I was browsing in a bookshop and came across a slender paperback book with an intriguing title: When a Church Becomes a Cult. The Marks of  a New Religious Movement, by Stephen Wookey (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1996). The author is an Anglican minister who serves in Central London. As in

any large city, a bewildering array of religious groups find a bustling city environment very congenial for the propagation of their beliefs. Some of them are immediately recognizable, such as Scientology and Hare Krishna, but others are more subtle, as in the case of the Central London Church of Christ. The challenge to understand what makes such movements thrive drove the author to make this special study, which he had done with great insight and sufficient thoroughness without making this book pedantic.
      "Cult" was originally a nondescript term, "A system of religious devotion" (Oxford English Dictionary). But because of deviant practices such as attempts to overrule an individual's right of choice, it acquired negative connotations. Cults depend on the use of power,  authority and brainwashing techniques. Legal cases have highlighted the need to define carefully what constitutes a cult. In explaining the characteristics of a cult, the author stresses elitism, psychological manipulation, financial dishonesty, and occasional inciting of followers to stockpile chemical and biological weapons to attack any who try to stand in their way. They would not stop short of committing mass suicide when they fail to reach their ends. The alarming thing is that these groups are not confined to fringe, secular organizations. Often cults began as churches which over time began to show a tendency toward extreme teachings and practices. Secrecy about their activities, targeting of vulnerable persons who hunger for friendship or who have other emotional needs, and then showering them with love and attention - these are just some of the many indications and warning signals that shows how a church can turn into a cult. They enable family members or counsellors to recognize individuals and churches who are caught by  spiritual blackmail and are trapped in a web of deceit. I found one missing point, namely, that the fundamental error of any cult is its denial of the Trinity. Otherwise this is a superb treatment of an important subject. (QSH)

Last Wednesday, Oct 10th, Dr Quek took as his devotional text Psalm 2. When unscrupulous persons show a complete disregard for the life of others and terrorise the world releasing deadly germs and chemicals aimed at killing others, what would God do? He who sits enthroned in heaven shall laugh, scoff, rebuke and terrify them in his wrath (vv.4-5). We recognize the danger that confronts us and see no abating of its strength. But we can run to God and take refuge in Him (v.12). Dr Quek completed his message by dealing with a prophecy that has been circulating concerning an earthquake that is supposed to take place in Singapore.  If you wish to have his comments and analysis of this issue, you may request for a copy of his article by sending him an email: bgstdean@cyberway.com.sg

Our sincere apologies for the late appearance this week of BGST This Week. Do pray for the ministry of this paper from week to week. Thank you.

The
Chapel Speaker for this Wednesday, October 17th, is Mrs Leong King Teng, friend and former lecturer of BGST. We welcome Mrs Leong to BGST and are glad to have her fellowship again. We invite all to come and join us at 12 noon in Rm 302.

After many months of waiting, visiting churches on deputation ministry to raise prayer and financial support,
Rev Samuel Kim Jong Seok (Dip CS, 2001) will leave Inchon, South Korea, soon with his wife Sarah and their two sons for South Africa where they will serve with the Korean Seamen's Mission for about half a year before going on to New York City. They hope to settle down there for their long-term ministry. The whole family is excited about the prospect of starting their new ministry and request prayer as they adjust to life in South Africa.

Special "Christian Faith" course. As the year end approaches some students are taking advantage of the prospect of some free time to take in an intensive course. Dr Quek Swee Hwa will conduct a video class and tutor TS101, which is required for the Dip CS. Students will view the video tapes on their own. There will be five (or more, if necessary) tutorials on the following evenings: Thursday, Nov 1, 9.30-11.00 pm; Monday, Nov 5, 8.00-9.30 pm; Wednesday, Nov 14, 8.00-9.30 pm; Thursday, Nov 22, 8.00-9.30 pm; and Friday, Nov 30, 9.00-10.30 pm. Students will need to devote 4-6 hours per week for a period of about 6 weeks. This is a three credit course and those interested may sign up with Kok Wee (3538071) and view the first two lectures in the library before the first tutorial. This course is designed as an introduction to the study of theology or Christian doctrine. It is ideal for those who are in-between jobs or busy persons who are free to undertake some training at this point in time.

BGST is happy to highlight two ancillary programmes  which supplement our regular curriculum in important ways.

TENT should be familiar to our regular students. It is a part-time modular course designed to equip and prepare Singapore professionals for ministry and service in a cross-cultural context. It is jointly organized by the Discipleship Training Centre and BGST, with the support of other organizations. Courses on the Biblical Basis of Tentmaking, Understanding Culture, Personal Ministry Skills, Religions of Asia, Theology of Work, Tentmakers and Ethical Issues, and other interesting courses taught by well-qualified lecturers form the curriculum of this programme. Emphasis is placed on personal mentoring of the students and praying for the Lord's direction in leading students to an area of service. A Certificate of Tentmaking is awarded to students who successfully complete the course. Sign up NOW! The course will begin in January 2002. Contact person: Mrs SM Peck 354 3150 or just call BGST tel. 3538071.

SPEECH DIPLOMA. A NEW  Programme!

    Grab this opportunity to earn an ASSOCIATE DIPLOMA with the LONDON COLLEGE OF MUSIC. This is a course designed specially for pastors, lay leaders and all who see the importance of improving their speech communication. Too often training focuses on content preparation and the effectiveness of a person is not enhanced when he or she is unable to communicate clearly, interestingly and forcefully. 

     Students find the opportunity to "kill two birds with one stone". They can sign up for a BGST course on Speech Communication ("Better Speech for Leadership & Ministry, 1.5 credits) and receive a value-added experience of preparing for the London College of Music examination conducted locally in Singapore by examiners from abroad.

    Our new Lecutrer, Rev Ng Seng Chuan, is the speech trainer who has had 15 years of pastoral experience. His broad-based training in theology (MCS, Regent College)  and speech / drama (ALAM, FLCM; also ATCL, LLCM/TD, LLCM Hons/ Performance) enables him to give the best training to our students. Sign up NOW! Call BGST at 3538071.

Wishing you God's richest blessings, Happy Birthday !

Assoc Prof Quek Ser Aik  10/15, Mr Tay Soon Hiang Jeffrey  10/15
Ms Tan Lee Theresa  10/17, Mrs Ng Soh May  10/18
Ms Lee Siew Lan  10/19, Ms Lee Siew Ling Dorcas  10/19
Dr Tan Poh Kiang  10/19

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Biblical Graduate School of Theology
4 Bishan Street 13
Singapore 579792
updated on 17 Oct 2001
Oct 2000