Image from The Saints of Formosa (in the public domain)
This month I’ve been reading Campbell Moody’s The Saints of Formosa (1912), which is available on the internet archive. Moody’s an interesting figure. H. Daniel Beeby, a former Taiwan missionary, has a short entry on Moody in the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity. A historian colleague, Cheng Yang-en, has been working on a biography of Moody for some years.I asked Yang-en a while back how his work was going and he said that he’s hit a wall on research–there are archives that are available but are not catalogued.
Moody’s a lively writer and discusses a period that is pretty interesting.Moody is at the mid-point between the pioneers (George Mackay in the north, James Maxell in the south) and some of the institution builders (notably James Mackay). While he devotes some energy to the missionary apparatus, his writing is almost all about Christians: about pastors and helpers and converts; about travels, conflicts, and questions. He’s writing in the early years of the Japanese period, and also within a church that is growing. In class this week we’d been discussing contextual theology and my students were talking about how for first generation Christians signs and healings often matter a great deal. Moody wrote in this type of context, when medical missions and evangelism went hand-in-hand and for many people Christianity was still very new.
Moody was an exemplar of the mission station ideal. The station operated as a point out of which churches were launched and travels begun. Moody himself itinerated widely in the Changhwa region. Beeby says he visited 900 villages in ten years. Moody has some ideas about Christianization that reflect his period, and he still stands in the period when part of the goal was the Christianization of culture. I don’t foresee doing a lot of work in this direction, but as I’ve read through his book I’ve been checking names and locations against things I’ve seen and heard here. I still find that gaining even a basic sense of church history takes some time.
Along similar lines, I was excited to have our campus minister, Rev. Juan chieh-min阮介民 (Taiwanese: Ng Kaibin) share with our class. Rev. Juan is writing a D.Min. on one of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan’s evangelism movements. The PCT, according to Rev. Juan, has had eight evangelism movements in the last sixty years:
- The Church Doubling Movement (1954-1965)
- The New Century Mission Movement (1966-1971)
- The Loyal Servant Movement (1971-1976)
- Independent Mutual Aid Movement (1977-1978)
- The believers’ Growth Movement
- AD2000 Gospel Movement (1991-1999)
- 21st Century Taiwan Mission Movement (2000-2010)
- The One Leads One Doubling Movement (2011-2015)
The original Church Doubling Movement was launched to coincide with PCT’s centennial, and the most recent “One Leads One” movement coincides with the 150th anniversary effort. The first doubling movement really did lead to a doubling in the size of the church. I’ve been realizing that statistically this is not quite as impressive at it sounds. The church had actually been growing more rapidly up to that point (from around 2000 members in 1910 to 20,000 c. WW2, to around 50,000 at the start of the movement). Other churches also grew quite rapidly during this period. This period also saw a rising population and the rapid growth of aborigine churches, many of which came into the PCT.
This isn’t to disparage the genuine achievements. The original doubling movement probably was one of the few movements to set and meet goals, and it coincided with rapid changes in society. It was a period of urbanization and industrialization and rising education, and the church held its own against a very challenging context. Rev. Juan was helpful in letting us see how this was reflected in the church. There was a rapid need for pastors and so two training institutes were created. Presbyteries struggled to adjust and expand. The denomination itself was still quite new and there was a growth in institutions. This also coincided with the arrival of missionaries who had come from mainland China and worked in aborigine ministries, campus ministries, and theological education. It is a period with a mixed legacy, analogous in many regards to the rapid growth of the church in the US immediately after WW2.
There’s still a lot I don’t understand from this period. I don’t know how widely promoted or deeply accepted the other movements were. Rev. Juan focused on the Loyal Servant Movement, which had some ambiguous successes. PCT is currently in the middle of a growth campaign with pretty clear goals that will be a challenge to meet. It’s very helpful to know more about the context and to have a sense of why this movement exists.