“Nestorianism” in China

Jingjiao SteleThere is no such thing!

I have read many historical studies and essays about the encounter between Christianity and China, including in the last few months, and a great many of them begin by discussing the arrival of Nestorianism into China in the seventh century. While I also held this position for many years—and even used the term in my PhD—it was not until I was preparing my first book for publication that I decided to look into the literature on the matter. After much reading, I was convinced that I was wrong. Hence, the very first footnote in this book on twentieth century Chinese Christianity includes my longest footnote—dedicated to a seventh century topic. A very important seventh century topic.

To save you from looking it up, I cite it here at length:1 Continue reading ““Nestorianism” in China”

AAR 2018: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers

AAR

American Academy of Religion, 2018 Annual Meeting
Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers
Deadline for proposals: 1 March 2018

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.

Developing the overarching theme of “Chinese Christianities” and building on the first three years, this fourth year of the seminar will focus on various ecclesiological boundaries. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:
Continue reading “AAR 2018: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers”

AAR 2017: Chinese Christianities Seminar

AAR

At the 2017 meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Boston later this month, we will have our third session of the Chinese Christianities Seminar. The theme for our program unit this year is ‘Chinese Christianities and Religious Boundaries’. It will be held on Saturday, November 18 from 1:00pm-3:30pm in Sheraton Boston-Beacon E (Third Level). Christie Chui-Shan Chow (City Seminary of New York) will be chairing the session and the papers that will be presented will be as follows: Continue reading “AAR 2017: Chinese Christianities Seminar”

Carl Kilcourse’s ‘Taiping Theology’ – A Book Review

Taiping Theology: The Localization of Christianity in China, 1843–64. By Carl S. Kilcourse. New York, NY, USA, Palgrave Macmillan 2016. Pp. xvii+281. $100.00.

9781137543141

As Christians around the world have been commemorating the quincentenary anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, many have reiterated one of its most famous dicta: sola Scriptura. These two Latin words have been used to summarise the spirit of Protestantism, especially as found through the reading of the vernacular bible. However, one often forgets that many of the translations were accompanied by copious notes to clarify words and expressions, and to comment on ‘correct’ Christian doctrine.1 While the Protestants behind each of these bibles held to the principle of sola Scriptura, they also held to a very strong sense that the bible read ‘incorrectly’ could be wielded — not as a sword of truth, but as a sword of blasphemy. In many ways, the book under review offers a profound case study of the power of the bible and the attempts of a religious leader in asserting his ‘correct’ reading of that vernacular text. Carl S. Kilcourse has provided a magnificent study of ‘Taiping Theology’ and the thinking of the main leader behind it, Hong Xiuquan. Continue reading “Carl Kilcourse’s ‘Taiping Theology’ – A Book Review”

The Legacy of the (Counter) Reformation in China: 3 Examples

This year, there are many festivities celebrating the legacy of the Protestant Reformation – 500 years after Martin Luther penned his Ninety-five Theses in 1517. However, one of the most important legacies which has been overlooked is the Counter-Reformation – the Catholic revival which responded to the protests of Luther and other reformers. When we consider a country like China – or most other places outside of Europe at the time – it is in fact the Counter-Reformation that had an arguably more important impact (at least initially). Three examples, I believe, are worth highlighting, as they show just how much Protestantism in China is indebted to Catholicism in China and, by extension, the Counter-Reformation. Continue reading “The Legacy of the (Counter) Reformation in China: 3 Examples”