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”

AAR 2015: Chinese Christianities Seminar

AAR

This year, at the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Religion, we will have our first session of the Chinese Christianities Seminar. The theme for our program unit this year is ‘Crossing Regional Boundaries’, and we have a great lineup of five papers looking at the dynamics of Chinese Christianities under this theme. It will be held on Sat, Nov 21 at 9:00 AM-11:30 AM in the Hyatt-Marietta (Atlanta Conference Level).

This seminar provides a collaborative forum for scholars of different disciplines to engage in an academic discourse about the field of Chinese Christianities. Continue reading “AAR 2015: Chinese Christianities Seminar”

Can anything good come out of the TSPM?

Haidian Church (Easter 2013)
A few years back, I was delivering one of my first academic papers in a conference in North America. I was discussing the controversial figure Bishop K. H. Ting (丁光训), saying I did not agree with many of his actions, though I did think a theology that tried to encourage the church to engage non-Christians was a good thing. One of the respondents from the audience stood up and basically spent the next ten minutes explaining to me that this type of theology was neither biblical nor Evangelical. I responded by saying that Ting’s theological approach could arguably find resonance in the thinkings of a few notable Evangelical theologians, but this in no way appeased the fury of this man (it probably angered him even more!). Continue reading “Can anything good come out of the TSPM?”