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Social Engagement as the Preferred Means to Incarnational Mission in the Context of Malay Hegemony

Khee-Vun Lin

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This dissertation argues that social engagement should be the preferred means for Chinese Christians in Sabah (CCS), Malaysia to fulfill their incarnational mission in the sociopolitical context of Malay hegemony. Due to their history, the CCS have developed a nationalism that is different from the main discourse of the country defined by Malay nationalism. Today, Malay nationalism has evolved into Malay hegemony that inclines to Islamism. Christians are increasingly treated as a functional dhimmitude. Part One describes this ministry context.

Part Two describes the challenges CCS face in nation-building and their mission to the Malays. Lacking understanding of Malay hegemony, CCS have been negotiating nationalism through various means, which are often ineffective and irrelevant. CCS are also ignorant of the missional essence of the Church. Consequently, they lose their incarnational identity. This causes them to neglect their role in nation-building and evangelism to the Malay-Muslim community.

Part Three contends that CCS should restore their missional identity. The theological concept of incarnation is assessed and concluded to be indispensable to CCS’ missional identity. Once restored, incarnation will form the theological basis for CCS to identify themselves as Malaysians, resolving their national identity dilemma. This gives them reason to commit to nation-building and identify with Malays. They also can recover the full meaning of evangelism, resulting in meaningful missional engagement with Malays.

Part Four considers how CCS shall apply the concept of incarnational mission. Social engagement is argued as the proper expression of incarnational mission. Practical options to engage in nation-building and witnessing to Malays are plentiful. Civil negotiation, intellectual dialogues, and evangelism are three common avenues for such purpose. Yet, due to Malay hegemony, social engagement that fosters communal relationship amongst the masses is contended as the preferred option.