Roland Chia appointed Professor of Christian Doctrine

Sep 2008    

TTC’s third professorship established through endowment from Paya Lebar Methodist Church and named after Rev Chew Hock Hin

DR ROLAND CHIA, Dean of Postgraduate Studies at Trinity Theological College (TTC), has been appointed Professor of Christian Doctrine.

He is the third professor to be appointed by TTC. The first two are Dr Tan Kim Huat, who was appointed Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament in March 2002, and the Rev Dr Simon Chan, who was named Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology in October the same year.

Dr Chia, a Local Preacher at Fairfi eld Methodist Church, is a regular columnist with Methodist Message.

On July 21, 2008, TTC inducted him to the Chew Hock Hin Chair of Christian Doctrine at a ceremony at the TTC Chapel attended by the heads of its governing churches, faculty and guests, many of whom are pastors, Christian leaders and academics from other institutions.

This third professorship was established through the generous endowment from Paya Lebar Methodist Church and named after one of its most respected pastors, the Rev Chew Hock Hin, who served from 1933 to 1957.

Dr Chia has been teaching theology at TTC since 1997. He has also served as the Director of the Centre for the Development of
Christian Ministry at TTC and the Editor of Church and Society. He provides leadership for the Fairfield Preaching Point in Woodlands and is also a theological consultant to the Bioethics Group of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism.
In his “Tribute to a Scholar”, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon said Dr Chia “certainly deserves to be recognised in this special way for his numerous gifts and contributions, and for his commitment to the church and seminary. Anyone who is familiar with Roland will know that he has been blessed by God with tremendous intellectual and scholarly skills. The evidence for this is found in a number of ways.

“Firstly, Roland is a prolific writer, whose writings demonstrate a clear and deep thinker who is unafraid to wrestle with complex theological problems. Academia and the church have both benefited from his writing …

“Secondly, Roland has demonstrated the rare ability to dive into new fields and emerge with a good grasp of the subject that
is soon turned into commendable expertise. I have personally seen this in the way he began helping the National Council of Churches of Singapore in responding to ethical issues connected to the life sciences. Though not trained as a medical doctor or medical scientist, Roland bravely plunged into the depths of genetic science and molecular biology and has now built up a
reputable expertise in bioethics. He has now written significant scholarly articles in this field and has been invited to deliver lectures at our local universities.

“Not only is Roland a reputable, able and proven scholar; he is also a deeply devout follower of Jesus Christ. I know this from my interactions with him, and from observing his life and reactions to various situations. Roland has responded to difficulties and problems with humility and faith, a good measure of calmness and wise understanding. He has stood by his wife during her medical treatment as a loyal and loving husband. His love for the Lord, his commitment to the church and to God’s people are demonstrated in his active ongoing ministry in his local church and in his ready assistance offered to NCCS in its
growing role in the public square.

“Roland stands firmly on the historical biblical and orthodox faith of the church, and I praise God for his faith, scholarship and friendship, and for the way he functions so well as a theologian and teacher in the church.” Asked how he felt about his induction as a professor, Dr Chia said the establishment of the Chew Hock Hin Chair of Christian Doctrine has “greater significance for the college than for the occupant”.

“Its establishment demonstrates TTC’s firm commitment to theological education in Singapore and in the region as well as the college’s unique contribution to the churches.

“Significant also is the discipline that this new chair emphasises – Christian Doctrine – which stresses the college’s profound commitment to the faith that the Church has received from the Apostles.”

Dr Chia chose the doctrine of salvation as the subject of his inaugural lecture. There have been two dominant metaphors of salvation in the Christian Church, he said. The metaphor of justification by faith is associated with the Latin tradition of the Church, while deification or theosis has been the central metaphor of the Eastern tradition.

Although these two metaphors emphasise different aspects of salvation and seek to answer different questions, they are not incompatible with each other. Taken together, they will enrich the Church’s understanding of the scriptural teaching regarding God’s gift of salvation to humankind. In addition, the bringing together of these two ancient metaphors will make available exciting opportunities for further ecumenical dialogue between the two great traditions.

As TTC celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, the establishment of the Chew Hock Hin Chair of Christian Doctrine is another testament of the faithfulness of God, who has led the college from its humble beginnings to become a significant theological institution in South-east Asia. The fact that this academic chair is established by an endowment from a local church testifies to TTC’s close collaboration with and unswerving commitment to the churches in Singapore and the region.


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