Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Statement of Life

People (especially Christians) usually draw up their own Statement of Faith (or Belief) to describe themselves. This Statement gives people identity. I have not 'officially' listed out any of such label myself, hence i would like to have one now. But i wouldn't call it Statement of Faith, but rather, Statement of Life, since this is who i am, not merely my belief but this statement constitute my worldview and thus praxis. And part of the reason why i wanted to label myself is because i've come across 2 theological bloggers identified me as an 'Arminian'. I've contacted them and hope that new friendships shall flourish from there. They are Wesley Wong and Jonah.

Sze Zeng's Statement of Life
I shall provide the sources that influence me to be who i am now. Some of my stand is not influenced by literature but from my conversation with people, and some from my admiration and reliance (technical term: non-executive epistemic authority) on others. But my stand doesn't necessarily sympathize with any of the sources because sources are not influential only to make us comply but also to fine-tune our own differing stands. I wouldn't go into every sphere of my belief because that would be exhaustive, hence will only list the core elements which other beliefs rest on. I shall categorize literature as Literary sources, conversation as Relational sources, and reliance as Authoritative sources.

Epistemology: Postfoundationalism anchoring on Critical Realism (contra non-foundationalism/anti-foundationalism).
Literary sources: The Shaping of Rationality (Wentzel van Huysteen), New Testament and the People of God (N.T Wright), Warrant & Proper Function (Alvin Plantinga)
Relational sources: Dr. Ron Choong of ACT, Rev David Burke of ORPC, Dominic Foo.

Human Origin: Theistic Evolution (not necessarily contra Intelligent Design)
Literary sources: Design Revolution (William Dembski), Case for Creator (Lee Strobel).
Authoritative sources: Center for Science and Culture, Center for Theology and Natural Sciences, John Polkinghorne, Wentzel van Huysteen, Alister McGrath, Philip Hefner.
Relational sources: David Chong, Leon Jackson, Dominic Foo.

Dynamics between Creator and Creation: Panentheism and Calvinistic inclined (though haven't really read on Panentheism. How did i got here is due to my above two stands on epistemology and human origin. Calvinistic (yes!), but i realize this would cause many misunderstanding...heck! God is too big to be contained in one air-tight system of thought).
Literary sources: Chosen But Free (Norman Geisler), Desiring God (John Piper), articles found in New Advent (Roman Catholic online encyclopedia).
Authoritative sources: N.T Wright, Alister McGrath, J.I Packer, I.Howard Marshall, Joel Green, Ben Witherington, Gregory Boyd, Tan Kim Huat, Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Stephen Tong.
Relational sources: Steven Sim, Leon Jackson, David Chong.

Apologetic: Postfoundational Apologetic (Incarnational+Cumulative Apologetic).
Literary sources: Too many to list. All of the books on apologetics in my room.
Relational sources: Steven Sim, David Chong, LT Jeyachandran.

Morality: Divine Command Ethics
Literary sources: The Bible, Case for Faith (Lee Strobel), Mere Christianity (C.S Lewis), Simply Christian (N.T Wright).
Relational sources: Dominic Foo.

Canonical Bible: The 39 OT books, 7 Deuterocanonical books, & 27 NT books.

Eschatology: HAHAHAHAHA! I dont know. But i believed that the second coming of Jesus marks the completion of God's re-creation project.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

RZIM Reasonable Faith Conference'07 @ Melaka

Question: Who are we?

Answer: We are people of God who were on our way to Melaka(!) for RZIM's Reasonable Faith 2007 conference on 13th April 2007.

Question: Er...... i mean the names of those that went to Melaka...

Answer: Ohh... Joshua Woo, Benjamin Ho, Darren Chow, Howard Zhen Hao, Mejlina, Joanne Yap, Serene Huang, God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit.

Question: Where were we?

Answer: At first, we were at Arab Street bus terminal. At about 8am, the bus took off from Arab Street bus terminal to Tuas second link. Then the Immigration checkpoint. First the Singapore checkpoint, then the Malaysia checkpoint, then the bus stopped at a rest-station for the passengers to relief themselves a little before going on to....

Question: er.... i mean where were we when these pictures were being taken...

Answer: Ohh... we were in the bus....Everybody were enthusiastic and energized. Some were chatting, some were reading, some was taking pictures...some were...well...sabbath.

As Darren was busy following all the lyrics from his MP3 player, Mejlina was busy sharing her enriching experiences with Howard Zhen Hao. On the other seats, Joanne was too caught up reading Zoe Tay's second pregnancy while Serene was meditating with her eyes closed, in a lotus position.

Anyway, after 4 hours of sitting still and trying our best at controlling ourselves from the 'shoes-throwing games' in the bus, we managed to reach safely at about 11.30am.

At Melaka Sentral, autonomously, we spilt roles and responsibility. Howard Zhen Hao and I went to look for return tickets to Singapore while the rest look for lunch venue. After enquiring all the ticketing counters, thank God, we managed to get the tickets!

On their side, they managed to find an A&W restaurant. Too bad, i didn't take any picture there.

After lunch, we took 2 cabs to Hotel Puri. Darren, Mejlina and me got into one, while the rest had to squeezed themselves into another. The journey from Melaka Sentral to the hotel took us 10-15 minutes. This is the hotel main entrance.


Ok... that's Howard Zhen Hao. This is his first time joining RZIM's conference, so please be patient with his enthusiasm.

After cooling himself down, Howard Zhen Hao joined in the queue to register and settle the payment for the conference. Total cost for the conference is SGD 160. And that includes accomodation, meals, and a RZIM's file!

The lady in pink is Dorothy and the gentleman in green is Brian. Mejlina was so happy that she couldn't stop smilling. Guess she was very happy to have arrived at the long anticipated conference.

After settling all those important paperworks, all of us were assigned to our rooms. I got Ben to be my roomate for the weekend. That means besides apologetics, postmodernism, existentialism, pluralism, philosophy of science, movie criticism, historical Jesus, Islam, and where to have the Melaka chicken rice, we learnt how to live with one another (especially how to cover your ears when your roomate snores).

The room was nice. It's clean and......... well, clean.

These are the toiletries. As i had guessed, the hotel provides 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. It's convenient to use because you can shampoo and condition your hair at the same time.

Question: What? At the same time? Huh.. you mean you used 2-in-1 shampoo conditioner?

Answer: Yes, why?

Question: AHHH idiot! Shampoo are negatively charged and dries up hair by removing the positive charges, dirt, and oil. Conditioner is positively charged and moiturizes. How can the lotion be drying up and moisturizing your hair at the same time?

Answer: *grasp*.. ok... no wonder the frizzly hair..but I had no choice. I didn't bring my own lotion.

Anyway, let's move on. Life is more than having healthy hair... So after resting for 30 minutes or so, the conference started with an opening ceremony. I'Ching gave us a preview of the 3 days, 2 nights conference and LT introduced the speakers (philosopher Stuart McAllister and historian John Dickson) and talked a little bit (I'm sure LT can go beyond the mere 1 hour 15 mins) on the whole idea of conference's title 'Jesus Among Other Lords'.

After that, we had our 1st Bible studies session on the book of Ecclesiastes. Stuart had us amazed with his profound skill of fusing existentialism, postmodernism and the message of Ecclesiastes to bring out the idea of evangelism and apologetic in current cultures.

After that BS session, it was workshop time! I'd chosen to join I'Ching's Communicating Jesus In Pluralistic Society workshop. She facilitated the group well and had us discussed and shared among ourselves the struggles and problems that we faced in evangelism and apologetics. I raised a question on one of her passing remark. She said that the existence of evil and suffering is an indication for the existence of God. My question was, how is that so? She answered briefly. Briefly not due to her lack of comprehension but because the topic is too big to be confined within a few minutes of sharing. Thus yesterday, when i visited RZIM office to collect the conference receipts, she commended Douglas Geivett's Evil & The Evidence For God to my reading. I grasped when i found out that it's published by Temple University Press. (i grasped even as i'm typing this).

After the workshop, we had our break and guess what, it's dinner time. Here is the picture of the place we had our breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

All meals are buffet-served. I had lots of watermelon, papaya, and honeydew during that weekend because need those vitamins to sustain myself as healthy and as heuristic as i can.

After dinner and rest we get to relax a bit through the movie and discussion session. They showed existentialist Ingmar Bergman's The Devil's Eye. Finally i know who is Don Juan.

After the movie, Darren, Mejlina, Ben, Howard, and I went out to stroll around the night scene in Melaka. Nothing much to do and nothing much to see. We just spent our time at the night market.

The next morning, we had Stuart to lead us in the 2nd session on the book of Ecclesiastes. After that, John Dickson took over the conference for his session. His led us to examined the identity of Jesus Christ by historical approaches. Though the presentation seems to be down-to-earth 'historical' and not philosophical at all (because it lacks 'philosophical terms' such as trinitarianism & etc), but to those who are aware, the entire project of historical quest for the real Jesus is no less philosophical, if not more. Methodologies, philosophical assumptions, and hermeneutics proper are the 'undersea cables' in this project.

During lunch time, i dont know whose idea was it to have Melaka chicken rice. So the group went out to town and walk about 10 minutes to reach this restaurant. While waiting for the chicken and the rice, we took pictures. This picture is when Mejlina is taking the group's photo. Oh yea... Dave Chong had just arrived to join us for lunch.

We were surprised when we find out that our drinks weren't served, by the restaurant's employee but by someone from another restaurant. Do u see what's going on? This is 'Outsourcing'! The restaurant has outsourced its beverages business!

Check these out: Fish ball?? Sotong ball?? Beef ball?? Prawn ball?? Or pork ball??


It's RICE ball!!! Yes, i was as shocked as you (referring to those who are shocked) when i found out. I thought these were fish ball and i kept waiting for my rice to be served until Joanne and Serene enlightened me.

After lunch, the Agorians head back to the cafe in the hotel for a management meeting. We discussed stuffs that have been hovering over our minds since the past week. Dave started the meeting with the vision and focus of the group, while we were holding our tongues in waiting for him to finish so that we can have our turn. The meeting went well. Settled most of the major issues.

Next we head for workshop. I went for John Dickson's Islam-The Truth Behind The Headlines. He presented clearly the Islamic view of Christianity and those unjustifiable caricatures made by Christians on Islam. He went on to teach us how to dialogue and have casual talk with Muslims about Christ.

After his workshop, i went to LT's Spirit of Science. He facilitated the group into thinking about the enterprise of science, from pre-modern to modern. He had us examined some of the philosophical assumption underlie sciences.

Before dinner, there was a session by I'Ching. Her interesting sharing titled "Happiness: Mastercard or Visa".

After came out from the conference room, we began to be aware of the underlying philosophies of advertisements and commercial marketing tactics. To think about it, the current cool 'trend' is nothing more than the projections of some marketing genuises into the society. They manipulate humans' desires and longing to make us products-driven.

In the evening, after dinner, we watched another movie. This is a good one. Really a good movie! After the movie, we hang out at the hotel's lounge, talked until 12.20mn. Was tired. No wonder felt some fatigue at times in the weekend. But it's alright. Nothing is better than laughing, joking, and sharing with friends. After that, the Singaporean Agorians took this picture at the corridor.If you dont know who is who, figure out yourself.

After that, we laid our tired shells to rest. Before i knew it, my mobile's alarm rang. The last day of the conference...

We had our final session on Ecclesiastes after our breakfast, followed by John Dickson's Jesus Then & Now before lunch. Then another session by John on Pluralism and Christian faith titled 'Religion Roulette: How Can We Know For Sure?' before the closing session.

The conference ended at about 3.30pm. Everyone was exchanging emails and contacts. Everyone was heavy-hearted to come to the end of the enriching conference in that warm afternoon. Group photos were taken to be kept down the memory lane :)

More pictures here

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nalika's Exam!

Hi all, pls pray for Nalika as she is facing her FINALS! And after that, God willing, she is graduating!

Thank you!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday 1 April 2007

"Part of Christian walk is to learn how to live in ambiguities", paraphrased Soo Inn's aphorism. Christian pilgrimage is not merely a rationalistic endeavor but a holistic living. One, like me, often swing between pendulums from anti-intellectuallism to Intellectualism (with the capital 'I'). But reality is more than propositions (thank God for that!). It is something else. Something unexplainable, uncomprehensible, unfathomable, yet desirable. An ancient Chinese called it 'the Great'.

Is that God? Could be. 'Could be' because that depends on what one means by 'God'.

The aphorism might sounds unconvincing to many believers. Not only because it 'seems' distasteful to modern humans but it also 'seems' to give fellow non-trinitarians the right to point their fingers to critic "See, i knew it! Christianity is not reasonable, it's based on faith!" But to think about it, aren't all worldviews require some degree of faith?

A fellow atheist can't affirm reality with a Descarte's foundationalism or Hume's empiricism, neither can a skeptic affirms anything with Nietzchianism (whatever that is).

But again, to say that Christianity is a 'mere' faith worldview demands too much from fellow creatures. We are created in a way to live meaningfully and comprehensively. We have to reason to grasp reality. To grasp 'God'. Many think that the main function of rationality is to critique others, but i beg for pardon. I think rationality is used best to critique ourselves. Examined ourselves.

I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness.~Ecclesiastes 7:25

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
~ Romans 8:27

Rationality supposed to be a superb tool which should not be abandoned. But ironically that'd always been the case. Neither Christians nor non-Christians should be extreme dogmatic on anything. Christians are called to use their minds by Scripture, the word and the authority of God. Non-Christians are called by common-sense or intuition to live meaningfully. Both fellow creatures should live with reason and faith going hand-in-hand. A compatible and holistic manner to approach and appreciate the 'reality'.

Living with ambiguities is not a bad thing after all. It's the way the world keeps going. We had the triumphant Newtonian science once. Everyone had one at one point of time in their lives. I had mine.