Starting from Feb. 29 this year, BGST will hold four lunch-time talks (the other dates being May 30, Aug 29 and Oct 31), coined BGST Chapel in the City in collaboration with Telok Ayer Methodist Church’s Lunch Time Bible Study Meetings. The aim of this lecture series is provide a platform for BGST faculty to explore a variety of theological and contemporary issues in a more informal context.
At the inaugural talk last Wednesday, Dr Satterthwaite reflected on the relationship between Christianity and Culture. For some, he notes, culture is contrary to God’s creation and ruins it entirely. For others, however, culture, such as city landscapes, buildings and so on, can be as beautiful as nature itself. The latter, he suggested believe, is biblical position since culture, as the fruit of creativity, is but an expression of humanity’s potential as images of God (Gen. 1:26) and the fulfilment of God’s cultural mandate for us (Gen. 2:15). Indeed, when harnessed properly, our creativity can produce things that could synergise with and enhance God’s creation, such as the Botanic Gardens - a place of natural beauty, peace and human creativity.
Having said this, we are not unaware of the severe abuses of the same creativity, as in the case of Cain and his descendants (Gen. 4:17-24), whose cultural achievements in the rearing of livestock, metalwork, music and so on are also marred by great violence. In the 21st century, we continue to appreciate this inherent ambiguity in human creativity, since we have witnessed many technological developments, alongside a surge of violence over the last few centuries.
Among the cultural artifacts discussed in Scripture, the most significant remains the city - the epitome of human culture and the embodiment of the ambiguity intrinsic to human creativity. At first glance, it seems that the notion of city is very negative in Scripture, since cities are often portrayed as centres of corruption (Gen. 19, Rev. 16-18), injustice, idolatry (Ezekiel) and aggressive nationalism (Nahum, Isa. 47.8) and ultimately the place where Jesus was crucified.
Yet, Scripture also has much that is positive to say about cities. Jerusalem, for example, is called the ‘city of God’ (Ps. 46), beacon of God’s light and symbol of God’s rule over all. A city can also be a place of community, hospitality (as in the case of Ruth’s Bethlehem) and evangelism (Acts). The last city on earth is no less than ‘holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband’ (Rev. 21–22)!
To put it in other words then, human cultural artefacts have their role in God’s kingdom, once they are redeemed, purified, glorified and made fit for heaven. Indeed, we can well imagine the music of Bach and Beethoven finding their way to heaven.
This understanding should set us on a two-fold task: (1) To discern the culture around us: where it has been, where it is going; the trends that are shaping it; understanding of key cultural artifacts and (2) to engage with these cultural expressions. This calls for much discernment and ‘cultural exegesis’. By this we mean a constant questioning of what cultural artefacts like the integrated resorts, COEs, HDB flats, mobile phones, or a piece of art mean. This calls for an assessment of the artefact’s history, its underlying worldview and its value from a biblical standpoint. By arriving at such a rich understanding of the trend/ artifact and biblical teaching, we would be more ready to engage the public discerningly - to encourage and affirm where we see goodness, or criticise or to counter-propose where we see corruptions. It is in this way then that Christians can effectively speak to our contemporary culture and find new ways to share our faith with those we love.
(Summary by Dr Lai Pak Wah)
If you want to listen to this talk, it is available at http://bgst2.com/lib/mp3/chapel/20120301-satterthwaite-chapel-at-tacmc.mp3
The Gospel According to Moses: A Study of Deuteronomy (OT 351, 1.5cr)
Mar 12; (7.15-10.15pm) at Bethesda Chapel
Mar 13, 14, 15, 16; (7.15 – 10.15pm) at Clarus Centre
Overseas Guest Lecturer: Dr Daniel Block
Ezekiel (OT367, 1.5cr);(Group Tutorial)
by Dr Daniel Block/Tutor: Dr Andrew Lee
Apr 13, 20, 27, May 4; (Fri, 7.15-9.15pm)
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church
Spirituality for Christian Formation (ECF503, 3cr)
Mar 27, Apr 3, 10, 17, 24, May 8, 15, 29, Jun 5, 12; (Tue, 7.15-10.15pm);
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC
Lecturer: Mr John Chong Ser Choon
COUNSELLING, PREACHING & TEACHING
The Craft of Teaching (ECF511, 1.5cr)
Mar 19, 26, Apr 2, 9, 16 (Mon, 7.15-10.15pm)
Venue: Clarus Centre
Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng
e schedule for Semester 2, year 2011-2012 is now available.
For more information, please visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events