By Arul John
A CHURCH and its affiliated Bible college have gone to court after they fell out over each other's interpretation of a particular doctrine.
Life Bible-Presbyterian Church (Life BPC) is suing the board of directors of the Far Eastern Bible College to stop what it considers to be deviant Bible teachings and to leave their current location.
In response, the directors of the college have stated that it is an independent organisation with its own rules and regulations and does not have to follow instructions from the church.
They also claim that the college is entitled to operate on its current site as it is among the trustees of the site.
Since it was founded in 1962, the college has operated with the support of the church.
Both are on a plot of land owned by the church on Gilstead Road, near Newton Circus.
The church issued a writ of summons against the board of the college in September and a pre-trial conference was held on 12 Nov.
Lawyer Ang Cheng Hock, who is representing the college, said another pre-trial conference is to be held soon.
The case focuses on how each party interprets a doctrine relating to the Bible.
This doctrine, known as Verbal Plenary Preservation, is at the centre of the conflict.
According to Bible study websites, this refers to the belief that God has preserved, down to the last detail, all of Scripture without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths.
Only one version
Believers in the doctrine use only the King James version of the Bible because they believe it exactly replicates the original books of the Bible.
They deny the accuracy of other English versions of the Bible.
According to a Lianhe Zaobao report on 11 Nov, Dr Jeffrey Khoo, one of the respondents in the writ and a lecturer at the college, started propagating an extreme view of the doctrine at the college in 2002.
This view was unacceptable to the church, and some other lecturers who disagreed with the extreme version resigned.
Another respondent in the writ, Rev (Dr) Timothy Tow, founded the church in 1950.
After resigning in 2003, Rev Tow, who is also a lecturer at the college, founded another church called True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church.
In January 2004, the True Life church registered the college as a charity organisation without Life BPC's knowledge.
On 8 Nov 2005, the elders of Life BPC stated that they had earlier agreed to bear with the doctrinal differences for the sake of church harmony and 'greater benefit of the Christian belief' as long as the college agreed not to use the church's premises to push its agenda.
If it did, the elders said they would ask the college to leave the Gilstead Road premises.
In July last year, Life BPC stopped the college from having free use of its premises, saying the college was no longer linked to it as it was now a charity organisation.
In March this year, the church wrote to the college board telling it to leave the Gilstead Road site by the end of June.
When the board did not move, the church took legal action.
Life BPC claims the college has deviated from the role that the church originally planned for it because of its extreme view of the Verbal Plenary Preservation doctrine.
The college board has appealed to the church to respect an agreement made between the two in 1970 which allowed both groups joint trusteeship of the site where the college building sits.
When contacted, both parties declined to comment as the case is before the courts.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Dec 16, 2008.