Friday, January 08, 2010

What does the attack on 4 churches in Malaysia tell us?

1) The Culprit

Christians in Malaysia have been using 'Allah' for centuries. UMNO-BN's Home Ministry banned that practice. Christians appealed. The high court rules it legal for Christian to CONTINUE that practice. UMNO-BN appeals against High Court's decision, trying to look like champion for Muslims despite Muslim scholars say otherwise. Now four churches are attacked. UMNO-BN is still okay with today's protest that supports their appeal. They didn't stop this afternoon protest in the same manner they stopped 1st August 2009 protest.

When asked if the UMNO-BN should be blamed for these attacks, Najib angrily said no. But who else are responsible for all these social calamities?

PAS has condemned these attacks and had conceded with the high court based on their religion that non-Muslims can use the word 'Allah'. Dr. Mohd. Asri Zainul Abidin, an influential Islamic scholar, said likewise. Generally, Muslims have no problem with it.

Again, the word 'Allah' is historically and semantically valid as a reference to the one God by non-Muslims.

In the first place, if the UMNO-BN Home Ministry did not ban Christians from practicing their constituted religious rights, there was no case for Herald to bring to court. When the court ruled in accordance to the constitution, UMNO-BN appealed against the ruling. And now we have four churches being attacked. (We don't know how many more to come) So who's the culprit?

It is right for Zaid Ibrahim to condemned UMNO-BN as the one responsible.

2) Theological community's response?

Here, I'm referring to theological students like myself. Sivin Kit, Anthony Loke, Kar Yong, Kam Weng, Alex Tang, and others at Micah Mandate have rightly responded. But they are up there. I am wondering about my peers, those who are down here.

When Home Ministry banned us from using 'Allah', no theological students make noises. When Prime Minister's department appealed against the high court ruling, no theological students make noises. Now four churches being attacked, still there is no theological students make noises? Perhaps other theological students are busy reading the Bible or praying, so cannot make any noises.

But here is the peculiar thing. When I say the inerrancy of the Bible is irrelevant, almost every theological students ranging from Arminian to Reformed, from Cessasionist to Charismatics, from Bible-Presbyterian to Anabaptist suddenly stop praying and start shouting at me.

I'm not asking for theological students to be concern because I'm a Malaysian but because I'm a Christian. And it seems to me that most theological students regardless of nationality have skewed priority hence oblique perspective on current affairs and Christians' response to them.

Last year September, when typhoon Ketsana hit Vietnam, there were calls for prayer and status updates around Facebook among theological students. When four churches being attacked in the past 24 hours, only me along with others, who are not theological students, circulating concern and prayers over Facebook. The Ketsana typhoon is a natural disaster which none of us can do anything about it. Attacks on churches is a social ailment that all of us can do something over it.

Andreas said that this could be that the other theological students respond to such issues in the actual world and not in the cyber world. And I said that if they don't respond in the cyber world, what makes you think they even care to respond in the actual world?

3) In the midst of political traps

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said that the Internal Security Act will be used to "ensure national security." The people of Malaysia has demonstrated that we don't want ISA last year August! Musa seems to want to make use of this recent tragedy as a justification to uphold the ISA.

If we have independent royal commissions set up to investigate the reported suspicious deeds done by UMNO-BN, no ISA is needed because national security is not threatened. So we don't need ISA to ensure national security. We need empowered and constitutional independent royal commissions and Malaysian people working together in nation's policing, not ISA.

We don't know what other kind of tricks and traps will UMNO-BN rolls out in respond to current situation. We just have to beware and try to look through their proposals and agenda. Get angry but stay calm. Don't retaliate with violence but condemn the responsible culprit. Pray with the anticipation to work for peace without uttering words absent of intended action that reflects the cross in view.


sp lim said...

Well, one part time theological student responded 2 years ago below.

And today he is mourning below

Arthur KohsL said...

Response to "When I say the inerrancy of the Bible is irrelevant, almost every theological students ranging from ... start shouting at me."
That's because you are in Singapore and Malaysia, dear.

With regards to the churches attacked, I pray that more Muslims would speak up against this irresponsible act of home terrorism. May such atrocity not be spilled from religious nature into another racial riot.

Dear God, may you grant peace onto the land of Malaysia. May your Spirit work among all people. May the shadow of terror retreat by the strength of faith in You.

blogpastor said...

Perhaps there are no reactions to church burnings because you are among Singaporean theological students who have been conditioned not to engage in protests against religious or political battles.

Or they simply feel its a waste of time to do so: no return on investment.

M SIBAT said...

Brother, I too am clueless why we Christians in Malaysia tend to be a weird "pacifist" (is that even the right word?) when it comes to BLATANT injustice happening right before our eyes. We seriously seem to take for granted the present, yet fragile, fact with regard to the religious freedom which we sort of enjoy right now. Perhaps we are better at praying when it's too late than before it gets too late.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi sp Lim, I'm glad to know that there's a comrade around!

Hi Arthur, thank you for your concern and prayer.

Hi Kenny, Singaporean students have their own concern and focus, so it is okay for them to not have concern. What I'm worried over are the Malaysian theological students whose citizenship is a gift and often a key to discern one's prophetic ministry.

Hi M Sibat, probably not "pacifist". More of a sort of apathetic attitude. Pacifists like Gandhi are too different from apathetic Malaysians. :)

akikonomu said...

blogpastor, I'd like to compete with you in cynicism =D

I suggest instead of apathy, that the theological students in Singapore don't see this as a Christian issue because Catholic Church is quite separate from the various Protestant churches in Singapore.

Do correct me if I'm wrong, but

1. Szezeng's studying in a Protestant seminary. I think Catholics have separate seminaries for training their clergy?

2. Unlike Malaysia, the Catholic Church is not part of the National Council of Christian Churches in Singapore.

3. The Catholic Church currently has a very different viewpoint from most of Singapore's Protestants on key issues like: Evolution (Pope thinks it's scientific, our evangelicals, methodists, and anglicans don't) and interfaith dialogue (Catholic church takes an active part in Singapore's Inter-Religious Organisation, protestant church doesn't).

My theory: to a Singaporean theological student, whether Catholics use or are banned from using Allah in their Malay language Bibles, is simply not a "Christian issue". They are more concerned about evolution and inerrancy!

Sze Zeng said...

Hi akikonomu,

Are you a Catholic who is pursuing theological studies? :)

akikonomu said...

I haven't made that decision yet ;)

One thing of interest, though, might be to track the Muslims and establishment figures who are coming out strongly against the attacks?

I believe we have more allies than we think.

Sze Zeng said...

Akikonomu, so you are a Catholic who are contemplating whether to pursue theological studies or not. Pursuing it as an interest or for vocation?

There have been Muslims coming out to condemn these attacks. I don't have time for to post those now. If you want to find out, can go to to read about them.

Some of the Muslims who protested against the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims came out announcing to protect churches. Interesting twist of event.

SHWong said...

"When I say the inerrancy of the Bible is irrelevant, almost every theological students ranging from Arminian to Reformed, from Cessasionist to Charismatics, from Bible-Presbyterian to Anabaptist suddenly stop praying and start shouting at me."

I think it's about comfort zones. If only they have more faith in self-authenticating value of the bible, they won't have to depend on inerrancy for security.