Sunday, October 30, 2005

Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded in Indonesia

Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded in Indonesia

Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 30 October 2005 0725 hrs

Three teenage schoolgirls beheaded in Indonesia

JAKARTA - Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded Saturday, police said, in an assault that marks an escalation of the violence against non-Muslims in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.

The three high school students were found with their heads severed early Saturday in the sectarian-divided town of Poso, said provincial police spokesman Rais Adam.

The girls were believed to have been murdered while they walked to school, Adam said.

He said two of the victims' heads were found near a police post while the third was discovered outside a Christian church in Poso.

Read the full story from Channel News Asia

Friday, October 28, 2005

OpinionJournal Extra : The Future of Tradition

OpinionJournal Extra : The Future of Tradition

Can it withstand the onslaught of abstract reasoning?

Friday, July 22, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

America has been in the midst of a culture war for some time and will probably remain so for some time longer. But culture war is not peculiar to this country. Indeed, there have been at least three great culture wars fought in the course of Western history, including one contemporaneous with the rise of the Sophists in ancient Greece, the epoch identified with the French Enlightenment and the German Aufkl�rung, and our own current battle. The first two ended in disaster for the societies in which they occurred--and the outcome of the third is still pending.

Each of these wars has its own particular antagonists, each its own weapons of combat, each its own battlefield. But the essential nature of a culture war is invariant: A set of traditional values comes under attack by those who, like the Greek Sophist, the French philosophe and the American intellectual, make their living by their superior proficiency in handling abstract ideas, and promote a radically new and revolutionary set of values. This is precisely what one would expect from those who excel in dispute and argumentation. "

Read the full article

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Engaging The World

We have a three-prong strategy this year...

1. Learning as a community (probably use Grudem's Systematic Theology)
2. Inspire serious reflections on our faith in 'everyday language'
3. Engaging our neighbors in respectful and winsome dialogues

Was thinking lately how we could 'engage' our neighbors in meaningful discussions about faith, truth and life from a biblical worldview...

Perhaps using what we learnt to good effect in real-life practice... where the rubber meets the road... Meng Wai unintentionally gave me an idea...

It seems, "What better place to do it in our context than in public forums like There's space for freedom of speech there..."

The letters column were hi-quality stuffs read by thousands of Malaysians - Malays, Indians, Chinese, Iban, Kadazan etc... representing diverse faiths, vocations and cultures...

Current hot topics being discussed are 'freedom of religion and apostasy', interfaith dialogues, nation building, evolution and God; and just out of the stove, a defense of pluralism by Catholic theologian Edmund Chia, who studied under Edward Schillebeeckx.

I think evangelical Christians are under-represented in the marketplace of ideas that is the internet and occasionally, we respond with knee-jerk reactions...

We need to be intentional, organised and prepared for long-haul engagement and timely response at the speed of Net discourses.

This seems like a good opportunity to exercise some respectful and informed 'interfaith dialogue'...

Is anyone interested to come together and contribute his or her skills as ambassadors for Christ as a cross-denominational team in the public square?

Contact me at

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I love God coz it really works!

Joshua reflects on a grim truth of today's Christianity:

"In his essay "Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?", Russell wrote:

"I can respect the men who argue that religion is true and therefore ought to be believed, but i can only feel profound moral reprobation for those who say that religion ought to be believed because it is useful, and that to ask whether it is true is a waste of time."At National University of Singapore, as some of us (Christians) gathered after a talk by someone on some topic, there came an student who asked us for our reason why do we think that our belief is true. At first, everyone hesistated to give an answer, then there was this young lady voice out that the reason why she thinks that Christianity is true is because she believes the bible is the word of God, and the word of God helped her whenever she was struggling with decision making. The bible provided her solutions, therefore she believes that Christianity is true.

That's pragmatism. Christianity is no longer true because it is true in itself, but because it's workable. What kind of rubbish is this?

Christianity is true, therefore it works... not it works, therefore it's true!" (Click here to read full post)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Coming Soon...

Exciting upcoming events from the Agora...

Topic: Homosexuality - An overview of homosexuality and how we can reaffirm biblical manhood and womanhood.

Presenter: John Chung
Date: 20 Nov 2005 (Sun)
Time: 1.45 pm

Topic: Can Man Live Without God? An overview on atheism and how we can understand and engage our friends in meaningful dialogue

Presenter: Lee Han Meng
Date: 4 Dec 2005 (Sun)
Time: 1.45 pm

Topic: Postmodernism - An overview on postmodernism and its challenges/opportunities to Christian mission

Presenter: David Chong
Date: 17 Dec 2005 (Sat)
Time: 2 p.m.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wired News: What Would Jesus Blog?

Wired News: What Would Jesus Blog?

Associated Press

01:38 PM Oct. 15, 2005 PT

LA MIRADA, California -- What would Jesus blog? That and other pressing questions drew 135 Christians to Southern California this weekend for a national conference billed as the first-ever for "God bloggers," a growing community of online writers who exchange information and analyze current events from a Christian perspective.

The three-day conference at Biola University marked an important benchmark for Christian bloggers, who have worked behind the scenes for years to spread the gospel and infuse politics with religion.

Some predicted bloggers could play a role in reforming the modern church by keeping televangelists and other high-profile Christian leaders honest. Joe Carter, author of The Evangelical Outpost, compared blogging to the 95 Theses posted by Martin Luther nearly 500 years ago that launched the Protestant Reformation.

Read the whole article

GodBlogCon 05: Christian Bloggers Unite

GodBlogCon 05: Christian Bloggers unite

Hmm. I think Agora should organize something like this for this part of the world.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

J.S. Bach: For the Glory of God - Christianity Today Magazine

J.S. Bach: For the Glory of God - Christianity Today Magazine:

"I remember reading for the first time in my freshman year a simple statement by this master musician. Bach said, 'Music's only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.' The more I pondered this sentence, the more it liberated my heart. Music was given to glorify God in heaven and to edify men and women on earth. It wasn't to make lots of money, or to meet my ego needs, or to see my name in lights. Music was about blessing the Lord and blessing others. After months of auditions, rehearsals, recitals, and competitions, the simplicity of Bach's statement was a balm for my soul. "

Read the rest here:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Human Technology

The Human Technology

People are always complaining about the impersonal cyberspace and the dehumanizing of technology, now while I am in agreement with some of these claims, let me make an apology for technology.

Read full article

The Cross and the Lotus: A Dialogue on Sufferings

We live in an age fertile for the growth of Buddhism, a religion once upon a time seen as a highly metaphysical and mythical belief which did not appeal to the rational mind. Yet as we begin to see the relaxation of the grip of modernity in our lives, when truth is not so much perceived as controlled and static, but chaotic and dynamic, when materialism failed to address the deepest desire of mankind, when the supernatural is once again explored and extolled, when spirituality is pursued minus the autocracy and authority of organized religion, Buddhism flourished.

As the religion began to gain popularity, and in this age where interfacing with different ideologies is inevitable, to dialogue with Buddhism is certainly a good initiative if not a necessary one. As we approach them in dialogue whether in words or in actions, whether for evangelism or not, let us be a fairer critique to their position. And to be able to do so, we need to equip ourselves with a fairly reasonable understanding of this complex and complicated religion. And of course, understanding their position, we not only strive to be fairer critique but also better neighbours to our Buddhist friends. This is the objective of this presentation...[read on]

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Audio Soul Food

Audio Soul Food

If your like me and find that life is getting really, really, busy and its getting harder to find time to read, then why not feed your mind and soul with some excellent online Audio resources; here are some I recommend;

  1. - Listen to the great exegete and expositor of the bible, John Piper preach through Romans in his church or to his daily message on his radio show. ***

  2. - Listen to the great theologian and philosopher Dr. R C Sproul on his daily radio program.

  3. – Listen to the great evangelist and apologist Ravi Zacharias on his radio shows, let my people think and just thinking. ***

  4. – Listen in on conversations between Dr. Michael Horton and his friends as they tackle contemporary theological and doctrinal issues on a weekly radio show. **

  5. – Listen to Rev Todd Wilken interview different experts to discuss issues on their daily radio show pertaining to life in the world and in the church from a distinctively reformed perspective. ***

  6. – Listen in to John Snyder and staff pick up heavy but interesting topics (like the problem of evil and who was Adam) on their weekly radio show. **

  7. – Stand to Reason’s host Greg Koukl demonstrates the skills and tactics he teaches to be winsome ambassadors on his weekly radio show complete with Q&A (registration required). **

  8. – Listening for Science buffs, who want to hear creation updates, a daily radio show designed to demonstrate the compatibility of the Bible with science. ***
  9. 9Marks - Listen to Mark Dever conduct great interviews of Christian leaders in USA on a weekly show.**
  10. Veritas Forum - The best of Christian minds at forums held all around the world. Recordings are then made available to download, here. ***

    ** Available in MP3 download
    *** Available on Podcast

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Agora: The First Year

Time passes by so fast that I didn't realise it has been a year since the Agora Ministry started... Until Leon reminded us in the blog.

It is with gratitude and amazement at God's grace that we recount the events from our first year... Was good to come together last Sunday as friends to celebrate, evaluate and plan ahead.

September ‘04 - Leon presented on “What is true spirituality?” comparing the unreflective activist and the ivory tower scholar. Propose a more integrated, heart-and-mind Christian life.

Sharing among participants – some expressed the need to study basic doctrines as a learning community, the need to get our hands dirty and apply lessons in tangible mission and evangelism, to blur the acred-secular divide (marketplace). Most participants are CDPC members who are keen on the Agora project.

October ‘04 - The web log was started as communication medium in cyberspace to cast vision, comment on a variety of theological, missional, socio-political issues, inspire and provide announcements.

November ‘04 - Some Agora members went for the iBridge camp in Port Dickson. Network with graduates from across Malaysia.

December ‘04 - LT Jeyachandran (RZIM) gave a talk on Christian theology as Trinitarian, giving unity in diversity. A lot of people focus on what we can do for God and what God can do for us, but we forget God Himself – the call to be Godcentered. Mostly students turned up.

A solemn yet deeply delightful New Year dinner at Leon’s place with a group of students. Reflection on the problem of evil in the aftermath of the tsunami.

January ‘05 - Han Meng presented on "Relativism – Is Truth Ice Cream or Insulin?" Discussed the challenge of relativism to mission and ethics. Experimented with mock dialogue to show how it is self-destructing. Introduce resource for further study.

Vision statement was drafted to explain what the ministry is about, some guiding principles and convictions

February ‘05 - Dave presented Lord Of The Rings, a primer into Tolkien’s worldview expressed in the blockbuster. A small group turned up, including seeker. Clips of the movie were shown. Discussion revolves around which character inspire us most and eucatastrophe (fortunate fall?)

The Agora attended a dakwah meeting conducted by Khalid Yassin, a Muslim preacher. Bought a copy of their apologetic training material. Presented with Koran. Managed to ask questions during the forum session.

March ‘05 - Esther Ong presented SEE Evangelism in main sanctuary. The best turnout from mostly CDPC members after Rev Wong’s announcements. Different creative methods of sharing the gospel with friends.

April ‘05 - Met Ng Kam Weng to discuss a series of classes for Agora and UM students to develop a Christian worldview

May ‘05 - John Chung presented “Politics, Why Bother?” giving theological basis for our involvement and how to do so. Many first-timers invited by friends or heard about event from website. Discussed about economic divide, freedom of religion, cultural mandate in relation to the gospel.

June ‘05 - Scheduled for Police Commission Report but was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Suggest future session on Counseling Skills instead

David conducted STR apologetics training for iBridge friends in Melaka for about a dozen participants. Discuss the informed, winsome and tactful ambassador and pluralism. Unapologetic dialogue with a Darwinist friend.

July ‘05 - Christ Seminar was born, to encourage the pursuit of truth (veritas) among varsity students. They will soon embark on a series of presentations, which address issues raised by Jesus Seminar.

No workshop due to busy schedule.

August ‘05 RZIM Conference – 6 Agora members were sponsored by CDPC to learn apologetics from Ravi Zacharias and team. Had the chance to network with like-minded Asians from Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. Generally, it was well-received as Leon developed the Agora card & logo. Ravi loved the bookmarks, ordered them and agreed to come to KL

The Da Vinci Code Forum features Rev Wong, Kam Weng and David. Good turnout from the public, many non-CDPC guests. An example of engaging popular culture. The VCD is being distributed with Agora blog printed at the front. Passion Café agreed to be distributor and organizer/supplier for future events.

SIB plans to do another forum, David Letterman style.

John and Han Meng proposed to start equipping the library and use it as resource center to encourage a reading community. Set up booths during fellowship to introduce books.

Sept ‘05 - Agora members assisted in Ron Choong’s seminar promotion, CDPC Mission Conference & KVBC. Network with related Malaysian ministries

Leon presented first RZIM workshop on God & Science – there is no final conflict. Science is our study of nature, may correct our wrong interpretation. What Scripture reveals about science and history is inerrant. Discussed on evolution, the limits of science, and use of science in evangelism

Oct '05 - Soo Inn gave us a crash course on Public Speaking Skills (foretaste of the homiletics class next year)...

Look out for the Lotus, The Crescent and the Cross next as we continue our pilgrimage into the next year!

Soli Deo Gloria...

Postmodernism Outline

Here's a tentative outline of the pomo workshop (ur feedback and criticism most welcome)

Introduction: Why Do We Need To Grapple with Postmodernism?
- Understand the Way the World Thinks
- Evaluate the Opportunities and Threats To Mission

But, what Is Modernism?
- Some themes of modernism: confidence in human rationality as the measure of all things, science & technology to improve the world (progress), the rise of nation-states and world ideologies, suspicion towards religious authority and superstitions, Naturalism as the new creation story

- Descartes' "I think therefore I am" & Kant's fact/value divide

- World Wars show how technology can be efficiently used for evil (Holocaust)

What Is Postmodernism?

Some trends...

- continuity and discontinuity with modernism. "Capitalism in hyperdrive?"

- Cynicism towards claims of truth as tools of power and oppression

- No metanarrative, what is true for you may not be true for me

- Our access to truth is human, incomplete and limited by language and determined by socio-cultural factors

- Truth is relationally constructed, in our communities

- We cannot or should not discover author's intended meaning, its your response that matters

- openness to experimenting spiritualities, not organised religions

- openness to many differing views, stories as important in living in
new global village

- community, dialogue and listening as indispensable
- ethical criterion of a faith (is it oppressive or liberating?)
- The story of Jesus as 'theology of the cross', not oppression.

Response to 'Threats':
- Just bcos I learnt it from my culture, doesn't make it false (genetic fallacy)
- Manipulation of religion is idolatry (but why would we invent a more traumatizing
- Counterculture mandate, 'the truth is out there'
- We do not have complete knowledge but some true knowledge.

Friday, October 07, 2005

New Perspective on Paul

Here's a write-up from Dave on the New Perspective on Paul

" there are crucial insights to be gleaned from the New Perspective. Sanders put us all in his debt by refuting a simplistic portrait of Judaism and Dunn brought to our attention much-neglected sociological aspects of Pauline theology. N.T. Wright’s ongoing project on the centrality of the Kingship of Christ in the gospel poses a much needed correction to the popular concept of Christianity as an individualistic, otherworldly religious experience. I have come away breathless and challenged by the clarity and incisive insights with which Wright unpacked Paul’s proclamation as a rhetoric against pagan worldviews and political oppression.

However, if we are to understand the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, we would do well to heed Westerholm’s call to return and read exegetical masters like Luther once again. The great ecumenical article of faith that once held together orthodox, pre-schism traditions in the East and West needs to be rediscovered, not abandoned, if genuine unity in the gospel is to be achieved . [45] I expect to see the Church’s historic understanding of justification by faith would be significantly refined, but vindicated, in the process of the ongoing debate for the glory of God and the good of His people. The practical pay-off should therefore be nothing less than a renewed zeal and urgency to a missionary enterprise that truly transcends racial and cultural boundaries."

At NECF consultation, Dr Leong Tien Fock presented a balanced approach, highlighting how Christians can be 'countercultural' towards both modernism and postmodernism in The Battle For Truth

"... as postmodernisation follows modernisation and globalisation, what first emerges will be moderate postmodernism (a culture does not jump from a scientific to an anti-scientific mindset overnight). And since moderate postmodernism is, in a sense, a friend to Christianity, the battle for truth against modernity in places where postmodernism is not yet a stronghold favours the Church. But there must be sufficient Christians who overcome the corruptive power of modernity and postmodernism. By God's grace there will be. Will you and I be among them?

Give of your best to the Master ... join in the battle for truth!"

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Lotus, The Crescent & The Cross

Steven Sim (The Agora) will present "The Lotus & The Cross", discussing how we can engage our Buddhist friends in meaningful dialogues. This ancient Eastern worldview may have its Golden Age in the 21st century.

Date: 9 October 2005 (Sunday)
Time: 1.45 pm
Venue: City Discipleship Presbyterian Church ( Location Map )

David Ting (The Agora) will present an overview on Islam called "The Crescent in the Light of the Cross" and how we can engage our neighbors in constructive and critical interfaith discussions.

Date: 16 October 2005 (Sunday)
Time: 1.45 pm
Venue: City Discipleship Presbyterian Church ( Location Map )

Rabbinic Evangelism, anyone?