Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Learning Community

Addressing the need for intellectual witness in the wider society, Kam Weng proposed an action item on leadership development that resonates deeply -
"many Christian leaders in the third world do not have enough time to acquire the pre-requisite skills and knowledge adequate to confront the best scholars from the other religions. Hence, it is vital that we begin early to equip younger Christians for such a demanding task... It is urgent that we identify promising young leaders and nurture them with supplementary education while they are still in colleges."

Not only that, Soo Inn proposed that developing leaders is also about 'spiritual friendship', living and walking with these young leaders - sharing our lives, otherwise it could be too abstract.

With that in view, I highly recommend the following community learning initiatives in the Klang Valley which would put needed resources in your hands to be an ambassador for Christ in the marketplace and guided by facilitators who are willing to share their lives.

1) ACT Ministry will be having a fortnightly (Mondays) group study on Philosophy for Understanding Theology by Diogenes Allen and ACT Ministry notes on "Greek Philosophy in Christian Doctrine". Time: 8.30pm - 10.00pm

Length: 12 sessions beginning on the 25/09/2006 and ending 12/03/2007 with Christmas and Chinese new Year breaks in between.

2) Basic Doctrine Course (tapes/workbooks from John Stott) at CDPC starting on 29 Oct 2006. Facilitators: Michael & Yvette Koh, excellent couple-teachers.

3) KJ John is a regular contributor at Malaysiakini with an emphasis on integrity and transparent governance in our country. He and Kong Beng will team up to lead the OHMSI group study on the book "Total Truth" by Nancey Pearcey which is an excellent resource for being informed about cultural issues in our day - from sociopolitical engagement, ethics, intelligent design,
homosexuality, gender issues, secularism, islam etc etc...

(btw the term 'total truth' was coined by Francis Schaeffer to mean that Christianity is not only true for religious issues like 'personal encounter w God' but also true in the public issues like how we do science, economics, social-politics, arts racial, sexual issues etc ...)

Since KJ John is also an experienced and well-connected writer for the public square, I believe we can really benefit from his insights in the Malaysian context. Also, Kong Beng would contribute from a theological perspective.

The next best thing (imho, a much better thing) to getting a formal education is to get experienced mentors like them to give us some coaching and hands-on guide.

The take-home value, as i see it, is we could have a group of young people who are prepared to engage the issues in malaysiakini or other public forums in some specialised issues when the need arises...

So far, I'm encouraged to see some promising future leaders have expressed interest.

We are desperately in need of people who will stand up and be counted. Round up your frens who may be interested and suitably gifted, and let's get connected.

How to sign up? Just email me at hedonese at

KJ John's Proposed Ground Rules are:

1. Meeting once a month either Saturday or Sunday for about 2 hours at a location of our choice. Attendance is compulsory for those all who sign up.

We cannot miss more than one in a row to a maximum of two meetings. The book has only 13 chapters and we intend to only READ and REVIEW only one chapter a month.

2. Those who have not read relevant chapter CANNOT PARTICIPATE in the discussion and dialogue. Both Navs 2:7 program and BSG follow these rules. Good for personal discipline and good discipleship.

3. Once committed, it is from start till finish.

4. We all agree to undertake to endeavour to start a new group of our own as our passing on the baton of the new way of thinking about life and living; after the session is over after about one year.


UK Friend said...

I was very much encouraged and challenged by your "Community Learning" post! I think one benefit that the world of blogs has brought about has simply been the opportunities to network; I would never have known about so many Malaysian Christians who are so committed to reflecting and living out their life for Christ otherwise.

CTzen said...

'I would never have known about so many Malaysian Christians who are so committed to reflecting and living out their life for Christ otherwise.'

I am straining to see a connection between stocking up on head knowledge and 'reflecting and living out their life for Christ otherwise'

Knowledge puffs up!

Alf said...


Paul is not against knowledge per se since Christ is the source of all wisdom. He is against a proud attitude towards knowledge.

If knowledge (by itself) puffs up, then the most ignorant people in the world are the most humble ones!

But for every intellectual show-off i know, there is an unknowledgeable person who is defensive and proud as a coverup of his lack of understanding.

Arrogance is not monopolised by people who have developed their reasoning abilities and read scripture in context.

Perhaps you may like to sit in at one of our get-togethers, taste and see how we connect a communal/personal relationship w each other with clear thinking about God's word and His World?

Maybe with some first-hand encounter with us, you may have a different opinion abt the value of stocking up knowledge in the context of community learning and living it out in the 'real world' :)

jacksons said...

Gee CTzen, are you telling us that you have knowledge that "Knowledge puffs up!". You seemed to be very secure in a knowledge that "stocking up on head knowledge" does not produce the necessary fruits - a list of which you have knowledge about. Hmmm, see how much knowledge you have? Are you puffed up too, like us? If not, do let us in on your anti-puffed-up secret formula.

BK said...

Dear CTzen,

As the original commenter "uk friend", I thought that I'll just like to take a little time to interact with you. I'm sure you wouldn't mind. :-)

Firstly, I'll like to point out that the comment above was actually made in private email communication with Hedonese, and that I had no problems with him citing just that portion of my email (although I didn't realise he would use the pseudonym "UK Friend"!). What is especially interesting and slightly ironic is that later on in the same email, I expressed sentiments that we all not be merely hoarding intellectual knowledge but be living out our lives for Christ. =)

I think I discern a concern in your comment that we would become hearers but not doers of the Word, as James puts it. Although I am slightly puzzled that you choose to express this in response to what I said, as I see no obvious connection, nevertheless I am sure that all Agorans here share a fundamental concern that Christ is not relegated to being a passing academic interest. In fact, I believe you would find this reflected in the mission statement of the Agora, which seeks to encourage and help each other to live out Christianly in every facet of our lives.

However, this includes the realm of the mind. I believe you have the words of Paul in mind when you quote "knowledge puffs up". I think it is instructive though, to look at what Paul actually means when he says that in his letter to the Corinthians.

Corinth was a thriving metropolitan city, not unlike say, New York or London today. The church there, however, was experiencing problems with disunity and division, with some teachers there having begun preaching a need for some sort of secret "knowledge" or "power" as necessary to living as a "higher class" of Christians.

Paul was writing to address this situation. Thus, in 1 Corinthians 1, he purposely contrasts the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of the cross, showing how Christians need to keep on hanging to the good news that Jesus died on the cross but rose again!

Thus, when we get on in the letter when Paul says "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up", he does not mean knowledge as we might mean it today, but he is specifically thinking of those in Corinth who thought that some sort of secret "knowledge" was necessary to living as empowered Christians.

This is instructive for all of us today, and I am humbled when I am tempted to think that I need a PhD in theology to understand Christianity, or that I need some sort of mantra or formula to live as a Christian. But Paul reminds us that it is the gospel that will sustain us. (If you google "Tim Keller centrality of the gospel", you will find a very good article on the implications of the gospel for our entire lives.)

But as alf points out, Paul is not against knowledge per se, just anything that is not motivated by the good news of Jesus. That's why we are commanded to love Jesus with, among other things, our minds, and also in Proverbs 1:7, where we are told the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Therefore, pursuing knowledge is not wrong in itself but only becomes dangerous when it is not grounded in the reality that we are disciples of Jesus.

I hope that clears up any misconceptions, and thanks for reading this (rather long) response. If you are Malaysian, I do hope that you'll see that there is no disconnect between mind and heart, although sin can cause interruptions. :-) Thank you for the caution against pride in our intellect, and I hope similarly that you too will take heed in the caution against anti-intellectualism as a source of pride in itself.

For all of us in the Agora, let's keep examining ourselves that we don't fall into the trap of being too esoteric!