Date: Saturday, Sept 23 2023
Time: 11:00am - 12:00pm
Jon Ron for an informal Q&A to introduce his new book on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
From Ron: "This book is about my visit to one of the most intensely secretive countries on the planet that until 2019, did not issue any tourist visas.
This amazing expedition included a series of blunders, cockups and disasters as well as delights, excitement and fascinating moments of discovery. Truth be told, not everything went like clockwork.
This is a country with no experience or history of modern tourism. Until just a few years ago, half the population was not permitted to drive.
As with any community, religion lies at the core of its cultural identity. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the singularly dominant religion is Islam, the youngest of the Abrahamic faiths. At the heart of the Kingdom’s modern origin in 1932 is an inextricable link with a strict form of Sunni Islam.
As archaeology and technology help us to sift through the inherited memories, stories, accounts, and writings from the past, we shall incrementally know what happened, where they happened and possibly even why they happened.
From ancient times, kernels of truth were wrapped up in layers of myths to convey realities that transcend contemporary vocabularies.
Saudi Arabia rightly claims its status as one of the Biblical Holy Lands, whose own modern Arab identity and theology were shaped by the political and economic geohistories of the various pre-Islamic civilizations such as Dadan, Lihyan and Nabatea, which thrived in what the Romans called Arabia Petrae, Deserta and Felix."
A 30-minute lecture on Angelology or the doctrine of angels and demons, featuring Satan/Devil/Lucifer/Mephistopheles.
In this session, Dr. Ron Choong traced the appearances of angels and demons in the Bible, the Apocryphal books, as well as the post-biblical teachings of the Church Fathers, the Medieval Scholastics and poets, up to the present time.
This is an introduction to a upcoming 10-hour long multi-session seminar where all three viewpoints (historical, philosophical and scientific) will be examined. These will include the coherence of beliefs for the imperatives and implications of metaphysical beings.
How might their interactions with humans affect the physics, chemistry, and biology of the universe which God also created?
What is the history regarding the teachings about heaven and hell, how they were received over the years and what does it mean for Christians today if anyone were to ask?
Data sources: Bible, traditions, church teachings, pre-Judeo-Christian religions
Reception history: From 500 BC to the present
Science and technology: Discoveries & innovations that provided the bases for examination.
Decision tree: Choices and consequences of beliefs for individuals and communities
So what: If Christians practice spiritual integrity, what we believe about Heaven and Hell, Satan, Devil, Demons & Angels, as well as Mantras, Magic, Miracles & Spells, ought to shape how we live in the present, as seek to live out Jesus’ teachings.
The discovery of the world’s oldest bible in 1947 changed forever the way we understand the Christian Scriptures.
Interdisciplinary theologian of science Ron Choong takes us through the history, economics and politics of the search for the Dead Sea Scrolls, the science that helped date and decipher them, as well as what it means for us today.
Beliefs in God are often inherited, adopted and adapted from people we trust, who discerned God’s revelation in nature. Modern science helps us examine some of these beliefs with new knowledge about creation, from subatomic particles to quasars, from viruses to whales, and from DNA to dementia. Technology unlocks long-hidden information to reconstruct historical events. Archaeological excavations form the only source of new data to understand the Bible and its formation by unearthing buried artifacts.
Among these are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which show that during Jesus’ time, Scripture was a work-in-progress testifying to God’s presence. The biblical writers conveyed God’s eternal message using the various media and vocabularies of their different times and geographies.
We can distinguish the Bible’s message from the media by asking the right questions. God’s revelation in the sciences can enrich our beliefs with spiritual integrity.
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
In 431, the 3rd Council of the Church led to great disagreement so that by the end of the 5th century, there were essentially 3 traditions of Christianity:
This lecture will outline how Christians from Persia led missions that reached China in 635 AD. In 1625, physical evidence of this was first discovered in Xian, China. Subsequently, more documents were found in Dunhuang, Gansu province and in the mighty Taklamakan desert of Xinjiang province.
How does this very early strand of Eastern Christianity that had little to do with Rome help us think about the early history of the faith.
Location: CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 593 PARK AVE.(BY 64TH STREET) NEW YORK, NY 10065
Jesus conducted his ministry as a Jew in Galilee and Judea. These areas were influenced by the trade, culture, and political structures of the larger Greco-Roman world.
The cities of Sepphoris and Tiberias played a major role in spreading Greco-Roman influence in Galilee. Herod Antipas, the Roman client-king of Galilee during Jesus’ time, established them. He honored his boss, the Roman emperor, by renaming Sepphoris as “Autocratoris,” a Greek form of the Latin imperial designation “Imperator.” Herod also named Tiberias after the emperor Tiberius.
Roman cities exhibited and promoted features of Greco-Roman culture—architecture, teachers and philosophers, roads and bathhouses, temples and markets, and entertainment such as the Roman theater at Sepphoris. Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, was about four miles from Sepphoris.
How might Greco-Roman culture have influenced Jesus, Peter, James, John and Paul? Some have seen connections between Jesus’ actions, such as his working of miracles, and the broader culture, which included other miracle workers. There were certainly Jewish miracle workers, both in older biblical Jewish traditions (Elijah and Elisha) and in first-century Jewish traditions (Honi the circle drawer; Hanina ben Dosa). But there were also numerous miracle workers in the Greco-Roman world—healers and exorcists like Apollonius of Tyana. As with stories about Jesus, accounts show Apollonius raising people from the dead and demons crying out in his presence.
We shall dip into this amazing period in history to better understand the Bible.
This lecture is free but please register:
$20 + museum admission
On this inaugural tour, Dr Choong will share his thoughts on the main influences of Hellenic, Hellenistic and Roman cultures on the writing of the Bible with specific references to artifacts in these immense galleries.
Three themes of Greek Religious Thought:
1. LIFE & SUFFERING: Creation accounts and the healing arts.
2. DEATH & THE AFTERLIFE: Moral cognition and preparation for the next life.
3. RELIEF & BELIEF: Emergence of religion and belief in the resurrection.
This lecture will focus on how the Roman Empire influenced Jesus, the Apostles, Paul, and the writing of the New Testament.
$20 + museum admission
We will investigate how the Roman culture influenced the writing of the Bible with specific references to artifacts in the Roman Art galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We will focus on three themes of Roman religious thought:
1) LIFE & SUFFERING: Creation accounts and the healing arts
2) DEATH & THE AFTERLIFE: Moral cognition and preparation for the next life
3) RELIEF & BELIEF: Emergence of religion and belief in the resurrection.
Oct 28, Nov 04, 11, Dec 02, 09
10AM - 1PM
An interdisciplinary study of the events and insights that shaped the evolution of Christian beliefs that formed Church doctrines.
In this first seminar consisting of five 3-hour sessions, we shall examine 5 of the 15 traditional Christian doctrines and trace their historical, philosophical and theological roots as the Church responds to new knowledge from scientific discoveries, technological innovations and medical advances.
New York: $500 ($400 until Oct 01)
Online: $300 ($240 until Oct 01)
Register now and save with the 20% Early Bird Discount. After October 1, the cost will return to the normal $500/$300 fee