October 2021 Special Article
This essay is a slightly revised version of an address I gave at an international conference on ‘The Future of Faith: Religious Values in a Plural World’ on 7 November 2018, organised by MUIS in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the Guest-of-Honour at the event.
On behalf of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) and Trinity Theological College (TTC) I would like to congratulate the Maglis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) on its 50th Anniversary. Both NCCS and TTC have had the privilege of working with MUIS over the past twenty years or so, and we have been greatly enriched by your friendship. I would also like to thank MUIS for the invitation to participate in this conference, which is the culmination of its yearlong anniversary celebrations.
The overarching theme of the conference is ‘The Future of Faith: Religious Values in a Plural World’. The topic that has been assigned to me for this present session is ‘Enhancing Religious Life in Modern Plural Societies’. I’ve been asked to speak specifically from my own religious tradition, namely, the Christian faith, and also to give special attention to the Singapore context.
In compass of this brief essay, I would like to address the following issues. I begin with a broad sketch of our postmodern society and identify two of its features that in some ways pose a challenge not only to Christians but also to all people of faith. They are secularism, and pluralism. Secondly, I ask the question: How can the Christian, faced with these challenges, keep true to his faith, the faith that was ‘once for all delivered to the saints’, as the Bible puts it (Jude 3)? My answer is the Church – the community created by God in Jesus Christ, which nurtures and guides God’s people. Thirdly, I argue that it is only when Christians are truly grounded in their own faith tradition that they can contribute meaningfully as responsible citizens in
our religiously and culturally plural society. And finally, and in similar vein, I maintain that it is only when Christians are firmly established in their own tradition that they can work collaboratively with people from other faith communities for the good of society.
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Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor at Trinity Theological College (Singapore) and Theological and Research Advisor of the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity.