What does Spirit-filled education look like around the world? Seasoned missionary Dennis Balcombe introduces us to Shiloh Bible College in Shenzhen, China. Part of the Pentecostal Theological Education Around the World series from PneumaReview.com.
PneumaReview.com: What does Pentecostal Theological Education look like in China?
Dennis Balcombe: For this answer I will focus on Shiloh Bible College which is located in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province in China. We do have a branch of the school in Hong Kong, but it is presently only part time with a few classes a week and mainly for training people in our own local churches in the Hong Kong SAR.
The Shenzhen SBC is for training Chinese students from all over China, and is a full time school in which most of the students live in the school. The school offers a recognized Bachelor of Theology degree. In 2011, the first class in this program graduated with 24 students receiving the degree.
PneumaReview.com: Do you have access to good theological study materials?
Dennis Balcombe: In Chinese evangelical theological study materials are sufficient. But there is a lack of good Pentecostal/Charismatic theological study materials. Thus we provide the students with evangelical materials (those that do not contradict our beliefs) but have to supplement them with our own notes which we produce for all classes.
PneumaReview.com: What are the greatest doctrinal challenges that you face in your country?
Dennis Balcombe: There is a very strong and widespread anti-Pentecostal theology throughout the Chinese churches worldwide promoted mainly by one man, Stephen Tong of Indonesia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Tong)
He is an extremely well known Chinese evangelist and teacher, and monthly conducts meetings in many Asian nations such as Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, etc. He frequently openly attacks all leading Pentecostal ministers by name. He also attacks the government of China, thus he is not allowed in China (cannot get a visa). But through DVD teachings, his doctrine floods China and has done unbelievable damage to the Chinese church worldwide.
His doctrine is basically that of Reform Theology which totally denies the work of the Holy Spirit and he strongly promotes the cessation theory which claims all gifts of the Holy Spirit and apostolic ministry, etc., ceased with the death of the apostles in the 2nd century.
Added to this he teaches philosophy mixing his theology with that of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, etc. This deadly brew of reform theology and philosophy, once it is accepted by Chinese church leaders, will usually result in tremendous decline in numbers or even closure of churches in a year or so.
One reason is he teaches those who have not had theological training and graduated from his school or a school he will recognize (those who teach reform theology) are not qualified to be leaders. But due to various reasons, few of the hundreds of thousands of house church leaders in China have been through formal Bible School or Seminary.