How do you define Culture Today?


Culture in the postmodern context is seen not as ‘static, homogenous, closed, ordered and territorial’ but ‘ever-changing, fragmented, porous, chaotic, and translocal.’[1] Culture in postmodernity is: …a pattern of meanings encased in a network of symbols, myths, narratives and rituals, created by individuals and subdivisions, as they struggle to respond to the competitive pressures of power and limited resources in a rapidly globalizing and fragmented world, and instructing its adherents about what is considered to be the correct way to feel, think and behave.[2] Do you agree with the above? [1] Arbuckle, G.A. (2010) Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians: A Postmodern Critique (Liturgical Press), xxi, … Continue reading How do you define Culture Today?

Spiritual but not Religious?


People today often identify themselves as spiritual but not religious. Of course much can be said of the actual definitions of being ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’, but in general, people take that by being spiritual but not religious means they do not need to associate themselves with an organised religious body. My reading of various sources seem to cause me to conclude that this is a necessary reaction towards the religious institution or organised religion in the postmodern age, by people who reject the institution due to their ‘modern’ outlook and modus operandi. Like many others, I have become convicted that … Continue reading Spiritual but not Religious?

Could the Increase of Interest in Spirituality erode the Church?


I wrote about the challenge of the church in the postmodern age. One of the key changes in the postmodern age is the increase of interest in spirituality and the reluctance to be limited by organised religion. Other reports have confirmed this: Over one-third of churchgoers attend services in more than one church. One in four attends services in different faiths, according to another Pew survey. More than one in five Christians believe in astrology, reincarnation, and spiritual energy in trees and nature. Seventeen percent believe in in the “evil eye” (casting curses on others). Over the last twenty years, … Continue reading Could the Increase of Interest in Spirituality erode the Church?

An Atheist Church?


An Atheist Church – Atheistic Culture Coming of Age I heard about this new Atheist Church in Britain a few days ago and wondered how would a Christian feel when attending the assembly. My questions are answered by this post, which is an actual account of a person experiencing it on one Sunday. There are two things mentioned in the post which strike me. First, the talk by a physicist, which reminds me of how my little venture into science years ago actually brought me closer to God. So if the report of the above blog post is accurate, the … Continue reading An Atheist Church?

Malaysian English – A Case of Inculturation


This clip is not only hilarious it should also serve as good material for studies of inculturation. ‘Get down’ of a car is a proper Chinese expression (下车), as in Chinese one does not get ‘out’ of a car but get ‘down’ from it. In fact the word ‘car’ means a whole range of vehicles – from the ancient chariot (马车, which literally means horse-car) to the automobile (汽车). So naturally, when a Malaysian Chinese thinks of getting out of the car, his Chinese mind directs him to the literal meaning in Chinese, which translates ‘get down’. Of course this … Continue reading Malaysian English – A Case of Inculturation

Inculturation Explained


The standard explanation for the meaning of inculturation is from the REDEMPTORIS MISSIO: Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples’ Culture 52. As she carries out missionary activity among the nations, the Church encounters different cultures and becomes involved in the process of inculturation. The need for such involvement has marked the Church’s pilgrimage throughout her history, but today it is particularly urgent. The process of the Church’s insertion into peoples’ cultures is a lengthy one. It is not a matter of purely external adaptation, for inculturation “means the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity and the … Continue reading Inculturation Explained

Is ‘Allah’ a Translation?


I have finally come to understand why some Muslim in Malaysia are so against the use of ‘Allah’ by other religions, especially the Christians. One of the reasons, of course, has to do with theology. The Islamic faith has no notion of incarnation and hence, no idea of contextualisation or inculturation. The expansion of the Islamic faith is a socio-political-cultural expansion, and has always been geographical. Wherever it spreads to it brings along a set of cultural practices which is more or less fixed – the way of life, worship and rituals. On the other hand, the Christian faith has … Continue reading Is ‘Allah’ a Translation?

Why is Modern Church in the Postmodern World Declining


       Excerpt from my MA dissertation: [Today,] the culture has changed so much that while the world in general has abandoned or reacted toward over-rationalised ways of thinking and lifestyle, the highly rationalised church, which Drane considers an example of being successfully contextualised to the previously dominant rationalised worldview, is left behind and finds it hard to follow the change.1 The following paragraphs will serve to depict the severely ‘modernised’ church. By applying the concept of ‘McDonaldization’ on the church, Drane laments the over-rationalisation of the church which makes the church no more than just another modern system that adhere … Continue reading Why is Modern Church in the Postmodern World Declining

China and the Christian Impact


Excerpt from ‘A Conflict of Cultures’, the Review of: China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures Jacques Gernet – Cambridge University Press, 1985, by J.S. Cummins: Translating and closely analysing contemporary Chinese material, Gernet show that it was not merely clerical squabbles, doctrines, rituals or customs which separated missionary and potential convert. The twain were unable to meet because their respective world-pictures differed radically: the Chinese mind-set, for instance, rooted in concepts from the Sino-Tibetan family of languages, found literally inconceivable Christian ideas evolved from the Graeco-Roman- Judaic-Scholastic mental world. And vice versa. The literati, by and large … Continue reading China and the Christian Impact

Private Truth = No Truth At All


‘A private truth for a limited circle of believers is no truth at all. Even the most devout faith will sooner or later falter and fail unless those who hold it are willing to bring it into public debate and to test it against experience in every area of life. If the Christian faith about the source and goal of human life is to be denied access to the human realm, where decisions are made on the great issues of the common life, then it cannot in the long run survive even as an option for a minority.’ Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness … Continue reading Private Truth = No Truth At All

Lesslie Newbigin


The church could have escaped persecution by the Roman Empire if it had been content to be treated as a cultus privatus—one of the many forms of personal religion. But it was not. Its affirmation that “Jesus is Lord” implied a public, universal claim that was bound eventually to clash with the cultus publicus of the empire. The Christian mission is thus to act out in the whole life of the whole world the confession that Jesus is Lord of all. Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: Introduction to the Theology of Mission, p. 16–17 Taken from Kingdom Come   When the light shines freely one … Continue reading Lesslie Newbigin