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.
At the 2019 meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego later in November, we will have our fifth year running of the Chinese Christianities Seminar. This year, we are glad to have two sessions around a theme which explores the broader conceptualization of the Chinese Christianities field, itself. The first session on Saturday evening will question whether it is beneficial to explore beyond a myopic study of Chinese Christianities, whereas the second session on Sunday afternoon will question of exceptionalism in Chinese Christianities. Both promise to offer a lively discussion for the Chinese Christianities field. This can be found in the online program, but I have also posted program details and abstracts here:
In the past 35 years, Chinese Christianity has gone through a period of unprecedented growth. It has become a global phenomenon beyond Asia. Not only are large numbers of Chinese people in the Mainland, who make up 20% of the world’s population, turning to Christ, it is also happening among the world’s largest diaspora. Chinese immigrants in Oceania, North America, and Europe are becoming Christians at increasing rates. In the twenty-first century, Chinese Christianity is a global reality, and the highly mobile nature of Chinese Christians raises important missiological questions. How is Chinese Christianity crossing borders and boundaries in the name of Christ?
Research has surfaced on various aspects of Chinese Christianity. Important work has been done on mission history, the emergence of Chinese indigenous Christianity, Christianity and the state, the social and cultural impacts of Chinese Christianity, theologies of Chinese Christianity, Chinese Christian arts, and many others. Yet little has been conducted on Chinese missiology.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1, 2019. All conference participants are expected to offer original papers for inclusion in an edited volume.