Why Recent Court Judgments Which Restrict Religious Freedom May be Questioned.

This article demonstrates how the current view that only the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to rule on the status on those who had renounced Islam began with a misreading of a minority view in an earlier Supreme Court’s judgment in Dalip Kaur and treating it as setting a binding precedent. The non-binding minority view subsequently turned into ratio decidendi when the Federal Court in Soon Singh case approved the High Court’s judgment which ‘followed’ the minority view instead of the ratio of the majority judgment in Dalip Kaur.

Confusion between ratio decidendi (“the reason for the decision” which has legal binding effect) and orbiter dictum (“an incidental, by the way statement” which has only persuasive value) also arose in cases relating to religious freedom in Malaysia.

I refer readers to the careful analysis by Kuek Chee Ying & Tay Eng Siang in “When Orbiter Dictum and Minority View Become Ratio Decidendi” published in the Malayan Law Journal (2015) volume 3, pages lxxxii-xcvi Continue reading “Why Recent Court Judgments Which Restrict Religious Freedom May be Questioned.”

No Exegesis Without Theology; No Theology Without Exegesis

Students entering the seminary are often told that systematic theology should be rooted in biblical theology, and biblical theology in turn is grounded in biblical exegesis of Scripture. After all, Scripture is the source of Christian theology. It is suggested that the biblical interpretation and the theological enterprise follow three separate and distinct phases:

1) Exegesis: Linguistic analysis of the biblical texts, using Greek and Hebrew lexical tools to arrive at a reasonable and coherent meaning of a biblical passage in its original context.
2) Biblical theology: “Sets forth the message of the books of the Bible in their historical setting…expounding the theology found in the Bible in its own historical setting, and its own terms, categories, and thought forms. Biblical theology is primarily a descriptive discipline.” Donald Hagner in George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, revised ed. (Eerdmans, 1993), p. 20.
3) Systematic theology: Organizes and synthesizes key ideas of the bible in their logical relations in dialogue with philosophy and Christian theological tradition.

John Murray wrote that ‘Systematic theology will fail of its task to the extent to which it discards its rootage in biblical theology as properly conceived and developed.’ [Collected Writings, vol.4, (Banner of Truth, 1982), p. 19]. It may be concluded that the systematic theologian relies on the spadework done by biblical scholars in the exegetical vineyard. Continue reading “No Exegesis Without Theology; No Theology Without Exegesis”

Apostle Paul’s Gift-Grace and the New Perspective on Paul

Douglas Moo, whose commentaries on Romans and Galatians are among the best recent writings on Paul has just written a superb review essay, John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift and the New Perspective on Paul in the free online journal Themelios.* Barclay’s book has also been acclaimed as “one of the most important books on Paul in recent years.”

The excerpts of the review given below give a glimpse into his surefooted and balanced assessment of the controversy between the Reformation and the New Perspective on Paul (NPP).

Moo welcomes Barclay’s book as a via media between the Augustinian-Lutheran tradition and the reconfiguration of the NPP. He recapitulates the history of the controversy:

“In the first stage, the key figures in the movement, Tom Wright and James Dunn, began their invasion of the “old perspective” redoubt with seminal articles that appropriated E. P. Sanders’s “new perspective on Judaism.” Sanders’s reconfiguration of Jewish soteriology as “covenantal nomism” posed a significant problem for the interpreters of Paul: just who was it that Paul was attacking when he denied that a person could be justified by “works of the law”? Since, according to Sanders, Jews were not trying to be justified by doing the law, some other problem within Judaism had to be identified as the culprit. Building on Krister Stendahl’s stress on the importance of corporate thinking in Paul’s world, Dunn and Wright identified the Jewish tendency to confine salvation to their own nation as that culprit. I might just note here that this “new perspective” on Paul grew out of a profoundly conservative impulse. Continue reading “Apostle Paul’s Gift-Grace and the New Perspective on Paul”

Be Assured that Syariah Law WILL be Imposed on non-Muslims

PAS politicians and some UMNO government officials repeatedly assure non-Muslims that that Syariah law will not be applied to them even as Abdul Hadi Awang tables the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016 to widen the scope of the criminal jurisdiction of Syariah Courts. However, non-Muslims have reasons to doubt whether the assurance is empty, if not disingenuous, when the authorities in Kelantan and officials in various government departments repeatedly impose public policies that infringe on the fundamental liberties of non-Muslims. It is the duty of every conscientious Member of Parliament to reject any proposed legislation that violates the provisions in the Federal Constitution that protect the rights of non-Muslims and Muslims against punitive criminal actions based on religious precepts.

Beware when the wolf ‘courteously’ invites the lamb for supper in his den when it is seen sharpening its claws and teeth.

To read the full article, visit a new post at Religious Liberty Watch: Be Assured Syariah Law WILL be Imposed on non-Muslims