MDiv, ThD (University of Zurich)

Telephone: (852) 3943 1368

Associate Director (External Affairs), DSCCC
Programme Director, MACS
Research Interests
  1. Christian Faith and Pastoral Ministry in Prison
  2. Mission History and Mission Movements in Asia
  3. Christianity in Southeast Asia

Faith is, in a basic form, the art of keeping the question open and to surrender to this openness. The question means the questions of our being: Why are we at all? Why are we the way we are? Where do we come from? Where do we go? – The problem of Christian faith expression, in individual and corporate forms of faith, is that we are in a constant danger of appropriating the One we refer to and of turning the mystery of our being into an answer. The word “God” is used lightly, as if we knew what it stands for. From a word that stands for the big question, it is turned into an answer that fills in the gaps of our understanding and knowledge. Instead of being a community that celebrates the open questions, Christianity presents itself as the community that gives answers. Against this tendency of appropriating God, theology leads Christian faith back to its mysterious origin. Earlier traditions described this as a dialectic movement of positive and negative theology, of word and silence, of defining and hiding, of kataphatic and apophatic.

Studying the history of Christianity is part of the spiritual formation of Christians. It is an attempt to understand the movement of appropriation and opening up the question of our being and it is the discovery of a multiplicity of stories of Christians who counter all attempts of spiritual or other appropriations of the mystery.

  1. Chinese Mission Movements Overseas (GRF Grant)
  2. Prison and Religion in Southeast Asia (Direct Grant)
  3. The Basel Mission in China
  4. Christian Faith and Ministry in the Penal Context
  1. Christians in the City of Hong Kong: Chinese Christianity in Asia‘s World City (Christians in the City: Studies in Contemporary Global Christianity). London: Bloomsbury Academic 2023 (to be published in Nov. 2023).
  2. Pilgrims and Popes. A Concise History of Pre-Reformation Christianity in the West. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2019.
    In Chinese:
    白德培 (2016a). 分久必合,合久必分: 從耶穌時代到改革前夕的西方基督教批判史 (莫界文譯), 香港:明風出版,2016 (Tobias Brandner, Tradition, Transmission, Transformations: A Critical History of Christianity from the Time of Jesus to the Eve of the Reformation. Translated by Bryan Mok. Hong Kong: Ming Feng Press, 2016)
  3. Brandner (2014a) Beyond the Walls of Separation. Christian Faith and Ministry in Prison, Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2014
    Published in German and with an additional epilogue as Brandner (2009a), Gottesbegegnungen im Gefängnis: Eine Praktische Theologie der Gefangenenseelsorge (Frankfurt a.M.: Verlag Otto Lembeck, 2009; second edition 2010);
    in revised form and in chinese translation as Brandner (2010a), 鐵窗內的心靈世界。香港基督教監獄事工面面觀,基道.
  4. Brandner (1996a), Einheit gegeben - verloren - erstrebt. Denkbewegungen von Glauben und Kirchenverfassung (Unity: Given – Lost – Sought. Thought Movements of Faith and Order), Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (Kirche und Konfession), 1996 [Dissertation].
Peer-Reviewed Journals
  1. “Chinese Missionaries in Cross-Cultural Overseas Mission: Emergence of a New Missionary Nation?” International Bulletin of Missionary Research (2023) 47 (3), 356-369.

  2. Brandner. “’The room is small, but the heart is big’ – Religion and community life in prison: a case study from the Philippines.” Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology Vol. 21/4, August 2020, 1-20.

  3. Brandner (2020). “Religious Volunteer Visitors in the Penal Context of Hong Kong: Roles, Experiences, Transformations.” Social Sciences and Mission. Special Edition on Prison and Religion in the Global South. Volume 33 / 1-2 (2020), 128-156.

  4. Brandner (2020). “Guest Editor’s Introduction.” Social Sciences and Mission. Special Edition on Prison and Religion in the Global South. Volume 33 / 1-2 (2020), 1-8.

  5. Brandner (2020). “Emerging Christianity in Cambodia: People Movement to Christ or Playground for Global Christianity?” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 2020, Vol. 44(3) 279–289. (

  6. Brandner (2019). “A Besieged Boom: Christianity in China.” Theology Today 2019, Vol. 76(3), 194–199.

  7. Brandner (2019). “The Church as Family: Strengths and Dangers of the Family Paradigm of Christianity in the Chinese Contexts.” Theology Today 2019, Vol 76 (3), 217-223.

  8. (2018). “A Case Study on Conversion in the Context of Prison in Hong Kong: Experiences, Narratives, and Transformations.” International Journal of Practical Theology 22 (1) / 2018: 3–22.

  9. Brandner (2018). “Basel Mission and Revolutions in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century China: Debating Societal Renewal.” Mission Studies 35 (2018), 7–30.

  10. Brandner (2017). “Pentecostals in the Public Sphere: Between Counterculturalism and Adaptation (Observations from the Chinese Context in Hong Kong).” PentecoStudies 16.1 (2017), 117–137. (PentecoStudies (online) ISSN 1871-7691)

  11. Brandner (2016b), “Missionare als Kritiker des Komitees“ in Interkulturelle Theologie. Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft 42.2-3 / 2016, 194-206.

Non-Peer-Reviewed Professional Journals
  1. Brandner (2019). “Decline of Christianity in Europe.” Divinity School Newsletter 62, October 2019, 1-5.
    In Chinese “基督教在欧洲的衰落. Translated by Lai Quan Zhong.“ Divinity School Newsletter 62, October 2019, 1-5.

  2. Brandner (2015), “Christianity and Democracy. A Church-Historical Reflection.” Divinity School Newsletter 17 / 2015, 1-7.

  1. Brandner (guest editor). Prison and Religion in the Global South. Social Sciences and Mission. Volume 33 / 1-2 (2020).
  1. Brandner (2014e). 白德培 a.o. (eds.), 超越藩籬。 基督教更生事工點滴,香港中文大學崇基 學院神學院牧愛書Hong Kong 2014
  1. Brandner (2019). “The Quest for Greatness and Social Distinction: An Inter-Contextual Perspective from Prison and Academia in Hong Kong.” In Gabriele Mayer and Bernhard Dinkelaker, Reading the Bible Through the Eyes of Another, Stuttgart, Germany: Evangelical Mission in Solidarity, 35-46.

  2. Brandner (2019). “Theological Education and Empowerment.” In Limuel Equina and Wati Longchar (eds.), Ministerial Challenges in Contemporary World. Towards a Transformative Education. Essays in Honour of Henry S. Wilson. PTCA Study Series No. 19. Serampore, India: Programme for Theology and Cultures in Asia (PTCA) and Association for Theological Education in Southeast Asia (ATESEA) 2019, 120-132.

  3. Brandner (2018), “Cambodia (Kingdom of)”, in: Mark A. Lamport a.o. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Rowman & Littlefield 2018, 113-117.

  4. Brandner (2018), “Laos”, in: Mark A. Lamport a.o. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Rowman & Littlefield 2018, 445-449.

  5. Brandner (2016b), “Volunteer Visitors in Prison. Prison Ministry as a Ministry to the Community.“ In Ryan van Eijk a.o. (eds.), For Justice and Mercy. International Reflections on Prison Chaplaincy (Deel 8 uit de Publicatiereeks van het Centrum voor Justitiepastoraat Tilburg / Amsterdam), Oisterwijk: Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP) 2016, 131-146.

  6. (2015a), “Missionarische Arbeit in China. Von kulturellen Pessimisten, Optimisten und Realisten.” In Museum der Kulturen Basel, Mission Possible? Die Sammlung der Basler Mission. Spiegel kultureller Begegnungen. Basel, Christoph Merian Verlag 2015, 169-179.

  7. Brandner (2014b). “Back and Forth of Theology and Faith Life: Theological education and Church History.” In Xing Fu Zeng a.o. (eds.), 人言我為誰乎?盧龍光院長榮休紀念文集,香港:基督教文書出版社, 2014, 15-34.

  8. Brandner (2014c). (白德培, translated by Wang Zhixi),“基督教更生事工:只是靈聖?”In白德培 a.o. (eds.), 超越藩籬。 基督教更生事工點滴,Hong Kong 2014, 50-64.

  9. Brandner (2014d). (白德培, translated by Chen Wei Yan),“神學與監獄事工的搭橋之旅。崇基神學院遇上石壁監獄”In白德培 a.o. (eds.), 超越藩籬。 基督教更生事工點滴,Hong Kong 2014, 65-69.

  10. Brandner (2014e). "Jenseits der kirchlichen Mauern." In Deutsche Gemeinde

  1. Brandner (2018). “Stephen Davies. Strong to Save. Maritime Mission in Hong Kong, from Whampoa Reach to the Mariners’ Club.” In Exchange. Journal of Contemporary Christianities in Context 47.2 (2018), 205-6.

  2. Brandner (2017). “Chloë Starr. Chinese Theology: Text and Context.” In Mission Studies. Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies 34.2 (2017), 411-2.

  3. Brandner (2017). “Sara-Jane Page and Andrew Kam-Tuck Yip. Understanding Young Buddhists: Living out Ethical Journeys.” In Mission Studies. Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies 34.3 (2017), 413-14.

  4. (2017), “David W. Scott. Mission as Globalization. Methodists in Southeast Asia at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.” In Mission Studies. Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies 34.2 (2017), 287-288.

  5. Brandner (2017), "Steve Sang-Cheol Moon. The Korean Missionary Movement: Dynamics and Trends, 1988-2013." In Mission Studies. Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies 34.1 (2017), 137-138.

Video productions
  1. 分分合合五百年 – documentary about Reformation Part III – about the aftermath of the Reformation and the history of the mission movement (Jan 2018) - with Liz Pan Leilei
  2. 【原创纪录片《回望》】第二集:一根香肠引发的宗教改革 – documentary about the Reformation Part II (Nov 2017) - with Liz Pan Leilei
  3. 【回望】—500年前的马丁路德 documentary about the Reformation Part I (Oct 2017) - with Liz Pan Leilei
TV documentaries about the work of Tobias Brandner
  1. 最后的宣教士-Tobias白德培 – E2Studio (‘The last missionary – Tobias’ – web-based documentary), 2016
  2. Father Tobias und die Häftlinge von Hong Kong, Schweizer Fernsehen, Reporter, 2007.
  3. 被掳的得释放- 一位瑞士牧者服侍香港囚友的见证, Christian Broadcasting Service 2006