BIBLICAL GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

Issue No. 42

3 - 9 November 2008

BLENDING IN
- a reflection by Dr Kenny Tan
(Grad Dip CS, 2007 
currently a MCS student)

Crowds. Living in a small country like Singapore, I am familiar with swarms of people around me, especially in Orchard Road on weekends. As I read the Gospel of Luke, I was struck this time by the frequent mention of crowds that surrounded Jesus wherever He went. 

Regardless whether He was teaching, healing or just passing through towns, people from all walks of life ranging from tax collectors to women, Gentile and Jew, and even Pharisees and teachers of the law were attracted to Him – some, of course, for the most wrong and dubious reasons of trapping Him. 

I followed this motif of crowds through the Gospel and found it extended to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem where masses of His disciples cried out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38a). Later on, another crowd came into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Him and bring Him to the house of the High Priest where yet another crowd tried Him and brought Him before Pilate. Perhaps the most poignant moment for me was the point when the crowd shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” Luke mentions that their voices prevailed (Luke 23:23) There was a crowd who witnessed His crucifixion and death, which included soldiers, Pharisees and His disciples (Luke 23:33-49). 

While herd instinct and crowd sentiment can be swayed from warmth to hatred within a short span of time, as we have seen in the Gospel as well as in our modern times where support for a political personality or celebrity can swing from extreme to extreme, I wonder if my own reaction to the Lord sometimes is dependent on crowd sentiment at that time – Christian crowd sentiment. 

How is my faith dependent on or independent of the crowd sentiment – both within and outside the Christian community? While my beliefs and creeds stem from the Christian hermeneutical community from which I come, and I join in this community in corporate worship and service to the Lord in church, how much of my motivations are derived from an inward reality and true relationship with the Saviour? And how much of my motivations are influenced by the expectations and “herd direction” of the “Christian crowd”?

Take me out of the crowd and what will my faith be? Remove me from the “security” and “comfort” of my Christian community, and will I become like Peter who said, “I do not know Him”? (Luke 22:57). What will it take for me to stand out alone against the crowd? It will take an undeniable faith in an undeniable God. I remember the story of Polycarp where, in front of a heathen crowd who had gathered to watch his trial and when asked to revile Christ, he replied to the magistrate, “Fourscore and six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who save me?” 

I pray I do not just blend into the crowd. 

Weekly Highlights

BGST FUND-RAISING DINNER & TALK - The Dimensions of Godly Gratitude (Deuteronomy 26)
Special Guest & Speaker: Dr Daniel I Block (Gunther H Knoedler Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College, Illinois)

  • God is faithful. We continue to praise and pray to God for His sustaining grace for all the work done in setting up the DOC committee, the programme planning which has been smooth going and the eagerness of the people whom we are inviting. The Fund Raising Programme on 21 Nov 2008 will be on a modest scale - Safra at Telok Blangah Way (off Henderson Road) Time: 7.00 pm for pre-dinner cocktail.

  • Pray for the Speaker. Please pray for the Speaker Dr Daniel Block that he will deliver God's message with power via the Holy Spirit.

  • Our Guests and Number of Tables. Continue to uphold the people we are inviting and those who agreed to attend. To date, we have already 50 tables. We need to pray for 5 more tables to be filled to complete the 55 table capacity.

  • The logistics are going on well: Invitation cards have been sent, the final lists of Hosts and Ambassadors to be drawn. Pray that those who committed themselves will come and not be hindered from attending due to various reasons.

  • Praise be to God for a video clip by Principal (Dr Quek) in presenting BGST’s vision and mission.

  • Continue to uphold the BGST Council, Faculty, Staff and Students, that all the necessary arrangements especially with the Restaurant, are made in advance. Praise the Lord.

Admission by invitation only.

For enquiries on hosting a table, please contact Serene at Tel: 62276815 or email serene@bgst.edu.sg 

Course by Dr Daniel Block on Interpreting Ezekiel (OT367, 1.5 credits)
Dates: 18, 19, 24 & 25 November, 7.15-10.15pm. 


Ezekiel is often considered the lunatic of the Old Testament. Because of the bewildering opening vision, his strange street-theatrical performances, and his bizarre retelling of Israel’s story, well-intentioned people often give up on reading, let alone studying, the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was the only prophet to minister exclusively outside the land of Israel. Although his language and themes are firmly rooted in the literary traditions of the Sinai revelation and the book of Deuteronomy, many of his oracles betray the influence of the outside world, both in their language and in their motifs. At other times, the language he uses is simple Hebrew but his choice of expressions is shocking, bordering on pornographic (chaps. 16 and 23). Apparently, for him the only way to penetrate the hardened hearts of his audience and to wake them out of their lethargy was to use outrageous language and to reconstruct Israel’s history as God saw it in startling if not repugnant terms. Perhaps more than in other prophetic books, when we read this book we must ask a series of serious questions: 

  1. What does the text say? (the text-critical question); 

  2. What does the text mean? (the hermeneutical question);  

  3. Why does he say it like that? (the literary question);  

  4. What relevance does his sage have for me? (the practical question).

When we have explored the world in which Ezekiel lived and the audience to which he spoke, the answers to all these questions become clearer.

Introducing BGST
Council members ...
& finally, the Chairman:

Dr Toh See Kiat has been Chairman of the Council since 2006. He came on Council in 1994, leaving for a short break in the years 1997 to 2001. He strongly believes in the place of BGST for such a time as ours, to equip God's people for service in the marketplace and in the church. Such trained and empowered members of the church can strongly impact their countries throughout Asia. The need for a strong Asian voice in apologetics, church affairs and doctrine has also become important as the church in the West, the traditional leader in these areas, faces different challenges. The voice does not need to be solely the voice of academics and scholars - but from all the people of God who have been grounded in the Word of God.

Dr Toh is a lawyer by training and was admitted to the Singapore Bar in 1983. He is a practising lawyer with his own firm and has taught for more than 2 decades in 2 of Singapore's universities. His wife Dorothy and he are members of Mt Carmel BP Church where he was ordained an Elder in 2003. He recently left to pursue Master in Theological Studies at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Canada in preparation for a new calling from the Lord.

SPECIAL EXHIBITION ON EGYPT!

Have you seen two ladies dressed as Egyptian princesses riding in our SMRT trains lately? Are you aware that a special robot developed by scientists in Singapore was used in October 2005 to explore the largest pyramid, Cheops (or Khufu) at Giza, Egypt?

We invite you to come and visit a special exhibit of books and treasures from Egypt, featuring artefacts found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun and Ramses II, the Pharaoh of the Exodus. On the 4th floor we have a collection of papyri paintings. 

31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454. Tel: 62276815 Fax: 62276816 
Email : bgst@pacific.net.sg
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