- Christianity in Taiwan
Taiwan (traditional Chinese: 臺灣 or 台灣; simplified Chinese: 台湾; Tongyong Pinyin: Táiwan; Hanyu Pinyin: Táiwān; Wade–Giles: T'ai²-wan¹; Taiwanese: Tâi-oân) (known to the Dutch as Formosa) was seized by the Dutch in 1624. It is a densely populated, mountainous island, about 240 miles (390 km) long, lying 100 miles (160 km) off the China coast, between Japan and the Philippines.
- 1 Dutch Colonial period (1624–1661)
- 2 Persecution under the Koxinga and Manchu regimes
- 3 Late Qing Dynasty period
- 4 Japanese Colonial period
- 5 Chinese Nationalist rule
- 6 Notable Christian politicians in Taiwan
- 7 References
Dutch Colonial period (1624–1661)
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Dutch Protestant missions (1624–1652)
The Dutch East India Company (VOC) concluded a tacit agreement with the Ming authorities that permitted them to establish a trading post to which Chinese merchants might freely come. The Dutch occupied the island of Taiwan for about thirty-five years (1626–1661) and also gave opportunity for many evangelicals to come and preach the gospel. The island's inhabitants had little contact with any of the major organized religions. Muslim expansion had not reached that far north, nor had the Chinese religions, Confucianism and Buddhism, made an impact. Formosa, as the island was known, but was still outside the traditional boundaries of the Chinese empire.^ In 1624, the Dutch built a fort and trading depot named Fort Zeelandia off southwestern Formosa.
The following year, the Spanish from the Philippines responded in kind by establishing a fort and trading post at Keelung. Here, they acted as a counterweight to the spread of Dutch control over Formosa and the trade of the region. A small Spanish Roman Catholic enclave was planted for a short time in the north but had never been able to expand and was soon driven out by the Dutch in 1642, who concentrated their own settlements on the west coast of the island. The Protestant Dutch were the first to enter into sustained conversion of the indigenous people.
On the island, where local society was less systematically organized, Dutch control was direct and immediate. The more important reason for the growth of the church was the missionaries themselves who, in Formosa, were farther from the Dutch East Indies Company's center at Batavia and were less intimidated by its commercial and political power. They moved into the villages of the coastal interior from the base Fort Zeelandia on Formosa's southwest coast. They soon found out that the inhabitants of the countryside outside the villages were still engaging in the cultural practice of headhunting. The missionaries took up residence in the villages, most of which were within one or two days travel from Zeelandia. There they recognized at once the importance of learning the native languages and began to translate the Bible. However only the Gospels of Matthew and John were completed.
The first ordained minister to visit the island, Georgius Candidius, came to Taiwan in 1627. Candidius felt strongly that chaplains should promise to stay for at least ten years in order to learn the language of the natives, without which they would never be more than superficially effective. Candidius advised that missionaries, including himself, who came out unmarried should find and marry suitable native women to render them more sensitive to the customs and needs of the people whom they hoped to convert. He later wrote, presumably in 1628,
"I confidently believe that on this island of Formosa there may be established that which will become...the leading Christian community in all India [the Dutch East Indies]...there does not exist in all India a more tractable nation and one more willing to accept the Gospel."
In one large village where Candidius preached, the villagers initially did not believe in Candidius' claim that Christianity was more powerful than their old religions—instead they proposed that he accept a contest against their old religions by making one house in their village a Christian house to let them see if, over time, it really prospered more than the others. In great frustration Candidius wondered if it would not be better to ask the Company government simply to order all the women and children to attend his instruction classes for the Christian faith. The government refused, however, and four years later without a contest or a government order, it was happily reported that all the inhabitants of the village "have cast away their idols and called upon one and the same Almighty and true God."
Candidius was soon joined by another missionary from Rotterdam named Robert Junius, son of a Dutch father and a Scottish mother, who for the next fourteen years (1629–1643) continued the preaching of Christianity in Formosa. An early account of an interview with Junius gives a glowing account of the spread of Christianity along the eastern coastal plains through seven villages north of Zeelandia, and some twenty-three to the south. The work was titled, "Of the Conversion of Five Thousand nine hundred East Indians In the Isle of Formosa near China". Upon arrival on the island, like most early Company ministers he began preaching in the Dutch language to the mystification of the natives, but after two fruitless years, Junius had "learnt the barbarous language and rude idiom of those heathen." By the time Junius left Formosa in 1643, there were over seventeen-thousand Christian Formosans, of whom he had baptized more than fifty-four hundred adults in twenty-nine villages  A presbytery had been formed, and in six villages north of Zeelandia Christian schools were flourishing, with about six hundred schoolchildren taught by eight Dutch and fifty-four native Christian schoolmasters. Instruction was in one of the five major Formosan tribal dialects (Sinkan).
The rapid growth of groups of Christians in the villages prompted the formation of another consistory (organized church session of elders and deacons) by dividing the original "Consistory of Formosa" into two, the consistories of Zeelandia and Soulang. While still in Formosa, Robert Junius had gathered about seventy boys, aged ten to thirteen, in a school, teaching them the Christian religion in their own Sinkan language, writing the words in a Romanized alphabet. About sixty girls were taught in another class. In 1636 he pleaded for permission to take four or six of the most promising men to Holland for ministerial training. "We believe," he wrote to the governor in Zeelandia, "that such a native clergyman could effect more than all our Dutch ministers together could do".^
Spanish Catholic missions
On May 1626, Bartolomé Martínez and five Dominicans were the first Spanish missionaries to arrive in Formosa alongside a Spanish expeditionary force. A house was built on Siaryo island near present-day Keelung. The locals fled to the hills when they heard the sound of Spanish cannons. A Chinese who was married to a Formosan girl was among those who had fled but, after learning that some of the intruders were religious personnel, he came down to meet Father Martinez. The locals believed in Martinez's preaching and attended church services. A church was built in Keelung for the Chinese community residing there. By 1629, a Spanish fort was erected in present-day Tamsui. After hearing of the Spanish intrusion, the Dutch attacked the fort but were repelled. However, Father Martínez lost his life during his trip back to Siaryo.another church was erected in Taparri (near present-day Keelung) by Father Jacinto Esquivel and two villages were converted in the course of two years. Things did not always go smoothly for the missionaries. At a village named Pantaos, Father Vaez de Santo Domingo was pierced by arrows and beheaded by Senaar tribesmen, some of whom were still hostile towards the invaders. Despite being exposed to constant perils, these Dominicans were still determined to enter the mountain areas and spread the "Divine Word" to the natives. They also established towns such as San Lorenzo, Santa Catalina and Santiago. In March, 1636 the Keelung Governor sent troops to Paktau to buy rice from the locals. However, Father Luis Muro needed to be accompanied with troops since Paktau was the place where former assassins of Father Vaez de Santo Domingo had taken refuge. Although his intention was to notify the assassins that they had been pardoned, a misunderstanding took place and hence Father Muro along with twenty-five others were murdered. the Keelung governor was enraged and the resulting retaliatory measures led to peace in Northern Formosa. Now the Dominicans were able to move about without fear of attacks.
Nevertheless by 1635, the newly installed Governor of the Spanish Philippines, Don Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera regarded the presence of the Spanish troops and missionaries in Formosa as undesirable and unnecessary; hence the island was gradually abandoned to the Dutch. In 1638, Sebastián ordered the Spanish fort in Tamsui to be destroyed and abandoned. The following year, three of the four companies' troops at Keelung were ordered to return to Manila, rendering Keelung vulnerable to any possible Dutch attack. Four and a half thousand Christians existed by 1639. A three-hundred strong Dutch reconnaissance force arrived in 1641 and the fort was briefly pounded with cannon. In 1642, they returned to Keelung with a large force and the thirty Spaniards garrisoned there offered token resistance before surrendering.
Among the prisoners were brothers Basilio del Rosario and Pedro Ruiz, priests Juan de los Angeles and Fr. Teodoro Quiros. They were brought to Fort Zeelandia and shipped to Jakarta where they received sympathetic treatment by a Dutch general. The Dutch general showed them kindness and eventually secured an arrangement for them to be repatriated to Manila. The Catholics were prohibited from entering Formosa for the next twenty years.
Late Dutch Missions (1653–1661)
The last decade of the Dutch mission's existence in Taiwan was plagued by controversies with Batavia over personnel and money, and by the mounting threat by Koxinga and his Chinese supporters on Formosa. Despite these depressing conditions, the church of Formosa was kept alive by Antonious Hambroek and a number of younger ministers, three of whom were prepared by Junius in Holland. the new missionaries, discouraged by the many native languages prevailing on this island, proposed that religious instructions should be imparted in the Dutch, a language known to the younger Formosans and many of the Chinese traders. The Dutch authorities in Formosa also warned of Koxinga's planned invasion, which was dismissed by the Dutch authorities in Batavia as speculation.
The man who drove the Dutch out of Formosa was Chinese patriot Koxinga (Cheng Ch'eng-kung), son of a Chinese pirate and a Japanese mother, fiercely loyal to the fallen Ming dynasty, which he had served as an admiral until the victory of the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Needing a base for his sea-raiders he chose Taiwan and attacked the small Dutch garrison at Zeelandia with twenty-five thousand men, first craftily protesting that he had no use for "such a small, grass-producing country as Formosa." Among the Dutch killed in the conflict was Bible translator Antonius Hambroek and his wife and daughters. Antonius Hambroek was nominated as principal of the seminary which never had the opportunity open. He was captured at his country station and paraded with his wife and several children in view of the besieged fort with the threat that all would be killed unless the Dutch immediatedly surrendered. When that falied, Koxinga sent Hambroek into the fort to urge his countrymen to surrender. Instead, Hambroek urged his countrymen to stand fast even though that would mean not only his own death but that of his family and all other prisoners. Two of his daughters were in the fort at the time after having escaped capture, but when the governor told him he need not go back, and urged him to stay with his daughters in safety, he refused and returned to face Koxinga with the news. Hambroek was beheaded publicly along with several other missionaries, including some of the women and children. To this day, the Dutch regard Hambroek as a martyr. Four or five other missionaries are known to have suffered the same fate as Hambroek, some by beheading, others by crucifixion. Martyr or not, Hambroek deserves honourable mention among the thirty-two ordained missionaries who preached, taught, and planted churches during the brief flowering of Protestantism on Formosa between 1627 and 1662.
Fort Zeelandia had held out against the far superior forces of the Ming loyalist for almost a year, but finally surrendered to Koxinga in 1662; the Dutch surrender brought an abrupt end to the mission. Two hundred years following the defeat and expulsion of the Dutch in Taiwan, the next wave of Protestant Christianity to reach the island late in the 19th century, was English, not Dutch.
Persecution under the Koxinga and Manchu regimes
The Formosan Christians, officially the allies of the Dutch, slowly gave up the foreign faith in the absence of the missionaries and other servants of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). These native Christians were left without teachers or religious works printed in their own language.
In 1662, Father Victorio Ricci, a Dominican priest, visited Taiwan and during his second visit to Keelung in 1666, some natives asked for him to administer the sacraments to them. Although his stay was brief, he managed to baptise a many children and receive their confessions. After Ricci's visit, the Dominicans attempted to send missionaries to continue the work of their forerunners. The first attempt occurred in 1673 when they arrived in Tainan but they received maltreatment by Koxinga's successors and seven months later they were forced to return to Manila. Despite the defeat of the Koxinga regime in 1683 and the conquest of Taiwan by Manchu soldiers of the Qing Dynasty, Christian missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, were denied entry into Taiwan. The second attempt by the Catholics in 1694 to resume work in Taiwan also met with opposition from the new regime and had to be abandoned.
Still, as late as 1715, the French Jesuit Joseph de Mailla met several Formosans who could understand Dutch and write their own language in Latin letters. Use of the romanised forms of the vernacular endured until the latter half of the 19th century.
Late Qing Dynasty period
Spanish Catholic Missions
The signing of the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858 made major Taiwanese cities into treaty ports, opening them to western merchants. In 1858 the Spanish Dominican Father Antonio Orge was authorised to restore the Formosan mission. Father Orge notified Manila of these events and within a few weeks, Father Fernando Sainz was sent to Formosa along with Father Angel Bofurull via Fujian in 1859. Accompanied by three Chinese catechists, they arrived in Takao/Kaohsiung. It was not until March 1861 that Sainz and a catechist made their way to the Makatao plains aborigine village of Bankimcheng or Wanjin. It was along and dangerous journey from Takao, through hostile Hakka territory. Sainz correctly surmised that the non-Chinese natives of Bankimcheng would be more receptive to the gospel and less hostile. The first Wanjin converts were baptised in 1862. The following year, Sainz bought a site and built a small church at Wanjin. In December 1863, another forty-seven were baptised.
During 1867, a band of Hakkas kidnapped Father Sainz and held him for ransom. His fellow priests enlisted the help of the English consul and demanded that the Taiwan mandarins obtain Sainz's release. The Fengshan County magistrate, fearing an international incident, ordered the Hakka to release Sainz. Forewarned of the magistrate's action, the Hakka kidnappers tricked Sainz by promising immediate release if he would pay a smaller ransom. The plains aborigines saw Sainz's capitulation as a serious blow to their hope of gaining advantage over the Hakka through a connection with the Catholics. The events marked the low ebb for the Dominican mission in Wanjin.
More troubles came in 1868, bu these troubles ultimately brought a reversal in the fortunes of the mission. A dispute between the foreign merchant community and the local Qing intendant over the latter's attempt to monopolise the trade in camphor escalated into a general antiforeign disturbance. In April 1868, mobs wrecked both the Spanish Dominican chapel in Kaoakhi and the Presbyterian mission station in Fengshan. Attacks on and accusations against the missionaries were made again in July and September. This confrontation between the Chinese establishment and the foreign community was not resolved until a British Gunboat landed troops at Anping (the port of Tainan) in November 1868. Faced with superior firepower, the Qing mandarins were forced to pay indemnities for the destroyed property of both the merchants and the missions, and to issue proclamations denying slanders against the Christian missionaries and recognising their right to work in the island. This application of foreign military power to humiliate the Qing mandarins transformed the political climate in which the Dominicans worked. The Hakka, no longer able to assume the acquiescence of the mandarins and now having reason to fear the Dominicans, became less brazen in their harassment at Wanjin. thus, when Father Herce was robbed on his way to Wanjin in the summer of 1869, the head of the town from which the bandits came took steps to ensure that the stolen articles were returned. The humiliation of the Mandarins had created an aura of power that now adhered to the Dominicans and their religion and endowed them with a newfound prestige. Because the villagers hoped to gain by seeking the protection of the Dominicans, the demonstration of superior power by the British in 1868 led to a surge in the villagers' enthusiasm for the religion of the foreigners. By September 1869, Father Colomer could report a flourishing mission and rapid growth in the number of Catechumens.
British and Canadian Presbyterian Missions
The signing of the Treaty of Beijing in 1860 made major Taiwanese cities into treaty ports, opening them to western merchants. These same treaties also contained so-called missionary clauses that had the effect of opening all of China to the missionaries. Arriving under the protection of the Beijing agreement, members of the British Presbyterian mission came to the island to establish a new mission station. They settled on Tainan in the southwestern part of the island, near the original site of the Dutch Reformed mission community of the 17th century. A decade later, in 1873, a second group of Presbyterians, this time representing the Canadian Presbyterian Church, settled in Tamsui in the northwestern corner of the island, a few miles distant from the Taipei basin. The two Presbyterian missions worked along similar lines but with varied degrees of success. The British mission had more resources and personnel and was able to establish itself first among the Taiwanese and then the plains aborigines. The British Presbyterians under the leadership of Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell set up hospitals and introduced Western medicine to Tainan and its environs. In the 1870s, they established primary and secondary schools. George Ede, one of the missionaries who arrived in the 1870s founded the Tainan Zhangzhong High School in 1885. the school became a major educational force in southern Taiwan and continues to this day to serve the community of that city. When Taiwanese Presbyterian membership had grown large enough, the missionaries opened a theological seminary to train a Taiwanese clergy and, by 1885, the missionaries were publishing a weekly newspaper in Romanized Taiwanese. The Canadian missionary George Leslie Mackay upon his arrival in 1872, worked tirelessly to make Tamsui and then the Taipei basin the home of a number of viable Presbyterian churches. Like his counterparts in the south, he was as much a modernizer as a Christianizer. In the decades he lived and worked in Taiwan he was able to set up a hospital, schools, and a theological seminary. The first period in Presbyterian history drew to a close in 1895 when the Japanese claimed Taiwan after their victory over the Qing state in the first modern war between China and Japan.
Japanese Colonial period
1895 to 1925
The Japanese received Taiwan as a spoil of war but discovered that the Taiwanese were unwilling to hand over the island peacefully. Although this resistance proved short-lived in the north, southern leaders based in Tainan, fought the Japanese for the remainder of 1895. The new Japanese rulers considered Taiwan as valuable property and transformed Taiwan from a neglected Chinese province—a backwater with a closed economy—into a colony with a strong infrastructure, an island ready for rapid development. The Japanese saw what the Presbyterians had achieved through their romanization of the spoken Taiwanese dialect, in the sphere of education, and in the introduction of Western medical techniques and practices. They also knew, from their experiences with Christian missionaries in Japan, the problems caused by allowing many denominations to work at evangelization. Thus for the first thirty years of their rule they refused entry to all other Protestant denominations. This resulted in the development of a single Protestant church without "any of the complications of denominational diversity". For at least the first four decades, the church prospered under these conditions and the Presbyterian church grew in strength in every part of the island. By 1910, the Presbyterians had set up synods in northern and southern Taiwan and the missionaries and Taiwanese church leaders talked in terms of a single islandwide Presbytery. Even more important than these ecclesiological structures was the progress the missionaries were making toward fostering the creation of an independent, Taiwanese-run Presbyterian church, which was largely in place by 1920. The Presbyterians remained the island's only Protestant Church until 1925.
1925 to mid-1930s
In 1925, the Japanese permitted Chinese Protestants from mainland China to enter their rapidly developing showplace colony. Evangelists from a mainland China-based non-denominational church, the True Jesus Church, came to work among the Chinese inhabitants of the island. That same year, Taiwanese and Japanese missionaries from the Japan Holiness Church, a church that had been founded by American Holiness missionaries in Tokyo in 1905, also arrived in Taiwan. Both groups found a receptive population in Taiwan, and the sixty-year Presbyterian monopoly ended. It was in this period from 1926 to 1945 that a many-sided Taiwanese Protestant community began to emerge. The True Jesus evangelists and Holiness ministers competed with each other and the larger Presbyterian Church for the attention of the Taiwanese and Hakka populations and also made furtive attempts to work with the Taiwanese aborigines.
True Jesus Church in Taiwan
The True Jesus Church had been founded in Beijing in 1917, and by the early 1920s its churches could be found as far south as the northern borders of Guangdong. The roots of the evangelization effort in Taiwan are found not on the island but in Fujian, the province on the mainland China side of the Taiwan Straits. It was here in the city of Zhangzhou, that a number of Taiwanese heard sermons by Barnabas Zhang, one of the founders of the True Jesus Church. Some joined the church during the early 1920s and, by 1924, were considering returning to their home island to spread the new doctrines.
A preliminary evangelical trip in the fall of 1925 proved most encouraging. The following spring, one of these new converts, Huang Zhengcong, invited Barnabas Zhang to Taiwan. Zhang was the most dynamic, and certainly the most controversial, of the three men who founded the church, the others being Paul Wei and Zhang Xinsheng. Barnabas Zhang made the journey in March 1926, accompanied by Huang and Yang Yelimei, another of the Zhangzhou-based Taiwanese converts. Weeks of intense evangelism followed. Zhang and his Taiwanese coworkers visited a number of cities, towns and villages and preached the new doctrines. Officials and other members of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church protested the evangelists methods in what proved to be the beginning of a conflict between the mainline denomination and the indigenouis Chinese church that continues even to this day..
A few months after this initial evangelistic campaign, a number of Taiwanese church members, then living in Fujian, were appointed to carry forward the work in Taichung. They returned to Taichung, a city that occupies the centre point of the island's north/south axis. Philemon, a deacon in the Presbyterian Church, "came forward" and was baptised. he then helped establish a True Jesus congregation in Taichung. In the spring of 1927, other True Jesus evangelists, such as Jian Yabo and Kuo Meidu, made the journey across the Taiwan Straits to "broadcast the true doctrine." These preachers again targeted their message to Christians rather than to the non-Christian Chinese majority. Member of the Presbyterian Church proved responsive to this type of evangelism. That same year, another Taiwanese evangelist, John Wu, traveled from Xiamen to Tainan, and, using such methods as the laying on of hands, he convinced many people of the power of the new doctrines. His techniques and his ardent preaching proved so effective that he was able to plant a True Jesus Church in Tainan, an important southern city, in April 1927. Over the next eight years, this core of evangelists, joined by many new converts, continued to preach and spread the doctrines of the church. A headquarters for southern Taiwan was set up in Tainan, which was the headquarters of the southern Synod of the Presbyterian Church.
From Tainan to Taichung, the church workers moved out into the countryside and into the towns and villages. Many of the converts that were made during these years were members of the Presbyterian Church. The True Jesus histories of these years often make mention of elders, deacons, and ordinary members of the Presbyterian Church who recognized the "truth" of True Jesus beliefs and were baptized anew to eventually receive the "gift of the Spirit." In the course of 1928, for example, new converts were won in such towns as Talin, Xiazhai, and Chiayi. Taipei, the administrative capital of the Japanese, saw the founding of its first True Jesus Church in 1930 and, in that same year, a church was set up in the city of Hualian, along Taiwan's eastern shore. By 1934, even Taitung, the largest city in the southeastern part of the island, had its own True Jesus congregation.
There was one major population that had not yet been reached by True Jesus evangelists—the aborigines. Beginning in the mid-1930s, the church tried to reach out to these non-Chinese people. There was one formidable obstacle—the Japanese colonial government. Its officials tried to keep the Chinese and mountain people apart, going so far as to set up zones or reservations for the tribal people and erecting a long fence of electrified barbed wire to separate the two often antagonistic populations. When the Presbyterians had attempted to continue efforts begun in the 1880s and plant churches among the mountain people, the Japanese authorities decided that only Japanese Christian groups could work with the aborigines in the mountain reservations. The True Jesus evangelists settled for working with those mountain people who had already been Sinified and lived among the plains people,, as the Taiwanese sometimes called themselves. The first convert they made was a man named Tian Sando. He had been in a sanatorium, suffering from the effects of tuberculosis, when he came into contact with church evangelists. According to church historians, "He was cured by the Lord in the True Jesus Church and became the first one of the mountain believers."
Holiness Church in Taiwan
During the years of the Japanese occupation, some Taiwanese living in Japan converted to the Holiness Church. In 1926, Taiwanese who had converted to the Holiness Church in Japan returned home, accompanied by Japanese Holiness pastors, and began to spread their new-found religion. Holiness efforts in Japan had begun in 1901 when American missionaries of the Oriental Mission Society arrived in Tokyo and preached their beliefs among the Japanese. In 1905, these missionaries had gained enough converts to be able to establish the Far Eastern Church. over the next two decades, the missionaries and their Japanese converts began to consider Taiwan as a site for mission work. They visited th eisland in 1913 and again in 1917 but on neither occasion felt that the time was right to begin the evangelistic effort. But in 1926, they were ready to move ahead. Led by Pastor Zhong Tianjing, the converts settled in Taipei in January and launched their campaign. Within a few days, a Holiness Church was organised in a building on Zhongshan Road. It served as the home of the new congregation. Pastor Zhong then moved to Kaohsiung, a bustling port in the island's southwest. Within a few months, a core of believers had emerged to found a church on the city's Gaishang Street. Zhong continued to itinerate and to attract an audience. November saw him on the island's east coast, in the port city of Hualian. Once again, those who heard him proved receptive, and still another church was founded. thus in less than a year, Holiness evangelists had planted three churches in Taiwan. Pastor Zhong returned to Tokyo at the end of 1926 but came back to Taiwan in November 1927. Again he met with success. He planted a church that month in Taitung, in the southeast corner of the island. December 1927 found him in the Japanese-developed port of Keelung, just northeast of Taipei. There he delivered a powerful series of sermons heard by attentive and receptive audiences. Some of the city's Protestant converts joined forces and founded the Keelung Holiness Church.
Holiness leaders in Tokyo reviewed the Taiwan situation in early 1928. Much had been accomplished in two years. Congregations were functioning in eight areas of the island, and the Japanese believed they had to train a core of leaders for this growing church community. A month after the church leaders assessed the progress of their movement, Pastor Wang Xiyuan preached in the harbour area near Tainan and from his work grew the Xigang Holiness Church. When Holiness leaders, both Western missionaries and their East Asian brethren, met in Tokyo in the spring of 1929, they could point to a Japanese Holiness Church that was becoming more and more indigenous, and to their newest creation, a Taiwanese Holiness community that could be found throughout the Japanese-controlled island.
By 1930, there were sixteen areas in which Holiness churches could be found. The next year saw a new church planted in Chiayi and a second Holiness congregation established in Taitung, the most remote of Taiwan's cities.
Taiwanese Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church recognized the existence of its new rivals, but its leader continued to work along the well-defined lines they had developed in the earlier decades, and their church continued to grow even as its rivals gained members. There were a number of reasons for this. For example, the Presbyterian Church was the oldest and most firmly established of the three churches. Moreover, it could provide the Taiwanese with practical services, such as education and health care, something the new arrivals, with their limited resources, could not do yet. The Japanese did not yet see the Presbyterian system as a rival to their own networks of schools and thus allowed them to remain open. The Presbyterian schools, especially the high school Tainan, provided Taiwanese with a higher level of education than that available to them in the Japanese schools. Because the Presbyterians provided social services, the church was able to gain adherents among the emerging Taiwanese middle classes. The church leaders felt secure that the greatest problems they faced were from the Japanese, not from their Protestant rivals.
Mid-1930s to 1945
In the mid-1930s, conditions began to change for the Presbyterians because of their ties to the Canadian and English Presbyterian churches. the True Jesus Church, tied as it was to mainland China, also faced new restrictions. The reasons are to be found in Japan's history during this decade. As Japan turned more towards nationalism and militarism, it also demonstrated a strong hostility towards foreign influences. However, the Holiness Church, though Western in origin and tied to an American denomination, had been a part of Japanese life for over thirty years and was thus more acceptable. Japanese Holiness evangelists found that their government was allowing them to carry on their work in Taiwan. The advantage enjoyed by the Holiness Church was demonstrated in 1930 with the planting of churches not only in Hsinchu, Yuli, and Xizi, but also in the large central metropolis of Taichung. The mid-1930s were witness to contraction as the church lost members. However, the Holiness church was able to recover its losses and, by the late 1930s, there bgan a period of renewd expansion. This renewal was demonstrated in 1939 with the establishment of the Hsinchu Holiness Church.
As World War Two began in the Pacific, leaders of each of these churches discovered that thery faced a struggle for their very survival. Japan's accelerating movement toward ultranationalism altered the structure of religious life in Taiwan. From 1937 to 1945, the Japanese government suppressed Taiwanese folk religion and introduced Japanese religious institutions and patterns of worship. Christian institutions were also affected. Historians of the Taiwan Holiness Church suggest that one reason for the Japanese attack on Christianity was that Christians did not worship kami, the deities central to National Shinto. A second was that Christians believed in a God-person who was Jewish by birth. Finally, Christians believed in the millennium, the thousand-year reign of Christ, and this heavenly kingdom was contrary to Japanese perceptions of the future. The wartime authorities in Taiwan hand-picked Japanese officials to serve as leaders of the True Jesus Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Holiness Church. The True Jesus Church became the "Japanese True Jesus Church" in 1941. The Japanese also restructured the Presbyterian establishment. The next year, a Japan Christian Kyodan (church) was formed combining the Presbyterians with the Japanese Holiness Church. The government took over all the property the Presbyterians had controlled, thus completing the Japanization of Taiwan's churches.
This restructuring of Christianity in Taiwan proved to be short-lived, however, for in October 1945 Japanese rule came to an end. Japan had lost its bid for military supremacy in East Asia. It had lost its empire, and its home islands were in ruins. The Japanese left Taiwan in the months following October 25, 1945, the day of the formal surrender of the island. In their place came the Chinese Nationalists.
Chinese Nationalist rule
The Chinese military and civilian forces that came to Taiwan in 1945 were, in many ways, all too representative of the Nationalist government as it existed in 1945. The Kuomintang officials made it clear that they looked upon the Taiwanese as suspect—as tainted by the long years of Japanese control. They also saw the island as ripe for the picking  and began to systematically strip away those industrial resources that the Japanese had helped the Taiwanese develop, in order to fund the Chinese Civil War that was being fought in mainland China. The troops had their way, as well; thus the Taiwanese quickly learned to hate them as much as the vast majority of mainland China's population hated and feared the Nationalist armies. Taiwan was now learning what it was like to be a part of the Republic of China. The result of these policies that treated Taiwan as occupied territory resulted in the February 28 Incident. A year later, 1948, Nationalists admitted that the bureaucrats and military men had gone too far and some attempts were made to clean up the worst corruption. The three churches—the Presbyterian Church, the True Jesus Church, and the Taiwanese Holiness Church—saw the new conditions on the island from very different viewpoints. These different perspectives led in turn to distinctly different courses of action. The Presbyterians looked upon themselves as a Taiwanese church that represented Taiwanese, Hakkas and mountain people. Their missionaries had translated the Bible into Taiwanese, and they sang their hymns and conducted their services in Taiwanese. The Holiness Church, now cut off from its Japanese roots, had to effect a major readjustment. The True Jesus Church, on the other hand, still had strong ties with the mainland China and did not conceive of itself in any ethnic terms other than that of "Chinese." These differences in outlook colored the way each church experienced the events of Retrocession. Underlying these differences were also differences in the way each church defined the church-state relationship. Presbyterians were activists in the political realm as well as in the realm of the spirit and spoke out against oppression. The other churches were more willing to distance themselves from politics. Two of the three churches, the True Jesus Church and the Presbyterian Church, made the most progress during these years of the new regime.
Because the Kuomindang had shown itself hostile to the aspirations of the Taiwanese, the Presbyterian leaders outspokenly opposed the new regime. As a result, church leaders and members suffered at the hands of the island's liberators. Church leaders continued to oppose the state even after the February 28th incident. Government repression forced them to adopt a low profile but they continued to speak out when circumstances permitted or when the government did something so outrageous that they could not hold their tempers. Furthermore, their members are active in defining the Democratic Progressive Party's programs and philosophies. From 1945 to 1948, the Presbyterian Church withstood the KMT onslaught, reorganized itself, and redefined its working relationship with Western missions. Its house in order, it was able to seek expansion once again. Its leaders strengthened their ties with the Taiwanese community while the Western missionaries began to work on a greater scale with he mountain people, who proved very responsive. The church's new expansion reached dramatic levels in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s.
True Jesus Church
The True Jesus leaders took a variety of steps to strengthen their church and its outreach but were careful to stay clear of politics. Once Retrocession had formally begun, the church reorganized itself, much as the Presbyterian church had done. During the war, their church had existed as a Japanese-run entity, something its members had openly acknowledged during their general assembly meetings of 1942–1945. Now they once again called themselves the True Jesus Church, not the Japanese True Jesus Church. Their offices in Taichuing, confiscated during the war, were returned to them, and the city once again became the administrative and evangelical headquarters of the church's Taiwan board, which it is to this day. During September 1945, even before the Nationalists had taken formal control of the island, church activists had begin working to reestablish themselves. they held an emergency meeting at which they planned church strategy and rededicated themselves to the expansion of the church.
At that same meeting they also decided to formally renew their contacts with the parent church in mainland China. The mainlanders responded to these overtures as the various regional offices at Hunan, Xiamen, and Guangdong, as well as the central headquarters in Shanghai, all made contact with the True Jesus Taiwanese leadership. They communicated by mail and in person, discussing various matters of mutual concern and questions of church unity. The Taiwanese headquarters soon formalized relations with the mother church by becoming part of the mother church's general assembly that had been reestablished in 1945.
During this immediate postwar period, the Holiness Church found itself facing great difficulties that may have contributed to the decision to remain removed from politics and from ethnic conflicts. Severed from its Japanese mother church, it had few leaders and little financial support to survive on its own. Both new leaders and money had to be found if its church was to continue to exist as a viable entity within the larger community.
Missionary Period (1949–1959)
In October 1949, the Nationalist regime collapsed on the Chinese mainland and a million and a half people, some with their families but many without, made the move to the Kuomindang's new island base. From 1949 until 1959, the government reorganized itself. American advisors worked with the Nationalist officials to introduce reforms in the political and economic sectors. Furthermore, they provided large amounts of money. With heavy infusions of American aid in hand and the advisors by their side, the KMT bureaucrats began reshaping the island's economic structure. The period of political, economic and educational reform helped to create an open climate to Western missionary endeavours. One reason was that the missionaries often served as agents of social change. Missionaries established relief agencies, set up primary and secondary school systems, built colleges and universities, and developed and staffed medical facilities. The missionaries' benevolent efforts served to supplement the system that the government was constructing.
Many missionaries who had witnessed the loss of their beloved China and were searching for a new place of refuge and a place to pursue their God-defined tasks came to the island during the 1950s. As the missionaries hoped and prayed, the conversion of many thousands of Chinese began. The Nationalist regime welcomed hundreds of Western missionaries who fled to Taiwan from mainland China. Now that the Nationalists were in Taiwan, and only in Taiwan, the regime's leaders realized that the missionaries had to be accommodated, if only to please America. In return, these missionaries, many of whom belonged to such politically conservative and anti-communist denominations as the Southern Baptists, lobbied in Washington for President Chiang Kaishek's cause and helped create the image of Taiwan as a vital bastion against "Red Chinese aggression".
In the brief span of five years, the number of mission boards with mission stations on ths island increased dramatically. In early 1948, the only missionaries on the island were Roman Catholics and British and Canadian Presbyterians. Neoevangelicals had yet to take their first step. Later that same year, however, a lone Southern Baptist worker, Bertha Smith, took it upon herself to move from mainland China to Taiwan and begin organizing a church among newly arrived mainlander, Mandarin-speaking refugees. A couple representing the Assemblies of God, the major Pentecostal denomination, also moved to the island from Shanghai in 1948. Finally, the Assembly Hall Church sent its own representatives to the island. Witness Lee, Watchman Nee's lieutenant, came to the island with other members of this large indigenous Chinese church. Under Lee's watchful eye, they set to work among the new refugees. By 1954, the total missionary community stood at over three hundred. Twenty-five denominations and independent churches that had not been engaged in evangelical and church plantiung work in Taiwan before 1945 were now represented on the island.
Seven conciliar churches took part in this new endeavour. These included the Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed (Congregationalist) churches. While conciliar denominations and mission boards joined in this expanded enterprise, the majority of missionaries sent to Taiwan came from the neoevangelical, the Pentecostal, and the Holiness churches. Southern Baptists, Conservative Baptists, Bible Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Assemblies of God, and Christian and Mission Alliance and Oriental Mission Society missionaries all converged on this small island. Many of the missions were quite small; one missionary or a single missionary family might represent one denomination. But certain major bodies or categories of churches did send large numbers of men and women into the newly opened field  This Western mission community continued to expand over the course of the 1950s. By 1959, there were more than six hundred Protestant missionaries in place. By 1960, churches representing most of the major denominations had managed to root themselves in the island's life. The Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, had only a handful of members in the early 1950s but, by 1959, church leaders counted 7,315 Chinese in their church. Seventh Day Adventist membership reached twenty-thousand during this same period, and other denominational churches also experienced similar growth.
Southern Baptists in Taiwan
In conditions born of the chaos of the Nationalist defeat in mainland China, the Taiwan mission was born. Southern Baptist misisonaries who had come to the island in 1948, along with other Mandarin-speaking refugees, soon started to work with a small group of Chinese Baptists who had fled their homeland. By 1949, had its first Baptist congregation. Many Taiwanese, in 1949, expected that an invasion by the new Communist regime was at hand. The Korean War had not yet broken out and the island was seen many Americans and Chinese as unprotected and vulnerable. Accordingly, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Foreign Mission Board decided not to commit its personnel or its resources to a mission and to assign any missionaries who wanted to work with Chinese to one of the overseas Chinese communities in Hong Kong or the Philippines. The Korean War, launched early in the summer of 1950, changed the course of American policy. The United States began treating the Nationalist regime as the legitimate government of China. As the Seventh Fleet began patrolling the Taiwan Strait, military advisors arrived and both military and humanitarian aid was provided. The administrators of the SBC Foreign Mission Board, then realizing that the Republic of China was likely to continue to exist, began committing its personnel and resources to a missionary enterprise in Taiwan. The Southern Baptists' Taiwan Mission enjoyed an impressive first decade, and the Taiwanese Baptist community began to grow. The reasons are varied but a central thread is the Baptists' willingness to use the classical time-proven techniques that they had developed in their decades in mainland China. Again, they used the pulpit and public gathering places to make their faith known. They distributed tracts. They set up reading centres and bookstores. They held large-scale revival meetings. They organized summer retreats and Bible camps. They set up a seminary to instruct Chinese church workers and future administrators and to train Chinese Baptist ministers. Finally, they helped their Chinese brethren organize a Taiwan Baptist Convention.
Conservative Baptist Mission
Another Baptist group that began its work in Taiwan during the missionary invasion of the 1950s was the Conservative Baptist Mission. It established itself in Taiwan in 1952 when eight missionaries arrived on the island. The members of the Conservative Baptist Mission decided to work with Taiwanese rather than with mainlanders, as the Southern Baptists had. They focused their efforts on Nantou and Yulin counties and eventually were able to extend their efforts to Changhwa and Taichung. By 1960 they were able to plant five congregations. They also established preaching stations that helped to further the outreach process. They built a Bible school in Xilo and thus were able to train church workers, Sunday School teachers and pastors. Ralph Covell, the leader of this mission, helped publish a magazine, Voice of Evangel and promoted the idea of reading centres. He stressed outreach to mountain people as well as to Taiwanese, as demonstrated by his attempt to translate Christian works into Sediq, one of the aborigine languages. He became one of the most famous missionaries on the island and the converts he and his fellow pioneers gathered in numbered more than four hundred. Thus, it may be said that these first years were successful ones and demonstrated that neoevangelical missionaries could work with the majority of Taiwanese as well as mainlanders.
Assemblies of God in Taiwan
By 1948, as the Chinese Civil War neared its climax, there were eighty eight Assemblies of God missionaries in China. One hundred and forty eight churches had been planted and the total number of converts was seven thousand five hundred. The missionaries also worked in education. Six Bible schools were in operation by the late 1940s. The Assemblies of God, so well established throughout mainland China, decided that these efforts were being threatened and, in 1948, took a tentative step toward developing another rehion of China. Taiwan, they thought, would prove a safe haven for their missionaries and would serve as a starting point for evangelism. Two families of missionaries from the Assemblies of God arrived in Taiwan from Shanghai in 1948. These missionaries launched revivals and held weekly services to build a new Pentecostal community among the mainland Chinese on the island. They managed to attract both Taiwanese as well as mainlander and in just two years, from 1948 to 1950, they established the core of a church community. But just as the missionaries began to make progress, they were ordered out by a cautious foreign mission board for fear of a communist invasion of the island. A year later, the Pentecostal missionaries returned to the island and regressed the situation. In 1952, the Assemblies of God decided to recommit itself to Taiwan, the now militarily secure Republic of China. Thus, this year marks the true beginning of the Assemblies' enterprise in Taiwan. The missionaries based themselves in Taipei and worked with the mainlander refugee population. Here they met with some success for they were able to reach Chinese who had been AG church members in mainland China. The missionaries created the Taukang Bible School in Taipei specifically to train a core of Chinese workers who could lead the Taiwan Assemblies of God. Construction began in 1953, and the school opened its doors in the fall of 1954 . By 1957, seven churches had been established in the Taipei basin, and chapels had been established in several areas.
Lutheran Church in Taiwan
As was true of the other major refugee missions, the Lutherans were able to develop a presence in Taiwan in the 1950s. Missionaries who had worked in mainland China settled in the Taiwan's major cities and began working with Mandarin-speaking Chinese. the first Lutheran congregation was established in Kaohsiung in 1951. By 1954, a few more congregations had been established and together these developed into the Taiwan Lutheran Church. While missionaries did play a role in the life of this church, it was from the start a self-governing body with Chinese serving as president and members of the administration. By 1960, there were twenty Lutheran congregations in Taiwan. both a Bible school and a theological seminary had been established. There, Chinese were trained to work in the congregations, in church reading centres, and in preaching stations. The church had been able to find a home in Taiwan and looked ahead to future growth and expansion.
Assembly Hall Church in Taiwan
The Assembly Hall Church was founded on the Chinese mainland in the 1920s. The dynamic and iconoclastic leader of this church was Watchman Nee. He had been a student in the Anglican-run Trinity College in Fujian when he began attending home worship services Leland Wang, a lay evangelist. Wang created an informal and understructured form of Christianity that used the home rather than the church as the centre of worship. Fuzhou, a treaty port city in Fujian Province, became the initial centre of this movement. In 1928, after serving Wang as an evangelist outsie of China, Ni broke away from this church and founded his own Assembly Hall Church. The church, born in the midst of nationalist revolution and anti-Christian feeling, at first rejected missionaries and the Anglo-American thrust of Chinese Protestantism as it then existed. Church leaders preached a new Sinified Christianity. But Nee realised that there were still lessons to be learned. He developed a relationship with members of the Exclusive Brethren. Nee had been taught by a China Inland Mission member who belonged to the Brethren, and this woman greatly affected his subsequent development as a Christian leader. In 1947, he went to Taiwan to establish a pharmaceutical factory, to train church workers, and buy land for the church on the island. He returned to mainland China, handing over the leadership of the new Taiwan church to Witness Lee. Witness Lee, Nee's hand-picked Lieutenant, became leader of the émigré church in Taiwan. By August 1949, there was a small Assembly Hall Church established in Taipei and, within three months, its membership increased from three hundred to a thousand. The church was seen by many as a Mandarin church, and thus, many refugees considered it a church home. The 1950s saw the church expand dramatically in the major cities of Taiwan where populations of the newly arrived mainlanders could be found. Many evangelistic techniques that had been developed in mainland China were put to good use in the church's new home base. Evangelistic crusades were held, tracts were published, and new church centres were organised. Lee also visited the Philippines, where he obtained funds and helped to spread the word of his church.
Notable Christian politicians in Taiwan
Several high-profile leaders in Taiwan have been Christians including the late President Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo, former President Lee Teng-hui, and previous dissident/senior democracy-independence leader and previous presidential candidate Peng Ming-Min.
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch, Described From Contemporary Records, 2nd Edition
- ^ Two lay catechists were the first missionaries sent to Formossa, Michael Theodori in 1624 and Dirk Lauwrenzoon, but they left little to record. From Formosa under the Dutch
- ^ Campbell, Formosa under the Dutch (Candidius) 1:15–16.
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch (Candidius) 9–25
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch (Candidius), quote from 104.
- ^ Candidius himself proposed to marry a Formosan woman if permitted, but was persuaded by the Company government not to be "too precipitate"
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch, Memorandum from Reverend G. Candidius.
- ^ a b An Account of Missionary Success in the Island of Formosa, 1:32-33; for an analysis of Candidius's ethnography, see J. R. Shepherd 1995. Marriage and Mandatory Abortion among the 17th-century Siraya.
- ^ An Account of Missionary Success in the Island of Formosa, 2 volumes
- ^ Campbell, An Account of Missionary Success in the Island of Formosa, 1:94–101.
- ^ The many dialects of the island were not mutually understandable, although all presumably came from a Malay-Polynesian base and not from China. The missionaries had reduced the spoken languages to written form in a Romanized alphabet.
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch (Junius), pp.336–379.
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch 159–179.
- ^ Campbell, An Account of Missionary Success in the Island of Formosa, 1:94–101
- ^ Davidson, James M. (2005) . The Island of Formosa Past and Present. Taipei, Taiwan: Southern Materials Center. ISBN 957-638-124-X.
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch (Koxinga), 404ff.
- ^ Formosa under the Dutch (Junius), 336–379.
- ^ It was also reported that one of Hambroek's daughters—a very sweet young girl, as a contemporary report described her—was seized by Koxinga for his harem when the fort fell. Day Journal of Commander Caeuw, Zeelandia, October 21, 1661.
- ^ Ginsel, De Gereformeerde Kerk op Formosa, 162–133.
- ^ Kuepers, p.43
- ^ Fernandez, pp.8–10
- ^ Fernandez, pp.89–92
- ^ Pickering, p.214
- ^ Fernandez, pp.105–108
- ^ Fernandez, pp.111–112
- ^ H.B. Morse, The International relations of the Chinese Empire, p.691
- ^ Tong, Christianity, pp.21–56
- ^ John R. Shepherd, "Plains Aborgines and Missionaries in Ch'ing Taiwan, 1859–1895", "From Barbarians to Sinners: Collective Conversion Among Plains Aborigines in Qing Taiwan, 1859–1895." In Christianity in China, from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Daniel H. Bays, ed., pp.120–137. Stanford.
- ^ Zhangzhong Senior High School:The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, 1987, pp.4–6
- ^ 120 Years: The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
- ^ Irwin Scheiner, Christian converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan
- ^ 120 Years: The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, p.3
- ^ Elizabeth J. Brown, The Developing maturity of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan"
- ^ Elisha Huang, Thirtieth Anniversary Volume, pp.31–37 (Chinese)
- ^ "History of the True Jesus Church," Thirtieth Anniversary Volume, pp.5–7 (Chinese)
- ^ Tsurumi, Japanese Colonial Education in Taiwan, 1895–1945
- ^ James B. Crowley, Japan's Quest for Autonomy
- ^ "historical Record of the Holiness Church on Taiwan," 1976 Anniversary Volume, pp.1–2
- ^ 1943 in Historical Record of the Holiness Christian Church on Taiwan, pp.1–2
- ^ Tong, Christianity, pp.76–83
- ^ Suzanne Pepper, The Chinese Civil War
- ^ Peng, A Taste of Freedom, pp.51–52
- ^ Chi Xisheng, Nationalist China at War
- ^ "Reports of General Assembly Meetings" in Thirtieth Anniversary, pp.93–98 (Chinese)
- ^ "Report of the Twenty-second General Assembly Meeting" in Thirtieth Anniversary, pp.98–99 (Chinese)
- ^ "Church Profiles," Holiness Church, Fiftieth Anniversary Volume (Chinese)
- ^ Peng, A Taste of Freedom, pp.74-89
- ^ H. Maclear Bate, Report from Formosa
- ^ Ross Koen, The China Lobby
- ^ Tong, Christianity, pp.86–88
- ^ Tong, Christianity, pp.84–90
- ^ Rubinstein, Evangelicalism in the Chinese Environment, September 1983
- ^ Raber, Protestantism in Changing Taiwan, p.209
- ^ Tong, Christianity, pp.93–94
- ^ Assemblies of God, Foreign Mission Division, 1948–49
- ^ J. Philip Hogan, Whither Taiwan
- ^ Dick Hillis, This is God's hour for Formosa
- ^ Howard C. Osgood, Free China's Last Opportunity
- ^ Alice F. Stewart, A new Church is Formed in Taipei
- ^ A Bible School for Free China, July 1953
- ^ Peter Wang, "The Response of Chinese Intellectuals to National Affairs"
- ^ Fred, Ritual as Ideology, pp.34–35
- ^ The entire number of Chinese in Formosa during Dutch rule was perhaps about two hundred thousand. Most of the Chinese had earlier immigrated with Dutch permission as rice and sugar cane farmers, merchants or labourers.
- ^ The many dialects of the island were not mutually understandable, although all presumably came from a Malay-Polynesian base and not from China. The missionaries reduced the spoken languages to written form in a Romanized alphabet.
- Formosa under the Dutch, Taipei, Ch'eng-wen Pub. Co., 1967, by Wm Campbell.
- Hallington K. Tong, Christianity in Taiwan.
- Day Journal of Commander Caeuw, Zeelandia, October 21, 1661.
Christianity in Asia Sovereign
- Burma (Myanmar)
- People's Republic of China
- East Timor (Timor-Leste)
- North Korea
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
States with limited
- Northern Cyprus
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- South Ossetia
- Christmas Island
- Cocos (Keeling) Islands
- Hong Kong
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