“I am very thankful for Ron’s commitment to the development of the Christian mind. He is a gifted and dedicated man and we at All Souls Church are glad to support his ministry.” The Late Dr Rev John Stott, John Stott Ministries, Pastor Emeritus of All Souls Langham Place, London, UK

max-stackhouse“Those of us who are called to be teachers, have to address the questions that arise in the cultures where we live, and those questions are today most urgent in three areas – the Christian encounter with the sciences, the world religions, and the world economic situation. Ron, we have both lived in cultures where the encounter with the world religions in unavoidable, and no part of the world can avoid the question of how God wants us to structure our economic lives. We have discussed these issues before. I look forward to participating in this ministry.” Max Stackhouse, PhD (Harvard), Professor Emeritus at Princeton Seminary and ACT Board member

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“Dr. Ron Choong’s ministry offers a rare glimpse into the nature of God that comes through the lens of one who has made it his life work to understand and integrate theology, science, neuroscience and history for the purpose of deepening Christian discipleship and preparing his students to engage the culture at the highest intellectual levels.  Having said that Ron is no ivory tower academic. He has a uniquely engaging, fun personality who cares deeply for his students and works diligently to make the time sitting under his ministry a thrilling and potentially life altering experience.” Max McLean, Founder & Artistic Director of Fellowship of the Performing Arts. Award winning actor and star of the hit play, The Screwtape Letters, adapted from the C. S. Lewis novel.

“What a staggering sweep of the big picture with all the pertinent details – those of us in academics will know that writing such a piece is painful to think through and write, especially when writing for the lay person.  I say ‘staggering’ because your breath of knowledge is like watching a theological interpretation of life on the IMAX screen – I have to turn all the way to the left and right just to keep the whole picture in view!  You can use what you wrote as an introductory chapter to a book on interdisciplinary investigations.” Dr Andre Ong, Bethel Theological Seminary, San Diego

“The Academy for Christian Thought offers the wonderfully strange opportunity to do a devotional reading of the Bible through historical and scientific criticism among a believing community. ACT not only lives up to its description as a ‘seminary without walls’ in which participants can peek behind the curtain to see the training seminarians receive in exegesis and hermeneutics, it allows us to ‘eavesdrop’ on secular scholarly conversations as well. Dr. Choong models love for God in the rigorous way he approaches the Bible and in his willingness to undermine weak faith assumptions that have crept into church teachings. His fearlessness in “tearing down” poor foundations for belief is matched by the care he extends in probing the thoughts of ACT members during sessions. It is an honor to study with him.” Dr Heather C. Ohaneson, PhD, Columbia University, Lecturer in Contemporary Civilization

“When I first came to reading the Bible, I was confused to say the least.  I remember seeing printed somewhere the passage from Jeremiah 29:11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ It told me that God knew the plans he had for me, and they were not to harm me. I was blown away by a God that could actually care about an individual’s plans and future. Years later I began to realize that this might have been out of context. And it wasn’t until participating in ACT that I spent the time to truly examine Jeremiah exegetically, to ask, who was the original audience and what was their understanding of the text? Doing so allowed me to learn that with a proper exegesis, a likely more responsible hermeneutic will follow. I felt more freed than before to understand how I could “apply” the text to my life. It didn’t have to be either a blanket, out-of-context application, nor did it have to have any application or relevance in my life at all. ACT has freed me to much more boldly and much more humbly seek the witness of the text. I can now understand Jeremiah 29:11 in the context of a text that was written to postexilic Jews, with a purpose to tell the Judeans not to resist the Babylonians, but to accept their defeat as a divine grace through correction, and to reassure them that although there will be destruction, God has a plan for a new covenant to fulfill the promise of Deuteronomy. This allows me to understand God as a God of mercy, grace, forgiveness and renewal. It is a deeper understanding than my original understanding as a young woman that God, the creator of the universe, might give me a bright future of no harm. Its focus becomes on God, who he is, and not on me or what he can give me. This is a much deeper hope than my original understanding, an everlasting hope that is in God alone. Ron challenges us not to make excuses for the text to make it “fit together,” in a superficial way, and asks us to understand the ways in which we can learn about God through the witness of the text and the nuances of the writers, the writing styles, the history and the theological understanding of the text. It allows us to make connections to ourselves and our lives and faith in God, not because of how we read the text to suit ourselves, but because of the fruit of applying ourselves totally to the text in order to learn more about the God it points to.” Harrigan Bowman, EdD, Columbia University

“I really appreciated how you framed the presentation as a listening to the other and finding the parallels it concerns.  That was really a great move.   The method of tracking similar concerns from the context of the other’s cultural context is the most respectful and – to me – loving way to approach a person.  It is like tracing blood lines of ideas in social history – excellent move. Focusing finally on how Christ addresses those concerns uniquely is a great teaching moment.  Thank you for using this approach.  The book is excellent. Great job!” Sharon Rega, ThM (Harvard)

“After I had been in Project Timothy (“PT”) for three years, I found that ACT’s PT, lectures and seminars will  help to shape our mind to better understand God’s Word.   ACT is a unique and rare educational and research institute based in NYC.” Catherine Tang

“I just want to say how much I enjoyed the presentation yesterday. It was so fascinating that I could have happily sat and listened to Ron’s lecture all afternoon. What was particularly interesting about the presentation was that anyone from any faith background could have easily related to what he was saying.” Somia Shafiq

“In a way the event exceeded my expectations. I personally thought the conversation among the speakers was really good. I was a bit concerned about how the interaction between the atheists and you would work. But I thought that in general they were polite, as you were. They also seemed impressed with the academic work you are doing and I think that helped them to have a respect for you they would not have had if you had been, what I call, for lack of a better term, a typical evangelical. And that was one of my main goals (besides the importance of Evolution for its own sake): I wanted students in particular to see that in order to be a theist one need not brain dead, or go into conspiracy theories. By that I mean, that with a typical evangelical, either there seems to be no intellectual depth or intellectual honesty, or neither. I was interested in helping to challenge the image of the Christian as either brain dead or intellectually superficial. And I think you pretty much accomplished that. One of the club members, the one who mentioned he was an atheist, mentioned how funny it was that he ‘agreed with the reverend’ more than with the biologist.” Sergio Gomez, City University of New York (Philosophy)

“I am so glad that ACT is reaching out to the UK. ACT gives a unique entry into a Christian worldview which is not available here otherwise. Unless we address the issues that non-Christians are interested in, we will not clear the obstacles to their Christian journey. These issues need to be addressed with clear thinking and not be fudged as so often happens. It is more convincing if it is put across by someone who has a background in science (and a brain!). I remember an English doctor friend saying to me, ‘Find me a church where I don’t have to leave my brain at the front door before I enter, and I will attend.’  It is also useful to have the theological safe space. Sometimes people are afraid to ask questions in case others doubt their faith.” Dr Linda Singh, consultant pathologist, St George’s Hospital London

“Before ACT, my devotion time was mainly on meditating a passage a day.  So, if I had meditated Job 37 alone, I might have marveled at the wisdom of Elihu. But now, I know better. Job has to be read in its entirety. I would not have known that the answers given by Elihu that seems so ‘wise’ with correct theological statements about God, were apparently ‘half-truths,’ until I reached Job 42:7: ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right,…’ Ron taught me to be careful not to quote verses out of context and be responsible in my interpretation. In this case, this text in its entirety has taught me not to recklessly prescribe simple answers to difficult spiritual questions, claiming knowledge that I do not possess. If I don’t have the answer, it’s absolutely okay to say I don’t know especially in matters when the Bible is silent.” Dan Bartz, Chicago

“Being a Christian since I was 7 years old, the way I did devotional has been greatly shaped by Our Daily Bread method, and similarly with the Scripture Union daily devotional helps. Pick a seemingly random passage in the Bible, read the devotional notes, ‘apply it to your life,’ pray, and that’s pretty much it. I would also follow the ‘read-the-Bible’ through a year plans, but mostly just a cursory reading without much understanding of the background, original audience, or any of those things we now take for granted.  I was taught that it was okay since we are getting a ‘big picture’ of the Bible, since it is a grand unified story of God’s salvation plan told in 66 chapters by 39 or 40 writers. Taking Luke 4:1-13, in the past, I would have taken it literally. Luke would have received a vision or some inspiration of this happening (remember those line drawings in the old Good News Bible?) and recorded the conversation verbatim. After ACT, I have come some way to understand the reason and motivation of Luke to write the Gospel and this passage. I have come to think deeply as to what the writer hoped to achieve by including this in the narrative, what characteristics of Jesus and God Himself that the writer wished to portray. ACT has shown me that I can only be humble to accept that there are far too many things that I do not understand, but at least with the basics of exegesis and hermeneutics there is no limit to what I can start to figure out for myself the scriptures.” Simon Yoong, Malaysia

“I have learnt to really appreciate exegesis – the author’s intent, nature of the audience/hearers, the type of literature, etc… so that I can read the Bible with a proper lens. This has changed the way I read and understand the Bible tremendously, including difficult passages and ‘inconsistencies’ that seem to appear on the Bible. I am now more at peace if I encounter something difficult in the Bible. Take some of the OT books for example, by knowing that they were not meant to be read literally, it resolves a lot of mysteries or questions that I used to have. I would like to quote Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I came to know the Lord in my early twenties, but at that time, my worldview was already quite set. So, it has been a daily challenge to renew my mind, so that I can choose to focus on the right things in life. The passage further states, “then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This really makes sense to me because, without trusting that God’s motive and intention of wanting us to obey him is actually good for me, I will not be motivated to obey Him and in the process, love Him. These two concepts that I have been grappling with have been very meaningfully crystallized and reinforced by ACT. (1) God wants us to obey Him for ‘OUR’ own good. In fact, I often cannot trust my own judgment and so, the need to rely on God to show us how to live. (2) In the process of renewing of my mind, I will and have been experiencing more and more ‘peace’ and ‘joy’ that abides…..and it has been LIFE CHANGING!” Dennis, Malaysia

“I have considered myself a Christian for over two decades but my experiences with the ACT led by Ron Choong enlightened me to a completely new way to see and study God’s Word.  I only was able to attend the course for 1 year, but what I learned during that time equipped me with biblical research skills that I know will be useful to me for the rest of my life.  I currently help lead a Bible study group and I recommend many of the learning techniques to the other members.” Steven Jackson, New York

“Going through ACT’s Bible program is a very valuable experience for any Christian with an interest in having a better academic understanding of the Bible . . . it is so beneficial to do this type of study in a group setting (rather than doing it alone) so that you have a variety of perspectives to interact with (both within your study group, and the larger sessions) . . . Ron and the tutors do a great job of giving you something meaty to chew on each month. The program helps me stay in the Word more consistently, and also causes me to interact with the whole Bible (instead of the more popular books and passages).” Andrew Ludwig, New York

“Dear Ron, Both the Saturday morning seminars of ACT and the ongoing Bible study  were and continue be helpful resources and stimulating even though it has been over 4 years since my last contact with you. The focus on what the Word actually says and the clarification of how we fit in to God’s ongoing plan in ours times still finds daily application. I certainly would encourage any brothers and sisters who want to better engage the people and spirit of our times with the Gospel to take advantage of the very helpful resources of ACT. Keep up the good work” Dr. Bruce T. Gilmore M.D., Medical Missionary, Nebraska

“Before my involvement in ACT, much of what I had come to believe about the Christian faith over the years was, surprisingly, not shaped by what the Bible had to say about people but by what people had to say about the Bible.  It has been an incredible journey for me because it has forced me to read, interpret, and understand the Bible for myself.  The journey has been a difficult one at times. As I have sought to be honest with what I find in Scripture, I have had to abandon some of the trite, oversimplified theological perspectives that had insulated my faith from doubt over the years.  I have come to realize, however, that doubt is a powerful tool for faith; it makes us unsatisfied with the basic understandings of youth and encourages us to dig deeper to fresh, more accurate understandings of God, the Bible, and the Christian worldview.  This is the journey that all faithful Christians should embark on: seeking to know and understand God and his desires for the world that we live in. ACT is an incredible environment to embark on this journey; it is, at its core, a community of like-minded, committed individuals that create a theological safe space where understanding and growth are fostered.  I have grown immensely from my time with ACT, and it fosters the intellectual, spiritual, and devotional growth of people in the US and abroad.” Dan, New York

“ACT has been an amazing eye opener for me.  I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time and it’s really transformed the way I read the Bible and how I view it.  I’ve never read through the entire Bible before, because I ‘never had the time.’ If you honestly proclaim yourself a Christian, you should be eager to read His Word and try to understand what’s really there. Ron breaks down our biases and misconceptions so that we can learn the historical, cultural and psychological aspects of the Word. We tackle each book through exegesis and hermeneutic exercises within a group of fellow believers so that we are all going through the same process together. I highly recommend ACT’s events for all Christians and I challenge Christians to check it out, and then find any other class that offers both the basics and the depth of ACT.” Michelle Tong, Asian-American Federation

“I joined ACT because I caught myself not reading the Bible regularly anymore. It worried me that I had fallen into a rut where the Word of God didn’t excite me anymore. There had to be more but I didn’t seem to be able to find it by myself. Now, I’m already in my third year and almost done reading through the whole Bible. I would have never had the discipline to do that by myself. But ACT gave me the structure and the accountability for it. And monthly I had an opportunity to talk about what I’ve read with my fellow students. Looking back I must say that now I read the Bible differently. I question specific issues and dig deeper where I wouldn’t have dared to previously. I am more curious to find out what it says in the Bible. ACT gave me the means and the techniques in how to do that in a clear and precise way. And as a whole, the Academy of Christian Thought really has expanded my horizon and changed my thinking.” Suzy Spell, New York

“ACT has allowed me the avenue and patience to read the Word along with believers and think through it earnestly.  As someone who has grown up in the Church, I am, for the first time, letting the Bible prove itself as an authority in my life both intellectually and personally.  I’ve been both challenged and freed in this closer, more familiar relationship with the Word, wider knowledge of God, and clearer freedom I have in Christ.” Vivian Prunner, New York

“I have been a member of ACT for three years. What I receive at ACT is not offered in any other setting. I work with international students and they are asking many difficult questions that I find few Christians are willing to tackle. ACT gives me a depth of Christian thought and apologetics that equip me to meet some of the brightest minds in the world with explanations that speak to both the mind and the heart. I love the honesty I find in Ron Choong’s lectures. He has created a theological safe space where Christians can ask the hard questions that have haunted them in their journey of faith. The bottom line- this is good stuff for the heart that is hungry for more.” Tim Sigman, Director, ISI New York (Missions Organization)

“I joined ACT because I knew it would help me to be (1) disciplined with my daily devotion and (2) to learn the science and art of understanding the Bible more accurately, so that I can be better equipped to help and teach others. ACT taught me NOT to do one thing – assume or infer what is NOT written in the Bible. This was one of the first things that I had to unlearn. In essence, it has taught me to perform ‘exegesis’ of a passage (systematic investigation to discover what the passage meant to the original hearer/reader) so as to create a ‘safe boundary’ for hermeneutics (making the passage meaningful, relevant and applicable to us in the contemporary setting).  In other words, the Bible cannot mean to us now what it didn’t mean to them in the past. Otherwise, it is very tempting (and dangerous) if we can take the full liberty to interpret a passage to our whims and fancies. In fact, that’s the beginning of heresy and false teaching. The other interesting thing about ACT is the TSS (Theological Safe Space), where we question, challenge and ask questions without fear of looking foolish and being judged by others. After two semesters, we begin to realize that people do have doubts and questions about the Bible and if it is not discussed and answered in a ‘safe space’, they will go to other sources anyway, where the reliability of the source might be questionable.” Danny Lee, Malaysia

“I just wanted to encourage you and let you know that your amazing work with the ACT ministry is a blessing to the city and LIFE CHANGING to many of us who choose to go through the program. God is certainly using you in big and powerful ways – I can attest to that in my own life.   ACT has been one of the most valuable tools for me in the past year and has challenged me to consider seminary (I start this fall, Lord willing!).  When I think of all of the ways that the Lord has blessed me here in NYC, being able sit under your teaching and participate in ACT has been near the top of the list. Grace!” Abby Coutant, New York

“ACT has taught me to be more careful about how I interpret the Bible. It is a good thing but I also find myself being a little afraid of saying anything till I have checked my facts. For example, take the book of Esther. I never questioned the historical accuracy of the book until I studied Esther at ACT. Nonetheless, there are also times when I learn to fear God even more because of knowing His majesty, power and authority through answering ACT questions. I appreciate your labor of love in tirelessly preparing notes, questions and even commenting on our essays. Your passion and knowledge of the Word challenges me to improve myself not to compete but to prepare for the possibility of what is going to/may happen to our liberty/freedom to worship Him or even have a Bible in the future. The notes provided by you are helpful and comprehensive. The historical proof or various viewpoints provided by you in the notes are interesting and helpful because I would not have known it if I were to rely on my own research based on the limited time spent. Your tough questions helps me think more about what it meant to the people then and how it applies to us today. It also helps me when I prepare to facilitate the WORD session in the youth college cell group. I am glad the tutors are so patient in correcting/commenting on our essays; even when it is bad. The guidance provided by the tutors is much appreciated. I can see the tremendous effort they have made in order to lecture/comment/guide us in this journey.” Iris Dang, Community Baptist Church, Malaysia

“After joining ACT, I find that my thinking has sharpened, am quicker in analysis, more able to zero in on the core message of topics of discussion. Ron has gotten me more interested in other fields of human inquiry. The 500 word limit, though it was initially a struggle, is now a habit and has helped developed my thoughts in a more precise and concise manner.  I feel that I have developed a more objective mind and has lead me to think in areas even outside of Bible study. The little commitment and perseverance in a more disciplined study keeps me flourishing in my relationship with the Lord.  If I had not joined ACT then all that I shared above will not have benefited me. Thanks for bringing ACT to our shores.” Pat Lee, Community Baptist Church, Malaysia

“I think for me, ACT has been quite and enriching experience. I think that even if you asked me to go through the Bible course again and if I could complete the 3 years I would do so because there is so much depth to the Bible that even now I don’t think I can fully grasp everything that is being taught. ACT essentially gives me the structure and discipline to approach the Bible systematically which I don’t think I could have done on my own. It has opened my eyes and my mind in the way I see God, myself and my life. Thanks Ron for your time and your blood and sweat in teaching us.” Pastor Gordon Shum, Community Baptist Church, Malaysia

“Stephen Choi had casually talked about the ACT Bible program even before it started, but I guess we took such long time because we were not sure whether the leaders are able to commit to it. Now that we have started on this journey, I am more than convinced that this is for me – learning the Bible communally by asking the right questions, and not being fearful of my doubts- so I have been taking the liberty to articulate my doubt ‘out loud’ in this Theological Safe Space. Being trained as a tutor, and having the pastor title, I was really feeling the pressure in the beginning, fearful of people’s expectation for me to know ‘stuff’ better than them. At ACT-Asia: ALL of us are learning and unlearning together. So, it’s been really great to be able to say, ‘I don’t know how to answer you but I can get back to you soon on this’. What is not helpful about the program? Ron not being here most of the time (gotcha!) But Senior Tutor (Sifu) Stephen reminded us at each session that you are here with us in spirit. I hope you have a good experience training us too.” Pastor Alexa Ho, Evangelical Free Church, Petaling Jaya

ACT has been good. The exegesis part takes a lot of discipline, especially the part on making sure we do not ‘add or subtract’ what was in the scripture. For example, the part of Esther being parabolic took quite sometime to digest. As we are still trying to understand Romans 11 in light of the information that present Israel is political Israel and not the biblical Israel as Romans 11 seems to indicate (‘exegetically’).Yes, we do struggle with Genesis 1 – 11; Satan talking to God in heaven in Job; I (Kay Hup) thought Satan was thrown out of heaven? etc…etc… The ‘side’ information is equally exciting. In the meantime (sigh), we have to wait patiently and in discipline until we come to Genesis; Job, etc. and the more difficult passages. Come to think of it, the seemingly easy ones are also getting difficult. ACT really disciplines our thought process when we read the Bible and stretches our simple faith to the next level.'” Pastor Dr Kay Hup & Celine Khoo, Full Gospel Assembly Church, Malaysia