01 Aug 2002

In Sincerity and in Truth - The Gospel, Evangelism, Liberalism, Charismatism and Silent Retreats

I don't understand fully how things got started, but they are there if one stops to look. Teachers from western lands brought good news of God's salvation in Jesus Christ to our country. Our forefathers received this truth and grace with thanksgiving and grateful hearts. In this generation, however, some of us had to face the winds of change in several areas of our lives in Christ

In the sixties, we were taught to read the Bible with the use of study guides like the Scripture Union Notes. Some of us found it too methodical for our liking but tried to faithfully adhere to the notes and methods since, we were told, such study would make us stronger believers. If we missed the notes for some days, guilt crept silently up on us till our more cerebral friends discovered, to their dismay, that we had "backslided"!

Then, also in the 60s, liberal theology announced its strong presence through seemingly modern songs and tempo. Accusations were hurled across churches at those responsible for importing it to our mission schools and congregations. The labelling of evangelicals and liberals flowed liberally indeed. Spiritual pride resulted, even in God-fearing pastors. As a teenager seeking to know God better, I had many questions to ask in the midst of such confusion.

After a while, groups of conscientious Christians who clung on to the Word of God complained that the dryness of tradition and the emptiness of liberalism did not encourage the growth of their souls. More life was needed, they said. At the right time, another wind blew from the west in the form of the charismatic movement. This did not mean that Malaysian Christians knew little of the gifts of the Holy Spirit then. Far from it, many already were wholesomely using these gifts in quieter ways. Initially, this movement seemed good and healthy. Why not, when so many needed healing and salvation? But, instead of letting the gifts grow on Malaysian soil, some went overboard with imported syncretism.

Currently, some thinking believers are saying, "Well, I don't want to buy everything that is offered in the charismatic circles...what's next?" Up pops the new movement of silent retreats..." Back to the Bible, they say, "In fact, the Augustinian or Ignatian methods of Christian meditation and silent retreats are better than our Protestant types. How many retreats have you attended? I have attended five ... more coming up..."

Lord Jesus, how should I respond to all these movements that seem to keep coming, mostly from our western brethren? Did You send them? Why can't we just read Your Word with some help from older Christians, get to know You better and hold our own retreats with You like You did with Your Father? Why can't we just live with You as we are? Why is something imported more attractive, especially with regards to Your truth which is free for all? Surely, You are the same God who speaks to them and to us! Why do we consider ourselves less able to hear from You for being Asian and Malaysian? O, Master, kindly help me accept myself as I am... Your disciple, Your servant... Your Father's child. All I ask is that I may worship, love and serve You in spirit and in truth...Your truth, not mine, I pray.

For Meditation and Prayer:
John 8:31-32; John 14:16-17; John 17:17; Acts 20:27-32