A second look at Chinese Theology, an apology, and a way forward.
Most books on Chinese Christianity try to trace its history, focusing on key people, events, and movements. While Chloë Starr does not neglect these, she highlights something that most historians neglect: the theology that arose from different contexts expressed the thought and struggles of influential leaders, and shaped the ways that Christians responded to their situation.
In the “Teaching across Cultures” class I took last month with Dr. Craig Ott, he had us read The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why by Richard Nisbett. The crux of the book’s argument is that Westerners and Asians think differently because of their different ancient roots.
When I wrote China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden, it was with the conviction that massive urbanization in China had significant implications for China’s church. The emergence of a new kind of church in the city was not merely an extension of the experience of China’s primarily rural house church movements or of churches affiliated with the TSPM. Rather, a fresh set of dynamics was impacting the development of China’s newly forming urban Christian communities.
The latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, with its theme of urban church theology, delves into these dynamics. Guest editors Mary Ma and LI Jin have pulled together an impressively well-rounded look at the increasingly complex urban church environment.
Items requiring your intercession.
As China becomes increasingly urbanized, an urban theology for ministry is needed. As modern man finds himself slowly enmeshed in urban living, he experiences materialism, relativism, and an increasingly segmented society. He questions what is real and true, and who God is. These questions can become points of contact for urban ministry. Dr. Ma provides some guidelines for forming an urban theology for ministry in urban China.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Werner Mischke, author of The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World and coordinator for “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry,” to be held June 19-21 in Wheaton, Illinois.
Due to the historical influences on family structure and ethics, many new Christians have no background for a Christian marriage and family. Sound doctrine and the ability to utilize the gospel to transform familial ethics are critical needs in China. In addition, due to a lack of accurate understanding of the doctrine of the church, there is a scarcity of guidance on managing the family as well as its relationship to the church. Li Jin presents the doctrine of the Trinity as a foundation for a Christian family.
Theological training for Chinese believers is needed; several types of training are available. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of training?
The second of two blogs that suggest and discuss three guidelines for developing a public theology for China today.
The first of two blogs that suggest and discuss three guidelines for developing a public theology for China today.
Reformed theologian Bruce Baugus responds to the 2015 summer issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, "Theological Reflections on Urban Churches in China."
In its journey toward a theology that is uniquely “Chinese” the Chinese church has at various times clashed with longstanding cultural and religious traditions, weathered and responded to severe domestic turmoil, and intersected with a range of theological influences from abroad.
After defining the term “liberalism,” the author introduces the liberal intellectuals, many of them city dwellers, who began joining churches and consequently have created tension between liberalism and Christian perspectives. He explores churches’ reactions to this tension and also discusses the attitude of anti-liberals toward Christianity.
Over the past forty years, reformed theology has become influential among Chinese Christians and, more recently, especially among mainland Chinese Christian intellectuals. This has resulted in reformed thought transitioning into a reformed church movement that is bringing about positive changes. At the same time, there are cautions to be observed within this movement.
The persistent lack of open government in many areas of China makes it difficult for Christians to be very different from the general population. Yet, Christians in China are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom as well as citizens of China. However, as citizens of this world, they seem to have failed to live very profoundly as citizens of the eternal world. Can the tension between these two citizenships be resolved?
Items that require your intercession.
The editor's point of view.
The question of a church’s eschatology not only concerns its future but also determines how its people live in today’s world. While house churches included a brief summary of their eschatology in a 1998 document, within the theology of the official Three-Self Church eschatology lacks a working category; it finds itself situated under communist ideology as any form of it appears to be a threat to the ideology of the government. The church in China must ask itself what biblical, orthodox eschatology is and how it can be preached.
An author has noted that societies being shaped by the forces of modernization and urbanization represent fertile ground for the seeds of Pentecostal revival. Menzies supports this claim in a case study that gives us the history and growth of the Li Xin Church, a large, Pentecostal house-church network.
A look at the impact and continuing influence of Pentecostal theology in the Chinese church.
Who are China's "Cultural Christians? Will they influence the theology of the Chinese church?
Why one evangelical worker in China thinks the themes brought out in Bishop Ding's book Love Never Ends deserve serious consideration by those who are concerned about the state of Christianity in China.
How does the diversity of China's ethnic population affect the development of Chinese theology?
At first glance the theological debate occurring within China’s official church may appear to be primarily a matter of disagreement over doctrine. However, as with most everything in China, there is also a political side to be considered. It is important to understand this political angle in order to keep the theological debate—and its effect upon the church—in proper perspective.
The editor's perspective.
Is the Chinese church really just a Western church underneath, with its theology, hymnology, and ecclesiology borrowed from abroad? Is there a Chinese theology? Has Christianity taken a truly indigenous form in China today? Is the Chinese church Chinese enough?