Taiwan

By Ho, Huang Po | The Ecumenical Review, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Taiwan


Ho, Huang Po, The Ecumenical Review


Generally speaking, theological education in Taiwan was an extension of evangelism from western churches. Christian mission history in Taiwan can be seen in three waves. The first was during the Dutch occupation period (1624-1662), with the coming of both Catholic Dominicans from Spain and Reformed missionaries from the Netherlands. This missionary work did not survive after the Dutch colonial regime was defeated by a military general of late Ming dynasty. The second wave was initiated again by the Spanish Dominicans (1859) and London Missionary Society (1865). The Catholic Church and Presbyterian Church in Taiwan were then established. The third wave was launched after the Second World War in the Chinese civil war; the Chinese Nationalist regime was defeated by the Communists and fled to Taiwan. Accompanying these war refugees were missionaries and congregations from different Christian confessions. Theological institutes were established soon after both second and third wave Christian missions.

Theological Education in Taiwan

Immediately after the second wave of Protestant mission began, an informal training program was implemented to develop local evangelists. Eleven years after the London Missionary Society sent the Scottish missionary James L. Maxwell (in 1876), Tainan Theological College and Seminary (originally named Tainan University) was founded. In 1882, the second institute for theological education was founded by George Leslie Mackay a Canadian missionary in Tamsui, Northern Taiwan: Taiwan Theological College and Seminary (then, Oxford College). Both theological schools belong to the same Presbyterian tradition, but were then governed by different missionary societies from England and Canada. (1) These were the two earliest theological institutes in Taiwan, and for more than half a century the only theological schools in Taiwan.

Most theological schools in Taiwan were founded after the Second World War. Yushan Theological College and Seminary was established in 1946 as a Bible school, particularly for aboriginal people. In 1957 it became affiliated with Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, and acquired its current title in 1977. The third wave of Christian mission was initiated mainly by the Christians who came to the island along with the defeated Nationalist troops, and has added variety to the churches and eventual theological institutions. Most of these seminaries concentrate on the M.Div. (previously B.D.) programme, as well as programmes in Christian education, church music, and social work.

The Catholic Church in Taiwan was granted permission to build a monastery in Tainan in 1962. Named Plus Monastery, it functioned as theological training center, and in 1973 changed its name to Plus Theological School. (2) This is believed to be the first theological school established by the Catholic Church in Taiwan, Although in 1960 Fu Jen Catholic University was re-opened in Taiwan, (3) Fu Jen Theological Seminary was moved from the Philippines to Taiwan and attached to this University only after 1968. This Catholic seminary had been founded in 1929 in Shanghai, as St. Robert Bellarmine Seminary, but in 1952 because of the civil war in China, it was moved to Bagnio, the Philippines.

Among the refugees emigrating from China were congregations of different confessions, who established churches and theological institutions. Today there are dozens of Bible colleges and theological seminaries in Taiwan, some qualified and accredited, many small and informal. Almost all the mainstream churches have their denominational theological institutes, and also some independent schools have been established.

The following are the major Protestant theological institutes founded after the Second World War, besides the earlier Presbyterian and Catholic seminaries:

* Central Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, Taichung, founded in 1951 by the Taiwan Holiness Church

* Taiwan Baptist Theological Seminary, Taipei, founded in 1952 by Southern Baptist Convention

* Holy Light Theological Seminary, Kaohsiung, founded in 1955 by James H. …

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