Monday, April 16, 2007

Sang Kancil Theology

Reading the posting on Alywn's blog about the response of the Malaysian church to Malaysian problems reminds me of a survey I did some time ago in an amateur attempt to articulate a contextualised Malaysia theology which I called "Sang Kancil Theology". (apologies to Sherman who is doing real academic research on contextualisation). I wrote,

There is no church involvement with the surrounding communities. The church is wary of government and the Islamisation efforts of the government in schools. Members are also wary of materialist influences from an affluence lifestyle. They feel marginalised in the economic and educational opportunities in the country. There is no political involvement. Life is often fragmented between workplace and church."

The reason for this withdrawal from society may be fear of involvement and drawing attention to themselves in a society that is hostile to Christianity. It may also due to the Malaysia Presbyterian tradition. Roxborough wrote, “the focus for many congregations is essentially that of their own life.... denominational expressions of ‘social concerns’ are limited.”

Sang Kancil, the mousedeer is a small defenseless animal in a jungle full of predators. It survives by blending into the background, remaining motionless and hoping that the predators will leave it alone. It makes no attempt to change its surroundings. This is the theology that has evolved over the years as the [this particular] church seeks to true to its calling and be relevant in its socio-political-economic climate. There was no conscious effort to create this (Sang Kancil)theology.

And this also brought to mind, what Datuk Paul Low wrote in A Spiritual Healthcheck of the Church in Malaysia, (published 2007 by NECF Malaysia Research Commission) in the chapter entitled, "Church Governance- A Viewpoint". He is comparing Malaysian churches that are Church-centred and Kingdom-centred in an excellent table.

He comments

It is worth reminding ourselves that Christ will come for His Bride (singular) and not brides (plural). That is, churches must begin to forge a kingdom perspective by eliminating inward-looking and extending services externally, such as serving and collaborating with other churches through the sharing of resources, knowledge and experience. (p.73)

This is an excellent reminder for the Malaysian churches to be kingdom minded and by the grace of God come out of the Sang Kancil theological framework.



Anonymous sk said...

Hi Dr Tang, your construction of the Sang Kancil theology is probably as serious as my "real academic research on contextualisation" gets!

I'd love to read more about it.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi sk,

you can read my *blush* amateur theological construct here.

1:35 AM  

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