Monday, October 31, 2005

The Festival of the Reformation

Reformation Day is a red-letter day in remembrance of the Protestant Reformation. It takes place on October 31 and is an official holiday in many countries. It coincides with Halloween.

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Within the Lutheran church, Reformation Day is considered a major church holiday, and is officially referred to as The Festival of the Reformation. The Sunday before Oct. 31 (or the day itself, if it falls on a Sunday) is known as Reformation Sunday, and is celebrated with a special service. One tradition that practically all Lutheran churches carry forward to this day is holding a special performance of A Mighty Fortress is our God during this service.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Christian Pragmatism 101: How To Grow Your Church

So how do we actually "grow" a church?

Thanks to Jenn Hui, I have discovered this Flash movie through his blog. Created by Chris Carmichael, who is the webmaster of, it denounces the seeker-sensitive movement and the worldy appeal of megachurches.

The Internet Monk has also recently posted a pretty long rant about the church growth movement that is influencing many small churches to imitate the youth-focused model of the megachurches. Here is a short excerpt:
Today, nothing divides churches like music. You could deny the Trinity and fare better in most churches that you will if you criticize the direction of worship as done by the Praise Team.
Where is the pastor? He has been backed into a corner by this freight train of change, particularly if it is at all successful in getting a few young people into the church. He can now do nothing that would discourage their attendance. The entire salvation of the community’s young people- and hence the fate of America itself- rides on keeping these kids in church. So it’s going to be more music. More bands. More praise. Less preaching. Less teaching. Preaching that is not the main event. Preaching that is conscious that people came to be emotionally moved by music. The preacher in many a Church On The Corner is a marked man. He is an obnoxious fixture in a worship service that is turning into a concert. He is a reminder of what we don’t like about church.
The following words in a comment to the article really resonates!
That factor is the tendency of people to now measure a church’s worthiness based on the music. And more specifically, the people are looking for a certain feeling they get when worshipping. I am tired of hearing from people who change churches and say, “I didn’t feel God in the worship service.”
You can click here to view the Flash movie.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Singapore schools forbid evangelism

This letter appeared in the Straits Times newspaper today:
No proselytising allowed in schools

A RECENT Insight article ('Say aaah... men'; ST, Oct 15) discussed the issue of proselytising.

Any form of proselytising to students is strictly not allowed in our schools, including both government and mission schools. Schools will take action against any teacher found to have engaged in proselytising.

The article cited the case of a National Junior College physics lecturer who invited his class to a Christmas party and prayed over them, and who attached Christian sayings to his lecture notes. The principal has warned the lecturer and counselled him. The lecturer is remorseful about his actions.

If parents have any concerns regarding any action involving their children being encouraged to join a religion other than their own, I encourage them to approach the school.

Ms Geraldine Chay Mei Fong ('Not true that all schools are secular'; ST, Oct 14) pointed out that religious values are imparted in mission schools. She supported this practice, and felt that parents who want a secular education for their children should send them to government schools.

Mission schools follow clear rules. While they can conduct prayers, religious classes and chapel services or mass, these must be optional. They cannot compel any student to participate in any religious activity against the student's wish.

Students are allowed to withdraw from any such activity if they are uncomfortable with participating in it, or if requested by their parents.

Further, attendance at any such activity cannot be a condition for students to be admitted to the school. The time used for these activities must also be in addition to that required for the schools to cover the subjects in the regular Ministry of Education curriculum.

It is in school that children of different backgrounds build bonds and develop shared aspirations as Singaporeans. We encourage parents and schools to work together to ensure that we sustain the strong social cohesion that we have built so far.

Wong Siew Hoong
Director of Schools
Ministry of Education
While I agree that teachers have a responsibility to perform their official duties during school hours, I see no reason why teachers could not befriend their students and preach the gospel outside of the school premises.

Sure, the Word of God tells us to submit to all authorities (Romans 13:1-7). However, there are, of course, obvious exceptions to this Biblical teaching. Take for instance, in cases where the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned, we are to disobey ungodly rules and laws that hinders evangelism.

The Acts of the Apostles recorded the following historical event that took place:
Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

Acts 5:27-32 NIV

And of course, there is this unmistakeable commandment in the Bible that is otherwise known as the Great Commission:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

Singapore authorities allow access to

It seems that the Chick Publications website is now accessible by Internet surfers in Singapore. In the past, the MDA (Media Development Authority of Singapore) blocked Singaporeans from accessing this website for quite a period of time.

For readers who may not be aware, is an extremely radical Christian website that is KJV-only, anti-Islam, anti-Roman Catholic, anti-rock music, anti-homosexual, anti-D&D etc. The man responsible for Chick Publications is Jack Chick. If you do a Google search, you could find a couple of anti-Chick and parody sites in the Internet. The distinctive trait of Chick Publications is its cartoon tracts, which makes for a very engaging reading experience. However, because of the organization's Arminian stance and dispensational theology, I would hesitate at using some of its cartoon tracts as evangelistic tools.

More information about can be found in this Wikipedia article.

Update (26 Oct 2005 3:52 AM): MDA has once again blocked the website.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Reformation Day Conference 2005

There is an upcoming conference that is organized by the Evangelical Reformed Churches in Singapore. The theme of the conference is "The Modern Gospel: Truth or Lie?" Admission is free. More details can be found in the website

Date: 3rd Nov 2005, Thur (public holiday)
Time: 2pm to 5pm
Venue: Pavilion theatrette (5th floor), Singapore Post Centre, 10 Eunos Road 8, Singapore 408600. (next to Paya Lebar MRT station).
Speaker: Rev Jason Lee Kortering


Message 1: The Gospel, Salvation in Jesus Christ
  • The gospel in the life of Martin Luther
  • The gospel of the Reformation - the five solas
  • The heart of the gospel, justification by faith
  • The opposition by the modern gospel
  • A challenge for the children of the Reformation
Message 2: The Gospel, God's Power to Save
  • The historical test of God's sovereignty
  • Sovereign grace expressed in TULIP
  • A Scriptural illustration
  • The importance of preaching sovereign grace
The following questions will be answered at the Conference.
  1. What did God do in the Sixteenth Century Reformation?
  2. How did the Reformation begin in the life of Martin Luther?
  3. Is personal salvation still important today?
  4. How can a person become good enough to be accepted by God?
  5. Is God able to save me if I do not want it?
  6. How should the gospel be preached today?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Modern Evangelical Shorter Catechism

(One must read the Westminster Shorter Catechism to better appreciate the satirical humor in this article)

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Why do you say man? Aren't women included?

Q. What is the chief end of humankind?
A. I dunno. To just do it.

Q. What rule has God given that we may glorify and enjoy Him?
A. Rules? Is this one of those legalistic churches?

Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach that we must learn to love and accept ourselves.

Q. What is God?
A. Were you under the impression that I wanted to go to seminary?

Q. Are there more gods than one?
A. I suppose not. At least not in our denomination.

Q. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. What are you talking about?

Q. What are the decrees of God?
A. You mean like predestination and all that?

Q. Yes.
A. I think that God wants us to be free. He knows everything, of course, but He still gave us free will. I couldn't worship a God who didn't do that.

Q. How does God execute His decrees?
A. Do you have to call them decrees?

Q. How does God work out His will?
A. Well, He looks down the corridors of time and sees what is happening and that is what He wanted anyways.

Q. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is what happened back at the start of everything.

Q. How did God create man?
A. I heard a guest lecturer at our church say one time that there really isn't any conflict between the Bible and modern science.

Q. Fine. How did God create man?
A. Each day in Genesis could really have been millions of years. That means that evolution could just have been God's way of creating us.

Q. What are God's works of providence?
A. Providence?

Q. Providence.
A. I think providence is when God looks down on us and sort of watches what we do. If we look like we are going to really get into trouble, He can help out. If we pray really hard.

Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is the lack of self-esteem.

Q. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?
A. No. Why would that happen?

Q. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of His redemption when we ask Him into our hearts.

Q. What is justification?
A. Justification is when we ask Jesus into our hearts too.

Q. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is trying to learn to love yourself so that you can try to love others.

Q. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is what the Jews had to do in the Old Testament. But we're under grace, not law.

Q. What is required in the first commandment?
A. No other gods. Each religion has to worship its own god in its own way.

Q. What is required in the second commandment?
A. Um . . . I think that's the one about graven images. The Jews really hated graven images. I learned that from the Jesus movie.

Q. What is required in the third commandment?
A. Not to cuss.

Q. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. What was the fourth commandment again?

Q. Sabbath.
A. That's the one about going to church.

Q. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. Can I look at this sheet here?

Q. Sure.
A. Okay. Parents. The fifth commandment says that we should love our parents and try to forgive them for how they brought us up. Even though mine didn't give me the support that every child has a right to.

Q. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. Don't kill people.

Q. What is required in the seventh commandment?
A. Not to have sex with another woman until after the divorce is final. And it is probably best not to be in the same church with your ex.

Q. What is required in the eighth commandment?
A. Don't take things home from the office. Or, at least no more than everybody else.

Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. Not to tell lies. But everybody does.

Q. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. Don't read catalogs so much that you wind up charging over your credit card limit. At least, that's what works for me.

Douglas Wilson, A Modern Evangelical Shorter Catechism, Credenda Agenda