Sunday, April 26, 2009

Romans 7: Why Are Forbidden Fruits Sweeter? (Part I)

The latest Kairos magazine is out of the stove and here is the unedited draft from my article on Romans chapter 7.

Have you ever stolen mangoes or rambutans from a neighbour’s tree? If those adolescent exploits still make you chuckle, it may seem puzzling to see why Augustine agonized with guilt over some stolen pears in his Confessions. Was he indulging in a kind of mental self-beating?

Apparently not. Augustine looked back on his ‘fruitful’ endeavor and confessed that he was not even hungry that day. In fact, he gleefully threw his loot to the pigs. His desire was not the sweetness of pears, but merely the excitement of doing what was wrong! He asked himself, “Was it possible to take pleasure in what was illicit for no reason other than that it was not allowed?” Forbidden fruits taste better simply because they are off-limits.

This universal human experience seems to be on the apostle Paul’s mind when he wrote:

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet”. But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from the law, sin is dead.” (Romans 7:7-8)

Earlier in this grand epistle to the church in Rome, the apostle had argued powerfully that sinners are declared righteous by God’s grace through faith in Christ, not through obeying the law (3:27). Consequently believers are ‘not under law, but under grace’ (6:14). They are no longer trying to impress God or earn divine favor by keeping the written code and live under its condemnation. Instead, they depend on what Christ had graciously done for their salvation and thus set free from the power of sin.

If the law only brings us wrath from God (4:15), does that mean that Paul considered the Mosaic law to be responsible for sin and death? Was he casting a shadow against the law as the cause of sin and condemnation? (7:7, 13) In Romans chapter 7, the apostle would answer these serious objections and defend the role of the law in our discipleship.

No, he wrote, the law in itself is “holy, righteous and good” (7:12). On the contrary, it is our fallen nature which is the source of sin and death. Although the law reveals and condemns transgressions, our self-centered disposition is thus aroused to produce every kind of prohibited desires (7:8). For this reason, the law is unable to rescue sinners or make them holy. It can neither be the ground for our justification or sanctification.

Paul used marriage as an illustration to explain the principle that the law has authority over a person only as long as he or she lives. “For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage” (7:2). Similarly, believers have died to the law through participation in the death of Christ so that they may now belong to Him and bear good fruit to God. They were once controlled by the sinful passions provoked by the law, resulting in evil deeds that lead to death. But now they have been released from the law so that they may serve God in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (7:1-6)

See Part II

Romans 7: Why Are Forbidden Fruits Sweeter? (Part II)

The unedited draft of my article for Kairos Magazine 2009: (2nd part)

Recently, I overheard some heated discussions in blogdom about the meaning of being ‘released from the law’. Does that mean that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding on Christians? One side of the debate was accused of promoting the law without grace (legalism) while the other was indicted of giving out a license to lawless living (antinomianism). So are we still expected to obey the law? Answer: Yes and no!

Legalism says: “Obey and you will be accepted by God!”
Lawlessness says: “Disobey and you will still be accepted by God!”
The Gospel says, “You are accepted by God because of Christ, therefore obey!”

Yes, the law still has a positive role for us as the revelation of God’s will because we have been set free from sin to become slaves of God and of righteousness (6:18, 22). We are liberated so that we may belong to Christ and bear good fruit (7:4). But no, our motive to obey is not to save ourselves or earn acceptance from God. We serve out of a grace-filled, loving relationship with Christ. Not because we have to, out of mere obligation, but because we want to, out of grateful delight. Such obedience is empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, not fleshly efforts or external coercion (7:6).

“What a wretched man I am!”

If the law is not to be blamed for sin, it is also clear that it is too weak to do what it is supposed to do – that is, to make us holy. Paul wrote, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” (7:14). Biblical scholars have spilled much ink over the identity of the ‘wretched man’ caught in intense introspective struggles as described in Romans 7:14-24. He delights in God’s law in his mind (7:22) yet confesses that nothing good lives in him, that is, in his sinful nature (7:18). He could not do the good that he wants to do. Instead, he carries out the very evil that he wants to shun (7:15-16). It almost seems like he has a split personality, fighting a ferocious war within himself (7:23).

Was Paul talking about his own guilt-ridden inability to keep the law as a Pharisee in his pre-conversion days? Or does the ‘wretched man’ represent a regenerate Christian life caught in the already-not yet tension of growing in holiness in a fallen world? Or was Paul mimicking an abnormal Christian who still relies on external law-keeping rather than the ‘new way of the Spirit’ for his sanctification?

Without getting entangled too deeply in this debate (the curious reader may consult a good commentary for more details), perhaps it would be fair to say that all of us (be it Christian or otherwise) are unable to keep the law perfectly due to the power of sin living in us. “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God— through Jesus Christ our Lord” (7:24)! These inner struggles did not climax with a cry of despair but of anticipation for eventual deliverance. We would only read of the indwelling Spirit by whom we put to death the misdeeds of the sinful nature later in Romans 8.

Tim Keller has a helpful way of distinguishing the gospel from both legalism and lawlessness. While it is easy to detect sin in a hedonistic lifestyle, we often cannot tell how the gospel is any different from moralistic religion. But a legalist rejects God’s grace by trying to be his own savior through achievements just as a hedonist rejects God’s law in pursuit of selfish pleasures. Both are fundamentally opposed to the gospel of grace.

Two Christians may join the same cell group, tithe regularly, serve in church, listen to the same sermon and try their utmost to be good parents. But they may do so out of radically different motives, resulting in radically different approaches to life. The legalist does these things in order to appease God, out of fear and despair that God will reject him if he fails to perform. If he succeeds, he feels proud and superior to others. On the other hand, the believer transformed by the gospel does the same things out of grateful joy in God’s free acceptance and desire to bring Him pleasure. The result is a humble boldness since Jesus alone is his righteousness and atonement for sins.

Which is the primary driver in your life - the law or the gospel?

Is our standing before God dependent on grace rather than our track record in law-keeping? Is our obedience an outflow of a personal, living relationship with God? Or do we relate to God in terms of a slavish bondage to rules and regulations, a list of do’s and don’ts, of mere duties and obligations?

God is not glorified by joyless religious duty, but by our joyful, willing and obedient delight in all that He is.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Abiogenesis: Can The Game Start Without A Kickoff?

Listening to someone who has a different view is not a waste of time. Otherwise we'd be preaching to the choir of those who already convinced. When it comes to different views on science, theAgora forums have featured speakers from both theistic evolutionist AND YE creationist :D

Today, let's take a brief look at the topic of 'abiogenesis' - the idea that living organisms developed naturalistically from nonliving matter. If the game of natural selection that accounts for diverse life forms on earth is to begin without divine intervention, then somehow the first primitive living organisms must have developed from non-living matters.

If there is no kickoff, how can the game even get started? (Greg Koukl)

Here, scientists have tried for decades to find this 'holy grail' but the results seem to be rather disappointing not for the lack of trying or technological capability. Rather much creative research and advanced molecular biology had been invested through the years to unravel more dead-ends than possible pathways.

Let me begin with some quotes from a the panspermia website:
"The undreamt-of breakthrough of molecular biology has made the problem of the origin of life a greater riddle than it was before: we have acquired new and deeper problems." — Karl R. Popper

"Nobody understands the origin of life. If they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you." — Ken Nealson

But quite frequently, certain famous experiments were cited as if it had given confirming evidence that abiogenesis is not only possible/viable but also relatively easy. (It needs to be deceptively easy bcos the most primitive cell appeared relatively early in the earth's development so there is not much time for 'chance' to work its magic)

In the article THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON THE EARTH, Leslie Orgel a scientist who has invested 30 years of his life researching the origins of life to give his review verdict on the state of research in this field in Scientific American. He is the kind of scholar who really knows his stuffs and therefore, more careful in his assertions. For example, you won’t find him citing Fox, Miller and Ferris as if they have already given experimental confirmation for abiogenesis when they are far from even close to doing so. A serious scientist would not say such a thing with how things are panning out these days.

The article is a tour de force of different theories proposed so far and it ends on a rather somber note below:

“Whether RNA arose spontaneously or replaced some earlier genetic system, its development was probably the watershed event in the development of life. It very likely led to the synthesis of proteins, the formation of DNA and the emergence of a cell that became life's last common ancestor. The precise events giving rise to the RNA world remain unclear. As we have seen, investigators have proposed many hypotheses, **but evidence in favor of each of them is fragmentary at best. The full details of how the RNA world, and life, emerged may not be revealed in the near future.** Nevertheless, as chemists, biochemists and molecular biologists cooperate on ever more ingenious experiments, they are sure to fill in many missing parts of the puzzle.”
(emphasis mine)

What James Ferris has done is interesting but modest. However with all due respect, we can’t simply flash his experiment and hope that it would self-evidently convince people. It may impress those already convinced, but a careful evaluation of what his experiment actually can or cannot prove will do much better. To be more accurate, Ferris finds that a common clay could catalyze the formation of oligonucleotides (short sequences of nucleotides) and it would do well to remember that these are short, random sequences. We have not even come close to explaining how self-replicating RNA was created from these constituents.

As an analogy, when we play Scrabble, it is easy to get alphabets like ‘ran’ or ‘cat’ or ‘police’ randomly but it is hardly evidence that such random processes can yield strings of words that form a Shakepeare play.

Let’s see what Orgel has to say about this research direction:
“Let us assume investigators could prove that ribonucleotides were able to emerge nonenzymatically. Workers who favor the simple scenario described above would still have to demonstrate that the nucleotides could assemble into polymers and that the polymers could replicate without assistance from proteins. Many researchers are now struggling with these challenges. Once again, minerals could conceivably have catalyzed the joining of reactive nucleotides into polymers. Indeed, James P. Ferris of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute finds that a common clay, montmorillonite, catalyzes the synthesis of RNA oligonucleotides.

It is harder to conceive of the steps by which RNA might have begun to replicate in the absence of proteins. Early work in my laboratory initially suggested that such replication was possible. In these experiments, we synthesized oligonucleotides and mixed them with free nucleotides. The nucleotides lined up on the oligonucleotides and combined with one another to form new oligonucleotides… (skip)

***After years of trying, however, we have been unable to achieve the second step of replication - copying of a complementary strand to yield a duplicate of the first template - without help from protein enzymes. Equally disappointing, we can induce copying of the original template only when we run our experiments with nucleotides having a right-handed configuration. All nucleotides synthesized biologically today are right-handed. Yet on the primitive earth, equal numbers of right- and left-handed nucleotides would have been present. When we put equal numbers of both kinds of nucleotides in our reaction mixtures, copying was inhibited.***

(emphasis mine)

Here is another relevant evaluation by Orgel:
“Formation of nucleotides by combining phosphate with nucleosides has been achieved by simple prebiotic reactions. But the kinds of nucleotides that occur in nature arose along with related molecules having incorrect structures. If such mixtures were produced on the young planet, the abnormal nucleotides would have interacted with the normal ones to interfere with catalysis and RNA replication. Hence, although each step of ribonucleotide synthesis can be achieved to some extent, it is not easy to see how prebiotic reactions could have led to the development of the ribonucleotides needed for producing self-replicating RNA.

One way around this problem is to assume that inorganic catalysts were available to ensure that only the correct nucleotides formed. For instance, when the components of nucleotides became adsorbed on the surface of some mineral, that mineral might have caused them to combine only in specific orientations. The possibility that minerals served as useful catalysts remains real, ***but none of the minerals tested so far has been shown to have the specificity needed to yield only nucleotides having the correct architecture.***

While the experiment is promising but it has also yielded deep and worrisome problems which need to be overcome. I’m not saying these are insurmountable problems but it would not be exaggerating to say that with the advance of science, we’ve found more gaps than answers to abiogenesis.

What about the famous Miller experiment? His experiments are based on a reducing
atmosphere condition he assumed actually existed on the early earth but independent geochemical evidence now strongly suggests that chemically hostile conditions prevailed. So if those conditions are not of early earth, all you are simulating is how amino acids could form frm inorganic materials in an alternate universe setting. (hardly relevant to our topic here). It is a serious objection and explains
why scholars need to come up with other unconfirmed theories to fill in the gaps. ('science of the gap' strategy?)

But lets for the **sake of discussion** assume that the conditions on early earth are accurately simulated in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Would Miller's experiment show that “it can be done”? Again, not so. These experiments produce amino acids along with non biological stuffs which will react with each other to produce useless sludge or tar. Without the experimenter’s intelligent intervention to prevent this chemical reaction, they have to artificially removed these other stuffs and use short wavelength UV light (which is unrealistic on this planet) otherwise these amino acids would quickly degrade. If it shows anything, it accidentally proves that an intelligent designer (Miller
himself!) is required to get those amino acids...

In summary, we find the words of Francis Crick revealing: "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going."

And that brings us to the notion of Intelligent Design, I have recently heard some pretty weird arguments being brought against the movement:
1. You can't measure God's intelligence
2. Harmful, imperfect, less than ideal biological structures or mosquitoes or diseases disprove an intelligent designer
3. Pro evolution websites are more readily available on the google search and
scientific journal/literature.

There are much better arguments against ID but these are the ones I have been hearing from friends so maybe they deserve some discussions here. Btw I am not against Darwinism on theological grounds but do have reservations on its scientific basis. I'm also not 100% sold on ID either, but would like to see it being given a chance in public dialogue.

Well, to be fair, ID never claimed that we can measure God's intelligence or that every biological structure is ideal in the best in all possible worlds. So that appears to be a strawman argument here.

What ID folks do claim though is that design can be scientifically detected through certain mathematical models (see Dembski's Design Inference). And such designs can be found in biological organisms/information content in DNA etc. And just because a watch is 'poorly designed' doesn't prove that it is not designed at all. Argument 2 is a theological/philosophical argument rather than a scientific one, so one may respond by saying that the good creation is now a fallen world so it's not surprising to see entrophy and harmful mutations and diseases to occur.

On the last argument, I wish evolutionists would do better than the fallacy that just because a position was more abundant in literature and Google search, therefore it is true. The burden of proof is on the person who asserts. So if A asserts evolution is true, he has the burden of proof. And if B asserts ID is true, he also has the burden.

Science is familiar with new kids on the block who were ignored and persecuted at first but eventually took over the throne. Why not give ID a chance to do what they claim they can? All we need to do is patiently wait and see. If it not of science (or God) it will wither away...

Some people also say ID is not testable/falsifiable, but the same people then produce materials that try to refute irreducible complexity. For example, Kenneth Miller cited Barry Hall’s experiment to disprove Michael Behe! (for details see here and here) So the evolutionist has got to get their act together and be consistent. If you say ID is not science, then don’t try to use experiments to falsify it. If you say it is already falsified, then don’t claim that ID is not by definition a scientific enterprise. You can’t have it both ways!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Malaysia Bible Seminary Semester II

MBS Semester II 2009

Check out the latest brochure for MBS semester II courses in 2009. Special highlight: Dr Tony Lim will teach on Mentoring and Dr Leong Tien Fock will teach on Ecclesiastes based on his blog materials in

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lessons from Gethsemane

GRACE@WORK MAIL 15/09 (April 10th, 2009 Edition)

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By Soo-Inn Tan

I have been revisiting Gethsemane in preparation for Maundy Thursday. I am struck afresh by the prophetic force of Jesus' travail in the dark. Jesus is no eager suicide bomber rushing to his martyrdom. Instead He wrestles with His Father to see if there was anyway He could get out of going to the Cross. Here are His words as recorded for us by Matthew:

[Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My
Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but
as you will." (Matthew 26:39 TNIV)]

As D. A. Carson reminds us, Jesus did not suffer martyrdom. His was a unique death and a unique anguish.

[Jesus did not suffer martyrdom. Can anyone imagine the words of (Matthew) 26:53 on the lips of a Maccabean martyr? ... Jesus went to his death knowing that it was his father's will that he face death, completely alone (27:46) as the sacrificial, wrath-averting Passover Lamb. As his death was unique, so also his anguish; and our best response to it is hushed worship ... ("Matthew," The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 8, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984, 543)]

Nevertheless, there was a choice to be made. There is no indication that Jesus would disobey the Father. He was asking if there was any other way. Once it was established that the Cross was the only way, Jesus embraced it. In doing so Jesus was practising what He had taught His disciples in the model prayer, in Matthew 6:10. This then is one key lesson from
Gethsemane: followers of Jesus are to obey God even when it is difficult. The lesson is clear but hard to hear in the din of today's consumerism dominated world.

Consumerism tells us daily and in many creative ways that the customer is king. You do what you like to do. And often we are encouraged to make choices that make us feel good. As Benjamin R. Barber points out, the modern consumer society has infantilised us, training us to choose the easy over the hard.

[Ours (society) rewards the easy and penalizes the hard. It promises profits for life to those who cut corners and simplify the complex at every turn. Weight loss without exercise, marriage without commitment, painting or piano by the numbers without practice or discipline, internet "college degrees" without course work or learning, athletic success through steroids and showboating ... morality without sacrifice, and virtue without effort.
(Consumed, New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007, 87-88)]

To Barber's list, we could add, salvation without the cross, which interestingly, was the devil's offer (Matthew 4: 8-11).

Thank God Jesus made the right choice. His obedience would lead to the Cross and the undoing of the disobedience of Adam. His obedience unto death opened the way for life and the birth of God's new humanity.

As members of this humanity we too are confronted by choices. Once in awhile we are confronted by choices that involve choosing between God's way and the devil's way. How do we find the strength to follow our Lord? If indeed the "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26: 41), how do we find the strength to make the tough, right choices in a world that encourages us to take the easy way? We find two clues from Jesus' victorious choice.

First, Jesus always trusted in the love of His Father. Even as He agonised over the prospect of the Cross, Jesus always knew that God was His Father (Matthew 26:39). As R. T. France reminds us:

[The relationship of trust and loyalty between Father and Son which was put under scrutiny at the outset of Jesus' ministry (4:1-11), proves able to survive even this ultimate test. ( The Gospel Of Matthew, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007, 1002)]

We choose to obey God, even when it is tough, even when we don't understand, because we trust our Abba Father. His love is perfect and all his ways are just. Jesus knew that and chose accordingly. At some point of our Christian pilgrimage, and perhaps many times in our journey this side of heaven, we need to know in the depth of our beings, the utter trustworthiness of the love and purposes of our Abba so that we would free fall for Him if He were to ask us to.

The second clue from Gethsemane as to how we can find the strength to make the tough decisions of life is somewhat of a negative one. We need a supportive community. Jesus made it clear that He wanted His three closest disciples to be with Him because of the gravity of the test that He was facing. Jesus is no unfeeling stoic. He freely tells His friends: "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:38b TNIV) The fact that His three friends fell asleep on the job does not negate the principle that we are meant to face the challenges of life in the company of faithful friends.

There is mystery at Gethsemane. We will never fully understand all that happened there two thousand years ago. But we know there was a tough decision to be made and that Jesus made the right one. And that He now invites us to take up our crosses and follow Him, fully trusting the Father, in the company of faithful friends. This Maundy Thursday we echo the words from Gethsemane: " ... not as I will, but as you will."

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Recession and Retrenchment – Coping with the Crisis

(By Lai Tak Ming – April 2009)

GCF Half-Time Forum "Recession and Retrenchment" is on 18th April(Sat). Do RSVP your coming by email to GCF Full Time staff

The financial meltdown that whacked the daylight off Wall Street is finally beginning to impact Malaysia. Dec 08 export figures were down 20% and the official number of employees retrenched since Jan this year has exceeded 10,000. Some are even speculating that total retrenched would hit 200,000. Even the Government with its blinkered refusal to accept realities are now admitting that getting a 3% GDP growth is ‘unlikely’…so much for misplaced positivism.In the midst of all these, it is not surprising if there are those who may despair or others who become stubbornly defiant. Either mindset however is not terribly useful. One should instead be prepared for the eventualities. Human Response to change the typical human response to change is three-staged:

Hold on
Let go
Move on

Unfortunately as long as we remain in the state of denial and hold on to a past that is no longer possible and tenable, we would not be able to move forward. The challenge of coping successfully with change is to face and accept reality, let go of the unattainable and move on. The earlier we begin that process the better. Dealing with the prospect of job loss and lifestyle change in the current environment entails preparations in three areas:

Psycho-social preparation
Vocational preparation
Practical financial preparation

Psycho-social preparation

This has to do with our mindsets and attitudes. For us to develop personal resilience that would tie us through troubled times we need to have a staunch acceptance of reality, a deep belief in the meaning of life and a uncanny ability to improvise. Coming to terms with reality allow us to more honestly assess our current situation in a rational manner and hence adjust more effectively to the changes around us. Despair and defiance are both reactive emotions and prone to distorted responses. Having a deep belief in meaning and purpose enable us to see hope and possibilities beyond the current situation.

If God be our anchor, then our faith in our lovely Father who is in control of all things should give us solace and assurance in the face of what is perceived to be meaningless and unfair. It is a fact that those who have faith in a higher Power survives better than those who don’t. Improvising include first and foremost having a shift in perspectives. Reframing, anticipation, acting within one’s control, self care and taking a positive problem solving approach are all part of that improvision.

Vocational preparation

How much are we in charge of our own careers and vocation? Are we a victim, a survival, an adaptor or a master of our own vocational direction? Mastery here does not denote a life without the need for God, or an attitude of self-dependency apart from God. It is one of active consciousness of our calling and purpose in life thus giving us focus and direction for our energies and one where within the framework of a God-dependent life, to be working in such a manner that one is always ready for the unexpected, realistically aware of one’s own strength and weaknesses as endowed by our Father and making the full use of our strengths and talents to capitalise on the opportunities that He makes available.

The victim, on the other hand, is one who’s the proverbial ostrich in the sand, unawares of looming change, lacking the skills and know-how to adapt or to capitalise on opportunities, blaming everyone, including perhaps God, for one’s predicament and becoming so fixated with the closed door of missed opportunity that he/she fails to see another door opening before him/her until, sadly that too is missed. It is like the story of the man who prays for God’s rescue during a flood, but when a boat comes along, refused the help because of his fixation with what his expectation of an answered prayer should be.

Vocation preparation includes regularly reviewing our strengths and weakness, opportunities and threats. It involves treating our bosses and colleagues as our clients and value-adding our service repertoire to them. It entails taking time to enhance our skills sets and to stay relevant through continuous improvement and learning. It is about life-long employability instead of the unrealistic notion of long-long employment. It includes taking the active step to anticipate future risks and threats and taking mitigating measures to turn threats to opportunities. How well are we in all these? A highly regarded, value-adding, strategic employee is always highly valued and that itself enhances one’s career options. And one who is anticipating the future and preparing for it becomes master of his/her vocation.

Vocational preparation also means being ready for the worst. What is your worst case scenario? Being retrenched? Are you familiar with your rights and obligations as an employee if such a scenario becomes reality? What can you do or what rights do you have? What can the company do and not do? Have you taken time to learn about these things?

Practical Financial preparation

It is good stewardship that we learn to practice prudent financial management. This is always true but even more so in uncertain times. We should first and foremost learn to live within our means. We should invest responsibly and responsibly provide for the needs and protection of our loved ones. We ought too, to learn to minimise credit living and learn to develop a positive attitude towards living simply. The challenge of our consumerist lifestyles is becoming over-geared. In these financially troubling times, three key things to remember:

Parr off your debts as soon as you can
Learn to live within less
Budget to fend for the long term

Conclusion: It is possible to thrive despite our uncertain times. It is done by developing and practising proactive strategies before we get hit. It is done by learning to lead a God-depending life based on faith, hope and love. Lai Tak Ming Managing Director, ASEAN, Australia, NZ,Human Dynamic Asia Pacific Ltd

GCF Coming Activities
Event : GCF Forum "Recession and Retrenchment"
Date : 18th April 2009Time : 230pm-5.00pm
Venue : People Park Baptist Church (PPBC)
Speaker : Lai Tak Ming
Organizer: GCF Half-Time
Status: Open to all ages

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Buddhism Wisdom and Christian Love

by Dr Ng Kam Weng

Two conversations with Buddhist friends remain etched indelibly in my mind. They happened early on during my years in the university. Victor questioned me after several hours of discussion and in response to an invitation to accept God’s salvation as revealed in the Bible. “Why insist that the football is white when it contains both black and white? He was resting his assertion on the Buddhist doctrine that all truth claims are relative. I should have countered his argument by asking him how he was able to distinguish two absolutely different colours. Victor later became the president of a dynamic Buddhist organization.

Lipner Tan chipped in, “I prefer Buddhism since it challenges me to develop my mind to the utmost. It offers a path of wisdom for mental development. Even if I fail to attain liberation in this life (to escape from rebirth into the world of illusion, i.e., Samsara), Buddhism offers hope for more opportunities in later rebirths.” Lipner also subsequently became the head of another national Buddhist organization.

I was disappointed that my Buddhist friends rejected the Gospel, but I respected their decision knowing that they were thoughtful people. Buddhism, with its sophisticated metaphysics and psychological insights understandably seems to promise intellectual satisfaction. Above all, it promises wisdom. The path of Buddhist meditation, comprising discipline and mindfulness (that is, awareness of every detail of our thoughts and actions) is presented as a practical method that promises eventual results of peace and equanimity.

Wherein lays the attraction of Buddhism? Read on