Nassim Nicholas Taleb begins his book, Skin in the Game with a broadside directed at political and academic elites who implement public policies without considering carefully their ramifications. He highlights the disasters which follow the recent military interventions in Libya and Syria. The unintended consequences of ‘regime change’ resulted in thousands of innocent victims being kidnapped, enslaved, incarcerated or blown to smithereens. Nevertheless, the policy makers are not held responsible for the misery of the victims; they continue to enjoy security and comfort in their air-conditioned offices thousands of miles away.
The controversy arising from Zakir Naik’s visit to Malaysia reminds Christians that it is crucial to uphold the inerrancy of the Bible. First, it is well known that Zakir Naik and other Islamic dakwa-gandists unceasingly attack the Bible as a corrupt text. They further assert that the Bible cannot be the Word of God in the light of the alleged errors and contradictions found in it. It is self-defeating and futile for a Christian to try to witness to Muslim critics like Zakir Naik if he agrees that the Bible is corrupt.
Second, critics like Zakir Naik do not respect Christians who simply appeal to authority. They expect Christians to give a rational defence of the truth claims of the Bible. Naturally, they hold Christianity in derision when Christians concede that the Bible contains errors. Furthermore, it comes across that Christians are irreverent when they suggest that God does not always speak the truth. Such irreverence will not impress Muslims who are well known for their reverence for God. The only authority that Christians may rely on is the authority of the truth of the Bible. J.I. Packer explains, “Biblical veracity and biblical authority are bound up together. Only truth can have final authority to determine belief and behavior, and Scripture cannot have such authority further than it is true.” [J.I. Packer, Truth and Power (Eagle 1996), p119.] Continue reading “Zakir Naik and the Inerrant Bible”
Believing Christian scholars are accused of being closed minded as they fail to take seriously critical scholars, which is a euphemism for scholars who don’t believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible. For these critical scholars, believing scholarship is an oxymoron. But, why should believers subject themselves to the judgment of unbelievers? Apparently, the authority of these critical scholars stems from their learned and objective scholarship. That these critical scholars are learned is duly acknowledged, but the objectivity of their scholarship is the issue in dispute. Continue reading “Critical Consensus and Believing Scholarship”
The internet promises the rebirth of the Republic of Letters (circa 18th century) which comprises critically minded people from diverse linguistic, religious and national backgrounds who are bonded by open inquiry and the common quest for truth. But the sad reality is that the anonymity allowed in internet discussion platforms provides a perfect cover for some intellectual juveniles seeking to misrepresent and abuse truth and thereby derail conversations that would otherwise lead to discovery of common truth. Indeed, in place of truth we find ample evidence of errors, lies and even bullshit all over the internet. Continue reading “BULLSHIT, LIES & errors”
We must address the challenge of the cultured despisers of Christianity if Christian witness is to gain credibility:
– Secure a thorough understanding of the modern world.
– Identify crucial issues that must be addressed if we are to follow J. H. Bavinck mission strategy to annex culture, to take every thought captive in Christ.
– Re-conceptualize the framework for Christian reflection and set priorities for theological education. All too often activism replaces serious theological reflection when we act under the tyranny of the urgent. But in the absence of a distinct intellectual framework and with our inability to ferret out and critique the presuppositions of dominant thought patterns of the world, we end up merely responding to the agenda set by non-Christian elites and eventually conform to the spirit of the age.
– Ensure that theology is both grounded in Biblical tradition and critically correlated with contextual realities. This demands a fresh look at theological education and how we train Christian thinkers and pastors.
CURRENT CONCERNS FOR CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUAL WITNESS
Themes – Modernity and Resurgence Religion and clash of civilizations; Theology of culture and social engagement; Religion and Culture; Ecclesiology and cultural plurality; Creation and New Age Spirituality; Science and Religion
I. INTELLECTUAL WITNESS TO WIDER SOCIETY
Adolf Harnack observed that the early church gained ascendancy because they not only out-loved their competitors; they also out-thought their critics. The early Christians reveled in the intellectual truth and lucidity of Christian revelation. They were able to rejoice in the order and diversity of nature and social life which they saw as a witness to the greatness of the Creator. They extolled the boundless goodness of God who endow humans with reason, freedom and the promise of immortality. Christianity was commended as enhancement and not an encumbrance to reason and understanding. In short, Christianity was commended as the true philosophy. Continue reading “CURRENT CONCERNS FOR CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUAL WITNESS”
Not too long ago, I listened to a friend of mine speak enthusiastically about some food supplements which he was convinced would clear the toxins that ravage the bodies of polluted city dwellers like us. Knowing that he had some medical problems, I tried to be sensitive to his anxieties and refrained from making any comment that might undermine his hopes to have his health restored.
Being Tough-Minded in an Age of Credulity
By Dr. Ng Kam Weng
Asking troubling questions can irritate friends. More seriously, speaking the truth can lead us to challenge intolerant authorities. Unless we have moral courage we end up hedging our positions and lapse into fuzzy thinking. Taking responsibility and acting with integrity are indispensable conditions for tough-mindedness. Continue reading “Being Tough-Minded in an Age of Credulity”