ETHOS Institute™ for Public Christianity

A Christian think tank formed by the National Council of Churches of Singapore, Trinity Theological College and The Bible Society of Singapore.

Aug 2016 CREDO Thumbnail -Speaking about God



CREDO: Bible + Apologetics + Doctrine

CREDO is a new monthly column that addresses issues related to the Bible, apologetics and doctrine. 

Speaking About God

by Dr Roland Chia

The Christian faith is premised on the belief that since God has revealed himself, the Church as the recipient of this divine self-disclosure is able to say something true about him. Put differently, Christians believe that their speech about God – in their prayers, worship and sermons – is both objective and true.

This assertion concerning the veracity and truthfulness of the Church’s speech about God has been subjected to attack and ridicule since the Enlightenment, especially in the writings of its more radical spokesmen like the French philosopher and encyclopaedist Baron d’Holbach. In our time, writers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens – the so-called ‘new atheists’ – have continued this campaign of rubbishing all forms of theological or religious language.

Even the more sympathetic among the modern philosophers have questioned the epistemic significance of much of theological language.

For example, R. M. Hare, writing in the 1960s argues that religious language says nothing objective about reality but only expresses the outlook of the person or community who uses it. While Hare is willing to concede that some theological speech – or bliks as he calls them – may be meaningful, the claims that they make cannot be empirically verified.

Read More

ETHOS Web Panel-feature2

Niebuhr in Asia: Christianity and Culture

by Dr Greg Clarke

When we speak of ‘culture’, what do we mean? It is a notoriously slippery term, especially so when an Australian is writing for an unseen global readership! Culture can be ‘your culture’, ‘my culture’ or ‘our culture’. It can be as broad or as specific as one wishes. But in order to discuss its relationship with Christianity, we will need a working definition. For its inherent value in this discussion, I consider T.S. Eliot’s definition as powerful: “culture is an incarnation of the religion of the people”.[1] By this, the great poet meant that culture arises from beliefs; it is the offspring of beliefs.

If Eliot is correct, then it is the spiritual capital of a race or nation that forms the backbone of its culture. This can be seen in very explicit ways (in religious architecture, for example). But it can also be extremely integrated and organic in its expression. For example, a culture that holds a high place for children will exhibit different characteristics to one that does not. The set of beliefs in operation in a society concerning an afterlife will be seen to have effects on a culture’s approach to war, environmental issues, health care, and disability.

 This paper addresses the way any particular culture—Singaporean, Australian or otherwise—might relate to the Christian faith. This assumes that Christianity is more than a culture, a view that might be challenged by post-metaphysical thinkers...

Read More

ETHOS Web Panel-pulse

Bloody Witness

by Dr Roland Chia

In November 2010, Fr. Christian Mbusa Bakulene and a parish worker were walking to St. John the Baptist Church in Kanyabayonga in the province of North Kivu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, when two armed men in combat fatigue stopped them and asked: “Which one of you is the priest?” They shot Fr. Bakulene and walked away, leaving his companion unharmed.

This is just one of the many random cases of persecution that Christians are facing all over the world today. They are the tip of the tip of a very large iceberg.

Most Christians in the West and in countries like Singapore are not even aware of the extent of the problem and the plight of our brothers and sisters in many countries across the globe.

Here are the facts.

More Christians were killed for their faith in the 20th century than all the previous centuries combined. According to the world’s leading demographers of religion David B. Barrett and Todd Johnson, out of the 70 million martyrs since the time of Christ, about 45 million died for their faith in the 20th century.

Read More

Upcoming Events

27 Sep 2016 – ETHOS Public Lecture: Salvation by only One Name? What about the Other Religions?
by Dr Tan Loe Joo
Venue: St Andrew's Cathedral, Prayer Hall A-C
Time: 8pm – 9.30pm

18 Oct 2016 – ETHOS Institute Annual Lecture 2016: Theology Amid an InfoComm Technology Revolution - An Asian Perspective
Speaker: Dr Tan Gee Paw
Time: 8pm – 9.30pm

Featured Video

ETHOS Conference 2016: Human Sexuality, Marriage and The Church
and more sessions of the Conference are available at videos under RESOURCES.

Other videos are available at RESOURCES