Monday, December 25, 2006

Met Up With John

Heavenly Harmony and Praise Band went to Barker Road Methodist Church today for an outreach. The last time i stepped into the headquarter of the Methodist Church in Singapore was more than 1 year ago. I remember attended the youth congregation in a posh hall that look like a cinema. Yup, this is the head office of the Methodist churches in Singapore, where Bishop Robert Solomon's punch-card lies.

Upon this second visit, i grabbed the opportunity to meet, not the bishop nor any of the pastoral staffs, but John. I met him during my last visit but didn't get to take picture with him. So this time, with my mobile camera phone, I snatched some.


Besides that, i snatched also a few of his aphorisms. Reading them is refreshing and reassuring yet guilt-invoking. He is a man after God's own heart. And when a man like me reading such stuffs is like a convicted criminal staring into the criminal law statutes. Knowing full well that there are things that ought not to do and there are things that ought to do, and one does the exact opposite for both.



Besides these two guilt-invoking plates, there are still other two that worth mentioning. The first one is very interesting. I smiled wittily when i saw it. It's like an amulet that keeps exclusive reformed souls, who believe their life-calling is to rid off every Arminians from the surface of this part of heaven, and Roman Catholics, who believe they are the one and true apostolic church, from wandering into the holy road (Barker Road, that is).

"Methodism is THE old religion, THE religion of the Bible, ,THE religion of the Early Church" *tremble*

Well, i think John and his brother, Charles are great men who fine-tuned their own heartbeat to go accordingly with God's own beat. The denomination that they found gives the world a foretaste of what is it like when the kingdom is fully inaugurated by Jesus. The hymns they wrote have been touching and inspiring millions of generations of Christians around the world. The social service committees that are being set up under the Wesleys have been meeting the needs of the needy. Their global schools brought literacy to many parts of the world (Malaysia and Singapore owe the current standard of literacy of the nations to them). Their biblical scholars' (Ben Witherington III, Joel Green, McKnight, Olson etc) contribution to the studies of the Bible is abundant. Hence, here, i shall leave this last plate to remember one that was raised, whose life has shaken the world for the last 3 centuries and many more still to come.



"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth"





Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas 2006

Christmas = Unusual busyness

Been my 3rd year seeing Christmas through in Singapore. It's amazing to think back how was i like in the first year. Though nothing much, but definitely very different.

I was thinking about Christmas greetings this afternoon. Thought of using N.T Wright's 'Jesus is YHWH with his sleeves rolled up'. Because that is taken out directly from the Message (Isaiah 52.10), it would had been unoriginal. So i tried to think of some powerful yet simplistic way of describing Christmas in its essence. After a few analogies, i've decided to use this:

"Blessed Christmas! Symbol of the historical advent of Emmanuel. Jesus is YHWH wearing his armor, went to the frontline to fight for his people the losing war."

Simple and powerful, i hope. Best is that it is the length of one SMS!

But such simplification is inevitably misunderstanding-inviting. After sending to those in my mobile, i got 2 worth-noting replies; one direct rejection of the message while the other wondering what it really means.

Reply from Herman: I don't think christmas symbolises the advent of christ. I only know that it is pagan. And it is not a losing war. God is in control from all eternity. We are losers but not God.

Reply from Stephen: Wait a minute! Why the losing war?!

I ignored the first one.

This is my reply to Stephen: God fought the war for his people. A losing war for his people. Jesus was at the frontline and was killed. And the cross is the victory of god but that would make this an Easter greeting.

Blessed Christmas to everyone, especially to all my family, friends and their families! Many blessings of peace, joy, and love to each and every soul.

God has comforted his people!
He's redeemed Jerusalem!
God has rolled up his sleeves.
All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm.
Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other,
sees him at work, doing his salvation work.
Isaiah 52.10

And we saw it through a man hanging on the bloody cross, with his flesh being torn, with his arms and legs being nailed. We saw it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Molly Was Here

'Moh ni de tou, hao wen ru...' (Mandarin super-beng song) came to mind when i saw Molly's sms on Wednesday that she will be coming down to Singapore on Thursday. Cant help but to smile when fun memories flashed thro and fro. Chew Loh's cunning voice rang as it used to, singing that super-beng discotique track.

The last time i met Molly was during Chinese New Year earlier this year. She, Steven and myself were car-pooling back to Penang from KL. And it is as if with a blink that Molly and I were hanging out at Cosmopolitan Bar.

That picture was taken by her camera phone. One of the latest Samsung slim 'push-up' phone. The quality is not bad. This one, on the left is taken by my stupid Sony Ericsson K610i. Molly knew her aesthetics. While posing for the picture she deliberately strike it by slanting from one side so that her chubbiness trims down. Cool.

While drinking and chit-chating, Cecilia walked pass in front of me with her friends. Shouted at her but my voice was being buried by the massive crowd.

On Friday night, right after my shift, i met up with Molly at Causeway Point. Surprisingly Penny was there too. But she has to leave early to finish her work. After that, i sent Molly back to Karen's aunty's place. Met Karen and her parents there. At first we were chatting, tried to catch up with one another. Then Karen's dad joined in and start talking about theology. He is in his final year at Penang Baptist Seminary. I'm grateful for his sharing. He shared about his struggles, the importance of servanthood, Roman Catholicism view on Chinese ancestral worship, Joseph Prince, and many other stuff. Besides that he commends Watchman Nee's Spiritual Authority to me.

In the end we talked until 1.45am. We prayed and hugged (never cross my mind to hug Karen's dad but i thought that is an appropriate gesture). Both Karen and Molly already sound asleep in the room! So i had to leave them without saying goodbye.


MOLLY! KAREN! I miss you!

Reach home at 2.30am. Slept at 3am. Woke up at 6.30am to start another day.
=)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pass Down The Love/ Leave A Little Love Behind


In the weekend, Heavenly Harmony (one of our company's voluntary choir group) was priviledged to witness to the pedestrians at Orchard Road through musical skit and songs. They prepared a short skit with the message of giving love away is the way to have more love.

After the skit, they sang Heavenly Melody's "Ba Ai Liu Xia" (Mandarin: Pass Down The Love/ Leave A Little Love Behind) which was based on the Chinese author Ms. Liu Xia, whose work with the disabled gained nation wide sympathy and recognition.

The song is so distinct from Black Eye Pea's "Where is the Love?", though both songs centred on the theme Love. The Pea's is not constructive and lead no one to no where except inspiring people to shove out more complain about the world.


I've translated the lyrics here:

A day will come when my brain wears out;
O, please allow my wisdom stay;
A day will come when my arms lose their strength;
O, please allow my experience stay;
A day will come when my limbs failed to carry me;
O, please allow my determination stay;
A day will come when my heart stop beating;
O, please allow my love to stay.

Leave a little love behind to shower the world with exuberance,
Leave a little love behind to make the world more livable.

Oh Beng Kee, The Heartlander Evangelist

Last Sunday i was involved in one of the neighbourhood outreach organised by Bethany Emmanuel Mission Church and my company. Right before the event starts, as i was warming my seat at the first row because was managing the powerpoint slides, Rev. Oh Beng Kee walked past infront of me and seated 2 chairs away at my right.

I didn't know the church had invited him.

Once the hymns were sang and the introduction had been given by the church's pastor, Rev. Oh went up to the stage, holding his mic and started to preach.

He started talking about the significance of Christmas. He told us the story of a grandpa whose birthday party has been celebrated and attended by everyone else except himself. He paralleled this story with the current Christmas celebration with many people all over the world celebrating the birthday of Christ without his presence. He further made his point that not only Christ wasn't invited to his own birthday party but people marred this festive season with sinful reasons.

Then he went on talking about the sinfulness of humans. He told a story of how a durian seller feels triumphant for cheating money from a couple of tourists. His own experiences weren't denied being shared with the congregation. Some time ago a person rebuked him after one of his evangelistic rally. The person asked him to stop accusing people that they are sinful and in need of Jesus Christ. How could one be sinful when one didn't "sar ren fang hou" (Mandarin-commit any murder or burn any houses)? Rev. Oh responded calmly by first calming the emotional man down. He then responded by asking him "Have you hated anyone before? When you hate someone, didn't you wish to have him killed? The difference between you and a murderer is that the murderer has enough gut to carry out the murder."

Rev. Oh then told a story of a lady who found out about her husband's unfaithfulness to her. Since then she hadn't stop cursing for her own husband to die. And when her husband died, she consulted a Taoist spiritual medium of her husband's whereabout. The medium told her that due to her husband's bad deeds, he has been reincarnated into a cockroach. And thence onwards, she kills cockcroaches that she sees.

This is the real state of 'hatred'. The Bible plainly states that hating someone is the same as commiting murder. The only difference is that in this world, most people are gutless to carry out what they most wanted to do because of the legal punishment.

Then Rev. Oh tripped on expounding biblical truth by relating sexual offences with lust, untamed tongues with burning flames, and theft and robbery with coveteouness.

Then comes the limelight.

He told a story of two identical twin brothers. The only unindentifiable feature between the two is their behaviour. One is a disdain crook while the other is an ideal gentlemen. The crook brother is of no good to anyone. Every imaginable bad things have been done by him. Then came a day when a loanshark approached the crook brother for payment while he was playing mahjong. As a taboo, the crook brother hates to be sought payment during mahjong matches because it brings bad luck. Add to the fact that he was already losing money, in that frenetic mood, the crook grabbed the steal chair beneath him and slammed it at the face of the loanshark. As the chair smacked, plashed his blood onto the crook's garment. Everyone around shouting for the cops. The crook realized that he had just commited a crime and everybody is witnessing agaisnt him. At the moment when the world seems to be crumbling down on him, he suddenly remembered that there is a brother that he could still seek for help. And with such hope he ran out from the mahjong centre to his brother's place. As he ran, the witnesses accompanied the just-arrived cops chase after him from the back.

When he reached his brother's house, he knocked on the door as hard as he could. His brother was awaken by the noise and went to open the door. When he saw the blood stain on his crook brother's shirt, without a second guess, he knew probably what had just took place. Promptly, he asked the crook to take off his shirt while he, himself, taking off his own. Then he passed his clean shirt to his brother, asking him to put it on, while he was tugging on the blood-stained one.

When the cops arrived with all the witnesses, the one who is wearing the blood-stained shirt walked out from the house and surrendered himself. He was being led away handcuffed. At the court of justice the eye-witnesses were testifying agaisnt him, accusing him for the crime that he hadn't done. Eventually the court and all the world pointing their fingers at him saying that he is guilty. But in the midst of all these people, there is one person who knows that he is not. That is the crook brother.

A simplistic and beautiful narrative that brings out the gist of the doctrine of the atonement.

From there, Rev. Oh continued to explain the pardon from the highest authority over crime, and in our case, sin. Then the altar call.

That day, several heartlanders came to received Jesus as their Saviour. Soli Deo Gloria

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The God-Driven Life

Agora supposed to have an evangelistic pot-luck yesternight but all agorians (so Christians) turned up and non non-Christian was there. Though a little disappointed yet the fellowship was none the less edifying. In fact it's under God's sovereign ordination that the event turned out to be what it is; an Agora fellowship. And under the same providence the management of the room mis-managed can caused double-booking, so we get to used the function room free of charge. And to think about it, it would be purpose-defeating if money still were to be collected for what it turned out to be not what the money was meant for.... providence! hahaha

Benjamin facilitated the fellowship last night. He did well. Relevant questions were raised concerning our vocation and our life as Christians. Everyone shared. Thus everyone got to know a bit more about everyone in what we do or going to do and the REAL struggles that Bible-believers face.

The one main struggle that most of us share is money. We are weak when it comes to this. The power of money and its guarantees seem overwhelming. Some of us are thinking of how to get rich, some are struggling with wealth, some are looking forward for better paying job etc. As for me, i'm born to love riches, as i told them. Thus it's a big struggle for me especially when there is a calling for a humble lifestyle, not only as someone going for theological training, but as a Christian.

I shared with them a conversation i had with one of my client that embarassed me. He asked me when am i going for 'full-time' ministry. As i didnt want to talk about it with him, i simply tried to avoid the topic with a reluctant answer, 'Full-time' ministry doesn't guarantee wealth.

And so, I thought, the topic has been avoided. But he stared at me sympathetically and said, "You disgraced God and your brother and sister in Christ..." I was speechless at once. It hadn't dawn to me so explicitly that each decision and respond that we make reflect on who God really is to us and how do we really worship him.

Repent, repent~

Besides i shared about my application for sponsorship for theological training. It started with realizing the passion of doing what God wants me to do through stages of discovery and providential situations. As things keep moving, unconsciously, i've shifted my passion to do what i believe to be God's will for me to solely my passion to be doing what i wanted and hope to do. It's slippery and i fell.

Pr. Joseph Teng corrected me by redirecting me back to God. He reminds me that i shouldn't place my hope on people but rather on God. Sometimes tangilbility appears to be more reliable than things that cannot be seen. I dont deny its truthfulness but when it comes to God, it is a different category altogether. God is one tangilbility that cannot be seen yet demands some degree of faith in him.

Life should be driven neither by purpose nor reason, but God Himself.

To say that it's driven by purpose is too slippery (purpose is god), to say that it's by reason is too positivistic and arrogant (reason is god). Life itself is ever-living and not meant to be monotonous. It's dynamic. Thus Life drives life. YHWH being the God of the living drives the lives of his ever-living covenantal people whom he called through and for the ever-living Christ.

Repent, repent~

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Testimonial

Background
My pilgrimage from being a non-Christian to my decision for theological studies started when my mother embraced Buddhism when I was still in Primary school. Since then I was exposed to serious spirituality for the very first time. By following parental footsteps, I came be to a staunch Mahabrata Buddhist. Being in that faith had me attended Buddhist Sunday school for a number of years. In the fourteenth year of my life I led a 10 days monastic life at the Kek Lok Si temple, Penang, practicing monk-hood, with head shaved, vegetarian diet, intense sutra chanting, meditation, and Dhamma learning (Buddha’s teachings). My studies on Buddhism brought me to a diploma course at the International Buddhist College after my graduation from secondary education. I was not merely a Buddhist but a very polemical one. Christians who tried to share the Gospel to me would usually ended up being ridiculed by my arguments. I did thought that the Christian god is a weak god compared to the enlightened Buddha. At that time, the only truth to me is nothing else but Buddhism.

The Gospel
Ironically I came to open up a bit to listen to the Gospel when a Buddhist shared it with me. He is Steven Sim, my best friend who was also a staunch Buddhist himself. Though we are from different sect of Buddhism, our similar passion in the discourse of life’s meaning had brought us together on our pilgrimage to Christianity. Both of us spent hours discussing religious issues almost everyday and every night. He was the one who read the Bible (which was given by his friend) and discussed what he had read with me so that we could critic it from our Buddhist point of view. We were 16 then.

Those thought-provoking discussions went on for a period of time. We were excited with what we were discovering each day as if we were engaging in a chess game. I remembered vividly when we were chatting on John 14:6, Steven asked me a terrifying question ‘What if this passage is true?’ I forgot our exact respond but I think we were silent for a while. Subconsciously both of us started to accept the Gospel. It did not take long for us to see it as part of the Truth in life. And it was at that moment ‘[our] Adversary began to make His final moves’ (as how C.S Lewis put it).

The Conversion
When we were17 we started visiting various religious sites during school holidays. At that time, one of our friend invited us to his church’s Sunday service. I forgot how many time were we there before our conversion. In one of the service the pastor preached the Atonement of Jesus Christ for our sin. At the end of the service, when we were asked whether should we accept Jesus as our savior, with tears, I raised my hand. I do not know whether did Steven raised his or not as my eyes were closed, but we started to be excited about Jesus Christ and the church since then.

Passion for Theology
No long after my conversion, I took up a diploma course in Buddhism at the International Buddhist College, as suggested by my mother. My motivation is to understand more about the faith that I used to embrace. I was still attracted to the profundity of the Buddhist faith. After attending the classes for about 6 to 9 months, my interest in Buddhism started to fade. I felt the subjects taught in the class started to be irrelevant to me. I thought I could relate more to that faith through the course, which was the reason why I took it up, but I was wrong. The more I listened to the lecturer, I more I could not make sense of the faith. I gave up without completing the course.

After a year-contract with Star Cruises, I came to Singapore in December 2003 for a job. The hiring manager tricked me into this job during one of his recruitment in Penang. It did not take long for me to realize that the position ‘Customer Service Officer’ that I applied for is a door-to-door sales job. Heavy-heartedly I persevered in that job for 6 months so that I could return a sum of money I owed to my parents. It was in the third month in this job that I read C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which was recommended by Steven.

For the very first time I got to know that the faith that I’m embracing can be articulated so reasonably and relevantly. Since then I picked up reading as a hobby. My theological odyssey was boosted in July that year when Srimal, an intern with ORPC, introduced Lee Strobel’s Case For Christ to the young adult fellowship which I attend regularly. Long story cut short, from apologetic, I was led to theology, to reformed theology, then finally to my current interest, biblical hermeneutics and history.

Orchard Road Presbyterian Church
I started attending ORPC in January 2004. In July that year I got involved in leading Bible studies for the youth. Back then I was attached with a Bible study small group every Sunday after the morning service. But my involvement in the youth ministry did not allowed time for me to attend the small group regularly. So I left the small group.
I had my membership transferred to the church in 2006.

Agora Singapore
Agora Singapore is a theological ‘chit-chat’ group founded by 5 five lay Christians in November 2005 to which I am coordinating. The vision for this group is to promote and cultivate a theological community that could live out holistic Christian life. The group also provides a ground for theological discussion among lay Christians from various denominations. (http://theagorasg.blogspot.com/)

The Call
St. Paul received his conversional call on his way to Damascus and started his mission work 3 (or so) years after that, while I was spared from such an immediate call. After receiving Christ, gradually, I came to recognize my call to a theological-oriented vocation.

If I am asked of how convicted I am to this call, I would confess that I do not have a
100 % perfect assurance that this is what God wants me to do. Making a living with such vocation is most of all my desire. I am always fascinated with Life. It is only after my conversion to Christianity that I realized theology is the map to understand Life. Hence, now, I am fascinated with theology.

I find myself contending with Dr. Robert Funk’s radical theses that ‘The God of the metaphysical age is dead …We must reckon with a deep crisis in god talk and replace it with talk about whether the universe has meaning and whether human life has purpose’.
I think if we abandon theology or God-talk, and try to venture onto anything at all, without first getting our theology right is futile.

Secondly I recognize the talents that I am stewarding for God. No doubt the passion for theology is also God-given yet there is a notion that God has granted me to sharpen and serve Him with. The notion that I am referring to is the cognitive faculty. I am not smart (which my primary and secondary education tell), but I recognize that God is using this faculty of mine to help others and (especially) myself in our pilgrimage to love and know Him more.

The third sign that I derived to understand my calling is from the acknowledgements from close Christian friends. Steven is one that always encourages me to pursue this vocation. Apart from that, I received acknowledgement from the other young adults and small group leaders in the ORPC. Not least, from my colleagues and my non-Christian parents too.

Vision of Ministry
Honestly I am not sure how will my theological training will be and how and where will I further it. Though with many uncertainties, I foresee my ministry to be academic on one hand and develop a God-centered community that respond to the needs of world on another. My desire is to see Christians that are able to engage with the secular people and direct them to Jesus Christ through their holistic lives. Having these in mind, there is one ministry that cannot be neglected and should be prioritized. That's the building of a God-loving, Christ-centred family.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Disappointed with Najib Tun Razak

"I am more inclined to view Bangsa Malaysia as a state of mind to eradicate social prejudices and differences among the races. If we accept this and avoid polemics on definition, we can avoid arousing controversies."

I'm not sure whether can the Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak still say the same if he belongs to the marginalised. Eradicating social prejudices and differences among the races is not a matter of the state of the mind. Wake up DPM! Stop dreaming at the la-la land. There is marginalisation in the society. No one can deny that. The under-priviledged groups are trying to improve their living condition, fighting for their own rights, believing trans-racial justice can be met. And that's the reason why we need a government who would treat each race and ethnic groups equaly.

If it's just a state of the mind, why then the over-reaction being mounted by the priviledged group when the marginalised tries to leverage the benefit distribution among the nations? Doesn't it seems like one's slapping one's mouth here?

On one hand, he is gesturing to calm the marginalised, with the other, he is keeping the borders of the under-priviledged groups in tact. Is this the way a leader cares for his nation when inequality is being experienced by the people generation after generation?

Remember the golden rule? It always keep one on track of what is fair and not fair:
"Do unto others what you want others do unto you"

The nation needs a leader not someone who gibberishes. "...avoid polemics on definition, we can avoid arousing controversies"?? His statement is as controversial as any other issues troubling the nations.

Interview With Dr. E

Woke up at 6.30am this morning and got myself tidied before meeting Dr. E at 8am. Rushed and prayed all the way to the place because the time wasn't friendly, as being shown on my watch. Glad that the route was safe and smooth. Thus i reached there on time, though one or two minutes late.

Dr. E was already there waiting. We shook hands and he invited me to the meeting room for chat. The chat lasted for about an hour. He was friendly, open, and blunt. I was honest, transparent, and respectful.

It was only 8.40am (my estimation) when Dr. E asked me 2 BIG questions: "Why do you think it is necessary for Jesus Christ to be 100% human and 100% divine? And can you briefly share the passages that hint on the 'trinity-ness' of God in the OT?"

I think i did well on the first question where as the second one is kind of impossible. Here were my responds:

Jesus Christ necessarily be 100% human because only by that, He is able to relate and fully symphatize with human in our weakness, suffering, pain, brokeness and all sort of evil that we, fallen humans, experience. I was refering to Romans 8.1-4 (His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh) and Jurgen Moltmann's theology of hope.

He has to be 100% divine because it is necessary for us to listen to someone who is super-human. Founders of other religion are merely human and if Jesus Christ is just another mere human, why should i give Him my ears? To coin an allegory (i had this allegory in mind but didn't share with Dr. E): all humans are trapped in an enclosed box, the only things that we know are those things within the enclosed box. We might also think that we are well in the box while in reality we are trapped and imprisoned there. If ever a transcendant truth is to be known by us about our own condition has to come from someone who is outside the box. Someone who can see us from a point of view that we cannot see ourselves. And if ever this someone came to tell us something, then He is someone that we should listen to.

Then Dr. E responded that he will 'fine-tune' the last part of my reply (the one on Jesus' 100% divinity). I anticipated excitedly.

He said,"Jesus Christ has to be 100% divine because only a lamb that is without blemish would be worthy to be the perfect sacrifice for God's judgement. So being 100% divine, He is the perfect sacrifice."

With all respect to Dr. E, I don't think that fine-tuned any of my reply. That only shows the necessity for Jesus to be 100% human so that He could, in human form, represents us on the altar to be sacrificed as the price to purchase our salvation.

My answer to the second questions was reference to Genesis (God's spirit hover over the water and God said "Let us make man..") and Daniel 7 (God's everlasting kingdom being established). When i finished replying, in my mind, i knew that i did badly on the Daniel part because i dont really think that hint anything on the trinity-ness within God but referred to the coming of a person who is somehow equivalent with God, perhaps God himself. But my point is that there isn't any passages in the OT that hint on the tri-personhood of God. There are passages on the plurality within one Godhead but not an explicit description of 3 persons in that head.

Dr. E suggested that Genesis 3.15 (... I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel...) answered his question. But then again, with all respect, that doesn't answer anything. The text merely says that God will make Eve's child and the serpent's child hate and destroy one another (some might differentiate that 'crush your head' is deadly while 'strike his heel' is not as deadly but it is clear that the ancient knows that a serpent's strike is as deadly - Numbers 21.6).

Anyway the meeting ended at around 9.10am. I went home and called Nalika before get on with homework.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Books on Jesus

The world is sick with critically unorthodox, sometimes distorted, portraits of Jesus. Hence some unique people raised by God had rolled up their sleeves and brought forth the old sweet Jesus back to the center of the scholar hall.

1) Darrell Bock: The Missing Gospels
2) J. Ed Komoszewski. M. James Sawyer. Daniel B. Wallace: Reinventing Jesus
3) N.T Wright: Judas and the Gospel of Jesus
4) Larry W. Hurtado: The Earliest Christian Artifacts
5) Craig A. Evans: Fabricating Jesus
6) Richard Bauckham: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
7) Ben Witherington III: What Have They Done With Jesus?

These 7 books were written so that the orthodox Christians can celebrate this year's Christmas, without the need to deny the true joy of the season or to leave our brains at the church's doorstep during Christmas services/mass. Better still, these books give us more reason to celebrate.

May God continue to bless these people. Give them many more years ahead, wisdom, boldness, courage, and, most of all, the joy to see the glory of our Lord.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sally's Moment

Who? Sally?

Yes, Sally. A nice girl that i met 4 years ago when i was laboring part time at England Optical, Gurney Plaza. She was a personnel from Focus Point, the arch-enemy of England Optical. I dated her for a very short period but decided to give up reasonably, but not because she was bad.

So, what's a 'Sally's Moment'?

Well... the vivid memory is the one during 2002 Chinese New Year. The setting was a beach during dusk, with a bottle of red wine and a nice weather. We talked. She cried. My shoulder was borrowed. My heart thumped heavilly the whole time. Feelings were strong but ambiguous.

It's more than that but the details are best to be buried. Those feelings are best to be sealed. This is 'Sally's Moment'. When feelings had to be dealt through struggles, pains, and sleepless nights just to forget someone... no... should be to forget how we feel towards someone. Sally's moment.


Side note: Naomi posted a good write up on 'Platonic relationship', that is the intimate friendship between two persons of opposite gender.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Beautiful, She Is

The more i read on Roman Catholic Church the more beauty i see in her. Her recent leaders, especially John Paul II and Benedict 16th, are rather distinct from their predecessors. Since Vatican 2 claimed that the 3rd millenium is the millenium of conciliation and renewal in the Roman Catholic Church, i don't see why can't reconciliation happen between her and her ecclesial communities. Perhaps it is not really the hesistation of the Roman Catholic Church but rather the problems among those who claim to be following the Church.

When i read John Paul II's apology and the International Theological Commision, i can't help but to admire the vision of the leaders and the magisterium the Catholic church. She is beautiful but not necessarily the same can be applied to her "sons and daughters".

John Paul II: "We forgive and we ask forgiveness. We are asking pardon for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth, and for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed towards followers of other religions."

International Theological Commision on Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ecclesia Catholica Semper Reformanda



"Speaking as one of those who is regularly thus carpet-bombed, what I find frustrating is the refusal of the traditionalists to do three things: first, to differentiate the quite separate types of New Perspective; second, to engage in the actual exegetical debates upon which the whole thing turns, instead of simply repeating a Lutheran or similar line as though that settled matters; and third, to recognise that some of us at least are brothers in Christ who have come to the positions we hold not because of some liberal, modernist or relativist agenda but as a result of prayerful and humble study of the text which is and remains our sole authority. Of course, prayer and humility before the text do not guarantee exegetical success. We all remain deeply flawed at all levels. But that is precisely my point. If I am simul iustus et peccator, the church, not least the church as the scripture-reading community, must be ecclesia catholica semper reformanda. Like Calvin, we must claim the right to stand critically within a tradition. To deny either of these would be to take a large step towards precisely the kind of triumphalism against which the Reformers themselves would severely warn us. But if we are siblings in Christ there are, I think, appropriate ways of addressing one another and of speaking about one another, and I regret that these have not always characterized the debate."
-
N.T Wright, New Perspectives on Paul, 10th Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference: 25–28 August 2003.

Quote above is applied typologically to my situation.
When i talk to my friends from the Reformed tradition, they stare at me as if i'm a liberal. When i talk to my Catholic friends, they assume outrightly that i belonged to the heretical tradition thus have no right idea of what theology/any-other-matters-pertaining-to-faith is about. Does the third option ever cross their minds? "that some of us at least are brothers in Christ who have come to the positions we hold not because of some liberal, modernist or relativist agenda but as a result of prayerful and humble study of the text which is and remains our sole authority."


Friday, October 06, 2006

Inerrancy????

This is not to stumble anyone. If you can't swallow it, leave it.

The argument for inerrancy is usually God-centred as in it presupposes God's preservation in the canonization process:
1) God is inerrant
2) The Bible is God's word
3) Thus the Bible is inerrant

The problem here is at (2).

Question 1. How do we judge a New Testamental book/letter belongs in to the category of the Bible or not?

The usual answer from apologists is 3:
1) The book/letter has to be authored by the direct apostle of Jesus or the direct followers of the apostles.
2) The book/letter has to be circulated widely among the early churches.
3) The book/letter doesnt contradict the early doctrines of the church.

Problem 1.
I come to realize that a fundamental shift happened when a deeper question being raised (Question 1). The shift is from a very God-centred paradigm to a very human-centred one. In the first, apologist presupposes God's sovereignty over the canonization of the Bible, when the question on the canonization being raised, the apologist draws bullets from human judgement. That means the ultimate foundation for the argument for inerrancy is not by prsupposing God but by investigating human's findings. Thus the argument by presupposing God's sovereignty for inerrancy doesnt stand because at best it only able to argue for the inerrancy of the 'pre-determined canon'; and left the fundamental issue left unsettled (the canonization).

Problem 2.
Granted that God's sovereignty covers the canonization process (means presuppositional argument being validated). All books in the NT are being canonized because the early church was guided by God to recognised them. If that can be argued, then why shouldnt we canonized the gospel of Thomas as well? Or better, the shepherd of Hermas and the epistle of Barnabas, since both of them are found in codex sinaiticus and vaticanus (two earliest full manuscripts available) which our modern Bible translation based upon? Or even better, the Didache (teaching of the 12 apostles) which its authorship (not its earliest manuscript) dated as early as AD 70. The usual argument offered by apologist for the exclusion of these extra-biblical manuscripts in the Canon is 'late authorship'. But then, again, it's going back into investigating human findings instead of the philosophical argument offered at first. If the presuppositional argument stands, then the sovereignty of God can also be argued to have cover the process of authoring the shepherd of Hermas, the epistle of Barnabas, Thomas gospel, and the Didache.

Problem 3 (the biggest) If canonization can't be settle by philosophical argument, then the inerrancy part doesnt hold water. How can one talk about inerrancy when there is no canon?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Montague & Capulet

Two households, both alike in dignity in fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny where civil blood makes civile hands unclean. From forth the faital loins of these two foes a pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth wiht their death bury their parents' strife.

Juliet
: O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I shall no longer be a Capulet.

Romeo: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

Juliet
: 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy, thou art thyself though not a Montague. What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. Oh, what's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection to which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name! And for thy name, which is no part of thee, take all myself.

*sigh*

History been keeping more Romeos and Juliets apart. Protestant and Catholic...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Democratic Action Party

This is my first political post. I dont have much interest in polity but seems like i have to play this inevitable role as i's being given this citizenship. Mercy, God.. mercy..

Seems like the probablity for me to cast my first vote will be to DAP. Still hasn't decided yet, but tentative choice is that because the current BN administration has too much baggages, though the leader is, no doubt, a good one.

Check out DAP's Vision and Mission, which is more palatable to me:

An outline of Party Policies:
On the Reform of Legislative Institutions
restoration of local government elections;
abolition of the appointment system of Senate;
denial of the two-third majority of the ruling parties in the Parliament and State Assemblies.
On the Reform of the Electoral system
restoration of the "one -person-one -vote" system of constituency delineation;
expansion of voting rights to all citizens who age of 18 years or above;
restoration of the independence of the Election Commission;
creation of an electoral culture that is clean, fair and free.
On nation-building
Abolition of the division of "bumiputra" and "non-bumiputra" and the implementation of ethnic equality.
On Economic Development
due emphasis be given to distributive justice;
opposition to environment destruction;
opposition to "Party Capitalism";
replacement of the ethnic quota system with a policy of "merits and needs"
On Labour
implementation of minimum wage
opposition to unlimited import of foreign labour;
defence of workers' rights to free association;
promotion of workers' solidarity
On Social Welfare
implementation of health care and other social security policies;
protection of the aged, the disabled and the poor against absolute poverty.
On Education
implementation of a seamless system of education;
full recognition of the right to mother tongue education.
opposition to the 1996 National Education Act.
On Ethnic and Cultural rights
cultural democracy;
ethnic equality;
national integration through equality, tolerance and understanding.
On Mass Media
creation of a free, fair , accountable and responsible mass media
opposition to the monopoly of information and manipulation of news;
On Agriculture
non-ethnic-based reform to land-reform;
rental control;
expansion of agricultural loan;
reduction of agricultural taxes.
On Environment
opposition to any economic policy that destroys the environment;
the right of Orang Asli to develop and enjoy their natural resources;
all major development of natural resources like the construction of mammoth dams must be subject to strict monitoring and assessment.
On International Relations
promotion of world peace and justice;
support for the Non-Alignment Movement;
opposition to imperialism and racism;
promotion of human rights and democracy.
On National Defence
opposition to excessive defence budget;
call for genuine national service;
strengthening of civil defence;
streaming and reduction of armed forces to a highly trained professional force.
On Women
participation of women in all levels of decision-making.
opposition to all laws that discriminate against women.
On Youth
nine years of compulsory education;
abolition of ethnic quota system in education, the Universities and Universities s Colleges Act and all other laws and regulations that retard the full development of the potential of Malaysia citizens.