FGAG – Paul Thangaiah!

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.


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.


After the huge homily from Diaz, Fernandez was totally confused. He was a stripling of just 16 years and had spent his years NOT getting into concepts but getting a first hand FEEL of experiences possible thru his senses. So Diaz’ use of words such as INTENTION, AWARENESS, RESIST did not give clarity to his thoughts.

Yet Fernandez was attentive to whatever Diaz was saying. He was possessed with an ambition to excel. Excel in the profession of diving for oysters, that consuming passion in a couple of days had blinded him to most of the distractions that haunt sixteen year-olds. In his free time he used to go to the nearby rock abutting the beach and keep watching the waves, as his sub-conscious mind was saturating itself with ideas on diving.

Diaz had recognized that his pep talk was not getting the receptivity for lack of conceptual understanding and therefore decided to talk on things REAL. Real in the sense, that which is palpable to the senses.

The next day afternoon, as agreed, both were off to the rock in the ocean where the previous day the test of endurance was conducted on Fernandez by Diaz. Fernandez was sitting in a relaxed manner, yet respectful of Diaz’ presence.

Diaz asked Fernandez, ” You want to get the GREAT PEARL, but do you know why there are some oysters with Pearls and mostly without?”

Upon the silence of Fernandez, Diaz continued :  ” When  an irritating grain of sand  gets stuck between  the shell of the  oyster and the mantle (just  take it as the soft body of the mollusk) the  oyster secretes a  thing called the NACRE. This nacre surrounds the  irritating grain  and  provides  a coating as a protection to the soft and tender tissues of oyster. It does not coat that grain of sand once and leave it, but keeps coating it with the secretion called Nacre on a regular basis. It is this multi coating that gains in size over a few years and becomes a pearl.”

Fernandez was quite amazed that the pearl was nothing but an irritant that the oyster copes with through glossing. He was of the opinion that the Pearls were nothing but productions by oysters to establish their superiority over the non-pearl oysters. Now, his notions were severely challenged. It was the product of its  defect that the oyster was incapable of ejecting from its body at the first instance and  concealing it for years.

Diaz broke in, ” The oysters that were strong enough to eject the grains of sand or prevent the grain of sand from getting between the shell and the mantle DO NOT PRODUCE PEARLS. It is the ones which were incapable or careless that allowed the grain to get  that far which MAY produce pearls. But all the oysters that let the sand that far did not produce pearls either. There are many oysters which have grains between their shells and their mantles, yet have been harvested and found NOT to contain  Pearl.

It is the oyster which had turned its ADVERSITY into a pleasant ACTIVITY that produced PEARLS. The oyster has to coat that grain of sand with Nacre and has to daily coat the irritant with the nacre and thus the PEARL grows. The pearl is considered of value by the human beings not merely because of  the LUSTRE, but the IDEA that a NATURAL PEARL is distinguishable from the cultured ones and that the natural ones are RARE.

The oyster which had turned its difficulty into an activity over a long period, enjoys the smooth feel of the pearl. It feels no more of the irritation on its soft flesh. The pearl is the symbol of its overcoming its ADVERSITY with hopeful ACTIVITY.”

This interpretation of the Pearl dumbfounded Fernandez. He was so far seeing the Pearl as a commodity that he ought to find to escape poverty and lead a comfortable life. He was wondering if he should believe the story given out by Diaz.

The day was a waste, nothing was done. While Diaz was sitting on the rock, Fernandez was floating around in the waters and diving and coming up at intervals, but with no purpose or challenge. Diaz had drifted into his metaphysical thoughts. Both swam and walked back with silence for company. Fernandez was still disappointed- PEARL:mere saliva on a grain of sand!!
(to be continued….)