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Rumors of Another World
Author: Philip Yancey (2003)
Publisher: Zondervan (262pp)

Review by Rev Ng Seng Chuan

This is not only a good book.  It's a great book!  I have read practically every book Philip Yancey has written.  This is easily his best.  For some strange reason, I had difficulty getting into it.  My last Yancey book was Soul Survivor (which I think I had reviewed previously).  Coming from that work, somehow the style of Yancey's new book seemed different.  Slightly less straightforward journalistic prose, more poetic, loftier.  But once I got acclimatized to this new inflexion, I felt my spirit soar.

There are many intriguing things about Yancey's latest offering - the chapter titles, for instance.  He has a chapter entitled, "Designer Sex".  What in the world is that?  Designer drugs I know.  But "designer sex"?  It almost makes you want to start right there!

Then there are the "head-quotes" and "end-quotes" for each chapter.  It has become pretty much Yancey's signature style to have suitable quotations grace each chapter, sometimes at the beginning, or one at the end of each chapter, and sometimes at both places.  In this work, he does both - and they are oh, so apt, that this review could concentrate on just the quotations alone.  The quotations alone are worth their weight in gold in terms of prompting the mind to zero in on the crucial issues being discussed in each chapter.

The Straits Times sometimes prints quotations of famous people under the caption, "Did they really say that?"  Well, you feel like asking the same question of the many quotations that Yancey spews.  Consider this one by the famed G.K. Chesterton (p.43): "Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God."  Wow!  Did he really say that?

At first, this looks like one of those what you might call lame apologetics texts - trying to prove the reality of God to skeptics.  The polemical style of such writings can be problematic when the writers of such stuff demonstrate neither understanding of nor affinity with the secular world they are attempting to reach.  Not so Yancey.  His aim is much more modest and humane and humble.  He declares in his preface (p.9) his avowed intent to communicate with those in the "borderlands of belief" who might have experienced enough of the "epiphany of beauty" to rethink their agnostic stance.

At the end of the book (p.245), Yancey confesses himself to be nothing more than one caught "in the borderlands", torn with having to choose between skepticism and the "unconvincing pieties" of institutional religion.

Rumors of Another World is a critique of humanity gone askew.  It is not a book you could give to any non-Christian.  But to a reasonably intelligent skeptic with some literary taste, this book might just do the job.  But there is a catch, though.  Before we use this book as an evangelistic tool, we do well to read the book for ourselves first.  The reader may well be shocked to discover he does not really share the values of the "other world" that he is commending to his non-Christian friend!

The incisive power of Yancey's literary style lies precisely in his confronting Christendom with the foolishness of the Gospel it has so long and foolishly rejected.

A Blessed Birthday to…

Mr Yam Keng Mun  26/9
Mr Cheng Wai Meng  26/9
Ms Ecashia Loh  27/9
Mr Daniel Goh  28/9
Mr Rupert Seah  28/9
Mrs Sheryl Tan  28/9
Mr Hosea Lai  29/9
Mrs Wong Kar Foon  29/9
Ms Wong Ee Kian  30/9
Mr Yap Khek Heng  30/9
Ms Peggy Phua  30/9
Mr Lim Yew Meng  30/9
Ms Dorothy Hwang  1/10
Mr Freddie Ho  1/10
Mr Jason Chen  1/10
Ms Grace Lam  1/10  

 

building fund 2005

CHAPEL NOTES

Hukali A. Kupuhe from Nagaland, an MCS student, was the speaker at chapel today.

Hukali spoke on the theme of "surrender".  She began by drawing attention to negative nuances of the word in secular culture.  Nobody wants to admit to defeat.  Everyone wants to win, to succeed, or to conquer.  But for Hukali, surrender lies at the heart of what it means to worship (Romans 6:13 and 12:1).

The speaker went on to illustrate the importance of surrender in Jesus' own life.  Busy as He was in ministry, He sought the Father's mind and presence.  Applying this to her audience, Hukali cited a friend's observation that theological education could lead to intellectual pride in place of a spirit of devotion.  What was required in our spiritual journey was a posture of humility, a posture that when Peter the proud fisherman adopted, he found a catch beyond his wildest dreams.

Hukali then assured her listeners that submission would lead to a discovery of God, not as tyrant, but as friend.  Still, it would require strength of character that accepted suffering, in the act of surrender, as part of God's gracious appointment.  In the end, this was why Mary was chosen to carry the Christ-child.  She might not have been the most beautiful or intelligent woman.  What marked her as special was her surrender to the will of God.

Hukali ended with a plea to put Jesus in the "driver's seat" of our life, and to take our hands off the steering wheel.  Our calling was to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).

(As summarized by Ng Seng Chuan)

Chapel speaker on 21 September was Ms Debbie Lee.

NEWS BITS

  1. We have often been asked if any of our courses are available for sale. In response to this request we have selected some courses and prepared them as self-enrichment courses on VCD format. These are sold with a hard copy course manual. BGST is pleased to announce that a new self-enrichment course is available for purchase entitled, Ministering to Men: Healing of the Masculine Soul. These are 8 lectures given by Dr Quek Swee Hwa and they deal with issues faced by Christian men. This course also includes an evaluation of the Promise Keepers. Those interested may call BGST at tel. 6227 6815.  
     

  2. New Courses Commencing in Term 4.

  • Preaching Old Testament Texts
    (OT252, 1.5 credits), starting Sep 29, 7.30-9.30pm, at ParkMall campus. Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite.

  • The Gospel of Isaiah [Isa. 40-55] (OT363, 1.5 credits), starting Oct 7, 7.30-9.30pm. Lecturer: Dr Augustine Pagolu.

  • Understanding Mark's Gospel (NT217, 1.5 credits), starting Oct 17, 7.15-10.15pm. Lecturer: Dr Aquila Lee

  • Child Development & Ministry Formation (CE355, 1.5 credits), starting Oct 18, 7.15-10.15pm. Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng

  • Counselling Skills: Working with Adolescents (CO236, 1.5 credits), starting Oct 26, 7.15-10.15pm.   Lecturer: Mrs Katherine Yip

  • Intensive courses by Dr Paul Stevens from Nov 17-29 : Vocation, Work & Ministry (MM101, 3 credits), and Everyday Spirituality (AT104, 1.5 credits).

  • Visit our website for course description. For registration, call us on 62276815 or email bgst@pacific.net.sg

BGST Lunchtime Talks

Venue: 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 2nd floor
Day/Time: Friday, 12.45-1.30 pm.
All are welcome to attend.

Sep 30 : Dr Philip Satterthwaite will continue with the Studies in the Song of Songs “The Dark Side of Human Love” (Chp 5-6).

Oct 7 : “Human Love & the Love of God” (Chp 7-8)  

Oct 14, 21, 28 :  Dr Eileen Poh, Lecturer in New Testament, Discipleship Training Centre, will be speaking on “Christians in a Non-Christian World” (Studies in 1 Peter).

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