Q&A: My Late Walk in Spirituality, Community, and Academy

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Formation Group Leader Preliminary Interview for MDiv Candidacy

 

MDiv program candidacy is required by the end of the third semester of full-time study (or its equivalent, approximately 45 hours).

 

1. What was it like growing up in your family? 

Born in a Christian family, I was blessed to be immersed in an ecclesiastical atmosphere during my childhood. The Christian education I received, including an acquaintance of Biblical stories and literacy of Scripture, has laid a basic foundation for my love for God.

2. Tell me about your conversion. 

Frankly, I committed my life for God’s ministry since the age of 8, for I realized the ultimate significance of life rests nowhere but in God’s kingdom. My childish fantasy was to be an admirable pastor who powerfully handled God’s word. By godly wisdom such a pastor provides comfort for broken hearts and sheds light from his erudition for disoriented souls.

But I wandered spiritually for many years until, in the age of 21, my faith was strengthened in our college Christian fellowship. On the Easter Day in 2004 I received the sacrament of baptism as I reconfirmed my decision to follow Jesus. In the same year I spent my summer in Paray-le-Monial, France, volunteering with the Catholic monastic order, "L’Emmanuel", for summer retreat camps. It is my first exposure to Catholic Christian faith but it is also where a soothing refreshment by the Holy Spirit was personally experienced. Nothing esoteric, ecstatic, or visionary, rather filling in my soul was a pure sense of peace and joy. I consider this the defining moment for my conversion, which moves me to the next level of discipleship.

3. Tell me about your call. How did it relate to your coming to Trinity? 

I began my serious quest for God’s authorship of my life in the last two years of college, while developing the intellectual and artistic gifts God has put in my person. The definitive call came as my blood and immune illness exempts me from our nation’s military obligation. A pastor from family acquaintance suggested that I go for seminary training analogous to military service. "Being the Lord’s army" had never been considered in my life blueprint, but the analogy made perfect sense for me as I sought to be a devoted Christian
with profound cultural engagement,
.

Therefore I started looking for places to go by seeking counsel from the elders and by learning from various published resources. I also started to serve and learn English in a foreign-missionary-founded parachurch organization. I cannot say enough about how much I have benefited spiritually and theologically from them. The final decision to apply only for Trinity was not an accident, either.

In January, 2007 when I was supposed to be busiest in application paperwork and other duties I was hit by a taxi on the street and broke my arm. I lost almost all of my productivity in the next two months with the cast on my arm. That leaves the option to Trinity, whose application deadline is Apr.1 instead of the majority others’ Jan-Feb, if I was still to apply for same year Fall entrance. I later on learnt that Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer was in Trinity, making the program the perfect fit for my academic/theological interests then—Continental (and especially French) philosophy and theological hermeneutics.

4. How is your walk with God? Are you growing? What is working and what is not? 

    There are always spiritual ebb and flow even after I came to seminary. I won’t lie about that. The area that I grow most in recent years is my love for the Church and my identification with my own culture. I really believe that God is going to do miraculous things among and through my compatriots. On the other hand, I am still working on personal spiritual discipline, in particular in the exercise of self-control and the ability to sheer focus and instant absorption. Leading a disciplined life used to be not that hard when I was in Taiwan with other fellow seminary students, but in an American seminary there are many new things to be explored and adapted. On the one hand life here tends to be less predictable and having less regular pattern. On the other hand I found the community bonds are looser in Trinity than in a conservative Asian seminary, so it’s both the culture shock and a feeling of loneliness that are to be overcome.

5. What goals do you have for your ministry? 

    There is very much to share about this. To say the least, I hope to be able to do spiritual formation and discipleship of young intellectuals in an university while doing meaningful research in postliberal theology (Stanley Hauerwas, Stephen Long, George Hunsinger, R.R. Reno, Bruce Marshall, Richard Hays, Hans Frei, and the postliberal-friendly theologies of Nicolas Wolterstorff, Miroslav Volf, John Milbank, Anthony Thiselton, N.T. Wright, Jean-Luc Marion, Johann Baptist Metz, Kevin Vanhoozer, and John Caputo, regardless of how they would label themselves.). I will also try to include many other contemporary philosophers of continental school of thoughts as my intellectual conversation partners. The goal is to develop in cooperation with Christians professionals from different contexts a theological framework relevant and applicable to our contemporary world.

6. Where are you attending church and what is your present ministry?

    North Shore Chinese Christian Church (NSCCC) is only 3 miles away from our campus. Since I joined this church in the Fall 2007, I have been exposed to various areas of pastoral ministry. They include Sunday school teaching, Sunday service moderating, small group leadership, prayer meeting moderating, discipleship, preaching, and so on. I feel teaching is my strength and my church is also backing me up quite a bit in this ministry.

7. What is your present family situation? If married, your spouse and children?

    My family is all in Taiwan except my youngest sister who studies in the college of the UK. Financial integrity and stewardship are something that my family is struggling with. But we are a strong Christian family, and we do not lose our vision for positive prospects.

8. Do you have any other questions or comments? 

    I reckon Trinity could support its MDiv students on the research track more by encouraging quality researches or actively providing conference information and opportunities of publication. While doing so, maybe substituting conference attendance and publications for some of the required course can be a good stimulus.

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