The spring issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly continues the theme of the 2022 winter issue—exploring the characteristics and impacts of Xi Jinping’s New Era. In his editorial below, guest editor Peter Bryant introduces the issue “Christian Responses in China’s New Era” and gives us a sneak peek at what we can look forward to when it comes out next week.
New Directions in the New Era
By Peter Bryant, Guest Editor
How do you sense and describe an inflection point? When riding in a sports car through an S-curve you can feel the shift in acceleration. However, this kind of shift is harder to sense in the unfolding history of a country or culture. Fortunately, China’s leaders have named and defined the start of the New Era (2012) as an inflection point for China’s development. Building on the articles in the winter 2022 ChinaSource Quarterly, in this issue we continue reflecting on these shifts and their implications for Chinese Christians.
Two of our articles and the book review are written by Chinese believers. John Zhang helps us realize that the changes we have seen and experienced are part of broader societal and cultural shifts. These are largely attributed to the growth of nationalism with Chinese characteristics. Jerry An writes about new media and gives examples of the ongoing creativity and drive for Chinese Christians to be heard in their society using new media. The medium and format of the messages may be changing but the content and truth remains unchanged.
The book review, by seminarian Jacob Chengwei Feng, covers a new compilation of readings in Chinese theology. With the New Era becoming more of an ideological struggle, the importance of theological reflection has never been more important. This review will help readers who want to learn more about Chinese theologians.
I am thankful to have perspectives from two writers coming from an ethnic Korean background. Despite the commitment and activity of Korean Christians in China ministry, there is a dearth of information available in English. Sarah Lee delves into the results of interviewing over one hundred pastors across China. These pastors are navigating the demands of government regulations and their call to shepherd their flock. Their experiences highlight the government’s attitude and policy towards the church. Shuya Kim in the lead article takes a broader and more historical look at both the Chinese church and global mission. We are reminded that God both uproots, as well as plants, to accomplish the work of his kingdom and the building of his church.
Just before the end of zero-COVID restrictions, I interviewed a family about their experiences in the New Era. They provide insights into how changes have impacted their lives as they seek to follow Christ. At the end, they call us to join them in praying for China—for Christian leaders, for revival, and for impact in the marketplace and society.
I appreciate those who have been willing to speak out and share their reflections on the shifts of the New Era. There were others we had hoped to hear from who felt that the timing was too sensitive to say anything. One writer came down with COVID-19, spent time in the hospital and had to drop out for this issue while recovering. Others were too busy to write at this time. I hope we can hear from these individuals in the future. There are still many important and encouraging stories of God’s work in China that need to be shared.
Since the winter CSQ was published, China has scrapped its COVID-19 controls and begun to open its borders again to international travel. While travel should gradually reach prior levels, the message we have heard from various writers is that the New Era is moving forward and there is no going back. Despite the increasing challenges, our writers see opportunities and God’s hand in building his church in China.
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