This course aims to provide a pastoral-theological perspective on the ethical considerations surrounding emerging technologies such as the metaverse and multiverse. As Christians, we are often bombarded with new and exciting technologies, but it’s important to examine the ethical implications of these technologies before embracing them.
This non-technical course is designed for pastors, church leaders, counselors, and church members who are interested in surfing the waves of technological advancements. It will evaluate issues such as abortion, mercy-killing, advance medical directives, test tube and designer babies, stem cell therapies, cloning, reproductive issues, gene therapy, prenatal testing, chimera research, life enhancement, aesthetic surgery, organ transplant, and regenerative medicine.
The course will help students to understand the ethical and theological implications of these technologies and provide a framework for making informed decisions. It will also explore how the universal church can respond to these issues in a way that is both faithful to Christian values and relevant to contemporary society.
Overall, this course is ideal for anyone who wants to navigate the rapidly changing world of technology with a pastoral-theological perspective, and who is interested in understanding how these developments affect us as individuals and as a faith community
The stories we tell ourselves have a significant impact on how we understand the world and our place in it. These stories form the foundation of our worldview, which shapes our beliefs, values, and behaviors. Our worldview influences how we interpret events, how we interact with others, and how we make decisions. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the stories we are telling ourselves and the worldviews they are shaping.
Stories/Worldviews during the Time of Jesus
During the time of Jesus, there were various stories and worldviews that were prevalent in the Jewish community. These worldviews influenced how people understood their relationship with God and how they lived their lives. Some of the prominent worldviews during this time included:
The eschatological/future battle of God in the Psalms of Solomon: This worldview was focused on the belief that God would eventually bring about a final battle to defeat evil and establish His kingdom on earth. This worldview emphasized the need for obedience to God’s law and the belief that God would ultimately vindicate those who remained faithful.
The Maccabean and Zealot strategy of holy warfare: This worldview emphasized the need for militant action to establish God’s kingdom. The Maccabees and Zealots were groups that actively fought against the Roman occupation of Palestine in order to establish a Jewish state. This worldview emphasized the importance of taking action to bring about God’s will.
The Essence strategy of holy withdrawal: This worldview emphasized the need for holy living and separation from the world. The Essenes were a group that lived in the desert and separated themselves from mainstream Jewish society. This worldview emphasized the importance of living a pure and holy life.
The Pharisees push for great zeal for Torah obedience: This worldview emphasized the importance of strict adherence to the Torah (Jewish law). The Pharisees were a group that believed in the importance of keeping the law in order to maintain the right relationship with God. This worldview emphasized the importance of obedience to God’s commands.
The Sadducee strategy of realism by cooperating with Rome: This worldview emphasized the need to work within the existing power structures. The Sadducees were a group that collaborated with the Roman authorities in order to maintain their status and influence. This worldview emphasized the importance of pragmatism and working within the system.
What are some of the stories/worldviews we listen to today?
Today, there are various stories and worldviews that are prevalent in our culture. These worldviews influence how we understand ourselves and our relationship with the world. Some of the prominent worldviews today include:
Individualism: This worldview emphasizes the importance of personal freedom and autonomy. It emphasizes the importance of individual choice and personal responsibility.
Consumerism: This worldview emphasizes the importance of material possessions and consumption. It emphasizes the importance of acquiring goods and services as a way of achieving happiness and fulfillment.
Moral relativism: This worldview emphasizes the idea that moral values and beliefs are subjective and relative. It emphasizes the importance of individual choice and personal autonomy in determining what is right and wrong.
Scientific naturalism: This worldview emphasizes the importance of science and reason in understanding the world. It emphasizes the importance of empirical evidence and rational thought in understanding reality.
New Age: This worldview emphasizes the importance of spiritual experiences and alternative forms of healing. It emphasizes the importance of personal growth and self-awareness.
Postmodern tribalism: This worldview emphasizes the importance of group identity and belonging. It emphasizes the importance of collective identity and the rejection of dominant cultural narratives.
Salvation by therapy: This worldview emphasizes the importance of personal growth and self-improvement. It emphasizes the idea that therapy and counseling can help individuals overcome personal problems and achieve fulfillment.
McDonaldization: This worldview emphasizes the importance of efficiency and predictability. It emphasizes the standardization of goods and services as a way of achieving greater efficiency.
Disneyization: This worldview emphasizes the importance of fantasy and escapism. It emphasizes the importance of entertainment and imagination as a way of escaping from the stresses of everyday life.
As Christians what are the stories we should tell ourselves?
As Christians, it is important to recognize the stories and worldviews that are prevalent in our culture, but we must also evaluate them in light of our faith. We should ground our worldview in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. Here are some of the stories we should tell ourselves as Christians:
The story of creation: We should recognize that God is the creator of the world and that we are stewards of His creation. This story emphasizes the importance of caring for the environment and the world around us.
The story of redemption: We should recognize that we are sinners in need of salvation. This story emphasizes the importance of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the way to eternal life.
The story of the Kingdom of God: We should recognize that God’s kingdom is both present and future. This story emphasizes the importance of living according to God’s will and working to bring about His kingdom on earth.
The story of love: We should recognize that God’s love is the foundation of our faith. This story emphasizes the importance of loving God and loving others as ourselves.
The story of justice: We should recognize that God is a God of justice and that we are called to work for justice in the world. This story emphasizes the importance of fighting against oppression and working to promote equality and fairness.
The story of community: We should recognize that we are part of a larger community of believers. This story emphasizes the importance of building relationships with others and working together to advance God’s kingdom.
The story of hope: We should recognize that our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ. This story emphasizes the importance of trusting in God’s promises and looking forward to the ultimate fulfillment of His kingdom.
Our story should be one of redemption, reconciliation, and love. We should embrace the belief that God has a plan for our lives and that we are called to be part of His kingdom. This means that we should reject the worldviews that emphasize individualism, consumerism, and moral relativism. Instead, we should embrace the values of faith, community, service, and love for others. We should seek to live out our faith in tangible ways by serving those in need, advocating for justice, and being a voice for the marginalized. We should prioritize relationships over possessions and strive to live a life that reflects the love of Christ.
At the same time, we should not shy away from engaging with the world around us. We should be willing to listen to others and engage in thoughtful dialogue. We should seek to understand the worldviews of others and be willing to challenge them when necessary.
Ultimately, as Christians, we are called to live out a different story than the world around us. Our story is one of hope, grace, and redemption. It is a story that can transform lives and bring about real change in the world. By embracing this story and living it out in our daily lives, we can be a witness to the transformative power of the gospel.
The question of why there is suffering in the world has been a subject of philosophical and theological debate for centuries. It is a complex and multifaceted issue that cannot be explained by a single factor. Many people turn to religion to find answers to this question, and the Bible offers several insights into this matter.
The Bible acknowledges the reality of suffering and offers different explanations for why it exists. One of the most prominent explanations is that suffering is the result of human sin. In Genesis 3:16-19, God tells Adam and Eve that they will experience pain, toil, and hardship as a consequence of their disobedience. This passage suggests that suffering is a natural consequence of human rebellion against God’s will.
Another explanation for suffering is that it is a test of faith. In James 1:2-4, it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” This passage suggests that suffering can be seen as an opportunity to grow and develop spiritually.
Moreover, the Bible acknowledges that suffering can be caused by natural disasters or other events beyond human control. In Job 1:16-19, it describes how Job lost his livestock, servants, and children in a series of natural disasters. This passage shows that even the righteous can suffer because of circumstances beyond their control.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that suffering can serve a redemptive purpose. In Romans 5:3-5, it says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” This passage suggests that suffering can lead to spiritual growth and ultimately bring about a positive outcome.
Christian theologians have also wrestled with the question of why there is suffering in the world. One such theologian is C.S. Lewis, who in his book “The Problem of Pain” offers insights into the nature of suffering. He writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Lewis suggests that suffering can be a means of waking people up to the reality of God’s presence and drawing them closer to Him.
Another writer who has written about the problem of suffering is Joni Eareckson Tada, who has lived with quadriplegia since a diving accident at the age of 17. In her book “A Place of Healing,” Tada writes, “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” Tada suggests that suffering can serve a greater purpose in God’s plan, even if it is difficult for us to understand at the time.
Theologian Timothy Keller, in his book “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering,” offers a nuanced perspective on the problem of suffering. He writes, “Suffering is at the very heart of the Christian faith. It is not only the way Christ became like and redeemed us, but it is one of the main ways we become like him and experiences his redemption.” Keller suggests that suffering can be a means of experiencing the presence and love of God in a deeper way.
N.T. Wright writes in “Evil and the Justice of God,” a perspective on the problem of suffering from the perspective of God’s justice. He writes, “God has promised to set the world right in the end, and we are called to work with him to that end, not to speculate about how he might be doing it, or whether he is doing it at all.” Wright suggests that even though we may not understand why there is suffering in the world, we can trust in God’s justice and work towards bringing about his kingdom on earth.
In conclusion, the question of why there is suffering in the world cannot be answered in a simplistic way. The Bible offers several explanations for why suffering exists, including human sin, a test of faith, natural disasters, and a redemptive purpose. Regardless of the cause of suffering, the Bible encourages believers to trust in God and to find hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. As it says in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Christian theologians offer various perspectives on the problem of suffering, ranging from its redemptive purpose to its role in God’s plan for the world. Regardless of the theological explanation, the Christian response to suffering is one of trust in God’s love and faithfulness, and a commitment to work towards bringing about his kingdom on earth.
Keller, T. (2013). Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. Penguin.
Lewis, C. S. (2001). The Problem of Pain. HarperCollins.
Tada, J. E. (2010). A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty. David C Cook.
Wright, N. T. (2006). Evil and the Justice of God. IVP Books.
Eugene Peterson’s lifelong focus is on soul care, especially on spiritual formation and pastoral nurturing. This course will be a dialogue with his thoughts, teaching, and applications using his Eerdmans spiritual theology series: Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (2005); Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (2006); The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways that Jesus Is the Way (2007); Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (2008); and Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (2010) and also his others books, videos, and lectures. Eugene, a ‘pastor of pastors’ had much to offer all pastors and to all followers of Jesus Christ in forming and developing their Christian Spirituality.
The Lecturer: Dr Alex Tang
Dr Alex Tang, MD PhD, has a deep interest in Christian spirituality and formation, practical theology, biomedical ethics, and spiritual direction. He teaches in seminaries in the Asian region. Alex is a spiritual director and facilitates retreats. He has authored several books and contributed to journals, book chapters, and conferences. Alex is a Research Fellow with Centre of Disability Mission of Asia (CMDA) in Singapore. His interest is in interdisciplinary studies and he enjoys conversations about the Christian imagination.
This is a totally online module. It will be both synchronous and asynchronous. This module is designed to enable leaders in Christian ministries to reflect on spiritual growth in a time of fluidity and change. Education institutions are in taters, seminaries are in retreat against the onslaught of the pandemic and emerging technologies, and churches are emptying of the younger generations seeking to be ‘spiritual but not religious’. In this module, we will examine the underlying principles and theology of Christian education, discipleship, and spiritual formation processes. We will also evaluate the inner life of educators, spiritual formation communities and its missional aspects. We will look at pedagogy in faith communities in this digital interconnected world, the digital world, and the Metaverse.
This is a 4-credit core module both for the EdD and Theology programs and a 5-credit module for DMin.
I am designing a course on the biblical imagination and spirituality of Eugene Peterson.
Eugene Peterson’s lifelong focus is on soul care, especially on spiritual formation and pastoral nurturing. This course will be a dialogue with his thoughts, teaching, and applications using his Eerdmans spiritual theology series: Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (2005);Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (2006); The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways that Jesus Is the Way (2007); Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (2008); and Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (2010).
The expected major outcome of this course is that students will have reflected on where they are in their spiritual journey, understand the dynamics of formative and transformative aspects of their spiritual lives, and be equipped to nurture their and communal spiritual growth both physically and in Cyberspace. The focus on this course is on spiritual formation and spiritual theology.
Review: Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and shame in Paul’s message and mission by Jackson Wu. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic Press, 2019
Eastern culture is a high context culture. What this usually means is that Eastern culture is very relational and communal, often described by the honor-shame framework. Within this framework, people in the East interacts with one another through the context of ‘face’ which is reciprocal and debt relationships within a power structure of hierarchy, loyalty, sacrifice, ascribed and achieved honor, and shame. This is often contrasted to the Western guilt-innocence framework. Jackson Wu (not his real name), a Westerner who have lived two decades in East Asia, examined Paul’s message and mission in Romans through the Eastern honor-shame framework. Jackson seeks to find “[h]ow did Paul’s theology serve the purpose of his mission within an honor-shame context?”(p.3).
Recent scholarship in ancient Near East (ANE) studies, and the new perspective on Paul (NPP) have placed Paul solidly in the Eastern honor-shame cultural context. East Mediterranean cultures are closer to the eastern cultures than to the present day Western cultures. The bible is rich with honor and shame narratives. Jackson’s project was to place Paul’s Romans into this honor-shame narrative. He identifies numerous passages that Paul’s overview of sin carries “far more honor-shame overtones than is often recognized.” (p.3). Jackson argues that it is the communal aspects of the Roman church that Paul is appealing to. And that in salvation “God’s reputation is at stake…if Christ did not die, God will be dishonored.” (p.3). Jackson argues that Christ is the filial son who restores honor to God’s kingdom and remove the shame from the human family.
While much of Romans can be understood from the aspect of relationship and community, and many passages do support that, the main concern is how Jackson deals with justification in Romans. Jackson suggests that justification may be explained by relationship as in the loyalty due to a king and to be justified means to restore back into the kingdom. However, in Romans 4-6, Paul’s understanding of justification was based on covenant keeping. Covenant is a metaphor more for a law court rather than a honor-shame setting. It will be difficult to understand justification in Romans without legal concepts of guilt and punishment. Credit must be given to Jackson for his attempt to explain justification as the process by which Christ regains God’s honor and glory. The honor-shame framework is based on privilege and power. To explain justification using the honor-shame framework is imply that Paul’s understanding of justification was just a process of manipulating privilege and power. Scot McKnight, in his contextual reading of Romans in Reading Romans Backwards, argues that Paul’s gospel was to deconstruct privilege and power in the lived theology of the church in Rome at that time.
Jackson has contributed much to help the West to understand the Eastern worldview of honor-shame framework and his insights are invaluable. To study Paul and Romans through cultural and worldview perspectives are challenging. Paul, though a well-trained Pharisee, grew up in a Greco-Roman world. He moves through both these totally different worlds with ease. The former are closer to honor-shame culture while the latter, guilt-innocence one. Paul addressed Romans to both Jews and Greek/Gentile. Jackson is helpful in guiding us to view Romans though the Eastern honor-shame lens. However, Paul’s message and mission in Romans, perhaps may be best understood only if we read it through both Eastern and Western eyes.
 Scot McKnight, Reading Romans Backwards: A gospel of peace in the midst of empire, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2019 p.68-76.