I’m glad the The Micah Mandate reproduced “An Affirmation on Christian Witness” from the Christian Federation Malaysia as a reference first for Christians, and secondly for the wider public.
In the light of recent controversies over the issue of conversion it is pertinent to revisit a document that the CFM put together in 1996 that outlines its position on the matter of evangelism. This is a position that churches should study and teach as a standard of practice. This is a position that has found great acceptance amongst the different members of the MCCBCHST (Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism). We reproduce the document below.
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THE CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALASIA fully appreciates the multi-religious and multi-ethnic context of Malaysian society with its attendant sensitivity and delicacy of cultures and custom.
IN SUCH A CONTEXT, it is of very great importance that we the Christian community in Malaysia obey GOD’S WORD in the HOLY BIBLE to love our neighbours as ourselves and to do all within our control to keep the peace and to work towards national integration. We pray to GOD for continuing and deepening harmony among all Malaysians.
“lf it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (The Holy Bible, Romans l2.l8)
“Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of building up the neighbour.” (The Holy Bible, Romans l5.2)
FOLLOWERS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH are duty bound to share THE GOSPEL OF JESUS to any who consent to learn or listen to it. But in so doing, we must also be bound by the very high ethical standards practiced and prescribed by OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION is specified and safeguarded in the Federal Constitution. lt is a fundamental human right. From a Christian perspective, every right presents us with a solemn responsibility: that we value it for every human being, we protect and defend it, we practice it for the common good and in a spirit of fairness to all, and that it is not abused and taken unfair advantage of.
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST prescribes the golden rule that “ln everything do to others as you would have them do to you.” (The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7.12). Due consideration must therefore be given to the other person and the same rules of conduct must apply to both parties.
IN SHARING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, unethical means do not justify a righteous end. IN spreading religious faith and introducing religious practices, everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of coercion or persuasion that could be regarded as dishonourable or unworthy since such action would be an abuse of one’s right and a violation of the rights of others. Unethical means can only bring poor and temporary results, shame, guilt and ill-repute to the Christian Faith. In this matter, we appeal to heads of churches and senior Christian leaders to help Christians under their charge to adopt only wholesome approaches to sharing the Gospel.
THE CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA invites all Christian churches and person in Malaysia to affirm the following in their practice of sharing the Gospel of Christ:
- The Holy Spirit is eminently able to touch lives and bring about genuine conversion in His own way.
- As His human instruments, we do not have to resort to questionable means to persuade men and women.
- Our acts of compassion towards our fellow human beings, especially the poor and needy, should not be made conditional on their response or attitude to Christ.
- Our desire to share Christ in any of our activities and programmes should not be hidden but made clear to people from the start.
- No one will be forced to listen or respond to our Christian message or attend any Christian function against his or her own wish.
- Baptism will be preceded by adequate preparation of teaching and orientation during which time the person can reconsider his or her religious convictions and seek advice from whomsoever he or she wishes.
- Our main focus is to share Christ and what He has to say and to offer to human beings, not to ridicule or unfairly criticize other religious beliefs or practices.
- Entrance into another person’s home is subject to the person’s convenience and welcome, and the purpose of the visit should be made clear.
- Christian literature which is being circulated should bear the name and address of the church or institution of origin.
- We should abstain from distributing Christian literature in the vicinity of the place of worship of another faith or the place where a religious festival or celebration of another faith is taking place.
- Prayer for the sick will be said only if the person wants or requests it.
- As we desire to share our faith with others, we should also give them the opportunity to share their faith with us.
IT IS ONLY WHEN WE CONSTANTLY CONSULT WITH ONE ANOTHER within the Christian community will we achieve a deeper understanding of CHRIST’S TRUTH and arrive at a better way of living out OUR FAITH IN CHRIST.
“And I will show you a more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not respond in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (The Holy Bible. 1 Corinthians 12.31-13.8)
PERSEKUTUAN KRISTIAN MALAYSIA
CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA
Bishop James Chan,
Bishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung
GS Dr Prince Gunaratnam
December 19, 1996
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