Localising Chinese and American Fundamentalism: Timothy Tow and his Construction of a Separatist Biographical Theology in Singapore

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

Description

Chinese Theologies Conference III: Academic and Diasporic Theologies

Abstract:
This paper examines the fundamentalist thought of Timothy Tow (杜祥輝, 1920-2009), one of the most misunderstood Chinese evangelical figures of twentieth-century Singapore Protestantism who co-founded the island’s Bible-Presbyterian denomination. By drawing on a variety of published and private sources, I argue that he localised specific strains of separatist theology from his Chinese and American fundamentalist influences—specifically, John Sung and Carl McIntire, founder of the Independent Council of Christian Churches—in order to create a separatist Singaporean denomination that rejected the perceived compromises of liberal theology, neo-evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. I explore this localisation in two ways.Firstly, I propose that his English-language biographical translations and writings of prominent Chinese evangelicals (e.g. Sung and Wang Mingdao) and McIntire became his main way of localising the idea of separatism for his local church members. Secondly, I suggest that he utilised his own autobiographical writings to construct an image of himself as a loyal separatist fundamentalist who stayed true to his convictions in the midst of relational fragmentations with his local pastoral colleagues and McIntire. In all, Tow’s case demonstrates how biographical writings mediated the translation and interpretation of transnational theological ideas for a local context.
Period1 Jun 20223 Jun 2022
Held atYale University, United States
Degree of RecognitionInternational