Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Chinese Calvinists Celebrate 500th Year with Weblog Conference

David Chong (aka hedonese) will be sharing on "What Is Reformed Theology?" (5 sessions) on every Friday in month of October 2009 at City Discipleship Presbyterian Church from 8.00 pm onwards. Do register at hedonese at yahoo dot com

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 Posted: 2:42:19PM HKT

From The Christian Post Singapore: "In commemoration of the unprecedented 500th anniversary of Protestant reformer John Calvin this year, Chinese Reformed churches in Singapore and Malaysia are about to embark on an equally historic initiative to stir up theological discussion among Chinese Calvinists on the worldwide web.

In what is called Chinese Reformed Evangelical Discussion Online or CREDO for short, 15 pastors and specialists of the Calvinistic branch of Protestant Christianity were invited to submit articles on Calvin�s thoughts and influences in the 16th and 17th centuries and explore their implications within Chinese churches today, according to the organisers.

�The aim of this conference is to foster theological reading habit and research discipline on reformed and puritans� heritages among Chinese theo-bloggers via the blogosphere,� stated Pastors Jonah and Lemuel.

The conference, which will run from May 4 to 8, will see essay contributions on nearly every theological field of study including biblical theology, Christian ethics, historical theology, pastoral theology and Christian culture.

During the five-day period, the dissertations will be published and comments from the online community encouraged.

Articles will cover topics including evaluating the New Perspective on Paul�s exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, evaluating the Purpose Driven paradigm and recapturing the vision of the centrality of the gospel and the place and necessity of creeds and confessions in the modern church.

Contributors, who represent Baptist, Reformed, Reformed Presbyterian and Methodist denominations and various occupations ranging from church ministers and leaders to ministry leaders to apologists, include David Chong from the Agora online ministry, Daniel Chew and Pastor J J Lim and Linus Chua from Pilgrim Covenant Church in Singapore.

For more information, click here to visit the CREDO 500 website."

Edmond Chua


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Young, Restless & Reformed

Christianity Today latest issue: "Young, Restless, and Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback--and shaking up the church." Woo-hooo!!

I have been sensing this resurgence for some time and finally, some 'recognition' from CT. Since Malaysia did not have a strong Reformed church presence to begin with (notable exception: Gereja Presbyterian?), it would be more appropriate for me to speak of a "come-in" instead of "comeback".

When I first discovered "Calvinism" during my first year of college (working at Evangel), I almost believed I was a 'lone-ranger'.

Who would have thought it would be 'cool' to be Reformed now? :)

As responses from blogosphere have been pouring in, here is my opinion on the trend in the local scene... (check out one beggar's bread too)

Why is the Reformed faith attractive to the younger generation?

Among the Chinese-speaking churches, the tireless, almost-weekly expository efforts of Stephen Tong ministry has been very influential. He still packs the auditorium at Crown Princess hotel after so many years.

Never heard of him? Think of Stephen Tong as the Billy Graham of the Chinese-speaking churches in Asia for his mass, international evangelistic rallies.

The similarity stops here, however, because ST also preaches like Martyn Lloyd Jones, directs orchestra, designs architecture and engages with culture/philosphy like Carl F Henry.

Some young people in Methodist/Brethren churches took up his call for "reformed movement" and a ministry called "Right Path" started to organise seminars by folks like Dr Sam Ling, Dr Lee Ken Ang and Pastor Wang Fu etc.

Among the English speaking community, like it or not, formally Reformed churches tend to be more 'separatist' and 'cessationist'. There are two families of churches - Bible Presbyterians (Timothy Tow, SH Tow, Jeffrey Khoo) which have their own seminary, distinctly Premillenial and KJV Only. And then you have the Reformed Baptists, which hold to the 1689 London Baptist Confession led by Pastor Poh Boon Sing, who was an Ops Lalang hero.

Being lone ranger, I got acquainted with these dear brethren but decided to go solo again mainly due to the same reasons Scott McKnight listed here. I wished the best for the growth of their ministry and mission but it doesn't take a prophet to make those predictions, really, as history showed that it is very hard to keep people united. Despite the divisions, I believe God is blessing the work as well in raising up close-knit preaching points, some promising youngsters and even trained international students for evangelistic work.

But it is the evangelical Reformed Christians who make a bigger difference. They are "unified around the essentials of evangelicalism but entirely accepting of variant views on non-essentials", to borrow McKnight's phrase. You'd find pockets of them serving quietly in First Baptist, Jalan Imbi Chapel, PJEFC, CDPC and others

And they all go up to 'Jerusalem' once a year at Klang valley Bible Conference :)

They are also more inclined towards the more 'inclusive' model of JI Packer, Francis Schaeffer, Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, Jerry Bridges, Sproul, John Piper etc.

Some have a less adversarial attitude (even adopt an eagerly seeking posture) towards charismatic gifts though critical of the excesses of 'health and wealth' gospel.

They can also be found in 'independent' seminaries like Malaysia Bible Seminari and Singapore Bible College.

As I talk to these people, I find three main reasons why Reformed theology as a comprehensive worldview is appealing.

1) Many of them come from a background where personal experience is emphasized to the point of being almost anti-intellectual, anti-theological, anti-propositional. At least, the life of the mind and doctrine and truth have been neglected.

So it is wonderfully refreshing to see a robust and coherent theology when they enter seminary or go overseas. They become disillusioned with shallow preaching and yearn for something 'solid' that engages and encourages to think after God's thoughts

Wow! God's Word is so profound and deep and wide and relevant!

Yet it wud be wrong to accuse them of being 'rationalistic' since Reformed folks like Plantinga, Wolterstoff, Frame, Van Til, Dooyeweerd, Kelly James Clark have always emphasized that reason functions as a 'minister', in service of Scripture, rather than a 'magisterial' use of reason where reason acts as a judge over and above Scripture.

2) A private, dualistic, insular religion separated from the world and culture has NOT been a huge problem for Reformed folks. If anything, they are tempted to be 'too' engaged with such issues (theonomy?)

So an important contribution of the reformed tradition is the cultural mandate, calling the church to reclaim every sphere of life for the Lordship of Christ. Every facet of life is to be lived 'coram Deo' (before the face of God).

Abraham Kuyper wud say that not a square inch on earth that Christ does not claim as His. Rather than just harping on predestination, Calvinism is a comprehensive worldview of life, world and God.

It is here that I find the Malaysian church has been most blessed by a handful of quiet 'Jedi knights' who clear the sewage and keep the streams of evangelism and life flowing...

3) Ironically, some people are very suspicious of 'systematic theology' and putting God in a conceptual 'box'. These folks are big on hermeneutics, exegesis, greek/hebrew languages, exposition etc.

They dun like labels like 'Calvinism' but for all practical purpose, they came to be 'Reformed' through biblical studies!!

I suspect that it has something to do with the voluminous and reliable commentaries of D.A. Carson which graced many a church or seminary library.

But one thing we Calvinists have not been doing extremely well in the past is evangelism. We're just nowhere as effective and zealous as our Arminian brethren :)

What next?

I hope I'd live to see the day when both 'fundamentalist' and 'evangelical' Reformed Christians will plant churches that reach out without selling out. We need to emphasize missionaries and evangelists like William Carey, Spurgeon, David Brainerd, Adoniram Judson, Zwemer, George Whitefield as our role models rather than scholars like Benjamin Warfield, Charles Hodge etc.

hey! Maybe, we can even learn something useful from Marc Driscoll of Mars Hill!

Biblically faithful and culturally relevant.
Gospel demonstrated and declared.
Deeply theological and widely missiological.
Naturally supernatural and supernaturally natural

Also, I hope to see a reformed church that writes contemporary music and lyrics that give Hillsongs and Matt Redman a run for their money :)

Doubting Thomas

"If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt... There is no believing without some doubting, and believing is all the stronger for understanding and resolving doubt". Os Guinness, God in the Dark

"Any Christian in touch with thinking people outside the church must be saddened by the large numbers of people who claim to have "lost their faith". In my experience, many of them lacked little in terms of orthodoxy or experience but never understood why their faith was true. Caught with neither a foundation nor a framework for their faith, they found university level questions puncturing their sunday-school-level faith." (p. 82) Read On

Transition To Transformation

Greetings……Great news, the i-bridge camp/conference registration will be extending till next week FRIDAY(13th) due to massive response and the availability of few more places. So to all my bro & sis in Christ do encourage your Christian friend/churchmate come to the camp as it focus on the issue of your marketplace and definitely a great time to slow down things to hear what God is saying to each one of us at this particular time and season.

So who Is GCF and I-BRIDGE?
The Graduates Christian Fellowship (GCF) is a non-profit non-exclusive organisation for Christian graduates, professionals and anyone who wishes to play a meaningful role in the marketplace and in society in general. Since its inception in the 1970's, GCF has evolved from an informal gathering for fellowship and encouragement
into a movement of people committed to making a moral impact.

To build a community of servant-leaders committed to transforming society for Christ.

We are committed to the challenge equipping Christians to be servant leaders.

While recognizing the central place of the local church, our primary concern is for Christians in the marketplace where faith and life intersect.

iBridge is a ministry of Graduate Christian Fellowship (Malaysia). It was founded in 2001 with the aim of catering to the needs of young graduates in Malaysia, and to encourage and challenge one another to follow Jesus in the real world. iBridge holds on to its core values of ministering to young graduates in their transition from a student to a working adult.

iBridge aims to encourage networking, spiritual friendship and mentoring among young Christian graduates in Malaysia. Its main objective is to create Networking (connecting lives in transition), Spiritual Friendship (cultivating praying partners) and Mentoring (creating lifelong disciples).

iBridge is a growing community of Christians who are fresh graduates and young professionals in Malaysia desiring to transition from campus to the marketplace, follow God in the "real world", find meaning in their work and to keep their faith alive. iBridge is an initiative of the Graduates Christian Fellowship of Malaysia.

If you are a young Christian graduate desiring to transition from campus to the marketplace, follow God in the "real world", find meaning in your work, keep your faith alive... the iBridge community will help you find spiritual friends who are fellow pilgrims on the journey. The iBridge Camp is an annual camp which particularly
caters to this group of young graduates.

However, we recognise that there is also a growing community of Christians who have effectively transitioned from campus life into the working world; graduates who desire to be 'salt and light of the world', who seek to enlarge their worldview and to engage the world by constantly applying Scripture and their faith.

These graduates face different challenges and issues that a fresh graduate face during the transitional period. They face the challenge of going from 'survival' in their jobs to finding their life vocation. They face the increasing demands of career seniority, marriage, parenting that leads to being isolated. They struggle to
overcome their apathy and indifference and aspire to have a passion for people in the marketplace. In short, they are in a transformation phase of their lives.

With these unique individuals in mind, the GCF Annual Conference, which will be held together with the iBridge Camp this year 2006, will especially cater to complement the other group of graduates who have more than 3 years working experience and to assist them in deeper and another level of personal development, building communities and blessing the world.

For the registration forms just download it at www.taketheleap.org or you can email us at ibgcfcamp2006@gmail.com for more enquiries...

Multicultural Malaysia

Kam Weng has replied to recent letters in Malaysiakini and Utusan Malaysia debunking "multiculturalism" in his blog here.

"Md Asham fails to distinguish the difference between acknowledging an indisputable historical fact that the Constitution is secular in regulating inter-religious affairs and accepting secularism as a worldview or ideology. The adoption of a ‘qualified-secular’ framework for the Constitution to manage harmony between various religions is based on a political concept of fairness. In the words of John Rawls, “A political conception of justice is justified by reference to political values and should not be pressed as part of a more ‘comprehensive’ moral, religious, or philosophical doctrine.” Based on this distinction, Md Asham is mistaken in suggesting that I am pushing for secularism as a comprehensive ideology/worldview. It would help if Md Asham understands that one can uphold a secular framework for the Constitution without having to commit oneself to the ideology of secularism.

I have heard some Muslims argue that they cannot adopt such an approach towards framing political policy since Islam, unlike other religions, is a comprehensive way of life. In this matter I can only say – give credit where credit is due. The fact is that all religions (especially the major religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism) are complete ways of life. The difference is that leaders from the various religions, at least in the case of Malaya/Malaysia, have taken the way of overlapping consensus that requires one to refrain from insisting that public life must cater for one’s own comprehensive religious demands."

Read on