A third-generation Christian in Taiwan, Ng was the son of a Christian preacher and one of the few Taiwanese students in his time to receive an overseas education. He studied philosophy at Tokyo University (1934-37) and theology at Westminster College, England (1938-41). He returned from England with his English wife after World War II, when Taiwan was liberated from 50 years of Japanese imperial rule, only to face a new dictatorial regime under the Kuomintang from China. In the so-called 2/28 Incident (28 Feb 1947), more than 20,000 Taiwanese elite were either massacred by Chinese nationalists or ended up missing without a trace. Under this hardship Ng was the first Taiwanese to be appointed principal of Tainan Theological College by the southern synod of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan since the founding of the college in 1865. During the Japanese occupation, the college had been forced to close for eight years.
Ng served as principal from 1947 to 1965, during which time he was elected twice as the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT). In 1965, when the church celebrated its centenary, Ng dedicated the fruitful missionary result of the Doubling Movement (PKU). He also accepted the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to join the Theological Education Fund (TEF, 1965-79), and later he became director of the TEF.
One of Ng’s most significant contributions in theological education was his proposition on the methodology of contextualization for Third World theologies. He advocated a shift from the static concept of indigenization to the dynamic process of contextualization, that is, an interaction between the text and the context. He explained: “By contextuality we mean the wrestling with God’s word in such a way that the power of the incarnation, which is the divine from of contextualization, can enable us to follow his steps to contextualize” (Theological Education 11 ). He stated that the task of theological education is threefold: Christian formation, theological formation, and ministerial formation. During his term in the TEF, he and other Asian church leaders worked together to form the regional association for theological education in Asia and also established the South East Asia Graduate School of Theology (SEAGST) to develop further the concept of contextualization.
When Taiwan was expelled from the United Nations, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued a statement in 1971 which insisted that the future of Taiwan should be determined by its own inhabitants and which demanded a democratic reform of its political system. Ng and three other Taiwanese exiles, Ng Bu Tong, Lim Chong Gi, and Song Choan Seng, organized the Formosa Christians for self-Determination to support the position of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan vis-a-vis the government. Though started outside Taiwan, the self-determination movement had an enormous impact on political developments in Taiwan and was also significant to later efforts in constructing contextual theology in Taiwan.
Exiled for 22 years, Ng was granted permission to return in the summer of 1987 through the efforts of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Ng saw himself as a lecturer, not a writer. His active participation in theological education, church ministry, and the democratic political movement demonstrated that he was a theologian of praxis, faithfully practicing the concept of contextualization throughout his life.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
Ng Chiong Hui, The oral Biography of Ng Chiong Hui (1990) (in Chinese). Shoki Coe, Recollections and Reflections, 2nd ed. (1993). World Council of Churches, Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement (1991).