Reformed theology has found fertile ground in China, particularly among urban unregistered churches.
In many ways the Reformed tradition offers solutions to what church leaders acknowledge are significant weaknesses in the contemporary Chinese church. On the other hand, not a few leaders caution against wholesale adoption of the Reformed "package," components of which have deep European or American roots and, in their opinion, are ill-suited to China's unique historical and cultural situation.
A new series of posts on Chinese Church Voices details the growth of Reformed theology in China and seeks to answer some of these objections. Taken from an interview with a pastor that was originally published in Christian Times, this series looks at two transformations taking place in the church in China, one theological, the other having to do with church government.
The introduction to the series points out that:
[The popularity of Reformed theology] has come about as the Christians in China have had increasing opportunities to interact with the church outside of China, either directly, or via the Internet. Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion has been translated into Chinese, as have the writings of prominent voices in the "New Calvinism" movement in the United States, such as Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and John Piper. Probably the most influential figure, however, is Rev. Stephen Tong, head of the Reformed Evangelical Church of Indonesia.
Reformed theology today has both its staunch champions and its detractors. The ongoing discussion about its role in China takes place as China's pastors are seeking to build a strong theological foundation while dealing with practical matters such as church governance, qualifications for leaders, and the church's relationship to culture and to the state. Following this discussion is important to understanding the dynamics shaping today's urban church. We invite you to "listen in on the conversation" on Chinese Church Voices.
Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Prior to assuming his current position, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding US director of China Ministries International, and from 1985 to... View Full Bio