Fundamentalising Chinese Protestants in the Cold War: Samuel Cheng and the Glocalisation of the International Council of Christian Churches’ Agenda in Taiwan, 1950s to 1960s

Activity: Talk/lecture/symposium/speechEvent organized by non-HKBU units

Description

Presented paper at The 10th International Young Scholars’ Symposium on Christianity and Chinese Society and Culture 2020.

Abstract:
The relationship between Chinese evangelicalism and the Cold War is an under-explored topic. The neglect of research in this area has meant that the thoughts, actions and networks of Chinese evangelicals who worked to influence ecclesiastical and political outcomes in the Cold War, particularly through the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC), are not well-understood. ICCC was the largest entity of self-designated fundamentalist churches and parachurch institutions during the Cold War. By focusing on the actions and thought of Samuel Cheng (成文秀, 1904-1982), a fundamentalist theologian who became the ICCC’s leader in Taiwan during the 1950s to 1970s, this paper builds on Chin Ken Pa’s seminal work on Taiwanese evangelicalism in the second-half of the twentieth century to demonstrate that Cheng ‘fundamentalised’ the Taiwanese ecclesiastical and political scene through various strategies like launching propaganda campaigns that provided counter-narratives against the alleged pro-communism and ecumenism of the liberal-leaning World Council of Churches (WCC) and its related denominations in Taiwan; recruiting key agents and associates; and inducing denominations to disassociate with the WCC. The uniqueness of this study lies in its employment of a glocalisation framework to analyse a range of unstudied correspondence and documents produced by Cheng. These sources can be found in the Carl McIntire Manuscript Collection at Princeton Theological Seminary. As such, two specific arguments are proposed through this analysis. Firstly, Cheng utilised various strategies to influence the highest echelons of the Kuomintang government—many of whom were Protestants—to align themselves with the faith-based anti-communist agenda of the ICCC and its goal of exposing the alleged pro-communism of the WCC and its related Taiwanese denominations. Secondly, by exposing their alleged pro-communism, Cheng deployed these same strategies to influence these state actors to pressure the denominations, particularly the Presbyterians, to withdraw from the WCC. In all, the paper affirms the findings of Chin’s study but also adds valuable insights by showing how Cheng drew on the global ICCC agenda and successfully contextualised it in Taiwan.
Period8 Dec 2021
Held atThe Chinese University of Hong Kong, Chung Chi College
Degree of RecognitionInternational