Sunday, 8 September 2013

City Harvest Church, the law courts and the abstract arena of trust

Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned! Nope, it should actually say, "The Lord seeks forgiveness from City Harvest Church (CHC) for I, the Lord, have sinned!" At least if one follows the pastor of CHC, then it is perfectly normal for God to apologize for His behaviour to humans.

One does not have to be a theologian of the status of St. Thomas Aquinas or Al-Ghazzali to understand it does not seem right for God to apologize to His subjects. Whether we refer to the Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Christian or any other religion's Supreme Being, it is generally humans who ask for forgiveness ... not the other way around.

Humans succumb to temptation. Humans do bad deeds. Humans think bad thoughts. Humans seek mercy for sins. For many, to speak of a God with flaws is tantamount to blasphemy.

'God the Father' by Cima da Conegliano (circa 1515)
Still, as a mortal, it is not my place to judge others, especially in matters of personal faith. So, if the leader of the CHC believes God has wronged him and God should apologize, then more power to the reverend. We all believe in our own God(s) – and fight our own demons (in this life and more).

However, religious leaders play to a gallery. They are not alone. They speak to a flock. Their each word is scrutinized. They are opinion formers who speak to thousands weekly. Thus, when a religious leader even indirectly implies that humans are somehow not responsible for personal actions, it seems inappropriate.  

Yes, it is a slippery road I am taking: 'freewill versus destiny.' Squaring the 'freewill versus destiny' circle is not my intention here – nor am I capable of resolving the centuries old debate. Nonetheless, the (earthly) legal framework of laws and courts created by humans rests squarely on the assumption humans are accountable for our deeds. And, if we abuse public trust or harm others, we must face the consequences.

Legal technicalities may win cases in law courts but the yardstick applied to maintain trust in the real world is more stringent. Thus, while the CHC court case continues and no verdict has yet been pronounced, in my books the CHC has already lost an important battle: the claim to have behaved in a morally correct manner.

But then I am neither judge nor theologian, simply a blogger with views on right and wrong.
Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors and the Deodar Diagnostic, Imran improves profits of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at