January 12, 2011
Dear Canaan EM’ers and friends,
Many Taiwanese American Christians have traveled to Taiwan to vote in the presidential election this weekend. The neck-and-neck race between incumbent KMT President Ma Ying-jeou and DPP challenger Ms. Tsai Ing-wen is drawing much attention. Much is at stake: the future of Taiwan, Taiwan-China relations, and East Asian geo-politics. I’m sure that many Christians are voting because they want to apply their faith to real life.
This Monday, we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in the United States. We are all familiar with this pastor’s calling to challenge racial, economic, and military idolatries in the 1960s. For him, being a faithful disciple meant speaking and organizing against injustice in hopes of saving America’s soul. For him, the application of faith to everyday life led to the loss of his own life. We are beneficiaries of the MLK and many others who sacrificed much for the common good.
Many Christians don’t think that their faith has anything to do with politics and the common good. It’s easier to ignore social and political issues. Public life is often fraught with controversy. It is also a scary place. Easier to retreat into our private lives where things are more comfortable and secure. Is it any wonder why many Christians don’t think about how to apply their faith to public life?
To those who say, “I want my faith to only address personal life issues such as finding a job, improving my relationships, and strengthening my self-esteem,” I say, “Dude (or dudette)! Christian faith absolutely applies to your personal life! But your personal life is not independent from the rest of the human community! God, the Creator of all life, is just as concerned about big picture issues as He is about your personal life. Why limit the application of faith to our private lives only?”
Historically, American Christians have a proud legacy of public witness: missionary protests against Cherokee Indian removal and Chinese exclusion, the fight against African slavery, the woman’s rights movement, the ministry of Dorothy Day, the public witness of the late Senator Mark Hatfield, and much more.
But engaging our faith with public issues is not easy. It can be disconcerting to discover that Christians have very different political opinions and motives. A solid understanding of the Bible and Theology can help us make the better choices. But Christian participation in discussions and debates about public life ought to be characterized by civility and respect.
Nostradamus’ prophecy notwithstanding, 2012 will be a very important year for public witness in Taiwan and the United States. I hope that Canaan can offer a vibrant public witness as we “Walk Like Disciples”!
See you this Sunday!
Tim Tseng , Ph.D. 曾 祥 雨
Pastor of English Ministries
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