Archive for the ‘Dialog’ Category.

FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)

 

“Come now, Let us reason together, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18).

Muslim polemical literature against Christianity is readily available in bookstores around Malaysia. Their polemics gain media attention when institutions of higher learning organize forums to perpetuate false information about Christianity. For example, in 2014, the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam, organized a seminar on “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara (“The Word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”), purportedly “to defend the dignity of Muslims in the country and also to give them an understanding as they are being confused by this issue.”
-“UiTM Warns Students About The Threat Of Christianity In “Allah And Christology” Seminar
-Gospels are ‘Fake’ as Jesus was ‘Human Slave to Allah’, Don Claims [The Malaymailonline 6 May 2014]
-Books Warning Muslims About ‘Christian Agenda’ Distributed at Allah Forum in University

Several seminar speakers were reported to have mocked at Christianity as they posed rhetorical questions that suggest the grounds for Christian beliefs are fundamentally flawed. For example, in a forum “Christianisation vs Islamization”, the speakers answered pre-prepared questions that included “Did Jesus really die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins?”, “What is the Trinity?”, “Why did Jesus cry ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ (Aramaic for “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”) while on the cross?”

Another speaker claimed that the parts of the Bible based on his teachings should simply be called “Tales of Jesus” instead of the “Gospel”. The books in the Bible were written by Christ’s disciples such as Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered hearsay and similarly should not be considered the Word of God. The so-called gospel is only Jesus’ words, speech, hence should not be called gospel. He asserted, “The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.”

These speakers were trying to confuse Christians with fabricated lies. Instead of clarifying confusion among Muslims, they were promoting prejudice among Muslims against Christianity. Christians are justified if they feel offended. However, they are mindful of the divine exhortation given in their Holy Book on how to respond peaceably to faultfinders, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-15).

Instead of reacting to these Muslim polemicists, Christians are more interested in reaching out to other Muslims who are sincere when they raise questions about Christianity as these Muslims genuinely believe in constructive dialog. To these sincere Muslims we would like to offer “FAQ: Muslim Questions – Christian Answers” as a modest contribution to promote interfaith understanding. Hopefully, the two FAQs given below will assure Muslim inquirers of the intellectual integrity and peaceful intentions of the Christian community.

Continue reading ‘FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)’ »

FAQ: Jawapan Kepada Soalan-Soalan Orang Islam (Dikemas kini)

Marilah kita berperkara, demikian firman TUHAN (Yesaya 1:18)

Kesusasteraan polemik yang menyerang kepercayaan Kristian mudah didapati di kebanyakan kedai-kedai buku di Malaysia. Polemik ini mendapat perhatian media ketika institusi pengajian tinggi menganjurkan forum untuk menyebarkan maklumat palsu tentang agama Kristian.

“UiTM Warns Students About The Threat Of Christianity In “Allah And Christology” Seminar
-Gospels are ‘Fake’ as Jesus was ‘Human Slave to Allah’, Don Claims [The Malaymailonline 6 May 2014]
-Books Warning Muslims About ‘Christian Agenda’ Distributed at Allah Forum in University

Namun daripada merasa takut, umat Kristian mengalu-alukan serangan seperti itu kerana ia memberikan peluang kepada orang Kristian untuk menjelaskan iman mereka.

Tetapi dengan tulus hormatilah Kristus sebagai Tuhan dalam hidup kamu. Hendaklah kamu sentiasa bersedia memberikan jawapan kepada sesiapa sahaja yang meminta kamu menjelaskan harapan yang kamu miliki. Tetapi lakukanlah hal itu dengan lemah lembut dan hormat. Hendaklah hati nurani kamu murni, supaya apabila kamu difitnah kerana hidup dengan baik sebagai pengikut Kristus, orang yang memfitnah kamu itu akan menjadi malu (1Petrus 3:15-16).

Walau bagaimanapun, ada orang Islam yang secara ikhlas bertanya soalan mengenai kepercayaan Kristian dalam mencari persefahaman antara agama. Untuk orang-orang Muslim yang ikhlas seperti inilah kami ingin menawarkan “Jawapan Kepada Orang-orang Islam.” Semoga Allah memberkati umat Kristian dan umat Islam di Malaysia dengan persefahaman dan saling menghormati. Continue reading ‘FAQ: Jawapan Kepada Soalan-Soalan Orang Islam (Dikemas kini)’ »

God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)

Part 2: Jesus Christ-Eschatological [Final] Prophet And Incarnate Savior: A Christian Proposal To Muslims

Muslims assert the utter transcendence of God. Divine revelation therefore takes the form of revealed commandments rather than a revealed person. The issue that separates Christians and Muslims is whether or not the claim that Jesus Christ as the decisive revelation of God compromises the utter transcendence of God. Resolving this issue requires an inquiry into the prophetic calling of Jesus. We need to ask whether Jesus ministry went beyond mere proclamation and constituted an adequate, if not decisive, act of divine salvation for humankind. Continue reading ‘God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)’ »

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 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 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 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, “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 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)

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)’ »