地點：East Toronto Chinese Baptist Church
Rev. Alfred Lam (是次座談會主持人，以下簡稱『AL』)
Mr. Norman Young(多倫多東區華人浸信會英語信徒領袖，以下簡稱『NY』)
汪嘉翰牧師Rev. Ka Wong (安省Mosaic Baptist Church牧師，以下簡稱『KW』)
加拿大華人教會的代溝問題──Generation Gap in Canadian Chinese Churches
AL: We all agree that there are issues to be dealt with in the short history of North American Chinese church, e.g. generation gap. On the other hand, we always try our best in dealing with these issues, e.g. by accommodating or inventing new ways of resolving the problems. But as you look at this generation, it seems to me there is a gap that runs deeper than simply style of music, choice of instrument, or ministry strategy. There seems to be something more fundamental in terms of how the next generation approaches faith. First of all would you agree with that assessment?
KW:I would have to agree with you. This present generation was born in a very different time than the times before. They were born into a situation which Internet and YouTube etc. are popular. The way they communicate is different than previous generations. That perhaps is the fundamental difference. We lack the knowledge and the know-how to understand them because we did not experience the things they have today.
聖經權威的理解──The Notion of Biblical Authority
NY: I think as I am supposed to be part of this younger generation, there are a couple of things that are worth highlighting. One of them relates to the notion of authority What does it mean for someone to be authoritative? It seems to me that in my generation and younger, there is less automatic acceptance of authority. You do not necessarily trust somebody because they are in the position of power. Rather you trust someone because they have earned your trust. The second aspect of this younger generation is the notion of community. There is a very deep longing in my generation and after to really feel a sense of belonging. We see this phenomenon in the online world internet, social networking sites such as Facebook or Friendster, etc. These are so critical to the lifestyle of this generation that people will spend hours on these technologies.
NY: When it comes to respecting authority, I do not think it is a wanting disrespect of authority, i.e., it is unlike people rebelling against authority for its sake. There is perhaps a sense of, if not cynicism, guarded skepticism about people in the position of authority. When it comes to issues of morality and truth, my work experience with students in university fellowships has been that they are some of the deeply passionate people that I know of, and they have a deep craving for truth and for doing what is right.
KW:I tend to agree with Mr. Norman Young. In terms of post-modernity, it is different in Chinese culture than in western culture. It may be due to that Chinese culture has deeper connection in families and values, etc. It is more of a rejection to how authority is defined and used, and how truth is presented and defined, and how morality is played out. So it is the rejection of previous generation’s definition, use and application of authority and truth. I think the younger generation, as I agreed with Mr. Norman Young, wants to seek the truth.
聖經真理的定義──The Definition of Biblical Truth
李：It may be just a matter of definition, e.g., how to define the truth. May be we, and even the post-modern people pursue the truth, but what is and where is the truth? As to my understanding, young people pursue truth, but they decide what is truth based on their desire. “If I feel good, and I think it is right, that is right”, they said. So they reject the objective truth, but only accept subjective truth. It is a Me generation which started from the western world, and now everyone in the world is affected. “I am the final say, I am the final arbiter”, they said. However, in our faith and belief, God’s word is the final arbiter.
KW:When I mentioned the definition of truth in our previous dialogue, the word “rejection” did not refer to the rejection of truth, but rather to the rejection of the definition of truth, and how to search for truth. I emphasize that there is absolute truth. The matter is how we define the truth to be. Sometimes we have not given enough thoughts, and we are vulnerable to our younger generation and others who challenge us. When I deal with university students, the most common question is that “Can I date a non-Christian?” I still remember I pulled out the passage, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” But then when I looked back there was nothing called dating 2000 years ago. We quoted the passage and said, “This is it and final. That is God’s truth.” The next generation tends to get confused, and they may reject the entire concept of truth, or even say “there is no truth”.
NY: I think the difficulty the post modern generation has with the definition of absolute truth and objective truth is that they seem to have a strong sense of certainty. When the post-modern ears listen to that strong sense of certainty, they have a sense of skepticism and ask, 的s that the only way of looking at it? For this generation, what we are looking for is not relativism or relative truth, but a certain amount of humility and modesty when it comes to some particular interpretations of scripture. We may tell them, 滴ow about this interpretation? What do you think of this? I am not going to say it is absolutely right, but I think it is a good one. Let us have a conversation or dialogue about it.
林：NORMAN YOUNG所說的是另一個同後現代有十分密切關係的觀點，即各人有不同的看法和詮解的方式，正如我先前所說的『講人自講』一樣，關鍵是如何尋找到真理的確切性，從而知道孰是孰非。若然大家各持不同的觀點，並相信所有都是相對的而彼此尊重，那樣真理便迷糊了。NORMAN YOUNG提及一點關於青年人未必接受到一種客觀、絕對的真理，那麼我們如何，建立一客觀真理的標準，抑或是不可能建立的呢？這是一個很重要的問題。如果這一代的青年人完全浸淫於後現代的意識當中，那麼我們如何突破這困局，幫助他們回到神在《聖經》內對我們的啟示，作為在信仰和道德上最終及至高的標準，值得我們一生去持守的呢？我相信這是問題核心的所在。
解釋聖經真理的權威──The Authority of Interpreting the Bible
AL: In the church situation, is it true that this generation of post-modern Christians do not object the idea of truth, but rather question who is qualified to define that this interpretation of scripture is the objective and ultimate truth? How does this affect the way we teach and preach the Bible every Sunday?
KW:Jesus said, “I am the truth”. Therefore, we need to study Jesus, read Him, see what He is all about, and try to make connections with Him. I do find that reading the whole Bible as a narrative rather than just picking a verse and studying it helps people understand the whole story of God and Jesus. The good thing about this post-modern culture is that it forces us as Bible teachers or preachers to get them read more on Bible.
NY: I read a paper by N.T. Wright, and it was called 滴ow can the Bible be authoritative? He has an interesting way of looking at it. He broke up the Bible, which you can think of it as a grand play or story, into six acts. These six acts basically give you the six sections of this story. Act 1 is creation. Act 2 is fall. Act 3 is Israel. Act 4 is Jesus, and the New Testament began. Act 5 is the Holy Spirit and us. Act 6 is Jesus second coming, and the eschatological aspects of things. N.T. Wright suggested that in Act 5 we do not necessarily have a script anymore, i.e. we do not have a script that we can read and perform accordingly. Instead, he said that we need to improvise like a Jazz musician does. But do we improvise in a completely arbitrary way? No, because the director of the play is the Holy Spirit. In terms of what prevents us from doing whatever we want, we have to look at what came before in Acts 1- 4, and what follows in Act 6. In that sense the story is authoritative in our lives. It has the authority to modify our behaviour, i.e., the things we do and do not do. For me, this analogy of this grand Biblical story being a six-act play was tremendously useful to me.
向這時代的人傳福音──Evangelizing Among This Generation
KW:I have to say I received theological education in a traditional seminary and was taught on different assumptions and doctrines, etc. But somehow, when I pastor and get in touch with people, I found it difficult to connect my knowledge to the world that I minister in. For example, once I talked to a group of university students about evangelism. I asked them to use the “Bridge” or the Four Spiritual Laws technique to evangelize to other people. Afterward, I asked them, “What happened?” They said that the whole notion of that message somehow just did not connect to people. I realized that there may be something that has been over-emphasized to the extent that we neglected some other issues of the Bible. For example, what is salvation? You go back to the Bible and you asked what salvation was to the Jews in Egypt. They might think that salvation was about getting out of being slaves. If you asked the same question to the Jews in exile, they might think it was about rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Their understanding of salvation was different already. To us, salvation is about Jesus, who died on the cross so that we have a new relationship with God, and our souls are saved. So usually we were just taught one way, and we did not have room to reflect what salvation really is.
李：我有些不同的看法。像剛才REV KA WONG所講的，以色列人對救恩的認識當然是與我們所理解耶穌基督釘十字架、復活的理解有所不同。這啟示的漸進過程大家也是明白的。當耶穌基督降生、受難、復活，救恩完成之後，我們開始有一個清晰的圖畫，明白救恩的定義。正如《哥林多前書》十五章保羅說，他所領受的福音是，第一，耶穌基督為我們的罪死了及復活，因此對福音的定義非常清楚，是無庸至疑的。至於《屬靈四定律》，它不是《聖經》，而是傳福音的工具。這本福音小冊子對某一類人士可能非常有效。但對不同的人，在不同的環境，例如對今天的大學生，是否仍要用《屬靈四定律》呢？我不會堅持必須用《屬靈四定律》，因為它不是《聖經》，乃是傳福音的一個途徑。我們可以從他們在生活上所遇到的事情入手，慢慢進入《屬靈四定律》所提到的幾件事：神有美好計劃，人離開上帝，神如何預備救恩，我們如何才能開展新的人生。這基本的四件事，我們可以將它重新包裝，讓他們在各自的處境中更明白福音。
NY: I think when it comes to the Four Spiritual Laws, it is true that it is an evangelistic tool. But it also implicitly says about our fundamental understanding of the gospel as well. We probably agree that the Four Spiritual Laws, in terms of the basic ideas and concepts and scriptures quoted, is fair and true. When it comes to the understanding of the gospel, I am wondering if this understanding of the gospel is complete. For me I have grown up in a context in which we were very comfortable reading Paul痴 letters. We do very well in Paul痴 letters. But for some reason when we get to the synoptic gospels, i.e., Matthew, Mark and Luke, we have more difficulty with them. This is my experience, and I am not sure whether it is true for others or not. We have difficulty with them in a sense that they are not quite as didactic as some of the letters of Paul are. They are more narrative and story oriented. Some of them are metaphors and parables, e.g., the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. My hypothesis is that when we get to the gospel, especially when we encounter a narrative or metaphor, we do not necessarily know exactly what to do with it.
李：I would like to propose an idea. Regarding the gospel, we may see it as a series of concentric circles. The kernel circle is Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and He was resurrected and gives us new life. We must repent and return to God. This is the kernel, the core value of gospel. Then for the second and third circles we may extend to healing, caring, and social conscience, etc. It may affect to every aspect of individual life and holistic social life. But we must uphold the core value and kernel significance of gospel.
AL: Tonight’s dialogue is encouraging and much needed in our Chinese churches. I also found it to be troubling because as I listened to the four panelists here, it becomes apparent to me that we have different opinions on, for example, what is the current post-modern thought about authority. There are big differences in terms of what we see is happening. This reaffirms to me that there needs to be more dialogue in the future.