Monday, March 23, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew

Today brings about the passing away of Singapore’s first Prime Minister and Founding Father, Lee Kuan Yew. I learnt about this news while on my way to school in the morning, and had turned on the facebook application on my phone to see people sharing news on the matter.

It certainly is a momentous event in Singapore, and a ubiquitous conversation topic amongst people from all circles of Singapore society for the day. For many people in Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew cuts a larger-than-life figure that is almost intertwined with the core of Singapore identity. For supporters, Lee Kuan Yew was chiefly responsible for the economic success and well-rounded development of modern Singapore society, whilst for detractors, he was an authoritarian whose heavy-handed methods suppressed democratic ideals and civil liberties. I know of a handful of people around me who fall into one camp or the other, though often, I am unsure about the reasons for either their support or hatred. I would like to be objective, but this is certainly not an easy task. I just think that credit should be given where they are due, and criticisms levied for where they are justified.

The only time I have come across Lee Kuan Yew in person was when I was walking through the Botanic gardens after school. That was some time ago last year in October I think. Lee Kuan Yew was being driven in a golf cart within the park, with two bodyguards sitting at the back of the cart. I was caught up with excitement with the sighting, and turned to an unacquainted schoolmate walking behind me to exclaim in as calm a manner possible that the person in the cart upfront was Lee Kuan Yew. But the cart moved quickly, and it wasn’t long before it had moved into another section of the park out of sight, so the schoolmate whom I had exclaimed to didn’t get to see it.

I guess a part of me was in awe, another somewhat intimidated, and yet another eager enough that I just might have called out “Hey! Uncle Harry! Take a photo with me!” But that would have been downright awkward and inappropriate given the formidable figure Lee Kuan Yew is. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Salvation of the unevangelised : inclusivism, monolism, and universalism

I came across an old email featuring a discussion my cell group in the varsity Christian fellowship had a few years ago. It was about the topic on the salvation of the unevangelised. A fellow cell group member had shared an article with us giving an answer to the issue. In that article, the writer, who goes by the name Craig Bluemel, talks about how the passage in Roman 2:14-15 allows for those who do not know the gospel to be saved by living to the precepts of God’s ‘Law’. According to Craig Bluemel, this ‘Law’ is summed up with the saying ‘Ye shall love your neighbor as yourself’. Craig Bluemel then goes on to talk about how knowledge of such a law is inherent even in those who have never heard the gospel, such the indigenous people whom the missionaries visited, who “instead of finding ‘savages’ or those still practicing cannibalism in remote parts of the world, to their amazement, they find people with a sweet, gentle, and even childlike nature, who also possess a strong faith in the ‘Creator.’” Craig Bluemel writes that Jesus can bring these people into oneness with the Father as sons and daughters of the Most High, and that once they have made a heart confession of Jesus, they can partake in the path of the glories of salvation found only.

I shared a Q and A article by the Christian apologist William Lane Craig with my group where he talks about the basis for his subscription to the idea of Molinism when it comes to salvation of the unevangelised. Molinism speaks about how God has arranged for those whom he knows would be receptive to the gospel to be placed in parts of the world where they would be exposed to the gospel. The corollary to this idea of Molinism is that God has placed those who are not receptive to the gospel within parts of the world where they are not exposed to the gospel. The reason why William Lane Craig subscribes to Molinism is because he thinks it would be unfair if God sends to hell those who would have believed in the gospel, but did not because they were not exposed to it, and also failed to believe in God based on general revelation according to Romans 1:18 which states that God is apparent from creation and therefore, there is no excuse not to believe in him.

I have some thoughts about these two ideas regarding salvation of the unevangelised. With regards to Craig Blumenthal, I wonder whether his idea that those who did not receive the gospel can be saved through following the ‘Law’ is adequate. For one, it appears to me that this creates the problem whereby those who did not receive the gospel are held to a higher standard in that they have to fulfill the ‘Law’ before they can obtain salvation, rather than simply by believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I don’t think following the ‘Law’ by simply loving your neighbor as yourself is as easy as what it would appear to be. According to mainstream Christian thoughts, it is precisely because of humanity’s inadequacy in following the ‘Law’ which is the reason that God provided Jesus as the means for salvation. So I really am not too sure whether it is so easy a solution to the problem of salvation of the unevangelised for Craig Bluementhal to say that a lot of these people intuitively followed the ‘Law’ and are thereby saved.

And with regards to William Lane Craig’s Molinism, I also wonder how adequate it is. For one, I think it doesn’t quite get rid of the notion of unfairness that William Lane Craig is concerned with regarding God sending unevangelised people to hell, even if they should have believed if they had been exposed to the gospel. I mean, how can God be justified in sending these people to hell on the basis that they would never have believed even if they had been exposed to the gospel? That seems to me to be the same as if a judge would send someone to be punished for a crime which he didn’t commit on the basis that he would have committed it given a different circumstance. Secondly, it would appear to me that Romans 1:18 is saying that there is no excuse for someone not to believe in God based on general revelation alone, even if he would have believed if he had been exposed to the gospel. Taken literally, it is saying that God is just in sending to hell those who are unevangelised and did not believe based on this general revelation alone. Nevertheless, I personally do think that this is quite a harsh outcome and can agree with Craig that this seems unfair.

Honestly, I have been toying with the idea of Christian universalism when it comes to the issue of salvation. If one wants to talk about fairness, it would seem to me that the fairest outcome is for everyone, whether believers or non-believers, to be saved into heaven. No one deserves hell I think, except for really wicked or evil people. But I realize that this idea doesn’t square off with mainstream Christian beliefs or explicit texts of the bible. I am just attracted to this idea based on my thoughts of what would be fair.

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