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Issue No. 34 22 - 28 August 2011
BGST 3rd Annual Conference: 'The Message of the Cross Today'

The question concerning the divinity of Christ is sometimes posed in the form: ‘Was Jesus God?’ It has been noted that this question, though it seems to pose the issue in a most straightforward way, is in fact a trick question. Why so? Because it assumes that we already know what God is like, so that the only question we need to answer is: how far does Jesus match up to our previously-formed picture of God? But what if the matter ought to be put the other way around? What if the Gospels were written to tell us, ‘Look at Jesus and as you look at him see what your God is like’?

Sometimes the life of a biblical scholar can throw up interesting juxtapositions. Earlier this month I was reading through Amos in preparation for a series of talks, and encountered the following description of God (Amos 4:13): ‘For lo, the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind, reveals his thoughts to mortals, makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth – the LORD, the God of Hosts, is his name!’ And again (Amos 9:5–6): ‘The Lord, GOD of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt, who builds his upper chambers in the heavens, and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth – the LORD is his name.’

At the same time as I read through Amos, I was reading in Mark 4–6, where we see Jesus displaying the same kind of power over creation that Amos ascribes to the God of Israel: stilling a storm (4:35–41); entering an unclean region, a land of the dead (almost), in order to defeat the power of a legion of demons and bring deliverance to a madman (5:1–20); multiplying loaves and fishes for a hungry multitude (6:30–44); walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee (6:47–51).

‘Prepare to meet your God, O Israel’, says Amos (4:12). Mark could have begun his Gospel with similar words. One of the points Mark wants to make is that in Jesus God has drawn near to his people, as clearly demonstrated by the power Jesus on occasion displays. But there is more to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark than the impressive exercise of divine power: Jesus also shares his life with his disciples in spite of the frustration that this sometimes brings him (8:17–18); he shows care and compassion for those he meets (1:41 [in some manuscripts!]; 5:43; 6:34); finally, he dies a humiliating death on a cross, a death that will provide a ‘ransom for many’ (10:45). Throughout his presentation Mark, I believe, wants to tell us: ‘Behold your God!’

The nature and character of God, the revelation of God in Jesus and particularly in the cross, the relationship of Old and New Testaments: are these topics (all of which I have touched on in the preceding paragraphs) of concern to you? Come to that, would you like to listen to a lecture on the Cross in the Gospel of Mark? If so, then perhaps you should consider registering for the Conference on the theme, ‘The Message of the Cross Today’, which begins on 23rd September (with a follow-up course which continues into early October). Our prayer is that everyone involved, lecturers and students alike, will be lead into a deeper understanding of the Cross of the Son of God; that our hearts will be warmed, our devotion strengthened, and our service for God energised as we explore and reflect on this central gospel theme. Please consider joining us.

Philip Satterthwaite
Principal, BGST.

Coming Event
3rd annual conference
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Book Corner

the pastor as scholarThe Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor
John Piper & D A Carson
IVP 2011

Retail Price: $15.95
Book Club Member Price: $13.60
Student Price: $12

This book looks at the relationship between scholarship and pastoral ministry. Piper centres on the importance of scholarship and academic pursuits in his role as pastor. Carson, conversely, focuses on the importance of pastoral ministry in his career as a scholar.

An interesting blend of testimony, insight and teaching, this book challenges those in ministry to think carefully and holistically about their calling.

the cross and the prodigal

The Cross and the Prodigal
Kenneth E. Bailey
IVP 2006

Retail Price: $20.05
Book Club Member Price: $16.05
Student Price: $14.05

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of both the New Testament and Middle Eastern culture, Bailey presents an interpretation of this parable that powerfully demonstrates its essentially Christian message. Here Bailey highlights the underlying tensions between law and love, servanthood and sonship, honor and forgiveness that grant this story such timeless spiritual and theological power.

Honoured in 2006 as a "Year's Best Book for Preachers" by Preaching magazine.

Chapel Message by Dr Lai Pak Wah
Dr Lai just returned from the 16th International Patristics Conference held at Oxford between 8-12 Aug and shared his reflections on his trip at chapel. The conference, as he explained, is the largest in the field of early church fathers studies, with more than 900 delegates and 700 papers presented. Dr Lai himself presented a paper based on part of his thesis, entitled The Image of God in the Antiochene Tradtiion: A Comparison of John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopseustia. In the course of the conference, he also discussed extensively the nature of historical scholarship with Chong Ser Choon, an adjunct BGST lecturer, who joined him for the event. Both of them agreed that historical scholarship is not without pitfalls since scholarship has often been misused to the detriment of the Christian faith or indeed has no bearing at all on one's spiritual life. Nevertheless, historical scholarship - as a cultivated habit and discipline towards investigating truth, can also be understood as a valid expression of  the human nature's desire for truth. Indeed, this is no less than an affirmation of one’s being as the image of God. For this reason, historical scholarship, even apart from its bearing on spiritual life, has its value - as an expression of one's being as the image of God. Both Ser Choon and Pak Wah heartily affirm that many of the scholars at the Conference were interested in things spiritual and this interest, in turn, had guided their research subjects and methods, such as an investigation of spiritual direction among monks in Gaza or the role of prayer in understanding political crises at church. Such topics can well be edifying for Christians. This being said, Dr Lai warned that we must not confuse between knowledge of spiritual ideas and living it out. For most students of theology and spirituality, himself included, we know far, far more and practice far too little. The net result is that we may bring upon ourselves divine judgment and gave occasions for our pride. Thus, much caution, care and humility are needed in the study of theology, history and spirituality, for it is a dangerous
endeavour.

At this point, Dr Lai turned to reflect on the challenges of scholarship for students from developing countries and even local scholars. For both, the lack of books and research materials is a persistent challenge for the development of our scholarship. Nonetheless, Dr Lai commended to all the examples of Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin, both of whom had a much smaller library than most of us, and no time for any scholarly pursuits. Rather, most of their writings and energies were channelled to the cause of the Church, in addressing pastoral problems or theological controversies. In this way, they have left an enduring legacy for the Church. Likewise, those of us who lament the lack of resources may hope in the Lord that He will develop and use us even in the midst of our constraints.

In conclusion, Dr Lai shared about his 'pilgrimage' or visit to C. S. Lewis' grave and house in Oxford. Lewis has always been his favorite author since reading the Chronicles of Narnia  and several of Lewis's apologetical treatises. It is Dr Lai's hope that each of us may find in Lewis a shining example of Christian scholarship, i.e., our writings, like those of Lewis will stir in our listeners a desire for God and His goodness, and motivate them towards a greater love for His kingdom that is to come.

Courses Commencing in Term 1 & 2, 2011-2012

APPLIED THEOLOGY
Christian Biography (AT151, 1.5cr);
Dates & Time: Oct 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4; 7.15-10.15pm
Venue: Clarus Centre / Lecturer: Dr David Wong

Marketplace Theology (MM255, 1.5cr);
(Group Tutorial) by Prof Paul Stevens / Tutor: Mr Ben Pwee;
Dates & Time: Oct 20, 27; 7.15-9.45pm;
Venue: Clarus Centre

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & SPIRITUAL FORMATION
*Scripture Recitation & Story Telling (ECF514, 1.5cr);
Dates & Time: Oct 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4; 7.15-10.15pm
Venue: Clarus Centre / Lecturer: Rev Ng Seng Chuan

Spiritual Retreat Experience: Nature, Purpose, Dynamics
(ECF504, 3cr);
Dates & Time: Oct 18, 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, 7.15-9.45pm;
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC
Lecturer: Mr John Chong Ser Choon;
Residential Retreat Nov 17-20 (Additional Cost)

THEOLOGICAL STUDIES
Theological Foundations I (TS211, 3cr);
Venue & Dates:

Time: 7.15-9.50pm;
Lecturer: Dr Edwin Tay

The Roots of Christianity: The Wisdom of the Church Fathers for the 21st Century (CH260/TS281, 3cr);
Venue & Dates:

Time: 7.15- 9.50pm;
Lecturer: Dr Lai Pak Wah

* Courses marked with an asterisk are not offered on audit basis.

The course schedule for Semester I, year 2011-2012 is now available.
For more information, please visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events

Chapel News
Dr Lai Pak Wah will be leading the Prayer chapel on 31 August 2011. Chapel begins at 12 pm. You are welcome to join us.
Faculty News
On 26th August, and 2nd and 9th September, Dr Satterthwaite will be giving the second, third and fourth sessions of a short course on Amos and OT Prophecy which he is teaching for FES Staff Workers. The first session was on 12th August.

On 28th August, Dr Satterthwaite will be speaking at the 11.30 service of Grace (Singapore Chinese Christian) Church, on the topic, 'The Instruction of the Lord (Proverbs 2)'.

Mr Quek Tze-Ming will be preaching at both 8.30 and 10.30 services at the Zion Bishan BP Church on 28 August. The topic is "Having Nothing, Possessing Everything (2 Cor 6.1-10)".

Announcements

BGST Office and Library will be closed on Saturday, 27 Aug 2011 and Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011 being Polling Day (Presidential Election 2011) and Hari Raya Puasa respectively.

We will resume normal operating hours on Monday, 29 Aug 2011 and Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011.

TENT 2011 Modules
TENT
Tentmakers Equipping 'N' Training

Personal Ministry Skills: Practical Considerations for a Tentmaker’s Ministry
Tues. Sept 6, 13 & 20; 2011 (7.20-10.00pm)
Facilitator: Mr Toh Kai Hua

Tentmakers & Ethical Issues
Sat. Oct 8 & 15; 2011 (9.30-11.30am; 12.00-2.00pm)
Facilitator: A Former Singaporean Tentmaker

Coping with Stress
Tues. Oct 11, 18 & 25; 2011 (7.20-10.00pm)
Facilitator: Mr Yam Keng Mun

All TENT courses will be held at 37 Jalan Pemimpin, #06-05 Blk B Clarus Centre (former Union Industrial Building)

For more information on TENT courses, please visit our website: http://www.bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events/tent

Church-Based Lay Training Modules
2011 Modules offered at
Yishun Christian Church (Anglican)

The Message of the Song of Songs
Wed. Sep 7, 14, 21, 28 (7.30-9.30pm)
Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite

2011 Modules offered at
Mt Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church

Beginnings: Opening the Gospels
Thu. Sep 1, 8, 15, 22 (7.30-9.30pm)
Lecturer: Mr Quek Tze-Ming

For details about the modules & registrations, please visit:
http://www.bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events/church-based-lay-training
or contact
 Biblical Graduate School of Theology
Tel: 6227 6815 Fax: 6255 3686
Email: cblt-ycca@bgst.edu.sg (Yishun Christian Church)
cblt-mcbpc@bgst.edu.sg (Mt Carmel BP Church)
37 Jalan Pemimpin, #06-05 Block B, Clarus Centre, S(577177).
Tel: 6227-6815 Fax: 6255-3686 Email: bgst@pacific.net.sg
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