Chinese Protestant theologies of social ministry in Nationalist Taiwan: with special emphasis on the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and Liu Hsia
Sween, Maurice Alwyn
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This thesis examines theologies of social ministry among Taiwan's Chinese Protestant communities between 1945 and 2000. This covers the period the nationalist Kuomingtang Party governed Taiwan and includes the rise of the democratization movement. The Eden Social Welfare Foundation and its founder, Liu Hsia, are featured as representatives of an innovative contextual theology of social ministry generated on the margins of the Protestant churches. The main argument ofthe thesis is that Eden and Liu represent an approach to social ministry that draws from local cultural resources in developing a holistic theology that combines spiritual and social dimensions of social ministry, and thus offers an alternative to the emphasis on either individual evangelism or social action that characterizes the Protestant churches.This argument is based on the hypothesis that the ecclesiastical and political context of Taiwan has affected the theologies of social ministry of the Protestant churches with the result that these theologies have been divided into two distinct factions: those of the churches with origins in China and those of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. This thesis will subject the theologies of social ministry prevalent in each of these entities to critical analysis, assessing their differences and evaluating their respective strengths and weaknesses. It will be demonstrated that the divisiveness inherent in differing contexts has limited the perspectives of the churches and made it difficult for one group to appreciate the contributions of the other. In this context it will be argued that the shuangfn or "double-blessing" theology of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and Liu FIsia offers a creative synthesis in a culturally dynamic social ministry.This thesis has been built on primary sources that include interviews with leaders from the Chinese Protestant Community and published and unpublished materials in the Chinese language. The research has therefore followed qualitative, archival, and literary methods with special attention to the previously unresearched miscellaneous writings of Liu Hsia in the Chinese genre sanwen (essays).The thesis belongs to the fields of practical theology, cultural anthropology, and history of missions. It is presented in six chapters. An introduction to the contexts relevant to the development of Protestant theologies of social ministry in Taiwan will be followed by discussion of the respective views of mainland-originating churches and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. The heart of the thesis, however, are the two chapters dealing with the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and Liu Hsia. This leads to a concluding discussion that appraises the different approaches to social ministry and argues that the mission statement of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation as elaborated in the theological writings of Liu Hsia lays the foundations for a more thoroughly contextual approach to the continuing development of theologies of social ministry in Taiwan.