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”

Understanding and Misunderstanding between the Far East and the West – Call for Papers

Understanding and Misunderstanding between the Far East and the West
Conference on East Asian studies in Remembrance of 210th Anniversary of Dr. Rev. Robert Morrison’s Arrival at China

13–14th October 2017, University of Glasgow
Deadline: 1st May 2017 11th June 2017

Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to China and the Far East, had contribution not only to the evangelisation, but also the study of East Asian studies and even the modernisation of Far East. When Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox missionaries had freer entrance to China (from 1842 to 1949), Japan and Korea, transcultural communication was strengthened, which resulted in not only understanding but also misunderstanding. How do such understanding and misunderstanding affect the West and the Far East in 19th and 20th century? This inter-disciplinary conference aims to explore the question in different aspects so to acknowledge and recognise the academic contributions by the Christian missionaries in the Far East in the 210th anniversary of Dr. Rev. Robert Morrison’s arrival at China. Continue reading “Understanding and Misunderstanding between the Far East and the West – Call for Papers”

Is Confucianism a Religion?

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?
Confucius Continue reading “Is Confucianism a Religion?”

Christianity as a Chinese Religion

Chinese Catholicism

I have been reviewing a number of very exciting proposals for the Chinese Christianities Seminar for the upcoming meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in November 2015.  They cover so many areas of Chinese Christianities – from various contexts around the world, to various conditions within a given locale.  Though I have tried arguing this in the past, it is important to recognise Christianity as not simply a ‘foreign religion’ or ‘foreign teaching’ (yang jiao 洋教), but in many ways also a Chinese religion. Continue reading “Christianity as a Chinese Religion”

Spousal Violence in a Confucian-Christian Context

Last Tuesday, Elizabeth Koepping gave a valedictory paper at the weekly World Christianity seminar here in the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.1  Prof. Brian Stanley responded to her paper by saying that it was ‘truly disturbing… in a good way’, in that it exposed the problem of spousal violence that exists amongst Christians, validated by the Bible, and often ignored or hidden by church leadership.  Her field and documentary research was conducted in multiple contexts: Taiwan, Australia, Ghana, etc. – and Scotland.  But the underlying reality was the same: domestic violence is pervasive, within and without the church.  Moreover, she suggested that theologically the church must reclaim the understanding of the Imago Dei in both man and woman in order to combat these atrocities.

With my personal interest in East Asia, one of the things I was particularly concerned with is how spousal violence is validated not only with the Bible, but with Confucianism. One of the quotes Elizabeth read which really highlighted this for me was from a Protestant woman in Taiwan, in 2006: Continue reading “Spousal Violence in a Confucian-Christian Context”