西敏神學院以唐崇榮博士為名設立教席 Westminster Theological Seminary announces the endowment of the Stephen Tong Chair of Reformed Theology

With thanksgiving to God and great appreciation to our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, Westminster Theological Seminary announces the endowment of the Stephen Tong Chair of Reformed Theology.

Dr. Jeffrey K. Jue has been named as the first occupant of the chair. The inauguration will be held on September 12, 2012 at 10:30am in Rust Auditorium. Dr. Stephen Tong will be giving the charge. Dr. Tong will also give a special lecture at 2:00pm in Rust Auditorium. This event is open to the public.

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong is the most significant Chinese Reformed theologian and evangelist of this generation. He began his ministry at age 17. After graduating from Southeast Asia Bible Seminary in Malang, Indonesia, Dr. Tong served as a member of its faculty, teaching theology and philosophy for 25 years. Likewise he has been a visiting lecturer at numerous seminaries around the world and is the author of over 75 books. As an evangelist, Dr. Tong has preached to over 30 million people worldwide, while maintaining a regular weekly preaching schedule in Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei.  In addition to his teaching and preaching, Dr. Tong is a true Renaissance man. He is a composer, conductor, artist, and architect, composing over 200 hymns and designing over 30 buildings. Dr. Tong is also the founder of the Indonesian Reformed Evangelical Church (source link).

Summarizing translation:西敏神學院以唐崇榮博士為名設立教席。在西敏神學院講授基督教思想的華裔副教授Dr. Jeffrey K. Jue 將成為此教席的第一位受銜人。唐崇榮博士本月12日將在西敏神學院親自主持授銜儀式並發表演說,歡迎各界前往觀禮。唐崇榮博士具有豐富的資歷,是當代最富影響力的華人改革宗神學家。也是一位才華出眾的文藝復興大儒,能傳道、著書、作曲、指揮、並通曉繪畫與建築設計。

[youtube:http://youtu.be/6wsmlaaBJAY%5D

My two cents:

This news is a double-edged sword to me: on the one hand, a significant move on the part of WTS to acknowledge institutionally the contribution of a non-western reformed theologian, no doubt. But on the other hand, the promotion of Dr. Jue, who is currently the only Chinese-decent Asian faculty member (and does Asian theology) at WTS but judged against common western academic standards (which WTS professed to achieve at the outset of its foundation) lacked to due academic credibility, amounts to a self-dishonoring move. This implies the name chair’s lack of real scholarly weight, and in turn it hurts both WTS and Dr. Tong.

In the North American system of higher education, endowed chair is a honorary position awarded only to full professors with distinction. It adds onto the full professor’s salary with the financial endowment from either an institution or an individual. In this case, Dr. Jue is not a full professor yet. The most natural way for WTS to honor the accomplishments of Rev. Dr. Tong and Dr. Jue is to wail until Dr. Jue becomes a fully qualified recipient. Due to current financial constraint of WTS and the fact that Rev. Dr. Tong has never officially taught at WTS, the financial resource for the endowment and the proposal to set up this chair at this particular moment could only  be [reasonably] linked back to Rev. Dr. Tong himself.

Thus on the traditional ground, the deliberation to push the establishment of this « Stephen Tong Chair of Reformed Theology » to some extent is not ripe yet, especially on the part of WTS as a scholastic academy. However, the good news is that this will extend both  the visibility of WTS (which remains a classic place for studying reformed theology) to a greater measure among Chinese Christians, as well as the fame of Rev. Dr. Tong in the global Christian reformed circle.

As we shall notice, more and more non-western theologians/church leaders will be contributing to the shape of this global religion, through their academic, pastoral, political, and even financial and economic influences.

Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong received an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree WTS in May 2008. Now, he is formally referred to as « The Reverend Stephen Tong, BTh, DLCE (h.c.), DD (h.c.) » or simply, and most commonly, « Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong ».

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