In INDRA NAGAR, Bangalore there is a very popular church among Christians by name Full Gospel Assemblies of God, the chief pastor being one Paul Thangiah. He speaks forcefully and i like listening to him! I do not go to his church as fundamentally the beliefs subscribed to by FGAG is contrary to my belief system. However, as a Christian who is open minded and listen to the various interpretations of the Bible, i am not averse to listening to his sermons. Pastor Paul Thangiah is a forceful speaker and appears to believe in the brand of Christianity which places a lot of emphasis on personal epiphany of Christianity.
What is PERSONAL EPIPHANY OF CHRISTIANITY?
Well when Paul of Tarsus, was on his way to Damascus armed with letters for persecution from the Synagogue of Jerusalem, he was struck with blindness and subsequently converted to Christianity and also cured of his blindness through the prayers of one Annanias of Damascus. This personal intervention of Jesus was cited by Paul to be the reason for his choice by Christ himself, for him to become the Apostle of the Gentiles. Good luck to his beliefs! The brand of Christianity which Paul spread through his ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES is still seen as the model to be emulated by some Christians. Paul Thangiah belongs to that class of Christians who believe in the CHURCH ORGANIZATION more than eternal personal vigilance to be a Christian of DEEDS. This i believe, should also exist, as without an ORGANIZATION there is no way Christianity would be ably represented in POLITICAL FORA. But this Sunday, i heard Pastor Paul Thangiah speak of some junior pastors who are supposed to be working against the Church leadership of his FGAG. Those are internal issues a i have nothing against it, nor should i have and therefore i have no issues against it.
However, he compared those rebellious minded pastors to that of Joab , the Commander-in-Chief of the army of David, the king of Israel. Joab killed Abner, the Commander-in-Chief of Saul. Abner had met David privately, and had assured David of bringing the tribes of Benjamin and others under the authority of David. It is not clear from the Bible, if that was to be brought about through a rapprochement between Ishbosheth and David, or through betrayal of Ishbosheth by Abner. In any case, before such an arrangement could take effect, Joab kills Abner citing avenging the earlier killing of Joab’s brother by Abner. Later, Joab supports Adonijah in his succession efforts, but gets upstaged by the cleverness of Bathsheba and Solomon, is made King of Israel. As per Solomon, his father David at the time of his death had told Solomon that Shimei and Joab should not be allowed to have a natural death, as the former had insulted David while David was fleeing the takeover bid of Absalom and the latter, as Joab had shed blood during peace time by killing Abner.
If there was one person who was loyal to David, it was Joab, as he was firstly a blood relative to David, their mothers were sisters! In Bathsheba’s matter, it was he who carried out the orders of David in executing Uriah, so that David could legitimize his relationship with Bathsheba. Moreover, there is at least one instance wherein Joab sent for David just before taking over a city in a battle, so that David could have the GLORY and not him (Joab). Joab’s advice to David after the death of Absalom is laudable. So to malign Joab is merely falling into the HISTORY WRITTEN BY THE VICTOR. Since Solomon’s elder brother was supported by Joab and as Joab probably had the letter of David sent for setting up Uriah, Solomon’s mother’s first husband, Solomon MUST HAVE BEEN KEEN on eliminating Joab and therefore USED DAVID’S NAME TO JUSTIFY SOLOMON’S ACTS!
Pastor Paul Thangiah uses the symbol of Joab, to describe the pastors who had probably undermined his authority in FGAG. This seems to be without a proper parallel. Pastor Paul Thangiah’s outburst was interesting- at least it showed how offended he was by others’ deeds.