Month: July 2017

Pencerahan Kaitan Rapat

Artikel ini bertujuan membalas kepada artikel oleh Menara.my yang bertajuk, “Kristian Di Malaysia Bersimpati Dengan Negara Haram Israel?” [1] Saya sebenarnya berpeluang menghadiri dialog tersebut dan telah menulis sebuah artikel mengenainya. [2]

Pertama sekali, tajuk artikel Menara.my ini memberikan tanggapan bahawa semua umat Kristian di Malaysia bersimpati terhadap Israel, namun dalam perenggan pertama, penulis artikel tersebut dengan tepat melaporkan bahawa apa yang dikatakan oleh Rev Hwa Yung adalah, secara umumnya orang-orang Kristian di Malaysia sememangnya bersimpati dengan Israel, atas sebab “our two faith are so closely linked” (kedua-dua agama kami begitu berkait rapat).

Adakah penulis artikel tersebut ataupun editornya menggunakan tajuk yang bersensasi (“sensational) untuk mislead mereka yang hanya membaca tajuk artikel tanpa pedulikan isi kandungannya?

Selain itu, penulis artikel itu dengan tepat memerhati bahawa “… Rev Hwa Yung tidak pula memperincikan apakah yang dimaksudkan dengan “our two faith are so closely linked”?”. Kemungkinan besar Rev Hwa Yung tidak memperincikan apa yang dimaksudkannya, kerana topik dialog tersebut, iaitu ‘Deceitful? Distracting? Or Dedicated? Evangelicals And Current Controversies In Malaysia’, tidak pun secara langsung berkaitan dengan isu pandangan umat Kristian terhadap negara Israel.

Artikel ini akan memberikan beberapa sebab mengapakah negara Israel dan agama Yahudi berkait rapat dengan agama Kristian. Saya ingin menyatakan dengan jelas bahawa poin-poin yang akan saya bangkitkan tidak mewakili Rev Hwa Yung, tetapi merupakan pandangan saya, sebagai seorang umat Kristian. 

Pertamanya, terdapat persamaan dari segi teks suci dan nabi-nabi. Tanakh yang digunakan oleh penganut agama Yahudi di negara Israel sama dengan Perjanjian Lama (“Old Testament”) dalam Alkitab (“Bible”) agama Kristian, walaupun buku-buku dalam Tanakh dan Alkitab disusun sedikit berbeza. [3]

Nabi-nabi yang disebut dalam kedua-dua buku suci dipercayai penganut agama Kristian sebagai utusan yang dihantar oleh YHWH [4] kepada umat yang dipilihNya.

Di samping itu, umat yang dipilih YHWH dalam Perjanjian Lama merupakan umat Israel (“Israelites”). Ini jelas dilihat dalam ayat-ayat Alkitab yang berikut: [5]

a) Mazmur 105:8-10:

“8. Ia ingat untuk selama-lamanya akan perjanjian-Nya, firman yang diperintahkan-Nya kepada seribu angkatan,

9. yang diikat-Nya dengan Abraham, dan akan sumpah-Nya kepada Ishak;

10. diadakan-Nya hal itu menjadi ketetapan bagi Yakub, menjadi perjanjian kekal bagi Israel …” [6]

b) Yesaya 41:8:

Tetapi engkau, hai Israel, hamba-Ku, hai Yakub, yang telah Kupilih, keturunan Abraham, yang Kukasihi;” [7]

c) Jeremiah 31:1

“Pada waktu itu, demikianlah firman TUHAN, Aku akan menjadi Allah segala kaum keluarga Israel dan mereka akan menjadi umat-Ku.” [8]

Bukan sahaja itu malah terdapat ramalan (“prophecy”) dalam Alkitab bahawa Mesias (“Messiah”) merupakan seorang umat Israel. Mari kita mengambil contoh, Bilangan 24:17 menyatakan bahawa Mesias merupakan bintang terbit dari Yakub (“star coming out of Jacob”):

“Aku melihat dia, tetapi bukan sekarang; aku memandang dia, tetapi bukan dari dekat; bintang terbit dari Yakub, tongkat kerajaan timbul dari Israel, dan meremukkan pelipis-pelipis Moab, dan menghancurkan semua anak Set.” [9]

Mesias juga diramalkan sebagai keturunan Daud, dan ramalan ini menerima pemenuhan dalam Yesus Kristus. [10] 2 Samuel 7:12-13 menyatakan:

“12. Apabila umurmu sudah genap dan engkau telah mendapat perhentian bersama-sama dengan nenek moyangmu, maka Aku akan membangkitkan keturunanmu yang kemudian, anak kandungmu, dan Aku akan mengokohkan kerajaannya.

13. Dialah yang akan mendirikan rumah bagi nama-Ku dan Aku akan mengokohkan takhta kerajaannya untuk selama-lamanya.” [11]

Tambahan pula, Mesias dikatakan akan dilahirkan di Betlehem. Mikha 5:2:

“Tetapi engkau, hai Betlehem Efrata, hai yang terkecil di antara kaum-kaum Yehuda, dari padamu akan bangkit bagi-Ku seorang yang akan memerintah Israel, yang permulaannya sudah sejak purbakala, sejak dahulu kala.” [12]

Matius 2:1-6 [13] dan Yohanes 7:40-43 [14] dengan jelas mengindikasikan bahawa Yesus memenuhi ramalan ini.

Lanjutan daripada itu, Alkitab menceritakan bahawa YHWH masih ada rancangan untuk Israel. Dalam buku Roma, bab 11, ayat 1 dan 2, firman YHWH berkata,

“1. Maka aku bertanya: Adakah Allah mungkin telah menolak umat-Nya? Sekali-kali tidak! Karena aku sendiripun orang Israel, dari keturunan Abraham, dari suku Benyamin.

2. Allah tidak menolak umat-Nya yang dipilih-Nya …” [15]

Dalam bab yang sama, ayat 25 hingga 29 memberitahu kita bahawa,

“25. Sebab, saudara-saudara, supaya kamu jangan menganggap dirimu pandai, aku mau agar kamu mengetahui rahasia ini: Sebagian dari Israel telah menjadi tegar sampai jumlah yang penuh dari bangsa-bangsa lain telah masuk.

26. Dengan jalan demikian seluruh Israel akan diselamatkan, seperti ada tertulis: “Dari Sion akan datang Penebus, Ia akan menyingkirkan segala kefasikan dari pada Yakub.

27. Dan inilah perjanjian-Ku dengan mereka, apabila Aku menghapuskan dosa mereka.”

28. Mengenai Injil mereka adalah seteru Allah oleh karena kamu, tetapi mengenai pilihan mereka adalah kekasih Allah oleh karena nenek moyang.

29. Sebab Allah tidak menyesali kasih karunia dan panggilan-Nya.” [15]

Adalah diharapkan dengan artikel ini bahawa mereka yang bukan beragama Kristian dapat lebih memahami hubungan unik di antara negara Israel, agama Yahudi, dan agama Kristian. Walapun terbuktinya sebuah kaitan yang rapat, kita perlu mengingati kenyataan Rev Hwa Yung yang kebanyakan “orang-orang Kristian di Malaysia bukanlah Kristian Zionis.” Secara amnya, mereka hanya bersimpati dengan Israel kerana kaitan rapat yang telah diperincikan di atas.

[1] https://www.menara.my/kristian-di-malaysia-bersimpati-dengan-negara-haram-israel/

[2] https://rebuttedopinions.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/post-dialogue-reflections/

[3] https://simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/YHWH

[4] https://www.hsutx.edu/hsubb/learningobjects/overviewoftheoldtestament/attachments/Canons_of_the_Old_Testament.pdf)

[5] Lihat juga ayat-ayat seperti Ulangan 7:6-8 Ulangan 14:2, 2 Samuel 7:23-24, 1 Raja-raja 10:9
1 Tawarikh 17:20-21, Mazmur 135:4, dan Yesaya 44:21

[6] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=19&c=5

[7] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=23&c=41

[8] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=24&c=31

[9] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=4&c=24

[10] Lihat Matius 1:1, Lukas 1:32-33, dan Wahyu  22:16

[11] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=10&c=7

[12] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=mikha&c=5

[13] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=matius&c=2

[14] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=yohanes&c=7

[15] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=Roma&c=11

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Post-Dialogue Reflections

I had the wonderful opportunity of attending a dialogue yesterday, entitled “Deceitful? Distracting? Or Dedicated? Evangelicals & Current Controversies”, which was organised by Kairos Dialogue Network (KDN) and the STM Centre for Religion and Society. [1]

First off, I have to say that I was greatly encouraged by the number of muslims who attended the dialogue, especially since the event was held on Wesley Methodist KL’s grounds, albeit in a multipurpose hall. There were also attendees from IKRAM (Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia), ABIM (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia), and the CFM (Christian Federation of Malaysia).

Bishop Emeritus Dr Hwa Yung started off his presentation by briefly mentioning a few issues which have recently arisen, namely, accusations against YB Hannah Yeoh’s biography [2], the planned Jerusalem Jubilee event [3], the CEO of CENTHRA (Centre of Human Rights Research and Advocacy)
calling for evangelicalism to be outlawed in Malaysia [4], and YB Nik Abduh’s statement that Christians have infiltrated a major political party in the country to carry out their Christianisation agenda [5].

Dr Hwa Yung went on to say that such issues are based on a confusion of terms, a misrepresentation of who evangelicals are, and religion being highly politicised. He then explained the difference between evangelicals, evangelicalism, and evangelism, based on an article written by local Christian theologian, Dr Ng Kam Weng. [6]

The fact that the CEO of a think tank conflated such terms [7] are highly illustrative of why interfaith/interreligious dialogues are necessary! If the CEO of a think tank could make such a mistake, what more us ordinary folks?

Dr Mazlee, later in the dialogue, gave an example of Christians praying for the establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and how Muslims may be alarmed because they fail to understand what a Christian means when he/she says that. Understanding each other can most definitely, allay unnecessary fears and conflicts.

During his allotted time, Dr Mazlee Malik raised a good point, suggesting that one of the ways forward is by dialoguing, but more specifically, by engaging more mainline islamic groups such as ABIM, PERKIM (Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia), and MACMA (Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association). Or even figures like the Mufti of the Federal Territories and/or the Mufti of Perlis, both of whom represent the more mainstream Islam.

On top of Dr Mazlee’s suggestions, I would like to put forth certain propositions for the consideration of any party concerned in this matter.

Firstly, civil societies like Kairos Dialogue Network should go even further than what Dr Mazlee suggested, by engaging with groups like ISMA (Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia) which are perceived as more hard-line.

Its president, Dr Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, has been under the spotlight in recent years due to a few controversial statements he has made [8] [9]. It would be good for him to be able to present his views on interfaith matters, free of any misrepresentation, and to be allowed defend them under scrutiny (either through the questions of fellow panellists or by way of questions from the audience).

Inviting speakers of differing views would also make the dialogues more productive. As much as I respect Dr Mazlee and his willingness to participate in these dialogues, his moderate views might result in the dialogues being an echo chamber or information cocoon of some sort.

Perhaps these dialogues could also be streamed live on platforms such as Facebook and/or Youtube. Although yesterday’s dialogue was recorded, a live stream would allow the entire discussion to be shared on social media, hence raising awareness about the existence of such events. People who could not attend the dialogue due to a plethora of reasons would be able to have access to the content of what was discussed, in the event there is a livestream.

Besides that, the moderator, Rev Dr Sivin Kit mentioned before the start of the Q&A sessions that the organisers are aware of suggestions that the dialogues should be conducted in the national language and be held elsewhere. It is my sincere hope that the organisers can implement these recommendations in the future. Having these dialogues in the national language would allow the information discussed to be heard and .understood by a greater majority of Malaysians.

Furthermore, if muslim groups are open to this idea, future dialogues could/should be held on mosque grounds (not necessarily at the area where prayers are conducted if that would be inappropriate). Understandably, not all Muslims are comfortable entering church grounds. Thus, having it on mosque grounds would it much easier for Muslims to participate in these dialogues.

It cannot be stressed how important interfaith dialogues are, especially in our multireligious society. Efforts by organisations such as KDN should be applauded. Ordinary Malaysians should make time to attend these events as it would allow them to have their misconceptions corrected, and to allow them to ask any pressing questions they may have been dealing with.

[1] http://bit.ly/2sY8Hxr

[2] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/3574/

[3] https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/246100/home-minister-bans-jerusalem-jubilee-gathering-malaysia; see also Christ Church bishop Jason Selvaraj’s criticism of the planned event ( https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/246008/christian-leader-questions-insensitive-jerusalem-jubilee-celebration)

[4] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/5196/

[5] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/5405/

[6] http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2017/06/evangelical-essentials-correcting-ill-informed-muslim-activists-and-fitnah-against-christians

[7] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/5196/; see also Joshua Woo Sze Zeng’s article addressing the history of evangelicalism (http://m.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/three-things-about-evangelicalism-malaysians-should-know-joshua-woo-sze-zen/)

[8] http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/in-work-paper-isma-claims-multiple-global-conspiracies-to-wipe-out-malays/

[9] http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2014/01/13/isma-islam-under-threat/

*This article was featured in Free Malaysia Today