Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Theology and Neuroscience: What is the Soul?

I have been thinking about the nature of the human soul especially in the light of the recent scientific advances of neuroscience. I came across Michael Sheiser's interesting blog named The Naked Bible. With a name like that, how can I resist?

Here are some interesting thoughts Michael has on the body-soul

Biblical Anthropology and the Mind-Body Debate, Part 1

Biblical Anthropology and the Mind-Body Debate, Part 2
Biblical Anthropology and the Mind-Body Debate, Part 3

read also his

Biblical Anthropology Posts

The discussion focused on this issue:

In terms of biblical theology, is a human being composed of two parts (flesh/body + immaterial soul) or three parts (flesh/body + soul + spirit)?

Here are the posts in order:

Biblical Anthropology: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7

picture source

Labels: , , ,

Spiritual Formation and Council of Christian Colleges & Universities

Here are some interesting papers on spiritual formation and higher theological education by the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities. Noteworthy is the research paper by Charles Stokes and Mark Regnerus.

Trinity Western University

7600 Glover Road

Langley, British Columbia, Canada

June 24, 2010 - June 26, 2010


Required Readings
Featured DocumentThe CCCU and Spiritual Development of their Students
(by Stokes and Regnerus)

Longing for GodLonging for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion
by Richard J. Foster & Gayle D. Beebe
Watch Richard J. Foster & Gayle D. Beebe discuss their book

Renewing MindsRenewing Minds: Serving Church and Society through Higher Education
by David S. Dockery

Suggested Readings
Featured DocumentThe Great Ommission, Excerpt, Dallas Willard
Click here to download

Featured Document White Paper on Moral Formation, Kent Hill
Click here to download

Featured DocumentThe Great Commadment: A Possible Model for Spiritual Development, Paul R. Corts
Click here to download


Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Batman #700

This is the cover of the August 2010 issue 700 of Batman comic.

This special issue contains an excellent story "Time and The Batman" written by Grant Morrison.

The story involves Batman of the past, Bruce Wayne, Batman of the present, Dick Grayson, and Batman of the future, Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's son. For those who are not aware, Batman (Bruce Wayne) was killed in the final chapter of DC universe earth shaking story arc, Final Crisis. Dick Grayson, the first Robin and latter Nightwing has taken over the mantle of his mentor, Bruce Wayne.

'nuff said.


Labels: , ,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Biomedical Ethics Course-the Aftermath

Dr Alex TanBiomedical Ethics & the Contemporary Church

18, 19, 25, 26 June 2010

Fridays: 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm;

Saturdays 9.00 am to 4.00 pm

Advances in medical treatment modalities, biotechnological innovations, and genetic-molecular manipulations have brought about unique challenges to issues faced by the church today. In this class, a pastoral-theological approach will be used to examine, reflect and develop responses to difficult moral and ethical issues such as test tube and designer babies, facts and fallacies of stem cell therapies, cloning, abortion, mercy-killing, living will, gene therapy, and aesthetic surgery

I have had a great time with an excellent group of enthusiastic students.

Here are some of their comments on facebook.

Ee Yuing 玉盈, Jean Lai, Brian Aja and 2 others like this.

Si Baw Mi Si Baw Mi
We really did. For the first time I felt that block class is kinda short :)
Saturday at 8:48pm

Kok Meng Chan Kok Meng Chan
Interesting and exciting! For the first time, after 2 years in school, I saw more than 90% of the students actively participating in the class discussions. Sometimes, the arguments lasted even longer than the lectures and class presentations. Usually, I don't talked that much in the other classes. Thank you, Dr Tang!
Saturday at 11:16pm ·

Jason CH Yap Jason CH Yap
Hear, hear! Great fun, totally educational ... Thanks!
Saturday at 11:18pm ·

Ee Yuing 玉盈 Ee Yuing 玉盈
It was intense but I learned much from you and the rest of the classmates! Thank you, Alex! :)
Yesterday at 7:06am ·

Boo Hui Ling Boo Hui Ling
Yeah, yeah! I love it too - teacher, classmates, textbooks, homework and course contents! Wahaha oh ya going to hand in my last reflection paper soon ;p

Soli Deo Gloria

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Eagles and Horses

I have been reading and meditating on the Prophet Jeremiah. The book of Jeremiah is so full of wisdom and teaching about authentic worship. Jeremiah 12:5a spoke to me this morning.

If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?

While meditating on that, a John Denver's song Eagles and Horses came to my mind. Here is the video clip of it as he sang it during the 1995 Wildlife Concert.

Horses are creatures who worship the earth
As they gallop on feet of ivory
Constrained by the wonder of dying and birth
The horses still run, they are free

My body is merely the shell of my soul
But the flesh must be given its due
Like a pony that carries its rider back home
Like an old friend that's tried and been true

I had a vision of eagles and horses
High on a ridge in a race with the wind
Going higher and higher and faster and faster
On eagles and horses i'm flying again

Eagles inhabit the heavenly heights
They know neither limit nor bound
They're the guardian angels of darkness and light
They see all and hear every sound

My spirit will never be broken or caught
For the soul is a free-flowing thing
Like an eagle that needs neither comfort nor thought
To rise up on glorious wings

I had a vision of eagles and horses
High on a ridge in a race with the wind
Going higher and higher and faster and faster
On eagles and horses i'm flying again

My body is merely the shell of my soul
But the flesh must be given its due
Like a pony that carries its master back home
Like an old firend that's tried and been true

My spirit will never be broken or caught
For the soul is a free-flowing thing
Like an eagle that needs neither comfort nor thought
To rise up on glorious wings

I had a vision of eagles and horses
High on a ridge in a race with the wind
Going higher and higher and faster and faster
On eagles and horses i'm flying again

Words and music by john denver and joe henry

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bob on Passion, Purpose and Pleasure

Kansas Bob's post on Passion, Purpose and Pleasure based on the movie Chariots of Fire reminds me of two great quotes from the movie. These two quotes are the inspiration for me as I struggle to find time to do ministry in the midst of a busy medical practice.

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast.
And when I run I feel His pleasure.

You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you're dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job.

So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.

Eric Liddel went on to be a missionary in China. When Japan invaded China in 1941, all missionaries were asked to leave. Eric chose to stay and was interned with other missionaries in a concentration camp in 1943. He died in 1945, five months before liberation.


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Struthers on Pornography and the Male Brain

I have read the book recently and find it a fascinating read with many new insights.

This Week in LeadershipThis Is Your Brain on Porn
The science behind the struggle, and how the church can help.

William Struthers is dedicated to understanding the brain. In his role as associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College (IL), Struthers teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience—biological reasons why people make the decisions they do. In Wired for Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain (IVP, 2009), Struthers explores the science behind why men find pornography compelling, what it does to their brains, and how they can find freedom. Leadership associate editor Brandon O'Brien spoke with Struthers to find out how pastors can help men break the patterns of pornography abuse.

| Finish this article |


Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tapsctott on Grown Up Digital

In the Global Conversation on Technology which in was mention in my post Digital Great Commission, Al Erishem mentions the book Growing up Digital. Here is my review of the book.

Tapscott: Grown Up Digital

Don Tapscott (2009) Grown Up Digital : How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, (New York, NY: McGraw Hill)

This is a much anticipated book and I have been looking forward to reading it. Don Tapscott is Chairman of nGenera Innovation Network which is a research company and adjunct professor of management at the Joseph L. Rahman School of Management, University of Toronto. Tapscott is well respected for insightful comments in his books which include Wikinomics, Paradigm Shift, The Digital Economy and Growing Up Digital.

Grown Up Digital is a followup on Tapscott’s earlier 1997 work, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation in which he clarified how different the present generation is from the previous ones because of the improvement in communication technology especially the Internet. Now a decade later, there are enough data to confirm his hypothesis.

This present book is based on the findings of a $4 million research project, “The Net Generation: A Strategic Investigation.” More than 10,000 people were interviewed in 2007 and at least 40 reports have been generated. From his findings a clearer picture of this Net generation is emerging.

Where there are many areas of interest touched upon in this book, almost all are based on the eight “norms’ characteristics of the Net generation. These may be summarised as:

1. They want freedom in everything they do, from freedom of choice to freedom of expression
2. They love to customize, personalize
3. They are the new scrutinizers
4. They look for corporate integrity and openness when deciding what to buy and where to work
5. They wants entertainment and play in their work, education, and social life
6. They are collaboration and relationship generation
7. The Net Gen has a need for speed
8. They are the innovators

Using these descriptive behavioural norms, Tapscott seeks to explain their effect on culture, work attitudes, markets, family, learning and education. The section on the need to adapt learning and education to these norms are especially helpful.

While Tappscott paints an overall positive picture of the Net Gen, it must be pointed out that he is dealing with a particular narrow segment of the North American privileged group of young people (and he seems to model heavily on his own children). It will be interesting to know about the characteristics of the Asian Net Gen or South American Net Gen. One also needs to take into account the digital divide in the Net Gen itself.

Together with the launch of the book, Tappscott has created a website, Grown Up Digital in which a new initiative Net Gen Educator Challenge was also launched. To visit the site, click here.

This is a good book to read about the younger generation and indispensible for educators. Highly recommended.


Four Generations: From 1946 to Present

1. The Baby Boom generation: January 1946 to December 1964 – 19 years

2. Generation X January 1965 to December 1976 – 12 years

3. The Net Generation: January 1977 to December 1997 – 21 years

4. Generation Next: January 1998 to present

Labels: ,

The Digital Great Commission

In my article The Influence of Globalisation on Christian Spiritual Formation in Churches In Malaysia and Singapore I highlight the use of technology may be missional.

Globalisation is not necessary bad. Using the improved communication and extensive networking provided by new technologies, it is easier to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world than before. The Internet has made it possible to reach even the remotest part of any country as long as there is Internet access. It has also allowed even the remotest part of the world with Internet access to be readily accessible. A Christian website may be accessed by anyone, even those in areas not accessible to missionaries. Social networking allows people to connect over long distances which otherwise will not know of one other’s existence. Streaming videos and MP3 allow download of materials anywhere in the world. The global culture has a made inroads into many other cultures. It is a two-way street. Local cultures may influence global culture. There is much potential in the wise use of art, music, video and writings to spread the Gospel. Anyone can upload something onto the Internet and have it viewed by thousands within the hour! YouTube may be used as a media for evangelisation. Virtual Christian faith communities may be set up online. The degree of Christian spiritual formation that may be done through the Internet has not been fully explored.

Christianity Today runs a Global Conversation on technology and mission.

Top Story
The Face-to-Face Gospel and the Death of Distance
Al Erisman says we need to think about ministry in the digital culture the way missionaries think about the culture of the people they serve.

Nigel M. de S. Cameron: Sci-Fi Reality
Wha-Chul Son: Technological Divide
Juan D. Rogers: Not Just Tools
Haron Wachira: Blessings & Curses of Technology

Video: Emotional Robots


Labels: , , , ,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Too Many, Enough or Too Little Dentists in Malaysia

In my post about the Coming oversupply of doctors in Malaysia a reader asked about the situation for dentists.

As I have no knowledge of the situation of the training of dentists in Malaysia, perhaps some one can help.

picture source

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

St. Theophan and Human Freedom

"The goal of human freedom is not in freedom itself, nor it is in man, but in God. By giving man freedom, God has yielded to man a piece of His Divine authority, but with the intention that man himself would voluntarily bring it as a sacrifice to God, a most perfect offering. "

St. Theophan the Recluse

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thomas Aquinas on the Five Ways

An interesting clip of Thomas Aquinas. I also found a fascinating website Thomistic Philosophy, Great stuff here.

Expanded text of 'The Five Ways in Context'

BosMutusCatholic — July 12, 2009 — The historical and literary context for the Five Ways of proving the existence of God found in the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The video describes his life, his joining the Dominican Order of Preachers and the discovery of Aristotle in 12 th century Europe after the crusades, along with Islamic philosophers' commentaries. It outlines Aquinas' resolution of the tension between faith and reason, and explains why he offers proofs for God's existence in a work of theology.


Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If the World is so Dangerous Why Have Children?

Top Story
Peter Singer's Swan Song
Bioethicist asks: 'Why don't we make ourselves the last generation on earth?'

Peter Singer is a bioethicist I love to argue with. Even though we do not agree in many areas, I find his provocative thinking challenging. His latest is that since we all agree that the world is so bad and destructive, why have children? Why bring them into such a dangerous world?

Writing June 6 for The New York Times, Singer asks a characteristically provocative question: "How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?" He wonders whether even the comparatively high Western standard of living is suitable for a fulfilling time on earth...

Singer offers climate change as one threat to the Western way of life. And he pulls no punches while offering one possible response to this potential crisis that he says threatens future generations. "[W]hy don't we make ourselves the last generation on earth? If we would all agree to have ourselves sterilized then no sacrifices would be required—we could party our way into extinction!" Whether he realizes it or not, Singer cites an ethic attested and condemned in Scripture (Isaiah 39:8; 1 Corinthians 15:32). If there is no hope for tomorrow, this dystopian ethic says, at least we don't have to worry about tomorrow. We can live it up today...

Still, Singer prompts us to reflect on why Christians nevertheless enthusiastically bring children into this world. We harbor no false hope about eradicating suffering through evolution. We understand these children to be stained with sin from the beginning. We groan along with a creation subjected to futility, currently awaiting redemption (Rom. 8:19-23). What reason do we have, then, to bring new children into this world?

read more


Labels: , , , ,

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Coming Oversupply of Doctors in Malaysia

I have expressed concern before that Malaysia is producing too many doctors in Too many doctors in Malaysia, Standards of House Officers in Malaysia and The coming surplus of doctors in Malaysia. I am glad that this concern is now been publicly acknowledged by the Malaysia Medical Association and Health Minister. However it may be too late. The 24 medical schools are already churning out graduates while there are many other students in overseas medical schools who will be graduating and coming home soon. The impending oversupply of doctors in Malaysia is going to be a reality soon. Yet I see parents everywhere in Malaysia urging their children to study medicine. Malaysiakini has an relevant article by Susan Loone.

MMA: What sort of doctors are we producing?
Susan Loone
Malaysiakini; Jun 14, 2010
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) expressed concern that the hundreds of house officers (or housemen) who throng major urban hospitals share the same patients and duties.

“What is worse, they have lesser personal time with their trainers, registrars, clinical specialists and consultants,” said MMA president Dr David Quek, when contacted yesterday.

“What sort of doctors would we be producing? This is particularly worrisome, and it would be extremely difficult to train them all well when the glut seems to overflow the system.”
dap education roundtable  meeting 111006 m kulasegaran
Dr Quek was responding to DAP national vice-chairperson M Kula Segaran (left), who had noted on Saturday that 24 medical colleges for a population of 27 million could be a major contributing factor for the projected oversupply of doctors in the next five years.

The Malaysian Medical Council's latest annual report states that the number of doctors (including 3,651 house officers) has hit 27,709.
According to the report, which the MMA cited, Malaysia is expected to produce 3,500- 5,000 medical graduates annually.

Based on an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, the country may have 45,000-50,000 doctors for a population of about 32 million to 35 million people.

If the over-supply continues, there could be a staggering 75,000-80,000 doctors by 2020.

Worry over 'diploma mills'
NONEDr Quek (right) said Malaysia should not emulate countries such as the Philippines, which are exporting trained doctors as re-trained allied health paramedics, as this is a huge waste of money and resources.

He drew a comparison with the legal profession which had around 10,000 registered lawyers about 10 years ago; this year the figure is a mere 14,000.

“Why are we mass-producing doctors with no end in sight, and undermining our hitherto much-vaunted profession?” he queried.

“Our diploma mills unfortunately might then begin to shortchange our uninformed citizens and parents, who relentlessly continue to push their children to enter such a profession, which cannot guarantee their employability at such enormous costs and borrowing.”

Dr Quek, however, noted that Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai is mulling the possibility of imposing a moratorium on private medical colleges following MMA's concerns about a possible glut in poorly trained doctors within the next decade.

Two weeks ago, at the MMA's 50th annual general meeting, Liow said a moratorium is necessary to allow the government to produce quality doctors.

He said there are currently 31,273 registered doctors nationwide with the government focusing on achieving a ratio of 1:600 by 2015.

At the rate we are going, newly graduated doctors may be selling insurance or be pharmaceutic sales representatives soon. Good luck to them all!

Labels: , ,

Abba Anthony and the Judgment of God

When Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, "Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?" He heard a voice answering him, "Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.'



Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Influence of Globalisation on Spiritual Formation

The Influence of Globalisation on Christian Spiritual Formation in Churches in Malaysia and Singapore

The technological advances in telecommunication and the Internet have shrunk the world into a global village. Malaysia and Singapore are actively involved in the globalisation process and its subset glocalisation. While there is no agreed definition of globalisation, it is often understood to have the following characteristics: increasing speed in communication, the interconnected world become smaller, the blurring of national borders, reciprocity, manageable risk, and presence of trust. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the influence of globalisation on Christian spiritual formation in the churches in Malaysia and Singapore, and suggest some possible measures for these churches to enhance the positive effects while limiting the negative ones.

read more

more of my articles on Glocalisation and Spiritual Formation

picture source

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The "WHO vaccine scam"

Now that the Influenza A (H1N1) scare is almost over (almost because that are still irrational fears in Malaysia), a truer picture is appearing of the so called pandemic. What is most damaging so far is an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2010;340:c201), a highly respected medical journal which reveals close financial links between the experts in the WHO who call for the declaration of the pandemic and the vaccine producing pharmaceutical companies. The WHO response is published in the same journal BMJ 2010;340:c987.

More of this "WHO vaccine scam" may be found here

How the scam really worked

Here's a summary of how the WHO vaccine scam worked:

Step 1) Exaggerate the risk: WHO hypes up the pandemic risk by declaring a phase 6 pandemic even when the mortality rate of the virus was so low that it could be halted with simple vitamin D supplements.

Step 2) Urge countries to stockpile: WHO urged nations around the world to stockpile H1N1 vaccines, calling it a "public health emergency."

Step 3) Collect the cash: Countries spend billions of dollars buying and stockpiling H1N1 vaccines while Big Pharma pockets the cash.

Step 4) Get your kickbacks: WHO advisors, meanwhile, collected their kickbacks from the vaccine manufacturers. Those kickbacks were intentionally kept secret.

Step 5) Keep people afraid: In order to keep demand for the vaccines as high as possible, WHO continued to flame the fears by warning that H1N1 was extremely dangerous and everybody should continue to get vaccinated. (The CDC echoed the same message in the USA.)
I believe the Malaysian government still have stockpile of the vaccine and is still trying to get people to be immunized. People are reluctant and there are a sizable number of vaccines left even though it is offered free. There is a lack of vaccine in the private sector as the vaccine companies are not importing more.

My earlier blog post Much Ado about Nothing: Influenza A H1N1 had elicited some positive and negative responses in the blog, Facebook, email and indirect references in other blogs.


Labels: , ,

Creationism or Evolution or both?

Resignation of prominent scholar Bruce Waltke underscores tension over evolution.

Bruce Waltke built a national reputation teaching the Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) for more than 20 years. But in March, when he seemed to challenge evangelicals in a video interview to consider the possibility of evolution or risk being seen as a "cult," Waltke's scholarly life exploded.

Seminary administrators asked Waltke to have the video removed from the website of BioLogos, a nonprofit promoting the integration of Christianity and science. Waltke promptly did so, but the video already had kicked up controversy. In early April, the renowned scholar resigned from RTS's Orlando campus.

Waltke's video addressed the barriers evangelicals face in considering the possibility of evolution, a process he believes is guided and sustained by God. Waltke said that "if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world."

read more

It seems the time has come for Christians to take a serious objective look at creationism and evolution. I respect Bruce Waltkle and his scholarship is impeccable.


Labels: ,

Monday, June 07, 2010

State of Marriage: Married, Separated, Divorce

Christianity Today, June (Web-only), 2010
Speaking Out

Why separating can be pro-family.

There are inconvenient truths.

Earlier this week, Al and Tipper Gore announced to a small circle of close friends via e-mail—and thus to the world—that they are separating after 40 years of a seemingly very happy and successful marriage.

Far too often we are surprised by news that a couple is divorcing when we all thought things were fine. But seldom do we hear, as we did with Al and Tipper, that a couple is separating. Was this carefully crafted PR language to avoid the "d word"—or is this truly descriptive of their situation? Few know. Regardless, it provides an opportunity to discuss marital separation and what it can mean for marriage.

read more

It is interesting to note about the "grace of separation." Are Christians now called to accept three categories of marriage: (1) married, (2) separated and (3) divorce ?


Labels: ,

Saturday, June 05, 2010

CT: What We Learned about Africa

Spotlight: What We Learned About Africa
The Pew Forum issued an extensive report on the world's "most religious" continent.

Download a PDF of this article here

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 04, 2010

John Armstrong on Infant Baptism

I have been meaning to write a post about infant baptism but have not come around to it yet. However I have posted on modes of baptism. In the meantime read why John Armstrong, a Baptist minister and author of newly launched Your Church is Too Small and founder of ACTS 3 on Why he [I] changed his [my] view on infant baptism.

picture source

Labels: , ,

Ethics in the Emergency Room

This issue focus on ethics in the ER.

Virtual Mentor :: American Medical Association  Journal of Ethics |
(For best results, view as HTML or request text version from

Virtual Mentor. June 2010, Volume 12, Number 6: 435-516. Full Issue PDF

June 2010 Contents

Time and Resource Constraints in the Emergency Room

From the Editor

Keeping Ethics Alive in the ED
Thomas Robey
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:437-439.

Educating for Professionalism

Clinical Cases

Make It OK That This Life Is Ending
Commentary by Caroline Pace
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:440-443.

Taking No for an Answer—Refusal of Life-Sustaining Treatment
Commentary by Stephanie Cooper
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:444-449.

Resource Allocation Shake-Up
Commentary by Damon Allen Darsey and Robert Galli
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:450-454.

Medical Education

Preparing for the Unexpected—Teaching ER Ethics
Kelly A. Edwards and Thomas Robey
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:455-458.

The Code Says

AMA Code of Medical Ethics’ Opinion on Physician Duty to Treat
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:459.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 03, 2010

An African Perspective on the Prosperity Gospel

From the Lausanne Theology Working Group, Africa chapter at its consultations in Akropong, Ghana, 8-9 October, 2008 and 1-4 September 2009

NOTE: This is a statement, offered as a discussion starter for further reflection (theological, ethical, pastoral and missiological, socio-political and economic) on the phenomenal rise of prosperity teaching around the world at large and Africa in particular. The points below are a digest of many points made in the course of the discussion of three papers at the Oct. 2008 and ten papers at the Sept 2009 consultations.

We define prosperity gospel as the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the "sowing of seeds" through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings. We recognize that prosperity teaching is a phenomenon that cuts across denominational barriers. Prosperity teaching can be found in varying degrees in mainstream Protestant, Pentecostal as well as Charismatic Churches. It is the phenomenon of prosperity teaching that is being addressed here not any particular denomination or tradition.

  • However, we reject as unbiblical the notion that God's miraculous power can be treated as automatic, or at the disposal of human techniques, or manipulated by human words, actions or rituals.

  • However, we reject the unbiblical notion that spiritual welfare can be measured in terms of material welfare, or that wealth is always a sign of God's blessing (since it can be obtained by oppression, deceit or corruption), or that poverty or illness or early death, is always a sign of God's curse, or lack of faith, or human curses (since the Bible explicitly denies that it is always so)

  • However, we reject as dangerously contradictory to the sovereign grace of God, the notion that success in life is entirely due to our own striving, wrestling, negotiation, or cleverness. We reject those elements of Prosperity Teaching that are virtually identical to 'positive thinking' and other kinds of 'self-help' techniques.We are also grieved to observe that Prosperity Teaching has stressed individual wealth and success, without the need for community accountability, and has thus actually damaged a traditional feature of African society, which was commitment to care within the extended family and wider social community.

  • However, we do not believe that Prosperity Teaching provides a helpful or biblical response to the poverty of the people among whom it flourishes. And we observe that much of this teaching has come from North American sources where people are not materially poor in the same way.

  • However, we are distressed that much use of the Bible is seriously distorted, selective, and manipulative. We call for a more careful exegesis of texts, and a more holistic biblical hermeneutic, and we denounce the way that many texts are twisted out of context and used in ways that contradict some very plain Bible teaching.

  • And especially, we deplore the fact that in many churches where Prosperity Teaching is dominant, the Bible is rarely preached in any careful or explanatory way, and the way of salvation, including repentance from sin and saving faith in Christ for forgiveness of sin, and the hope of eternal life, is misrepresented and substituted with material wellbeing.

  • However, numerical growth or mega-statistics may not necessarily demonstrate the truth of the message that accompanies it, or the belief system behind it. Popularity is no proof of truth; and people can be deceived in great numbers.

  • Yet it seems clear that there are many aspects of Prosperity Teaching that have their roots in that soil. We therefore wonder if much popular Christianity is a syncretised super-structure on an underlying worldview that has not been radically transformed by the biblical gospel. We also wonder whether the popularity and attraction of Prosperity Teaching is an indication of the failure of contextualization of the Gospel in Africa.

  • However, we observe equally that many people have been duped by such teaching into false faith and false expectations, and when these are not satisfied, they 'give up on God', or lose their faith altogether and leave the church. This is tragic, and must be very grievous to God.

  • But we deplore the clear evidence that many of them have in practice moved away from key and fundamental tenets of evangelical faith, including the authority and priority of the Bible as the Word of God, and the centrality of the cross of Christ.

  • However, there are aspects of the lifestyle and behaviour of many preachers of Prosperity Teaching that we find deplorable, unethical, and frankly idolatrous (to the god of Mammon), and in some of these respects we may be called upon to identify and reject such things as the marks of false prophets, according to the standards of the Bible.

read more

First Draft by Rev. Dr. Chris Wright (Chair, Lausanne Theology Working Group); edited by Rev. Dr. John Azumah (Member, Lausanne Theology Working Group); in collaboration with Rev. Prof. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Chair of the Akropong consultations.

This is a collated digest of points made by many contributors, through the written papers and the discussion that followed them.

also please read my Examining the Theology of the Word-Faith Movement


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Biomedical Ethics Course

Dr Alex TanBiomedical Ethics & the Contemporary Church (2 credit class)

Dr Alex Tang

18, 19, 25, 26 June 2010

Fridays: 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm;

Saturdays 9.00 am to 4.00 pm

Advances in medical treatment modalities, biotechnological innovations, and genetic-molecular manipulations have brought about unique challenges to issues faced by the church today. In this class, a pastoral-theological approach will be used to examine, reflect and develop responses to difficult moral and ethical issues such as test tube and designer babies, facts and fallacies of stem cell therapies, cloning, abortion, mercy-killing, living will, gene therapy, and aesthetic surgery


Click here for more details


The Church: A Family Affair

2010 > MayChristianity Today, May, 2010
A Family Affair
What would the church look like if it put we before me?

What if church is a relational entity? challenges Joseph Hellerman, professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He is the author of When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus' Vision for Authentic Christian Community (B&H Academic).

His definition of church resonances with my thinking on what being church is all about.

Spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. Persons who remain connected with their brothers and sisters in the local church almost invariably grow in self-understanding. And they mature in their ability to relate in healthy ways to God and to fellow human beings. This is especially the case for those courageous Christians who stick it out through the messy process of interpersonal conflict. Long-term relationships are the crucible of genuine progress in the Christian life. People who stay grow.

read more

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Recommendation on Flu Vaccine for Children under 5

Professor Jim Bishop AO


Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer


1 June 2010



After consideration of the results to date of a comprehensive investigation into the safety of the seasonal flu vaccine for young children, I have advised, that as a precaution, the suspension of seasonal flu vaccination should continue for healthy children under five years of age.

Since the first reports of a higher than usual occurrence of fever with convulsions in young children following seasonal flu vaccination in WA in April, investigations nationally have confirmed that a small number of children aged under five across the country have experienced fever with convulsions in the 24 hours after vaccination with the 2010 seasonal influenza vaccine. These reactions have been associated mainly with Fluvax, manufactured by CSL.

The investigation conducted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), in association with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance has identified no apparent clinical, biological or epidemiological factors that would explain the higher than expected observed rates of fever with convulsions. Laboratory testing of the vaccine by the TGA and an audit of the CSL manufacturing plant have also revealed no abnormalities to explain this event. However this investigation is continuing.

Nevertheless, to date, epidemiological analyses point to a rate of febrile convulsions in children aged under five years following 2010 seasonal influenza vaccination of about 9 per 1000 children vaccinated, while the expected rate would be less than 1 per 1000.

While I am recommending that healthy children aged under five years not be vaccinated with seasonal flu vaccine this year, where a child aged under five has medical risk factors that would cause serious health effects for the child if they got the flu, parents should discuss with their doctor whether, on clinical evaluation of the risks and benefits, a seasonal flu vaccination would be the best option.

More information is available on the Immunise Australia Hotline at 1800 671 811.

Media contact: Kay McNiece, 0412 132 585


Labels: , ,

Benson's Choice: 5 Books on Prayer

Picks from Robert Benson, author of 'In Constant Prayer.'

A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants
Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck (Upper Room)

This is the book that first showed me that prayer is more than talking to God whenever I want, about whatever I want. In its pages, I met the monks and mystics and poets and pilgrims who have continued to draw me into the mystery of prayer.

* * *

The Book of Common Prayer

The sheer poetry of this version of the ancient liturgies, psalms, and prayers translated into English remains, for me, the standard for corporate prayer in the Christian tradition. The language itself rises as incense; I suspect the psalmist would agree.

* * *

The Rule of Saint Benedict
Saint Benedict (Vintage)

This book taught me that prayer is not an attachment to a life lived for God—it is the center of a life lived with God. Sometimes a single preposition can make all the difference.

* * *

Thoughts in Solitude
Thomas Merton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

"Father Louie," as Merton was known, is the one who taught me what the fruits of a life of prayer, or at least one in pursuit of prayer, might turn out to be. His is the first book I downloaded to my iPhone when I was dragged across the bridge to the 21st century.

* * *

The Book of Hours
Prayers to a Lowly God

Rainer Maria Rilke (Northwestern University Press)

Rilke is my favorite poet, and his book of prayers based on the monastic hours opened me up to the way ancient prayer, prayed by the faithful for centuries, might take root in me, that I might finally come to hear and say the "prayer of God that is rising in my heart."

* * *

Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today.