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2023/12/1
Christian Faith and Political Participation – An Open Seminar Held Across Denominations

Taiwan Church News

3743 Edition

Nov 20 ~ 26, 2023

Weekly Topical

Christian Faith and Political Participation – An Open Seminar Held Across Denominations

Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong from Taipei

In the afternoon on November 19th, the PCT Campus Ministry Committee’s “New Messenger Magazine”, “Campus Magazine”, and Theological Sunday jointly held the first-ever seminar, entitled as “How to Vote in 2024?–Christian Churches in a Democratic Society” at the Chi-Nan Church of the Chi-Hsin Presbytery. During the meeting, Dr Hsu Chia-shin, a research professor at the Institutum Iurisprudentiae Academia Sinica, was invited to talk about the crisis of subjectivity establishment in Taiwan. Dr Cheng Mu-chun, an assistant professor in the Department of History at Tamkang University and CEO of the Lee Teng-hui Foundation, was invited to talk about the political participation of the Christians.

Regarding the history-breaking cooperation between “New Messenger Magazine” and “Campus Magazine” in more than half a century since their founding, Rev Cheng Jun-ping, editor-in-chief of “New Messenger Magazine”, and Mr Liang Geng-suo, editor-in-chief of “Campus Magazine”, both agreed a possibility of further cooperation in the future. Rev Cheng pointed out that although Campus Evangelical Fellowship and the PCT’s Evergreen Fellowship had different denominational traditions and ministries, they jointly participated in the campus ministry for the youth of Taiwan colleges and universities. He also emphasized that this seminar was a beginning and felt very excited about Campus Fellowship’s care to discuss Taiwan’s public affairs in recent years. He hoped that this seminar can become the beginning for more cooperation in the future.

Mr Liang believed that this cooperation could become a wonderful opportunity to overcome harmful stereotypes and communication gaps existed for decades, as “Campus Evangelical Fellowship” is a fellowship on campus, its ministries shall not be misunderstood as a “Mandarin-speaking church.” He emphasized that church co-workers of this generation were no longer prone to hostility or rejection of other’s denomination, as many co-workers and teachers on campus also came from the Presbyterian churches, so a dialogue shall be encouraged. Regarding the pressures that may be faced in future cooperation, Mr Liang emphasizes the autonomy and communication of the magazine, and he looks forward to more cooperation with “New Messenger Magazine” to bring positive results to the campus ministry in the future.

In a special lecture, entitled as “The Crisis of Taiwan’s Subjectivity Establishment in the Shadow of War,” Dr Hsu Chia-shin recalled that the late 1990s in Taiwan was “an era full of happiness and hope”, as former president Chen Shui-bian campaigned with the slogans full of catchwords like “happiness and hopes”. Even though Taiwan went under the chaotic political quarrels and splits then, the whole society still had a clear direction, Hsu said, witnessed by former prime-minister Mr Su Tseng-chang’s self-mocking language describing himself as an “Electric Fireball” to create a humorous yet passionate belief to stand firm in democracy. Looking back, now Taiwan is under a much more challenging situation, there is less humor, and more cracks runs deeper within Taiwan society, Dr Hsu worried. In addition, he indicated, the transitional justice is an important social engineering in Taiwan since 2016, but the Chiang-Kai-shek Memorial Hall still plays as a black hole of division and disputes in Taiwan politics.

“Democracy has brought Taiwan the greatest challenge, but it is also the noblest challenge,” Dr Hsu reminded the audience that the majority rule in democracy may not necessarily solve all problems. As the threshold for Taiwan’s constitutional amendments was manipulated to a level too high to reform, Taiwan’s majority rule has failed to live up to expectations of common folks, leaving Taiwanese people very difficult to forge their own future. Therefore, Dr Hsu appealed to the will of Taiwanese to seek peace and emphasized a mutual understanding of different political positions. He cautioned that profound historical differences cannot be easily resolved through law or democracy, as differences should be overcome by respecting individuality and the possibility of dialogue. Finally, he raised an important question: “How can the pan-blue (pro-KMT) and pan-green (pro-DDP) parties find a common ground to live and let live?” This is not only for the sake of survival, but also a way to jointly resist the red(China’s Communist Party) invisible infiltration to strangle Taiwan.

In his special speech, entitled as “The Distance between God and Caesar”, Dr Cheng Mu-chun said that it was natural for Christians to care about the politics based on their faith and thoughts. To monitor corruption and avoid legalizing religious virtues, he stressed, all politicians, parties and their political engagements should be checked and regulated per United Nations’ “The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and the “The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.” He remarked that “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” has been utilized without limits and abused for centuries, so modern societies were used to a separation of the church and the state. But, Dr Cheng believed, a democratic society was the participation of everyone, meaning that everyone is an active political participant and no one stays outside. “Whether Christians should participate in politics” should not be the problem, he reminded the PCT members, instead we should ask and respond to the question whether Christians involved in politics should behave in accordance with the teachings and confessions of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.

Dr Cheng said that the Presbyterian Church’s involvement in politics in the 1970s was in essence a theological reflection and confessional statement, calling on KMT government to reform and change. Christians who participated in politics should monitor political parties and politicians to move along the proposals of the two UN conventions, he said. “No Democracy, Yes Economy” was a very dangerous statement, he warned. Though sometimes the democracy would backtrack, as it was a collective choice and was always related to the human fragility in history, he remarked, but to avoid the recurrence of tragedies, democratic countries should continue to reflect, reform and remember the suffered via maintaining the historic sites of injustice.

Translated by Peter Wolfe


Submitted by:Taiwan Church Press
 
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