I’m pleased to announce that there is a new book series being started through Notre Dame Press entitled the Chinese Christianities Series. I will be serving as its series editor, with Stephen Little of the press as acquisitions editor.
The History Research Centre (Manchester Metropolitan University) and the Centre for Sino-Christian Studies (Hong Kong Baptist University)
An international conference on translation, literature, and publishing in Chinese Christianities will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University on 18 and 19 June 2020. Scholars are invited to submit abstracts for papers exploring one or more of the conference themes.
The history of Chinese Christianities is inseparable from the work of missionaries and Chinese Christians in producing and disseminating Chinese Christian texts. The religious ideas that inspired the Taiping Rebellion, for example, were rooted in Hong Xiuquan’s reading of a Chinese Bible and Liang Fa’s Good Words to Admonish the Age. While older historical works tended to stress the agency and work of foreign missionaries, more recent scholarship has brought to light the role played by Chinese individuals in the interrelated processes of translation and localisation.
Building on this foundation, the conference aims to explore the contributions of both foreign and Chinese Christians to the translation of Christian texts into the Chinese language and the creation of Chinese Christian literature. The conference also aims to explore the impact of printing technologies on the spread of Christianity among the Chinese and the ways in which Christian publishing stimulated technological innovation in Chinese printing. The conference will focus on the period from Robert Morrison’s arrival in China (1807) to the present. The organisers will, however, also consider papers that look at translation, literature, and publishing during earlier periods in the history of Chinese Christianities.
A number of years ago, I presented a paper at a learned society for the study of religion about Sino-Christian theology. The first question I was asked was, ‘So, are Chinese now able to produce their own theology?’ I was taken aback by this question. On the one hand, it seemed as though the questioner had not paid attention to my 20min paper that focused on the ingenuities of a scholarly movement in the 1990s in offering theological approaches to China’s sociopolitical concerns. (I didn’t think I was that boring!) On the other hand, it was as though this person was not aware that, since the early 20th century, there has been a very fruitful development of Christian theology in China. One of the greats, of course, was T. C. Chao (or Zhao Zichen 趙紫宸, 1888–1979), whose five-volume collected works were published a few years earlier, and who was elected as one of the six presidents of the World Council of Churches in 1948. Yet, why should I expect him to know about a figure like Chao—such an esoteric figure. At the same time, there are many theologians in Europe and North America who are likewise esoteric, but no less important.
In an attempt to redress some of this—and to highlight the point that theology has been produced in many parts of the world, I have decided to offer a selected bibliography of works on systematic theology by individuals informed by the majority world. Alongside general treatments, I have broken the list along some classical theological loci. This can be problematic by itself, given that this approach to dogmatics is somewhat ‘Western’. (Andrew Louth has explained that even the great dogmatic work An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, by John of Damascus, was scholasticised when it was translated into Latin.) But I have done so because it gives us a starting point for discussing theology across contexts.
A series of three conferences will be held 2020-2022 at Yale Divinity School (New Haven, Connecticut) on Chinese Theologies: mainstream, non-mainstream and academic. The first conference will be held June 1-2 2020, and scholars are invited to submit abstracts for papers discussing any aspect of theological thought/ individual theologians from a range of mainstream churches (pre-1949) or TSPM/ Chinese Catholic Churches (post-1949). Economy travel and accommodation will be paid for participants. Please send paper topics and 200 word abstract (in Chinese or English) to email@example.com by September 1, 2019. All conference participants are expected to offer original papers for inclusion in an edited volume.
Why did you want to produce this study on the True Jesus Church?
I first encountered the True Jesus Church in China when a woman struck up a conversation with my husband and my baby son on a bus in a city. She invited him to church that evening. At the time we were attending a local Three-Self congregation, so he asked, “Is it a Three-Self church meeting?” She said no. So he asked, “Is it a house church meeting?” She said no. I was intrigued to hear about this church that defied the categories I had in my mind for Chinese Christianity. I went to the meeting place in a sort of commercial building and found that it was in fact a True Jesus Church. I had previously encountered the True Jesus Church in Taiwan but was surprised to find them here, in the PRC. In addition to being intrigued by the True Jesus Church’s out-of-the-box identity, I also wanted to investigate the relationship between native religious culture and transplanted Christian culture within the church. It struck me as extremely Chinese, but also very like other global forms of restorationist Christianity such as Mormonism.
American Academy of Religion, 2019 Meeting Chinese Christianities Seminar CfP Deadline for proposals: 4 March 2019
This seminar provides a collaborative forum for scholars of different disciplines to engage in an academic discourse about the field of Chinese Christianities. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in mainland China today, and arguably the religion of choice for a growing number of diasporic Chinese. “Chinese” is an expansive term, including mainland China proper as well as a large, linguistically, and culturally diverse diaspora, and encompassing more than a fifth of the world’s population; the Han Chinese people are sometimes described as the world’s largest ethnic group. Hence, with the increasing critical mass of Chinese Christians, there has likewise been a growing academic interest in various instantiations of Chinese Christianities, as understood across geographies (e.g., mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, North America, etc.) and groupings (e.g., house and state-sanctioned churches, Catholic, Pentecostal, etc.). Chinese Christianities both transcend and hinder a number of regional, social, religious, etc. boundaries. Over the course of these five years, this seminar will offer a unique opportunity for scholars to engage and to debate the implications of the multiplicity of Chinese Christianities with regards to the boundaries they engage.
In the first four years of this program unit, the sessions have explored how the multiplicity of Chinese Christianities both transcend and hinder a number of boundaries: (1) regional, (2) social, (3) religious, and (4) ecclesiological. In this fifth and final year, the program unit would like to explore the broader conceptualization of the field, itself. Namely, why is it important to speak about Chinese Christianities? Papers can engage micro- or macro-case studies, focus on theoretical concerns, or challenge methodological presuppositions. We welcome papers in the following or related areas: