2009年11月29日 星期日

Advent 1: God's presence in his coming

The movie, 2012, is about the overwhelming natural disaster. One of the shots of the movie is that the Italian Prime Minister joined with the people prayed in Vatican instead of boarding, but there was no miracle. Ironically, St. Peter Cathedral was collapsed and the attendants were killed. Since 2012 is not a Christian movie, we should not expect that there is a shot that God finally manifests and saves.

Regarding the emergence of natural disasters, Christians normally have two kind of responses. Firstly, they are inclined to correlate natural disasters to the Parouisa (the second coming of Jesus). There is nothing wrong of this inclination, because this is what Jesus’ words have implied. He said,

Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see or yourselves
and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you
know that the kingdom of God is near. (Lk 21:29-30)

As a result, with reference to the frequency of natural disasters, they conclude that Jesus will come back soon. In this mentality, they are eager to preach the gospel and to be alert. Secondly, some Christians are inclined to provide theological explanations of natural disasters in order to show that the natural disaster does not come at its own, but under God’s control. This has happened in the outbreak of SARs in 2003, and tsunami in 2004. Religious reason is always very appealing and welcome during the time of natural disasters, for our normal rationality is suspending, and we need reason to go on. Are we satisfied with either of these explanations?

I prefer to neither of them. The message of today’s scripture (Lk 21:25-36) is not about the prediction of the coming of Jesus, for Jesus has said clearly that ‘about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’ (Mk 13:32) Hence, the core message of the passage is simply that God would not leave us alone. Catastrophe can kill, but this is not the last word, for God would save. But is this our experience? For example, does God save our people in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008? One may argue that if God did not stop it, the degree of catastrophe would be more serious. Some even may argue that the earthquake is not far from worldwide, and therefore, Jesus has not returned yet. I have no interest to explain the reason behind the disasters, for the attempts to explain the unexplainable is simply an attempt to control. To believe is learn to accept the unexplainable in lives.

Today scripture not only tells us, but also comfort us that we should not be afraid of what is and will be happening, because in the midst of catastrophe, we will not only see the glory of God, but God’s glory means that God will save (v.27-28). How can we see the people killed in the earthquake without fear? How can we see the people suffered in the time of flooding or drought without fear? In fact, fear is the natural instinct of humankinds in order to prepare ourselves for the worst. There is nothing wrong to fear, but if afraid of something has made you lose the courage to challenge and the hope to fight on, we have submitted to fear more than that fear helps us to prepare. Thus, the promise of God’s salvation has two senses. Firstly, it is about the final salvation. God would not leave us alone. Secondly, in the interim, the promise of God’s salvation strengthens our hearts so that we would not be defeated.

To be honest, the church has no exemption from the destruction of natural disasters, if any. In the movie, 2012, the Vatican is demolished, and the people who pray are killed. I do not think that this is an intention of the director to show that there is no God. On the contrary, I appreciate it very much, because the people of God share the same destiny of the people. Bishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in El Salvador said, ‘I am pleased to know that my priests are also killed, because we share the fate of my people (they are killed by the military).’ The scripture reminds us to see the fig tree and all the trees to know when God’s kingdom is near. We, Christians, may be comforted by this message. But what does this message mean to non-Christians who are in suffering? I think they need a message of God’s presence instead of a message of waiting for the realization of God’s kingdom. Has God’s kingdom arrived or is God’s kingdom coming soon?

It is both, because the incarnation of Jesus is the concrete realization of God’s kingdom, and his Parousia is the complete realization of God’s kingdom which is coming soon. Thus, it is our responsibility to show to non-Christians (the world) the concrete realization of God’s kingdom instead of the completer realization of God’s kingdom, for waiting for God’s kingdom, for them, is simply the absence of God. Matt 25: 31-46 tells us that the presence of God’s kingdom is revealed not in words, but in deed.

In church calendar, the advent is a time to remind us that we should not be afraid, for Jesus is coming. How can we proclaim the message of comfort to our society that does not believe in Jesus' coming? Do we turn our Christian message of comfort to be a message of an absent God?

2009年11月28日 星期六

Conference on church and mission

Next year Jan 27-29, a conference on church and mission will be hold in Aarhus, Denmark. Speakers like Stanley Hauerwas, John Drane and Andrews Walls will deliver speeches. Details of the conference can be read from http://www.teo.au.dk/churchandmission

I was in Aarhus this August to attend a conference on Reformation Theology, and I will be there again in next January to attend the conference on church and mission. Fortunately, I have a good friend staying in Aarhus, and therefore, I can save up some money for accommodation. The paper that I am going to present is Religion as Non-material Cultural Heritage: A Case Study of Ecclesiology in China.

In order to make the trip more economy, I have added a value on it by making side trips. My itineary is as follow:

Jan 23 take the KLM and fly to Edinburgh
Jan 23 Edinburgh, Glasgow
Jan 24 St Andrews
Jan 25 Lake District
Jan 26 York, Cambridge
Jan 27 Fly to Aarhus, and attend the conference
Jan 28 Conference
Jan 29 Conference
Jan 30 Copenhegan
Jan 31 Copenhegan and fly back to Hong Kong
Feb 1 Arrive Hong Kong in afternoon.

2009年11月13日 星期五



究竟我們的神學訓練出現甚麼問題,培養出如此封閉的教牧?是否神學訓練太受教會的意識形態影響,以致對教會狹隘的視野失去批判精神?小圈子的教會生活與人民鴉片無異。每年一度神學生日的主題設計令我對教會的未來更擔心,因為主題從沒有社會向度。若所謂以祈禱和傳道為事(徒六4) 就變得如此狹隘、封閉和落伍時,教會還有甚麼內容可以向社會說。

我對教會的擔心,因為很多牧者缺乏基本常理 (common sense) 。他們以為只懂聖經(實際卻不懂)就足以牧會。結果,他們跟猶太人基要主義者沒有分別,因為他們活在一個二千年前生活形態的社會 (前前現代社會)。或許,教會的悲哀不是沒有聖經,而是只有聖經,一本對神聖物化後的聖經。


2009年11月10日 星期二


學者是否作文能手? 當然, 作文不必然是 '吹水'. 12月中, 小弟有機會跟兩大智者, 釋衍空法師與關俊棠神父討論靈修與教育. 查實, 我不是最佳人選, 因小弟對靈修的經驗很有限. 或許, 我的優點是 yes-man, 和甚麼都很試. 所以, 我也答應參加這次研討. 小弟提交的文章是



2009年11月6日 星期五

A furious response to a rude attack

There is nothing stimulating in the conference, but coming to the end of the conference, I had a word of fight with another keynot speaker. He was a professor of finance, and he commented on me, 'Religion is too timid. It shoud have confidence and courage to criticize the fault of economists. Don't see your contribution as fragments (this is the word I use). It is too timid.' My immediate response is:

I welcome your encouragement, but I am surprised that the economists do not have any self-critical spirit and just wait for the help from religions. How can it be possible that an academic is just waiting the salvation from religion? Religion can't save one who does not consider self-critical important.'

What is his response to me? Well, he simply annoyed me. Perhaps, he never expected that he would be challenged openly and unreservedly.

2009年11月4日 星期三

being away from blog for some time

Since I have returned from my trip, I am very very busy. I do not have time to get money from the bank, no time to buy a birthday gift for my youngest daughter, no time to go to cemetery on Chung Yeung Festival and others. It is hardly to be imagined, but it is a fact. Anyway, I am free now, for I have just finished a paper on 'The Management of the Public Household: Insights from Christian Involvement in the Issue of International Debt'. This paper will be delievered on Friday, and academics from economics, religion and business will comment on it. I hope I can survive. I will take a break tonight, anyway.