Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dialogue.

The intimidating downpour last Friday did not deter Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Materialists and perhaps, Marxists (?) from meeting at eye-level to discuss, question and reverberate one another’s concept of God.

As one ought to know by now, presenting a belief system to a pluralistic crowd is most certainly a heavy burden upon one’s relatively small shoulders. There are bound to be skeptics and critics blended in the crowd, with some of the harshest coming from their own camp. One would be most tempted to assert the famous and infamous disclaimer to the crowd that his claims do not necessarily represent his faith, to avoid embarrassment of making mistakes or not knowing.

Naturally, our Christian representative was not spared of such trauma. While he has done a considerably good job in presenting Christianity in some aspects (he pointed out the transcendence and immanence of God), one must point out to him that he was living in a community predominantly in favour of theism. Spending ten minutes affirming the existence of God for a twenty-minute presentation was certainly not a desirable move when more pressing questions on the Trinitarian model and the Divinity of Jesus Christ were left hanging in the open.

This is indeed worth reflecting, pondering and seeking on the part of a Christian, as much as it is, on the part of a genuine seeker. In a highly unpredictable environment like this, one cannot be contented with knowing that the Christian God is a personal God without knowing what one means by ‘personal’, for example. One cannot proclaim that he believes in the Triune God and stop short at explaining what it means to be “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one God, not three”. It would be most pitiful for one who believes that Truth can be known because of God’s revelation to man is also at the same time, able to disregard the Trinity as a contradiction or a mystery that can never be known at all and all one needs to response to this is to have a great amount of faith.

Faith, indeed we must have, as Augustine had once asserted- “Faith in seeking understanding”. For instance, I have faith that the Bible is God-breathed (c/f 2 Timothy 3:16) and therefore, I can believe in every doctrine in the Bible to be true. Hence, I can, to a certain extent; know how Trinity can be known to be true by using my logical deductions; with effect of having first, faith that the Trinity is true. My faith does not at all, contradicts my human reason.

Exercising one’s faith needs not rationalistic thinking, in which everything is built upon the foundation of rationale only. Christianity would only appear to be a philosophy founded upon human wisdom if we rely solely upon empirical evidences and human reason to quantify our faith. Yet, our faith does not, in any manner, deny human reason to explain in quality what God has revealed Himself to man in history, the present and future. What we need, are inquisitive minds and prayerful hearts to enable us to study the Word of God carefully and diligently. All these are done duly as an act of worship to Him who is Truth.

A more comprehensive read-up on the interfaith dialogue here.

Other interesting questions that were commonly raised during interfaith dialogues-

1) How can Jesus possess the duality of nature- God and man?

2) How can Jesus be God when He has the bodily needs of a man and not all-knowing?

3) Was Jesus ‘promoted’ to become God only after the work on the Cross?

Go figure.

4 Comments:

Blogger jacksons said...

Boh Tea, you are kind. I think he did badly, not because he does not know his stuff, but because he spent all his time (aside from the brief abstract classical arguements for Theism at the start) telling us about his Christian Story when we were there with Muslims and all, to hear about Christianity!

2:47 AM  
Blogger jacksons said...

1) How can Jesus possess the duality of nature- God and man?

Much has to be laid down, philosophically before one can attempt to deal with this issue, like the doctrine of the Imago Dei, that man is made in the image of God, and thus, is a lesser being in a scaled down version, and thus, is also, a possible channel for God to port Himself down to. So the Son of God walked this earth, not as the God who emptied Himself to be a man, but as a full man, who was also, much more than a man. This is what we mean by saying He was fully man and God, that as we could comprehend, we saw a man, who was more than a man, and claimed equality with God, and God played along with this whole alleged blasphemy, making many consider if it was a disclosure of a great mystery, rather than another case of blasphemy.

I must add in postscript here, that I never like the statement “Jesus is God” and never use it. Though it is true in a sense, it is a gross oversimplification of the matter and is full of problems, that’s why the Bible in its genius, calls Him the Son of God, to convey to us, the human being we see that transcends humanity and is divine as well.

2) How can Jesus be God when He has the bodily needs of a man and not all-knowing?

The scriptures work both ways, some verses claiming Jesus was limited in strength and knowledge, and others, showing Him to be Omnipotent and Omniscient like God Himself. For example, He knew the hearts of men John tells us and He said “no man takes my life, I lay it down” and had much miraculous powers that he could have used to make Him invincible against His violent enemies. Reductionism takes one side at the expense of the other, but faithful theology and exegesis must hole them in a tension.

3) Was Jesus ‘promoted’ to become God only after the work on the Cross?

This of course is the silliness that arises from those who reject the historicity of the New Testament accounts and are ignorant of church history. There is no record of a mainstream Christianity that did not take as a given absolute, the deity of Christ. There is sufficient documented proof, to discredit the allegation of the Da Vinci code types that the Nicene creed for the revising and upgrading of the historical Jesus from man to God.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christians claim that they do not worship idols but the Catholic school I was studying in have idols of Jesus in classrooms and in the school chapel (and of course, in the church). The idols look Caucasian (more like Irish). By having Jesus' idol in front of you while praying isn't that tantamount to praying to idols (although it is supposed to look like Jesus) just like the hindus and the buddhists. Besides, who knows how Jesus look like? He is an Israelite no doubt(not the Israelis of to-day) from the Middle East. Who has an original photograph or painting of him? Or is it enough just to imagine how he looks like and make an idol of him? How was he dressed when he was crucified? Christians say Jesus is the son of god because he was born miraculously without a father. What about Adam who was created as the first human being without a father and mother (at least Jesus has mother). Surely he has a much better claim to be the son of god? Why should god wait thousands of years to send his so-called son Jesus to earth? Did god make a mistake? Another question that bothers me is the situation of millions of people between Adam and Jesus who have no knowledge of Jesus and yet carried the sins of Adam. How are they to seek forgiveness from god? Or do they form a special group of human beings who do not carry the sins of Adam? Why am I bothered, you may ask? Why not, they could be my ancestral lineage and have to go hell because they had no chance to know the teachings of Jesus (Christianity).

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can my Christian brothers (may god bless you) answer a few questions that have been nagging me for some time:

1) In my home town there are several churches but my Catholic friends told me they cannot attend services or pray in churches other than Catholic churches. Likewise, the Methodist Christians cannot go to a non-Methodist church. So are the Protestant Christians. I thought churches are churches. Any Christian can go to any church.

2) From my study of Christian religion, Jesus was born as Jesus without a surname. May I humbly ask, who gave him the additional name Christ? The early Roman emperors? The family of Meriam (or Mary) did not carry the family name Christ. Logically speaking, the teachings of Jesus should be called Jesusism or Jesusianity and his followers should identify themselves as Jesusians and not Christians.

3) I also found out Paul (he was accorded the title Saint) was never a disciple of Jesus and was in fact spreading enmity towards Jesus when Jesus was alive. Neither was he a student of any of the Jesus' disciples. How was he able to "reform" himself and started penning Jesus' teachings?

6:03 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home