Category Archives: 公共神學 Public Theology

論三自

Sanzi

朋友貼出這幅圖,有人回應說無需敵對三自,為福音的緣故應遷就融入三自。這樣的觀點既不了解中共建立所謂『三自愛國運動』的目的,也不了解當初加入三自之人士的信仰背景。

共產黨領導下的三自教會與西方傳教士起初定下的三自原則大大不同,前者是控制教會的手段,後者是西方宣教士中的有識之士為了使中國教會能有日能自立不依賴西方差會與宣教士而推出的建議。

而中共移花接木的三自政策,根本不是為教會的益處,更遑論傳福音。

三自在50年代初成立之後,沒多久便經歷了幾場政治運動的浩劫。三自內的少數福音派領袖如陳崇桂被打成右派,下場淒慘。而三自自創立起初是以親共的持自由派神學的人士為主,也就是不信派人士主導,如吳耀宗,丁光緒等人,文革前與期間,三自跟其他四個控制主要宗教的鷹犬,即五個宗教協會停止運作。三自的不信派到文化大革命之後又卷土復來成為三自領袖。保守的福音派基督教人士如王明道,倪柝聲等本土非宗派基督教領袖則因不苟同三自而沒有參與跟加入三自,並因此入獄。

中共領導下的三自本來就是以不信派人士為主,被當時福音派的基督徒所斥責。認為為福音緣故而加入三自融入三自沒什麼不好,其實不了解三自自其創立起初的目的及其主要領袖的不信背景。中共成立三自的目的不是為福音,這樣想有點一廂情願。三自創立時主要及大部分的領袖也不是堅信聖經的基要派福音派基督徒。融入三自,是與不信派為伍,對當時許多堅持聖經信仰的基要派基督徒來講,加入三自即是賣主求榮。

當然,今天的三自或許已經跟當初的三自或有不同,三自教會內相信聖經的福音派基要派基督徒也比半世紀前多了許多,講台信息甚至也很福音性。但三自作為中共統戰工具的性質並沒有改變。而且從近年來中共也迫害一些個別三自教會,三自的基督徒及教會領袖的個案表明,中共會不吝嗇嚴懲那些反對它的教會人士,無論他們屬於三自與否。我們也看到有三自前牧師脫離三自成立家庭教會的情況。

從歷史源頭看來,不加入融入三自不是反福音。恰恰相反,反對福音反對基督的是中共的宗教政策,三自是統戰跟控制教會的工具,不是傳福音的工具。


Pluralism?

The idea that when a Christian citizen enters the public square, he/she must somehow conform to the majortarian secular values and abandon his religious convictions altogether to fit in, and if he wants to practice his religious faith, by which his worldview and moral values are informed, it must be relegated to private quarter, and private quarter only–betrays “pluralism” and “equality” in the true sense of the word.
When a Christian citizen peacefully dissents from the secular majority in the public square about a certain matter, because his Christian conscience tells him so, he might be called a bigot, all at the same time when the secular majority practices the same kind of bigotry they accused the Christian of. Yes, they cannot tolerate the Christian point of view voiced peacefully in public. This kind of logic is absurd, preposterous, and self-contradictory, sadly also advocated by some Christians who buy it. This reasoning somehow suggests that a Christian citizen is less of a citizen of the republic because of his religious faith, and that he must be a secular individual if he wants to engage in any kind of public debate for which the Christian is a part.
Basically, the secular majority gets to define what “pluralism” and “equality” mean, and “pluralism” and “equality’ they are clearly not!
Unfortunately, this kind of absurdity and pseudo-pluralism is something the Protestant Christian majority helped created in the 19th century America. So, quite ironically, it seems that evangelical Protestants have no other to blame but themselves for the “cultural wars” raging in America today. Alas.

A Commentary on Left-wing and Right-Wing Populism

I have said this all along for so long, I am afraid of a Trump’s presidency that would bring right-wing fascistic populism.

Trump hasn’t started his presidency yet, there is enough irrational populism, if not outright fascism going around in this country already. The president-elect’s silence on these emboldened racists, will equate to or be perceived as an endorsement. He had been reluctant during his presidential campaign to denounce the likes of David Duke and the KKK, white supremacists who endorsed his candidacy. As the President-elect and the president, what you say or do not say, mean a lot. Welcome to the presidency, Mr. Trump. Can you handle it?

This is not to say that racial problems under a leftist president was any better, Black Lives Matter or BLM while promoting their political agenda, has turned into a kind of racist movement as well, as “only black lives matter” and no other lives matter? Racism against Asians in the United States largely go unaddressed, with a rapper YG releasing a video encouraging those in the black community to rob and hunt Asian business owners. It’s just entertainment they say, treating it as no big deal. In a last few months, several such incidents occurred (there were so many more such cases). I have not seen any left-wing big-name politicians or so-called “civil rights leaders” address this issue, leaving many Asian American business owners to arm and fend for themselves (1992 LA riot, sounds familiar?). What you say or do not say, mean a lot. Mr. Obama, Mr. Al Sharpton, Mr. Jesse Jackson, you couldn’t handle it, or did you care?

As a Reformed Christian, I harbor no illusion that social ills can be cured by government public policy alone. It is only in Christ, with the power of the Gospel through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, can the wall of hostility be destroyed between groups (Ephesians 2). But, still, as a Christian citizen, I, we, have a responsibility to keep our political leaders accountable for their actions and inactions, when they do not faithfully fulfill their mandate and duty to carry out justice (Rom 13). They too, have a duty before God.


世上的光與鹽 salt and light of the world

Some friends look at Trump’s win as a revival of a Christian nation. America is not a Christian nation. It is a nation historically influenced by christianity. This is not our new heaven and earth. Don’t misplace our hope. Long for the return of Christ, not looking to Donald Trump and any one else as Savior and Lord. We are nevertheless called to be the salt and light of the world, we have work to do while here, for his glory. According to the Bible, we are in the world, but not of this world (John 17). This tension will continue to exist until Christ returns.

有朋友誤以為川普之勝利是美國作為基督教國家的復興。但美國不是“基督教”國家。她不過是歷史上深受基督教文明影響的國家。這裡不是我們的新天新地。別錯置我們的盼望。我們的盼望是基督再臨,別把川普或任何政客看作救主。但我們畢竟是世上的光與鹽,要繼續努力,為祂的榮耀。聖經教導,我們在世界中,卻不屬於這世界 (约17)。這張力將持久存在,直到基督再來的日子。


Final thoughts before the Nov. 8th Election

Just a couple of days to go for the 2016 presidential election. This is arguably the most divisive presidential election I personally have experienced. There have been lots of debates, arguments, and even name calling that I have witnessed, in person and on social media. Even within the Christian community in general, and Reformed community in particular, there are different viewpoints as to who is the better candidate (or the lesser of two evils) to vote for.

Despite Trump’s unconventional candidacy, some in the Reformed community are opting to vote for Trump, in an obvious disapproval against Hilary Clinton and the liberal policies she advocates for. Although these folks are not necessarily pleased about Trump’s personal character, they will vote for Trump thinking Trump’s presidency and policy agendas at least will be more in line with conservative values.

There are also some of Reformed Christian background who have made up their minds to vote for Hilary Clinton, citing various reasons, including issues related to immigration and refugees, deep disapproval of Trump’s misogynist rhetoric, and a longing to see a female president elected, among others.

There are still others, myself included, who have strong disapproval against both candidates, and are disappointed with the choices we have. We trust neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump. I believe Hilary Clinton is a disaster for the future of the United States with her liberal policies. I also believe Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States, he is not a principled conservative, he’s a flip flopper at best, and have already openly advocated for positions that are not traditionally conservative.

It doesn’t matter which one of these two characters assumes the presidency, I expect more divisions and controversies would ensue. If Hilary Clinton becomes the president, it is almost certain that she would appoint a liberal justice to the Supreme Court (if it so happens that democrats also control the Senate after the election that would allow her to get her appointments passed), which could have legal and policy implications for many years to come that Christians do not wish to see. Some GOP conservatives have vowed to fight against Hilary Clinton starting from day one of her presidency. If Donald Trump becomes the president, there is no guarantee that he would adopt conservative policies, and his presidency would doubtlessly be so problematic that, it will undermine the abilities of the Republican Party to govern as an effective opposition party for many years to come. I also worry Trump’s populist appeal in some ways resembling Hilter and Mussolini, and the possibility of a constitutional crisis that comes with his presidency.

I thought through the pros and cons  of voting for these two candidates, and I examined my conscience as a Christian and determined that I can’t vote for either of them, considering both as detrimental to this nation and their views as a whole not in line with my values. Therefore, I’m voting for an independent candidate Evan McMullin, who at least is a conservative, though his chance of winning the white house is slim, though not entirely impossible. This is my last-ditch fight, this is my decision, as I can’t violate my Christian conscience by voting for someone who I disagree with so much.

While I disagree with my friends who are voting for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, I respect their decisions, so long as Christians they have thought through their decisions and their consciences are at peace with these decisions. In fact, in my conservation with a well-respected Reformed scholar who supports Trump, we agreed to disagree as to our respective choices for president, we even agreed that our differences would not tear us apart, but will pull us closer as Reformed Christians. After all, our respective voting decisions stem from the same set of motivations and theological and biblical commitments, but we arrived at different political decisions. Christ has broken down the wall of hostility between the Jews and the gentiles; let us not erect a wall of hostility based on a presidential choice in a liberal democracy.

I only urge my friends not to vote for a candidate based on just one single particular policy position, but should evaluate holistically policies that these two candidates are advocating for. For example, while Donald Trump had said that he’s pro-life which is important to many evangelicals (but who knows what he would say in a few days, weeks, and months), he at the same time, appears to be for so-called “LGBT rights,” particularly related to the issue of trans-gender bathrooms, a policy does not sit well with evangelicals. In terms of foreign policy, Donald Trump called for the dissolution of NATO, removing of US troops from Japan and Korea, and letting these two countries possess nuclear weapons. These foreign policy proposals have confused US allies in the Asia pacific, at a time when a nuclear North Korea is becoming more and more erratic by the day. A destabilized East Asia, and the possibility of a war in the Korean peninsula could result in civilian deaths in the tens of thousands, if not millions. We have seen the disastrous outcome of Obama’s inaction in foreign and military policies that had resulted in the rise of ISIS. I had criticized Obama for his policy, which in the end did create instability and sectarian violence and let terror group ISIS fill the vacuum, afflicting the lives of millions of civilians living in Iraq and Syria. Donald Trump’s military and foreign policies would cause further problems, as the US retreats and rogue regimes make aggressive moves militarily. A genuine pro-life person should care not only the lives of unborn children, but should take into consideration the lives of these innocent civilians. Donald Trump would be a disastrous commander-in-chief, whose foreign and military policy decision will impact us all.

Some in the Christian community, including those of the Reformed persuasion had resorted to nasty name calling in this emotionally charged election cycle, going so far as to insinuate that those who disagree with him/her, in not supporting Trump (or in supporting Trump), as unchristian, and therefore unacceptable to God. Some of these folks accuse others as such often based on one particular issue they care about the most, without taking into consideration other policy issues that should receive equal weight. Furthermore, our votes for a particular political candidate should not be a pre-requisite for God’s salvation. The saying that suggests that Christians must vote for a particular political candidate as a precondition for God’s acceptance and salvation has no place in Reformed soteriology, it is outright heresy.

 

In the end of day, as a Reformed Christian, I must trust God’s sovereignty in all of these. No matter what happens, we as Reformed Christians can take comfort in His sovereignty and trust that his will ultimately prevail.


Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos

Antedating the Reformation teaching in Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, Aquinas argued that Christians are “obliged to obey authority that comes from God but not that which is not from God…. Whoever seizes power by violence does not become a true ruler and lord, and therefore it is permissible when the possibility exists for someone to reject that rulership….”
 
早於宗教改革之前,中世紀的神學大家托馬斯 阿奎那在 Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (對抗暴君)中說道,基督徒”有義務順從來自上帝的權柄,但沒有義務順服不是來自上帝的權柄…無論是誰,使用暴力獲得權力者都不是真正的統治者;因此,若有人抗拒這樣的權柄,這也是允許的。

論清教徒

改革宗的圈子在談到清教徒時,通常我們會談論到作為加爾文主義者的清教徒對上帝的敬虔,但是我們極少談到清教徒的政治史以及他們信仰的公共性。這在美國白人或華人改革宗教會中都是如此。華人教會因有將信仰私人化(privatize),屬靈化,甚至神秘化的傾向更是如此。

難道,清教徒的政治史及他們信仰的公共性不值一談麼?使得我們將清教徒如此做了切割,將他們一切為二,高舉了他們的敬虔並將這敬虔私人化;同時又摒棄了他 們信仰敬虔的政治層面公共層面。無怪乎,華人教會中竟也有些朋友將清教徒誤認為是賓州的阿米緒人,即那些與清教徒傳統及神學思想完全相反,毫無干係的離世 主義者。清教徒從來不是避世主義者!

如此切割後的清教徒,似已面目全非。我們有如盲人摸象般,摸到大象的身體一個部位,即大聲喊叫說,『這是大象,這是大象!』。