Rony Tan Saga - Let's not compromise on speaking the truth, says Cornerstone

“The recent big blow up about Pastor Rony Tan’s highly-publicised sermon on Buddhism and Taoism, and the most recent attack on his statements on homosexuals is a reminder of the continual scrutiny and the pressure that the Church will face in the coming years. Having watched the video myself, I thought that the reaction from the public was a little excessive” …. After that, we’ve an account of a prayer meeting the disciples had and as they prayed for boldness to speak the word of God, God answered by shaking the place they were gathered in and the disciples were all filled with uncommon valor. What’s the conclusion then? Let’s be sensitive; let’s be careful; but let’s not compromise on the truth.” "A thorny Issue" Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church, 20 Feb 2010.

In the response to the Rony Tan Sagas by Pastor Yoong of Cornerstone on 20 Feb 2010, there seems to be strong underlying support for Pastor Rony Tan in the Christian Circles. The response from the “public” was deemed as “excessive” when:-

  • It was not merely a “public” response, but a strong reaction from the Buddhist faith which the famous Pastor of the mega church conveniently fails to mention,
  • The “public” response led to the Government response on insisting on the apology which was a good way of the Pastor to hide his disdain for the Government’s action by blaming it on the public.

The use of the words “most recent attack on his statements …” showed how biased and delusional the church has remained when it was Pastor Rony who spent more than 40 minutes (both the anti-Buddhist and anti-Gay videos combined) condemning and criticizing ie “attacking” others. Therefore it was Pastor Rony who was the aggressor and the others responding to his very harsh words which includes calling gays as monkeys, dogs and donkeys. To deemed the recent incidents as “an attack” and a “continual reminder” of the scrutiny of the church,

  • Implies a demand for special rights for the church based on their religious freedom to do and say whatever they pleased without having to be responsible and be scrutinized by others for which they have greatly insulted,
  • Speaks of a “persecuted” mentality when they consider themselves victims, the same kind of ideology which you see the religious zealots taking up arms all over the world in response to perceived ill treatment.

In the middle east, we see the nations with its overwhelming military, political, and financial, surrounding the very small nation of Israel, and all we hear is them blaming Israel as the aggressor. The end justifies the violence, when thousands of innocents are killed all in the name of religious dogma. It is time for the church to see beyond their strict religious dogma, and to be fair, just, and humble to reflect on its own wrongdoings. We can be very religious, but we need to be very human. Jesus was in touch with humanity not by seeking to be associated with the religious, the powerful and wealthy, and the politicians, but he chose to linger with the rejected and the outcasts. The church will only be “without walls” when it embraces its queer members hiding in secret within its walls.

“What’s the conclusion then? Let’s be sensitive; let’s be careful; but let’s not compromise on the truth.” Pastor Yoong said, speaking as if we should not compromise on the truth about speaking out on other religions and on gays whilst being “sensitive” due to the multi-cultural and multi-religious setup of Singapore. However, It is clear from the bible verses that Pastor Yoong quoted himself that we are to instead preach Christ, to preach the good news rather than talking so much about other religions and gays for which we have no expertise over.

(Acts 19:11 NKJV) Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,

(Acts 19:37 NKJV) "For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess.

In the story mentioned of the incident at Ephesus in Acts 19:321-41, was Pastor Yoong indirectly implying that Pastor Rony Tan was acting in the mantle of the Apostle Paul? when:-

  • Apostle Paul did not criticize their goddess (Diana of Ephesus), unlike Pastor Rony Tan who spent a whole 20 minutes ridiculing the faith,
  • Apostle Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news message with mighty miracles and powerful signs which affirmed his message and authenticity (Acts 19:11). There was no need at all to condemn the incumbent religions as the core platform message if our mighty signs in our healing services are genuine and profoundly life changing.

It is so easy to condemn and to criticize when we are law centered rather than Grace conscious. We misquote verses in the bible to justify our claims that gays are sinners, when Paul was condemning the legalistic Jews in Rome that abiding in the law led them no where giving examples of their Jewish ancestors in the book of Judges who had sex with each other and with prostitutes to please Baal/Ashtoreth whilst under the Law. Transgressions against the human sexuality that God intended (both heterosexual and homosexual kind) were done as part of their faith worship and we don’t of course criticize the act of heterosexual sex as sin. Under law, we have a narrow vision of seeing only the fault of others, which become amplified in our sight as the greatest of sins, even those “sins” which appear very doubtful such as homosexuality when we likewise don’t choose our heterosexuality.

What’s the conclusion then? The root issue is not being insensitive, nor not being more careful; or compromising the truth as concluded by Pastor Yoong, but that we have long departed from preaching the truth. This is the fruits of preaching and insisting on the law, which have made us incredibly self righteous, and religious hypocrites. If the Government had not intervened, Pastor Rony would have continued on, despite complaints. He thought he was boldly doing right, and doing God’s work, so do many of us. He was caught because his videos went viral over the internet. He was also ‘saved’ because his was such a major church that persecution would lead to a negative impression of the Government faulting the entire Christian Faith. Many churches have done likewise (though far less long winded as Pastor Rony) but not caught. Are we then to be more sensitive, and more careful to avoid being taken to task? Surely, the root causes have not been addressed.

What’s the conclusion then? What is the truth? Under the law, Pastor Rony could have easily been taken to task and be jailed, yet he was given grace. The truth is the supremacy of Grace versus the Law. We are to preach the Good News message that we are saved by believing by Faith through Grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is not by obedience to the law and totally unmerited. This is grace, and God’s amazing grace in Christ - if fully embraced will lead us to be people conscious of God’s grace, mercy and compassion in our lives. As a result, we will be slow to condemn, quick to forgive, ready to love and see the best in others, and considering ourselves not any better than others but humbled by the grace of God, and keenly aware of our own failings and mindful of the sufferings of humanity and the outcasts – putting them first before our prosperity theology.

When we walk through the streets of Geylang, considering ourselves no greater than her many prostitutes, but worst sinners saved by grace, then perhaps, we walk closer to the Point of Grace, and as a church, to be the bride clothed fully in white without blemish, ready for the coming back of the bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Come Lord Jesus, Come – change and heal your church to be more Christ like. Change and liberty is possible in Jesus. Let us have the Grace orientation.

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