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”

Brent Fulton’s ‘China’s Urban Christians’ – A Book Review

China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden. By Brent Fulton. Eugene, OR, USA, Pickwick Publications 2015. Pp. ix + 145. $21.00.

China’s Urban Christians

One of the greatest forces to remould the landscape of mainland China in the last two decades has been the country’s push towards rapid urbanisation. Contrary to the measured approach the sociologist Fei Xiaotong recommended to the communist cadre, the speed of constructing and populating China’s urban centres has undoubtedly resulted in many significant societal challenges. Likewise, urbanisation has had significant consequences for the church in China which once was known as having a ‘Christianity fever’ amongst the rural poor but is now seeing a formidable force of urban intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

The volume under review addresses this complex reality. Continue reading “Brent Fulton’s ‘China’s Urban Christians’ – A Book Review”

Patriotism and Christianity in China: A Reflection on the Fourth of July

thanksgiving1As 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”

AAR 2015: Chinese Christianities Seminar

AAR

This year, at the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Religion, we will have our first session of the Chinese Christianities Seminar. The theme for our program unit this year is ‘Crossing Regional Boundaries’, and we have a great lineup of five papers looking at the dynamics of Chinese Christianities under this theme. It will be held on Sat, Nov 21 at 9:00 AM-11:30 AM in the Hyatt-Marietta (Atlanta Conference Level).

This seminar provides a collaborative forum for scholars of different disciplines to engage in an academic discourse about the field of Chinese Christianities. Continue reading “AAR 2015: Chinese Christianities Seminar”

James Legge Conference, June 2015 – Call for Papers

James Legge and Scottish Missions to China
University of Edinburgh, 11–13 June 2015
Deadline for proposals: 31 March 2015 17 April 2015

Inside and outside of China, there is a growing scholarly debate around how foreigners have contributed to and, at times, maligned prevailing understandings of Chinese philosophy, religion, and culture. One of the most important figures in these discussions is James Legge, the Scottish missionary-scholar to China, and translator of Chinese writings into English and Christian writings into Chinese. As 2015 will be the bicentennial of Legge’s birth, the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for the Study of World Christianity, in collaboration with the Scottish Centre for Chinese Studies, plans to hold an international and interdisciplinary conference to be held on 11–13 June 2015 at the University of Edinburgh, where Legge received an honorary doctorate (LLD) in 1884.

Continue reading “James Legge Conference, June 2015 – Call for Papers”

New Calvinism in China?

John CalvinThere is a growing recognition by the media and by scholars that Calvinism is growing in China these days.1  The news has gained the attention of a number of Americans, particularly since the 16th century Reformer John Calvin is likewise having a comeback in the US in the so-called ‘New Calvinism‘ movement.2  At least one scholar has called the movement in China ‘Chinese New Calvinism’.3  Unfortunately, I think this view is problematic.

You can read my own interpretation more fully in an academic article I just published on Calvinism in China,4 but I wanted to summarise my basic points here, since I think it is an important distinction: Continue reading “New Calvinism in China?”

Re-envisioning Theology in New Contexts

Chinese Character for 'Sin'Last week, I was giving a paper at a theological conference and was surprised that I was the only theologian who was presenting on something that was ‘non-Western’, if you will.  That is, with the exception of the Black postcolonial theologian who gave one of the plenary sessions, in which a large majority of the audience was visibly not interested.

The more I think about it, the more I recognise that to do theology as a scholar of ‘World Christianity’, you often have to think outside of the box.  Take for instance a paper I published last year on the doctrine of sin in East Asia (I’m told, BTW, that for a limited time, it is available for download for free from the publisher here).1 Continue reading “Re-envisioning Theology in New Contexts”