This past weekend I had the privilege of offering the keynote at the AGM of the Friend of the Church in China (FCC). I was asked to speak about two figures of whom I have written about academically: K. H. Ting 丁光训 (1915–2012)1 and Wang Weifan 汪维藩 (1927–2015).2 This was an especially interesting treat as Ting gave his famous speech about the cosmic Christ at the 1991 meeting of the FCC, and I was now asked to speak about him and another key leader in the state-sanctioned Protestant church of China, the TSPM and the CCC.
Now, if you read the literature about Ting, you will encounter many strongly polarised views. Continue reading “The Legacy of K. H. Ting and Wang Weifan”
This summer, I attended two academic conferences offering a presentation about a key figure in the development of Protestant Christianity in China since the 1980s: the Reformed missionary, Jonathan Chao 赵天恩 (1938–2004). The focus of my paper was on how his theology and approach has shaped his engagement with the house church movement. The surprising thing is that most of the questions that arose from my presentation was not about Chao himself, but about why there has been a recent rise in the interests in Calvinism in China.
Of course, as Calvinism (and Christianity) is on the decline in the West, this has caught the attention of a lot of people, reporters and academics.1 Here, let me offer five reasons for these developments:
Continue reading “The Rise of Calvinism in China Today: Five Reasons”
As today is the Fourth of July, churches throughout the United States this past weekend have been celebrating their love for their country alongside their love for their God – a strong spirit of patriotism. One recent survey reports that 61 percent of Protestant pastors in America say it is important for worship services on the weekend of the Fourth of July to incorporate patriotic elements to celebrate America’s birth, with 66 percent wanting to include special music honouring the country. In other words, American Protestants often have no problem with American patriotism.
Given that this past weekend has also had the 95th anniversary celebrations of the Communist Party of China, it is worth considering what ‘patriotism’ means for religion across the ocean. In contrast to what happens in America, many American (and Chinese) Christians are unnerved by groups in China such as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Catholic Patriotic Association – state-sanctioned organisations of Christianity – and believe that the ‘true’ church is in the unregistered house churches or underground churches. Like in the US, I want to claim that most churches in China (registered or unregistered) also hold a very strong love for their country alongside their love for their God – but we should be calling this nationalism, not patriotism. Continue reading “Patriotism and Christianity in China: A Reflection on the Fourth of July”
At the 2016 meeting of the American Academy of Religion in November, we will have our second session of the Chinese Christianities Seminar. The theme for our program unit this year is ‘Crossing Social Boundaries’ and we have a great set of papers. It will be held on Sat, Nov 19 from 4:00pm-6:30pm in Grand Hyatt-Bowie C (2nd Level). I will be chairing the session and the papers that will be presented will be as follows: Continue reading “AAR 2016: Chinese Christianities Seminar”
When I was finishing my postdoctoral fellowship in China, a friend of mine who was affiliated with the TSPM asked if I had read much of Wang Weifan 汪维藩 (1927-2015). As I had researched and written much about the TSPM, I had come across his name a few times but was not very familiar with his thinking. She gave me one of the volumes of his collected writings and told me how much Wang Weifan, as an evangelical loved for his preaching and devotional writings and poetry, has left a major imprint on the Protestant church in China. Since then, I have asked many pastors and leaders of the TSPM and the CCC about Wang Weifan, and I often heard the same thing: 他是我的老师 (he is my teacher).1 Continue reading “Wang Weifan: An Evangelical in the TSPM”
When I was first interested in Christianity in China, the Protestant terrain was laid out very clearly to me. There are two churches in China: (1) the true and faithful house churches who’s members endure persecution to live the faith and (2) the Three-Self churches who’s members are not really Christians because they have compromised the gospel to communism. Over time, I have come to realise that these characterisations are far from representative of these two groups, and a lot of good can come out of discarding them.1 Continue reading “(Dis)unity in the Church in China”
This, of course, is a highly contested question. Google searches on this question bring up a variety of answers. But here, I propose to offer the definitive answer – not really. What I really want to do is ask the questions that are behind the question. Why is this even a question to begin with, and how are the ways this can be answered? In particular, should Christians (Chinese or otherwise) be concerned about this question at all?
Continue reading “Is Confucianism a Religion?”
This past weekend at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, we had the inaugural session of the new Chinese Christianities program unit. I have since created a mailing list for the group and related matters on Chinese Christianities.
To subscribe to our mailing list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with nothing in the body of the message and the following in the ‘Subject’ line (replacing ‘Your Name’ with your real name):
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For many Christians, Halloween is a deeply disdained holiday. Everything scary and dark and evil comes out and wreaks havoc for a night (or a week). The holiday originated in Celtic lands as Samhain – a day when spirits roamed the earth and the living dressed up in costume to protect themselves. Medieval Christians tried to overcome this pagan holiday with a holiday commemorating the Christian saints of old on November 1 naming it All Saints Day, and the evening before as All Saints Eve or All Hallow (holy) Eve (hence, Halloween).
Today, Christians ask themselves whether it is biblical to carve pumpkins, or to allow their children to dress up or to go out and trick-or-treat, whereas non-Christians often don’t see why there is a fuss. Though there are pagan roots, many non-Christians understand Halloween as simply a time for fun and wear costumes. In contrast, many Christians revile the ‘pagan’ roots and, in particular, Protestants are shocked at the thought of even a holiday ‘worshipping’ saints explaining it away as a Catholic heresy. Continue reading “Halloween, Martyrology, Chinese Ancestral Veneration”
I’m proud to announce that the Chinese edition of my monograph1 has now been published in Hong Kong.2 I am thankful for two of my former classmates, Yen-yi Lee and Roy Wong, for their dedication to helping make the translation possible. I hope that it can be a useful resource, and continue to grow the discussions around Chinese Christian theology. Continue reading “Chinese Edition of Monograph Published”