of Bible-Presbyterianism in Singapore
The history of the Bible–Presbyterian church in
Singapore is inextricably linked to one of the greatest evangelist of all time,
the Methodist, John Sung Shang Jie. Because of John Sung’s mighty preaching two
young boys dedicated their lives to the cause of Jesus Christ –bringing the
Gospel to thousands throughout South-east Asia and beyond. It was described by
Dr. Bobby Sng in his definitive work on the history of the Church of Singapore,
“In His Good Time (1st edition)”:
Among the many people who responded to
the gospel of John Sung’s meetings in 1935 were two young boys, both China-born
and coming from godly family backgrouds. Few realised then that within 20 years
these two young men would be blazing a trail in the church’s fight against
liberal theology affecting the lives of hundreds of Christians.
The two boys were none other than Rev.
(Dr) Timothy Tow Siang Hui, and Rev (Dr.) Quek Kiok Chiang. Both were
instrumental in the founding of the Bible-Presbyterian movement in Singapore.
Rev (Dr.) Quek Kiok Chiang was caught up
in the theological debate between the liberals and conservative evangelicals
raging in the Western world. Reminiscing about his experiences in the early
1950’s, Rev Quek wrote,
My determination to introduce the biblical position of
the ICCC [International Council of Christian Churches] in Singapore was further
strengthened by my encounters with the minister of the leading English
Presbyterian Church in Singapore and the aforesaid senior English Presbyterian
missionary, both alarming me for the first time with their blatant unbelief in
the essential doctrines of the Holy Scriptures… the Presbyterian missionary
casting doubt on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and on His Virgin
At that time, Rev. (Dr.) Timothy Tow was pastor of the Life Church
English Service (part of the Singapore Life Church), and Rev. (Dr.) Quek Kiok
Chiang being an elder of the congregation. After several failed attempts to get
Singapore Life Church not to associate with the apostate Malayan Christian
Council, Life Church English Service decided to withdraw from the Synod. Rev.
(Dr.) Tow remarked,
In order to distinguish ourselves from the Synod churches we prefixed the word
Bible to make ours the Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. January 1955, indeed,
saw the birth of the Bible-Presbyterian Church movement, but only the good Lord
knew what blessings were in store for us as a result of this separation from
the entangling alliances with unbelief
The two greats (pillars) of the Bible-Presbyterian
movement are Rev.(Dr.) Timothy Tow and Rev.(Dr.) Quek Kiok Chiang.
Meanwhile academia was not spared the penetration of liberal theology. In the
University of Malaya, the Students’ Christian Movement turned liberal and so a
small group comprising mainly of medical students left the SCM to found the
Varsity Christian Fellowship. One of the committee members appointed by the
students was none other than Dr. Tow Siang Hwa, the younger brother of Rev.
Dr. Tow SH had an illustrious career as a medical doctor specialising in
gynaecology and obstetrics but he gave that up to be a minister of the Gospel.
Under his leadership and influence many B-P churches were established. He was
for many years the Senior Pastor of Calvary Pandan B-P Church.
Thus one can conclude that the men
responsible for the growth of the Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore are
Rev. (Dr) Timothy Tow Siang Hui, Rev (Dr.) Quek Kiok Chiang and to a some
extent, Rev.(Dr.) Tow Siang Hwa.
away of Rev. Timothy Tow
On the 20th April 2009, Rev (Dr) Timothy
Tow passed away. A three-evening memorial service was held in Calvary Pandan
During the first evening, Dr. S H Tow shared with the
attendees of the memorial service the life of his great brother (Rev. Timothy
Tow). Dr. S H Tow made a very significant and revealing statement about his
brother having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2006. Based upon the
medical condition of Rev. (Dr.) Timothy Tow, one can, with very good reasons,
excuse Rev Timothy Tow for allegedly advocating the error of VPP. Dr. S.H. Tow
was one of the leading medical doctors during the time when he was a practicing
physician. His opinion regarding senile dementia is thus trust worthy.
Living long carries tremendous problems. One of them
being given prominence in the press is the senile dementia, Alzheimer’s
disease. So better you live well than you live long. How can you live well?
Answer, live in the Lord Jesus Christ, in Him only there’s peace.
My brother has been suffering from the disease called
Alzheimer’s. It was diagnosed only about 3 years ago. But this disease has a
very long history. And, oftentimes we do not detect it. My late step-mother had
it [for] at least 10 years; the same could have been[said] for Rev. Tow.
They start off with the
mental limitations, that is the first sign. Then, they imagine things; they
talk things that are not quite right. I detected this when my brother came to
Vancouver in the year 2000. But now he is free from
all this, how good! Absent from the body but present with the Lord.
Testimony of a senior Bible-Presbyterian
Rev. Philip Heng, a well-respected preacher and
pastor of Galilee B-P Church wrote
about his experience as pastor of many B-P churches and, as a former lecturer
and ex-President of the board of the FEBC.
I was in the Life BPC since its inception at the Say Mia
Tng in Prinsep Street, October 1950. I loved to hear Rev Tow preach from the
Bible. He taught us that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and it was very
clear to me that the Inspiration of God’s Word was only in the original
languages – the Greek and Hebrew. This position is stated in our B-P Church
Constitution right from the beginning. I have always understood Inspiration to
refer only to the original manuscripts, the Autographs – that they were
inspired by God, that they were special, unique, and the only one of a kind…
I first heard of the Verbal Plenary Inspiration (VPI)
versus the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) controversy in the Life BPC and
suggestions that the King James Version is the perfect Bible, around 2002. As
far as I am concerned, VPP is a new teaching, and not in the original beliefs
of the B-P Church, or the FEBC.
the passing of Rev. Timothy Tow
Rev. Jeffrey Khoo, the successor and
son-in-law of Rev. Timothy Tow, has taken the Far Eastern Bible College down a
different route by teaching and promoting the error of the Verbal Plenary
Preservation. It is a new view of the Inspiration of Holy Scriptures, teaching
that God re-inspired the Scriptures through the KJV translators, hence giving
the Christian Church anew the autographical texts. VPP maintains that without
the “Original physical words” of the Scriptures, the claims of Christ are
thrown into all sorts of doubts. They have minimised the work of the Holy
Spirit and given prominence to VPP cult leader D.A. Waite, claiming that he
knows what the “perfect Bible” is.
The FEBC faculty has attacked
Christians using non-KJV bibles. They have joined forces with extremists
Islamists theologians in attacking Christians.
(a) Jeffrey Khoo in the sermon,
“His Word Above His Name” preached in 1st October 2006, quoted an
(b) Paul Ferguson, a disciple of
Jeffrey Khoo, made used (Burning Bush, January 2009) of Ahmed Deedat to take
swipes at Christians. Deedat took pleasure in attacking the Bible and making
fun of Jesus Christ. He was banned from coming to Singapore in 1996. Soon after
ridiculing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in-front of a large
audience in Australia during an Easter period, Deedat
suffered a severe stroke which left him paralysed and unable to speak − shutting
him up forever.
Rev. (Dr.) Timothy Tow remained
true to the fundamentals of the Christian faith; he was, and remained one of
the pioneers and heroes of the Faith according to the East Asian tradition. In
his twilight years, he suffered from Alzheimer’s, a debilitating disease which
affects the brain function. However, we thank God, as Dr. SH Tow said, “But now he is free from all this, how good! Absent from the body but
present with the Lord.”
Sadly, the FEBC today, under the leadership of Jeffrey
Khoo and its faculty members have strayed from the ancient ways, FEBC has
caused some B-P churches to stumble in
their ways from the ancient ways, to walk in the paths and way that is not
trodden.( Jer. 18:15; Geneva Bible 1599)