Our History

Our History

-History Of Founding of Calvary Pandan B-P Church

a brief history by Dr SH Tow, Founder and Senior Pastor


In God's good time, I left the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Singapore University in 1969, in fulfilment of a vow to God made in 1938 at Dr John Sung's final meeting in Muar, Johor, Malaya.

In one Friday afternoon visitation, in the western sector of Singapore, I called at the office of Mr Woon Wah Siang, Chairman of Jurong Town Corporation, and obtained a lease of a 24,500 sq ft piece of land, for "religious use."

On this piece of land in Tao Ching Road, a church complex was constructed. Services began in January 1973. When the congregation grew to about 400, I called on Mr Woon again.He readily leased a second piece of land, 98,000 sq ft in size in Pandan Gardens. On my request, he divided the land into two equal portions of 49,000sqft each, one for Galilee B-P Church (pastored by Rev Philip Heng) and one for Calvary Pandan B-P Church.

On our piece of land we constructed "Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church," with facilities for worship, fellowship group meetings, Sunday School, Kindergarten, residential purpose and other uses.The Sunday congregation steadily grew to its present 1,200 weekly attendance. In 1988 Rev Quek Suan Yew joined as Staff Worker, later as Pastor.

REMEMBERING OUR B-P HERITAGE

INTRODUCTION

History is of great importance to man. As the saying goes, "those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it". From the study of history, we know our roots and the reasons for calling ourselves Bible-Presbyterians. If we believe that Presbyterianism, as practised by our Bible-Presbyterian Church, is that ecclesiastical system which is most biblical, then we must embrace it, protect it and defend it. It would be difficult to ask someone to defend, protect, and love something he has little knowledge of. Wolves in sheep's clothing will come in to undermine the church's teachings. They may think that they are doing God a favour by "opening the eyes of the blind Bible- Presbyterians". Some might even try to convert B-Ps to a "Bible" church, without its Presbyterianism, or into a Presbyterian church without "Bible" attached.

If we know the following three important factors, we will remain steadfast and be thankful to God for our heritage as Bible-Presbyterians. We will not only love it, we will also heartily promote it, and defend it unto the glory of God. The three factors are: the history of the B-P Church; the doctrines which are distinctly Bible-Presbyterian; and why we adopt Presbyterian distinctives rather than those of the Baptist, or Methodist, or Anglican, or Congregationalist.

THE HISTORY OF THE B-P CHURCH

The American Scene – The Split in the Presbyterian Church in USA (PCUSA)

In the year 1936, PCUSA split because of liberalism and ecumenism. This did not occur overnight. The events which led to this split began on 26 December 1923. In that year, a committee of 149 Presbyterian clergymen met in Auburn, New York to issue an "Affirmation". The "Affirmation" asserts that:

a. the General Assembly was wrong to require all ministerial candidates to hold to the five fundamentals which are the inerrancy of the original manuscripts of Scriptures,Christ's virgin birth, His vicarious atonement, His bodily resurrection, and the reality of miracles as recorded in the Scriptures;

b. neither the Bible nor the historic creeds taught inerrancy;

c. tenets such as Christ's virgin birth, vicarious atonement, bodily resurrection, and miracles were theories;

d. the General Assembly had unconstitutionally declared belief in these doctrines as essential for licensing, ordination, or good standing in the church.

e. the General Assembly had no right to bind Presbyterians to any "essential and necessary" doctrines unless the presbyteries themselves so voted.

By 1926, eight foreign missionaries had signed the Auburn Affirmation and five of the 15 ordained officials of the denomination's Board of Foreign Missions were Affirmationists. In 1932, William Hocking, Chairman of the Commission to look into Missions Work, wrote a book called "Re-Thinking Missions". In it, he advocated uniting Christianity with Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism into a common front against the enemy of materialism.

This downward slide brought about a confrontation between the conservatives and the liberals. In 1933, Gresham Machen exposed a number of the liberal missionaries in his debate with Robert Speer, Chairman of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. No house cleansing was achieved, nor compromise allowed. That same year, Machen formed the Independent Board of Foreign Missions.

From 1934 to 1936, Machen, Carl McIntire and J Oliver Buswell, together with seven other Biblebelieving pastors were placed on trial. They were de-frocked by the General Assembly in 1936. In that same year, the pastors formed the Presbyterian Church of America, but had to rename it to Orthodox Presbyterian Church because the Presbyterian Church in USA wanted to sue them over the similarity of names.

The Split Within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)

In 1937, Machen, the founder of OPC died. That year, Carl McIntire, J Oliver Buswell and Allan MacRae came out of the OPC and founded the B-P Church and Faith Theological Seminary.

Three major issues caused the split in the OPC:

a. A Doctrinal Issue – The Bible- Presbyterians were exclusively pre-millennialists, whereas the OPC was made up of both a-millennialists and pre-millennialists .

b. A Moral Issue – Should the denomination officially recommend total abstinence from intoxicating beverages to all members? The OPC said "No"; McIntire and company said "Yes".

c. A Missions Issue – Should there be cooperation in Missions with non Presbyterians who are fundamental? The OPC was against it; McIntire and company were for cooperation in Missions with fundamental groups, Presbyterians or otherwise.

Thus, we see that two issues that gave rise to the birth of Bible- Presbyterianism included the doctrines of Biblical Separation (when we came out of PCUSA) and Pre-millennialism (when we came out of OPC).

The Singapore Scene

In 1847, an English missionary named William Chalmers Burns left England for Hong Kong. He first set foot on Chinese soil in Amoy in 1851. Five years later, he went to Swatow with Hudson Taylor and that was how Christianity reached the Tow family.

Together with other emigrants, the Tow family came to the Straits Settlement which was then called British Malaya. In 1881, Rev J A B Cook from the English Presbyterian Mission came to Singapore and Malaya. He founded many local churches, one of which was Life Church at Prinsep Street (1883). "All the founding members of Life Church and our BP Church Movement have originated from Prinsep Street."

In 1935, Dr John Sung's revival meetings changed the heart of a young man, Timothy Tow, who yielded his life to the Lord for His service. In 1946, Timothy Tow obeyed God's call and left for China to study theology under Dr Chia Yu Ming in Nanking. He was there for one year. In 1947, Timothy Tow transferred to Faith Theological Seminary, USA. By the providence of God, Timothy Tow learned God's Word under Drs Carl McIntire, J Oliver Buswell and Allan MacRae.

In 1950, he completed his training and returned to Singapore to pastor Life Church at Prinsep Street in the English service. That same year, the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) held its 2nd Plenary Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. Timothy Tow went there with QuekKiok Chiang. It was inthe city of John Calvin that Timothy Tow was ordained by the Philadelphia Presbytery, with J Oliver Buswell as the Moderator. On their return to Singapore, having imbibed the spirit of the 20th Century Reformation and Bible-Presbyterianism, Rev Timothy Tow launched the Life Church English service at 5.30 pm in October 1950 at 144 Prinsep Street.

From December 1952 to February 1953, the English service of the Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church was de facto linked to the Chinese Presbyterian Synod, which in turn was linked to the Malayan Christian Council (MCC). The MCC was linked to the World Council of Churches (WCC), the body opposed to the ICCC. A confrontation at Synod level took place and a charge was drafted by Rev Timothy Tow, Elder QuekKiok Chiang (now Rev QuekKiok Chiang), and Deacon C T Hsu against joining the MCC. In summary, the charge stated that the MCC was part of the larger Ecumenical Movement, WCC, which promotes modernist ecumenism.

The final battle was fought in Muar, in the Trinity Presbyterian Church in 1955. "Of course the battle was lost against the usual phalanx of modernist missionaries and subservient national pastors. In the same month, according to the Life Church Weekly Chronicler, 'the interim committee decides to make our church fully constituted and to sever connections with the Synod on account of modernism'." The name "B-P Church of Singapore" was coined in January 1955.

After returning from Faith Theological Seminary in May 1959 with a Master of Sacred Theology,

Rev Tow on 6 September of the same year felt the burden to start a Bible College. "Theological training of our consecrated young people was our Church's emphasis as a most effective means of extending God's Kingdom."

A year later, on 19 September 1960, the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) was founded.8 In July 1961, the interest in the proposed FEBC was so strong that Rev Tow was asked to offer two hours of lectures every week. "This evening Bible Class, ... was carried on through one academic year until the College formally opened in Sept 17 1962."

On 14 October 1962, Life BPC held its last service at Prinsep Street. It was a Farewell Service of sweet remembrance. On 16 February 1963, the new church building at 9A Gilstead Road was dedicated for God's Service and unto His glory.

This was the beginning of the B-P Church in Singapore. By the grace and mercy of the Almighty God, some B-P Churches have stood firm these past 60 years. We are the fruits of the labour of our founding fathers. They have fought hard and true according to the convictions God has placed in their hearts.

We cannot afford NOT to know our roots. If we forget our roots, we do so at our own peril; not ours only but that of our children as well. We must cherish and uphold the principles upon which the B-P Church was founded.

Why are you a B-P? Why am I a B-P? Do we hold on to B-Pism because of history alone? We should not, for that would be sentimentalism. We firmly hold on to B-Pism because we believe unequivocally and without apology that it is Bible based.

DISTINCTIVES OF THE B-P CHURCH

Theological fundamentalism is inherent in the B-P Church. On the doctrine of the Bible, we believe in the divine, verbal, and plenary inspiration and preservation of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages. The Bible is God-breathed. It is the very word of God! We practise Biblical Separation and believe in the Pre-millennial visible return of our Lord Jesus Christ.11 Our understanding of salvation is Reformed and Calvinistic. To compromise on any of our doctrines would revert us back to Presbyterianism without the "Bible".

The ecclesiology of the B-P Church is that the church is ruled by elders. The mode of baptism is by sprinkling, not immersion. We practise infant baptism, for we believe that it is taught in Holy Scriptures.

CONCLUSION

Why are we B-Ps? Every Bible- Presbyterian must answer this question today. The Lord has founded the B-P Church of Singapore for a purpose in the last days. God has sustained it these past 60 years. The Synod has been dissolved because of unbelief and compromise by some of the leaders. This day, every faithful B-P member must settle in his own heart and mind where he stands before God, because not all B-Ps are genuine B-Ps today.

The battle rages on. For effectiveness of service, and unity and harmony to exist in the church, oneness of heart and mind is required. For the sake of the purity of doctrine and guarding of the Truth, we must hold on to our heritage and the doctrinal principles upon which the B-P Church was founded.

We must, as sons and daughters of the B-P Movement, do our part in defending the Faith that was once delivered unto the saints. May God help us! Amen.

Rev ( Dr ) Quek Suan Yew Pastor, Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church

Our History

Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church

-History Of Founding of Calvary Pandan B-P Church

a brief history by Dr SH Tow, Founder and Senior Pastor


In God's good time, I left the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Singapore University in 1969, in fulfilment of a vow to God made in 1938 at Dr John Sung's final meeting in Muar, Johor, Malaya.

In one Friday afternoon visitation, in the western sector of Singapore, I called at the office of Mr Woon Wah Siang, Chairman of Jurong Town Corporation, and obtained a lease of a 24,500 sq ft piece of land, for "religious use."

On this piece of land in Tao Ching Road, a church complex was constructed. Services began in January 1973. When the congregation grew to about 400, I called on Mr Woon again.He readily leased a second piece of land, 98,000 sq ft in size in Pandan Gardens. On my request, he divided the land into two equal portions of 49,000sqft each, one for Galilee B-P Church (pastored by Rev Philip Heng) and one for Calvary Pandan B-P Church.

On our piece of land we constructed "Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church," with facilities for worship, fellowship group meetings, Sunday School, Kindergarten, residential purpose and other uses.The Sunday congregation steadily grew to its present 1,200 weekly attendance. In 1988 Rev Quek Suan Yew joined as Staff Worker, later as Pastor.

Bible-Presbyterian Movement