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”

The Social Impact of Christian Salvation

Summary: It is imperative for Christians to demonstrate that the Christian faith is not an escapism from the challenges of life. Indeed, Christian faith is world affirming, that is, it is a faith that values and promotes the flourishing of personal and social life on earth. In this regard, Christians need to recover two key teachings of the Bible: Creation order and the covenant community. Continue reading “The Social Impact of Christian Salvation”

A Christian Social Vision for Nation-Building

Christian social engagement aims at building a covenant nation based on justice and religious liberty for all. It may include the following agenda:
1) Educating Christians on the rights and responsibility of citizenship.
2) Promoting civil society through NGOs and voluntary societies.
3) Supporting particular political candidates.
4) Sustaining the prophetic witness of the Church against the arrogance of power by embodying submission to the kingdom of God.
5) Affirming the moral right to civil disobedience as loyal citizens.

A CHRISTIAN SOCIAL VISION FOR NATION BUILDING

A Christian Philosophy for the Common Good
“The Church must exercise prophetic witness towards wider society and to government,” exclaimed the young man as he urged his friends to join a candlelight vigil in front of the High Court to express their concerns over a recent High Court judgment that was seen to be in conflict with fundamental liberties.

I can sense the earnestness of this young man and other young people like him who are willing to fight for social justice. They challenge the older generation not to remain indifferent out of cynicism towards authorities who enforce unjust policies that make life difficult for the common people. These two groups demonstrate two opposing tendencies among Christians on how to relate to wider society. Some Christians retreat into their spiritual ghetto so that authorities will leave them in peace. In effect, these Christians compromise their ideals of justice and end up supporting the status quo. Continue reading “A Christian Social Vision for Nation-Building”

CURRENT CONCERNS FOR CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUAL WITNESS

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”

Welcoming the Stranger: Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality

Hospitality most fittingly captures the ways and welfare of the pilgrim peoples. In the act of sharing we achieve freedom from the strangling and suffocating attachment to worldly goods. When we share and receive from one another, we are reminded that we are merely stewards of God’s gifts to be used for the common good. In offering hospitality to strangers we affirm we are merely fellow pilgrims en route to the heavenly city of God.

Welcoming the Stranger
Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality

Why I Find it Hard to Recognize and Welcome Strangers
– I am a Stranger Myself
– I am a Captive to a Self-Centred LifeStyle (Economic Security and Comfort)
What Biblical Resources Challenge My Complacent/Frantic Life of Economic and Cultural Captivity?
How Can I Make Room for the Stranger?
Ministering as Fellow Pilgrims Continue reading “Welcoming the Stranger: Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality”

What is Christological Praxis? Part 2/2

Perhaps a fruitful model may be found by integrating the covenant model of society with ideological critique represented by the critical theory of the Frankfurt School. Insofar as the church exists as a social phenomenon, the church is open to social forces operating in society. As such, relevant social analysis must be brought to bear on the historical form assumed by the church to uncover any hidden structures that contradict its professed identity.

Thesis 2: Social praxis is structurally mediated by the emancipatory solidarity of the community of Christ.

Christians seeking to be relevant to wider society should take note of Jurgen Moltmann’s analysis of the unintended consequences when Christian student activists decided to join the barricades in the student demonstrations in Berlin in 1968. The Christian students eventually abandoned their Christian faith as irrelevant to their present social struggles. Moltmann highlights the dramatic case of Christian students at the Meiji-Gakuin University in Japan who even erected a barricade in the University Chapel. The Japanese students declared,

By making our church a refuse dump we want to proclaim to the university authorities and our fellow students that Christianity and worship can become symbols of the absence of humanity and contempt for it. We want to create true Christianity n the midst of this stormy struggle within the university by common action with our fellow students. . . God does not exist in this church, but rather in the living deeds of a man involved in human relationships” (The Crucified God, p. 15) Continue reading “What is Christological Praxis? Part 2/2”

What is Christological Praxis? Part 1/2

Thesis 1: The process from Christ to social praxis is mediated through a specific anthropology, philosophy of history and social structure. Christological anthropology, that is, the concepts of freedom and cohumanity in Christ conceives of man as acting under divine determination and enables social praxis to maintain a relational view of man which is necessary to keep the community in view.

What is Christological Praxis?

Christology as a Normative Factor

Christology is a normative factor for social praxis but Christological ethic is not to be construed as merely an exercise in the detailed reproduction of the work and words of Jesus. Attempts towards mere replication of the activities of the historical Jesus give an impression of datedness since Jesus could only address issues 2000 year ago. Worse still, one may be forced to conclude that Jesus is irrelevant to social praxis today. Continue reading “What is Christological Praxis? Part 1/2”

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia (Partially Restored Copy)

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia
An Asian Christian Social Vision
By Ng Kam Weng

Asian Politics at the Crossroads
“The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.” This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described how Asian thinkers are asserting that global issues should not be discussed on terms set by the West alone. The time has come for respectable Asian intellectuals to make contributions from Asian traditions which defend “strong family values, respect for authority, consensus in decision-making, and supremacy of the community over the individual.” Continue reading “Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia (Partially Restored Copy)”

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia

“The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.�? This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described how Asian thinkers are asserting that global issues should not be discussed on terms set by the West alone. The time has come for respectable Asian intellectuals to make contributions from Asian traditions which defend “strong family values, respect for authority, consensus in decision-making, and supremacy of the community over the individual.�? Additional note was taken of policies that worked in Asia such as “a social contract between people and state which guarantees basic needs and law and order in exchange for respect for authority and self-reliance without welfarism, a morally clean environment, a free but responsible press,�? and the rejection of “the extreme form of individualism practiced in the West.�?

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia
An Asian Christian Social Vision
By Ng Kam Weng

Asian Politics at the Crossroads
“The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.” This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described how Asian thinkers are asserting that global issues should not be discussed on terms set by the West alone. The time has come for respectable Asian intellectuals to make contributions from Asian traditions which defend “strong family values, respect for authority, consensus in decision-making, and supremacy of the community over the individual.” Additional note was taken of policies that worked in Asia such as “a social contract between people and state which guarantees basic needs and law and order in exchange for respect for authority and self-reliance without welfarism, a morally clean environment, a free but responsible press,” and the rejection of “the extreme form of individualism practiced in the West.”

Continue reading “Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia”