Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I Do In Class...

"'...και θεος ην ο λογος' (literally:"...and god was the word"). Notice that there is no definite article before θεος. Usually there is definite article, especially in a monotheistic religion. Hence, we can derive from there that the author was paying particular emphasis on what God was: ο λογος (the word). This is an example of how can we discover the theological statement made by the biblical authors..."
(Tony Siew)

Don't you think this is a good way of helping oneself to remember what one learned from the class? By blogging about it.

Once in a while Tony will tempt the class by talking NT theology. That's one way to keep the class attentive. You know, sometimes conjugating and declining cases can be like a walk in the desert. So theology always refreshes, or at least to this one student.

I'm easily satisfied. Just surround me with tomes by Barth, Jenson, and etc. I'll be the happiest man for a while. Yes, "for a while" because no human exists and reads alone. And more fundamentally no books or any one thing able to give everlasting satisfaction to human besides the Creator himself.

You might be asking why then didn't I take courses like 'NT Theology' or 'Historical Theology' in the first place?

The answer is Isaiah 52.10:

Shang Di has launched his horse in the sight of everyone that the world may witness his royal rescue mission.

(This is of course my own translation. "Launching one's horse" [出马 -Mandarin "Chu Ma"] is being used whenever an emperor or a military general or Chan Hor Nam [a famous fictional triad leader] 出马 in a battle. It carries the grandeur significance of "finally he takes action" or "at last he rolls up his sleeves".)

Realizing that our God has launched his horse to go down into the battlefield to bleed in the battle himself motivates me to roll up my sleeves, pick up my farming trident, and get dirty and bloody. And I believe theological groundwork consists of, among many other things, the mastery of a few ancient languages (Greek being only one).

And this is of course some decades of work (especially for someone with learning difficulties like myself), not something accomplished in a semester or two. And this is the "dirty works" that theologian-wannabe got to do.

It's applicable also if you wanna be a triad leader. You got to start with the "dirty works". Doesn't it give you the further push to do it if you see your "tai loh" (Cantonese: big brother) takes part by leading the gang in the gang-clash himself?

And all this is another way of telling what I do in classes. I recite Isaiah 52.10. That's what I did. So can you when you are going through some difficult task.

D.A Carson at St. Andrews Cathedral

Went to Carson's public preaching on Revelation 12 yesterday. Nothing particularly exciting or interesting being preached. Attended a few of his past lectures and preaching, read a few of his books, and I have never find Carson to be exceptionally engaging. This is life la, some people likes strawberry cake, some prefer chocolate, and I like New York cheese cake. Carson is like chocolate cake to me; good to eat but not crave for it.

I first came across D.A Carson through Lee Strobel's Case for Christ. That was about 4 years ago. At that time, I found Carson to be an excitement (actually all those scholars interviewed by Strobel in the book is an excitement to me at that time). Then I read his book (his edited works do not count) on God's love, then his book on suffering, and then his book on the Emergent movement, and finally his Introduction to the NT. The best of all is the last one. I got the second edition. It's comprehensive and up-to-date. There is a section that introduces the controversial 'New Perspective of Paul' (a subject which currently starting to fade away. Perhaps N.T Wright's next major book on Paul will revive the debate) . His other books that I've read are less exciting, probably due to my interest and not the content of his works.

If you wonder why didn't I read his Medallion-winner The Gagging of God and his latest Christ & Culture Revisited, the reason is that the former one is too huge for an over-emphasized topic (might not be the case when it was first published); as for the latter, I'm skeptical he has anything new to say. As for his survey on NT commentaries, Don Hagner told me that he is puzzled over Carson's one-sentence-passing-remark on his 2-volume commentary on Matthew. When I saw the passage which Hagner refers to, I also puzzled.

If you want to listen to Carson, go here. This guy is kind enough to link many of Carson's lectures to his site. Making our life not only less difficult but also much easier.

OK, back to Carson at St. Andrews... well, I guess I will give tonight and tomorrow's preaching on Rev. 13 - 14 a miss. Had a meeting till 10pm on Monday. Woke up at 6.30am for Greek class the next day. Then worked till 6pm. Then attended Carson's talk till 10pm. Will be like Kar Yong, dead...almost, if still don't rest.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bible Study Group: Gospel & Persecution

Yesterday’s Bible Study group was huge. There were 12 of them! I have always prefer to have a small group of about 5-6, or 8 the most, because I think a smaller group is better for discussion and sharing.

And what’s worst is that the topic was on the persecution faced by the nascent church as recorded in Acts 5. You might ask, “why worst?”

First, the group’s age is 19-20. Second, most of them are from decent middle-class families. Third, all of them are urbanized Christians which is without material lacking.

Hence I was rather helpless to think of a way to connect the situation of the 1st century troubled church to this group of 21st century cosmopolitan youths! How to connect?!?

I couldn’t bridge the gap.

So, as the Cantonese proverb goes “Tin Tit Lok Lei Tong Pei Kham” (when the heavens fell down, just treat it as a blanket), I went ahead and asked the group to read the Acts 5 passage. Then we turned to the questionnaires which were handed out to us.

Question 1, “what does 2 Timothy 3.12 teach about persecution?”

After hearing that question myself, I went, “Oh no, why the question is referring to 2 Timothy?! I thought this is on Acts 5??”. Bringing in another different passage doesn’t help!

Hence, while maintaining my cool, I asked the group to read the 2 Timothy passage and what do they think about “persecution”.

At that time, I was very sceptical, “how could a 19 year-old, middle-class, urbanized Christian relates to a 1st century religious-socio-political persecution?”

I was glad that Han Siang broke the silence. He said that in NS, there are peers who would laugh at your being a Christian. I looked at him and smile and thought to myself, “at least there is someone responding.”

Then I shared a personal experience how my non-believing friend ridicule my belief. Then I told them that that kind of ‘persecution’ is only very mild compared to what the early Christians had to go through. Then the group went silent. “Shit,” I nervously whispered to myself, “I must have said something wrong!”

So, in haste, I directed the group to the next question: What does the phrase “the words of this life” refer too? (vv.20-21).

“Oh no, how am I going to facilitate this question interestingly and relevantly to these people?”, my mind puzzled. I really wonder how would the group respond to it. So I quickly picked someone to answer. He said “’the words of this life’ is the eternal word of God”. And I went, “er……….”

Silent loomed the circle. So, again in haste, I moved the group to the next question: What action did the apostles take with these ‘words’? (vv.25-26)

As the question was being read, I observed the members and can’t help but to notice that everyone has this sign on their forehead, “I should be at home playing PS3 now”.

At that point, I felt as if I had gone deeper into the mud hole because in order to answer this question, we have to assume that we know what the ‘words’ means in the first place. Then, again, I quickly picked Chia Leng to answer it while I tried to squeeze my brain to come out with something that will interest the group.

She answered, by alluding to the stated passage, ”The apostles preach it.” And at that moment, I naturally asked the whole group, “What then was the gospel that the apostles were preaching?”

As the question was being uttered from my lips, I knew that this is it. This is where the Holy Spirit might stir these people’s heart in interest.

“You all talk about the ‘gospel’ all this while, but do you know what is it? What is this gospel that keep you coming to church, do good, loving your neighbours as yourselves?” I asked.

I pushed the group to respond. I picked randomly for their opinion. Some said that the gospel is “salvation”, some said that it is “good news”, some said that it is “hope”, and so on. And I told the group that all of their understanding of the gospel is secondary. What I was asking is the primary meaning of the “gospel”.

“What is the gospel that you all have been believing in and living by?”, I asked provocatively again. I wanted to let the question sink into their soul, prick their conscience, and stir their passion.

Now the group started to be intrigued. They were silent and looked puzzled at first. Then they looked challenged. Then they started to inquire what then is the gospel if it is not all that had been said.

With gladness, I shared, ”the word gospel is not identical with how we understand it today. When the word “gospel” was used, it is just a normal term referring to a kind of good news. In the ancient time, whenever a city is being conquered by Rome, the envoy or messenger will go around cities to proclaim the “gospel”. And their gospel is a proclamation of victory of the Romans over the conquered land.”

“In other words, whenever you receive the gospel in that time, you have to subject to the Roman ruler and pay your taxes to them. Hence when the gospel writers use the word “gospel”, they were subverting the political powers of their time. So, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the proclamation of Jesus’ victory over the conquered world, where all authority in heavens and on earth are given to him.”

“And because of that, whenever the apostles were preaching the gospel of Jesus, they were being persecuted. For their proclamation is a public subversion to the existing religious and political powers of their time. That was why the early Christians were being imprisoned, flogged, and persecuted. And all those secondary meaning such as hope, salvation etc comes underneath this good news.” All the N.T Wright's stuffs.

The group was then able to understand why the early church went through what they went through. And the group realize how subversive the gospel is even in today’s world. When I asked them for any further questions or comments or remarks, Han Yi said insightfully, “that means, in the first place, the gospel of Jesus is not a private religion like the one that we thought it is. The gospel is a public subversive declaration of Jesus being the authority of the entire world, even in today’s world.” And I can’t help but to say, “Amen”.

Then I realized that the way to connect the group with the persecution experienced by the early Christians is not by drawing similarity between them, but by pointing to the often-overlooked primary meaning of the gospel which has been almost lost among ourselves today.

And it is only through our understanding of the powerful, subversive, and courageous proclamation of the gospel that we realize why did the early churches were persecuted. And such understanding comes with a question: Are we able to proclaim such message today? If so, how?

I believe these questions are significant to be explored. But, for the time being, we should allow the gospel to sink into us; judge, examine, provoke, and challenge us, so that when we answer these questions, we do it meaningfully. To paraphrase Rowan Williams, when we approach the gospel, we are confronted by a decisive No, and an everlasting Yes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Personal Financial Crisis: What To Do?

If you are not obese on one hand and not malnutrition on the other, that means you are stuck in the middle. If that is so, then probably you are, like myself, being affected by current rising living costs in this greed-driven global world within these damned socio-economic and political systems.

What to do then?

First, repent. You may make some adjustments later. Repent first.

Repent from giving into these corrupted systems (spell consumerism). Repent from buying into what commercial advertisers told us. Repent from ignoring the less fortunate. We, the urbanized people, are often deluded. We stumbled. That's almost alright. Jesus is Lord.

And if you think picking up or re-reading Kiyosaki's 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' will help, well you are not entirely wrong. Better, you can start by listening to Soo Inn's Don't Worry, Be Focused. "In difficult times, God helps us to discern our needs and wants."

Then you may read Pope's recent speech in Australia. Some except here:

Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God. Blessed and given a purpose (cf Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty and subjective experiences displace truth. (Emphasis added)

What's Wrong With Current Global System?

This fucking wrong...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great Singapore Organ Sale? Legalisation of Organ Trading

Let’s push within the current regime… but at the same time, let’s not write off an idea just because it sounds radical or controversial… We may be able to find a compromise which is workable and yet does not offend people’s sensibilities.
(Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, quoted in The Straits Times, 21 July 2008, page H1)
While pondering on this quotation, I cannot help but to be skeptical. The minister’s concern is over the people’s sensibilities, but the alarming fundamental issue of this thorny matter concerns people’s lives rather than mere sensibilities.

By ‘lives’ I have in view that of the paid organ donor. Yet by no means I take the buyers’ life as less valuable. In fact it is precisely because the lives of the buyer and donor are as significant that the misery of the former should not be inflicted in any degree on the latter even though the latter willing to accept financial compensation.

Obviously, in the organ trade the term “organ donor” is an oxymoron for in a trade there is no compensation but payment, and there is no donor but simply owner. The relationship does not bear any altruistic meaning but pure commercial transaction.

The article ‘S’pore can take lead in legalising organ trade’ written by Jennifer Yeo and Madan Mohan, published in the 17 July 2008 issue of The Straits Times, propounded that organ trade is a “social relationship… which gives a new lease of life to both the stakeholders”. The authors conceded that the “law ought not to step in to criminalise and punish such relationships.”

The authors argued that given the “unclear” legal status of the human body, the treatment of our body is, therefore, accorded to and guaranteed by mutual consent.

The authors even compared prostitution among others with organ trading. This betrays the heightened commercial view that they have on humanity. In other words, they were saying that we can buy and sell our body (or parts of it) because we do not know who we are.

Here is where their careless hastiness betrays the prematurity of their judgment and suggestion. First and foremost, the status of human persons is not the result of a negotiation made by any one group of humans. We learned that through our experience with the Nazi regime.

The authors’ failure to recognize the status of the human body is not at all a contribution to the discussion of how should we treat our body, which is the underlying concern of organ trading. At best, their ignorance of the value and status of the human body can only serve as a ‘stop’ sign to alert us to the complexity of the matter and hence preventing any unnecessary, harmful, and hasty decision. Yet they ventured over their legitimate course.

The fact is that Jennifer Yeo and Madan Mohan’s premature contention for the legalisation of organ trade impels further commercialisation of the human body. And this is precisely the very exploitation that they want to avoid.

Probably their hastiness is due to their concern for the victims of organ failure. They wrote, “While altruists say that any sale of organs is unethical…we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the patient waiting desperately for an organ.” On this point, we have to question their preference for casting care on the victims of organ failure. Why should we put ourselves only in the shoes of the patient and not in those of the organ owner as well?

In a study conducted by World Health Organization, 78% of Egyptians who sold their organ experienced health deterioration, 78% of them spent their compensation within five months, and 73% reported weakened ability to perform labour-intensive jobs. In India, 86% reported deterioration in health, declined in average family income, 96% sold their kidneys to pay-off debts, and 75% were still in debt. 58% in Iran reported health deterioration, 60% reported negative effects on their physical activities, and 65% reported negative effects on their employment. So, it is reasonably to conclude that a normal person will not sell his or her organ. And those who traded their organ did it out of desperation.

Given the fact that virtually all organ owners traded their organ due to poverty, organ buyers is akin to opportunists who exploit others by harvesting their body parts through financial means. Often the exploitation is sugar-coated as ‘selflessness’ in a way that seems as though it is doing the poor a favour.

Is this the best the rich can do to help the poor, by buying their organs? The article suggests exactly that though under disguise: “If the State… cannot help the poor in overcoming their problems, it ought not to raise more barriers for them [by preventing them to sell their organs to the rich by law].”

It is easy to see through the masqueraded hypocritical ‘help-the-poor’ rhetoric in the quoted passage. Why do the State suddenly being charged as raising “more barriers” in preventing the rich from helping the poor only in situation when the rich is in need of the body parts of the poor? Why the rich cannot help the poor when they do not need their organ?

The obvious answer is that this is not a case where the rich wants to help others who are in crisis. Rather, the rich wants to exploit the poor given their desperate condition. Such is not merely an exploitation of other humans but also an inhumane discrimination of those who are at the lower rank of the socio-economic status.

Of course the attraction in legalising organ trade is the extension of widespread commercialisation over all spheres of reality. This is exactly what the rich wants because the more commercialised the world becomes, the more powerful they will be. Perhaps there are many other reasons for us to view our body parts as one of the marketable fascinations in the next Great Singapore Sales, but our ignorance of the status and value of the human body is definitely not one of them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's Up Last Weekend?

One of GCF's sectional group known as Comparative Religions Interest Group (CRIG) co-organized with RZIM Asia-Pacific a talk on the doctrine of atonement last Friday. The speaker was LT Jeyachandran from RZIM. There were a few Muslims attended the talk. One of them very politely questioned the validity of the theological significance of Jesus' resurrection. After LT retorted, I chipped in some N.T Wright's "inaugurated eschatology" to clarify his understanding of Christian theology.

Apparently he wasn't satisfied with only one question, he posted another question to seek for opinion whether is a collaborative theology possible between Christians and Muslims. LT answered him. I wanted to speak up but didn't thought that the session should be dragged too long by these very interesting theological inquiries. So I refrained.

Early Saturday, went to watch The Dark Knight. My goodness... it's the best superhero movie in this summer. In the afternoon, I attended the movie discussion group. Then went to the National Museum with gf to see the Dancing Sky by Studio Festi. The place was filled with people. I was suffocated and didn't really stick my eyes on the whole show. It's just some dancers who are being pulled by wires as if they are dancing in the sky. Beautiful but the huge amount of inhaled carbon dioxide is a dread, and it numbed my aesthetic senses. So I browsed the internet on my mobile.

Sunday is a cleaning day. Did 3 times of laundry, boiled some water, and managed to read a couple of chapters on Robert Jenson's theology. Evening was homework time. Was translating Greek into English and vice versa. Found out that writing Greek alphabets is not an easy task. Really need some discipline if I want to master the language.

Monday was a long day. After working for the whole day, went home to think through an article that propounds the legalization of organ trading. Took about 4 hours to think through it and managed to finished my initial response at 1.30am. No doubt that I can't think fast. And I have surrendered to this fate long time ago. Will post the response here tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

J.I Packer, Homosexuality, & Heresy

Over at Mark Driscoll's blog, there is a post about his conversation with J.I Packer. Through the conversation, Packer has no reservation to call unrepentant homosexuals as heretics.

[Packer] explained in great detail that he perceives the approval of homosexuality to be “heretical” because it denies a fundamental aspect of the gospel—namely repentance.

Packer said, “ “‘Heresy’ ought to be used when an aspect of the gospel is being denied.” He further explained that because God through Paul warns the Corinthians that those who practice homosexuality unrepentantly will be damned to hell, “Souls are put at risk every time homosexuality is tolerated.”

My question is the whether the term 'heresy' is a localized term or a term that share the same meaning through the whole church of Christ? By localized term, I mean a term which only a certain group of the entire Christendom deem it as heresy, and doesn't represent the entire body of Christ. For eg. of another localized term: to some churches, doesn't keep the Sabbath on Saturday is heretical.

Hence if Packer's usage of the term in the localized sense, then I think he share the same mistake by those who advocate that Saturday Sabbath has to be kept.

If Packer is using the term in a universal sense, that represents the dogma of the entire body of Christ, then he is being unjustifiably assertive. Ordination of homosexuals is one thing; allowing active Christian homosexuals to engage in their preferred sexual act is another. To Packer, both are deem heretical. But his is not the only way to see this issue. One can endorse Packer on the former yet disagree with the latter.

Let us pick on the latter: Are really souls put to risk when homosexuality is tolerated? St. Paul might be right on 1 Cor 6.9-11. Besides homosexuality, there are also idolaters, thieves, the greedy, the adulterers, the swindlers, and etc who are condemned by St. Paul in the passage.

Add to that, we have Jesus' sermon on the mount where the standard for morality is impossible for us to meet. Take Jesus' moral standard and St. Paul's criteria together, all of us will not inherit the Kingdom through one way or the other. But I don't think that is the way our theology of judgment and salvation should be.

But when it comes to ordination, it is another matter which require a different discussion.

Surviving NT Greek

I'm a survivor,
I'm not gonna give up,
I'm not gon' stop,
I'm gonna work harder,

I'm a survivor,
I'm gonna make it,
I will survive,
Keep on survivin'

(Destiny's Child, Survivor)

Finally I got the textbook required by the course. Stephen Rapkin went through the right one with me. Now Tony Siew is using the middle one. As for the left gigantic box, it is to ensure that I'll still be alive after November.

John Woo @ National Library

Lee Yuen and I were there at John Woo's talk last Friday. He is a humorous and approachable person. He told us that he is actually someone who prefer to make movies that explore and emphasize human emotions. But given his vast experience in making action films, no producers believe that he is serious with non-action films. He even told us that he asked for a no-pay directing role before, but his manager and lawyer advised him otherwise. Even famed directors have their hard-time and circumstances to deal with.

If I ever own an office, I would love the view to be something like this...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Read and shudder...

"...if one wishes to be a theologian, one must read the Bible and the Church Fathers. Yet now that we have Jenson's Systematic Theology, that conclusion needs to be modified. If one wishes to be a theologian, one should also read Jenson."

(Robert Louis Wilken, "Is Pentecost a Peer of Easter?", in "Trinity, Time, and Church", Colin Gunton (ed), p.177)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dusk as Part of the Day

I have been sick since last Friday. Although I had finished the prescribed medicines, including the antibiotics, two days ago, I’m still not fully recovered. The pain went away during the medication, but since this morning (already 6 days in pain), I feel the ache coming back. The throat is dry and rough.

There are noticeable amount of thick and sticky phlegm blocking the airway. Hence I need to make the annoying loud sniffing sound from time to time to ensure nothing drop. Add to these, there is a big ulcer on my lower lip. At first there were 2 small ones. Then they conjugated into this one big pain-in-the-ass thingy. And there is a tiny sore on the left side of the tongue too.

In times like this, one can’t help but to think of death. Am I smoking too much, resting too little, and chanting Greek alphabets too often that I have now contracted some kind of cancer?

If so, I have no qualm. I had long drop the idea that death is something intolerable and must be postponed as long as one or technology can.

So on one hand I don’t desire to die just yet for obvious reasons (for an instance); and on the other hand I have no dear for death. In fact, it is kind of exciting because I will finally get to be transformed into a different reality through death. If N.T Wright is right, I will go to a “life after death” stage first before moving to the “life after life after death” stage. Hearing these terms alone already provokes all kind of curiosity and anticipation. And on top of that, I can learn directly from Karl Barth himself without having to save up to purchase his multi-volume Church Dogmatics.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life so far...

A blink of our eyes makes not only time passes by swiftly, it causes some butterfly effects too. In my case, I blink many times in a day as I need to travel in the sun frequently. And traveling under such humidity provokes my eyelids to react. And so they blink.

The butterfly effect is severe. First, I have finally started my studies. Second, I'm now the official honorary (a term people use to avoid 'voluntary') secretary of Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) Singapore. If you don't know what is that, just imagine Kofi Anan or Bang Ki-Moon. Actually I also have no idea what am I getting myself in on this. At first I thought it is just a "help-out" kind of involvement, but I was required to sign some official documents. In such situation, the Cantonese proverb is always comforting: Tin Tit Lok Lei Tong Pei Kham (Even if the heavens fell, you may treat it as a blanket).

Thirdly, I'd recently started a project to get rich (so what if I have never dump this aspiration). But since I can't concentrate to focus on my project given the first and second butterfly effects I am facing, hence it will take a long while to accomplish.

Fourthly, please join me to pray for Rowan Williams. He is in deep shit as the Lambeth Conference is just around the corner. On one hand, the unashamed, notorious, trouble-making Gene Robinson might cause unrest during the conference. On the other, some of his ultra-conservative colleagues might pressurize the entire communion to do something drastic and unnecessary. (Ya, sometimes I also wonder why me, a Presbyterian, care? Anyway, just pray la)

How's your life so far, readers?

At Last, First Class!

After ridiculing some fundamentalistic Calvinists, heretics, inerrantists, and doing all sort of things in the past 360++ days, finally I attended my first class at TTC this morning. And serendipitously the lecturer is Tony Siew, the blogger of Revelation is Real!

I had always been wondering what kind of a person is he like, given all the writings and ideas he posted on his blog. Before today I thought Tony is someone very quiet and doesn't talk much because he spends all his time contemplating. But he turns out to be a very friendly and approachable person.

Anyway, the class was exciting and refreshing as I get to re-learn the subject. Stephen Rapkin from ORPC has helped me tremendously to work on it in the past . And hence there was not too much of struggle for me this morning when Tony was being frank with the class by giving a slight demonstration of the difficulty of the course.

I can see that some of my classmates were struggling with the lesson. And it is only the first lesson. I have no doubt that as the lesson goes further, there will be much much more struggles that we have to deal with.

Tony taught very clearly. He conducts the lesson to be as easy and fun as he possibly can. And it is interesting to see the differences between two kind of articulation of the subject. Tony and Rapkin differ slightly on some of the pronunciation of some words. For eg. Rapkin demands more on when it comes to pronouncing all the long vowels. Tony focuses not on all but only on the most obvious ones. Perhaps, he will demand more as the class move forward.

I'm anticipating for the next class already.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homosexuality Is Not In Order?

I've finished reading Jack Rogers' Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality two weeks ago and yet I'm not convinced that modern homosexuality is acceptable or unknown to the biblical authors.

Rogers was a moderator of the Presbyterian churches in the USA. We shared the same position once before his shift. The book is his shared wisdom and experience of his change of mind. He is still a heterosexual though.

Now he is OK with ordaining homosexual ministers and giving blessing to same-sex marriages.

He is trying hard in the book to present his case, but the extensive works done by Richard Hays and Anthony Thiselton on the disputed biblical passages (eg. Romans 1) are grpping them from being obscured by Rogers' reading. I'll blog more on the NT's disputed passages.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

John Templeton Passed Away

Sir John Templeton agreed with the proverb that it's "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

"There's a lot of truth in that," the billionaire philanthropist once said. "When people trust in something other than God, it's difficult to be truly spiritual. ... Don't fall in love with money."

Sir John, a pioneering mutual fund manager, global investor and founder of the Templeton Prize, died Tuesday of pneumonia in the Bahamas, a spokeswoman at his foundation said. He was 95. (Ottawacitizen)

He has fulfilled what he was here to do...

N.T Wright's Further Thoughts on GAFCON

"...GAFCON proposals are not only not needed in England but are positively harmful and indeed offensive...

AS FAR AS ENGLAND IS CONCERNED, it is damaging, arrogant and irrelevant for GAFCON leaders to say, as they are now doing, ‘choose you this day whom you will serve’, with the implication that there are now only two parties in the church, the orthodox and the liberals, and that to refuse to sign up to GAFCON is to decide for the liberals. Things are just not like that. Certainly not here in England...
The problem is that GAFCON is addressing (at least) three quite different issues:

a. The real, substantial and scandalous situation in the USA and Canada;

b. The African sense that it’s time for leadership to come from black Africa rather than white N Atlantic;

c. The belief among a VERY SMALL group of hard-line right-wing English evangelicals (including in Sydney, Australia) that they are called to take over the C of E by aggressive planting of new churches under the nose even of existing evangelical churches and bishops, and insisting that they are the only real ‘evangelicals’, that they alone are true to scripture.

What is happening is that the Archbishop of Sydney, and his English colleagues, are using the fact of (a) and the energy of (b) to advance their agenda on (c). I am objecting as strongly as I can to (c) since I believe it to be doctrinally and pastorally unwarranted and extremely dangerous even in the short and medium term, let alone in the long...

When I hear Peter Jensen say that ‘we are not self-selected; we are God-selected, because we are based on the word of God’; when I hear beloved and respected Jim Packer say that the ‘Jerusalem Declaration’ should be the basis of a new covenant to which all English bishops will be required to sign up; when I hear Vinay Samuel, one of the sharpest minds in the whole GAFCON movement, saying (unless he was misreported) that ‘we are not breaking away from the Anglican Communion – we ARE the Anglican Communion’; and when I see Bishop John Rodgers of AMiA saying that ‘we are the true and faithful Anglicans . . . the true representatives of the Anglican Communion’ – then it is time for someone, and it might as well be an old-fashioned Bible-believing evangelical like me, to stand up and say , with usual English understatement, ‘hold on, this seems to be somewhat over the top’...

GAFCON is not the answer. Especially not here in England..."

I think Wright is right. Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

KungFu Panda & Asian Theology

I'm wondering whether will KungFu Panda illustrates the endeavor of Asian Theology.

The movie, which tells the story of a fat panda who dreams of martial arts glory, was faithful to Chinese culture and laced with good humour, but China itself may have been incapable of producing such a film, a Chinese filmmaker and opera director lamented.

"The film’s protagonist is China’s national treasure and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn’t we make such a film?" Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday. (Tiscali News)

Could an Asian Theology be well articulated by someone who are not from or stay in Asia? I think yes, and the chances are very likely. And when they have done that, then we Asians will be all-legitimate to do some soul-searching like Wu Jiang. So, we should grasp Wu Jiang's lesson and start the search.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Church Dogmatics New Edition

T & T Clark's new edition! Church Dogmatics had never been this beautiful~

Joshua Woo & John Woo: Similarities & Dissimilarity

Whenever people found out about my surname, some of them always try to be funny by asking me whether am I related to John Woo, or whether is "Joshua" a mistake because "John" would be more appropriate. And worst thing is that they usually thought that they are the first humans who thought about that 'joke'.

Anyway, I'll reveal something about John Woo that not many people know about. Not only that, I'll also draw 2 similarities and 1 dissimilarity between John and myself.

First similarity is that both of our surname is spelled "WOO" in English. Actually I usually play with my surname with a pun that "I have to live up to it, hence I can't stop 'wooing'". And no one that I met came up with this joke before. And I think this is much more funnier than the "John Woo"... hahaha...

Second similarity (this is one thing that few people know about) :

Q: Why did you become a director?

A: ...My first dream was I wanted to be a Christian minister. Later I find I have a big passion about movies, so I give that up...

Q: Do you believe in God?

A: Yes, I believe in God. And I have so admiration for Jesus Christ and I always think he's a great philosopher. It always make me feel good, as a Christian.

(BBC interview John Woo)

Hahaha... Both of us are Christians. You didn't know about this right?

OK, now the dissimilarity. To me, Jesus is not merely a great philosopher. He is much more than that. He is, first of all, the promised "anointed one" who inaugurated the divine order into the existence that we know. And not only that, he is a savior and the lord of this entire reality.

The Language of the Eucharist

The language we learn from listening in at the Eucharist, or which inveigles its way into us from there, is the already spoken and lived experience of the Father and Son. Though it is speech, it is not detachable from them; it is their presence and availability, one word for which is "flesh".
(Douglas Knight, 'Jenson on Time', in 'Trinity, Time, and Church', Colin Gunton (ed), p.78. Italic his.)

Inveigles = lure, entice

N.T Wright's Response & Questions on GAFCON

As Archbishop Rowan has said, our present ‘instruments of Communion’ were not designed to meet this kind of problem, and we badly need to find new ways forward. I, with others, have given a lot of time and energy to work on all this, and the Archbishop’s statement that the forthcoming Lambeth Conference will take Windsor and the Covenant as its basic road-map were very heartening...

But for that reason it is all the more strange to reflect on what the proposed ‘Primates’ Council’ is all about. What authority will it have, and how will that work? Who is to ‘police’ the boundaries of this new body – not least to declare which Anglicans are ‘upholding orthodox faith and practice’ (Article 11 of the ‘Jerusalem Declaration’), and who have denied it (Article 13)? Who will be able to decide (as in Article 12) which matters are ‘secondary’ and which are primary, and by what means? (What, for instance, about Eucharistic vestments and practices? What about women priests and bishops?) Who will elucidate the relationship between the 39 Articles and the Book of Common Prayer, on the one hand, and the 14 Articles of GAFCON on the other, and by what means? It is precisely questions like these, within the larger Anglican world, which have proved so problematic in the last five years, and the ‘Declaration’ is actually a strange document which doesn’t help us address them.
(N.T Wright, After GAFCON)

Applaud, people, applaud.

The Mystery of the Origin of Hancock

Watched Hancock yesterday and now I'm wondering what is the origin of his type of creature... I gathered that his genre cannot die and was known to have lived since 4000 BC. They were created in pair. They were regarded as 'gods', 'angels', etc in the older days...

Are they the Nephilims?
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. ~Genesis 6.4
If there are Nephilims or creatures like Hancock among you, readers, pls contact me! Email is

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Paul, the Pharisee? Part. 1

This important question was asked by Steven Sim in respond to my suggestion that the author of Matthew's gospel was responding to a post-Paul Jewish community.

Was Paul known to be a pharisee among the nascent Christian community?

Quotation from NIV:

Galatians 1:13-15:
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased...

Philippians 3:5:
...circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;

1 Corinthians 15:9:
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 9:20:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

Acts 9:21-26:
All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.

Acts 23:6:
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."

Acts 26:4-6:
"The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today.

Rowan Williams' Response To GAFCON

The GAFCON is a rebellious movement within the Anglican Communion to gather sympathizers to go against the liberal Episcopalian churches in America that ordain homosexuals and women.

The conference lasted for 7 days in Jerusalem, ended yesterday. This conference has been slamming the leadership of Rowan Williams for failing to stop the radical shift of the American Episcopalian.

And so Rowan Williams has responded:

A 'Primates' Council' which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical – theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides...

I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ...

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: 'wait for one another'. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord's field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents...


My comments:

I have no comment but to paraphrase from Matthew 13 that Williams refers...

The servants asked the owner of the field, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'

The only difference that I noticed between the servants in this parable and the GAFCONians is that the former did at least care to ask the owner of the field (the owner that I'm referring here is God, not Rowan Williams).