Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Open Source Mission

There is a new ministry initiative launching publicly this week called Open Source Mission (OSM). OSM is a non-profit initiative to enable translation of contemporary evangelical materials from English to various languages through the power of mass collaboration. Some of us who frequent this blog have been working on this in various ways over the past few months so we're excited that it's now unveiled and launched.

OSM is founded on the belief that accessibility to biblically sound content is of strategic importance to the vitality of the growing churches worldwide. In particular, we see an opportunity to bring translated Christian materials to the non-English speaking world by taking advantage of technology innovation and an “open source”, participatory model of translation. Our vision is to create a new, revolutionary, framework for translation by combining the following components:

• Global social network of volunteer translators
• Proven “open source” methodology
• Web 2.0 collaboration platform

In essence, what we hope to see are several ongoing translation projects fueled by the passion and skills of volunteer translators, resulting in an online reference portal of translated books and articles in a multitude of languages – all available for free.

The distinctive focus of OSM is simple -

Mass Collaboration - We want to enable translation through the mass collaboration of volunteer translators. We believe the Web 2.0 world has opened unique opportunities for collaboration through a community participatory model. Such models have been proven successful in other arenas. By applying methodologies similar to those used in an open source software projects like Linux or Web 2.0 projects like Wikipedia, we hope to effectively tackle the translation challenge.

Contemporary Gospel Centric Writings - We want to focus on contemporary, evangelical, gospel centric materials. We’re not interested in doing Bible translations – that’s best left to professionals. Nor are we planning to tackle historical writings (i.e. Puritans, Reformers, early Church Fathers) - there are sufficient hurdles in bridging the translation and cultural gap without undertaking the challenge of a historical gap as well. We're initially focused on contemporary translations from our partner organizations.

Leveraging Technology - We want to leverage technology to make these materials accessible. We believe that the trajectory of technology adoption in the developing nations means that the most effective and inexpensive way to get materials to our fellow Christians in these nations is to provide this material on the web, searchable, cross referenceable and free.

OSM, together with partners like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Desiring God, 9 Marks and other like-minded organizations, will work on the Gospel Translation Project. The Gospel Translation Project involves building a "wikipedia type" portal of translated content at (Disclaimer: the portal is currently in beta and content is still being loaded onto the site.)

Initially, our focus will be to work on translating materials from the aforementioned partners who have generously contributed to our translation permissions library.

If you find this intriguing, interesting, or possibly even inspiring, here’s how to get involved:

1. Check out the OSM website , learn more about what we do , offer feedback and please pray for the ministry.

2. If you are bilingual, please consider using your language skills in one of our projects. You can sign up on the OSM website or email our Ministry Coordinator, Andrew Mahr - By participating in one of our projects, your contribution will impact your fellow Christians for years to come.

3. Please help spread the word. If you're a blogger, please consider blogging about OSM and the Gospel Translation Project. This is a grassroots movement and thrives on individual volunteer initiative. If you should blog on this, please let others know of the need for translation and issue a gracious call for bilingual Christians to consider participating in this.

4. Link to Open Source Mission on your sidebar and let us know. We need help to make this work and we'd love to have you get involved in some way...even if you can't translate.

We have a number of willing translators in Malaysia and Indonesia but we would be glad to get more help. There are translation projects starting up in a number of languages including Bahasa, Chinese, Korean and Spanish. If you can speak any of these languages, please consider lending your help.

Tragedy Of Restlessness

By Y.Y.Yap
"The Tragedy of Restlesness" was delivered at the Headstart Leaders'
Spiritual Retreat
, 16-18 September 2005.

If I were to ask you to just rest and do nothing all of today, what
will you do? Grab a newspaper, turn on the TV, logon the web, maybe do some shopping or balance your accounts?

If I told you, your food & clothing for all of this year is taken care of - what will you do with your life? Book a holiday? Climb the Himalayas? Read all the books you've bought in the last year? The tragedy of our ultra-modern life is there simply is no time for rest, and even if there was - we no longer know how to.

Our culture is such that we are constantly distracted - by ads, news
flashes, SMS-es, latest movie releases, etc. We have made life so
zippingly fast-paced, that we can't catch up with ourselves any more. Anything we do, buy, read today is obsolete by the time we lay hands on it - somebody is inventing something better right now, a new discovery is being published today, the way you operate has been superceded by a smarter method.

Sadly, though we are so breathless playing catch-up trying to stay focussed we no longer know what is rest much less how to get it.

At a time when we need to recover our humanity and meaning the most, we are swept away by a tide of artificial substitutes. Hollywood, MTV, the tourism and food industry make sure of that. What entertainment and every kind of sensual indulgence offers is a quick-fix, temporary relief, fleeting moments of pleasurable but imaginary escape which leaves us only more hungry, empty and lonely than before. But then, we've got to get back to work - who has time to think about it?

In a similar situation of exhaustion and starvation, Jesus, recognising the urgent need for recovery and nourishment intervened:
'"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while." (For
there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)

And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. (Mark 6:31-32, NASB)'

I love the passage for what it doesn't say as much as what it does.
Jesus doesn't say, 'Go away for awhile and come back ready to work again.' He doesn't send you away only when you are fatigued beyond use, and for the sole purpose of rehabilitating the workforce. And it isn't one of those company motivation and indoctrination retreats just to make you more aggressive and productive.

The invitation is threefold: it is to 'come away' (NASB) - drawing
away/detaching ourselves from the work when it has become damaging to the soul. Work itself is not the enemy, it is when work has overtaken the heart that perspective sorely needs to be restored. There are warning signs and we must learn to recognise them.

Secondly it is to 'come with me' (NIV) - a leaving of the things that have robbed you of your inner joy and tunneled your spiritual vision, to return to the real heart, purpose and goal of our lives, Jesus.

And thirdly, for a good reason: 'they had no leisure so much as to eat' (KJV). No leisure, so much as to eat! This rendition in the KJV makes a sharp point and Maslow would be quick to point out - that if the disciples were so consumed by the work they couldn't even eat, you can imagine how spiritually and emotionally starved they must have already become.

We will explore in further sessions this important invitation. What are the things that erodes our lives, keeping us from our true identity and a growing intimacy with God?

In the face of massive opposition and danger, David says: 'One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,' but if he can't get that, he'll settle for just one day. 'Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.' (Psalm 84:10, NIV). He makes the difficult choice of choosing, like Mary, 'the better thing.'

In my final year of Masters, I suffered a serious health problem. I was so stressed from working on my final dissertation, and studying for the exit exams, and leading a church, and speaking in the student CF, I developed peptic ulcer disease that required large doses of opioids for pain-relief.

In that difficult period going through gastroscopies, ultrasounds and drug therapy - I discovered I also had gallstones and fatty deposits in the liver. I was obese, and the repressed stress had been burning away at my stomach lining. I was forced to work through the deeper issues at work.

By God's grace and much, much love from my wife and others around me, I soon realised I was chronically depressed, easily irritable, quietly bitter and prone to rage. Compulsive overeating was one of the complications of my masked depression. Coming to terms with my adrenaline addiction and stress-burnout pattern, I learnt some crucial skills for early recognition and intervention. The first few months were tough-going, subjecting myself to rigid monitoring and journaling my feelings, but in time the hard labor bore fruits of much peace, improved relationships, and best of all - I lost
20kgs of weight!

You may not have come to such serious consequences of stress-burnout in your life, but we all need to learn the skills of recognizing it, hearing Jesus' invitation to 'come away' and give ourselves permission to rest. We need to move from denial, through anger (blaming everyone else for our restlessness), to acceptance (that we need rest), to change (taking responsibility for getting rest.)

For Reflection and dialog:
1. Have you suffered burnout recently?
2. What steps led to it? What were its consequences for you?
3. Were there early signs of stress and burnout for you?
4. What steps do you need to take to 'give yourself permission' to rest - do you have difficulty doing that?

NeuroScience And Christianity (I)

By Ron Choong: This 21st century has been hailed as the century of the mind. Brain/Mind studies are now the hottest subjects in both science and philosophy. I hope to persuade you that it ought to also be the hottest subject in Christian theology.

In the last 50 years, the various fields of inquiry dealing with the physical brain and its expression as the mind, has begun to converge. Disparate fields such as cognitive psychology, molecular biology, neurobiology, moral philosophy, consciousness studies and philosophy of mind, to note a few, have found themselves trampling on each other’s sacred ground. Advances in PET and fMRI technology have emboldened experimentalists to make inferences and predictions that impact our understanding of human behavior. For the first time, we are able to ‘look’ inside a living brain while it is thinking and make some crude but valuable measurements about its workings, principally its consumption rates of sugar and oxygen. Using false color imaging, we can locate areas of neuronal activity in real time. These exciting advances in technology demand equally exacting theories of science to interpret what we observe to convert knowledge into understanding. Here lies our Achilles’ heel. We are always far better at acquiring information than we are at interpreting them. This has been historically true of the revealed religions of the world. In the Christian faith, the early founders pass on what they claim to be divine revelation encoded in texts of human language. While its preservation has mostly been successful, great debates continue to rage over its precise interpretation. Thus we find in both the science of mind (neuroscience) and theological reflection of the Bible, the imperative of epistemic hermeneutics. We are concerned with making sense of what we know so that we can achieve understanding.

In this series of Neuroscience & Theology (NST) seminars, we shall explore various topics in which our increasing knowledge about how our brain works (or rather, how it may seem to work) may offer correctives to our best interpretations of what it means to be human (made in the image of God). This is not a quest for a scientific account of the Bible nor is it a theological account of neuroscience. Rather, it is an attempt to seek a convergence of understanding who we are in the light of the Christian Bible aided by responsible study of the scriptures, critical theological and philosophical reflection, and assessment of scientific inferences drawn from experimental and theoretical work in the sciences of the brain. The primary field of inquiry is theological in nature and is purpose is to achieve a better understanding of our relationship to our creator.

Central to the Christian doctrine of humanity is the claim that we were made in the image of God. Theologians have long included among the many meanings of this, the possession of moral consciousness. It is the existence and function of morality that is at the heart of the conversation between the neurosciences and theology. The method of analysis we shall follow assumes that both the modern sciences and reflective theology are different but not incompatible sources of knowledge about reality. This means that a quest to understand the human nature and our sense of morality ought to consider both what the Bible teaches about why we think as we do and what the modern sciences infer about how we think as we do.

Although theology is concerned with truth claims received by faith as true, its implications engage the world of the sciences and medical therapy. (1) Similarly, although both the basic and the social sciences are limited to explaining the biological and psychological mechanics of how moral behavior plays out, such explanations often veer towards making theological statements. (2) It is therefore important for both science and theology to be open to mutual correction when necessary, for theological reflection itself relies on the art and science of interpretation based on our reasoning strategies, which themselves are shaped by our prior understanding, control beliefs, and adoptive authorities.

Thus we note that philosophy, religion and the sciences are inextricably intertwined. Indeed, what we now call philosophy used to be called metaphysics; religion used to be under the rubric of moral philosophy; and modern science used to be called natural philosophy. In fact, no academic discipline is truly free from theological implications and no theological doctrine is free from engagement with every human sphere of cultural influence. This series of lectures seeks to examine some of the theological implications of philosophy and science as commonly misunderstood by some proponents who commit the Aristotelian ‘category mistake’ of mixing methodologies. The lesson to learn is that a responsible apologetic theology must account for the provisional but influential findings of contemporary religious philosophies and the natural sciences. This is the central concern of the Academy for Christian Thought as we minister both to those outside and inside the Church by offering a theological safe space (TSS).

Among the many issues raised by the ‘new science of mind’, as the Nobelist Eric Kandel calls it, are the characteristics of the human mind that mark us off as human:

the existence of a universal morality (3).
the reality and nature of free-will (4 ,
the location and nature of consciousness (5),
the structure and function of memory (6),
the role of experience in perception and reasoning (7),
the implications of emotions such as fear and love (8),
the process by which we make judgments (9), and

In the first of this series, we shall consider the existence of a universal morality, or a universal moral grammar, as Marc Hauser (10) calls it.

I shall post abstracts of future chapters soon, stay tuned

Monday, October 29, 2007

FAQ: Homosexuality

"Roland Chia addressed some common FAQs on this hot issue in 'Questions and Answers on Homosexuality' published in "Church and Society in Asia Today", 2004 Volume Seven, Number One

Objection 1. The Bible does not condemn all homosexual relationships but only those that are exploitative and promiscuous.

This viewpoint states that homosexual practices in the Greco-Roman world of Paul in the first century have to do with pederasty - sex between an adult male and an adolescent boy. It states that it is this exploitative form of homosexuality that the New Testament condemns.

This objection cannot be supported by the Scripture passages (in both Testaments) that deal with homosexuality. This is simply because in all these passages homosexual practices are rejected without specifying the age of the participants. Furthermore, the rejection of lesbianism in Romans 1:26 shows that what is referred to here and elsewhere is not just pederasty but all forms of homosexual relationships since lesbianism in the ancient world was not confined to pederasty alone. The argument that the biblical passages on homosexuality are irrelevant to the contemporary world because they have to do with pederastic forms of homosexuality is therefore untenable.

Objection 2. Since the Bible does not talk about the idea of a ‘homosexual orientation’ same-sex passion was thought to have originated in over-sexed heterosexuals and therefore condemned.

This viewpoint states that since modern society does not regard homosexuality as originating from insatiable heterosexual lust, we should not condemn homosexuality in our society.

Some scholars interpret Romans 1 on the basis of this theory. According to this approach, in Romans 1, Paul was not condemning homosexuals but perverse heterosexuals who have sexual relations with members of their own sex because of their insatiable lust. This reinterpretation of the Biblical passages does not stand up to careful scrutiny. In Romans 1:26 Paul refers to females who "exchanged" sexual
intercourse with men for intercourse with other females, and to men who "abandoned" sex with women for sex with men. The word "abandon" implies that these males were exclusively oriented to other males. It weakens the argument that Paul was exclusively referring to the homoeroticism of heterosexual males and not to homosexual acts in general.

Thus, there is no evidence that Paul saw homoeroticism as excessive heterosexual passion and had opposed homosexual practices of this sort.

Paul was not referring to certain individuals. He was speaking generally, and therefore was making the point that all homosexual acts are against nature. Furthermore the source of homoeroticism is not the main part of Paul’s opposition to homosexual intercourse. The reason for his opposition is that such practices are unnatural, meaning that they fail to conform to God’s design of heterosexual relationship within monogamous marriage.

Objection 3. Since we do not follow all the injunctions of the Bible, why should those on homosexual practices be binding?

This viewpoint points out that few churches would require women to wear veils during worship as Paul requires them to in 1 Corinthians 11:1-6. Hence, not all the commands in the Bible are being followed. Why, then, should we follow the biblical teaching regarding homosexual practices?

However, the command against homosexual practices in the Bible is found in both Testaments and therefore very difficult to avoid or ignore. In both the Old and New Testaments, the forbidding of homosexuality is persuasive and absolute. There are no dissenting voices and alternative judgements on such practices. The command is absolute in the sense that it includes every form of homoerotic sexual practice without exception. As we have seen under Objection 2, it is not limited to only certain forms of exploitative homosexuality. Finally, both Testaments stress the severity of the command. In the Old Testament, those found disobeying it would be
punished by death (Lev 20:13). In the New Testament Paul places it alongside idolatry (1 Cor 6:9).

Read on for more insights on a difficult topic

Monday, October 22, 2007

Emerging Church

The Ichthus Research Centre at

The Emerging Church Seminar

Speaker: Professor D.A. Carson
Date: Friday 26th October 2007
Time: 2.00-3.30 pm
Place: 4th floor, Worship Hall, Block 7
Singapore Bible College
9-15 Adam Road, Singapore 289886

Admission is free

The is held in conjunction with the Preaching Conference held in the Singapore Bible College on 26th and 27th October 2007.

more details on their website

Friday, October 19, 2007

Godliness: The Spiritual Theology of the English Puritans

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The Spiritual Theology of the English Puritans

Is holy living still relevant today?
Come and find out about Godliness
through the lives and beliefs of a
special group of Christians

Rev Dr Samuel Ling
(Sessions will be conducted in English)

29-31 Oct 2007

7.30 - 9.45 p.m
(15min break in between)
Free Admission, love offering will be collected

Geylang Chinese Methodist Church
52 Aljunied Road
Singapore 389820
(Main santuary)
Next to Aljunied MRT

About the Speaker

Rev Samuel Ling is president of China Horizon (, a Reformed teaching ministry in theology and apologectics. His passion is in teaching doctrine; Biblical theology; church history; Cornelius Van Til's apologectics; Puritanism; and biblical (nouthetic) counseling. Rev Stephen Tong calls him "the most consistant Reformed thinker in the Chinese community." Currently he and China Horizon conduct regular courses in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Rev Ling recieved his A.B from the University of Pennysylvania; the M.Div. and Th.M from Westminister Theological Seminary; and Ph.D. in history (church history) from Temple University. His doctoral dissertation dealt with the interaction of the church and the Anti-Christian Movement among China's intellectuals. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, and did church planting in New York City, and served as senior pastor of a historic Chinese church in Chicago.

He is professor of historical and systematic theology at International Theological Seminary under Dr Joseph Tong, and has lectured in Westminster, Covenant, Regent, Alliance, Wheaton, Fuller and other seminaries in Asia and North America. He is author of 500 articles and edited a number of books. He is the founder of ChinaSource, a research-based catalyst for partnership in Christian service. Since1997, he and his family live in Los Angeles.

Organized by Stemi Singapore

Saturday, October 06, 2007

God And Technology

An event organised by Graduate Christian Fellowship of Singapore. For more details, contact Simon Chia, Admin/Programme Manager (Graduates' Christian Fellowship)
Tel: 6338 6283 Fax: 6338 2054

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Can We Do "Tai Chi"?

Dr Alex Tang wrote a good discussion on "Christian and Tai Ji Quan" (Read the entire article here):

"There are Christians who believe that Christians should not involve themselves in all types of martial arts because these martial arts have their origin from the Eastern religious traditions (Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Animism). However there are other Christians who believe that it is possible to separate the physical aspects of the martial arts from their spiritual aspects. Then the physical aspects can be practiced as a form of exercise and for self-defense. One example is taiji quan, which can be, practiced by all age groups especially the elderly. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been many examples of the Christians taking a pagan festival, removing its spiritual contents and adopting it as a Christian festival. Notable examples is Christmas (worship of Saturn by Romans and Yule festival by the Scandinavians) and Sunday (Sun God Day).

For those Christians who believe it is possible to separate the physical and spiritual aspects of taiji and embrace the physical aspects as a form of exercise, I would offer the following guidelines:

(1) Regard the graceful rhythmic movements of taiji quan as physical exercise, as one would with aerobics. Remember that our bodies are temples of God (1 Corinthians 3:16) and we are to take good care of it.

(2) Meditate on the goodness of God as you go through the various movements. Do not leave your mind blank but use the time for Christian meditation and prayer. The Bible also teaches about the need to achieve balance in our body, mind and soul.

(3) Discuss your reservations with your instructor. Find out his or her view of taiji and whether the instructor regard taiji as purely a physical exercise or religious. Avoid instructors who regard taiji as religious exercise. See what is being taught in the advance classes. Some instructors only introduce religious meditation and instructions in the advanced classes. Learn from instructors who regard taiji quan as exercise.

(4) Avoid learning in dojo or hall that have a shrine. Traditional dojo is a place devoted to religious exercises watched over by the dojo’s spirits. Open spaces like a park would be an ideal place to practice taiji.


When Paul was teaching about food offered to idols, he is teaching in a culture similar to ours (Romans 14:14-18). He taught there is nothing wrong with eating food offered to idols as long as we are convinced that it is alright. What corrupt our soul is not what we eat but what is in our hearts. However, if by eating food offered to idols will stumble a fellow Christian, then we are to avoid it. It is the same with taiji quan. If we are convinced that we can benefit from it as a physical exercise, are aware of its spiritual snares and it does not stumble our brothers and sisters then we should practice it. Let us remind ourselves that our mandate is to redeem culture and the Holy Spirit who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world."