Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Yesterday Soo Inn handed to me the latest pamphlet of Graceworks ministry. What is written there is particularly familiar given my previous participation with their activities. Yet there is one peculiar yet sympathetic point which I think need to be highlighted. That is one of the 'primary values' of the ministry:

Biblical authority. We believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, is our final authority in what we believe and what we do.

Notice the "properly interpreted" in the middle of the statement?

This is peculiar because it surprises me!

Graceworks ministry although is not an outright scholarly organization in the sense of being out-and-out academic, yet it is aware of the critical facet of theological scholarship. And this is a very very seldom yet very very critical notion which failed to be emphasized among supposedly more scholarly inclined institutions. Check out some of these institutions' statement,

The divine inspiration and entire trustworthiness of Holy Scripture, as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.


We believe in the divine, verbal and plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility and, as the Word of God, their supreme and final authority in faith and life

The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible are given by the inspiration of God and together comprise the only inerrant and infallible authority for faith and practice.

These statements affirm the the fundamental place of Bible/Scripture in their ministry yet neglect to mention the essential process of 'properly interpreting' it. And don't tell me that's presumed in those statements. I've met too many funny people, like some fundamentalists and Mormons, that show me otherwise.

Hence if you are a Hokkien and if you saw what I saw in the pamphlet, you'll murmur "boh kann tann" (Singaporean equivalent: "Don't play play". English: This is critical stuff).

OK, enough commenting on their primary values. Graceworks went dot com. The website is up and running. They are "committed to the promotion of spiritual friendship in church and society". "Huh, promotion of spiritual what?" The link is the picture below, among other hyperlinks above. Find out:


Kar Yong said...

hahaha....have you checked out STM's statement of faith? We don't have the wordings "properly interpreted" but we only state that "we seek to be faithful" to the scriptures AND the historic confession of the Christian church and the doctrinal statements of the churches....

SO what makes us???

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Kar Yong,

I didn't check until u mentioned...hahaha...

Well, I think what is written about an institution/organization doesn't make who its people are.

Anyway, if STM as a whole recognizes the difficulty of Bible study (which I think she is) and wants to be more explicit about it, then to put on wordings like 'properly interpreted' would probably be just more informative. That's my 2 cents :)

What ya think?

Kar Yong said...

Hi JW,

On second thoughts, I think that the phrase "we seek to be faithful" to both the scriptures and historic confession and doctrinal statements of the sponsoring demominations means that we acknowledge the divergent views, and the difficulty in interpretation. Also, to state it clearly that we "seek to be faithful" would, perhaps, encapsulate the meaning of "properly interpreted" as we learn from history and one another. How can we be faithful if we don't properly interpret the scriptures and throw away our Christian heritage?

Come to think of it, I think I am beginning to like STM's doctrinal statements more than those you posted in your's not simply because I part of the institution. I just hope I would be able to live up to our confession of seeking to be faithful...

I'd always joke to my students that it is amazing that a true-blooded methodist and presbyterian could still see eye to eye when they come to theology in STM :-).

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

I see your point. And your explanation of and reflection on the statement is inviting.

It'll be easier to just include the "properly interpreted" in the statement rather than needing to explain again and again upon inquiry?

Probably the "methodist v.s presbyterian" has lost much of its intensity in our time as compared to, say "pro-transexuality v.s anti-transexuality". People from both sides can see eye to eye in this case, then it is a wider acknowledgment of the divergent views. But that, of course, would push the acknowledgment sentiment back to the stand of the sponsoring denominations.