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”

AAR 2018: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers

AAR

American Academy of Religion, 2018 Annual Meeting
Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers
Deadline for proposals: 1 March 2018

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 three years, this fourth year of the seminar will focus on various ecclesiological boundaries. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:
Continue reading “AAR 2018: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers”

The Legacy of K. H. Ting and Wang Weifan

This past weekend I had the privilege of offering the keynote at the AGM of the Friend of the Church in China (FCC). I was asked to speak about two figures of whom I have written about academically: K. H. Ting 丁光训 (1915–2012)1 and Wang Weifan 汪维藩 (1927–2015).2 This was an especially interesting treat as Ting gave his famous speech about the cosmic Christ at the 1991 meeting of the FCC, and I was now asked to speak about him and another key leader in the state-sanctioned Protestant church of China, the TSPM and the CCC.

Now, if you read the literature about Ting, you will encounter many strongly polarised views. Continue reading “The Legacy of K. H. Ting and Wang Weifan”

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”

Wang Weifan: An Evangelical in the TSPM

Wang WeifanWhen I was finishing my postdoctoral fellowship in China, a friend of mine who was affiliated with the TSPM asked if I had read much of Wang Weifan 汪维藩 (1927-2015). As I had researched and written much about the TSPM, I had come across his name a few times but was not very familiar with his thinking. She gave me one of the volumes of his collected writings and told me how much Wang Weifan, as an evangelical loved for his preaching and devotional writings and poetry, has left a major imprint on the Protestant church in China.  Since then, I have asked many pastors and leaders of the TSPM and the CCC about Wang Weifan, and I often heard the same thing: 他是我的老师 (he is my teacher).1 Continue reading “Wang Weifan: An Evangelical in the TSPM”