meditation to grasp the fact that only Brahman is ultimate reality and all else is maya. He was able to make his philosophy known by establishing ashrams (simple monasteries) in many parts of India where people could learn this truth and practice the meditation needed to attain it in practice (see Religion: Origins and Ideas, chapter 9)..

SHARI'A LAW Based on the QUR'AN, the sunna or hadith (what MUHAMMAD did during his life), the ijma (the consensus of the MUSLIM community), and qiyas (deductions by analogy from these first three sources) a system of Islamic law was developed which covers every aspect of life. Inevitably this law was loosened when Muslims were governed by French law in Lebanon or Egypt or British law in India. In many periods of Islamic civilization ways were found to mitigate the severity of Shari'a law, but Muslim fundamentalists (Islamism) keep trying to enforce it, as was done in Saudi Arabia, and even more ruthlessly by the Taliban of Afghanistan. The terrorists who flew their planes (September 11, 2001) into the towers in Manhattan were motivated by the idea that the world would never be a better place till the decadent culture of North America is destroyed and strict Islamic shari'a law is enforced in every country. This is why it is hard for Islamic countries to encourage democratic government. Neither is there much enthusiasm for women to be anything but subservient to men. In some places men can divorce their wives merely by saying "I divorce you, I divorce you" and apparently in one of the Gulf States this can now be done on a cell phone.

SHEOL Before Jesus resurrection people who died were described as going down into the abode of the dead (Hebrew sheol, Genesis 37:35, Greek Hades, "the grave"). During an earlier visit to Jerusalem Jesus had said "the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out" (John 5:28-29). And it seems that when he died his first concern was to free those who were lying imprisoned in sheol.. Peter explains he preached to them (1 Peter 3:18-19), and those who responded were resurrected with him. Even while his corpse was still hanging on the cross, Jesus had already brought up these faithful dead, and they appeared in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:52-53). Those who refused Jesus' invitation were freed to choose eternal death (Genesis 2:17, Matthew 4:16, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 4:4-6) or outer darkness (John 3:19-21, Colossians 1:13, see "conditional immortality" in Unbounded Love Chap. 8). This means that sheol (Hades) has been destroyed for ever, and at death we go straight to be with the Lord, as did the penitent thief (Luke 23:43 see PARADISE). For Paul there is no period of cold storage to await a future resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:1-8, Philippians 1:23). That is why the resurrection trumpet is not after a long wait, but it welcomes us to heaven the moment we die (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).

SHEM As in our day, nations are formed by language, not by racial origins. In the table of nations (Genesis 10) the Shemites are listed under five language groupings. The Elamites (south west Iran, Isaiah 11:11, Jeremiah 25:25) fell under Persian control (680 BC) but they were restored as a nation (c. 200 BC, Jeremiah 49:39) to control the vast Parthian empire from the Euphrates to the Indus rivers (Acts 2:9). Asshur was in northwest Mesopotamia. Their language was replaced by Hamites under Nimrod (Genesis 9:11). Assyrians destroyed Samaria (2 Kings 17:7) in 721 BC. The Sumerian language, probably the language of Arpachshad, was at one time dominant from Ur (see ABRAHAM) up the Tigris and Euphrates, and down the Persian Gulf, but the Hamitic Accadian (Babylonian) language took over the whole area of Mesopotamia. A fourth branch of the Shemitic group of languages was Lud (Lydian) which was spoken to the west into present-day Turkey with important cities in Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia (mentioned in Revelation 2:18, 3:1, 7), but their language was lost when they became part of the Persian empire and then came under the Greeks and Romans. Aram was the area where Abraham's family remained when he moved south into Canaan (Genesis 11:21, 24:10, 28:10), but their original Aramean language was displaced by the Persians. The Syrian Arameans later adopted the language called Aramaic (a dialect of Hebrew). They now use Arabic, which is the common language of the ARABS.

SHEEP In his wonderful book on the 23rd. Psalm Philip Keller explained that four kinds of freedom are needed for sheep to rest peacefully. They must be fed and freed from hunger. They must feel free from predators such as lions, wolves, and wild dogs. They need freedom from bodily pests such as flies, ticks, lice, bugs, and other skin conditions. They must be freed from friction with other sheep who bully them. None of these are possible without a SHEPHERD who cares for the flock. When King David said "The LORD is my Shepherd" he was trusting the Son of God to give him day by day the food he needed, and we too can trust him for our provision (Matthew 6:11, 25-33). As in David's time, we live in a world of people who want to prey on us. Many of the Psalms (e.g. 3:1-3; 18:16-17; 91:1-6) remind us the Lord can warn us and keep us and our family from those who want to harm us (Matthew 6:13). We take it for granted that physical abrasions will heal, and human doctors can cure a skin condition, but we also look to the Lord our Physician (Matthew 9:12-13) to heal the hurts of our life. Family quarrels at home and in our church fellowship disturb us and make it impossible to sleep. And again it is only the Lord who can create love for one another by the Holy Spirit. Without his intervention we are helpless and in continual danger. We cannot rest in peace without him (Romans 15:13)


SHEPHERD When Moses needed to hand over the leadership he prayed: "Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint someone over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD may not be like sheep without a shepherd" (Numbers 27:16-17). Later David the King wrote "the Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23). We could paraphrase "When the LORD leads me I will not lack anything important in my life. He takes me to where I can find the nourishment I need. . And he knows how to renew me when I am discouraged. He keeps me from going off into wrong directions. When I face mortal danger, I need not fear, he is with me, and he can take me through. If enemies seem to triumph over me, he assures me that I am always welcome at his table. He heals my wounds, and give me joy in terrible circumstances. That assures me that his love will surround me all the days of this life, and I will dwell in his house for ever."

SHI'A In IRAN and south-east  IRAQ the majority of MUSLIMS belong to the Shi'as (see SHI'A AND SUNNI, compare DENOMINATIONS)

SHI'AS One could date the origin of Shi'a ISLAM by the battle of Karbala (661). It began with the attempt to restore the CALIPHATE descended from Ali. Shi'as agree with the absolute authority of the QUR'AN as the final revelation of ALLAHthrough his prophet MUHAMMAD. They also agree with the traditions (hadith) of what he had said and done. But their current interpretation has to be given by a living IMAM (who bases his explanation on the words of seven, twelve, or a line of previously accepted Imams). That allows metaphorical explanations and much greater flexibility than among fundamentalist SUNNIS. People who are not ARABS tend to resent the authority and arrogance of the SUNNIS of Saudi Arabia. As a result IRAN is ninety percent Shi'a. TURKEY is 85% Shi'a but there is a strong minority of KURDS in the south who are hated for being Sunni. Fifty per cent of Lebanese Muslims are Shi'a, and there are minorities in southern Iraq, Bahrein, Pakistan and India.   See IRAN, Qum, IRAQ, Najaf

SHI'AS AND SUNNIS At first sight the hostility between the two main branches of ISLAM seems to be a matter of who was the authorized successor of MUHAMMAD (see CALIPHATE). But that is a historical matter. The underlying issue is based on two very different models of how the QUR'ANand the traditions (hadith) should be interpreted. The SUNNI view is that the meaning of the Qur'an and Muhammad's example was exactly defined and remains settled for ever. In Saudi Arabia this is strictly enforced by WAHHABI fundamentalist leaders. SHI'A theology depends on the interpretation of a recognized spiritual leader called an IMAM who depend on divine inspiration. Only the Hidden Imam (mahdi) who would return in the future could be infallible. Living Imams (called ayatollahs in Iran) depend for their authority on their learning and piety, but their rulings are flexible, and open to revision. As a result the living Imams were not tied to Sunni fundamentalist rulings (see Vivienne Stacey, Submitting to God: Introducing Islam, London: Hodder, 1997, p.89). ARABS are almost universally Sunnis, but people of other nations including Iran and Turkey are usually SHI'AS. (an exception is Indonesia which is mostly Sunni, but it has a secular state)

SHINTOISM A basic idea in Japanese thinking is their oneness with the kami. This word includes their ancestral gods, human beings, animals and birds, trees and plants, and everything which they sense as alive such as mountains and the sea around them. kami can describe anything that is holy, unusual, or connected with the world of the spirit. Animals have kami nature but humans have much greater kami power, men have greater kami than women, and the emperor was viewed as supreme. Family duty and loyalty to the emperor was viewed as the right way to keep the forces of kami in order and maintain the peace and prosperity of the Japanese people. A kamikaze pilot was willing to honor the kami of the emperor and the Japanese people by flying his plane into an enemy warship. Religion was therefore judged by its usefulness in honoring the kami of Japan. There was no need of conversion because Shintoism was able to include a wide variety of religious ideas. This was how CONFUCIANISM was welcomed from China (about 400 AD), BUDDHISM came in from India (from about 550 AD) and more recently Existentialist and Christian ideas were easily absorbed. As a result a person might have a Shinto wedding, study the Bible in a Christian class, and insist on a Buddhist funeral. Shinto priests serve in shrines where worshipers can go to honor an aspect of Japanese kami and pray for special needs. Shintoism is therefore a means to express respect for the kami with a view to attaining personal and national success in life.

SIDON In the Table of Nations Sidon is listed as the firstborn of Canaan (Genesis 10:15). Since the time of Homer it was known as the first Phoenician city (see Deuteronomy 3:9, Judges 10:12, 1 Kings 5:6) to sail ships all over the Mediterranean. It was destroyed by the Assyrians, (677 BC), destroyed again by the Persians (351 BC) and taken by the Greeks under Alexander (322 BC). Probably having crossed the Lebanon range of mountains on a holiday to the coast through TYRE (Mark 7:24), Jesus and his disciples traveled back 22 miles (36 km) south through Sidon before returning to Galilee (Mark 7:31). A church was probably planted in Sidon by Greek speaking Christians who traveled north as a result of the persecution at the time of Stephen's martyrdom (Acts 11:19-21).

SIGNS On the one hand we are warned not to be deceived by Satan "who uses all power, signs, lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9, as in the case of the magicians of Egypt, Exodus 7:11-12, 8:7, 8:18-19). But John's Gospel is constructed around seven signs from God. The first was the miracle of water turning to wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), and the second was the healing of a royal official's son (John 4:46, 54). The other five are the healing at the Pool of Bethesda (5:1-9), the Feeding of the 5000 (6:1-14), Jesus walking on the water (6:16-21), the healing of the Blind Man (9:1-7), the raising of Lazarus (11:32-44). In addition John gives us a group of Resurrection appearances (20:1-28, see Acts 1:3). And he explains "Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name" (20:30-31, see 1 John 1:1). In addition to the signs of Jesus' ministry Paul refers to the signs of the Holy Spirit. "By the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God I have fully proclaimed the good news of the Messiah (Romans 15:19, 2 Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 2:4).

SIKHS As he sought the presence of God, Guru Nanak (1469-1539) rejected the caste system, and taught "there is no Hindu and no Muslim". He combined Hindu and Islamic ideas to found a religion which believes in one Creator God. He retained the Hindu doctrine of TRANSMIGRATION (see MONISM). Under Guru Arjan (1653-1606) the Sikhs began defending themselves against Muslim persecution. He built the Golden Temple in Amritsar as the focus of Sikh worship and identity. The tenth and last Guru was Guru Govind Singh (1666-1708) who founded the Khalsa brotherhood, and led them in a great victory at Bhangani (1686). This was followed by twenty years of fighting that ended in defeat. The tenth guru collected the Adi Grant as the sacred scriptures, and after his death they were enlarged with his hymns as the Guru Granth written in Gurmukhi. God is the true guru but the whole Sikh community is viewed as the continuing guru. There are no Sikh priests, and both men and women can function in the Sikh rituals. Men are required to wear the five Ks, uncut hair (kesh), comb in the hair (kanga), a bangle on the arm (kara ), knee length underwear (kaccha), and a dagger (kirpan). They must serve others, and avoid adultery and tobacco. Male Sikhs have their name ending in the word Singh (lion) and women are called Kaur, to avoid their names being connected by caste or social importance.

SIN Governments view sin as those crimes which can be punished by law. Roman Catholics expect sins to be confessed to a priest as a means of improving our behavior. And many DENOMINATIONS use the threat of EXCOMMUNICATION on earth or burning in HELL to keep people from sinning. In the model used on this web site we reject AUGUSTINE of Hippo's idea of ORIGINAL SIN. Sin does not pass into us by procreation. It is the result of the evil influences that surround us and our own refusal (seeFLESH) of God's intention to change us from within. The result of viewing sin in this way is that we can live freely (see Living Totally : Without Guilt), and focus, not on our frailties and failures, but on the ENERGY of the HOLY SPIRIT to transform our lives and make us fruitful. That is why Paul could write that "we died to sin . . . our old self was crucified with him . . . whoever has died is freed from sin . . . so, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin . . . having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness . . . you have been freed from sin" (Romans 6:2-22). This is why he was so fierce against LEGALISM as a "bewitched" method of trying to control sin (Galatians 3:1-5). Forgiveness without transformation by the Spirit is only half the good news (see how LUTHER missed this)..

SIN, Against the Holy Spirit In every psychiatric hospital there are those who think they have committed the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy Spirit. Jesus did say "I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven" (Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:28). But the context is people who were calling good evil. They said "It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of demons, that this fellow casts out the demons" (Matthew 12:24). If we call Jesus' light spiritual darkness, this means we are calling God's heaven absolute hell, and we certainly won't want to be there. Satan's biggest lie is the idea that Jesus cannot forgive us, and the second is that the Holy Spirit cannot change the heart of the worst person in the world. That means the cure for anyone who thinks he or she has committed the unpardonable sin is to say "Thank you, Jesus, for forgiving me." Or "Thank you, Holy Spirit, that you are going to change me from a miserable guilt-ridden person to be happy and joyful."

SIN, Contrition There are many reasons why people become interested in the good news that Jesus brought from heaven. The invitation of friends, a longing for freedom from oppression, a sense of failure, marriage break-up, the need of healing for oneself or others, the fear of death, or just plain curiosity. But at the beginning Jesus' invitation is very simple. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me" (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus never used the fear of eternal damnation as a reason for people to become DISCIPLES (learners). It is only after trying to live this new life of love for God and for others that a sense of contrition is experienced. Paul puts it this way. "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death" (Romans 7:15-24). The solution he discovered was the power of the Holy Spirit to do in him what he could not do by his own will-power (Romans 8:1-5).

SIN, Conviction The model taught on this website may have originated with some words written by J.B.Phillips fifty years ago: "The success of a certain type of Christianity depends almost wholly on the sense of guilt. The 'gospel' will be accepted only by those in whom the sense of guilt can be readily awakened or stimulated. Missioners of this type of Christianity (flying in the face of Christ's own example) will go out to induce 'conviction of sin' in their hearers. This is not to deny the fact of human sin or the necessity of divine forgiveness. There is a real 'conviction of sin' which is quite different in quality from that produced by high-pressure evangelism" (Your God is Too Small, London: Epworth Press, 1952).

SIN, as entanglement We often think of sin as particular acts that we do. "She got drunk, I told a lie, he stole money from the church." But sin is not just little acts of badness. It is much more like getting caught in a complex entanglement of the evil in the world around us. In the story of Salome’s dance and the beheading of John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-29) we have the story of a woman who wanted revenge, a girl who was a beautiful dancer, the dignitaries who applauded her dance, a King who made a careless promise, and a soldier who was ordered to cut off the head of John the Baptist. Each of them was caught in a web entanglement of social sin (see Sermons, ENTANGLEMENT). This is usually the case in family sin, school sin, business sin, and political sin.

SIN, Retaining "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18). The context is "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone" (18:15). If that fails, Jesus gives us a method of "taking one or two along with you" (18:16). Then the matter can be brought up in a church gathering. But if the person refuses all reason, he or she is treated as "a Gentile and a tax collector" (18:17). Obviously people of other nations, and tax collectors like Matthew and Zacchaeus, became church members. So this expression is metaphorical for the offending person no longer being viewed as family. After a terrible betrayal in Ephesus, Paul wrote "Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds" (2 Timothy 4:14-15). In the case of Ananias and Sapphira the consequences were immediate and very serious (Acts 5:11). In the Psalms there are many prayers for VINDICATION (see IMPRECTORY PSALMS). The point is that love does not mean we let ourselves get walked over. There comes a point where a person has chosen a course where the sin has to be retained and committed to God for his intervention. Happily he does not have to act exactly as we had in mind.

SINAI Sinai could refer to any steep cliffs or mountain crag. After crossing the Red Sea, the people came to Mount HOREB( Deuteronomy 4:10, 5:2) where the moral law of the TEN COMMANDMENTS  was promulgated. That suggests that Jebel Musa, the location of the monastery dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, may be Mount Horeb, not Mount Sinai. Two or three months later the people probably crossed the shallows at the entrance to the Gulf of Aquaba (as when they crossed the Jordan) and came to a mountain at the western end of the Arabian desert (see Galatians 4:25). There the moral law of the commandments was repeated. But Moses added the detailed ordinances of a COVENANT (Exodus 21:1-23:23) which was sealed in blood (Exodus 24:7-8). In the New Testament Jesus' "new covenant" is new in relation to these laws for the desert journey given at Sinai (Galatians 3:17, 4:25-26). In that sense we are not under the Sinai laws. But the moral law (given at HOREB) is confirmed and given its positive meaning in terms of love (Mark 10:18-19, 12:28-31, as in Romans 13:8-10).

SINGING " A bird does not sing because he has a statement. He sings because he has a song" (Anthony de Mello, The Song of Bird, 1982). A joyful heart likes to sing. It can be alone in the shower. "My heart and my flesh sing for joy" (Psalm 84:2). But singing with a great crowd moves us to the core, gives courage to act. Soldiers sing themselves into battle. It was an essential part of Old Testament WORSHIP. "Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy" (Psalm 47:1). "Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful" (Psalm 149:1). In the New Testament we are told to "be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19). There can be a place in a special service for a highly trained solo performance. But elaborate music should not take over and become a performance. Ordinary people need the freedom to sing familiar hymns, and also learn to enjoy the new melodies. These days the use of an overhead screen enables people to do without a book, so they can move their feet, clap, and raise their hands. In Africa congregational singing is to the sound of drums, and people dance to the words they are singing.

SIXTH CENTURY REVOLT "In the sixth century BC there was a tidal wave of revolt against the priestcraft of the ancient world. This wave shattered the power of the old religions, though their cults continued to exist as backwaters for centuries. Seven world religions appeared within fifty years of each other and all continue to this day - Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Vedanta Monism, Taoism" (taken from Religion: Origins and Ideas chapter 3). A hundred years later the philosophers of the Golden Age in Greece rejected the claims of their corrupt priests.. By using the caste system the Brahmins of India managed to regain their priestly power in India. The Romans retained their priests (flamens) for ceremonial purposes till Christianity became the religion of the empire, but Europe again came under priestly power until the REFORMATION. In the New Testament all Christians are PRIESTS, and with the death of Jesus as our sacrificial LAMB the offering of ANIMAL SACRIFICESended in all churches. And all the sacrifices of the ancient world gave way to our COMMUNION service (see SACRIFICE, Thanksiving).

SKINNER, B.F. Having rejected the "pleasure principle" (libido) taught by Sigmund FREUD (1856-1939) and the "struggle for power" in the theory of Alfred ADLER (1870-1937), Skinner wrote The Behavior of Organisms (1938) which clearly demonstrated "operant conditioning" in rats. He extended that to assume that this can be used to control human behavior, and he popularized this in a best-selling novel titled Walden Two (1948). It pictured an ideal community based on the "operant conditioning"of its human members. Five years later he had concluded (Science and Human Behavior, 1953) that we are totally the result of our conditioning. It is certainly true that much of our character is programmed into us from infancy. It is also obvious that, like rats, when we find something rewarding, we repeat it, and if it proves distasteful, we avoid it. But it was quickly pointed out that if Skinner's behaviorism was total, his scholarly opinions would be as conditioned as those of a person who thinks he is a poached egg. Any kind of scientific or moral evaluation would be impossible. There could be no such thing as personal responsibility. The behavior of a rapist or child abuser would be as inevitable as that of Skinner himself. Anyone believing in God as CREATOR would have to make him responsible for making a world of robots, and for his PREDESTINATION of all the evil in our world. And the alternative religions and ideologies (set out in God of Many Names) would be programmed into humans with no freedom to adopt one or another.

SLAIN in the Spirit When Paul was approaching Damascus to persecute the Christians in that city "a light from heaven flashed around him, he fell to the ground, and he heard the Lord speaking to him" (Acts 9:3-4). When the temple police came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane he identified himself by using the words I AM (the name of God, Exodus 3:13-15) and "they stepped back and fell to the ground" (John 18:5-6). In our day there are thousands of cases of people falling to the ground in charismatic meetings. The term "slain in the Spirit" is commonly used.. And in a proportion of cases such persons have indeed encountered the Holy Spirit of God as Paul did on the Damascus Road. There are many reports of the Lord speaking while they are unconscious, and evidently some lives have been wonderfully changed. The Spirit is free to use this and all sorts of means such as laughing, dancing, weeping, shouting, and shaking (Christian groups have been called Shakers and Quakers), as he may choose to help a person into faith. The problem is that all the gifts of the Spirit can be duplicated by Satan and his false teachers, false prophets, false tongues, false miracles, etc. Some hypnotists have the ability to make people drop to the ground. The test of genuineness is by the subsequent fruit of the Spirit in that person's life.

SLEEP God has arranged for us to enjoy a weekly cycle of work and SABBATH refreshment. There is also a daily cycle of night and day. The Jews began their day in the evening. "And there was evening and there was morning, the first day (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). The point is that our sleep at night is to charge our batteries, and prepare us for what we have to do. We can pray for sound refreshing sleep. "I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety" (Psalm 4:8). But that requires bringing our unfinished business to God. "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil" (to tell you lies all night! Ephesians 4:26). The result is that "when you lie down your sleep will be sweet" (Proverbs 3:24). In a boat tossed by a storm one night night "Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a pillow" (Mark 4:38). Sleep is also a metaphor for death. But the sleep of death is not doing nothing for ever. In this life we sleep all night long engaged in dream situations. But the "sleep" of heaven is much more wonderful than the best dreams we ever had, with no possibility of a nightmare. "I saw the holy city . . . death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more . . .The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it" (Revelation 21:2, 4, 24).

SMELL You can tell when a skunk has been around. And Christian disciples soon develop a sense of smell. Satan's lies have a different odor from the perfume of Christian truth (see FRAGRANCE). The devil's first lie was "You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God" (Genesis 3:4). As usual it contains a partial truth: Adam and Eve did not die right then in any physical sense. Their spirit died. People do not die immediately from drugs that give them a high, or alcoholism, murderous hatred (see MURDER), being riddled with guilt, or the inability to praise God's creation, or thank him for our daily food and other blessings. Enjoying God, and loving like God, is as fragrant as roses and carnations. It is nothing like the smell that bothers us when people are trying out what Satan suggests. Or the musty odor of books that offer "the yeast of the Pharisees (legalism) and Sadducees (denying resurrection)" that Jesus warned us against (Matthew 16:6).

SMYRNA Still an important port in western Turkey (now called Izmir) Smyrna was one of the seven churches in Asia that the apostle John wrote to (Revelation 2:8-10). It was about 30 miles (48 km) by land due north of Ephesus. The church there was the result of Paul's work in Ephesus "so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord" (Acts 19:9-10). Polycarp (c.69-c.155) the Bishop of Smyrna paid a visit to Bishop Anicetus of Rome to discuss the date of Easter. The Roman church kept Easter on a Sunday, as we do to this day. The Greek speaking churches in Asia kept in on the day of the week that coincided with the date of the Jewish Passover. Polycarp was unable to change the mind of the western church, but retained the right for Smyrna and other churches to continue their practice. On his return at the age of 86 Polycarp was arrested during a heathen festival, and refusing to deny his faith, was martyred by being burned to death.


SOCIETY OF FRIENDS Jesus said "You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer . . . I have called you friends because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father" (John15:14,15, 3 John 14). This became the basis of the Society of Friends, which is the official name of the QUAKERS as a denomination.

SOKA GAKKAI A Tokyo schoolmaster named Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was converted from Shintoism to faith in a teacher called Nichiren (about 1250 BC) who had claimed to be the real Buddha. The movement, also called Nichiren Shoshu, was welded into a powerful coercive force by Josei Toda in 1951. The movement was intolerant and aimed to destroy SHINTOISM in Japan, and to do this Toda also tried to gain political influence. Toda died in 1958, and Daisaku Ikeda became President with a gentler emphasis on zadankai (discussion meetings). A political offshoot was komeito (The Clean Government Party, 1964). Neither Hinayana or Mahayana Buddhism would recognize the activism of this tightly organized "Value Creation Society." The question is not "What is Truth?" but what benefits humans (a form of Utilitarianism). The continuous repetition of the phrase Namu Myoho Rege Kyo (from the Buddhist Lotus Sutrai) is the key to success, happiness and the good life. A plaque in the head Soka Gakkai temple proclaims "Happiness Machine - money, jobs, promotion, health, Buddhahood." When this was packaged for North America, Buddhahood became less important.

SOLA SCRIPTURA One of the watchwords of the Reformation was sola scriptura (Latin for "by the Scriptures alone." Others argued that the Bible needed church tradition to give the correct interpretation. All Christians of all denominations agree that the Bible is the Word of God, and that is what we study and preach. We do not preach from the Hindu Vedas or the BhagavadGita, nor do we base sermons on the Qur'an. But then having committed ourselves to living by the Bible we have a choice. Some say that the Word of God is so hard to understand that we need an infallible church or theological experts to interpret it. This website is based on the assumption God expects us to study the Bible looking at alternative interpretations (models) in the light of the love of God as revealed fully by Jesus, the eternal Son of God.

SOLDIERS Jesus said we were to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and when he healed the servant of an army Captain from the occupying Roman power he said that he had not found such great faith among the Jewish people (Matthew 8:10, see also Acts 10:1-29). But love for enemies does not mean we let ourselves be walked over, and allow others to rape and kill our children. Paul used the METAPHOR of a Roman soldier to picture the spiritual equipment we need to fight "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Genuine integrity is the broad leather belt that covers our liver and stomach. Our heart should be protected by the breastplate of the righteousness that the Holy Spirit creates in us. Most of us are hesitant about going out with the good news of God's peace, so we need tough boots to free us from fear of being hurt on the way. As we are assaulted by each doubt we hold up the shield of faith that can stop "the flaming arrows of the evil one." Our head is protected by the helmet of salvation with the sign of our regiment (church congregation?) Our offensive weapon is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." And then strangely we have the equivalent of long distance artillery when we can "pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication" (Ephesians 6:13-18).

SOLOMON When he became king Solomon prayed "O Lord my God . . . give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil" (1 Kings 3:7-9). God was pleased that he asked for that, instead of "long life or riches, or the life of your enemies." And so he was told "I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before and no one shall arise after you " He was also given riches in abundance and greater honor than any other king. Why then did things go so badly wrong later in his life? He prayed beautifully at the dedication of the temple that he built: "When a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel . . . comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you" (1 Kings 8:41-43). But welcoming people to pray does not mean adopting their idolatry. "King Solomon loved many foreign women" but in his senility "his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David" (1 Kings 11:1-4, see 3:7-12, 10:23, see WALK).

SOLZHENITSYN After he had written books, usually first published in the west, about life in Soviet prisons (A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, 1962, Cancer Ward, 1968, The First Circle, 1968), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (born 1918) was given the Nobel prize (1970) but he could not leave to receive it. He was expelled from Russia.(1945). That same year the horrifying story of The Gulag Archipelago (in Paris 1973, in Russian 1974, New York: Harper & Row, 1975) was published in English. Solzhenitsyn and his family settled for twenty years in Cavendish, Vermont. Life in the United States also allowed Solzhenitsyn to be more open and outspoken about the significance of his Christian faith. He explained the barrenness and evil of an atheistic model of government. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland (1994) where he was finally recognized and honored. He suffered a stroke in Moscow in January 2003, and recovered slowly.

SON OF GOD A strictly Unitarian model of God (as in Islam and the Jehovah's Witnesses) rejects any concept of complexity in the oneness of God, and that includes the idea of a Trinity. Arianism had a limited sense of the Trinity by saying that the Son of God was a created being. But in the Trinitarian Theism of the Nicene Creed the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are an eternal oneness of love (see Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19). We experience the Father as the one who loves us like a parent behind the scenes, but is never seen (1 John 4:12). The Holy Spirit works within us to inspire and empower us. But the Son is the one who keeps coming into personal contact with us as the Lord, Messiah-King of our world (as in Genesis 3:8, 11:5, Isaiah 13:9, 19:1, 40:10, see COMING). "The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world" (John 1:9) and he "became flesh and lived among us" (John 1:14). His close relationship with the Father is a constant theme of John's Gospel (3:16, 5:17-23, 36-38, 6:40, 46, 7:28-29, 8:16-19, 28). And Paul explains that he is the Head of the church (Ephesians 4:15-16, Colossians 1:15-20)

SONG OF SOLOMON Also called the Song of Songs, this was a love poem or fantasy written by a black woman (Song 1:5), perhaps addressed to Solomon (1:1: 3:7, 11). It is a celebration of love (8:6-7), and the language is unashamedly erotic. She imagines Solomon's delight in her breasts (4:5; 7:3, 7-8), and her "garden of spices" (4:12-15; 6:2-3). Some theologians have tried to reject it as immoral from the CANON of Scripture, and many allegorize it into an expression of the devotion of the church for her Lord. It is certainly evidence that God is not embarrassed by our sexual feelings (see FANTASY).

SOUL At the heart of all our longings there is a center of personal identity, which in the Bible is variously called our heart, will, or human spirit (distinguished from God the HOLY SPIRIT). In some religions the soul is pictured as leaving the body at death so it can continue its existence by TRANSMIGRATIONand REINCARNATION. But the Bible teaches the RESURRECTION of the body (as opposed to our soul continuing in a disembodied form of existence). Love needs a body to express itself. Without a body it is impossible to see, hear, walk, talk, touch, eat. Jesus showed himself engaging in these activities with his resurrection body, and assures us our body will be able to do all that and much more in heaven. We now know that every part of our physical body can be replaced , and it is conceivable that eventually medical science will find a way to transplant a damaged ear, eye, memory, or word processor for our brains. We can already extend ourselves to do all this through a computer. But the body can change its form (see the sermon on "The Caterpillar") for another kind of environment. And God has no problem giving us a new body for our soul to enjoy after death (2 Corinthians 5:1- 4, see "My Android Helen").

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS The Southern Baptist Convention was established in Augusta, Georgia (1845). At first serving BAPTISTS only in the Southern States, the Convention expanded (about 1940) to plant congregations in every one of the United States, and in many other countries. Thousands of Southern Baptist missionaries serve in tough places all over the world. They have a high view of the authority of the Bible in their statement of faith, and their preachers can tend to literalism in the interpretations of some Biblical metaphors and imagery.

SPAIN An army of PHOENICIANS from Carthage under Hamilcar Barca took over Spain, but they were soon expelled by the Romans after the second Punic war (218-201 BC). The Iberian Peninsula became a center of Roman culture. Paul had wanted to go on to Spain after visiting ROME (Romans 15:28) but there is no evidence that he was able get there. But soon after his death churches were planted, and there was a Christian council in Elvira (c.300 AD) even before the conversion of Constantine (312 AD). Later councils met in Saragossa (380) and Toledo (400). But then Spain was overrun by east German Vandals (406-429 AD) till they were ousted (534 AD) by the Roman general Belisarius.. The Arab armies who had come across North Africa took over Spain (712), and though they were defeated in France at the Battle of Tours (732) they continued occupying most of Spain till Grenada was finally retaken (1492). Meanwhile French monastic orders had re-established the rule of the church of Rome (see CISTERCIANS, DOMINICANS, FRANCISCANS, INQUISITION)..

STALIN The son of a Georgian shoemaker, Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) studied for the Russian Orthodox priesthood, but was expelled from his seminary (1899). He was imprisoned several times as a leader of the Boshevik party. He served under LENIN in the Council of People's Commissars. And when Lenin died (1924) he soon gained total control (1929). In a series of purges he ousted all rivals, initiated the liquidation of the kulaks (peasant farmers) to form farm collectives, and by means of the secret police (OGPU) and the Gulag prison camps he purged all opponents (1936-38). When Germany attacked (1941) he took over military command to defeat them in the battle of Stalingrad. He then took part in important conferences in Tehran (1943), Yalta (1945), and Potsdam (1945) which set the stage for the Cold War.

STONING When a woman was about to be stoned, Jesus was put on the spot. "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women (Deuteronomy 22:20-24). What do you say?" (John 8:1-5). Jesus' answer was "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And the accusing theologians and Pharisees slunk away ashamed "beginning with the elders" (John 8:9). This is an example of Jesus' compassion in saving this woman from a horrible death. But it is also shows how Jesus dismantled the authority of Old Testament criminal law, which required stoning for several kinds of crime including approaching Mount Sinai, blasphemy, human sacrifice, disobedience to parents, adultery, sex before marriage (Exodus 19:13, Leviticus 20:2, Deuteronomy 13:10, 17:5, 22:21, 24). When he freed us from kosher food laws (Mark 7:19), sabbath keeping, and the need to offer animal sacrifice, Jesus made clear that the moral sense of love must correct the harshness of outdated laws. "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

STORMS Many assume that winds merely obey the laws of science. But mariners have always known that there is another power at work. "They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed" (Psalm 107:29). Knowing that the storm, which was about to engulf them, was due to Jonah's disobedience, "they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord even more"(Jonah 1:11-16). When the apostles woke Jesus up "He woke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still! Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm" (Mark 4:37-39). When all others on the ship had given up hope, Paul was able to stand up and announce that he had been told "there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship" (Act 27:20-22). Similarly in the metaphorical storms of our daily life faith enables us to see another power at work which can change a disastrous course of events (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

STRANGERS Resident ALIENS are specially loved by God and he expects us to love them as he does (Leviticus 19:34, Deuteronomy 10:18-19). Strangers had a right to the same day of rest as others (Deuteronomy 5:14), they could keep the passover (Numbers 9:14), and in due course would become full Jewish citizens (Ezekiel 47:22). They should not be taken advantage of, oppressed (Exodus 22:21, 23:9), or deprived of proper justice (Deuteronomy 1:16, 24:17, 27:19, Job 29:16, Jeremiah 7:6, Ezekiel 22:7, Zechariah 7:10). And where justice was not done, they believed "The LORD watches over the strangers"(Psalm 146:9), and will act fiercely on their behalf (Malachi 3:5). Part of the tithe and the remains of the harvest was reserved for resident aliens (Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 24:20, 26:12-13). Jesus rebuked the citizens of Jerusalem with "I was a stranger and you did not welcome me" (Matthew 25:35, 38,43). And the importance of welcoming strangers is beautifully expressed, "Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2).

SUBSTITUTION All Christians agree that in some sense Jesus the Messiah substituted for us, but theologians continually discuss what this means. AUGUSTINE argued that because of ORIGINAL SIN we all deserve eternal damnation but on the cross Jesus made the payment instead of us. This model seems to be set in what looks like a Roman law court (see Unbounded Love, Introduction). ANSELM argued that the main purpose of Jesus' coming was to satisfy the justice of God which had been affronted by human sin. The problem with such models is that they seem to suggest that God the Father could not love us till the Son had made a payment to satisfy his wrath. A totally opposite model is that Jesus' substitution on the cross was only by way of example. But that does not engage with texts like Romans 3:24-25, 5:18, Galatians 2:20, 3:13, 1 Peter 3:18. Another alternative is that by his death Jesus paid a RANSOM(Mark 10:45) to free us from the power of Satan. On this website we explore aspects of a family model of the ATONEMENT which enables us to picture all three Persons of the Trinity working together at great cost to free us.

SUFFRAGAN BISHOP In the ANGLICAN group of DENOMINATIONS a suffragan (Old French suffragant meaning one who assists) is a Bishop who is appointed to assist the Bishop of a Diocese. He or she can perform all the functions of a BISHOP but does not have the right of succession to be the next Bishop of the Diocese.


SUFIS Either SUNNIS or SHI'AS can become Sufi mystics. An early Sufi brotherhood was founded in Iran by Baha al-din Naqshbandi (died 791). It was based on meeting with God by inhaling (inspiration) and exhaling the evil. They stressed the inner heart meaning of Islamic law (shari'a) and traditions (hadith). Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) was a famous Persian theologian in BAGHDAD who followed the mystic way (similar to MONISM in India, and the Mediaeval mystics of Europe). Music which was banned in Muslim mosques was allowed for the ecstatic dances of the Dervishes. As among Christians, these MUSLIMS  reject the submission to rules as the way to love and please God (see SHARI'A). Rather they seek to enjoy the love of God by meditation and spiritual intimacy. An early Sufi was a woman of Baghdad who prayed "O Beloved of my heart, I have none like unto Thee, therefore have pity this day on the sinner who comes to Thee" (which could have been prayed by any of the mediaeval Christian mystics). To avoid falling into error Sufis are required to follow a pir (also called a shaykh or recognized spiritual guide). They also believe they can receive a special grace to grow in patience and love (perhaps comparable to our experience of the Holy Spirit which they call ruh ul quddus (Wind of God). Sufis usually reject jihad by military force, and prefer to think of an inner battle to purify their soul. Whereas hymn singing is not practiced in mosques, some Sufis sing hymns of praise of the prophet MUHAMMAD and engage in religious dancing.

SUICIDE When King Saul saws that the battle was lost, and his three sons were killed, he committed suicide (1 Samuel 31:5). When Ahithophel's wise counsel was not followed "he set his house in order, and hanged himself" (2 Samuel 17:23). Socrates (469-399 BC) was condemned to death for corrupting the youth of Athens, and he commited suicide by drinking poison. Judas hanged himself when he realized the enormity of his betrayal (Matthew 27:3-5). When Masada was about to fall to the Romans (73 AD) over nine hundred Jewish defendants committed suicide. Having lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929, many jumped from their office towers. Hara kiri is the Japanese practice of cutting open one's bowels when it would be too shameful to remain alive. And their kamikaze pilots flew bomb laden planes right into American warships. And on September 11, 2001 Saudi pilots flew passenger planes into office towers in Manhattan and the Pentagon. But suicide because of DESPAIR is something else. It can be due to a chemical imbalance, or unbearable DEPRESSION. Often godly people face "the dark night of the soul" (Jeremiah 20:14-18, Job 3, Jonah 4:8). And for the relatives of those who take their own life, the guilt is unbearable. We should not add to it by adding to their grief. Nowhere does it say in the Bible that suicide is a sin, or that it sends the person to eternal damnation.

SULEIMAN I (1494-1566) Suleiman the Magnificent was the Sultan of the OTTOMAN Empire (1520-66). He moved west across the area that had previously been controlled by the SELJUK TURKS and took BELGRADE (1521) which was occupied by the Turks for most of 350 years.. But the city of VIENNA in Austria bravely held out against Suleiman's siege (1529). However he brought BUDAPEST (then known as Buda) under Turkish Occupation (1540-1686). His fleet controlled the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coast of Arabia. He was known as the "Magnificent" because of his military successes and his building of many beautiful mosques. But he also was a wise and tolerant ruler, and a great patron of the arts.

SUMERIAN LANGUAGE The first Sumerian pictographic inscriptions (c.3200 BC) appear in the ruins of the city of Erech about the same time as the early Egyptian pictographs.. On this site we assume that the SUMERIANS were listed in the Table of Nations under SHEM (Shemites not Semites as in modern nomenclature) in the line of Arpachshad, from whom Abram (Abraham) was descended (Genesis 10:24, 11:10). If this is correct, the Sumerian agglutinative language (similar to Chinese) belongs to the same linguistic group as Elamite (see ELAM), proto-Assyrian, Lydian (Assyrian Luddu, see LYDIA), and proto-Aramean before it was replaced by Accadian (Genesis 10:22). It could be connected with the INDUS VALLEY civilization. The Sumerian pictographs were later stylized (by about 2200 BC) into CUNEIFORM (groups of wedges formed by a stylus in clay, metal, or stone). Sumerian arithmetic was based on the number 60, from which we get an hour of 60 minutes, 60 seconds in a minute, and 360 degrees in a circle. For over 2000 years Sumerian was as important in the Middle East as Latin was in Europe. By the time of Abraham Ur and other Sumerian cities had fallen under the control of Hamitic people (see HAM and NIMROD in Genesis 10:8-14) whose Akkadian language soon dominated the whole fertile crescent. And with that language he would quickly understand the closely related languages of Canaan and Egypt (see MIZRAIM, Genesis 10:6, 15-20).

SUMERIANS The earliest form of Sumerian pictogaphic inscriptions (about 3200 BC) were found in the ruins of the city of Erech (Genesis 10:10). The Sumerians came by sea (see INDUS VALLEY) and their river civilization was based in the eleven cities of Sumer and Accad located on both banks of the Euphrates from present day Basra to Baghdad. The Table of Nations tells us that the Sumerian cities of Babel (Babylon), Erech, and Accad were taken over by a Hamitic (see HAM) army under Nimrod who made a raid across Arabia from Cush (Ethiopia, Genesis 10:8-12). In this website we assume that Abraham was a Sumerian (from the line of Arpachshad, Genesis 10:21-31, 11:12-29) who lived in Ur in the district Chaldaea (kaldu) between Basra and Kuwait.

SUNDAY After the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312) when CONSTANTINE fought under a Christian banner, Christians were given their freedom of worship (313). A few years later the Emperor Constantine made SUNDAY the weekly holiday in the empire (321). The pagans in the Empire did not object since the first day of the week (Sunday) was the day of the sun god. Reasons why Christians began worshiping on Sunday are given under SUNDAY OBSERVANCE. Up to that time it seems that Jewish Christians had rested from work on the SABBATHday, but they gathered for COMMUNION after work on the first day of the week which was Sunday evening (Acts 20:7). This is still the case in Islamic countries where Sunday is a work day and the national day of rest is a Friday. But in the Roman Empire and throughout Europe it was very convenient to have Christian services on the same day as the official day of rest.

SUNDAY Observance Why did Christians start meeting for worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), instead of attending services on Saturday?. One answer is that Jesus revealed himself on RESURRECTION Sunday, again that Sunday evening and on the next Sunday. It is possible he appeared on a third Sunday by the Sea of Galilee, and he apparently did not appear on the days in between (John 21:1, see "Eight Sundays from Easter to Pentecost"). The Day of Pentecost was also on the first day of the week. Even in exile on the Island of Patmos John "was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10). Among Jews the early Christians rested on Saturday, but all over the Roman Empire and in other parts of the world, there was no official day of rest for slaves, soldiers, and others. Often on a Sunday evening Christians would gather to take communion together when they could. In England the Puritan SABBATH was imposed (enacted in 1644, 1650, 1655) which prohibited any kind of recreation on Sunday, even going for a walk. Dorothy Sayers later commented "They have transferred the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and feeling that the original commandment "thou shalt not work" was rather half-hearted, they have added to it a new commandment, "thou shalt not play" (The Whimsical Christian, 1978, p.152).

SUNDAY SCHOOLS Robert Raikes (1735-1811) was concerned about the illiterate children of Gloucester. He persuaded the minister of his parish to allow him to pay four women to teach them to read (1780). In addition to reading they also learned the Anglican catechism. Sunday was chosen because the children's families had to work every other day. Hopefully some of them might attend the Sunday service. There was opposition by those who maintained that educating children would breed revolution, and others argued that teaching on Sundays was a desecration of the SABBATH. After the interdenominational Sunday School Union (1803) was organized in the London area, the movement soon became world-wide. When public schools became available in each community Sundays Schools changed their emphasis, in some cases with unfortunate by-products. Instead of reading the Bible with their children at home, parents got the idea that this was the work of the Sunday School. Teaching about the Holy Spirit was considered too advanced for children, so they were mainly taught moral behavior (see LEGALISM). Children, especially boys, began to see the Christian faith was as a religion for goody-goodies. More recently expensive glossy Sunday School curriculums have been put out by publishing houses which have slanted the good news of Jesus for denominational and fundamentalist purposes. But at their best in many countries of the world millions of Sunday School children have learned the Bible stories, memorized Scripture, and enjoyed the hymns and choruses which have brought them to faith and enriched their life.


SUNNIS Ninety per cent of ISLAM belongs to the Sunni grouping, as opposed to only ten per cent who count themselves as SHI'AS. Historically the Sunnis define themselves as those who accept the authority of the first four Caliphs (see CALIPHATE) and the Ummayad Dynasty (661-750) of the DAMASCUS CALIPHATE. They differ from the Shi'as in viewing the interpretation of the QUR'AN and the traditions (hadith)as settled and unchangeable (for an extreme view see WAHHABIS). Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States, are solidly Sunni. Iran and Turkey, which are not Arab nations, and minorities in some other countries are SHI'AS. The popular folk religion of Bangladesh and many country districts of the Arab world is denounced by orthodox Sunnis (see Vivienne Stacey, Submitting to God: Introducing Islam, London: Hodder, 1997, 65-67). The predominant religion of some countries is Sunni Muslim (e.g.Indonesia, and states that used to be part of Russia) but they prefer the Turkish model of a secular state. In these days they face strong attempts to establish a Muslim state under shari'a law.

SYMBOLIC WORLDS We do not live in a single world of mutual understanding. Every language uses words to express quite different ways of experiencing reality (see LANGUAGE, Reality). And within each group of language speakers there are people living by alternative visions of what life is about (we set out 24 explanatory models of personal religion and ideology in God of Many Names chapter 1-4). Each of these visions uses symbols and stories to yield quite different perceptions of what is real and unreal. The RENAISSANCE emerged from LATINas the common language of Europe. And THEISM was the agreed model to explain the relationship of God to our world (seeUNIVERSITIES, Western). But as scholars began to write in English, French, German, and the Scandinavian and Slav languages they found it less and less easy to understand each other. In our day westerners find ARABIC ways of thinking alien and incomprehensible. Add to that the symbols of totally different religions and ideologies, and no wonder our intellectual world is in confusion. We are worried by FUNDAMENTALISM, but that is merely a name for people who believe passionately in a reality which we do not share. How can we make sense of such a confusion of symbolic worlds? First we should clarify the very personal vision we intend to live by (this website commends the model of Trinitarian Theism, see Creative Love). But a responsible educated person will also try to understand with sympathy other ways of thinking.

SYMPHONY Vivaldi (c.1675-1741) and Bach (1685-1750) had perfected the concerto as a way of enabling a single instrument to interact with an orchestra. In his nine symphonies Beethoven (1770-1827) took a step further. He showed how all the instruments of an orchestra could express different moods (joy, sadness, children dancing, struggle, victory, nostalgia) in a five movement composition that finally united them to produce a totally satisfying musical experience. That is why the symphony is a good metaphor for the church in our city. We differ from one another as much as violins are different from trumpets. And each of us have our part to play in the particular situations of our life. "With all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit" (Ephesians 4:2). No individual part makes sense on its own. But under the direction of our conductor (see CEO) we are brought towards a final conclusion that is the very music of heaven.

SYNAGOGUE As Jews were scattered all over the Middle East and Mediterranean they would gather for prayer and fellowship As soon as there were ten Jewish men they could organize themselves as a sunagogy (gathering place). As they grew, they could appoint ELDERS to administer their affairs. One of these might become their president or ruler. When they could afford it, they would invite a resident rabbi to teach them on the sabbath day and have special classes for children. Jesus taught in the synagogues of Galilee (Luke 4:15-16, 31, 33, 44, see John 18:20). Synagogues were often organized on the basis of their country of origin, or their language (Acts 6:9). There were several synagogues in Damascus (Acts 9:2). This was a method easily adapted for the first Christian churches. There was soon a Greek speaking Christian synagogue in the church of Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6). Wherever he traveled Paul found synagogues where he was allowed to preach, and he soon was able to form a Christian synagogue (Acts 13:5, 14, 43, 14:1, 17:1).

SYNCRETISM Many people suggest that world religions offer complementary or alternative ways to God. As explained in God of Many Names, what religions offer is ways of attaining 24 different goals. Often the goals are contradictory. Buddha wanted to attain a nirvana with no desires. But Christian Theism looks forward to being perfected in love. And there is no other religion (explanatory model) that explains how we can be perfected in love by a loving God. In fact the more clearly we understand an explanatory model the more its differences will be distinguished from other models. This means that a syncretism of explanatory models is a contradiction in terms. But no explanation, even our Trinitarian Theism (Creative Love Theism), ever saved anyone. God looks at the heart, not the correctness of our explanation. C.S.Lewis pictures the warrior who had served the god Tash all his life being welcomed into God's presence because his heart was right. That means that in Christian Theism a person may adhere to a wrong religion, and argue a wrong explanation (model), but his or her heart could be looking in the right direction. What such a person lacks is the assurance of being accepted by God (as set out in 1 John). Jesus said "No one comes to the Father but by me," which means that regardless of religion not one, but no one, can be resurrected and perfected except by him.

SYNOPTIC PROBLEM It is easy to see from a synopsis (Greek for seeing together) of the Gospels that Matthew used much of Mark's Gospel. He also added material that is also found in Luke's Gospel. On this web site we assume that when the apostle James was beheaded (AD 44, Acts 12:1-3), the early church realized the urgency of having written records. So Mark was charged with interviewing Peter and writing down as much as he could remember. He added his own personal eye-witness account of the arrest, crucifixion, entombment, and the women finding the tomb empty (Mark 14:26-16:8). Matthew had been a tax collector, so we imagine he wrote down his notes (called logia, perhaps in Aramaic) of Jesus' sayings which circulated among the churches.. He then used 601 verses of the 661 verses in Mark's Gospel as the structure of his Gospel and inserted many of his notes which he had translated into Greek. When Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea (58-62 AD) we suggest he asked Luke to use Mark's Gospel as a framework, include material from Matthew's logia, and add what he could find from written records in the Bethlehem tax office, by personal interviews with Mary the mother of Jesus, and from people in Nazareth. This is why Luke begins "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first to write an orderly account" (Luke 1:1-3).

SYPHILIS The Latin term first appears in a Latin poem by Girolamo Fracastoro (1483-1553). It was brought to Europe by the sailors of Columbus' Santa Maria (1492). It appeared in Scotland (1497). It was taken to India by Vasco da Gama's sailors (1498), and it soon arrived in China (1505) and Japan (1569). Syphilis and Gonorrhea were identified as venereal diseases propagated by sexual intercourse. They are not inherited, but they can have a damaging effect on the unborn child. They are both treatable by antibiotics, though other forms of venereal disease may not be curable. AIDScan be contracted by sharing tainted needles, but it is mostly propagated by sexual contact. Among Christians the ideal is faithfulness to one's partner before and after a marriage based on mutual submission (as in 1 Corinthians 7:1-16). This is why in the New Testament PORNEIA (promiscuity, sleeping around, prostitution) was viewed as unacceptable for Christians.

SYRACUSE On their way north from MALTA, the ship that carried Paul and Luke towards ROME called in at the port of Syracuse. The city was taken by Rome after a two year siege (213-211 BC), and it became the very prosperous capital of the Roman Colony of Sicily. We can be sure that during the three day stay in that port (Acts 28:12) Paul had contacts with the Jewish synagogue, and probably found Christians in the cosmopolitan city. There was certainly a church there by 185 AD.

SYRIAC Both Arabic and Hebrew were forms of Canaanite (which was called a Hamitic language, as was early Egyptian, Genesis 10:6, Psalm 105:23, 27). This was the language Abraham used when he came into Canaan, and it was revived 27 centuries later as the Hebrew of modern Israel. One dialect of this later became the Aramaic which was spoken among ordinary people in Jesus' day (see Jesus' words in Mark 5:41, 7:34, 15:34). Another was Syriac which was the trade language spoken in the churches that spread out far to the east from Edessa(Urfa in South East Turkey). Portions of the New Testament were translated from Greek into Syriac well before 250 AD. The Syriac language is still used in the Syrian and Mar Thoma liturgies of churches in Kerala, South India, though more and more the Bible is read in Malayalam in South India and English in North America.

SYRIA, Modern After the first world war the French were given the mandate to rule Syria (1920-1946). During the 1939-45 war Syria was occupied by the British and Free French forces (1941), and it was declared independent three years later (1944). The French continued to control the country till Syria became part of the Arab League (1945). Syria joined with Egypt in the United Arab Republic (1958), but seceded (1961), and two years later Syria became a republic under a military regime (1963). In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war Syria lost the Golan Heights from where the Syrians had been shelling the area of Galilee. Hafez al-Asad (1930-2000) was elected President of the Syrian Arab Republic (1971). He stationed Syrian troops in Lebanon (1976). When he died (10 June 2000) the Ba'th party nominated his son, Bashar al-Asad, who was elected as President with 97% of the votes. The street called Straight (Acts 9:11) is still the center of the ancient capital in DAMASCUS. And to this day there is a minority Christian community in Syria, and one third of Lebanese people view themselves as Arab Christians.