Saturday, December 17, 2011

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Ethical Considerations

Embryonic Stem Cell Research - Ethical Considerations. Dr Roland Chia

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Message

The Day God Landed on Earth

Date: 11 December 2011 (Sunday)
Venue: Klang Presbyterian Church

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Rocha Creation Care Conference

Creation Care Workshop_Grace PJ_26 Nov 2011

A Rocha Workshop on Creation Care will be held on 26 November (Sat) at Grace Community Centre, Taman SEA, PJ.

Peter Harris will be our main guest speaker. He is the founder of A Rocha, an international Christian nature conservation organization working in 18 countries. The workshop is designed to be interactive will be a combination of sermon plus engaging activities. There is a very minimal fee of RM15 per person to cover the cost of F&B on the day. The workshop starts at 930am - 330pm.

Attached is the e-flyer with more information. I would greatly appreciate it if you can help to circulate this among your friends, church members, cell groups and networks. To register; email Deborah at maildebster@gmail.com.

Come, be inspired, blessed and make a difference wherever you are.

Green Spirituality: What Has Ecology To Do With Theology?

Green Spirituality: What Has The Christian Life to do with Nature?

The 2009 blockbuster movie “Avatar” told a futuristic tale of two species locked in a struggle for the planet Pandora. The villains were a group of greedy, materialistic and colonizing humans hell-bent on mining precious minerals even though it would destroy the habitat of the natives. For these cut-throat mercenaries, Pandora’s lush, intricate eco-system was “nothing but ferns”. On the other hand, the protagonists were 10-feet-tall, blue humanoids called the Na'vi who lived in harmony with nature and worshipped Eywa, the life-force permeating all of life. In the context of ecological problems that plague our own planet, it appears that popular culture presents us with a similarly straightforward choice between crass capitalism and nature-friendly pantheism.

For instance, the well-known Lynn White thesis traced the historical roots of our modern ecological crisis to the emergence of medieval Christian belief in “man’s transcendence of, and rightful mastery over, nature” . Ancient pagans were afraid to cut down a tree or mine a mountain because of spirits that supposedly reside in them. But by supplanting pagan animism, it was argued that Christianity made it possible for Western man to exploit nature in a “mood of indifference”. If the Bible legitimates man’s dominion over nature, isn’t Christian theology guilty of providing justification for environmental degradation? Isn’t a pantheistic belief that “everything is divine” or “we are one with the universe” more helpful to engender respect for every rock, tree, animal or blade of grass? In this assignment, I would like to propose that Christians could draw on powerful resources from within its own spiritual tradition to care for creation without worshipping nature.

Read on here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Was the Sultan Not Properly Informed?

The Christian community has waited with anticipation for DYMM Sultan of Selangor, to come out with a statement that will help resolve the inter-religious crisis sparked off by the JAIS raid on DUMC on 3 August, 2011.

We welcome the Sultan’s wish that religious harmony should continue in the state and his decree that there be no prosecution against any of the parties involved.

However, the Sultan’s statement does raise a few issues of serious concern for the non-Muslim community as there are views expressed therein that suggest that the Sultan may not have been properly informed by his advisers.

First, the statement suggests that “the actions of JAIS were correct and did not breach any laws enforceable in Selangor,” as they “are in line with the jurisdiction provided under Syariah Criminal Procedure (State of Selangor) Enactment (2003), Syariah Criminal (State of Selangor) Enactment, 1995 and the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment of 1988” (herein referred to as the “Selangor Enactment”)

With all due respect, I beg to differ from this interpretation of the State Enactments. In the first place, the jurisdiction granted by Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution was to permit the state to control or restrict the propagation of religion among people professing to be Muslims. This must be read in the context of the Article itself which fundamentally provides for every person the freedom to profess, practice and propagate his religion. Such power to control or restrict propagation cannot be understood as absolutely prohibiting any conduct or activity on the excuse of some unspecified complaint that they are for the purposes of propagation of religion. Such power cannot be taken as licence for officials to intrude or trespass into a function conducted within the premises of what is clearly a non-Muslim religious institution (in the present case a Christian institution) without legal authority

There is no legal provision under the Propagation Enactment that allows JAIS officials to intrude into the premises of DUMC, much less carry out a raid. From my reading of the Selangor Enactment (1988), the closest possible justification that can be offered by JAIS are sections 12 and 13 which specify that “an authorised officer may investigate the commission of any offence under this Enactment and may arrest without warrant any person suspected of having committed any such offence.”

He may also apply for warrants of arrest from a Magistrate to require the attendance of witnesses. There is however, simply no unilateral power to carry out an entry and search under the Propagation Enactment or for that matter even to apply for a search warrant. If the officer responsible for the raid intends to conduct an entry and search he must base his power from some legal source. JAIS officers appear to have acted under Syariah Enactment which however does NOT apply to non-Muslims and cannot be imported into the Propagation Enactment.

While superficially this provision seems to grant disturbing power to this “authorised officer”, the enforcement must be consistent with the more fundamental provisions under Part II of the Federal Constitution relating to fundamental liberties and the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593) relating to search and arrest which presumes that a search warrant should have been sought as a matter of course, and that the warrant is granted only upon reasonable suspicion that a seizable offence has been committed at the DUMC premises. The requirement of a search warrant is a fundamental recognition of the right to privacy within one’s own domain and space.

More importantly, given the sensitivity of inter-religious relations and the sanctity of religious places of worship, such a warrant should be granted only by a magistrate or judge from the Civil Court and only upon firm and clear grounds.

The fact remains that JAIS carried out the raid with disregard for established provisions and procedure of law – the leader of the JAIS party failed to present relevant identity documents to confirm he was indeed “an authorized officer”, specify the offence(s) or suspected offence(s) relating to propagation under the Selangor Enactment that was alleged to have been committed and that he had obtained a search warrant from a Magistrate or the High Court, especially when a church was the target of the raid. For these reasons, it may be argued contrary to the Sultan’s statement, that prima facie, JAIS had not acted lawfully within the bounds of law when it raided DUMC.

Second, it should be noted that the statement claims “there were attempts to subvert the faith and belief of Muslims but that the evidence obtained would be insufficient for further legal actions to be taken.” The plural word “attempts” suggests Christians at DUMC were guilty of subverting Islam not only on 3 August 2011, but that they were repeatedly committing the alleged offence. This is a most unfair and misleading accusation that imputes guilt to DUMC without offering any evidence that could be verified or refuted.

It may be noted that the English version of the Sultan’s statement uses stronger words than the official Bahasa version – it translates the word “memesongkan (distort, deviate) fahaman dan kepercayaan fahaman orang Islam” with the word “subvert the faith and belief of Muslims”

The statement unwittingly exposes the feeble foundations of its accusations when it concedes that there was insufficient evidence obtained for further legal action. In simple terms, this must means that JAIS had FAILED to make a prima facie case against DUMC. I may add that despite the attempt to hide behind the legal term of “insufficient evidence”, the reality is that there was simply NO evidence of subversion of the Islamic faith. Beating a hasty retreat from the threat of prosecuting DUMC was the best option left for JAIS.

Third, it is alarming that the statement describes the activities of DUMC as subversion of the Islamic faith. This charge is injurious to the integrity of Christians with regard to their profession and practice of faith.

Regarding integrity of profession of the Christian faith: Christians at DUMC have never pretended to be teaching any religion other than Christianity. DUMC is, after all, a church. Christians have every right to uphold their beliefs and practice their faith and while doing so, should not be judged as subverting or deviating /Memesongkan fahaman Islamic beliefs on account of the doctrinal differences between the two religions. Following the logic of JAIS, Christians could equally have charged Muslims for subverting the Christian faith when Muslims preach a faith different from Christians.

Regarding practice of faith: Christians are well known for their social work that flows from their belief in the love of God for the poor and needy. As the Bible says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Hence, the press statement from DUMC says, “DUMC conducts all its activities to serve the community and for the welfare of all Malaysians regardless of creed, race or religion.”

It is therefore alarming when JAIS casts aspersions against the charity work done by Christians and claims that Christians are subverting Islamic beliefs on account of their good works. It may well be the case that some needy Muslims have availed themselves to the good services offered by DUMC, and DUMC obviously cannot turn them away simply because they happen to be Muslims. DUMC may well be charged for promoting religious disharmony if it makes religion a factor before anyone can receive welfare. On the other hand, Christians may well be advised to stop their work that may incline a Muslim to view the Christian faith favourably since this would incur the wrath of JAIS officials. At best, the Sultan’s statement can be misconstrued by mischievous parties and exploited to misrepresent the altruistic intention of Christians; at worst, it maligns the welfare work of Christians.

Therefore, we welcome the announcement made by the Mentri Besar of Selangor, Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, that the Selangor government will set up a special committee to fine-tune the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) followed by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) in handling attempts to proselytise Muslims.

We hope the committee will come up with recommendations that will 1) ensure JAIS fully understands and observes the bounds of its authority, that is, that it has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims, and 2) any investigation of non-Muslims leading to intervention by the Islamic authorities should follow a proper procedure and law, including obtaining a search warrant granted by senior judicial officials from a religiously neutral institution such as a Magistrate or a High Court judge.

Otherwise, the government ends up surreptitiously investing illegitimate and excessive authority to Islamic officials over non-Muslims. The consequences will be abuse of power, and insensitive and provocative actions against non-Muslim believers as seen in the case of the JAIS raid of DUMC.

We do well to listen respectfully and sympathetically to the appeal from the victim of religious abuse, in this case DUMC, when it says in its media statement, “We sincerely ask that all religious communities and places of worship be treated with utmost respect and not be intruded upon.”


Dr. Ng Kam Weng
Kairos Research Centre
12 October 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Gospel Changes Everything

Gospel theology is a way to read the Bible which makes the gospel not just a set of elementary truths but as the key to understanding every text of the Bible, to living and growing as a Christian at every point, and as a comprehensive perspective on all of life. The gospel must be worked into every corner of our thinking, feeling, and behaviour. In short the gospel is the driving and shaping force of everything we do. This dynamic and rich way to read the Bible retains not just the individualistic emphasis on revival and conversion but also the emphasis on community and cultural transformation. The gospel is both for individual conversion, the renewal of church life and the cities, nations and creation.

But somehow, we have ended up with an individualistic gospel. But the gospel doesn’t just change eternal destinies; it changes everything. It transforms societies, renews families, and heals relationships. It is all about the rule and reign of Jesus. It is holistic. God's redemptive action is world-embracing.

Find out more as Mark Reynolds will be speaking at City Discipleship Presbyterian Church Puchong this coming Sunday 16 Oct at 1 pm. For more info, contact hedonese at yahoo dot com.

He serves as the associate director for Redeemer City to City providing oversight for its programs and services to church planters - training, assessment, coaching and funding as well as running the daily operations. He also provides leadership to the Church Multiplication Alliance of New York City that is committed to planting churches throughout the city through a trans-denominational alliance and various networks.

He is passionate about creating learning programs that further develop leaders to reach their vision of planting new urban congregations and resourcing them through coaching, training and feedback.

Before serving in this current position he was the field director with Mission to the World in Manila facilitating church planting with Filipinos. Mark has also helped plant a church in Columbus, Ohio, served as campus staff with Campus Crusade at Oregon State University, and holds graduate degrees from Covenant Seminary, Aberdeen University and Saint Louis University.

Mark lives with his wife and two boys in Manhattan, all of whom share common affinities for reading, sports, and love for New York.

PS: Warm welcome to Bryngksai for being the 50th online Friend of Agora!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Klang Valley Bible Conference 2011


Dates: 11, 12, 13 October 2011
Time: 8:15 -10 pm
Speaker: David Cook
Venue: Tropicana Golf & Country Club

Theme: ‘Acts – God’s Word at Work’

It is ironic that a book called Acts should be all about the Word. Acts is the historic record of how Gods’ gospel starts out from Jerusalem and overcomes all barriers, unstoppably reaching the city of Rome, the centre of the Empire. The book of Acts is a tonic to revive our confidence in God who will see that his purpose is achieved, no matter what the world throws against it.

Day 1 Acts 1:1-8 – A Spiritual Tonic
Day 2 Acts 8:26-40 – The Story of One
Day 3 Acts 23 – 26 – A Preaching or a Living Faith?

Klang Valley Expository Preaching Seminar 2011
Dates: 12, 13 October 2011
Time: 930am - 1pm
Cost: RM95
Speaker: David Cook
Venue: Tropicana Golf & Country Club

Preaching historic narrative from the Bible is never easy. We must strive to rightly handle the Scriptures. The book of Acts is lively and exciting narrative, yet often neglected by preachers because it is hard to preach. Come along as we hear this book come to life.

More details to follow:
Please email us at kvbc.info@gmail.com if you would like to be kept informed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Conformed To His Image

Book Review: Conformed to His Image (Kenneth Boa)

Spirituality is very much woven into the very fabric of life in Asian cultures. Even more modern-minded and upwardly-mobile generation of younger Malaysians gravitate to feng shui paraphernalia, bomoh medicine and yoga gurus for the promises of health, prosperity and self-fulfillment. A similar awareness and hunger for spiritual renewal is also evident amongst Christians, but how is an authentic biblical spirituality any different from that of their surrounding cultures? What are the distinctive marks of Christian spirituality?

In his book Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, Kenneth Boa seeks to provide a more comprehensive and balanced approach to the spiritual life from a biblical perspective. He describes spirituality as a “Christ-centered orientation to every component of life through the mediating power of the indwelling Holy Spirit” (page 19). It is analogous to a pilgrim’s journey which starts with our embrace of God’s free grace and progresses through lifelong faith and obedience in Christ. Even though the book is designed as a college or seminary text, it is highly readable with chapter overviews, helpful charts and emphasis on practice. There are thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter intended to lead us to reflect and apply what had been learnt earlier. I would heartily recommend it as an excellent, balanced and indispensable resource for small groups, churches and lay leaders who seek a deeper spirituality as well.

Click on the Scribd Document above for a summary and review of this book

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Lorax (by Dr Seuss)



The Children’s Library is a CDPC community project for children in Puchong and its neighboring communities. We hope to bring the joy of reading high-quality and award-winning story books in the English language to more emerging readers.

With this goal in mind, the Children's Library Holiday Program was organized to take place on 1st September 2001 (Thursday morning). More than 20 children aged 5 to 8 years old attended the event, most of whom have just gotten to know about the library/church. Praise God for bringing the crowd!

Alicia reads Dr Seuss’ "The Lorax" about the wanton usage of the earth’s resources for selfish gain. Check out the cartoon version

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: Spiritual Theology

Some reflections on Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life by Simon Chan (Inter-Varsity Press, 1998)

Theology is "the doctrine of living unto God," wrote the Puritan theologian William Ames. As such, true theological reflections ought to arise from personal encounter with God in Jesus Christ and lead to a deeper spiritual life. However, since the Enlightenment period, theology becomes increasingly fragmented into specialized, merely “academic” branches (dogmatic, biblical, philosophical and so on) that are often disconnected from its goal of guiding us to godliness. As a result, the church is impoverished if her devotional books are doctrinally thin and her theological works are spiritually vacuous. In his book Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life, Dr Simon Chan seeks to address this modern weakness by placing Christian spirituality on solid theological foundations while exploring the practical implications of various Christian doctrines.


In the first part of the book, “The Theological Principles of Spiritual Theology,” he argues that our knowledge of who God is determines the shape of our spirituality. In spite of the Trinitarian language that pervades the church’s liturgy and creeds, our practice is often inconsistently focused on only one Person of the Godhead. A spirituality of the Father affirms our common humanity as His children and therefore, undercuts all forms of discrimination. But it may lead to the universalistic notions that “all will be saved since God is the Father of all” if uncoupled from the salvific work of the Son (page 46).

Similarly, a Christological spirituality that focuses on forgiveness of sins and personal relationship with Jesus engenders a warm piety over against impersonal religiosity (page 47). But it may also lead to individualistic tendencies that see church life as optional and secondary.

According to Chan, the spirituality of the Spirit as represented by Pentecostalism instils an expectant openness to God’s surprising work beyond what we can predict or control. Its weakness lies in attempts to ‘routinize the extraordinary’, making miracles the stuffs of daily living (page 48).


In contrast, a Trinitarian spirituality is modelled after the inner life of the Godhead. It is characterized by a personal intimacy with God through Christ (the Son) and openness to the powerful works of the Spirit that finds its inter-penetrating unity in a basic ascetical structure of life (the Father).

For more information about this book review, contact me at hedonese at yahoo dot com

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Providence of God



Conference title: Thinking Theologically Conference - The Providence of God
Dates: 31 August to 3 September 2011
Organiser: Gospel Growth Fellowship

God says in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” Do you find it hard to accept what this verse says?

“Providence” is a helpful, if rather old-fashioned, term denoting the way in which God is in control of all events such that they are directed to fulfil his purposes. It’s something we Christians know in part but often find hard to explain, practice, apply, really believe in, or even want. With all the bad going on around us we’d often rather not think about what that implies about the God we love.

Some Christians choose to respond optimistically, citing Romans 8:28, ‘in all things God works for the good…’ Some say if we pray hard enough things will work out for us. But in private, when faced with the pain and evil of this world, many of us wonder how God can really be in control – especially bad things happen to good people.

What should Christians living after the resurrection of Christ think about these things? Will we brush our questions under the carpet, or will we face up to the reality of life as it is every day? Come along to this year’s Thinking Theologically Conference, conveniently scheduled over the Hari Raya holidays, to work this out in the company of fellow Christians.

For more info and registration, please visit Gospel Growth Fellowship or call Mark at 016 335 7137.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Christian And Politics (Malaysia)

Christian and Politics (Kairos Magazine May2011)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Uncle John is with the Lord


My friend, mentor, and inspiration to ministry is now with the Lord. Uncle John (Stott) passed away. We met 27 years ago in London at All Souls and 6 years later, he would commission me missionary envoy to the US, beginning my ministerial career to this day. Uncle John wanted me to give my mind to the Lord's service and despite all my excuses, he hounded me until I made the decision to leave the world of legal practice for a ministry of the mind. He generously gave me his personal endorsement and opened many doors of opportunity everywhere I went. He remembered me to others whom he had influenced and tried to keep us all in contact with each other...but we were all 'too busy'. We kept in touch during my annual visits to London and his visits to New York City. I was privileged to introduce him at the American Bible Society to pastors in New York. We last spoke a few months ago when it was already apparent that he would soon be in paradise. Although I am glad that John is no longer in pain, I am saddened, deeply saddened beyond words.

Ron Choong

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Reason For God: If Jesus Is So Great, Why Are Some of His Followers Such Jerks?

The Reason for God-If Jesus is Great Why His Followers Such Jerks?
“Don’t you have doubts about any religion that has so many fanatics and hypocrites? Non-religious people can be more kind and moral than many Christians I know. If Christianity is true, why are so many non-Christians living better lives than Christians?”


The Christian faith actually teaches ‘common grace’: That no matter who performs it, every act of justice, wisdom and beauty is empowered by God who gives good gifts across all humanity to enrich and preserve the world. (James 1:17) So we should not be surprised that people who have yet to know Christ personally are capable of goodness and wisdom.

The gospel also speaks of the seriously flawed character of genuine Christians. Since we are justified by grace not by our works, we should expect the church to be filled with broken people who still have a long way to grow spiritually, morally and emotionally. They don’t have to ‘clean up’ their lives before becoming Christians.

“The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints”. It is not a self-help program.

RC Sproul: The Christian church is one of the few organizations in the world that requires a public acknowledgement of sin as a condition for membership. In one sense the church has fewer hypocrites than any institution because by definition the church is a haven for sinners. If the church claimed to be an organization of perfect people then her claim would be hypocritical. But so such claim is made by the church. There is no slander in the charge that the church is full of sinners. Such a statement would only compliment the church for fulfilling her divinely appointed task”.

Consider someone with a broken past who becomes a Christian and her character significantly improved over the years. But she still may be less secure or disciplined than someone who is so well adjusted in a non-Christian, stable family environment. Unless you know the starting points of their life journeys, you can easily conclude that Christianity is not worth much. But it would not be a fair conclusion.

Read on for the entire transcript

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nurturing The Imagination of Children


Chee Siew Hoong wrote in Kairos magazine: "Nurturing our children’s literary imagination takes place primarily through conversation. We can
discuss themes, characters, writing styles and ideas in the books that they have read. In classical education, discussions take on a more argumentative flavor as the child grows older; as she gives
an intelligent defence of her opinions, her thinking is both stretched in capacity and depth."

Welcome to the Children’s Library!
We are open every Saturday @ 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with story-telling sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

The Children’s Library is a community library for kids in Puchong and the surrounding area. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the high-quality and award-winning story books available in the English language. Come and experience the cozy reading space and the fun story telling times with other children. The books are geared for children pre-school to age 12.

Do join us in encouraging your child/children to read and to be good listeners as stories are read to the whole group. For any questions or comments, please send us an email at childrens.library@puchong.cdpc.org.my.




PS: A group of us will be discussing the book "The Reason For God" by Tim Keller on the topic of hell and divine judgment this Sunday 19 June 2011 at CDPC Puchong. Guests are welcome!

Next Sunday 26 June 2011, I will be preaching on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God based on the book of Job at Klang Presbyterian Church (11 am). Feel free to drop in and worship with us.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thots about Hinduism, Buddhism and the Conscious Brain

Here are some thoughts about Hinduism and Buddhism. Both are concerned with satisfying karmic debt. The Hindu quest for the right guru and the Buddhist quest to be awakened for parinirvana, assume no relationship between creator and creation.

The Christian Gospel announces the stunning news that at a moment in geohistory, God became man to reconcile man to God. The historicity of the incarnation of Christ makes the Gospel uniquely relevant to the urgent issues of a scientific age. It is this reality that makes the Christian Gospel worthy of consideration for both Hindus and Buddhists.

My personal conviction is that the Christian faith embodies revelatory truths rooted in geohistorical events that culminated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Such a belief is neither verifiable nor falsifiable by any discipline of human inquiry.

Christianity is a faith that seeks understanding and not a faith that results from understanding. Thus, the primary impulse to believe in the metaphysical must have been hard-wired in our minds. Indeed, contemporary neuropsychology suggests that the human brain is evolved for religious cognition. Our minds are optimized to interpret metaphysical signals that machines and our natural senses are unable to measure.  Thus, belief in God finds corroborative support in our interpreted experience of the divine. This universal desire to make sense of our experience as human beings, who long to understand more than we know, marks us as the religious animal.

One of the most important questions Christians may ask of its own tradition is, “Did God reveal himself outside the Judeo-Christian cone-of-experience?” How can we account for the fate of the 99+% of humans who ever lived, and who died without having heard the Gospel because they existed outside the geohistory of the biblical faith? Does being born in the wrong time or wrong place doom one to damnation? How does the limited cone of experience generated by any religion, say Christianity, with its focus on Palestine from c.1500 BC to AD 30, count as a universal revelation of God to creation?

Another area worth observing is the effort made by many Buddhist communities to engage the maturing disciplines of the neurosciences. Both Hinduism and Buddhism have long been concerned with the nature of human consciousness  and its collateral effects on personality, emotions and memory. The sense of a unified consciousness that we all experience (unless we suffer from schizophrenia, multiple-personalities or other forms of memorial dementia) as colonies of trillions of individual cells, let alone the mitochondrial cells within our somatic ones, cannot be readily explained scientifically. Indeed, in consciousness studies, neurotheology is as much a resource as the philosophy of mind and the neurosciences. The achievement of trance in Hindu rituals and altered states of consciousness in Buddhist meditation remain little understood by modern science and beyond the scrutiny of even powerful machines such as functional MRIs. There is much debate concerning the veracity of interpretations of what these machines measure. Do they measure the cause or the effects of such meditations and mind-controls? Are there Christian analogues practiced by medieval mystics, long forgotten when the Church adopted modern philosophy in its theological doctrines? Can an interdisciplinary approach yield a more holistic understanding of what these ancient religions seek to convey?

These and other such questions are well beyond the scope of this introduction. But I hope to convey the immense amount of interesting work that remains to be labored over by investigators and practitioners of these living faiths. The Christian world ought not to fall behind in understanding how we think and what transpires when our brains are traumatized by physical or psychological stimuli. As we learn to delay our demise and live longer, the essence of what it means to be human, to be alive and to prepare for death takes on new dimensions of urgency.

What we can begin to answer is how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be relevant to a Hindu or a Buddhist seeking alternatives or simply curious about what other faiths of the Axial Age have produced. Although the basic quest of the Hindus and Buddhists reflects those of other faiths, only the Gospel of Jesus expressly claims a divine will to reconcile us to our maker.

I hope this introduction to the great wisdom beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism has helped you begin to think through a set of worldviews shared by a quarter of the human race.

Perhaps … if the Buddha met the Christ,
there might not have been a need for Buddhism at all.

PS: What is consciousness?
The notion of a unified consciousness shared by a colony of trillions of cells, which make up a human body is a cognitive illusion performed by the brain and interpreted by the mental operations of the mind. A further consequence of our thoughts is the brain’s capacity to navigate the perception of time at each instance of a moving present, and then stitch up the instants seamlessly into a moving duration. Finally, it needs to recall past awareness as memories by consolidating experiences into memorably recallable units of cognition. These collective calibrations of experiences conspire to delude us into believing that we are indeed a singular person with a unified volition.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

What the hell is Hell?

This sermon Podcast from CDPC Puchong can be downloaded here

Do you remember the first time someone preached the gospel to you? Was it a good or bad experience? My first experience with a classmate who tried to share the good news with me was not very pleasant. It was a rather forceful presentation with heavy emphasis on eternal punishment, hell fire and brimstone. I can’t recall the exact words but the gist of it was something like: “Hey, do you know where you go after you die? Let me tell you. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will suffer forever, like barbecue roasting in hell. You will gnash your teeth and scary worms will crawl all over you”. You catch the drift… Have you come across zealous evangelists like that?

My friend’s evangelistic approach actually worked quite well for other classmates. There was a mini revival in school! Certainly God, in his sovereignty, can use even less-than-perfect methods like this to work out his good purpose. But the more he threatened me with the lake of fire for not believing in Jesus, the more determined I was to pick a quarrel with him.

Now that I look back on it, as a believer, I can understand that he actually means well. If there is such a thing as hell, then it would be loving and compassionate of him to warn me about it even if I don’t like to hear it. It’s like if you are asleep in a house that’s on fire, you would wish that the people who saw it will wake you up and tell you to escape quickly from danger. If hell exists, it would be cruel of him to keep quiet and let me die just because he is afraid of offending me. Yes, I can see that now…

But…Even though he probably means well, some classmates and I still think that his way of sharing the good news probably has plenty of room for improvement. Not sure about you but I felt like he’s trying to manipulate people with scare tactics. There was a hint of superiority and pride. Yes, it’s true that Jesus preached about hell and judgment, but He also cried and wept for sinners to turn away from sin and be rescued. Where is the sense of sadness? Where is the sense that: “Unless I am saved by the grace of God, I will end up in hell too? I am not any better than you are. All of us deserve hell unless Christ took our punishment on the cross, for us.”

You see… Unless people sense that Christ-like humility and earnest compassion in us, they may easily be put off by such graceless attitude and become hardened and reject the gospel because it seems to portray a God who is cruel, random and narrow, happy to burn people forever in hell if they happen to disagree with Him.

But… What about good atheists who are kind to other people? Are they going to hell too? How narrow-minded is that? How can God be full of love and yet send people to hell at the same time? These are difficult and serious questions that prevent people from coming to faith. How can we give a reason for our hope to people who ask such questions?

On the other extreme, for many people today, if they think about hell at all, they think of it as a joke or a cartoon strip. Probably you have heard of the one about: “How can there be gnashing of teeth in hell if some people die without any tooth left? Punch-line: False teeth will be provided.” And people go ‘hahaha’… With common jokes like that going around, it’s no wonder that the reality of hell is so often ignored, laughed at, ridiculed and trivialized. We hear people saying, “Oh I’d rather go to hell because all my friends are there and we are gonna party and play mahjong together. It’d be loads of fun.”

And if we are really honest, very often, even Christians are often embarrassed to talk about hell at all for fear of making people uncomfortable. “Let’s focus on the positive side of things instead and forget about all this hellish stuff”. As a result, the biblical teaching about hell is simply never discussed or preached from the pulpit. Most church goers do not even miss it all that much. Do you ever wonder, “Gee… I just can’t wait. When is pastor going to preach on hell again?” Over time, we just neglect and dismiss this doctrine altogether. So how do we affirm a biblical teaching of hell in a culture where tolerance is supreme and divine judgment is not taken seriously?

We probably cannot address everything in a couple of minutes. There is great mystery about the afterlife and what we cannot speak; we must pass over in silence. But we can look at what God has revealed in His word and say something about THREE questions that may help us get a more balanced perspective on hell, help us to comfort the spiritually fearful and at the same time, terrify the spiritually complacent.

Read on or download the full transcript

What the Hell is Hell?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Christian Spirituality

This Malaysia Bible Seminari course is a pastoral, historical and theological reflection on our life of faith in Christ. It seeks to work out among fellow practitioners ( students of the class) what is required to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. This is in accordance with the Pauline emphasis that that the gospel has the power to transform men and women to become “mature in Christ” (Col 1.28)

We would seek first to “think” about our life of faith. These are some questions that we would need to engage with :

What is God like?
Who is Man? Sinner or Saint?
The nature of our salvation
How do we progress spiritually to become “Mature in Christ”?

Secondly we will need to dig deeply into the collective wisdom of the Church of Christ over two millennia and learn from godly church fathers and theologians how to “live” out our life of faith. We will explore together :

· Life of prayer
· Spiritual disciplines
· Rule of life
· Various biblical and practical approaches to spiritual formation and discipleship

Evangelical Christians in Malaysia have very little knowledge of Christian traditions and spiritualities outside their own traditions and denominations. This course seeks to help us rediscover that the Holy Spirit has been at work within and outside our respective churches.

Instructor: Dr Tony Lim
Malaysia Bible Seminary
Wednesdays (9am - 12 pm)
Main Text : Simon Chan’s Spiritual Theology

Part One
The Theological Principles of Spiritual Theology

Part Two
The practice of the Spiritual Life
Knowing God and Knowing Self
Dealing with Sin and Temptation and crisis of faith
Spiritual Disciplines and the Rule of Life
Spiritual Formation
Journal writing

Monday, May 30, 2011

Faith Confronts Power

Kairos Magazine: Faith Confronts Power (May 2011) is out! Check out the highlights in this issue:


Prophets and Kings: Faith and Power in the Old Testament
Christ and Caesar: A New Testament Perspective
Confronting the Nazi State: Bonhoeffer and The Barmen Declaration
Le Chambon: A Beacon of Hope in Darkness
Witnessing Church Under Hostile Authorities in the Book of Revelation
Persecution and Destruction of Eastern Christianity
History and Power
Truth and Public Life: The Heritage of Lesslie Newbigin
The Christian and Politics (free article, click to download)
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Movie Review: The Social Network

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reason For God: How Can a Good God Send People to Hell?

The Reason for God- What the hell is Hell?

Here are some notes culled from Tim Keller's book The Reason For God, for a study group at CDPC Puchong next month.

How Can God send Good people to hell? How Can God be full of Love and Wrath at the same time?
Does "Love Win" or... is it more complex and wonderful than that? Check it out

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Story of Job: Suffering And Evil

Malaysia negara Kristian?


Media Statement: Authorities must take action against irresponsible, baseless and provocative reporting

A national Malay language daily, Utusan Malaysia, today (7th May 2011) carried a report under the headlines “Malaysia negara Kristian?”, (Malaysia, a Christian country?) where it was alleged that Christian leaders (paderi-paderi or priests/pastors) who at a closed door meeting in Penang had vowed to make Malaysia the official religion of Malaysia and to install a Christian as its Prime Minister. It was further reported that a meeting was to take place this evening at the Catholic Christian Centre (Pusat Kristian Katolik) in Penang and a public lecture will be organized tomorrow.

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, I would like to categorically refute the allegation that such a meeting had taken place or will take place in a Catholic venue in Penang. It is clear that this reporting is baseless and highly irresponsible as the reporters and editors of the above newspaper have not taken any reasonable steps whatsoever to verify the allegations made by anonymous bloggers. Furthermore, this report comes after the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), one of the organizers of the above meeting, having refuted the claims of those bloggers and the same was carried on online media. The NECF has further clarified that this meeting only covered the topic of ethical leadership and had no treasonous agenda as alleged by the bloggers and news report.

It is clear that such reporting has the effect of creating religious disharmony, inciting hatred and heaping odium on Christians. We therefore call upon the authorities and the police to immediately make a thorough investigation of this matter to determine the source of these insidious, provocative and malicious lies and to take the necessary action against those who seek to threaten the multi-cultural and multi-religious harmonious make-up in this country.

We, Christians constantly pray for good governance by political and civil authorities. We also teach our people to be God fearing, law abiding citizens and conscientious decision makers based on justice which is reflective of moral and divine laws. In the recent statements of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) regarding the Al-Kitab issue, we had always reiterated our commitment and readiness to dialogue and work together with the government and all parties for a just and reasonable solution. It is clear that our position has never been treasonous nor have we advocated hatred, antagonism or animosity towards any religion or groups of persons.

I continue to call upon all Catholics, Christians and all Malaysians to pray, dialogue and work together to strengthen national unity and harmony. May God bless our leaders with a firm vision and the courage and strength to uphold and realise it. 


Tan Sri Datuk Murphy Nicholas Pakiam DD
Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur
President, Catholic Bishops of Malaysia 
7th May 2011

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Right For You But Not For Me?

The Reason for God-Moral Relativism


Moral Relativism says, “Every person or culture has to define what is right and wrong  for themselves.”

But if you ask, “Is there anyone right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about it?” people will invariably say, “Yes of course”. Doesn’t that mean that we do believe there is some moral reality that is not defined by us, that we must abide whether others like it or not? For example, genocide is not just impractical or unpleasant (i.e. we don’t like it done to us) but wrong…

There is a sense of sacredness to human life.


The irony is this: Relativists can't accuse others of wrongdoing. They cannot consistently oppose racism, exploitation, genocide. They can't demand justice and promote tolerance. If ethics are relative to each culture, then anyone outside the culture loses the right to critique it. Essentially that was the argument of the Nazi leaders during the Nuremberg Trials. A moral reformer like a Martin Luther King, Jr. would be immoral by definition because he's violating the rules of society. 'We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.’-CS Lewis. Christians have a consistent foundation to speak out against social evils based upon God’s revelation. Moral relativists do not

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sermon: Suffering Job And The Sovereignty of God

Listen or Download the Audio Podcast for the sermon below at CDPC Puchong website.
CDPC-Why Evil and Suffering

Topic: If God is Good and All-Powerful, Why is There Evil and Suffering in the World? 
Date: 8 May 2011  (Sunday)
Time: 10 am
Venue: City Discipleship Presbyterian Church, Puchong

There will be an open discussion after the message where your questions and feedback are most welcome. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Events: Gospel And Ministry in Malaysia

Klang Valley Pastors Seminar 2011

PADERI_IV

CDPC Good Friday Invite

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Is There Evil and Suffering?

The Reason for God-Why Evil and Suffering


Where is God in the midst of our pain? Why doesn’t He do something about the evil and suffering in this world?

David Hume: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is cruel. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?

This serious objection against the existence of God is sometimes called the Archilles’ heel of the Christian faith. How would you answer? It becomes a profoundly difficult question (both intellectually and emotionally) if you believe in a biblical vision of God as holy, loving and all-powerful. For people who experienced terrible tragedy, this is a personal issue not just philosophical. Empathy and pastoral care are more appropriate. Remember Job’s friends.

The first thing to note is this: The Bible recognizes, allows, and even invites such questions. If you are troubled by the reality of sin and suffering in the world, you are not alone. Listen to the wailings of suffering Job, the laments of prophet Jeremiah, the angry complaints of Habakkuk or Psalm 22; leading to the climax of Jesus’ cry on the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” You can hardly find any faithful saint who does not wrestle with the why questions. The Bible recognizes, allows, and even invites such questions.


While we cannot explain the detailed purpose behind every specific case of suffering, the Bible gives us clear answers on two other important questions that help us to trust in God’s goodness and power:


1) “Does God care? Where is He in our pain?”
God is with us when it hurts: He is not far away, looking indifferently at our struggles. Rather he has come in the person of Jesus and suffered personally on the cross on our behalf. The answer cannot be that God doesn’t care. Only the Christian faith shows us a God who suffers injustice, rejection and pain with us and for us.

Albert Camus, the existential philosopher: “The god-man (Jesus) suffers too, with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to him since he suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadows, the divinity ostensibly abandoned its traditional privilege, and lived through to the end, despair included, the agony of death”


“Jesus of the Scars” (a poem by Edward Schiltoff)

The other gods were strong. But Thou wast weak.
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to Thy throne.
And to our wounds, only God's wounds can speak,
and not a god has wounds but Thou alone.

2) Will evil and suffering be resolved one day?”


God will renew the heaven and earth: We despair with the question of whether evil will eventually be overcome because it appears so powerful and pervasive. But Jesus promised that God will intervene and stop evil one day. He will wipe the tears from our eyes and turn weapons of war into instruments of peace. There will be future resolution when relationships will be restored, all creation restored and healing justice in society.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate sign that God’s righteous rule will eventually prevail over sin and death. Evil shall not have the last word.

What God has done in Christ on Easter morning, He would do on a cosmic scale for the entire creation, including us! In the meantime, we are to live today as if the future is already present. The way we live should point forward to what God’s kingdom in its future fullness would look like (like a movie preview). Therefore we have every reason and motivation to be His agents of healing justice in a sinful and suffering world.

Perhaps our need is not to have evil explained. A more urgent question is:

What are we doing about the evil and suffering in our world? It’s a call to action, not just reflection. Are we actively working as individuals and church to alleviate suffering of the poor and marginalized? 

Read the attached article in Scribd for more details on some Christian and non-Christian approaches to theodicy

PROTECT AND DEFEND CHRISTIANS' RIGHT TO USE THE ALKITAB

CFM Media Statement - Protect & Defend Right to Use Alkitab 30.03.11

We are grateful to Almighty God for bringing together Christian leaders from across churches in Semenanjung, Sabah and Sarawak to address the current controversy surrounding the impounding of Bahasa Malaysia Bibles, the Alkitab, at Port Klang and Kuching. This decision weighs heavily on us because of the implications not only for Christians but for all Malaysians.


We are united in our reaffirmation of the freedom of religion and worship. Therefore, our position is that there should be no restrictions, proscriptions or prohibitions whatsoever on the Bible or the use of the language of our choice in the practice of our religion, as it was in the days before and after the formation of Malaysia.
Christians, like any other Malaysians, are not demanding for anything beyond our constitutional and fundamental human rights as enshrined in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The current controversy surrounding the Alkitab is just one of many issues that concerns Christians. There has been a systematic and progressive pushing back of the public space to practice, to profess and to express our faith. For example, the wearing and displaying of crosses and other religious symbols, using religious words and constructing places of worship have been restricted.

When Christians express this concern, we do so not just for ourselves but on behalf of all Malaysians. Our faith forms a critical component of our identity as Malaysians in nation-building as enshrined in the first pillar of our nation's Rukunegara: Belief in God.

As regards the offer made by the government on 22 March 2011, we respectfully state that this does not address the substantive issues. In point of fact, our previous offer made in 2005 to use the term "A Christian Publication" was only honoured in respect of one shipment of the Alkitab. Subsequent shipments were similarly held up and subjected to further arbitrary conditions for release.

In order to move forward, we call on the Government to commit itself once and for all to remove every impediment, whether legal or administrative, to the importation, publication, distribution and use of the Alkitab and indeed to protect and defend our right to use the Alkitab.

This includes revoking all orders made under the Internal Security Act 1960, which have declared the Alkitab as a threat to national security. Neither can the Alkitab be considered a threat to public order under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. We categorically reject the characterisation of our Holy Scriptures in this manner.

Instead, we see our Holy Scriptures as providing enlightenment and direction. In the words of the psalmist, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119 : 105). In the New Testament is stated the teaching that we hold dear and true : "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3 : 16)

We remain committed to work with the Government for a viable and long-term solution where the detailed processes and procedures are made clear and unequivocal and so long as our fundamental liberties as enshrined in the Federal Constitution are not infringed.

As for the copies of the Alkitab that have been impounded and desecrated, we reiterate our position that the action of the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) in stamping the Bibles amounts to an act of defacement, disrespect and treating with disdain the holy book of the Christians.

Given the unfortunate experience of KDN's tendency of taking arbitrary action without consulting affected parties or respecting the religious sensitivities of the Christian community, any decision to collect copies of the Alkitab which have been stamped and serialised would be with a view to prevent the possibility of further arbitrary acts of desecration, disrespect or destruction being committed against the Holy Scripture of the Christians by KDN and its officers.

We have left it to the 2 importers to decide whether or not to collect the Alkitab, based on their different specific circumstances and level of trust in the authorities and the processes in their local context.
Nevertheless, no matter what their decision is, we remain united in our common stand to uphold the principle of freedom of religion which includes the free availability without hindrance or obstacle of the Alkitab and all sacred scriptures in Malaysia.

We continue to call on all peace-loving Malaysians to pray for a dignified resolution to these critical issues in the life of our nation.

Dated this day 30th March 2011
Bishop Ng Moon Hing
Chairman and the Executive Committee
The Christian Federation of Malaysia