Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Josateki speaks up again

from w
The talatala vakaqu, the Rev Josateki Koroi, who has a splendid farm down Pacific Harbour way in his retirement, has spoken on two matters.  One -  his view of the notion of Fiji as a 'Christian State', and secondly about the church and politics - that they cannot be separated. It's fine for people to have a viewpoint and the media love it when different church members, especially from the Fiji Methodist Church, are at odds.  Perhaps Jo's argument with the church stemmed from the time he was treated badly a few years ago when there was a kind of coup in the Methodist Church, a time of coflict between moderates and strong-willed traditionalists..His view against a 'Christian state' is understandable in that Fiji is a pluralist society, and yet I can understand those who love God - in the Christian understanding - and want society to be based on the principles that came out of the teaching of Jesus. The second article - that the church is essentially involved in politics - is okay by me. I don't mean party politics, but essentially that the church MUST be involved in social justice.

Anyway, this is how his views were presented by a journalist in the Fiji Times.

It's 'blasphemy'

Nanise Loanakadavu
Sunday, October 28, 2012
THE notion that Fiji be declared a Christian State is an abuse of process, a misconception, misnomer, mischief-making, hypocritical and indeed blasphemy.
These were the comments of the former president of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, Reverend Josateki Koroi.
Mr Koroi's comments come in the wake of the continuing debate on whether Fiji should be declared a Christian State as proposed in submissions to the Constitution Commission.
He said the debate on the concept would continue to rage well in to the future. "This is because many of us accept this concept at face value rather than following Jesus Christ's teaching as recorded in the scriptures "come follow me", Mr Koroi said.
He said there was a need for Fijians to separate the State and its government of civil society and distinguish without prejudice the ever-living Christ himself and what was Christianity.
He said the declaration of a Christian State was something that would be legislated and written, an ideology that was compulsory to be adhered to whereas the teachings of Christ were something personal directly involving the creator and the believer.
Christianity, he said, from its inception was personal and individual and people's living relationship with an ever-living person.
Mr Koroi said Christianity was never an impersonal matter of ideology as to be fused with what a Christian possessed or owned such as a school, church or home.
He said the concept of Christianity was never an impersonal ideology as to an association of race, country, political parties or state and not even a denomination of a particular region.
"Christianity is a worldwide religion; it is not sectarian, closed religion of one's own race or country as the Fiji Christian state being advocated by others.
Politics part of pulpit
Nanise Loanakadavu
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
THE involvement of church leaders in politics was inevitable and could not be avoided.
This according to former Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma president, Reverend Josateki Koroi.
Mr Koroi said the Bible was full of politics from cover to cover where politics was clearly defined as the art of living together.
He said he was saddened to see people attacking church leaders and demanding they need to stay out of politics.
"The book of law gives the standard of personal morality, social justice but they also present the code which regulates the life of the community. This is politics," he said.
Mr Koroi said even the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed his gospel and died his death in a political context.
"This was the context of what we today would call a colonialism situation.
"The work of Christ in our time has become more and more political, not less."
Mr Koroi said Christians had always seen the enlightenment of the mind as part of their mission and people knew that the provision of education in schools, college and universities and of adequate scholarship was a political issue.
He said the provision of efficiently-equipped modern hospitals or research facilities to unsolved medical problems of a national health service depended on political actions.
"In any event we cannot evade political responsibility, the act of abstention from politics is itself a political act," he said.
"If we do not proclaim God's way in politics, then we are responsible for what happens."
Mr Koroi said no community could exist without politics.
However, he said it was for Christians to see they were better rather than worse.
"If politics had got in to the hands of the wrong people and had become a dirty business, it is the job of the Christians to clean it up. We do not live to ourselves and we must not be afraid of soiling our hands."
Mr Koroi said if politics was an unclean refuse or a muck heap, the Christian church should be a muckrake.


Anonymous said...

I'm pleased that the second article followed close after the first righting an imbalance that the first article on it own may have conveyed. That is, christianity's involvement is only restricted to a certain level of life. At state level it cannot or shouldn't be involved and must be left out or confined to only certain areas of society. In short, stay out of politics. The mistakes of the past (the Methodist Church) are good reasons to reject the call of some for a Christian state.

My understanding however is that christianity is meant to touch and be involved in every area of life not just personally but at family level, and all the way up to state level and beyond.Not in a coercive way but in the way of Christ. Rev. Koroi touches on this in the later article - that the church must not hold back or "be afraid of soiling our hands."

Whatever the 'seperation of church and state' or 'christian vs secular state' means it sends the message that christianity has certain limits and 'no-go areas,' which is against the intentions of its founder.However the tendency of Christianity (or the Church) is that at it's highest point having toiled and suffered it falls victim to its success and quickly slides downhill.Power corrupts and quickly.

- God Is Not Always Correct

Andrew Thornley said...

I can do no better than quote from Rev Paula Niukula's prophetic writing as contained in his book "The Three Pillars" , published a year before his untimely death in 1996. Paula states his priorities very clearly and puts them ahead of any consideration of a Christian state in name(pp.109-110):

"What would it be like if all the community leaders and people in a particular country took seriously Christ's examples of God's leadership...If they were taken seriously in this beloved country of ours, we should expect Fiji to become a land where respect for God's leadership as revealed by Jesus, was very evident. The evidence would be seen in these examples:
1. Leadership would take the form of service, and the disadvantaged and poor members of the community would be shown great consideration.
2. The people would obey the leaders, but it would be clear that should God's will be flouted, He would be given priority.
3. All members of the population would be loved, and care would be taken that there should be no acts of discrimination in Fiji.
4. We should beware of human failings, such as self-seeking, and putting our trust in our own strength and abilities.
5. However because of those human failings, we should seek justice by making good laws and laying down regulations for the care and consideration of all sections of the population who live together in this land.

We Christians should hold that picture before us as we give attention to our tasks as leaders or citizens: we are the nation. That is what we should be praying for.
(My capitalization)

Anonymous said...

A certain Rajesh Lal from Labasa in yesterdays Fiji Sun letters to the editor lambasted the Rev (Koroi) saying that he "should feel ashamed of himself by saying that ‘Politics is part of pulpit’ " This is the kind of unforturnate result that comes from a Christianity that has due to its 2000 year history of often bad experiences at state level matters, has wisely decided to make politics a no-go area. The unintended message (of maybe it is intentional) is that the high calling of God is the ministry or missions.But not business or politics.

@ Thornley. I wonder what those "examples we have studied' were that Rev Niukula was referring to. The collective Christian experience of the last 2 millennia (not just the Methodist experience in Fiji over the last 24 years) has led to a number of conclusions including the one that politics and christianity don't mix too well. So religion needs to be put in its own pigeon-hole etc. Put simply - religion (Christianity) cannot handle power (of this kind). So the next best thing is that it leads by serving . And under an entity that can handle power but not very well either (the secular state). In this regard Christ's example as servant is highlighted (as Rev Niukula does and well) . Experience is powerful but it should not lead. Christ is Servant but he is also King, the Lamb but also the Lion. Christians as the Rev. writes "are the nation" but I would add - remember that you first citizens of an otherworldly nation kingdom. The problem with the secular state thing is that secularisation makes the world of the senses more real. So earthly citizenship, nationality, ethnicity, kith, kin etc is the real-er world and not the spiritual world and kingdom that Christ came to bring. Begin the journey by grace but continue on by works.
On a different note - It will be interesting to hear the outcome of the constitution commission organised seminar on Religion and State that was held last evening.

- God Is Not Always Correct

Andrew Thornley said...

Thankyou "Anonymous" for your comments.
It was difficult to do justice to the writings of Rev. Paula Niukula in a couple of paragraphs. You rightly inquired - what were the examples he referred to?
I can only encourage reference to the book: The Three Pillars, published in 1994 by The Christian Writing Project. I imagine it is available in libraries.
Essentially the examples that Niukula gives are based around the following ethical principles:
-Service is the true character of the Kingdom of God
- Love is shown to all People
- Selfishness and Self-Pride must be struggled against
- Righteousness must be sought after
- Law is necessary
Without these principles being followed, Niukula says that there is no point in simply calling a nation a Christian state.
Niukula's strong implication is that the state should be separate from any particular religious identification so that all religious institutions, whatever their faith-calling, are independent of the failures of human-based governments and at the same time free to challenge wordly leaders to seek in their legislation the higher aims and ethics set forth by the great religious leaders of the past.

Anonymous said...

@Thornley. Ta

-God Is Not Always Correct

Andrew Thornley said...

Thankyou Anonymous.
I think we will have to disagree on your final point.

I would say that the God which humans often portray in their talking, writing, speaking etc. is not always correct. But that is a human construct.

For myself, speaking as a Christian, if we believe in a God, which we do, then we cannot speak in terms of correctness or not but simply in being and in creation and in love. These are infinite qualities.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

@Thornley. I understand your point of view. And agree, assuming that we are referring to the same deity.

But first a clarification. “God Is Not Always Correct” is the name I usually sign off my comments with. The phrase itself was originally used on another blogsite by a contributor who couldn’t fathom how and why God told a certain Lt.Colonel to carry out a military coup but then later went about apologising for what he did. So God is not always correct, yes? This was the tone in which the blogger used the phrase or that’s how I read it anyway.

I quite liked it because it touches on a real life challenge that serious believers of any faith face. Did I hear God right? Was it my imagination etc etc.

Anyway, my response to the comment, using the guy’s words ‘God is not always correct’ as my name, was that God sometimes deceives but he is good. I was thinking at the time of the weeping prophet who complained to God – “Lord you have deceived me and I was deceived”.

To balance your valid comment that humans portrayal of God is not always correct, let me add that humans portrayal of what God is not is not always correct either. He sometimes deceives and he sometimes forsakes (Eloi Eloi lama…) He can’t be boxed in. And he won’t be.

If my comments here make more than just good sense then we may be referring to the same God. If ludicrous then we may not be and that’s fine. We must speak only of that which we have seen and heard. It’s quite possible that we may be talking about two different persons here.

All the best and thanks again for the info on the late Rev’s book.

- God Is Not Always Correct