We Are No Longer the Same……

Rev. Dr. Karl Ludvig Reichelt (1877-1952), the founder of Tao Fong Shan, was a Norwegian missionary and a researcher on Chinese religions. Scholars studying Reichelt would find that he was not only a missionary in the traditional sense, but also a pilgrim. As a missionary, he should exalt the cross of Christ and preach the Gospel of salvation. But on the other hand, as a scholar and practitioner of Chinese religions, Reichelt was a pilgrim. As it is known to all, medieval pilgrims had to leave their familiar setting for pilgrimages far away, through dangerous wilderness and foreign cities one after another, meeting different people, facing the challenges of unfamiliar languages and cultures. Many of them went through a life-forming transformation and developed a new worldview. Similarly, because of the great attraction of Chinese religions, Reichelt bravely left his familiar religious language and situation in life, breaking into exotic worlds and learning new languages, religious concepts and a new kind of community life. Eventually he returned to his own tradition and reconstructed the "Jesus event" with the language and experience of Chinese religions. Reichelt was no longer the same as when he first arrived in China in 1903. He was then still a very traditional western missionary, serving the people with free classes and medical treatment. But he felt obliged to study Buddhism after a mystical experience in Wei Mountain Buddhist Temple in 1905. After more than a decade of study, he had gradually changed into "the other" who spoke of and practiced  the "Jesus event" in Chinese religious language and experience.

In this perspective, the fact that Sino-Christian theology could emerge from Tao Fong Shan more than 20 years ago may not be an accident. Without the work of the pioneers it would be difficult if not impossible to be where we are today. Back in the early 1990s, we were attracted and inspired by the publications related to Christian studies of very few Chinese academics. We then felt obliged to enter a region unfamiliar to the church, in which we had to learn a different academic language, way of thinking and methods in order to construct a new knowledge system. This system can be tested and accepted by Chinese academic circles and become a part of what we now call Sino-Christian theology. There are different ways to evaluate our work, but perhaps the simplest is to examine the following statistics (which take us up to the year 2014):


l   312 books have been translated or written, and published by ISCS since 1994

‧   165 visiting scholars have  stayed at ISCS (for 2-3 months) since 1994

‧   970 students from over 20 Mainland universities have been awarded the Tao Fong Scholarship since 1995

‧   174 Guest Professors (from overseas universities) have lectured at Mainland universities on behalf of ISCS since 1996

‧   125 visiting students have stayed at ISCS (for 5-6 months) since 2002

‧   15 visiting scholars have stayed at overseas universities (for 1-3 months) since 2008


In the past 20 years, the institute has helped many Chinese and foreign scholars and students, enabling them to explore the uncharted waters of Christian studies. Publications by scholars and students from all over the world have provided a resource for researchers. More importantly, all parties involved, the Chinese and overseas scholars, the new generation, and ourselves, have become no longer the same as before through this unprecedented intellectual journey