IT IS NOT DIVINE TO ERR
The Church’s attempts to embroil itself in the divisive politics of contemporary Malaysia with an open and blatantly provocative message from Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing (dated 18 July 2012) requires a befitting response. That provocation was published widely over the internet on behalf of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (an American NGO sponsored political initiative).
Ng’s “prayer” for more open government, equality and egalitarianism in his desired model for “democratic government” is by his letter founded in part on the Old Testament whereby God is meant to have ordained Adam as ‘custodian of this world.’
ADAM WAS NO CHRISTIAN
Adam, if his existence is to be believed, was not Christian but a semite.The Hindus had Manu long before Adam. In fact thousands of years before the Story of Adam came into existence. What Ng appears to have conveniently left out of this statement is the reprobate of Gods promise to Adam with the New Testament which Christians believe in as being the true word of God. The New Testament having been written at or immediately after the time God’s only begotten son Jesus Christ had come down to this earth as foretold in the Old Testament (Christian doctrine).
In the Old Testament, God makes the promise to Adam (repeated by Bishop Ng in his letter) which Adam also becomes disentitled to through committing original sin. Adam thereafter is no longer the beneficiary of the promise from that moment of disentitlement when he eats of the forbidden fruit. Perhaps the Bishop in the exercise of his canonical knowledge has conveniently forgotten to include this aspect of the promise in his letter to the Malaysians (not to be confused with St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians).
A CHRISTIANS DUTY TO THE LAW
Why dig any deeper for the truth in Bishop Ng’s distorted ranting, when the real truth is evident in the words of the master himself. It can be found in the Synoptic gospels (in Mathew 22.22). Jesus Christ provides his answer to the ‘Bishop Ng’s of this world’ and their false teachings with these words:
“render unto Ceaser what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”.
In that single statement, the son of God as he is known to Christians the world over, Christ draws the first article, lays the foundations for the doctrine of separation of church and state. Bishop Ng has a gospel of his own. He now proffers an ignorant political doctrine which appears to be at odds with the teachings of Christ. Well….that may not be the case if one considers charlatans like the Rev. Billy Graham, Jerry Fawell, Jim and Tammy Baker and other predators like them including the Bishop Ng category of evangelists to be ‘prophets’ and men of God ‘inspired by the Holy Spirit’.
Christ’s questioners had (in Matthews Gospel in his rendition of this debate), assumed that there was an inevitable (and hazardous) dichotomy between discharging one’s obligations to the state and discharging one’s obligations to God (as Bishop Ng mistakenly believes it to be the case here). Christ it is said refused to confront the dichotomy as framed by his hostile questioners and instead pointed to the assumptions behind it. The Bishop needs a serious revision on theology and to spend less time being a stooge of the disruptive, undemocratic and non-secular forces that lead and finance his flock. In the alternative he ought to stay clear of politics. His ignorance doing more damage to him than his silence could to his enemies.
NG STIRRING A NEST OF HORNETS (HOLIER THAN THOU)
Ng clearly is out of his depth as he shows no sign of the intellect and analytical qualities and abilities required of Bishops in Christian communities. They are pillars of the Church and sources of authority in interpreting its cannons. What does Ng’s ignorance in this matter demonstrate to the rest of us? A departure from that long line of tradition which requires Bishops to be learned men of the church? Or that merit is now a casualty (as has long been suspected) and not the criteria when deciding who becomes Bishop in the church. Or does he serve another master other than Christ?
On what authority, moral, political or legal does Ng proclaim the country does not enjoy democratic government? On what authority does he make those provocative claims that there are no religious freedoms or that religious worship in Malaysia is curtailed by government (assuming it is for no good reason if at all) or that the constitution of Malaysia provides for absolute freedoms whether these be religious or political?
CHRISTIANS AND CLERGY LIKE NG IN SUPPORT OF SHARIAH
Is Bishop Ng suggesting that Hudud laws and the Shariah have a place in the politics and government of Malaysia? If that’s what he is saying or if it is a position he supports (which I say he is) then perhaps the good Bishop should be reminded to think about what it is he is asking for. He may end up getting more than he bargained for, much more. And Malaysia may not be ready for his brand of Theocratic government he appears to be advocating for in his letter to his flock.
Bishop Ng, there is no strict separation of church and state. Not in England, not in Australia, not in the United states. The Queen as head of the Church of England (their pope after Henry the VIII got rid of the Holy See) rules over parliament in Westminster, Australia and New Zealand. She may be titular head of a parliamentary democracy in each of these places, but that title carries with it certain constitutionally protected powers in reserve which she uses liberally to sack properly elected governments (Whitlam in 1975) and to thwart the passage of laws enacted by her parliaments in Westminster and Canberra. Therein lies the fiction of the doctrine of the separation of powers and the separation of Church and state. And to date that fiction has served countries like Malaysia well. Why not leave well alone. Especially when you offer no viable alternative to the present system of government except for your bigoted theology which is neither Christian nor democratic?
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR
It is better that that demon of theocratic government lies trapped as a benign fiction of history than for someone as ignorant and mischievously irresponsible as Anglican Archbishop Ng Moon Hing to awaken it to a point we will never be able to control it when it does awaken.
Ng and his backers are in a very unsubtle way re-igniting the unwelcome debate on the Church’s (religion’s) role in government. And by it Ng is inviting religious interference in a secular democracy. In so doing he is providing further ammunition and support to the advocates of Sharia and Hudud laws in furtherance of their causes.
In much the same way as Ng believes his God and his bible are the only right way to redemption and to heaven , so too do the Muslims believe their God and their Koran is the ultimate and only way to salvation and heaven. And on a show of hands they will win outright. Then what?
The Muslims, like the bible bashing evangelical Christians, the paedophile infested Churches of Catholicism or the caste ridden Hindus may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However in a democracy they the Muslims are in a majority and have the capacity, the means and the will to field by their superior numbers at the next election sufficient numbers of candidates who will support a Muslim theocracy capable of menacing and exploiting any government that comes to power at the 13th general elections.
And for that the Bishop Ng’s of this world will have to shoulder responsibility. There is no greater sin than self inflicted ignorance Bishop Ng.