Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Was Jesus political"?

I attended the OHMSI Inaugural Dialogue today at PJ Gospel Hall, entitled "Was Jesus Political?" The line-up of speakers, moderator and commentators were as follows:

Rev Dr Hwa Yung, Bishop, Methodist Church of Malaysia

Dr Lim Kar Yong, Lecturer in New Testament Studies, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia
Dr K. J. John, Executive Director, Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute

Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, General Secretary, CCM and CFM
Dr Beth Baikan, Catholic Scholar from Stella Maris Parish, Sabah
Mr Goh Keat Peng, Executive Secretary, MCCBCHST
Mr Steven CM Wong, Chairman, NECF Research Commission
Ms Tricia Yeoh, Senior Policy Analyst, CPPS

Kar Yong blogged about it here.

When Kar Yong posted about it about a week ago, I was obviously full of questions. Jesus was never "political" in the sense that he was never sought for power or position but came to save the lost. So I was quite unsure as to the relevance of the topic. At the dialogue, the word "political" was taken to mean Aristotle's broader sense "in which the objective is to realise the idea of a good life of a community within a city". That is fine but the semantics of the word has taken such a turn that I feel it is just not suitable to use that word in such an archaic sense anymore. Just take a look at and you will see what I mean.

I do not have much problems with what was presented, just incredulous at the choice of word. I think some of the people on the floor were quite confused too, upon hearing some of their comments. But what I can say is that the question "Was Jesus political?" is thought-provoking, and thought-provoking it certainly was. Many valid issues social issues were brought up that the church needs to seriously think about, the main ones being the role of the church in meeting social needs and a deeper involvement of Christians in the life of the community.

If not "political", then what? I can't think of any really. "Was Jesus political?" does after all make you do a double-take and think, and when we start thinking, there is a hope that we start realising and doing.



  1. Glad you came...and then visited the bookstore...! Need to rush back to work in church office after the talk, so no time to visit bookstore!

    You are right about the archaic meaning of "politics" - hence the reason to provoke thoughts....

  2. The visit's damage was about RM315! I bought 2 books and then one more as a gift. The embarassing thing was that I forgot that I have already bought a copy of RT France's Mark (NIGTC) and I went and bought one more. I have the makings of a professor -- the absentminded part ONLY. haha

  3. i like many things abt the fiery ceramah by Goh Keat Peng, except a bit of nitpicking abt the question "Was Jesus Political?" or "How was Jesus political?" hehe..

    The former is more provoking, i feel.

    Also everybody in the forum seems agreed tat Jesus' word and deed had 'political implications' but that doesnt seem to go deep enuff, if u ask me.

    It's not enuff to say tat saving souls have results in changed socio-political effects but that some of his actions/words are in themselves political in the wider sense :)

  4. I suppose I was less impressed :) I did not feel that he was going anywhere and it was demagoguery at best.

    But I agree with you on it not being deep enough but time was also a factor and they wanted to accomodate so many speakers.