Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 2

Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 2. This article has two parts. For Part 1 – LINK Homosexuality and the Church Introduction There are some theological and pastoral issues that are not approached with joy because of their tendency to polarise believers and even cause churches to split. Homosexuality is an example of such … Continue reading “Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 2”

Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 2. This article has two parts. For Part 1 – LINK

Homosexuality and the Church

Introduction

There are some theological and pastoral issues that are not approached with joy because of their tendency to polarise believers and even cause churches to split. Homosexuality is an example of such an issue. The debate on the question of homosexuality has been raging in many churches across the denominations for several decades. Sometimes these debates have been reduced to nothing more than heated sloganeering on both sides. Statements like ‘The Bible is clear …’ and ‘the Gospel is inclusive …’ are often repeated, while the substance of the debate is avoided or played down. Such approaches, which generate more heat than light, are often not only unhelpful but are also counter-productive and damaging. The assumptions that sometimes accompany such slogans are that Christian identity and the unity of the church has to do with this issue alone. There is a pressing need for discussion on homosexuality and the church to be located within the larger context of human sexuality and Christian discipleship. Continue reading “Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 2”

Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part .1

Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 1 This article has two parts. For Part 2 – LINK While Malaysian Christian leaders have maintained a silent indifference towards the homosexual controversy, young Christians are daily exposed to aggressive homosexual proselytization by the Western elite through the Internet and global entertainment culture. Not surprisingly, young Christians … Continue reading “Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part .1”

Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part 1 This article has two parts. For Part 2 – LINK

While Malaysian Christian leaders have maintained a silent indifference towards the homosexual controversy, young Christians are daily exposed to aggressive homosexual proselytization by the Western elite through the Internet and global entertainment culture. Not surprisingly, young Christians today are increasingly sympathetic towards homosexual practice. To be fair, this tolerance among young Christians is simply reflective of their easy going attitude in moral and religious commitment.

The church does not need to react defensively to these developments and resort to censorious condemnation of homosexuals. It is more important that the church educate and exhort Christians, both young and old to uphold a sanctified life based on scriptural integrity and covenantal faithfulness. Following the full counsel of God’s Word would encourage individuals to maintain respectful, responsible and restraint courtship intimacy, fidelity in monogamous heterosexual marriage and challenge the church to develop pastoral models to address constructively the homosexual controversy.

I am pleased to share with you two papers that provide a scripturally and scientifically informed approach to homosexuality written by my friend Dr. Roland Chia. Dr. Chia is presently Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College, Singapore. Continue reading “Homosexuality: Biblical Perspectives and Pastoral Concerns. Part .1”

Confessions: Temptations in Virtual Reality

“Are you looking for love?” For a moment, I was stunned . . . and flattered. Here I was alone with Roxy, a curvaceous lady. I had been with her for hardly a few minutes and she had whispered such alluring words to me. Shouldn’t I respond as any normal red-blooded male would and ‘play … Continue reading “Confessions: Temptations in Virtual Reality”

“Are you looking for love?” For a moment, I was stunned . . . and flattered. Here I was alone with Roxy, a curvaceous lady. I had been with her for hardly a few minutes and she had whispered such alluring words to me. Shouldn’t I respond as any normal red-blooded male would and ‘play along’? Who knows what possibilities lay ahead? Furthermore, my wife was not with me, which was to be expected since it was one o’clock in the morning. I wrestled with a momentous choice. Thankfully, my sanctified self gained the upper hand. Struggling to make a supreme renunciation of ‘love’ I could only managed a bland response, “how can we talk about true love if we cannot see each other face to face?” Continue reading “Confessions: Temptations in Virtual Reality”

Sacred Language and Vernacular Translation of Scriptures

Sacred Language and Vernacular Translation of Scriptures: Why Some Muslims Just Cannot Understand/Accept the Use of “Allah” in the Alkitab (Bahasa Bible) I. Sacred Language and Religion of Diffusion Some Muslim activists have repeatedly charged Christians for having ulterior motives when they use the word “Allah” which include attempting to “deislamize Malay language” and to … Continue reading “Sacred Language and Vernacular Translation of Scriptures”

Sacred Language and Vernacular Translation of Scriptures:

Why Some Muslims Just Cannot Understand/Accept the Use of “Allah” in the Alkitab (Bahasa Bible)

I. Sacred Language and Religion of Diffusion

Some Muslim activists have repeatedly charged Christians for having ulterior motives when they use the word “Allah” which include attempting to “deislamize Malay language” and to proselytize confused Muslims. It is significant that these activists have not denied the fact that the Malay speaking churches have been using the word “Allah” in their liturgy and instructional materials for centuries. Still, these Muslim activists simply brushed aside the historical fact and the charge of ulterior motives is repeated ad nauseum. Wherein lies this visceral reaction that overwhelms, if not precludes rational discussion in the dispute over the use of “Allah”? Continue reading “Sacred Language and Vernacular Translation of Scriptures”

Beer and Tyranny of Majority

The authorities from Shah Alam City Council declared that  “the sale of all alcoholic drinks including beer will not be allowed at Muslim-majority areas”. The logic underlying this declaration goes as follows: 1) The majority population has the right to decide whether a cultural practice is acceptable 2) Muslims are the majority in Shah Alam … Continue reading “Beer and Tyranny of Majority”

The authorities from Shah Alam City Council declared that  “the sale of all alcoholic drinks including beer will not be allowed at Muslim-majority areas”. The logic underlying this declaration goes as follows:

1) The majority population has the right to decide whether a cultural practice is acceptable
2) Muslims are the majority in Shah Alam
3) Muslims decide what is culturally acceptable and prohibited in Shah Alam
4) Muslims cannot accept sales and consumption of alcohol
5) Therefore the sales of alcohol is not allowed in Shah Alam

How to we challenge this logic? You may read my response at the following site: http://libertysentinel.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/to-beer-or-to-bear-with-the-tyranny-of-the-majority/ LINK

Beware of Mind-Hunters

BEWARE OF MIND-HUNTERS On the Dangers of Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) Ms Lee appears to be a happy go-lucky person but behind the facade is a worldly-wise business executive. It wasn’t surprising that she shrugged her shoulders when I asked her what she thought of the motivation training that her company had just sent … Continue reading “Beware of Mind-Hunters”

BEWARE OF MIND-HUNTERS

On the Dangers of Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT)
Ms Lee appears to be a happy go-lucky person but behind the facade is a worldly-wise business executive. It wasn’t surprising that she shrugged her shoulders when I asked her what she thought of the motivation training that her company had just sent her to. “Well,” she grinned as she replied. “Some of the teachings were bizarre, the exercises were comical, but we go through company requirements and get on with life.” David, who was sitting next to her, added, “I do think the teachings are inconsistent with my Christian beliefs, but strangely, when I was required to stare intensely into another person’s eyes, I experienced a strange ‘connection’.” Jenny, a new acquaintance they met in the recent seminar, merely listened in silence to our discussion on what to make of the motivation courses or LGATs (Large Group Awareness Training) that have become vogue in recent years. Continue reading “Beware of Mind-Hunters”

No one Religion can Monopolize or Copyright the Term ‘Allah’

The Deputy Minister of Internal Security, Johari Baharum, recently declared that only Muslims may use the word ‘Allah’ to describe the God they worship…. This article offers a firm, rational and clear rebuttal to the flawed rationale that underlies the Deputy Minister’s declaration.

The declaration is questionable for the following reasons: 1) its logic is flawed 2) it omits historical facts 3) it shows disrespect for cultural identity and 4) it disregards Constitutional rights of Malaysian citizens.

Preface: I wrote this article on Christmas Eve 2007 with reasonable expectation that it will be printed by at least one local newspaper. Unfortunately, this was not to be because of circumstances beyond my control (or rather circumstances that are in full government control).

The controversy arising from the government’s stated policy to prohibit non-Muslims from using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to the supreme God or Creator is a fast developing story. The latest news is that the government has alllowed the Catholic Herald to renew its annual publishing permit without insisting that the Herald stop using the word ‘allah’. Continue reading “No one Religion can Monopolize or Copyright the Term ‘Allah’”

Cultural Relativism and Universal Values

Maybe scholars debating on the subject of cultural relativism in splendid isolation in the university could benefit from the work done by colleagues who have taken the trouble to collect data from field works. For this reason, I offer below some of the insights on culture taken from scholars from a generation earlier. Presumably, they spoke with authenticity given their vast experience of first hand encounters with other cultures.

Cultural Relativism and Universal Values

Cultural Relativism may be the reigning paradigm in public discourse today. Nevertheless, the paradigm is assumed rather than argued for. Debates on cultural relativism tend to remain at the level of abstract discourse that are strangely devoid of evidence collected from empirical or comparative studies of diverse cultures.

Perhaps, writers today find it hard to compare cultures in a globalized world when there is so much inter-penetration of cultures. In contrast, anthropologists up to the 1970s were able to study ‘primitive’ cultures without having to shift through the ground evidence to clear away foreign influence. I have in mind works like Claude Levi-Strauss on Structural Anthropology, Cliffore Geertz on Javanese Religion, E.E. Evans-Pritchard on Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande.

It is also easier for scholars to debate on cultural relativism in seminar rooms than to immerse themselves for a period of time in a foreign culture to see for themselves if indeed cultures are really that relative.

Maybe scholars debating in splendid isolation in the university could benefit from the work done by colleagues who have taken the trouble to collect data from field works. For this reason, I offer below some of the insights on culture taken from scholars from a generation earlier. Presumably, they spoke with authenticity given their vast experience of first hand encounters with other cultures. Continue reading “Cultural Relativism and Universal Values”

Leslie Newbigin’s Theology of Cultural Plurality

Newbigin offers just an ordinary dictionary definition. Culture as “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.�?78ctc9
He added – A social product of human initiative, not an unchangeable datum. It comprises the “vast variety of human ways of living�? including “all of that which constitutes man’s public life in society.�?

THEOLOGY OF CULTURAL PLURALITY

The notes given below reflect the thought of Leslie Newbigin on the subject of Mission and Culture taken from in his writings over time.

DEFINITION OF CULTURE
Hiebert. Culture as “the more or less integrated systems of ideas of ideas, feelings, and values and their associated patterns of behavior and products shared by a group of people who organize and regulate what they think, feel and do.”

Geerts. Culture as “an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.” Interpretation of Culture Basic Books 1973: 89

Newbigin offers just an ordinary dictionary definition. Culture as “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.”78ctc9
He added – A social product of human initiative, not an unchangeable datum. It comprises the “vast variety of human ways of living” including “all of that which constitutes man’s public life in society.”

Culture as dynamic. Continue reading “Leslie Newbigin’s Theology of Cultural Plurality”

Exploring the Role of Orientalism

There is defensiveness among some of the Asian literati who wax eloquent on the need for cultural planning and censorship to defend national culture against Western influences. These literati often justify their anxieties by claiming that Western powers have historically exploited the intellectual discipline called Orientalism to undermine not only the dignity and self-identity of Orientals but also the will to resist their colonial masters.

Exploring the Role of Orientalism
Ng Kam Weng

Book Review: J.J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment

Hermann Goering, Hitler’s henchman, once quipped that whenever he hears the word “culture” he reaches for his pistol. The remark is most surprising. After all, culture is synonymous with the high achievements of refined societies. Enrichment, rather than violence, should be associated with culture.

There is defensiveness among some of the Asian literati who wax eloquent on the need for cultural planning and censorship to defend national culture against Western influences. These literati often justify their anxieties by claiming that Western powers have historically exploited the intellectual discipline called Orientalism to undermine not only the dignity and self-identity of Orientals but also the will to resist their colonial masters.

Scholars may be tempted to dismiss such anxieties as paranoia except for the forceful argument mounted by Edward Said in his landmark study, Orientalism. Said’s thesis relies on Michel Foucault’s social epistemology which rejects the possibility of pure knowledge. According to this view, knowledge is a tool to legitimatize power and control. Continue reading “Exploring the Role of Orientalism”