Friday, October 29, 2004

OVERVIEW OF THE 20TH CENTURY

OVERVIEW OF THE 20TH CENTURY

By Rev. Stephen Tong


For the first night of our Consultation, we will broadly canvass the major developments of the 20th century. With a firm grasp of the past, we would be better equipped to pursue a modern Reformation in our evangelical faith, ethics and missions. Later when we draw to a conclusion, we will analyse and anticipate the challenges of the 21st century on the final session. Armed with an overview of how past ideas have impacted our world, we can press ahead to seize the opportunities before us.

By the grace of God, you and I live at a momentous period in time. Standing at the threshold of a new century, we should not send away the passing century without insights gleaned from history. We should also brace ourselves with courage and alertness to confront an uncertain future before us.


The Philosophy of History

Time is but the moving image of eternity. God as Self-existent, necessary Being transcends space-time continuum. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega and the Director of the Course of Time Who Was, Who Is and Who Is to Come. Many 20th century scientists have admitted that the universe is finite and therefore has a starting point. 1 This implies a Creator because nothing can bring itself from non-existence into existence. One of the uniqueness of the Christian faith among other religions is that we do not disassociate ourselves from the space-time continuum. Corporeal existence as God’s creation is not evil in itself and the physical realm is not dismissed as mere illusion. We have a tremendous responsibility to be faithful stewards in our present life in a temporal world. Even God himself manifested his glory among men in space-time by taking upon himself a finite, fully human nature. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Hence, the Christian relation to space and time exceeds the concepts of other religions in its relevance and realism.

As we step into the next century, we need to have a sense of our place in history. For not a single moment is out of God's sovereign rule. He is the beginning and the end of history. History is “his story” – the unfolding of his plan moving infallibly towards his ultimate purpose. In Isaiah 46:9-11, God says:

"Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please ... What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do."

Therein, lies the uniqueness of God's proclamation and revelation that supersedes human culture and ideology. In Eastern thought, history is circular. There is nothing new under the sun – only much activity, sound and fury but meaning nothing. In Western thought, history is a linear progression. For the Christian, history has a divine goal and purpose. Once time has passed, it would never be recovered. From that vantage point, temporal priorities should be ordered wisely and responsibly. Christians have a firm basis to know how to live in this finite world, guided by the light of eternity. It calls for wisdom in utilizing time.

We should cherish time for it will never return. The foolish use wealth as asset but the wise use time instead as asset. It is easy to exchange time for wealth but it is not easy to exchange wealth for time. It has been said: Time is the stuff that life is made of. There is not one whose time on earth is longer than his life. It is easy to use time to get money but can we use money to get time? Time is an image of eternity. No one's time exceeds his life for even our mortal life has been predetermined.

On Mars Hill, a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were having a dispute with Paul. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say? He is bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said:

"Men of Athens! ... The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. `For in him we live and move and have our being.'" 2

Note these words again:
He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Man is a paradoxical being. He is confined in space-time yet possesses the potential for eternity. He is bound by temporality yet able to transcend his thoughts beyond the stuff of earth. God did this so that we may seek Him. We are bound in a finite frame but within us there is an infinite vacuum that only God can fill. Man is home sick and restless for his eternal abode in the Divine. This deep-seated longing for the infinite or God-shaped void may be suppressed but it can never be extinguished.


The First Millennium

At the close of the first 1000 A.D., man had great hope that a new dawn had arrived. Historians have called the preceding period "The Dark Age". The reason is this: Since the towering witness of Saint Augustine until the 11th century, no great thinker has arisen in the world scene. After the decline of the Roman Empire, political upheaval and economic instability ensued. Men concerned themselves with daily livelihood and the struggle to simply survive. There was no great philosopher whose thought transcends the temporal. A civilization without its intelligentsia is weak and to be pitied. So is the Church without Scripture-saturated and God-entrenched thinkers a lamentable tragedy. Today, the prevailing anti-intellectual climate in the Church can be attributed partly to the extreme fringes of the Charismatic movement. Spirituality and revival are commonly confused with hyped-up atmosphere and emotionalism without content. Doctrines are trivialized or ignored to the extent that present-day Christians are largely blind to the devious schemes of our enemy. Evangelicals no longer have the capacity to even comprehend the current world crisis, much less to provide a biblically informed solution to it. As a result, we have no discernment of the times like the sons of Issachar.3

In the United States, I was once preaching in English to a 3000-strong congregation. There was a lengthy singing session, which lasted for an hour. They stood and sang heartily for the entire hour! Were they not tired? Of course! When the preaching session commenced, they sat down and began to feel sleepy. I would never allow them to slumber. After the sermon, a reporter from the magazine "Christianity Today" asked me, "How were you able to hold the attention of such an exhausted crowd with both seriousness and light-heartedness?"

There is a common misconception that to preach with a sense of urgent gravity precludes a sense of humour. Or that delight necessarily means being frivolous. Well, our God is both serious about his truth and good-humoured! When His word is received with solemnity, the same is also pure delight to our souls. The Spirit of God would open our minds to understanding and our hearts to savouring the sweetness of that knowledge. He who inspired Scripture with eternal, propositional content would also restore our minds from the noetic ravages of sin. Far from committing intellectual suicide, Christians uphold and return reason to its proper role of receiving revealed truth. Thus shall we vehemently reject the prevailing cloud of anti-intellectualism today – that form of religion – still trapped in a drunken stupor!


The Dawn of the Second Millennium

In the 11th century, a light broke the darkness and illumined the world for many centuries. Saint Anselm emerged and contributed greatly to the development of the ontological argument for the existence of God, the doctrines of Atonement, Soteriology and the Incarnation. He started with the idea of God's existence to demonstrate the proof of his existence in the “Proslogian”. When such Scripture-saturated thinkers emerge, the Church would prosper from their light.

By the 13th century, the wisest scholars were Christians who greatly shaped the progress of Western civilization. Paris, Oxford4, Cambridge and Prague were among the first universities in the world. In the medieval university, theology was the Queen of sciences and philosophy was her handmaiden. There was in existence a unique, open academic system where ideas could be exchanged freely. Even Moslem scholars who had already experienced their renaissance were invited to lecture at Western institutions of higher learning. Through this contact, the extensive commentaries of Averroës5 on the works of Aristotle were translated and brought to Europe. His works profoundly influenced the Scholastic school of philosophy in medieval Europe and medieval Jewish philosophy. Western scholars prospered as a result of being introduced to Aristotelian logic and rational thinking by Moslem scholars.

However, why had Moslem nations subsequently lagged behind compared to the West? Today, no great industrial invention can be attributed to them. There is a close correlation between technological advances and the intellectual vigour of a society. Prior to Martin Luther's Reformation, Germany had not produced great inventions or instruments of advanced precision either. Why has that changed today? Why is Germany renowned for its precise and quality workmanship? We can note that the evangelical movement had restored the primacy of reason in place of the myriad of superstitions in many European nations. Swiss timepieces are not made in Lausanne or Zurich but in Geneva. This was the city where John Calvin applied his systematizing genius to Reformed theology. The role of reason and intellect were recovered during the Reformation movement. Whatever we do, we do it for the glory of God, not unto men. This kind of Protestant work ethics permeating the whole culture could not but spur greater heights in uncompromising excellence, creativity and productivity.

In the 13th century, the Moslems and Jews had their eminent intelligentsia. For the Jews, they had Moses Maimoneides. The Moslems had Averroes, a highly respected thinker. And Thomas Aquinas was the great intellect in Christendom. But why did Christianity prosper and with it, the Western civilization? Why were nations influenced by a Christian worldview enjoying superior scientific and technological advances? Subsequently, Aquinas found a more accurate and faithful copy of Aristotelian work on logic. He achieved the "classical synthesis" between philosophy and theology, where both played complementary roles in the quest for ultimate truth. Unlike integral Aristotelianism, he rejected the “double truth” theory that "what may be true in faith may be false in reason, what is true in philosophy may be false in theology."6 Differing from Anselm, Aquinas demonstrated the proof for the existence of God through the cosmological argument. As a result of development in logical reasoning, science and technological progress in Western civilization followed suit.7

Tragically, evangelicals today have largely forgotten this spiritual heritage. We are plagued with a sense of indifference with regards to correct doctrine, accurate interpretation of Scripture and the concept of right and wrong. “It does not matter as long as we love God!” was the oft-repeated excuse. Therefore, truth is often sacrificed for a form of pietism devoid of passion to be uncompromising and faithful to God’s revelation. We need to speak forth truth in love, not sacrifice truth for the sake of “love”. 8

After enduring more than 600 years of Dark Age, man anticipated a new dawn in the new millennium. We can look back from a philosophical perspective and examine in every century its peculiar characteristics and individuated movements since the Reformation. Even as the second millennium draws to a close, it is proper for us to conduct a brief evaluation of the preceding centuries.


The Age of Faith

The 16th century could be justly called the Century of Faith. The religious movement in Europe known as the Reformation called entire nations back to the authority of Scripture as the sole rule of faith and conduct. It was a return to that faith preached by our Lord and His apostles, led by the courageous Luther and Philipp Melanchthon in Germany, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland and John Knox in Scotland. They were great Reformers who sought to rescue men from the stronghold of Rome and give them the Scripture in their vernacular languages. Luther, a German monk, courageously confronted the ecclesiastical authority with these immortal words, "Here I stand. I could do no other. So help me God!"

The Reformation uprooted the superstitions of Rome with her unhealthy preoccupation with icons and relics. But uprooting the false foundation alone would not do! There was a need to also reconstruct and edify the saints upon the true foundation. For that holy task, John Calvin was thus raised up by the Lord. With the mind of Calvin - keen in legislature, meticulous in his choice of words and utter dependence on the Bible - Reformed theology, which bore the mark of his systemic genius, was given form. In the aftermath of great tribulation in France, Calvin wrote a voluminous work with more than 8000 quotations of Scriptural texts with the objective to diligently strengthen, build up and vindicate the faith of his persecuted countrymen.9 It was an unparalleled statement and apologetics of the evangelical faith. The French philosopher, Will Durant said, "If I were to list the ten most influential books that changed human history, one of them has to be John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion". Until today, not a theologian has surpassed him in profundity of thought.

As God’s stewards and modern evangelicals, we have to awaken to our responsibility to contribute to our culture, politics, legislation and the arts. Shallow evangelicalism has missed this by neglecting our cultural mandate and hope its meagre investments would reap generous returns. Our witness is seriously impoverished if we only preach the gospel but withdraw from engaging the world in other areas. Let us learn from biblical examples like Moses, Joseph, David, Jesus and Paul. Their wide range of knowledge astounded and even silenced their ungodly contemporaries. At evangelistic conferences, evangelicals have tirelessly talked about nothing else but fulfilling the Great Commission. But when targeted datelines have passed, the world population at large is still bound by godless presuppositions and ideologies. This trend repeats itself for decades.

Does that mean I am giving up? God forbid! I would never give up on the cause of the gospel. All that I do is for the proclamation of the gospel. But that goal would be thwarted if we fail to actively engage our minds in the marketplace of ideas and respond to the cultural mandate of our witness.

We know that Paul of Tarsus was the faithful missionary of the Gospel to numerous Gentile frontiers. Yet he was also well trained in the Greek philosophical thoughts and Jewish laws of his day. The same Paul who was zealous to preach Christ and him crucified was also able to diagnose man’s spiritual problem at the center of Areopagus. The evangelist who was most faithful in declaring the message of salvation was also the scholarly theologian who expounded on God’s sovereignty in predestination. He who was the least of the apostles, the “fool” for the sake of the gospel was also the most educated of men who turned the world on its head and gained the audience of kings.

I am by no means ashamed of the gospel but strive to call others to join me in this sacred task. The gospel is ever our foundation! The gospel is ever our central pursuit! However, evangelicals need a paradigm shift to communicate these eternal principles in the present cultural and philosophical context, speaking in the language that the world understands. Can we stand being despised as closet-Christians, unable to engage the enemy in the marketplace of ideas?

When I was younger, I used to admire those who held doctorates in philosophy or theology. But as I grew older, their titles ceased to impress me. When I was invited to a dinner with Edith Schaeffer, wife of Francis Schaeffer10, she said to me, "Stephen, in my country, professors in theology can be produced by the thousands but not many could labour for God."

Today, we also find seminaries obsessed solely with paper qualifications. But where is the spiritual power? Where is reliance on God? We are not sent by man to preach man's wisdom with man’s methods. In contrast, we need to practice a God-centred approach to ministry. God says, “Seek my face and my power! Preach my Word!” The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all men. Its message is as relevant to men today as prescription of the right medicine is to a sick and dying man. And the Holy Spirit alone has the power of regeneration to bring men to a living faith in the gospel.


The Age of Reason

Now we come to the 17th century, which is called the Age of Reason. We find that in France, Rene Descartes sought a system of thinking based on deduction11 and intuitive knowledge.12 On the other hand, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (Germany) and Baruch Spinoza (Amsterdam) sought to explain the burning dilemma of how God is related to the world with regards to causality and how thought relates to action. Later, empiricists like John Locke, Francis Bacon, George Berkeley and David Hume in Britain emerged. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke challenged the cornerstone of rationalism about innate, intuitive knowledge with his famous “tabula rasa” or blank tablet. A baby is born into the world with a blank mind. All knowledge is learnt from experience through our five empirical senses and reflection. (a posteriori knowledge)

Some philosophers during this period sought to use autonomous reason to overthrow faith. For example, the sceptic David Hume in his argument that all our knowledge comes from sensory perceptions tried to discredit the law of causality altogether. According to him, the assumption of causality is guilty of logical fallacy (post hoc, ergo propter hoc13). We should pause and note that the law of causality was commonly used in the arguments for God’s existence. It is simply logical absurdity to suppose that an effect is without any antecedent cause.


The Age of Enlightenment

In the 18th century, the so-called Enlightenment period arrived. There was an unparalleled atmosphere of optimism in man’s ability to solve all his problems through science. Man was proudly lauded as the measure of all things. This naïve form of humanism was profoundly man-centred or anthropocentric. As a result, metaphysics and the supernatural were overlooked and neglected. That which is transcendental and eternal was scoffed at. Only that which can be proven in a laboratory and perceived inductively was considered real or worthy of study. As a result, divine miracles and providence were dismissed as myths. The value of religion was trivialized to the extent that led to moral bankruptcy.


The Age of Ideology

The effects of naïve optimism could be seen in the 19th century, called the Age of Ideology. During this period, ideologies and theories were developed and propagated under the garb of science. Even though it was poorly supported with scientific evidences14, the evolution theory15 was used to invade the realm of faith by the prophets of philosophical naturalism.16 Evolution was not only used to explain the biological origins of man; it had influenced man’s understanding in the development of religion, culture, politics and economy as progressing on a similar dynamic, evolutionary path.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), the British social philosopher applied Darwin's theory of natural selection to human societies. He argued that human progress resulted from the triumph of more advanced and wealthy cultures over their inferior competitors. Poverty was perceived as evidence of inferiority. In the early 20th century, social Darwinism was used to justify cutthroat, beast-like economic competition, racist and imperialist policies. Poverty-stricken nations were seen as “unfit”, unworthy of any aid.

Evolutionary thought even influenced liberal theology, arguing that Christianity is merely the highest stage of religious development. It is different in degree, not unique in kind compared to animism or polytheism. Actually, evolutionary philosophy is nothing new. It has existed since the earliest Greek philosophers first pondered on ultimate reality. They were divided into two camps, namely the philosophy of being and the philosophy of becoming. Parmenides believed that "Being is real. Change is illusory"; hence, his dictum, "Whatever is, is!" The opposing view was advocated by Heraclitus, who believed that "Becoming is real"; his dictum being, "All things are flowing. You never step into the same river twice!" The evolution theory embraced the philosophy of becoming. Therefore, we need to be sensitive to discern much of its metaphysical baggage hidden under the guise of objective science.


The Age of Analysis

We have noted that much of the script played out in the 20th century was written in the 19th century. Other products of the 19th century were logical positivism (Auguste Comte), Communism (Karl Marx) and existentialism (Karl Jaspers, Martin Buber and Soren Kierkegaard).

Existentialism was particularly popular among the young people. What is it? Atheistic existentialism (Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre) taught that there is no God and therefore, no transcendent purpose for human essence. Logically, there is only the “nothingness of human existence!” In the face of nihilism, man is forced to confront his dialectic dilemma: his finitude and quest for meaning. In that nothingness, existentialists tried to argue for some value for existence. Man is asked to create his own value and discover the meaning of existence by sheer resolve. We become authentic by making right decisions with a powerful act of will. But, why be authentic or courageously seek meaning when even all this is also ultimately meaningless?

In Holland, I met a young Dutch lady at a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade. As an Indonesian evangelist was preaching, she took great offence that he was bringing back the religion that her ancestors had brought to Asia. She made a lot of commotion and I decided to strike up a conversation with her. She asked me if I have heard of logical positivism and I replied in the affirmative. I said to her, “I know only a little. Are you referring to the thinking of Auguste Comte, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Professor Ayer and the Vienna Circle?” She smiled and nodded.

Just to digress a little, Comte believed that science was the key to reconstructing a new socio-political order. He argued that human development can be analysed in three stages.17 Each branch of knowledge passes through "three different theoretical states: the theological or fictitious state; the metaphysical or abstract state; and, lastly, the scientific or positive state." At the theological stage, events are immaturely explained by appealing to gods or God. At the metaphysical stage phenomena are explained by appealing to abstract philosophical categories. The final evolutionary stage, the scientific, involves abandoning any quest for absolute explanations of causes. The empirical sciences are the only adequate source of knowledge. Therefore all we need is to observe how phenomena are related and arrive at verifiable generalizations.

Coming back to my conversation with the Dutch lady, having established rapport with her, I continued, “If I am not mistaken, your most important axiom is “Anything that cannot be verified in a laboratory is not real.” Again, she replied in the affirmative. Then I asked her again, “Have you thought about this question before? Logical positivism itself could never be verified by science in an experimental laboratory”. She was surprised and answered, “I have never thought of this before. It is meaningful. It means something like...” I gave her some advice not to dismiss Christianity as unscientific and irrational without thinking deeply and humbly about the facts. I told her that what science informs us today might not be absolute because a new theory, which could explain the phenomena more adequately, could emerge later and replace the previous model. With that, she said, “Okay, I am going to think it over and over.” As we parted, I said, “Think wisely for the way of life cannot be guided by science alone.” Indeed, if empirical sciences are the only adequate source of knowledge, logical positivism itself could never be verified as adequate knowledge.

Nationalism18 was also a modern movement, which greatly impacted the world. Before the 20th century, the prophets of culture were music composers. A nationalistic musical style inspired by folk rhythms began to emerge in Russia, Bohemia and Czechoslovakia. In the 1830s, Mikhail Glinka paved the musical way for the Russian Five19 to break away from merely imitating the Italians or Germans. “Why don’t we establish our own unique symphony?” they reasoned. The Russian Five used the folk material extensively in their music – Balakirev's symphonic poem Tamara, Borodin's Polovtzian Dances from Prince Igor, and Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherezade were examples of Russian orientalism. Tchaikovsky, the first great Russian symphonist also made use of folk material primarily through his songs and piano music. In fact, on my flight to Kuala Lumpur, I had a chat with a music conductor who was due to perform Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony. His curiosity was evoked when he discovered that I knew the symphony. Much to his surprise, I told him, “I am also a music conductor!”

In France, her new form of nationalistic music was influenced by music elements from Java. Like Chinese music, gamelan was also pentatonic. But a sixth tone was later discovered and incorporated into the emerging French nationalistic movement. The birth of nationalism blended folk songs and rejected Greater Germany’s imperialism from overwhelming Europe. It anticipated the modern nationalism movement.

After the Second World War, nations rushed towards independence and formed distinct political entities. The world became increasingly fragmented. Is the history of the United Nations (UN) more united? How many nations were founding members of the UN? And how many members do we have now? I would not be surprised if we have 600 members in the future. Unity is difficult whereas separation is easy. Nationalism seen in Kazakhstan and Pakistan, for instance, called for unity but unity under their respective banners. After 1989, even the mighty Soviet Union disintegrated into many separate states. Will nationalism continue relentlessly?

At the beginning of the 20th century, nationalism was the ideological nemesis of Communism. Communism was universal in the sense that it sought a utopian order of classless society. As we saw earlier, nationalism called for the creation of separate political entities. After the global war, many nations including China, which was, ironically, a very nationalistic country became Communist!

There is also something else worth noting. Last year, in Yugoslavia, the slogan of nationalism failed to unite. The Balkan conflict flared up along sharply ethnic lines. A race ideology superseded nationalism. This is a dangerous development as genocide based on racial origin violated basic human rights. It was the contribution of former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter that human rights issues should be treated as an international affair, not a domestic affair. For the Christian, human beings possess inalienable rights derived from God as the bearer of his image. These rights are not a concession or gift bestowed by the State. It remains to be seen how the world will respect inalienable human rights in the near future.

How do we describe the 20th century? Despite its unparalleled scientific advances, the 20th century can be justly called, “The Age of Folly.” Yes, it is true that more people have been educated; information is at our fingertips through the Internet; and more convenient modes of transport are made available. An agricultural economy can be transformed into an information-based economy, bypassing the industrialization phase. Yet along with it, there is a deeper spiritual emptiness and inner loneliness. Unrestrained competition exploits the weak and the poor. Affluence comes at the expense of social justice and responsibility. Corruption is rampant. Where are the lofty ideals of our Asian ancestors? Pollution threatens our environment and depletes the ozone layer to the detriment of our future generation.

Despite many scientific exploits, there is little original philosophical break through. The 20th century has been called the Age of Analysis. Relativism is touted as the only absolute. Despite its self-defeating logic, men continue to wax eloquence about the only absolute – there being no absolutes.

On the world stage, we have been merely acting out the scripts of the 19th century – evolution, materialistic naturalism, logical positivism, Communism, atheism and existentialism, each one having wielded influence over millions of people. There is science but no spirit. There is knowledge but no wisdom. There is understanding but no faith. We have superstructures without foundation, mobility without direction, phenomena without essence and purposes without Purpose. With our fragmented and specialized knowledge, we are unable to see how the particulars relate to universals. As a result, our quest for unity in the diverse disciplines had to be abandoned. For we have strayed from God, from whom, in whom and to whom are all things.


The 21st Century Challenge

As we draw to a conclusion, I want to issue a challenge to the new generation to rise up where the older generation has failed in the past. If we look at the trend in Church growth, Christian population is rising rapidly in Africa, Asia (China and Korea) and Latin America. Christianity seems to prosper in poor and less educated societies. However, in more developed and sophisticated nations, church attendance in most denominations has declined drastically. Does this mean that Christianity is only for the uncultured and uneducated? God forbid! Was not the Gospel sufficient and essential for both Greeks and barbarians? The need of the hour is for men and women who are able to discern biblical principles and diagnose the spiritual sickness of the present age. We need to read Scripture with one hand and the newspaper with the other to engage the hostile marketplace of ideas.

Beloved brothers and sisters, let us not become spiritual hermits who seclude ourselves in the ivory tower and remain ignorant of world events. We know that Christ is the answer to every human dilemma and yet we do not even know the questions. We are only content to be saved and wait for Christ’s return. Let us also not be immersed with the things of this world lest we forget God’s word and the centrality of the Cross. May God take pity on us!

It is tragic that at such an opportune time as this when the witness of Christ is available to 95% of world population our light is so dimmed. The pervading climate of anti-intellectualism and doctrinal illiteracy has taken its toll. We have quantity but where is the quality? Do the words of our pastors and elders command the respect of the world, besides their own flock? Are our seminary graduates today equipped to engage the enemy on their own ground? God is pleased to choose the foolish and the weak to confound the wise. In so doing, He displays His glory in the sufficiency of His grace.

My father passed away when I was three years old. My life struggles were aided with biblical principles. Until today, I have been granted the privilege to preach the Good News to millions of people. Some sympathized with me because at my age, I still have to travel to five countries weekly to preach. Nevertheless, I was not too keen with their idea of letting television and recorded tapes do the preaching, unless circumstances do not permit. This is because I believe in interpersonal relationships and the pleasure of answering queries in person. My passion is that a new generation of evangelicals would arise to also reach the intellectuals of our time. Now is the hour for the man. Where is the man for the hour? Who will go before us and confront the Goliath at the cultural frontiers? Do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. For the Lord is our Rock and our Shield! He who has been faithful in my life and ministry will also work mightily in yours to vindicate the cause of his gospel. To God alone be the glory!

______________________________

1 The Big Bang theory postulated that the Universe had a finite beginning.

2 Acts 17:18-28

3 1 Chronicles 12:32 spoke of "men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do".

4 Legend has it that Oxford University was founded by King Alfred in 872.

5 Averroës held that metaphysical truths can be expressed through philosophy (Aristotle) and through religion, presented in a form that the ordinary person can understand. He also wrote books on medicine, astronomy, law, and grammar.

6 "The Consequences of Ideas" by R.C. Sproul, page 68

7 A more in depth treatment of how Christian theism is essential to the scientific revolution can be found in the philosopher A.N. Whitehead's works.

8 Love rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthian 13:6)

9 But lo! while I lay hidden at Basel, and known only to few people, many faithful and holy persons were burnt alive in France. ... It appeared to me, that unless I opposed [the perpetrators] to the utmost of my ability, my silence could not be vindicated from the charge of cowardice and treachery. This was the consideration which induced me to publish my Institutes of the Christian Religion. ... It was published with no other design than that men might know what was the faith held by those whom I saw basely and wickedly defamed.

10 Schaeffer of L'Abri Fellowship was credited for having taught a whole generation of evangelicals to recover their mandate for involvement in culture, philosophy, social action, politics and arts. Reference can be made to his trilogy – Escape from Reason, The God who is There and He is There and He is not Silent.

11 Deductive reasoning moves from the universal to the particular.

12 An intellectual activity of such clarity and distinctiveness that leaves no room for doubt, e.g. a triangle has 3 sides.

13 For example, our perception that the sun rises after the cock crows does not prove any causal relations.

14 The debate on Intelligent Design in U.S. was reopened after a string of books by Philip Johnson and Michael Behe, amongst others.

15 Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859 in which he repeatedly used the word, “hypothesis.”

16 The cosmos is all there is, ever was and ever will be – a mechanistic system closed to divine intervention.

17 Logical positivism was taught in his major work, the six-volume Course of Positive Philosophy.

18 The ideology that the individual's loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests.

19 Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakoff

13 Comments:

Blogger Benjamin Ho said...

great work translating all those stuff...keep it up!

2:36 AM  
Blogger The Hedonese said...

Freely you have received, freely give.... Share this with your friends, bro!

5:38 AM  
Blogger kiawin said...

wow... i was there in the meeting. it's great that you typed it out :)

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just want to say thanks for the excellent and very helpful website.

i would like to find out where were the sermons of the Consultation in english downloaded from and who did the translation. i have read one or two and they are excellent.

i enjoy the 2 books by john piper too.

wow that must have took u guys a long time to translate! appreciate all the hard work...

A Friend :)

8:20 PM  
Blogger The Hedonese said...

Hey folks, thanks! But feel free to send me any translated transcripts that you may come across, and we can sorta archive them here... :D

The English-speaking folks need to know what they have been missing!

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

I'm so impressed by the effort of you and your frens.. u have captured the essence of what ST is preaching...

Keep it up!!

3:56 AM  
Anonymous Mr.Lau said...

good grounding in reformed theology, brother. Should invite you to our school to give a talk soon.. To god be glory!

12:55 AM  
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