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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 9 – The Significance and Potentiality of Chao’s Person-Oriented Christology


Chapter 9

The Significance and Potentiality of Chao’s Person-Oriented Christology

The search for relevance is a necessity and a great challenge to contemporary Chinese theology. As we have shown, Chao’s work embraced concepts of both ‘indigenization’ and ‘contextualization’. The former tended to be ‘past-orientated’ with its stress on the relation of the gospel to traditional cultures, while the latter, ‘future-oriented’ and dynamic, was concerned with the gospel in relation to social change. This reveals the necessity of relevance in integrating Christianity with the Chinese culture and context, and there are three aspects to this search: a critical review of Western theology, a dialogue with indigenous cultural or religious traditions, and an engagement with the contemporary socio-political context.

During this time, cultural identity and Chinese self-awareness through the idea of nationhood has become stronger since the May-Fourth Movement in 1911. The Movement not only brought a cultural renaissance to China, but also a surge of radical nationalism and resistance to imperialist domination. This has affected not only claims for the relevance of the gospel to Chinese culture, but also reminded us that the present challenge to evangelical mission in the new century should not neglect globalization and reconciliation, as Robert J. Schreiter indicates in Mission in the Third Millennium595, and should aim to make peace, heal memories, and rebuild societies. Contextual relevance, while necessary, should not be only for a particular context, but for the sake of the mission and task of the church in...

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