Thursday, April 26, 2007

Statement of Faith

We believe in...

1. The one true God who lives eternally in three persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

2. The love, grace and sovereignty of God in creating, sustaining, ruling, redeeming and judging the world.

3. The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God—infallible and fully trustworthy for faith and conduct.

4. The dignity of all people, made male and female in God's image to love, be holy and care for creation, yet corrupted by sin, which incurs divine wrath and judgement.

5. The incarnation of God's eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—born of the virgin Mary; truly divine and truly human, yet without sin.

6. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross: dying in our place, paying the price of sin and defeating evil, so reconciling us with God.

7. The bodily resurrection of Christ, the first fruits of our resurrection; his ascension to the Father, and his reign and mediation as the only Saviour of the world.

8. The justification of sinners solely by the grace of God through faith in Christ.

9. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who leads us to repentance, unites us with Christ through new birth, empowers our discipleship and enables our witness.

10. The Church, the body of Christ both local and universal, the priesthood of all believers—given life by the Spirit and endowed with the Spirit's gifts to worship God and proclaim the gospel, promoting justice and love.

11. The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth.

Agora Singapore's Statement of Faith is the expressed core beliefs of the group. This Statement serves the purpose of directing the group along its vision and function as ambassador, witnessing to both the people of God and pre-believers. This revised Statement of Faith is adopted from the Evangelical Alliance.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Intelligent Design: Science or Faith

An Open Forum

Panelists: Prof Guillermo Gonzalez, Dr Jay Richards,
Prof K.O Lee, Mr LT Jeyachandran
Moderator: Dr Lawrence Chia
Date: 24th May 2007, Thursday
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: St. Andrew's Cathedral, 11, St. Andrew's Road

A Public Meeting: Darwinianism & Intelligent Design
Speaker: Dr Jay Richards
Date: 25th May 2007, Friday
Venue: St. Andrew's Cathedral, 11, St. Andrew's Road

Guillermo Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University, He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1993 from the University of Washington. He has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and at the University of Washington and has received fellowships, grants and awards from such institutions as NASA, the University of Washington, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Gonzalez has extensive experience in observing and analyzing data from ground-based observatories, including work at McDonald Observatory, Apache Point Observatory and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. He has also published over sixty articles in refereed astronomy and astrophysical journals including Astronomy and Astrophysics, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Astrophysical Journal and Solar Physics. His current research interest in astrobiology focuses on the "Galactic Habitable Zone" and captured the October 2001 cover story of Scientific American.

Jay W. Richards is Vice President and Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He received his Ph.D. with honors in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was formerly a Teaching Fellow.

He is the author of many academic articles, popular essays, and op-eds, on topics as diverse as science, philosophy, and theology. He is editor and contributor, with William A. Dembski, of Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies (InterVarsity Press, 2001), editor and contributor with George Gilder of Are We Spiritual Machines?: Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong AI (Discovery Institute Press, 2002), and author of The Untamed God: A Philosophical Exploration of Divine Perfection, Immutability, and Simplicity (InterVarsity Press, 2003).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

RZIM Reasonable Faith Conference 2007@Melaka

Question: Who are we?

Answer: We are people of God who were on our way to Melaka(!) for RZIM's Reasonable Faith 2007 conference on 13th April 2007.

Question: Er...... i mean the names of those that went to Melaka...

Answer: Ohh... Joshua Woo, Benjamin Ho, Darren Chow, Howard Zhen Hao, Mejlina, Joanne Yap, Serene Huang, God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit.

Question: Where were we?

Answer: At first, we were at Arab Street bus terminal. At about 8am, the bus took off from Arab Street bus terminal to Tuas second link. Then the Immigration checkpoint. First the Singapore checkpoint, then the Malaysia checkpoint, then the bus stopped at a rest-station for the passengers to relief themselves a little before going on to....

Question: er.... i mean where were we when these pictures were being taken...

Answer: Ohh... we were in the bus....Everybody were enthusiastic and energized. Some were chatting, some were reading, some was taking pictures...some were...well...sabbath.

As Darren was busy following all the lyrics from his MP3 player, Mejlina was busy sharing her enriching experiences with Howard Zhen Hao. On the other seats, Joanne was too caught up reading Zoe Tay's second pregnancy while Serene was meditating with her eyes closed, in a lotus position.

Anyway, after 4 hours of sitting still and trying our best at controlling ourselves from the 'shoes-throwing games' in the bus, we managed to reach safely at about 11.30am.

At Melaka Sentral, autonomously, we spilt roles and responsibility. Howard Zhen Hao and I went to look for return tickets to Singapore while the rest look for lunch venue. After enquiring all the ticketing counters, thank God, we managed to get the tickets!

On their side, they managed to find an A&W restaurant. Too bad, i didn't take any picture there.

After lunch, we took 2 cabs to Hotel Puri. Darren, Mejlina and me got into one, while the rest had to squeezed themselves into another. The journey from Melaka Sentral to the hotel took us 10-15 minutes. This is the hotel main entrance.


Ok... that's Howard Zhen Hao. This is his first time joining RZIM's conference, so please be patient with his enthusiasm.

After cooling himself down, Howard Zhen Hao joined in the queue to register and settle the payment for the conference. Total cost for the conference is SGD 160. And that includes accomodation, meals, and a RZIM's file!

The lady in pink is Dorothy and the gentleman in green is Brian. Mejlina was so happy that she couldn't stop smilling. Guess she was very happy to have arrived at the long anticipated conference.

After settling all those important paperworks, all of us were assigned to our rooms. I got Ben to be my roomate for the weekend. That means besides apologetics, postmodernism, existentialism, pluralism, philosophy of science, movie criticism, historical Jesus, Islam, and where to have the Melaka chicken rice, we learnt how to live with one another (especially how to cover your ears when your roomate snores).

The room was nice. It's clean and......... well, clean.

These are the toiletries. As i had guessed, the hotel provides 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. It's convenient to use because you can shampoo and condition your hair at the same time.

Question: What? At the same time? Huh.. you mean you used 2-in-1 shampoo conditioner?

Answer: Yes, why?

Question: AHHH idiot! Shampoo are negatively charged and dries up hair by removing the positive charges, dirt, and oil. Conditioner is positively charged and moiturizes. How can the lotion be drying up and moisturizing your hair at the same time?

Answer: *grasp*.. ok... no wonder the frizzly hair..but I had no choice. I didn't bring my own lotion.

Anyway, let's move on. Life is more than having healthy hair... So after resting for 30 minutes or so, the conference started with an opening ceremony. I'Ching gave us a preview of the 3 days, 2 nights conference and LT introduced the speakers (philosopher Stuart McAllister and historian John Dickson) and talked a little bit (I'm sure LT can go beyond the mere 1 hour 15 mins) on the whole idea of conference's title 'Jesus Among Other Lords'.

After that, we had our 1st Bible studies session on the book of Ecclesiastes. Stuart had us amazed with his profound skill of fusing existentialism, postmodernism and the message of Ecclesiastes to bring out the idea of evangelism and apologetic in current cultures.

After that BS session, it was workshop time! I'd chosen to join I'Ching's Communicating Jesus In Pluralistic Society workshop. She facilitated the group well and had us discussed and shared among ourselves the struggles and problems that we faced in evangelism and apologetics. I raised a question on one of her passing remark. She said that the existence of evil and suffering is an indication for the existence of God. My question was, how is that so? She answered briefly. Briefly not due to her lack of comprehension but because the topic is too big to be confined within a few minutes of sharing. Thus yesterday, when i visited RZIM office to collect the conference receipts, she commended Douglas Geivett's Evil & The Evidence For God to my reading. I grasped when i found out that it's published by Temple University Press. (i grasped even as i'm typing this).

After the workshop, we had our break and guess what, it's dinner time. Here is the picture of the place we had our breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

All meals are buffet-served. I had lots of watermelon, papaya, and honeydew during that weekend because need those vitamins to sustain myself as healthy and as heuristic as i can.

After dinner and rest we get to relax a bit through the movie and discussion session. They showed existentialist Ingmar Bergman's The Devil's Eye. Finally i know who is Don Juan.

After the movie, Darren, Mejlina, Ben, Howard, and I went out to stroll around the night scene in Melaka. Nothing much to do and nothing much to see. We just spent our time at the night market.

The next morning, we had Stuart to lead us in the 2nd session on the book of Ecclesiastes. After that, John Dickson took over the conference for his session. His led us to examined the identity of Jesus Christ by historical approaches. Though the presentation seems to be down-to-earth 'historical' and not philosophical at all (because it lacks 'philosophical terms' such as trinitarianism & etc), but to those who are aware, the entire project of historical quest for the real Jesus is no less philosophical, if not more. Methodologies, philosophical assumptions, and hermeneutics proper are the 'undersea cables' in this project.

During lunch time, i dont know whose idea was it to have Melaka chicken rice. So the group went out to town and walk about 10 minutes to reach this restaurant. While waiting for the chicken and the rice, we took pictures. This picture is when Mejlina is taking the group's photo. Oh yea... Dave Chong had just arrived to join us for lunch.

We were surprised when we find out that our drinks weren't served, by the restaurant's employee but by someone from another restaurant. Do u see what's going on? This is 'Outsourcing'! The restaurant has outsourced its beverages business!

Check these out: Fish ball?? Sotong ball?? Beef ball?? Prawn ball?? Or pork ball??


It's RICE ball!!! Yes, i was as shocked as you (referring to those who are shocked) when i found out. I thought these were fish ball and i kept waiting for my rice to be served until Joanne and Serene enlightened me.

After lunch, the Agorians head back to the cafe in the hotel for a management meeting. We discussed stuffs that have been hovering over our minds since the past week. Dave started the meeting with the vision and focus of the group, while we were holding our tongues in waiting for him to finish so that we can have our turn. The meeting went well. Settled most of the major issues.

Next we head for workshop. I went for John Dickson's Islam-The Truth Behind The Headlines. He presented clearly the Islamic view of Christianity and those unjustifiable caricatures made by Christians on Islam. He went on to teach us how to dialogue and have casual talk with Muslims about Christ.

After his workshop, i went to LT's Spirit of Science. He facilitated the group into thinking about the enterprise of science, from pre-modern to modern. He had us examined some of the philosophical assumption underlie sciences.

Before dinner, there was a session by I'Ching. Her interesting sharing titled "Happiness: Mastercard or Visa".

After came out from the conference room, we began to be aware of the underlying philosophies of advertisements and commercial marketing tactics. To think about it, the current cool 'trend' is nothing more than the projections of some marketing genuises into the society. They manipulate humans' desires and longing to make us products-driven.

In the evening, after dinner, we watched another movie. This is a good one. Really a good movie! After the movie, we hang out at the hotel's lounge, talked until 12.20mn. Was tired. No wonder felt some fatigue at times in the weekend. But it's alright. Nothing is better than laughing, joking, and sharing with friends. After that, the Singaporean Agorians took this picture at the corridor.If you dont know who is who, figure out yourself.

After that, we laid our tired shells to rest. Before i knew it, my mobile's alarm rang. The last day of the conference...

We had our final session on Ecclesiastes after our breakfast, followed by John Dickson's Jesus Then & Now before lunch. Then another session by John on Pluralism and Christian faith titled 'Religion Roulette: How Can We Know For Sure?' before the closing session.

The conference ended at about 3.30pm. Everyone was exchanging emails and contacts. Everyone was heavy-hearted to come to the end of the enriching conference in that warm afternoon. Group photos were taken to be kept down the memory lane :)

More pictures here