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.
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. 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”
American Academy of Religion, 2016 Annual Meeting
Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers
Deadline for proposals: 1 March 2016
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 year theme of regional boundaries, this second year of the seminar will focus on various social boundaries. We welcome papers in the following or related areas: Continue reading “AAR 2016: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers”
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”
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”