Idol Worship: Chen Shui-bian Ascends the Cross
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 3, 2008
The truth about the Chen Shui-bian case is increasingly clear. More and more Chen family crimes have surfaced. The crowds that gather in support of Ah-Bian, shouting "A-bian is innocent!" are smaller and smaller. And yet the most recent pro-Chen rally was led by Taiwan's Presbyterian Church.
The DPP's support for Chen is understandable. Political parties are not necessarily committed to the pursuit of justice. They often find themselves sinking into moral degradation and unable to extricate themselves. That academics such as Li Hong-hsi would curse prosecutors, and hope that their next three generations die horrible deaths, also comes as no surprise. That's the way these ideologues are. That's what they do. But a prominent religious organization on Taiwan has become the main pillar of support for Ah-Bian. Pastors, their congregations, and society as a whole ought to reflect on this bizzare phenomenon.
In recent months, the Chen family has suddenly gotten religion. On the one hand, Ah-Bian has been comparing himself to a long-suffering Jesus Christ. On the other hand, he has characterized the legal system and social mechanisms within society that provide checks and balances, as the devil. Chen Shui-bian said, "I am willing to die on the cross of Taiwan's history, but unwilling to die amidst a pile of rocks." Wu Shu-chen said, "We must be willing to sacrifice our lives like Jesus Christ. We (Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng) are willing to sacrifice our lives for Taiwan." Former First Daughter Chen Hsing-yu said, "God will see you devils in heaven. He will know how to punish you." Wu Shu-chen added, "I hope God will touch the hears of those determined to persecute us. I hope he will awaken their consciences, and tell them not to persecute us politically. "
The Chen case is Armaggedon. Ah-Bian is Christ. The legal system and society are the devil. The Democratic Progressive Party may parrot the Chen family's media spin. So may academics such as Li Hong-hsi. But can the church really endorse such views? Are such views in line with the teachings of a pure faith?
"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and unto God that which is God's." Christianity has its own definitions for sin and injustice. One. To the church, refusing to believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior is a sin. To society, violating the law is a crime. This has been the case since Caesar. How can Ah-Bian characterize a modern democracy's justice system as the devil? Two. Under secular law, an act must be defined as illegal before it can be a crime. No law, no crime. If the Special Investigation Unit is unable to uncover a crime, there can be no punishment. But within the church, even if the Special Investigation Unit is unable to uncover a crime, a sin is still a sin. Secular law does not punish evil thoughts. As long as the guilty can find legal loopholes, they can escape punishment. But within the church, it is a matter of conscience. Even if one is able to escape the law, one can not escape God's punishment, as manifested in the voice of one's conscience. In fact, refusing to confess hardly absolves one of sin. Within the church refusing to confess one's sins is the work of the devil, something God does not tolerate.
The outlines of the Chen corruption case are quite clear. From the church's standpoint, pastors cannot adopt a secular stance and ask rhetorically, "Has he been indicted?" "Has he lost his final appeal?" They must urge the Chen family to confess their sins to God, help them experience remorse, purging themselves of their guilt. The church's manner of dealing with crime must be more exalted than that of the courts. The church certainly shouldn't help criminals to escape the law, to scoff at the law, to characterize the law as the devil. The above opinions constitute Christianity's core values. So what about the Taiwan Presbyterian Church, which sponsored a support Chen rally? Together with the Democratic Progressive Party and Li Hong-hsi they shouted, "Ah-Bian is innocent." Their actions risk provoking a serious controversy over religious doctrine. Were the pastors who took to the podium speaking on behalf name of their fellow pastors? For that matter, were they speaking on behalf of God? Do the pastors know better than the courts whether Chen Shui-bian is guilty or innocent? Do the pastors know better than God? The pastors are not merely refusing to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. They are rendering unto themselves that which is God's.
During the pro Chen rally, one Chen supporter held high a crucifix incribed with the words, "Ah-Bian is the Jehovah of Taiwan's democracy." From the church's standpoint, this is truly shocking. One. Who has the effrontery to pretend to be Jehovah? Two. Hasn't Chen Shui-bian sullied Jehovah's name? Three. Are we to understand that Chen Shui-bian is a new Jehovah, akin to Hong Xiuquan?
Thirty years ago, the Taiwan Presbyterian Church issued a "Declaration of Human Rights," proposing that "Taiwan become a new and independent state." During the Kaohsiung Incident, Minister Kao Chun-ming helped Shih Ming-teh flee from the law. The public understandably developed a view of the Presbyterian Church as a champion of justice. But a number of Presbyterian Church pastors are now supporting Ah-Bian. In terms of either religious doctrine or social justice, they are going to have a hard time justifying their conduct. Christ was penniless when he was crucified on Mount Calvary. Does the Taiwan Presbyterian Church intend to endorse Chen Shui-bian as he plays at crucifying himself atop a seven hundred million dollar mountain of gold?
Chen Shui-bian has elbowed Christ off the cross and taken his place. Pastors of the Presbyterian Church have given him their blessing. They have transformed Chen Shui-bian into the most exalted idol of Taiwan independence. The church shuns idolatry. Yet it would have the people kneel before a man-made idol named Chen Shui-bian.
Is this the will of God? Or merely the private whim of a few pastors?
2008.12.03 03:35 am
民 進黨挺扁尚可理解，因為政黨本來就未必是在追求公義，常有不能自拔或向下沉淪之時；另如李鴻禧之類的學者挺扁，甚至詛咒檢察官三代不得好死，也不意外，因 為這類學者只有這種格局，也只能演此一戲路；但是，做為台灣的一個重要教會，現今竟然成為挺扁的主要支柱，這卻是牧師、信眾及全體社會可堪省思的不尋常現 象。
近幾個月來，扁家突然將扁案宗教化。一方面，自喻為受難的耶穌；另一方面，將司法及社會制衡因素指為魔鬼。自喻為耶穌，例如，陳水扁 說：「我願意死在台灣歷史的十字架上，而不願死在亂石堆中。」吳淑珍亦說：「像耶穌為我們捨命一樣，我們（扁珍）願一起為台灣捨命。」將司法及制衡因素視 作魔鬼，則例如，陳幸妤說：「上帝會在天堂看著你們這些魔鬼，他會知道怎麼處罰你們。」吳淑珍亦說：「希望上帝感動那些居心迫害我們的人，良心發現，不要 對我們政治迫害。」
「凱 撒的歸凱撒，上帝的歸上帝。」基督教對於「罪」及「不義」的見解是：一、在宗教上，「不信耶穌救主就是罪」；在社會中，「違背律法就是罪」。這是凱撒時代 即已成立的見解，又豈能將今日民主憲政體制下的司法指為魔鬼？二、再者，世俗的律法，為罪刑法定主義，特偵組追查不出的犯罪，即不能處罰；但是，在宗教 上，即使特偵組追查不出的犯罪，也是犯罪。何況，世俗的律法，法不誅心，只要犯罪者在法律空隙中逃得過去，即不能處罰；但在宗教上，卻是直指良心，即使逃 得過法律，也逃不過上帝對犯罪者良心的懲罰。其實，不認罪，不除罪，在宗教上皆是「屬魔鬼」，上帝不容。
扁案的輪廓已然十分清楚。站在宗 教的立場，其實牧師們不能像世俗所問：「起訴了嗎？」「三審定讞了嗎？」而應帶領扁家從良心層面向上帝認罪，再幫助他們從良心層面懺悔除罪；宗教對於罪的 處理，應當先於並高於法律，尤其不能協助罪人欺瞞司法、否定司法，將司法視作魔鬼。以上的見解其實皆屬基督教義的根柢；然則，台灣基督長老教會「主辦」挺 扁大會，與民進黨及李鴻禧等一起主張「阿扁無罪」，即不免陷入嚴重的教義爭議；台上的牧師們是否冒了全體教友的名？更是否冒了上帝的名？阿扁是否有罪，難 道牧師們比司法機構清楚？難道牧師們比上帝清楚？牧師們非但不主張凱撒的歸凱撒，甚至主張上帝的也應歸於牧師？
三 十年前，台灣基督長老教會發表「人權宣言」，主張「使台灣成為一個新而獨立的國家」；高俊明牧師在美麗島事件後並曾掩護施明德逃亡。這類過程，皆有其可理 解的時空因素與公義內涵。但是，長老教會的部分牧師如今挺扁，無論在宗教教義上，或社會正義上，恐皆已陷於不能自圓其說的困境。畢竟，耶穌是一貧如洗地釘 死在各各他山頂的十字架上，台灣基督長老教會至少不能承認陳水扁自稱他的十字架是釘在海角七億、金庫七億堆起的金山之上吧？