God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)

Part 1: God and Humanity in Islam & Christianity Thesis: Ultimately, the difference between Islam and Christianity is that the former views the relationship between God and man within the field of power. The Divine-human encounter becomes a contest of strength where human submission is a matter of expediency in the face of sheer dominant … Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)”

Part 1: God and Humanity in Islam & Christianity

Thesis: Ultimately, the difference between Islam and Christianity is that the former views the relationship between God and man within the field of power. The Divine-human encounter becomes a contest of strength where human submission is a matter of expediency in the face of sheer dominant power. In contrast, Christianity views the relationship as one that is moral: God, despite his sovereignty, treats human beings as persons with inherent dignity (since they are created in His image). God seeks allegiance from man based not on expediency but as a grateful response to a God who passionately cares for his welfare (c.f., pathos in Abraham Heschel’s work).  Man may fail to perceive the depths of divine pathos. Without a personal revelation from God, man can only be dimly aware of divine pathos in pale and fragmented forms, described as divine sorrow, pity, wrath, and compassion because of his psychological limitations, although divine pathos must be perfect and complete within the divine Trinity. However, these partial perceptions of divine pathos are fully revealed and experienced as divine love when manifested at the cross. Hence the glorious declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:19 – in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself. Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)”

Censorship, Interfaith Dialogue and Democratic Virtues

The recent amendments to the Sedition Act effectively curtail freedom of speech as the prospect of being hauled up by the authorities for alleged sedition will discourage public debates on social-political issues. There is little assurance that the government will not abuse the wide ranging power given by the Act to suppress democratic dissent, given … Continue reading “Censorship, Interfaith Dialogue and Democratic Virtues”

The recent amendments to the Sedition Act effectively curtail freedom of speech as the prospect of being hauled up by the authorities for alleged sedition will discourage public debates on social-political issues. There is little assurance that the government will not abuse the wide ranging power given by the Act to suppress democratic dissent, given it pattern of selective enforcement of the law against opposition leaders, lawyers, journalists and civil rights activists.

It should be noted that some Muslim extremists have found it convenient to accuse leaders of the non-Islamic communities of sedition, when these leaders are only defending religious liberty that is enshrined in the Constitution. The amendments to the Sedition Act will embolden these extremists to continue making unfounded and irresponsible accusations.

It would be regrettable if the government uses the Sedition Act to restrict religious freedom, and apply censorship laws to control religious dialogue and debate, as it ends up depriving its citizens of the very tool that could help overcome ignorance and prejudice between religious communities. Indeed, it is the duty of the government to counter religious extremism by promoting open and honest interfaith dialogue.

It is timely that we analyze the problem of censorship of religious freedom and the imperative for genuine interfaith dialogue so that we may cultivate mutual respect and acceptance between various religious communities. Continue reading “Censorship, Interfaith Dialogue and Democratic Virtues”

A Christian Social Vision for Malaysia: Call for Dialogue

A group of Christian leaders and professionals call upon all Malaysians to dialogue on how to work together to build a shared nation.  A CHRISTIAN SOCIAL VISION FOR MALAYSIA I. PREAMBLE Malaysia was formed as a multi-racial and multi-religious nation with a constitutional democracy which grants equality and religious liberty to all citizens under the … Continue reading “A Christian Social Vision for Malaysia: Call for Dialogue”

A group of Christian leaders and professionals call upon all Malaysians to dialogue on how to work together to build a shared nation.

 A CHRISTIAN SOCIAL VISION FOR MALAYSIA

I. PREAMBLE

Malaysia was formed as a multi-racial and multi-religious nation with a constitutional democracy which grants equality and religious liberty to all citizens under the law. However, recent social-political developments have caused deep concerns that the rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution are being undermined by racial and religious extremism resulting in political marginalization of minority groups, increasing authoritarianism in government and society leading to the restriction of freedom of speech, assembly and association of citizens as well as encroachment by religious authorities on the fundamental liberties of all citizens.

Many individuals and groups have expressed similar concerns. As Christians, we are mindful of the call from the Holy Bible to be peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). As such, we, members of Kairos Dialogue Network would like to share our Christian social vision and call upon fellow-Malaysians of good will to come together for rational discourse and open dialogue. Our hope is that with commitment, we will succeed in building consensus, regardless of our colour, creed or confession and work together to build a harmonious, peaceful and progressive society.

II. OUR CHRISTIAN CONVICTIONS

A. OUR AFFIRMATION

To read the full statement go to:

Kairos Dialogue Network
— Website http://kairosdialoguenetwork.org/
— Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/kairosdialoguenetwork/
— Twitter https://twitter.com/kairosdialogue

Collated Resources: Christians from pre-Islam Arab Christians to Bumiputera Christians have the Right to Use Allah

Christians have offered well-documented evidence and cogent arguments to refute the claim that only (Malaysian) Muslims have the right to use the word Allah. However, the dogmatic assertions (notwithstanding the ‘scholarly garb’) from Muslim scholars in the current flare-up suggest that they have either chosen to ignore the evidence or are simple unable to follow … Continue reading “Collated Resources: Christians from pre-Islam Arab Christians to Bumiputera Christians have the Right to Use Allah”

Christians have offered well-documented evidence and cogent arguments to refute the claim that only (Malaysian) Muslims have the right to use the word Allah. However, the dogmatic assertions (notwithstanding the ‘scholarly garb’) from Muslim scholars in the current flare-up suggest that they have either chosen to ignore the evidence or are simple unable to follow an argument outside their logical Procrustean bed. Undoubtedly, their closed mindedness arises because they learned how to use Arabic without reflecting, much less analyzing the linguistic determinants behind Arabic.

I would like to invite readers who are new to the controversy to read some of my early articles given in the list below: Continue reading “Collated Resources: Christians from pre-Islam Arab Christians to Bumiputera Christians have the Right to Use Allah”

Quest for Covenant Community & Pluralist Democracy in an Islamic Context

RELIGIOUS DIALOG AND DEMOCRATIC DELIBERATION  Dialog does not take place in a vacuum. Recognition of contextual pressures and normative ideals Excerpt: J. C Murray once noted that what distinguishes civil society from a mass or a herd is its ability to engage in ongoing rational deliberative dialogue. Taking a quote from Thomas Gilby he wrote, … Continue reading “Quest for Covenant Community & Pluralist Democracy in an Islamic Context”

RELIGIOUS DIALOG AND DEMOCRATIC DELIBERATION

 Dialog does not take place in a vacuum. Recognition of contextual pressures and normative ideals

Excerpt:

J. C Murray once noted that what distinguishes civil society from a mass or a herd is its ability to engage in ongoing rational deliberative dialogue. Taking a quote from Thomas Gilby he wrote, “Civilization is formed by men locked together in argument.” Conversely, without dialog, civility – and with it civil society – dies. The reason is that without a public consensus that is forged through public deliberation, there is no bond of solidarity to command allegiance to common values that hold civil society together.

Continue reading “Quest for Covenant Community & Pluralist Democracy in an Islamic Context”

Meditation: The Path to Wisdom?

Meditation: the Path to Wisdom? Meditation and altered-state consciousness are certainly not the usual topics one brings up at a cocktail party. But I decided to ask Mr. Lim why he would rather spend so much time alone meditating in his room when all his colleagues are out at the karaoke bar having a great … Continue reading “Meditation: The Path to Wisdom?”

Meditation: the Path to Wisdom?

Meditation and altered-state consciousness are certainly not the usual topics one brings up at a cocktail party. But I decided to ask Mr. Lim why he would rather spend so much time alone meditating in his room when all his colleagues are out at the karaoke bar having a great time. He answered in a matter-of-fact tone, “Meditation has not only given me special insight into present reality but it has also enabled me to look into my past incarnation.” Continue reading “Meditation: The Path to Wisdom?”

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 4/4)

The Gospels make clear that Jesus was not only bringing a special message. He personified what God reveals. He was not only an ‘emissary’ but the personality in and through whom God is known. Whereas in Islam the Quran is the very ‘text’ of divine truth, the New Testament is the access to the Christ-expression of God. The Scripture has its being by derivation from the prior and primarily reality of ‘the Word made flesh’

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (PART 4/4)

The Gospels make clear that Jesus was not only bringing a special message. He personified what God reveals. He was not only an ‘emissary’ but the personality in and through whom God is known. Whereas in Islam the Quran is the very ‘text’ of divine truth, the New Testament is the access to the Christ-expression of God. The Scripture has its being by derivation from the prior and primarily reality of ‘the Word made flesh’

Indeed, the life of Christ confirms a prophethood that is deepened, if not climaxed, in a one-for-all incarnate revelation of God. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 4/4)”

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 3/4)

Christians buttress evidence for the historical factuality of the cross by appealing to eyewitness-accounts and reports found in non-Christian historical sources (Josephus, Tacitus). Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness.

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 3/4)

The Historical Factuality of the Crucifixion
Christians buttress evidence for the historical factuality of the cross by appealing to eyewitness-accounts and reports found in non-Christian historical sources (Josephus, Tacitus). The Christian witness to the crucifixion is plausible since it is inconceivable why Christians should invent the crucifixion which declares that their founder died an accursed death (under divine judgment) on the cross. As such, an outright denial of the crucifixion would tantamount to a willful blindness to historical reality. Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 3/4)”

JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 2/3)

How do we adjudicate the difference between Christians and Muslims regarding the prophetic mission and status of Jesus? Obviously, the issue cannot be answered in abstraction. For this reason, it is unfortunate that the controversy revolving around the incarnation of Christ has overshadowed his actual life lived out in history. It is of vital importance that Christians present their doctrine not as an imposition of a philosophical grid on the historical facts. Their proclamation of Jesus as God’s incarnation should be seen as a compelling conclusion based on a respectful handling and faithful interpretation of the historical data. In other words, reading about the life and works of Christ must lead us to ask what manner of man was Jesus: Isn’t he a remarkable man; isn’t he a prophet; isn’t he more than a prophet and what then?

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 2/4)

MORE THAN AN ORDINARY PROPHET
One reason why Muslims reject Jesus’ crucifixion arises from Islamic faith in divine justice. In particular, God cannot abandon his prophet to tragic and unjust fate Indeed, as the Quran testifies, God gives victory to those who seek to further his cause (Surah 22:40; 40:51);
O you who believe!
If you will aid (the cause of) God,
He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly
(Surah 47:7);

Nay, God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise (Surah 4:158).

Herein lies an ironic twist in the denial of the cross or the Messiahship of Jesus. For the Jews Jesus could not be a prophet sent by God since he was crucified. The Muslims reverse this logic – if Jesus was a prophet sent by God then he could not be crucified. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 2/3)”

JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR(Part 1/4)

Reginald Fuller argues that the category of the eschatological prophet remains the best category for understanding Jesus’ historical mission and “gives a unity to all of Jesus’ historical activity, his proclamation, his teaching with exousia (‘authority’), his healings and exorcisms, his conduct in eating with the outcast, and finally his death in the fulfillment of his prophetic mission. Take the implied self-understanding of his role in terms of the eschatological prophet away, and the whole ministry falls into a series of unrelated, if not meaningless fragments�?

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 1/3)

Both Muslims and Christians apply the title ‘prophet’ to Jesus. However, the distinctive Islamic emphasis on prophethood should not be missed. In general the Muslim teaching of prophets includes the following: 1) A messenger/apostle (rasul) is sent with divine Scripture to guide and reform mankind; 2) All God’s prophets were trustworthy, knowledgeable, and most obedient to God. Allah protected them from serious sins and bad diseases; 3) Denying any of the prophets constitutes unbelief (Surah 4: 150-151); 4) Many prophets were mocked and rejected (Surah 15:11; 17:94). Some prophets were delivered by God, e.g. Noah (Surah 21:76; 26:118; 29:15; 37:76), Lot (21:71, 74; 26:170), and Moses (Surah 28:20-22; 26:65). Some of the prophets, however, were killed ‘wrongfully’ (e.g. Abel, Zechariah, and Yahya or John the Baptist), c.f. Surah 2:61, 87, 91; 3:21, 112; 4:155; 5:70. Finally, and most importantly, for Muslims Muhammad is ‘the seal of the prophets’ (Surah 33:40) /1/. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR(Part 1/4)”