Chinese Christianities: Assignment for the 2020s

At the end of 2019, the AAR Chinese Christianities Seminar had concluded its fifth and final year under the “seminar” status. We needed to therefore submit a proposal if we wanted to continue in the future as a “unit.” We were successful (yay!), and the Chinese Christianities Unit now has a 2020 CfP. (You can follow us on Facebook too!) In the process of writing our proposal, we had to make an intellectual argument as to why such a group was needed. Here is an excerpt of that text, jointly produced by our steering group.

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AAR 2020: Chinese Christianities Unit – Call for Papers

American Academy of Religion, 2020 Meeting
Chinese Christianities Unit
Deadline for proposals: 2 March 2020

Half a century ago, John Fairbank offered an “Assignment for the ‘70s,” arguing for scholars to take into consideration the encounter between American missionaries and Chinese Christians. Mindful of the growth in the academic field of Chinese Christianities, especially the rapid production of new studies in the last decade, this inaugural year of the Chinese Christianities Unit offers us a new challenge—an “Assignment for the 2020s,” which suggests the need to slow down and reconsider the field of Chinese Christianities, from multiple disciplinary, confessional, and regional perspectives. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:

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AAR 2019: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers

American Academy of Religion, 2019 Meeting
Chinese Christianities Seminar CfP
Deadline for proposals: 4 March 2019

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.

In the first four years of this program unit, the sessions have explored how the multiplicity of Chinese Christianities both transcend and hinder a number of boundaries: (1) regional, (2) social, (3) religious, and (4) ecclesiological. In this fifth and final year, the program unit would like to explore the broader conceptualization of the field, itself. Namely, why is it important to speak about Chinese Christianities? Papers can engage micro- or macro-case studies, focus on theoretical concerns, or challenge methodological presuppositions. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:

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Orthodoxy and Chinese Public Theology

This was originally posted on the blog Orthodoxy in Dialogue on 14 May 2018.

9780198808695Many have noted the recent “Orthodox Renaissance” in Western studies of Christianity. Helpfully, an increasing number of Orthodox writers have produced theological primers for Western Christians. Furthermore, Western luminaries—from Aquinas to Calvin, from Barth to Torrance—have been “rediscovered” for being closet Orthodox Christians (okay, that may be a stretch) who offer their own versions of theosis. My own work has followed this latter trajectory in many senses, although it has focused on another “Eastern” Christianity—that is, the East Asian Christianity of mainland China. Continue reading “Orthodoxy and Chinese Public Theology”

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”