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A Study of T. C. Chao’s Christology in the Social Context of China (1920–1949)

Daniel Hoi Ming Hui

The aim of this book is to show that during the early half of the twentieth century, Chinese society was disillusioned by both internal dissension and external invasion, and the churches experienced many challenges. In response to the traumatic events of 1920–1949, the Chinese theologian Prof. T. C. Chao tried to construct a ‘new religion’ for China, believing that an indigenous Christianity would offer a solution to the national crisis. Chao searched for a new interpretation of Jesus Christ to make him relevant to China’s context and social thought, and tried to develop Christology based on the encounter of Western Christianity, Chinese culture and social change. A personality-focused interpretation of Jesus Christ was developed, and an image of Confucian Jesus was found in his thought. Chao tried to explore his contextual Christology with the purpose of being faithful to Christian faith, and being relevant to Chinese classical culture and the contemporary context in order to enable intellectual Christians to contribute to the national reconstruction of Country.

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Chapter 8 – Chao’s Contextual Christology compared with that of other Protestant Thinkers


Chapter 8

Chao’s Contextual Christology compared with that of other Protestant Thinkers

This chapter aims to discover the uniqueness of T. C. Chao’s contextual Christology by comparing it with that of other Protestant thinkers. Chinese Christian intellectuals began to work on indigenization around the 1920s as a result of the impact of the New Thought Movement. Chao and many liberal thinkers were concerned, as a matter of necessity, about how to develop a theology relevant to the Chinese context when they realized that Chinese Protestantism, which came from the West, did not make sense within their own cultural patterns and thought systems. Furthermore, the traditional Western theology that was familiar in the Chinese church, with its emphasis on individual salvation and its neglect of the social context, was not adequate for the time. Neither was the ‘Social Gospel’ popular during this period.

In addition, the emerging identity of local churches was contributing to the necessity for the development of truly contextual thinkers. Contextual theology attempts to understand Christianity in terms of a particular context at a particular time. It is a way of doing theology which takes into account the spirit of the gospel message, the tradition of the Christian people, the culture in which one is theologizing as well as the social changes taking place in that culture.504 We shall consider contextualization in the work of three Chinese Protestant thinkers, Wu Lei-ch’uan, Y. T. Wu, Wang Ming-tao and compare it with that of...

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