Harrison - Biola in China

Biola in China The Hunan Bible Institute Case Study of an American Christian Institution in China 1916 - 1952

by Robert T. Harrison

Presented to Dr. Edward Norman Biola University

March 1985



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The Hunan Bible Institute represented the evangelical and educational undertaking of Biola University (formerly the Bible Institute of Los Angeles) in China through the first half of this century. Located on the outskirts near Changsha, the capitol of Hunan Province in Central China, the Institute was comprised of a dozen major buildings · erected between 1920-1927 on ten acres of private property purchased from 1913 to 1924. Support for this project came from Lyman Stewart founder of the Union Oil Company, and the first president of Biola, established in 1908. Substantial financing totaling $494,_000 was der.ived from Stewart's brother Milton and Milton's widow up to 1934. The first superintendent and pioneer of the Institute in China was Dr. Frank A. Keller, M.D. Educated at Yale University Medical School, Dr. Keller went to China as a missionary under Hudson Taylor's China Inland Mission (C.I.M.) in 1897. Assigned to Changsha, Keller combined medical work with personal evangelism. 0~ With a core of Christian followers, he instituted evangelistic teams under native leaders including highly successful river boat or colportage bands. This work came to the attention of the Stewarts between 1904-09 who opted to inaug~rate a Bible Institute specifically geared to train those Chinese workers as evangelists and native pastors. The river boat teams, known as the Biola Bands,

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remained an integral part of the practicum to the beginning of the Second World War. The Hunan Bible Institute was thus established as · an affiliate of Biola in 1916. Though theologically conservative and ultimately responsible to the Biola Board of Trustees, mutual trust allowed the Hunan (-vn t!'v-f._ J 1 I if'&, .j ~VY enterprise much ~xibili_ty and c~pe_ ra ti on with other Chris~ ian organizations in the province, such as the Presbyterian and --- --- lt>S {hq,:; ~ Weslyian Mission~, the C.I.M., and the Yale in China Medical ~---·-·• Keller's leadership from 1916 to 1935 exhibited a strong spirit of evangelism, practical Christian unity, and nativism. (D By the e~rly 1930s, the school had grown to four h~ndred students



the Institute through the perilous days of fiscal crises,

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nationalistic upheaval, the Japanese invasion, and Communist domination and confiscation. H.B.I., throughout, played a major role of service in Hunan Province, providing new housing for the Hudson Taylor Hospital and the British Red Cross after the _catastrophic Changsha fire of 1938. During the war years, the facilities were used by the Provincial government as well as the United Nations and Chinese National Rehabilitation and Relief Organizations. 1947 brought Biola's Chancellor, Louis T. Talbot, to access the damaged facilities preparatory to its reopening that fall. Much was repaired by 1949, and with the addition of new miss~onary and Crinese .faculty - plus ninety students,._ H.B. I. progr~ssed in to an uncertain future. The impact of Biola in China continued as the Communist aggrandizement climaxed. Many Chinese students and faculty moved to · Taiwan or Hong Kong as pastor~~~~ educators. While . some hoRed to adjust in acc.omodat.:i.on to tqe new regime' · ._ ., \ .,,! _ - .::., -_ .... . .: . - - . - · __ _ .._ • • ·•. ..:..:..:..:... .:.:....:._:_._· -· ... ~: .• ..... .; L • ' .. And _carry. on they ) .' . - : . . . did, even though the Church throughout China severed its natal cord with the West, the memories remained constant. Biola's China work did not cease immediately as Roberts carried on a diverse work in Hong Kong until his retirement in 1962. Unexpected compensation for the Hunan property materialized in 1979 by agreement with the People's Republic of China; and, / proved the benefactor for Biola's new School of Intercultural Studies and World Missions in 1983.


Origins - the Evangelistic Connection

It seems unlikely the Bible Institute of Los Angeles ever planned to establish ~ missionary or educational outreach to China. Though a training ground for both missionaries and pastors, it was not a missionary organization. Yet it was natural for Biola's evangelical f.ounders to support a cause in China, .mutual to their own, as Biola and H.B.I. came to reflect parallel structural patterns. 1 The clear vision which impelled the Stewart brothers . to help create _a Bible Institute in Southern California in 1908 was the impetus for the Hunan project. 2 Loss . of that leadership ~ th_ r?ug_~ ~-e~_:\h coupled ... wi _t~h the depression _economy,__ ar:d . ~a_n - ~n~entional hands~off policy by Biola's Board mistakenly conveyed a period~c and ambigious sense of ind~pendence from the Los Angeles office. Nonetheless, Biola's support and ultimate Board jurisdiction continued _throughout. ,_ .. , __ ~ . t ., ... ·- - ~- ..; - · • , : • - .-: • • •• - _..:. '.._. -~ '• • • '- ~ 1 ..:.;. \.,,.. - _ , .,. v \..A,,__ ' ., -· • I ~ ~- •• 0::. .-: ~ '.Lyman _ and Milton· Stewart . placed. ·t-heir financial power into · --, areas of interest, including distribution of the Scriptures, Bibl~ training, and Asian missions. 3 The focus of all three came together at Hunan. Lyman Stewart's first recorded support for mis~ionary ·work in China was in 1904-6, to a C.I.M. native Chinese evangelist named~, whose field work fell under the jurisdiction ...._ 4 of Dr. Frank A. Keller - missionary and Yale Medical School graduate. Yang's unabated enthusiasm for Christianity was enhanced by the _power of western culture and technology evidenced in a letter to Stewart from Keller. 5 Two important items continued to draw Stewart's


I attention to Keller: the latter's emphasis on the free distribution . 6 of the Scriptures, a unique position at the time, I and innovative J Keller's most imbitious project was that . of the river boat bands. Valuable insight about the team members and their initial thirty-six day venture is revealed in his correspond- ence with R.D. Smith, President of the Bible House of Los Angeles;

late in 1909. -----

• There were six men in the party, Mr. Yang leader, Hospital Evangelist Mr. Tien, Hospital Assistants Y~ and Chiang, a Christian student from Yale School, Mr. Chen, and a Christian cook Siao. Most of these men gave up their plans for the summer, some of them giving up a visit home to go on this trip. As it was a volunteer party, we did not pay them anything, simply 8 provided the boat and their food.

The successful nature of the operation as an evangelistic agent~ __ emphasizing scripture distribution and personal evangelism . ~- - -- - was conveyed by Smith to Stewart - who was certainly impressed - ·- . . ~ - ~ ·. - •. ~ as reflecting on his own interests. 9 Equally' important was the quality of the operation as evidenced by the caliber of the team :.l "''--' -=_ c- members. Keller's ability to pull together medical and educated personnel bade well for future enterprises. The numerous converts, as well as the thousands of pieces of Biblical materials distributed, is indicative of the receptive nature of the population to the te2m. In over seventy locations visited on the Siaing River between .........__ Hengc~nd Yan~chow, little resistance occurred except in the 10 most remote and superstitious areas. It would be hard to imagine that this and subsequent bands did not use their considerable


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medical and educational skills toward soliciting Christian belief and committment. Team leader Yang as translator of Seiss' T~e Apocalyose was highly respected by missionaries, student ministers, Social and educational status of numerous river boat team workers is never clearly defined, but Keller's description of Changsha and its environs revealed the educated nature of the population. "Changsha was one of the four cities chosen by the Rockfeller Foundation for carrying on its extensive work along medical lines." 12 Reliance on direct evangelism by Biola and the Hunan enterprise allowed for little discussion regarding the more indirect attractions of medicine and scholarship within that context. Yet, Keller's own background, and that of later missionaries and Chinese teachers, assured a cultural impact coinciding with and enhancing the Christianization process. T~~ctical _ concept of river evangelism, a new approach to missions, was mentioned first in an undated letter from Keller to Smith sometime between 1906 and 1909 suggesting tract and Bible distribution by use of a launch with a motor. 13 The vision soon became reality, minus the motor, by use of a houseboat and colportage crew in 1909. Keller later reflected his borrowing of ------- the idea from enterprising A~erican businessmen who used steam 14 launches to promote a cigarette selling campaign in Hunan. d . 11 an prospective converts.


As we saw their strenous work · and heard of their far-reaching plans, and thought of the thousands and thousands of towns and villages whose millions of people had never heard of Christ, or even seen a copy of God's Word, who would soon be smoking cigarettes, our hearts were filled with burning shame and at the same time throbbed with a great ambition to be equally comprehensive in plan, w~se ~§ method, and prompt in action for the King.

Lyman Stewart undertook the support of the river boat ministry, directing funds through the Bible House of Los Angeles by 1915. 16 July 17, 1916 brought approval of Biola's Board of Trustees and President Stewart to place Dr. Keller's river .boat enterprise and missionary work at Nan Yoh into affiliation with the Bible Institut Title to small purchases of property at Hunan for Keller's ministry was held by the Bible House of Los Angeles - _- 18 and transferred to Biola. Retention of Keller as superintendent was of course, essential. Mutual theology and evangelical methodology led Stewart · and·-- r


these schools provided a two year course of Biblical studies, Doctrine, Church History, Homiletics with a practicum of personal evangelism and preaching. 19 A study in the life of Christ, Fu-Yin-Tso-Yao, became a most effective tool by the river tea~s 20 in the Christianization process. This closely paralleled other mission organizations successful use of the life of Jesus, as an -- -- examp1e ins tea d o f the o1ogica1 a r gu r.i en ts to reach the Chi :1 es e . dire:~n of river ministry, as well as door-to-door witness re~dered Biola's impact in China far greater than an institution of its size dared to imagine. 21 From 1916-18, over two hundred thousand homes received ~ 22 visits and literature from the teams. Not waiting for the reluctant Chinese to visit churches or chapels, the Biola bands went throughout the rural villages and hamlets of Hunan's .great river system. Rather than intruding, the Biola bands were invited and welcomed into territories of denominational jurisdiction, .----- sending all converts to those missions a~ the end of each season. 23 An evangelist of another mission wrote to team leader, a Mr. Hsiao, "Of fourteen men recently baptised here, nine were the direct result 24 of the col.portage work . . . " · Al together, this was a wise policy and largely attributable to Keller's know-how and spirit of cooperation on the mission field; and, the policy was still --- viable by 1933 according to Dr. Everett F. Harrison, H.B.I. missionary from 1931-33. 25 By the time of Harrison's arrival, there were at least a dozen Biola bands in operation, though the ·center of academic training had shifted to the Hunan Bible Institute. 26 Effective use of Chinese nationals in leadership and

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Alongside the effectiveness of the river teams was that of the Nan Yoh Hunan Autumn Bible School. A sacred pilgrim center, the mountain of Nan Yoh hosted numerous temples, shrines, hundreds of priests, and thousands of worshippers each year. In cooperation with Weslyian Missionary Rev. G.G. Warren, Keller and his Chinese '----' evangelists had since 1909 conducted evangelistic campaigns in conjunction with the autumn pilgrimage. 27 By 1917, the Christian work became a Bible School and retreat for pastors and evangelists serving a dozen different missions - and funded by Biola in China. 28 Property was purchased along with a home for the school; but, after .· 1926, the conferences were abandoned due to lack of finances, 29 probably the result of a shift to the permanent training facility .,/of a~Q of the Hunan Bible Institute at Changsha - where future conferences continued until 1938. 30 As with the floating bands, the Autumn Bible School had a specific course of study for three hours before noon including "three lecture and quiz periods, 45 minu-ces each." 31 Practical work followed each afternoon with free distribution of New Testaments, tracts, and especially the Life of Christ booklets (33,000 in one month). · A policy had developed not to disturb pilgrims on the way to the shrines, but to invite them to tea stands on their return home on the four roadways out of Nan Yoh. 32 Another effective piece of literature was a synopsis of the Bible, with great emphasis on the salvation theme. Developed by two Chinese Bible scholars over a three year period, the two hundred page Shen~-

""f ~4.M ..


King-Tseh-Luh was later translated into Spanish by the Bible House

of Los Angeles and dispersed to twenty one Hispanic countries. Both the Life of Christ and the illustrated Bible Svnoosis were

designed to be self-explanatory resulting in many conversions of

, pilgrims after they reached home. 33 Evangelism in this manner was inoffensive but effective. Each evening of the conference was devoted to evangelistic services, undoubtedly designed to deal with pilgrims who . evidenced more than a passing curiosity at the tea stands. After services, the pastors, evangelists, and students wrote the days_notes and studied into the night. The mixture of academic Bible study and practical application, touchstones of ~ S·'~~ •0 Nan Yoh and the floating schools, evolved into the basic str~xture~ of the Hunan Bible Institute. Keller's initial idea was to establish a permanent Bible Institute site at the Nan Yoh location, but by 1917 organized priestly opposition arid the growing appeal of Changsha were the reasons for the shift. 34 The choice also reflected Keller's own l .. cosmopolitan nature. As an urban center, Changsha represented progress with new electrical and telephone systems, a Rockfeller medical center, and Yale in China Medical College. 35 The practical considerations of a student body were met by the numerous denominational ele~entary and secondary schools as a source of 36 graduates to H.B.I. However, by 1935, students came to the Institute from all over China. 37 The site also offered nearness of access to the colportage teams. Keller hoped to draw at least - sixty students per year from an expanded fleet of twelve. 38 Thus,


Keller's thrust from Changsha would be urban as well as rural. The 1917 date of the Biola Afloat publication - as spokesman for most of Keller's views - coincided with the first property purchases

at Ch an gs ha - 19 17 . From that poi n t to 1 9 24 , t wen t y separate - \ :.' <'' " ,

adjacent pieces of land were acquired at that location, according to the records. 39 Other properties continued to be purchased at Nan Yoh on a smaller scale until 1913, and Hengshan, Hunan (1912-14) . 40 The latter parcel ·was sold to the Liebenzeller Mission (German medical missionaries) in 1935. 41 Since Lyman Stewart's funds were tied up by 1917 with Biola's building program on 6th and Hope Streets in downtown Los Angeles, Milton Stewart financed the bulk of the program at Hunan - according r 1 < to one account - in the amount of $355,000 for land and buildings. His widow funded an additional $139,000 in operating expenses up to 1934. 42 A 1969 filing with The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States, based on Title V of the International Claim Settlement Act of 1949, revealed a larger price of $43,700.94 for the land, $332,150.70 for buildings, and $8,076.97 for personal property and equipment, totalling $383,928.61. 43 According to Dr. Charles A. Roberts (now residi~g in San Clemente, California), a Chinese architectural firm from Shanghai designed the campus and building complex. 44 Oversight ?nd super- vision of the physical plant fell under Otis Whipple, an architect from Seattle. 45 The twelve acre H.8.I. campus was palatial in



The Hunan Bible Institute compound consisted of the above real property and following buildings: one three story administration building; four three story dornitories; one gate house; dining room and ~itchen; six residences, and a ten foot wall surrounding the property. All the ~oove constructed of concrete and brick. 0

Recent video tape, .from fil~s taken by Charles Roberts from 1930 to 1937 at the Hunan Bible Institute, demonstrated the staggering size and magnificent construction of the buildings; in addition, revealed the name of . the benefactor: Milton Stewart Hall (Administra– tion building) and dining room. 4 1 An unpublished autobiography by Dr. Ren Bing Chen, Shanghai, 1983, son of Marcus Chen - H.B.I. professor of New Testament (1928-37), provides a graphic reflection of the campus from a Chinese perspective.

Quitting a job at the Stewart Fund, my father (Marcus Chen) took up the post . of teach~ng at the Changsha Bible Institute which was the China branch of the f~mous Bible Institute of Los Angeles, California. Biola for short ... My parents were staff members of the Biola in China. A first rate compound was built for the Bible Institute in Changsha ... The dornitories for students were first rate buildings, and the houses for faculty members were superb --- better than first rate. The houses alloted to my pare~ts were also no lessless than first rate. Even judged according to Shanghai standards, it was a very comfortable mansion with two modern bathroo~s and about five or six modern bedrooms, beside a study, a parlour, and a dining room. There ~ere about six mansions like this. The Kellers and the Roberts occupied one each, and Pastor Cheng Chik-Wei was alloted one, and we lived in another. Another house of equal size was the residence of Mr. Hsiao Mu Kwang, president of the Institute. The sixth, a vacant house was loaned to Mr.


Yuin Ren-Hsien, a Harvard graduate and head of the Financial Bureau of the Hunan Provincial Government. The Yuins were devout Christians, and Yuin was to join Dr. T.V. Soone's Ministry of Finance later. Mr. Yuin and T.V. Soon were friends at Harvard. The Hunan Institute was perhaps the only Christian institution I have known which Chinese staff members lived i~ 8 equal kinds of houses as Americans.

The Best and Worst of Times

No record remains of the first entering class, the composition of teachers, or when the school actually commenced operation. While some classes must have continued at Nan Yoh, and on the river boats, cotlrses also began on the partially constructed campus by 1920-21. By the arrival of Charles A. Roberts in the early 1920s as business manager and assistant superintendent, the enrollment was between three and four hundred; 49 a figure corroborated by Dr. Harrison's observation in 1931. 5 ~ Funding for the Institute c6ntinued at $30,000 to $40,000 per year from Biola, 51 though some of this amount was undoubtedly from Milton Stewart's widow; a strong Keller supporter. The late 1920s saw the completion of the build- ~ -- ings, a large enrollment, and at least six full time Chinese faculty. Most unusual was the payment of the Chinese instructors - a salary almost equal to the missionaries or about $140.00 per month for a .--- . 52 married man. An undated Hunan manual from the 1930s specified a missionaries annual salary at 52,100 if married, and $1,200

sin.gle. 53


The 1920s were boom years for the Hunan work. Adequate

support and Keller's forceful leadership assured that fact. The

size of the facility allowed room for additional growth and the . 54 potential for seven hundred and fifty students. The Chinese staff numbered approximately fifteen to twenty by 1933. 55

Curriculum included Bible Survey, Doctrine, Old and New Testament,

Hermeneutics, Homiletics, English and Greek. 56 Music courses

were also offered. The full program took two years to complete

and H.B.I. offered the _equivalent of today's junior college

Associate Arts degree. Each entering student had to minimally

possess a secondary or middle school education before being

accepted into the program - according to missionary William Ebeling 57 who served H.B.I. some years later. Academic courses continued

to be taught in conjunction with the experience of the evangelistic

bands - as Keller's ideal combination of the academic and practical.

Mr. and Mrs. Ch~rles A. Roberts joined Dr. and Mrs. Keller

about 1922. Roberts, a graduate of Fort Wayne Bible College,

accepted the post of business manager and assistant superintendent. Following the death of his wife, Roberts remarried - Grace - and


. .

had three children at Hunan. Although Keller and Roberts were

deeply involved in their administrative duties, they each carried

some classload instruction. 58

Keller desired to add further

scholarship to the missionary staff, and thus Everett F. Harrison

was appointed to the Institute in 1931.

Harrison was a recent

M.A. graduate from Princeton in Old Testament Semantic Studies. - The son of missionary parents in China, Harrison observed that


the Hunan Bible Institute placed great emphasis on the indigenous

principle; Chinese leadership was evident throughout the program





1 an the instructiona assignments.




Though financial difficulties hit the Institute during the (' Depression, · the program continued with even greater impact.

Harrison reported that the river boat bands were extremely

effective and numerous missionary organizations were soliciting

assistance from the Biola bands for their territories well into 60 the 1930s. Ebeling suggested, in retrospect, that the general

calibre of the faculty was enhanced by the addition of visiting

lecturers from numerous missionary institutions and schools in 61 Changsha. Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suggest anything

beyond the Bible Institute type courses were ever taught. Liberal

arts and sciences never made their way into the curriculum, and

in that sense, H.B.I. closely paralleled Biola's ea~ly days.

Keller's conservative evangelical Christianity, and respect

for Chinese competency and leadership, proved an asset from the

·beginning of his ministry. His outlook remained the drawing card

in the late 1920s and early 1930s as highly skilled Chinese were

added to the faculty. Keller was respected and considered as a

first rate individual to work for; his Yale pedigree was certainly . 11 62 an attraction as we . C.K. Cheng joined the Institute no later

than 1931. While his educational background is unknown, he was

considered an extremely capable Biblical scholar and translator.

Harrison called Cheng, "the Scofield of China" in the 1930s.

From Changsha, he translated the three volume Bible Commentary

by C.I. Scofield into Chinese. 63

Cheng maximized his work by

developing a Bible correspondence course from H.B.!. - reaching

ove~ .a .t .h_ousand throughout China based on the Scofield notes -

a strongly evangelistic and dispensational work still used in

Hong Kong.

Biola · in China had influence beyond its walls with the

extended Bible correspondence courses; however, its impact was c-- significant through publication of its bi-monthly magazine,.

The Evangelist, edited by Marcus Chen, professor . of New Testament.

The magazine originated in Shanghai by Chen and enjoyed an

estimated circulation of 10,000 including overseas Chinese in Japan! Sou~heast Asia, and the U~ited States. 64 Following Chen's

moye ~o H.B.!. in 1928, the magazine was printed in Changsha and

contained numerous articles written by Chen · and the Institute 1 staff . -., Poems and sermons were also included along with illustrations

of the Life of Jesus. 65 Stories by Chen's son, Ren Bing Chen

about his educational travels and experiences as a Chinese :'\. C-::7 I ;:., Christian in America, ;lso filled -its . pages. 66 ~- c ~ .. ~ J.:--~.~~ 0.: L --- ~i!} ·. '.1 '...: ·i .._- .• ~.:. -. j_:~a :_ t c--_ ::.~_2.. ·. -·~~-~0\ 7 ~~:<~ .1r ti:::~:.;~: £2..... c r1c r)e,•::. n'l'he . Evangelist .wel:S - indeed ._ a Biola in Ch_ina .organ; nevertheless,

it was also a Chen family affair because his sons and daughters

were contributing writers. A Wheaton College graduate, Marcus

Chen sent his children to be educated in the United States - as

well as China. They were college graduates who enhanced the )

academic family heritage - thus assuring a magazine format that

represented a literate and intelligent view of evangelical

Christianity. Chen's oldest son, R.B. Chen, received his Ph.D.

in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1936. Joses, the

youngest son and most avid _Christian, achieved his Ph.D. in Nuclear

Physics at the University of Southern California in 1951. Joses


67 was martyred during the Cultural Revolution in 1974. He had

been a · critical writer in the late 1930s - and published articles

regarding science and the Bible - during his student days at

y h. , u . enc ing niversi y. . t


Chen's twin daughters, ·Martha

d ' arvar s


and Mary, were assistant editors while students at Yale in China

Medic~l College. Another son presumably served as translator

for the English language articles submitted for the Chinese

.~anguage bi-monthly magazine; he later bec~me a government trans– lator _for the People's Republic of China. 6 ~, , .The Chen family's ..!. -· - ~· .. • • .Ao • - ~ • ' ... • - ~ •. • .• - ... - . • ~ contributions were diverse and significant. The Evangelist found

Chinese pastors, evangelists, - and interested laymen as subscribers.

Overall, it was an extremely popular publication in . its ·day; ' ' I "' J ~ '- · .• subscription ra~es are unknown and all copies have disappeared. 70 :"'); -.~ .In_.,a poignant reflection ·of those ''Golden Days.'' R.B .. Chen, -- while a student ..a Shanghai Gniversi ty',· recalled visi -cing his paren1:S

at H·. B . I. · .for a ho 1 id a y dinner with the Ke 11 er s .

When my thought~ went back to the Biola days, I always, remember .Dr. Keller, a fjrst-rate faan :''in-· a. · rffrst-'tat 'e· Christian set up in China. He was a perfect gentleman trained in the best 1-Ne~ ~ :E.n.g~~nct, <:Fr~di~t~9ns .- ! . , Almo~~ . ?P·~-~ a year, ·--u:r-.-· ana·Mrs. Keller would invite my parents and . we children .to a dinner - Western fashion. On these . occasions, Dr. Keller always dressed in his immaculate tuxedo, black bow tie, and white handkerchief in his left breast pocket . . . The host and hostess would talk pleasantries. Dr. Keller would smile on the children. No one was thinking that at that moment within a radius of perhaps fifty or a hundred miles, a life and death fight had been going on for several years. No one seemed to be aware that pleasantries were 71 being exchanged over a social and political volcano. -- ~ - r.; : ,

·~'h (,



C · · 1 · · and a fi· nanc;al l r,u+r~u-.~ .J' 1v1 war, nationa ism, ea ers ip crisis, ~ ~ --1 · 1. 1 d h ·

crunch all came to Biol a in . China in the 1930s. The H. B·. I.·- family

divided over several issues, and in some cases the old unity was

never regained. The first real blow to the Institute was financial,

and it hit first at Biola in Los Angeles. The collapse of the

stock market in 1929 nearly destroyed Biola's att~mpt to pay an

indebtedness on a second mortgage. 72 Biola was struggling and

such difficulties had immediate ramifications ·at H.B.!., whose

normal funding then became spasmodic. In 1930, the Hunan work - 73 wa~ threatened with closer; followed by the threat of being - 74·· sold in 1935 and again in 1937.

Beyond that ominous threat, donated monies designated to

Biola's "China Fund" became enmeshed in an effort to save Biola's

·i-argest endowment bequeathed by Lyman Stewart in 1923: ·The We~t~ri Machinery Company. 75 clandestine handling of the -"China donations" resulted in a heated . i __ __ letter to-~>the;·~Biol-a~ Board- Chairman, -. pr. -~ Charles = · ~. "Fuller, in -i ·::- '('__-::· - - :_ -- - - ·1. ·- _ ... - . -~ - . . -76 . - - ' - . 1933 from~l~e11er·. _, · Fi.s·cal s~·rains of ' the·· Great . Depression ! 1 prompted misunderstandings between the Los Angeles off ice and Discovery of this unwise and rather

Biola in China; not the least was the question of how funding

should -be sent to China. Keller always maintained that all

donations should be sent directly to Hunan from Biola - with the names and amounts of ·the donations - as per an agreement in 1925. 77 Gt. clrhJv Mr. Carpenter, Biola's business manager, contended that the \ A reason H.B.I. had not rP.ceived funds in 1931-32 was due to Keller's failure to submit a budget upon which a rnontly allotment could 78 be based. Biola's next business manager, Mr. Lucy, held a


more moderate attitude and thus, ironed out _some of the former

difficulties; but, undoubtedly, Mrs. Milton Stewart's pressure

to save the Hunan project was a major factor in achieving a

workable solution.

Fiscal problems had some bearing on the school's future

academic direction as well. Keller, in the late 1920s, began

to seek a well .trained Biblical scholar to replace him, as he

plarih~d to ~etire ih ' the - ~arly 1930s.~ ~e returned to Los Angeles

in 1927 and met with a family friend, Mr. Richards, who suggested

I c~t~\

that a young scholar, Rev. E.F. Harrison from Princeton, might

Harrison accepted the Hunan offer but was

be just the man.

delaye~ in his sched~_led 1928 departure because of civil strife

.. - I I

in Hunan. · He then .~ccepted a ca1i to teach Old Testament at

Dallas Theological Seminary for a year . . Harrison finally . made

his way to. China in 1931. Chinese dialect difficuities prev~nt~d . ct• t h. 79 apy,_ ;+mme 1ate . e~c . 1ng. : A more serious obstacle was the lack \ ' .. of ~: fi~~nc.~a~< suppo~"t promised :to,,the Ha:rrisons ,_ who '. had their ~ ._. • .-- . . • ·- I j. • • ·• ~ . ~" _., ._,, !. - •....._ ..L - .. - _.:, .J,...I " - • - j . . • ...i, ~ • {t- ( (, Q \r ~ ~., fi-!~ .t ~~hi,ld. , w{J.J-le _ in China :. 80 .... _:In_ ad~_i_tip~, :: ,so~e ·s_taff . had \ expected that Charles Roberts, the then assistant superintenden)>( should assume Keller's post of superintendent - as Roberts was J extremely popular with the Chinese. Feeling that his. appointment

would ultimately not materialize as initially designed, Harrison

left China to accept a second call to teach at Dallas Seminary

in 1934. Subsequently, he received his Ph.D. in New Testament

studies at Princeton; his academic career culminated at Fuller

Theological Seminary in Pasadena, where he became Chairman of


the New Testament Department until his retirement in the 1970s. 81 H.B.!. 's loss of E.F. Harrison, essentially due to lack of finances,

was a blow to C~ristian higher education at Hunan.

The unfounded but rumored appointment of Charles Roberts,

as the n~w superintendent in the mid-1930s, proved the excuse for

an outburt of nationalism among the Chinese faculty and student

( v-) )~·~ ~·+

body .. Twin facts, low funding and. the possibility of running

I I t e1

the -Institute on a year-by-year "faith" · basis, placed Business


Manager Roberts in the role of the sc~pe goat for these problems, He was also vunerable to criticism, as the potential head of H.B.I., from the Chinese faculty because · he lacked ~he academic credentials · of _either Keller or Harrison. 82 c~I{ ) -1 ''J ~ (_ ~l~ or _ pretext of the :rumored appointment of Roberts, j/ Hj -I ,,. the _Chinese faculty - along with local Chinese pastors~ formed l rft ·...t\'..) ~- an "Independ~nt Board of Directors" of H.B. I. , following their . 83 . ~hre~ts to .resign. which were not of his making. - ~ ... ..j;· .. · :.~ ..- mismanagement, both in Los Angeles and at Changsha, created much ·-: \ · - of the tension combined with intense Chinese nationalism - comparable to that ~xperienced at the Southern Baptist Boys School in Kaifeng, Hunan, and the Presbyterian Mission in North China. 84 Roberts ~~-~ -~ !.... ~ /\· L~ : _ _ ._ . ._ _ .. T1 :_. , -; .-... c•: · :_ .._ .... ~ -~ .- : --

·suspected Marcus Chen to be the ringleader because of his strong

1 . t · 84 nationa ism on t e ee s o an merican e uca ion . h h 1 f A · d

A major

. ( religious confrontation was raging in the United States known as

the Liberal-Fundamentalist controversy, and thus, Roberts challenged

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members of the independent "Chinese Board of Directors" as being out and out theological liberals. The majority of the faculty resigned in 1937. Roberts wa~ appointed superintendent in June, ~938. 86 His leadership emerged as the pall of the Japanese invasion darkened Hunan. Throughout the 1930s, civil war between Chiang Kai-Chek's KMD and Mao Tse-Tung's Red Brigades effected central China as Red A-fmy ___retreated through_ flunan.. Marc.~_s Chen and his famqy the / ~ appeared to be sympathetic with Mao, while Keller and Roberts sided with Chiang and the Nationalists. 87 In addition, two sons J pf r\ l I • of prominent Christian leaders within the organization strayed from their father's beliefs. First, the Scofield scholar, C.K. Cheng's son j9ined the Communist Party despite his education - . :.... • - - _, . . . - .....___ . (..· .... . i • - ... • deg~~~ f~qm W~ Chang Ce~tral China College, faculty participation at ..H.-B.I., a~d an appointment as a high _school princip_al._ Second, one of the evangelistic team leaders and deans of H.B.I. during the mid-1930s, Mr. Hsiao, was betrayed by his Ph.D. Columbia I fl J ) - I "\, } univer s ii fy ; :New Py a r-· k ,"' r:. educated ~ s 0 n.-·: w h 0 : j o'l'n ~ d :.che - Japanese cause . 88 ~i1 j_ .· .. ' .' . . 1920s - 1930s {). 1920s through the mid-1930s demonstrates that there were successes. If the enrollment figures are correct, the Institute graduated at least two thousand students over a twenty year period. No less than ten evangelistic bands operated up to the start of World War II in the face of great danger. The numbers touched by the corres- : (l'.uJ.fi l - \ -te ""S I~ An e va 1 uat ion of the Hunan Bib 1 e Ins t it u t e ' s work in the -----


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pondence course and the bi-monthly Evangelist were in the thousands. Problems were evident such as that of "denationalization" of rural Chinese students at H.B.I. since the rather luxurious environment insuited them for a return to rural evangelism, particularly in . 89 the late 1930s. However, that was not consistently the case. By the end of __] 938, C.K. Cheng had returned to work at H.B.I. under Roberts, while Marcus Chen - under the auspices of the C.I.M. - became professor of New Testament and later President of Chung King The;logical Seminary. 90 He later went on to write under the Communist regime.9 1 - · i The Second World War brought an end to all classroom instruction. Roberts, however, led the Institute through the most perilous time. :In an .at tempt to thwart the Japanese move on Changsha, the :rat io~al is t forces began a "scorched earth" policy. The result was the al:;iost total. destruction of Changsha .f-n the ·1938 confligration. 92 At ·anc-e.:,. .:H .-B. I. ::.became a ref-ugee center as w·ell ·as hospital _: as the ...___ old Hudson Taylor facility had been destroyed in the burning city. The Institutes own buildings were severly damaged later during a fire ·fight between Nationalist and Japanese forces and American bombs. Again, in 1942, the medical work of H.B.I. was expanded to include a British Red Cross Hospital from October 1942 to September 1943 at a lease price of $9,000 a year. The agreement was signed by Roberts and W.S. Flowers for the British Red Cross. No charge was made for the Hudson !aylor Hospital work located in Milton Stewart Hall. The War Interlude, 1938 - 45

- · Social and relief work continued at a massive pace throughout and following the wars end. At once refugee accomodations and relocation, alongside a makeshift orphanage, appeared on campus. At one point, the Hunan Provincial Government took root at H.B.I.; the former buildings destroyed in 1938. All the while Roberts, \ the only American missionary working at the Institute, juggled all of these enterprises, which later included the United Nations and Chinese relief and rehabilitation administratio~s.9 3 These associations, with the Nationalist govern~ent as well as the United Nations, were used against Roberts by the Communist govern– ment to permanently expel him from China in 1948. 94 ..:__-- 1946-47 brought two . additional missionary families through Biola channels: Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Cory ~nd Mr. and Mrs. Russ Davis~ 95 With the United Nations and Chinese organizations still on campus - ai.orrg wfth .ho .spi tals, · · refu·gees~ and orphans . - · H.B. r°. · preparea- to reopen · the school. in... the faH of 1946; afte~ a, nine yea~ int·ervaL 96 ~---___.-.... The ·first class had twenty students registered but did not start until the winter of 1947. 97 Partial reconstruction of the facilities commenced after a visit by Louis T. Talbot, Biola's Chancellor, and Business Manager Russ Allder to the Changsha campus. 98 A major business meeting held at Changsha with Talbot, Allder, Roberts, Davis, and Cory launched H.B.I. into an expanded ministry of Bible \ Institute, Seminary, evangelistic bands, Scofield department as well) as a permanent orphanage - and incorporation of the Hudson Taylor Hope to the End


Hospital as part of H.B.r. 99 Anticipating an unknown future, William Ebeling arrived to head the new seminary 1n January 1943. 100 ~ The plight of foreign run Christian institutions in China, also facing H.B.I. in the period 1947-48, was that of low enrollment due to a proliferation of Chinese run institutions, mostly funded fro~ the United States. Roberts noted,

But it is an old story, this individualism and lack of understanding of true cooperation in China. And I am almost tempted to believe that the "Marshall Plan" is thought to include this type of theological institution! Hence instead of having a strong staff anywhere, we are scattered both in strength of faculty and number of students who are available.101

A revived nationalism after the defeat of Japan was only natural, ancl.:J.J~ __s_h_puld have come as no suprise if the Chinese Christians should want to stretch their wings. Nonetheless, by use of scholarships, H.B.I.. raised the student level to about ninety in 1948, including 102 twe~ty oT the more educated for seminary work. The Scofield ~~ble __ ~orrespond_ence Cour.se _was revived. with five_, hundred n.ew p~int:ings. 10 _~_"_ .In s.pite of future u_ncertainities, H.B.I_. - completed i.-. ·--- --- - --- -·-- -c_ a lease agreement with the China Inland Mission to permanently house the Hudson Taylor Hospital on the campus. This was largely at Robert's urging, for he manifested a highly cooperative and 'l " ec Jmeni ~ al spirit. If Christian institutions were to survive in China at all, unity must prevail over particularism. Roberts appeared to sense that only a united front could pre vail in the face of an ever widening Communist aggrandizement.


The late summer and early fall of 1948 brought a renewal of hope as a full faculty of seventeen, along with ninety students, 104 began the semester. The addition of a preparatory school was a new feature, since many students deprived of education during the war needed to learn to write Chinese before entering the Institute. 105 Yet within a year, all hopes had vanished. As Communist pressure mounted near Hunan, Roberts went to Hong Kong, then to the United States to check the possibilities of an alternative to the Changsha work. Russ Davis was also in Hong Kong by May of 1949 looking for means to continue the work there. By that time,. Hunan was taken by the Communists, but the Christian schools were allowed to operate unmolested. 106 So H.B.I. continued operations under its last American missionary, Professor William Ebeling, who like the founder - of H.B.I. - Dr. Keller, came from the China Inland Mission. · The widow of C.K. Cheng (Scofield Cheng), who revitalized the correspondence course, a·lso fled to ffong Kong, while others went to F.ormosa. Not allowed -to return -to Communist.· controlled territory, . Roberts returned to. Hong ~- Kong and corresponded with Ebeling at H.B. L in the . last · months of . 1949-. At ·some point before leaving the Institute late in 1948, P~ovincia~ government authorities demanded the deeds to H.B.I. from Roberts, who wisely and fortuitously made copies before turning over the originals. That action would some day pay unexpected dividends . f Ch . t. ld · · 1 07 to Biola and the cause o ris ian wor missions.


While Roberts laid the foundation for continuation of Biola in China at Hong Kong, Ebeling ran H.B.I. under growing restrictions of the new government, particularly after the start of the Korean War. The Communist press in Hunan accus;d an American Christian general of atrocities against the Chinese and used the propaganda Many Chinese student~ had hoped that America would still intervene, according to Ebeling, but when that illusion gave way to stark reality, many fell in line with the new regime. By late 1951, a political commissar was was assigned to H.B.I., controlled its operation, and at this point, many students fled. Those from Changsha, who knew the area, had the best- -chan_c_e of 'escape;-. Under · the supervision of the C. I. ~1., Ebeling was not allowed to leave China at the time of the other missionaries. He . recalls in spite of the pressure - most students did not -turn against the missionaries; yet, had to pretend so. Prior to confine– ~ient ~and· expulsion -in the las·t - fdur· -months of T-982 , - Ebel-ing:- faced -; ~'_) ~two "aecusatiOn meetings." - At ' -the -first one upon his- :response ·,- the student~ turned sympathetic. The second such encounter was conducted at the Yale in China Medical Center at Changsha. The chief accuser was the H.B.I. Dean, Mr. Cheng Kuang, who became involved in the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. 109 Ebeling was placed under house _j arrest for his last four months in China; and according to Roberts, was confined to the coal bin. 110 Upon his return to the United States, Ebeling was appointed to the faculty of Biola College as professor pf New Testament and Systematic Theology - until his retirement in · t th A · · · . 108 agains e merican m1ss1onar1es. The Hudson Taylor Hospital became the Communist Workers Hospital in 1951.




The Heritage of Hunan Bible Institute

The impact of H.B.I. is extremely difficult to judge, but certainly one area stands above the rest - that is respect for the indigenous Chinese church. Throughout its forty-three year history, Biola in China promoted Chinese leadership, from the river boat teams, to the faculty, d~anships, and the presidency. A spirit of equanimity has been testified to by numerous missionary, as well as Chinese sources. This single important factor., so evident from the beginning, was central to the evangelistic successes of the teams, and in drawing students to H.B.I. An unshakled Chinese faculty felt free to publish correspondence courses and a bi-monthly magazine, without Western missionary direction or controls. The Hunan Bible Institute staff worked in unity with other missions ·Of the provin~e both in Christian evangelism~ training, and later physical support during the war years. Th~t cooperative ::l ~ ! i t ~ ! : •-i t~ :~ : - ( \ I ~. - ~ : ·' - -. - • - 1 0 • • ~: ~ spirit prevailed until the end. i:-... ' ,.,, c:: ·_; ::.. - - To be sure there were problems of nationalism; bu~ triggered in part by a legitimate crises in finances and leadership. In spite of the numer~us financial and political stresses, which split the faculty in the 1930s, H.3.I. survived and entered into the war years in practical service to desperate citizens, soldiers, missionaries, hospital and government agencies, refugees, and orphans. The great effort to revive its program after the war, though cut short by new political realities, did not fail to impress the new student: · , whose

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loyalty to Christianity and the missionaries was evident. No greater assessment about the overall effort could be found than that addressed by Chinese Christians to the Biola Board in the early 1950s .

. . . We need not re-examine our faith, for our fundamental faith in Christ is not to be shaken . . . It is also needless for us to relate here what the Christian move– ment in China has accomplished; we need not stress at the present juncture what share our Christian friends abroad have contributed to that achievement ... There does exist some deep-rooted feeling on the part of the Communists that the Chinese Church has been intimately related to imp~r~alism and capital– ism . . . We do realize and so wish to assert that missionary work in China never had any direct relationship with governmental policies; mission funds have always been contributed by the rank and file of common .ordinary Christians and church members; missionaries have been sent here for no other reason than to preach the Christian gospel of love, and to serve the needs of the Chinese people . . . We are not unmindful of the challenges and difficulties laying ahead in a more fundamental way . . Just how the Christian gospel can be witnessed to in a clime that is by virtue of its ideology, fundamentally materialistic and atheistic, presents a challenge stronger than ever before . . . the burden falls on us as Christians to demonstrate the efficiency and sufficiency of the Gospel as exemplified in the life of Christ • . . The Christian movement will have its due place in the future Chinese society and will have a genuine contribution to make. Its future will not be a bed of roses ... the Chinese Church will not emerge through the change uneffected. It will suffer a purge, and many of the withered branches will be amputated. But, we believe it will emerge stronger and purer in quality, a more fitting witness to the gospel of Christ. 1 11


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The Hong Kong Connection

Robert's work in Hong Kong materialized with a tangible and versatile endeavor amidst the crunch of refugees. There had been some discussion of relocating the Chinese work in Singapore, but the Biola Board rejected it in favor of the Hong Kong option. 112 The numbers of students or faculty from H.B.I. arriving in Hong Kong to work with Roberts is not known. However, the continuation of Biola in China, in the British Colony, would have been impossible without Robert's singular effort. 113 Beginning with · the Book Room, and later orphanage, youth work, and medical clinic, the enterprise blossomed as it connected with the Emmanuel Chinese Ch h . th 1 f th . ct• h"l h 114 urc - again, e resu t o e in igenous p i osop y. ~ .... ~ . . . / aiola 's support was essentially .financial allowing l!luch V autonomy generally; this was revealed by the absence of correspondence J l or by· sending further missionary staff until 1959 .. · After a decade, .. the Los Ange}..~_s __office_again re.~evalua ted- the work - in the wake of Robert's : lmp~~~i~~ : retirement after f~r~y years o~ service - and a re~iew ~~ f~n~~cial com~ittm~nt~ · .JlS In 1961, Biola was preoccupied with its own Institute, College, and Seminary expansion, accreditation, and the financial strain connected with the move to La Mirada, California. Robert's foundation paved the way for smooth transition and transfer of all work and property of Biola in Hong Kong to the Em~anual Chinese Church on July 1, 1961; the final fulfillment of the indigenous thrust, long a policy of Biola's . . . . . Ch . 1 1 6 Th i . t th missionary activity in ina. e wor~ continues o e present.

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