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”

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?”

American Heresies and Contextual Theology

American Views of God

Where do heresies come from? A recent survey of Americans (Christians and non-Christians of the general public) believe in heaven, hell and a few heresies.1 Some may say this is because Americans don’t know the Bible that well. One commentator argues that Americans depended on their Bibles too much — and ignored Church tradition.2 While there may be valid points for both, I would like to submit my own thought: heresies are contextual theologies that have broken from (Church and Scriptural) tradition. Continue reading “American Heresies and Contextual Theology”