Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Morality And God

From Edwin: I know most of us will probably be too far away to attend this lecture. But I thought of posting it anyway for those interested in keeping up with Swinburne's apologetics.

Professor Richard Swinburne will be delivering a lecture this Thurs at Old College, University of Edinburgh, entitled, "Morality and God." Based at Oxford University, Swinburne is arguably one of the foremost modern Christian apologist, arguing in his many books and articles that the Christian faith is rational and coherent in a rigorously philosophical sense.

Here's the lecture abstract:

"The existence of God would make no difference to the fact that there are moral truths. It is obligatory to keep your promises and tell the truth; and good to feed the starving and educate the illiterate - even if there is no God. But the existence of God makes a great difference to what are the moral truths. Because he created us from nothing and keeps us in being with all the good things of life, God is our supreme benefactor. We have limited obligations to human benefactors; and so very great obligations to our supreme benefactor. Hence he can command us to do many actions which otherwise would not be obligatory; and his command will make them obligatory. He may also command us to do actions which are obligatory anyway, and his command will make doing those actions doubly obligatory. He may also inform us about what are the moral truths (e.g about euthanasia and abortion) which do not depend on his will, but which we are too biased or stupid to discover. Among his reasons for creating new moral obligations are to make us naturally inclined to do good actions (even when otherwise they would not be obligatory), and so to form a holy character."

Total Truth

Adi wrote these brief appetising reflections on Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity
...a really good book (even if I have not finished reading it), which I think should be read by any Christian, whom Jesus called as the salt and light of the world. This book will help us to go out of the sacred/secular, private/public, or fact/value split, which has been dominating our world today--without us realising it--and has prevented us to let our faith speak to every aspects of life. As emphasized by the author, many Christians are satisfied with being a Christian in their work, and never bother to have a biblical framework on the work itself. Some perhaps have realised that it is not enough just being a Christian in their work, but they don't know how to craft a Christian worldview, a Christian philosophy, on their work. Hence it is the call of this book for all Christians to live out our faith in every areas of life, for in fact if we truly believe our faith to be the truth, then we will see it as a total world- and life-view.

The fact that we do not regard our faith as total truth--and so we lock our faith in a private compartment of our lives--runs contrary to the Scriptures. For if God is the Lord of all creation, then all creation--every single area of life--must bow to His Word. Furthermore, the Bible does not talk about the redemption of souls only, but also the whole creation. We, the redeemed people, are God's agents to bring redemption unto this world. If we truly believe that the Word of God shines upon every aspect of our lives, then, we should have a Christian philosophy of everything, yes, everything under the sun.

What really matters is then to have a correct view of our faith as a worldview, and to let it shape everything that we do. "The most effective work ... is done by ordinary Christians fulfilling God's calling to reform culture within their local spheres of influence--their families, churches, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, professional organizations, and civic institutions. In order to effect lasting change, ... we need to develop a Christian worldview" (Total Truth, p.19).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Creation Care

Activism without theology is blind, Theology without activism is lame.

An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation

The Earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof - Psalm 24:1

As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems.

Because we worship and honor the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for the creation.

Because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation.
Therefore we repent of the way we have polluted, distorted, or destroyed so much of the Creator's work.

Because in Christ God has healed our alienation from God and extended to us the first fruits of the reconciliation of all things, we commit ourselves to working in the power of the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of Christ in word and deed, to work for the reconciliation of all people in Christ, and to extend Christ's healing to suffering creation.

Because we await the time when even the groaning creation will be restored to wholeness, we commit ourselves to work vigorously to protect and heal that creation for the honor and glory of the Creator---whom we know dimly through creation, but meet fully through Scripture and in Christ.

We and our children face a growing crisis in the health of the creation in which we are embedded, and through which, by God's grace, we are sustained. Yet we continue to degrade that creation.

These degradations of creation can be summed up as
1) land degradation; 2) deforestation;
3) species extinction; 4) water degradation; 5) global toxification;
6) the alteration of atmosphere; 7) human and cultural degradation.

Read on

Love Song Dedications

Ah Beng called up the radio to dedicate a love song to Ah Lian.

What song will he choose? That depends on whether he is a fan of...

Calvinism: "I knew I loved you before I met you" (Savage Garden)

Creationism: "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" (Air Supply)

Open theism: "I don't know much, but I know I love you" (Aaron Neville)

Wittgenstein: "It's only words... words are all I have to take your heart away" (Boyzone)

Foundationalism: "Girl you have to show me why this is not our time, When all the evidence is saying that you're wrong" (Cliff Richards - Somethin' Is Goin' On)

Pelagius: "She went to heaven so I gotta be good, so I can see my baby when i leave this world" (Pearl Jam - Where O Where Have My Baby Gone?)

Quaker: "I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the skies tumbling down" (Martika)

NT Wright: "Heaven is a place on earth!" (Berlinda Carlisle)

Choo Thomas: "Nobody gets too much heaven no more.." (Bee Gees)

Emergent: "And life's a journey, not a destination" (Aerosmith)

Above All Earthly Powers

Today, I drove to Bethlehem Baptist North Campus for a combined church service at Bethlehem Baptist - a special "welcome-home!" gathering for John Piper's return from sabbatical in UK! It was under the open sky, a gentle breeze blowing

Piper's sermon was based on Jesus' parable on "The Pharisee and Tax Collector" (Luke 18: 9-14, biblical teaching on justification by faith. One of Piper's upcoming books may be in response of NT Wright's views on the topic...

The Pharisee was not a proto-Pelagian trying to pull himself up by his own moral bootstraps. Instead he attributes his moral achievement (he never robbed, or unfaithful to his wife - quite 'authentic' lifestyle!) and religious accomplishment (fasted twice a week and tithed!) as being enabled by God!

This guy is not a pelagian who thinks he can make it without God's help. He even thanked God for helping him to be different from others.

But his fatal mistake is that he considers that God-enabled righteousness as the GROUND of his standing before God, the Judge.

The tax collector, on the other hand, is a sinner. But he recognizes his own sinfulness and looks to God for mercy. And Jesus says, the tax collector goes home justified (declared as righteous) rather than the pharisee (who stands condemned)

This message is hazardous to popular notions of God works. We like the idea that 'authentic' people who live 'good lives' get saved.

But it is spiritually dangerous to put before the Judge our 'grace-imparted' deeds as the basis for being put right with God. None of us could stand before His holy light. No one.

All of us need to come before God with faith in the blood-bought righteousness of Jesus Christ. And Him alone.

Let our hope and the hope of others be on nothing less than the Christ and His wrath-absorbing work on the cross.

We sang a wonderful hymn as well:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
a great High Priest, whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on his hands,
my name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see him there
who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.

Behold him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!

One with himself, I cannot die;
my soul is purchased by his blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Savior and my God.

After waiting in line for 20 minutes or so, I managed to meet Piper himself, shook hands, took photos and chatted for a while. Even passed him a card on The Agora ministry just in case he would like to keep in touch.

Marvin, he also mentioned what a wonderful preacher you are! Wow, that means a lot coming from a master preacher.

Unfortunately i wont be around for the conference in September "The Supremacy of God in a postmodern world". Aiyor.

But the conference theme and speaker line-up sounds extremely promising:

Our aim is to call the church to a radical and very old vision of the Man, Jesus Christ—fully God, fully sovereign, fully redeeming by his substitutionary, wrath-absorbing death, fully alive and reigning, fully revealed for our salvation in the inerrant Holy Bible, and fully committed to being preached with human words and beautifully described with doctrinal propositions based on biblical paragraphs.

We love Dorothy Sayers’ old saying, “The Dogma is the Drama.” We think the post-propositional, post-dogmatic, post-authoritative “conversation” is post-relevant and post-saving.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

C.R.Y. (Christian Response to Yoga) Seminar

The Singapore Centre for Evangelism & Missions, together with Bedok Methodist Church, will be jointly organising a seminar on Christian Response to Yoga (C.R.Y.).

C.R.Y. (Christian Response to Yoga) Seminar
What is Yoga?
How do we approach Yoga with a Christian Perspective?
Does Yoga have any thing to do with religion?
Can I practice Yoga as a Christian?
Are these your questions?

Date: Sat 28th October, 2006
Time: 2.00pm to 5.30pm
Venue: Bedok Methodist Church
Speaker: Ashok Kumar (pl see attachment for details)
Registration Fee: $15/- (includes notes & refreshment)

Closing Date: 22nd Oct '06

Transport will be provided from the Tanah Merah and Bedok MRT stations to BMC.
Jointly organised by Bedok Methodist Church and SCEM (Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Missions). Please register with your name, contact no. email address. Mailto:scem@scem.info

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Doubting Thomas

"If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt... There is no believing without some doubting, and believing is all the stronger for understanding and resolving doubt". Os Guinness, God in the Dark

"Any Christian in touch with thinking people outside the church must be saddened by the large numbers of people who claim to have "lost their faith". In my experience, many of them lacked little in terms of orthodoxy or experience but never understood why their faith was true. Caught with neither a foundation nor a framework for their faith, they found university level questions puncturing their sunday-school-level faith." (p. 82) Read On

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Reasonable Faith Camp 2006

Shopping with my married colleagues, I discover a whole new universe I never knew existed. Whole "Baby r'us" stores devoted to baby products... and these fellas are so willing to spend jaw-dropping amount of money on branded baby car-seats. And I marvel at how parents care for their children by providing for their needs - clothes, foods, toys, luxuries etc.

But what about their spiritual & intellectual needs? Do we cultivate that?

if i have a kid (teenage and above) I'd send him to the Ravi Zacharias Ministry (based in Singapore) camp in October 27 – 29 2006, Friday – Sunday at Hotel Puri, Malacca.

Contact info:
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Tel: +65 6247 7695
Fax: +65 6247 9052

Just look at the mouth-watering topics:

Movie discussions on 'Reel World', "The Hero" and "Melinda, Melinda" wud train us to appreciate, understand and experience and critique movies from a christian outlook

Spiritual disciplines like developing 'soul friends', comtemplation/reflections...

Scripture study on Genesis - focus on our Identity/Sexuality, Purpose and Destiny

Eye-opening Workshops on New Age, Islam, What is a Worldview? etc.

What I'd like to rave about, however, is the sessions Dr Clive Chin (Singapore Bible College) will be doing - he taught me systematic theology 2 months ago, and definitely a humble, mission-minded, sacrificial and well-read scholar I look up to...

He'd be doing a session on "Biblical truth in a postmodern setting" (be conversant on postfoundationalism and stuffs like that, how it affects mission of church)

and "Gospel as Theo-drama" (where Clive will be drawing on the speech-act hermeneutics of Kevin Vanhoozer in this one, if u like 'drama of doctrine' in a nutshell, this session alone is worth the camp fees :)

Dun miss it! And bring ur frens/kids along...