In his Grace@Work Commentary GRACEWORKS MAIL 31/10 August 6, 2010 Edition.
(A ministry of Graceworks: http://www.graceworks.com.sg) Rev Dr Tan Soo Inn writes about National Day Celebration in August. For Singapore, their National Day is on 9 August and for Malaysia it is on 31 August. I like what he writes about the needed pro-active role of the Singaporean and Malaysian churches.
The church represents the Kingdom of God in society. In the words of Newbigin, the church must function as the “hermeneutic (interpret, unfold the significance . . . ) of the gospel.” (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 222 ff) Newbigin also suggests six characteristics that will mark church communities that are trying to flesh out the gospel for society. (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 227 – 233)
1. It will be a community of praise.
” The Christian congregation . . . is a place where people find their true freedom, their true dignity, and their true equality in reverence to One who is worthy of all the praise we can offer.” (228)
2. It will be a community of truth.
“A Christian congregation is a community in which through the constant remembering and rehearsing of the true story of human nature and destiny, an attitude of healthy scepticism can be sustained, a scepticism which enables one to take part in the life of society without being bemused and deluded by its own beliefs about itself. ” (229)
3. It will be a community that does not live for itself but is deeply involved in the concerns of its neighbourhood.
” . . . the local congregation (must be) perceived in its own neighbourhood as the place from which good news overflows in good action . . .” (229)
4. It will be a community where men and women are prepared for and sustained in the exercise of the priesthood in the world.
“It is in the context of secular affairs that the mighty power released into the world through the work of Christ is to be manifested. . . . (The validity of our preaching) carry weight only when they are validated by the way in which Christians are actually behaving and using their influence in public life.” (230)
5. It will be a community of mutual responsibility.
“If the Church is to be effective in advocating and achieving a new social order in the nation, it must itself be a new social order.” (231)
6. It will be a community of hope.
” . . . the gospel offers an understanding of the human situation which makes it possible to be filled with a hope which is both eager and patient even in the most hopeless situations.” (232)
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Newbigin is an importance influence in my own thinking about the church and I am glad that Soo Inn brought him into the discussion about the hermeneutic role of the churches in Singapore and Malaysia.