Wednesday, January 31, 2007

2007年 潘霍华经典閱讀小組 活动時间表

1月21日 總結《圣徒相通》1-3章 陳俊明主講
1月28日 《圣徒相通》第4章 陳俊明帶領
2月25日 《圣徒相通》第5章 陳俊明帶領
3月11日 《圣徒相通》第6章 陳俊明帶領
3月25日 神學講座(題目未定)
4月22日 《第一亞當与第二亞當》之基督論 張俊明帶領
5月27日 《第一亞當与第二亞當》之創造与墮落 張俊明帶領
6月 講座(暫定:路德行蹤) 陳俊明帶領

时间:8:00 – 9:30pm.
地址:83,Jalan Impiam Kashih8,Saujianan Impian, Kajang 43000, Kajang.
联络人: 张俊明(016-9174073)黄向勤(012-2912086)

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Gospel In Pluralistic Society

Lesslie Newbigin is one of the most influential 20th-century Christian thinkers in the field of missions. He was a missionary to India, but made the greatest impact in the West as a theologian. As a Christian statesman, active in the World Council of Churches, he gained the hearing of liberals, Catholics and a legion of evangelicals deeply impressed with his works.

Newbigin was born in 1909 into a wealthy Presbyterian family. During schooling years he struggled with doubt and lost his faith. Gifted with a clear, critical mind, he majored in economics and geography at Cambridge.

One night, as he lay in bed, he had a visionary experience of the cross which embraced heaven and earth. This conversion experience left such deep impression on his thought and life direction that he decided to study theology. He became involved in the Student Christian Movement (SCM) where he met his future wife, Helen Henderson, the daughter of a mission worker in India. It was his acquaintance with William Temple which led him to a lifelong passion for the ecumenical movement.
When the time came for him to decide on a career, he set forth for south India in 1936 as a missionary. He immediately sought to learn the Tamil language and understand the culture and religion of India by reading the Svetasvara Upanishad in the original language.

When Lesslie Newbigin returned to the West after 35 years, he took up pastorate at a struggling congregation in Birmingham. To his astonishment, he found native England a hostile mission field. It was during this period that his influential books on the gospel and modernity were written.

As a lifetime cross-cultural missionary, he knew the twin dangers of succumbing to either irrelevance or syncretism. In India, Hindus may worship Jesus on Christmas Day but He is perceived as one among a pantheon of deities. Similarly, in the West, the gospel has been co-opted by the modern dichotomy of ‘public facts’ ascertained by science over against ‘personal values’ speculated by religion. Surrendering the public square, the church has retreated into a private, spiritual ghetto. As part of his legacy, Newbigin challenged the Western church to break away from its cultural captivity to a secular, post-Enlightenment worldview.

The cure, however, is neither a remarriage of church and state vis-à-vis Constantine’s model nor a centralized Sharia regulating all of life. He calls for a ‘committed pluralism’ like the scientific community where each member is free to pursue her research within the tradition of what has been established. When disagreements arise, further experiment and argument are conducted, implying truth can be known. In this model, the church could publicly engage the world without being coercive. Even as violent religious fundamentalism is mounting, genuine unity of humankind can never be achieved through a pluralism that abandons the possibility of knowing the truth, by which alone humankind can be one.

Newbigin would insist that “truth is not a doctrine or a worldview or even a religious experience… it is the man Jesus Christ in whom God was reconciling the world. The truth is personal, concrete, historical”.

Leaning on Michael Polanyi’s philosophy, he asserted that there is no knowing without believing or personal commitment. All knowledge, including scientific ones, is based on a measure of faith and tradition. As such, the Enlightenment ideal of pure objectivity and neutrality is an unattainable myth. Ironically, the quest for indubitable certainty rooted in man’s rationality resulted in nihilism and agnosticism which eventually put science itself in jeopardy.

Therefore, we should be bold as the gospel is as much a public truth as the discovery of the scientist. Without embarrassment, the Christian should testify 'with universal intent'. This calls for a ‘declericalizing of theology’, where laypeople in every facet of life – media, politics, business, education and others – are enabled to challenge the prevailing assumptions of society in light of the gospel . Theology should not be reserved for pastors and scholars only!

However, Newbigin does not favor any form of apologetics which seeks to satisfy the standards of rationality within a hostile and alien plausibility structure. For example, one may have watched documentaries defending biblical miracles by insisting how they could be explained nicely by scientific laws. Science has become the ultimate authority.

Favoring an approach that looks similar to Reformed epistemology, he wrote, “The proper form of apologetics is the preaching of the gospel itself and the demonstration—which is not merely or primarily a matter of words—that it does provide the best foundation for a way of grasping and dealing with the mystery of our existence in this universe."

Rather than endorsing culture, the church must demonstrate to the world what it’s like when a community of people lives under God’s reign. The church’s proclamation, kerygma, must be carried out in the context of authentic community (koinonia) and service to the world (diakonia). The life of Christians should be integrated interpreters of the gospel as word, deed and sign. Only then can an alternative plausibility structure can be created by congregations who believe, proclaim, embody and enact the story of God’s mighty acts of creation and redemption. He described justice to the poor and care for creation as urgent areas to be addressed in the new millennium.

Since much has been said about an emerging postmodern culture, it may be worthwhile to explore Newbigin’s view on this issue. Undeniably, truth does not hang in thin air apart from history, language and particular human culture. However, he would insist that this does not entail the false assertion that no culturally-embodied truth claim “makes contact with a reality beyond the human mind”. While he agrees with the postmodern replacement of ahistorical, disembodied truth with a Story, he denies the postmodern skepticism that there is no overarching truth among the many ‘mere’ stories. Again, he wrote, “The church’s affirmation is that the story it tells, embodies and enacts is the true story and that others are to be evaluated by reference to it.”

Reading Newbigin’s works is dangerous business. It puts fire in the intellect, courage in the heart and motivation for action for the universal mission of Christ to a despairing world. A modern-day prophet has walked amongst us. We would do well to rally to his call to leave our privatized ghettos and ride forth to engage our pluralistic culture.


A Walk Through the Bible, SPCK/Westminster Knox, 1999

A Word in Season: Perspectives on Christian World Mission, St Andrew Press/Eerdmans, 1994

Discovering Truth in a Changing World, Alpha International, 2003

Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture, SPCK, 1986

Living Hope in a Changing World, Alpha International, 2003

Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship, SPCK, 1995

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, SPCK/Eerdmans, 1989

The Household of God, 1953, reprinted by Paternoster, 1999

The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, SPCK/Eerdmans, 1978

The Other Side of 1984: Questions for the Churches, WCC Publications, 1983

Trinitarian Doctrine for Today's Mission, 1963, reprinted by Paternoster, 1999

Truth and Authority in Modernity, Trinity Press International, 1996

Unfinished Agenda: an Updated Autobiography, St Andrew Press, 1993

Friday, January 26, 2007

Muslim-Christian Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement

by Kam Weng
Challenges for Christians

Some Christians avoid dialogue because of their own misconceptions. It is therefore appropriate for us to analyze how the meaning and goals of true dialogue could realistically be set in Malaysia. In the first place Christians should enter into the national debate about what common society we should work towards. The absence of a Christian voice results in a de facto surrendering of the public sphere to the dominant majority. Surely, this is an irresponsible act and an unconditional surrender to the hegemonic majority. Our failure to respond vigorously has resulted in a continual erosion of our Constitutional rights by many undebated legislations.

But an effective response is possible only if we act out of a clearly defined social philosophy.

Read On For Part 1 And Part 2

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Best Promise of This Life

At our workplace, as in all of life, we will undoubtedly encounter difficulties from time to time. Sometimes difficulties arise from our own mistakes...on other occasions, it's due to direct opposition from others. At times, there's no one to "blame" - it's just a matter of the confluence of unfavorable circumstances.

Whatever, the source of difficulties, this familiar verse has been a comfort to me amidst them.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
(Romans 8:28-29)

From Beside Still Waters, C.H. Spurgeon elaborates on this passage of scripture better than I ever I'll let his timeless words speak to us.

"Everything that happens to you is for your own good. If the waves roll against you, it only speeds your ship toward the port...You gain by loss, you grow healthy in sickness, you live by dying, and you are made rich in losses."

"Could you ask for a better promise? It is better that all things should work for my good than all things should be as I wish to have them. All things might work for my pleasure and yet might all work my ruin. If all things do not always please me, they will always benefit me. This is the best promise of this life"

I often think that what will make me happy is to have things work out according to my desires . Yet, this isn't what will bring me lasting joy. Spurgeon reminds me that it is actually far better that things work for my good than to have things work as I wish. My wayward heart doesn't always believe this but the promise of Romans 8:28 is indeed "the best promise of this life".

Spurgeon also speaks to God's purpose in the midst of difficult circumstances.

"Sometimes a storm brings people to their senses and arouses their consciences until they cry to the Lord. At other times, serious business losses bring such distress that people are driven to seek riches that are more enduring than gold, a competence that is more reliable than profits, and a comfort that is more genuine and lasting than wealth."

His recommended response? Humble submission to God's purpose accomplished through our trials.

"Submit cheerfully. there is no affliction that comes by chance....Not a drop of bitter ever falls into our cup unless the heavenly Father's wisdom places it there. We dwell where everything is ordered by God. Whenever adversity must come, it is always with a purpose. And, if it is God's purpose, should I wish to escape it?"

Whatever your struggle this week or next, I trust this meditation on "the best promise of this life" will encourage you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fourth National Congress on Integrity

Federal Accountability, Local Governance

The 4th NCOI or the Fourth National Congress on Integrity will be themed, Federal Accountability, Local Governance. It will be jointly organized by NCOI (National Congress on Integrity), APPAC (All PJ Pro-Action Committee), the SUN and other willing private sector partners.

Date: 3rd February 2007
Venue: UCSI, Main Campus, Cheras, KL
Time: 9 am - 1 pm (with Lunch)

The Core Issue of deliberation is quality of Representative Governance
The recent case of Datuk Zakaria Mat Deros, the disrespectful Local Councilor provides the central framework to review and reexamine the core issues related to Local Governance in Malaysia.

An NST Article by Roger Tan provides as good a framework as any to begin the discussion of issues. The core issue framed by Roger Tan, a lawyer by profession, is, “why do these two councilors have such scant regard for the laws which they are entrusted to enforce?” Roger Tan concluded with the following paragraph, “Perhaps, as a start, Section 10(2) of the Local Government Act can be amended to require the state authority to consult either the minister or the National Council for Local Government in the appointment and reappointment of local councilors.” The organizers of the 4th NCOI agree that the core issue is the “quality of representative local governance” which will help define good governance at the level of Local Authority. Premised on this thesis, we propose the theme of the 4th NCOI as Federal Accountability, Local Governance.

Modus Operandi of the Roundtable Dialogue
Two Keynote Speakers will help set the stage for this Roundtable Dialogue. They are YB Dato Shahrir Abdul Samad, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and a leading Constitutional Lawyer, Dato Dr Cyrus Das. They will both be given 20 minutes each to make the formal presentation. After some question and answers, four selected interveners will be given 10 minutes each to make their comments and raise issues not already raised by them.

Following this the plenary session and a short break, Roundtables of 6-8 persons will discuss the core issue from their perspectives. All tables and participants will have the opportunity to partake of the discussion and resolutions. Selected problem statements and resolutions will then be presented for a final commentary by the 7 invited speakers for the final Roundup and the Dialogue will be formally closed.

The Organizing Committee hopes to table the views of the Roundtable will be tabled to the Parliamentary Special Committee on Integrity.

The views of the Roundtable will be tabled as citizen’s views to the Parliamentary Committee on Integrity.

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers: YB Dato Shahrir Abdul Samad, Chairman Public Accounts Committee
YBhg Dato Dr Cyrus Das, Former President of the Malaysian Bar Council
Moderator: YB Dato Dr Tan Kee Kwong, Member of Parliament for Segambut
Commentators: Citizen R Nadeswaran of the SUN Newspaper
Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi, Constitutional Law Professor, UiTM
Mr Edward Lee, Protem Chairman of PJ Action
Andrew Khoo, Legal Advisor of the Anglican Bishop of West Malaysia

For any other information, please call 03-78773701 or email

Registration fee: RM30 per person to be paid on admission which includes lunch
Group registrations of ten are at RM 250 per group with pre-registrations.
Walk-in registrations at RM 40 per person.

For those registering as a group of 10, please register and make checks payments to:
"Graduates Christian Fellowship, P.O. Box 8320, 46789, Kelana Jaya, Selangor"
Pre-registration is STRONGLY encouraged to allow the organizers to plan for food and seating.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Renewing Our Minds, Redeeming Our Cultures

"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2)"

Last week, we considered: “What Would Jesus Think?” He is Lord of our hearts, minds and strength, the supreme model for our thinking, feeling and doing habits. We looked at examples of how Jesus used His mind in the Gospels and see how that is relevant to our own day.

Let us follow His example in thinking properly and integrate our faith in each area of study and research and work to the glory of God in universities, campuses, research institutions, science laboratory, computer labs, hospitals and lecture halls.

What are the areas where our Christian Faith integrate with work/world?

There are different areas of integration: (JP Moreland “Loving God With All Your Mind”)

1) What are the ethical issues involved in my vocation or study? As a businessperson, what is my beliefs of corporate moral responsibility? Or as a law student, what is justice?

2) What does my field say about what is real or not, what is true or false? As a teacher, psychologist or counsellor, should I believe that the mind is really the brain or morality is determined by genes? How should a scientist view evolution?

3) What does my field say about the nature and limits of knowledge? Should I assume that only what can be measured and tested in an experiment is genuine knowledge?

4) Are there specific virtues or qualities especially relevant to your work or study?

How Do We Develop A Christian Mind?

When was the last time you were encouraged to think Christianly as a student of law, business, information technology or education? We need to develop a Christian mindset.

A Christian mind is not simply thinking about topics like prayer, worship, bible study nor just abstract intellectualism. Os Guiness put it this way:

“Thinking Christianly is thinking by Christians about anything and everything in a consistently Christian way – in a manner which is shaped, directed, and restrained by the truth of God's Word and God's Spirit…”and “what we do with what we know is what Christian knowing is all about.”

Consciously or not, all of us have some basic ideas about how to look at life and the world that guide our actions like glasses or contact lenses through which we see everything else. "A worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life. In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world." (Phillips and Brown) A good worldview answers four big questions of life:

· Where do we come from? (Question Of Origin)
· Who are we? (Question Of Identity)
· Why are we here? (Question Of Purpose)
· Where are we going? (Question Of Destiny)

To build bridges across different cultures, Christians need to learn how to be bilingual, translating the perspective of the gospel into a language understood by our culture. We learn to connect God’s Word with God’s world. How do I do it?

The Creation: In Genesis, God created humans and the universe out of nothing. Human lives are sacred and valuable because we bear God’s image. We are not just biological machines.Our first job description: "Be fruitful and multiply (develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws) and fill the earth and subdue it (harness the natural world and care for creation: plant crops, build bridges, design computers)". The Cultural Mandate sets out our original purpose to create cultures, build civilizations. “It’s only Eden if you have a gardener. Without one, what you have is Amazon jungle”. Work is meaningful and fulfilling.

The Fall: However humanity has rebelled against God and fallen into sin. A radical corruption happens to the entire creation, shattering our relationships with God, environment, animals, each other and alienation from our own selves. Now we determine the knowledge of good and evil with man at the center, without reference from the Creator. In disobedience, we have made physical and mental idols to rule our own lives. The result is pain, sorrow, alienation, conflict, violence, self-centeredness and death. Even work becomes frustrating and burdensome.

The Redemption: At the cross and resurrection, Christ has redeemed our souls and reconciled all of creation to Himself. The earth we are living in is not abandoned, but renewed at the consummation of history when Christ returns – new heaven, new earth, resurrected bodies. We, citizens of the Kingdom, should be living according to the way of Jesus, caring for the ecosystem in ways that honor the Creator. Although the complete removal of sin is yet to come, we can join Jesus in reversing the effects of sin and letting His kingdom come, His will be done on earth.


Lesslie Newbigin laid this challenge: Laypeople in every facet of life – media, politics, business, education and others – should be enabled to challenge the prevailing assumptions of society in light of the gospel. A Christian mind should not be reserved for pastors and scholars only! Free online resources are available – take advantage of it! Use what you learn in conversations and interactions with friends.

God called you to a special task in this needy world. Your calling is where your deepest passions and the world’s greatest need meet. So discover your passion, talents and gifts and use them to bless others for the glory of God.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

How Would Jesus Think?

Took leave today to present a message on "How Would Jesus Think"? to the Christian Fellowship in Universiti Malaya... Here's the long version:

What is WWJD? Wikipedia: “A personal motto for thousands of Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief that Jesus is the supreme model for morality, and to act in a manner of which Jesus would approve”.

Today, I’d like us to consider a new question: “What Would Jesus Think?” (WWJT)

He is Lord of our hearts, minds and strength, the supreme model for our thinking habits. Look at examples of how Jesus used His mind in the Gospels and see how that is relevant to our own questions.

Why is it important?

When was the last time you were encouraged to think Christianly as a student of law, business, information technology or education? Demonstrate the Lordship of Christ in all things.

If we don’t think after biblical perspective in our areas of study, two results happen

1) “Faith is believing what you know ain’t true?” (Oscar Wilde) If there are reasons or proofs, where is the room for faith? If got faith, why need reasons?

Biblical faith is beyond reason, but not against reason. It is not blind faith or intellectual suicide. Faith involves knowledge, agreement and personal trust/commitment.

2) No Impact On World Outside: “Christian on Sunday, Functional Atheist on Monday”

”God defines worship as the offering of one's total life to Him, a commitment to obey Him in every sphere of life including formal public worship. Elaborate formal worship without the worship of one's total life was not acceptable.” - Tan Soo Inn

Is the gospel just otherworldly? Or Is it also relevant to every dimension of human existence – spirit, mind, body, economics, politics etc in THIS world?

How Did Jesus Do It?

Look at how Jesus used His mind in conversations with those who ask. Don’t be just an answering machine. Be a good listener. Ask good questions like Jesus to open up assumptions, clarify information, and make people think. Thinking is not our enemy.

Jesus’ purpose of using logic is not to win debates but to open up minds, not force conclusions down hearer’s throats but to let them discover the truth themselves!

Some Examples

1) The Loaded Question in Luke 20: “Should Christians pay taxes or not?” Giving the right answer to the wrong question (loaded with wrong assumptions) is always wrong.

Application: Is abortion wrong? What are the cultural assumptions behind it?

2) The False Dilemma in Matthew 22:37: “Women With 7 Husbands In Heaven?”
What are the possible answers Jesus could have given? (offer a third way) Why didn’t Jesus quote Daniel 12:2 to show the resurrection of the dead?

Application: Do you believe in science or God? Why not both?

3) Take a wrong idea and bring it to its absurd or undesirable conclusion in
Matthew 22:41 “If King David calls the Messiah “Lord”, how can He be just his son?”

Application: There is no absolute right or wrong so you shouldn’t force your views on me? How do we do a 'reductio ad absurdum' on it?

4) Appeal to Evidence in Matthew 11:4-6
John Baptist asks, “Are You the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?”

Did Jesus scold Him for doubting? “You must believe, suppress your unbelief else you’d go to hell?” No! He says, “Look at the evidence!” (Isaiah 61)


Jesus is Lord of the church. He is also Lord of our universities, campuses, research institutions, science laboratory, computer labs, hospitals and lecture halls.

"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!

By seeing how Jesus Himself uses reason, let us follow His example in thinking properly and integrate our faith in each area of study and research and work to the glory of God. God is with us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wisdom from a Desert Father: Just Do It

A brother said to Abba Poemen: “If I give my brother a little bread or something else, what happens when the demons spoil these gifts by telling me that it was only done in order to please people?” The old man said to him: “Even if it is done to please people, we are still obliged to offer what we can.” He told him the following parable.

“Two farmers lived in the same town. One of them sowed and reaped only a small and poor crop, while the other did not even trouble to sow and reaped absolutely nothing. If a famine comes upon them, which of the two will find something to live on?” The brother replied: “The one who reaped the small poor crop.” The old man said to him: “So it is with us: we sow a little poor grain, so that we will not die of hunger.”

read more

Friday, January 05, 2007

Agora Projects 2007

It doesn't feel like a happy new year yet. Have been hearing too many deaths of godly saints recently. In my sister's church, there had been a faithful member who left us due to cancer/tumor for three consecutive years.

A friend wrote: "God has used all these people to touch various lives. His will and purpose are far more greater than our desires. His ways and thoughts are much
higher than ours. All we can do is submit to His perfect will. Continue to
run the race, and stay faithful."

Only one life that soon will pass,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

We press on and resolved to follow in their well-lived example.

In that spirit, I would like to share some projects we will be doing in collaboration with churches and ministries in the year 2007.

Biblical Preaching Workshop

Soo Inn's Biblical Preaching Workshop will kick off on 20 Jan 2007 (Saturday). We will explore the key facets of preaching from the bible in the 21st century. As a result of taking this seminar, participants will know both the theology of biblical preaching and a methodology for doing it.

For more details
Date: Saturday, January 20th 2007 (Ahwal Muharram)
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Venue: Antioch Center (Home of Bandar Utama Chapel)

Total Truth Community Learning Initiative

So far, we are extremely encouraged to see the overwhelming response to this initiative in collaboration with OHMSI and churches.

Over the course of 2007, KJ John (First Baptist Church), Kong Beng (Subang Jaya Gospel Center), Fong Yang (City Discipleship Presbyterian) and Phil DeHart (St Andrews Presbyterian) will facilitate a small group each, exploring different dimensions of the Christian faith in relation to politics, science, gender roles, social isssues etc.

The book we will read together and discuss is "Total Truth: Liberating the Church From Cultural Captivity" by Nancey Pearcey, an excellent female evangelical author.

I look forward to see exciting interactions among the groups - a healthy combination of males and females, young and old, participants from different traditions i.e. Mar Thoma, Assembly of God, Methodist, Brethren, Baptists and Presbyterian.

The take-home value, as i see it, is there will be a group of trained Christians who are equipped to integrate their vocations with a Christian worldview and engage the issues of our day in the public square.

For more details
Date: Saturday, January 27th 2007
Time: 9:45 am – 12:00 pm
Venue: City Discipleship Presbyterian Church (Map)

Universiti Malaya PKV: Put On The Mind of Christ

In collaboration with the Christian Fellowship UM, I will also be sharing to a group of students about following Jesus in their areas of studies/research/work next two Fridays. We hope to explore how Jesus himself skillfully and reasonably answered critics, and how He asked questions that open up assumptions and reveal motives.

He is "Lord of universities and research institutes, of the creative disciplines and scholarship". Hopefully seeing Jesus in action, we will have the courage to follow Him in our respective areas of study - be it in law, medical sciences, education etc - integrating faith with life.

Woud covet ur intercessions as I squeeze out some time reading Willard, Moreland, Groothius and Ramsden to prepare these sessions.