More Calvinistic Than Calvin? Invitation to Join the Jury

The book, More Calvinistic Than Calvin? (MCTC) was published in 2023 by a team of local seminary lecturers under the leadership of Bishop Hwa Yung. [The book is available from Canaanland Book Store]. The aim of the book is to refute what it describes as “hardline Calvinism”, and to counter the influence of “hardline Calvinism” among college students in Malaysia.

Dr. Poh Boon Sing of the Reformed Baptist Church (Damansara Utama) has just published a rebuttal of More Calvinistic Than Calvin? on the internet, Beware of the Ecumenical Agenda (BEA) [<–link to file download].

I managed only to give the new book a super quick browse. Will give it a more thorough read after completing some urgent tasks presently.

BEA offers vigorous rebuttals to what it deems to be superficial and unsubstantiated misrepresentations of (hardline) Calvinism as presented by MCTC. Malaysian Christians should read the two books and decide for themselves whether the writers of MCTC and BEA have been fair and accurate in describing the opposing views and evaluate whether the rebuttals from both sides are well-founded and cogent. Continue reading “More Calvinistic Than Calvin? Invitation to Join the Jury”

Bonus Lecture – Augustine Part 2


LINK – Augustine Lecture  Pt. 2

Contents of Lecture
1. Augustine on the stages of the soul’s journey to God.

2. Greek technical terms of the Nicene doctrine of Trinity explained – God is three Persons (hypostasis) in one Essence (ousia)

3. General Scheme of Augustine’s Book On the Trinity
1 – 4 : An interpretation of Scripture on the basis of the co-equality of the Person’s in the Godhead.
5 – 7 : The Formulation of the Catholic Faith in terms of the logical and metaphysical categories of contemporary Greek Philosophy (especially Neo-Platonism)
8 – 15 : An ‘Advancing Inquiry’ into the nature of the Trinity as seen within the human soul.

“Psychological Trinities” in the human mind that correspond to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Continue reading “Bonus Lecture – Augustine Part 2”

St. Augustine on the (Temporal) City of Man and the (Eternal) City of God

Citizens of two cities
It would be misleading to conclude that Augustine was preoccupied with inward and individualistic religion merely because he exhibited great personal sensitivity and had a profound understanding of human psychology in his book, Confessions. On the contrary, his wide-ranging interests moved him to commend a Christian faith that addresses diverse issues including biblical interpretations, philosophy of history, political science and ethics.

Augustine’s big tome, The City of God,/1/ a project spanning fifteen years, was spurred by accusations that the city of Rome fell to invading barbarians because Christianity undermined the moral fiber of the Empire. In response, Augustine goes beyond giving a straightforward reply and instead, constructed a comprehensive Christian social philosophy which would demonstrate the intellectual vigor of Christianity. To achieve this ambitious project, Augustine utilized all the tools of classical learning and pressed them into service of Christian scholarship. He displayed familiarity with the intellectual classics of mythology, history, theology and philosophy as he mounted acute polemics against pagan religions and philosophies. He was indebted to classical philosophy like Neoplatonism and the commonsensical wisdom of Cicero. He mastered the works of classical historians like Varro, Caesar’s librarian and author of 490 books, who was regarded as “the most brilliant of his age and most learned man in Rome” (City of God, 6.2) to buttress his case. However, he always maintained his independent Christian perspective. The sheer comprehensiveness of his project displays his confidence that Christianity alone gives a superior account for all aspects of life. All in all, The City of God is a manifesto on how to be an other-worldly but responsible citizen in the world. Continue reading “St. Augustine on the (Temporal) City of Man and the (Eternal) City of God”

The Miracle of Christmas Pt. 2/2: The Incarnate Christ is truly God and truly Man

Speaker: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

You are welcome to view the talk at:
The Incarnate Christ is truly God and truly Man

A brief explanation of the two natures of Christ according to the Chalcedonian Creed (AD 451)

Chalcedonian Creed (451)
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

Related post
The Logical Coherence of the Incarnation of Christ.

The Miracle of Christmas Pt. 1/2: The Son of God Assumed Human Existence

The Miracle of Christmas Pt.1/2: The Son of God Assumed Human Existence

Speaker: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

You are welcome to view the talk at:
The Miracle of Christmas Pt.1/2: The Son of God Assumed Human Existence

At Christmas, Christ, the Son of God who shared the glory of the Father from eternity, assumed humanity but retained his deity throughout his life on earth. Christ in his human existence cloaked or veiled the form of God in the form of a servant. In becoming incarnate, the Son of God demonstrates to us what it means to be a perfect human being, one who is not only sinless, but is also able to sympathise and help his sinners. (Phil. 2:6-11: Heb. 4: 15)

Berry Cake House Not Allowed to Write “Merry Christmas” on Cakes?

The prohibition of writing of Merry Christmas or Xmas on cakes looks like a repeat of an earlier prohibition given by Jakim in 2020. Re: text quoted below.

But see conclusion at the end of this article:

Conclusion: The clarification from JAKIM only says that greetings like “Merry Christmas” are not allowed on cakes to be exhibited in premises that have been certified halal or on products marked with the halal logo. This does not prohibit the sale of cakes with “Merry Christmas”to personal orders by customers.

Prohibition of sale of these cakes in response to personal orders by customers would be an outright infringement of the religious rights and freedom of Christians and non-Muslims. Indeed, one may still wonder whether the standing order, notwithstanding the clarification still constitutes an unwarranted restriction of the rights of Christians and non-Muslims freely to buy and sell merchandise among themselves.  These incidents give the impression that Christian celebration is on the wrong side of the law – another example of “Salami Islamization”?

[Clarification added on 17 Dec 2023] – I received several friendly suggestions that I could have committed a typo error – it should be “salafi”. But I definitely mean “salami”. You cut salami piece by piece. It was first used as “salami politics” in political discourse. I use the word “salami Islamization” to alert us to JAKIM’s long term strategy of Islamization of Malaysia slice by slice.

Perhaps Berry Cakehouse is going beyond what JAKIM requires. We hope that Berry Cakehouse would resume its sales to customers who order cakes with decorations like “Merry Christmas”.

Latest update added on 17 Dec 2023 in light of clarification by JAKIM.


———————-
Relevant earlier reports.

See  the update in The Star 16/12/2023 at the end of the article
No ban on Christmas cakes for halal certificate holders, says Mohd Na’im

Continue reading “Berry Cake House Not Allowed to Write “Merry Christmas” on Cakes?”

The Great Divorce – A Bus Ride from Hell to Heaven By C.S. Lewis

The Great Divorce (1945) – A Bus Ride from Hell to Heaven
By C.S. Lewis – Kairos Podcast Review on Books & Culture


Reviewer:
David B.C. Tan
Discussant: Micheal Lim

You are welcome to join the discussion at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul5nyTLvruM

Quotes:
Milton was right,’ said my Teacher. ‘The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery.
——————-
‘Do you mean then that Hell—all that infinite empty town—is down in some little crack like this?’

‘Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste.’

‘It seems big enough when you’re in it, Sir.’

‘And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies and itchings that it contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all. Bad cannot succeed even in being bad as truly as good is good. If all Hell’s miseries together entered the consciousness of yon wee yellow bird on the bough there, they would be swallowed up without trace, as if one drop of ink had been dropped into that Great Ocean to which your terrestrial Pacific itself is only a molecule.’

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis (1943) – Kairos Podcast Review on Books & Culture


The Abolition of Man (1943) by C.S. Lewis
Kairos Podcast Review on Books & Culture

Reviewer: David B.C. Tan
Discussant: Micheal Lim

You are welcome to join the discussion at:

Book Review: The Abolition of Man

Please forward this message if you find the video discussion helpful.
—-
In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society. “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.” (C.S. Lewis)

By it [right sentiments] Lewis means “emotions conform[ing] to Reason.” As he explains it, “The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it…For Lewis the ability to have right sentiments is what separates humans from animals…The failure to nurture right sentiments ultimately results in the abolition of man, Lewis contends, because modern education produces “what may be called Men without Chests.” (Enc. Britannica)

In Lewis’s template, “the head rules the belly through the chest”—the chest is the mediator between our animal urges and minds and is the mechanism for training and tempering the belly. Without the chest, our disordered loves run wild. (J. Kohm)

Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah Part 7. Is the book of Isaiah a unified work written by the eighth-century prophet Isaiah?

Question: You have assumed the traditional view that the book of Isaiah comprises a unified work, in particular one written by the eighth-century prophet named Isaiah. But many scholars in academia argue that the book of Isaiah is a collection of many historical sources or “authors.” In fact, increasingly even “Evangelical scholars” reject the traditional view that Isaiah is the author of the book. Why do you still assume the traditional view is correct?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.

You are welcome to join the discussion at:
Part 7. The Unity and Authorship of the Book of Isaiah

Please forward this message if you find the video discussion helpful.

Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah Part 6. Are the prophecies of Isaiah credible and trustworthy?

God in Isaiah: His Sovereignty and Glory (Isa. 40:5, 8; Isa. 55:10-12; Isa. 42:8-9; Isa. 43:10-12; Isa. 48:3-8; Luke 24:46-49).

Question: You have presented how Isaiah prophesies mind-boggling and outrageous truths: the human Messiah is God to be anointed by the Spirit; God is triune; God is born a human baby to die for human sins. As a prophet, does Isaiah provide his audience with credible evidence that what he prophesies is credible and trustworthy?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.

You are welcome to join the discussion at:
Part 6. Are the prophecies of Isaiah credible and trustworthy?

Please forward this message if you find the video discussion helpful.