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.

 


May 2017 Feature Article 

Pop Music, Pragmatism, and Christianity

by Rev. Billy Kristanto

In February 2016, Singapore’s Catholic archbishop Goh urged his fellow Catholics to differentiate “pseudo arts” from “authentic arts that lead us to God.” The criticism was directed toward the “Queen of Pop”, Madonna.

In everyday discourse, the term popular music can generally be described as types of music of lower complexity than art music, having wide appeal, and ready to be enjoyed by large numbers of musically uneducated people rather than only by a certain élite. Its identifying elements can include the use of simple melodic tunes and repeated choruses.

How should Christians view and evaluate pop music along with the culture it spawns?

In order to understand the phenomena of popular art, we must understand a certain philosophical background that has helped these phenomena to flourish, that is, the philosophy of pragmatism.

According to the pragmatist philosopher Dewey, the special function of art lies above all in the enhancement of human immediate experience. The supremacy of the aesthetic is that art can be immediately enjoyed. The final standard in pragmatism is not truth but experience.

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Formulaic Christianity

By Dr Leow Theng Huat

An Amusing Incident in Acts 19

Acts 19:11-20 recounts a somewhat amusing incident which took place in the city of Ephesus in the first century. By God’s grace, the apostle Paul had a powerful ministry in this place, one which involved amazing miracles.

This demonstration of power greatly impressed some of the Jewish exorcists who were working in Ephesus. They wished to tap on this same source of power for their own ministry. So they tried to copy what Paul did, casting out demons “in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches” (v.13).

On one occasion, this approach backfired dramatically. The evil spirit which the seven sons of Sceva were trying to cast out was smart enough to discern that these exorcists were using the names of Jesus and Paul in an impersonal and mechanical way. The spirit’s answer to the seven exorcists was quite priceless, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” These seven sons of Sceva were then mauled so severely by the man with the evil spirit that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding (v.15-16).

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The Betrayal of Medicine

by Dr Roland Chia

One of the reasons that the National Council of Churches of Singapore gave for rejecting physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia in its 2008 statement is that these actions are “against the very ethos of medical practice”.

The betrayal of medicine’s noblest purpose that the growing acceptance of PAS and euthanasia signifies and accentuates is of course the result of many different but profoundly related developments.

The first of these is the subtle shift of the focus of medicine away from the patient.

According to Edmund Pellegrino, the Hippocratic Oath that has served European and American physicians since the dawn of modern medicine is now under attack both from without and within the medical profession. This is because some are of the view that the values it upholds are unable to address the complex ethical issues presented by emerging medical technologies.

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Dear Readers,

Every month the ETHOS Institute publishes five articles on a variety of topics on its website. These articles have attracted many readers who find them informative and engaging.

However, we realise that although our articles cover a wide range of subjects, some issues and themes may not have received the attention they deserve.

If you would like us to address a topic or issue that is of interest to you, please write to us by clicking here. We will try our very best to post an article on that topic on our website.

Thank you for supporting the work of ETHOS Institute!

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Dr Roland Chia
Theological and Research Advisor 
ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity 

Upcoming Events

  • 10 May 2017 - ETHOS Conference on Science and Religion 
    by Dr Brian H. Thomas 
    Venue: Bible House Level 4 Seminar Room 
    Time: 10am - 4pm 
    Click HERE to register. 
  • 24 May 2017 - ETHOS Engagement Series Public Lecture: 'Labour Justice & Migrant Workers in Singapore'
    by Dr Stephanie Chok 
    Venue: Bible House Level 4 Seminar Room 
    Time: 7.30pm - 9.00pm
    Click HERE to register.
  • 24 August 2017 - ETHOS Engagement Series Public Lecture: Daily Work as Divine Vocation 
    Speaker: Dr Robert Banks
    Venue: Bible House Level 5 
    Time: 7.30pm - 9pm
    More details coming soon.

Featured Video

The ETHOS Annual Lecture 2016 is now available HERE.