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Church in China: Faith, Ethics, Structure

The Heritage of the Reformation for the Future of the Church in China

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Aiming Wang

The Protestant Church in China is growing very fast. However, the role of the Church in society is still fragile and marginal. The Church needs a strong ethical and structural development. This study analyses the theological, ethical and ecclesiological heritage of the Reformation and it shows how this can build the foundation for the future of the Church in China. Four models serve as orientation: the Reformers Luther and Calvin and the theologians Bonhoeffer and Barth in the 20th century, with their vision of Christian faith and a humane society. The critical analysis of the missionary heritage since the 19th century shows its contribution for the acceptance of the tradition of the Reformation for the growing Church in China.
The author combines this theological and ethical perspective with the inculturation in the strong ethical tradition of the Chinese culture. He proposes the encounter between the spirituality of the Western culture and that of the traditional culture of China through the relationship with Confucianism. The book also offers elements for the dialogue around modern values such as human rights and civil society. In this dialogue, Chinese Protestantism can play more and more an important role.

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Acknowledgments .................................................................................. 19 Preface .................................................................................................... 23 1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 27 1.1 The Basic Question of the Research ............................................. 27 1.2 The Reference from Max Weber’s Theory of the Ideal Type ...... 32 1.3 The Methodology ......................................................................... 38 1.3.1 The Position of Departure is about the Structure of Protestantism .......................................................................... 40 1.3.1.1 The Three Dimensions of the Structure of the Faith of Protestantism ................................................................ 40 1.3.1.2 The Church Order of Protestantism ................................. 43 1.3.2 Martin Luther, the Ideal Type I: Protestant Ethics is Ecclesial Ethics ...................................................................... 46 1.3.2.1 The Fundamental Elements of Ecclesial Ethics from the Bible ........................................................................... 46 1.3.2.2 The Ecclesial Ethics and the Initiatives of the Protestant Tradition .......................................................... 48 1.3.3 John Calvin, the Ideal Type II: the Ethical Principles as the Ecclesial Pillars of Church ............................................... 49 1.3.3.1 Calvin’s Heritage has Great and Wide Influence under the Name of Calvinism .......................................... 50 1.3.3.2 The Significance of the Ideal Type II Lies in the Institutional Ethical Norms of the Church ....................... 51 1.3.4 Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth, Ideal Type III, as the Modern References of the Reformation in the Time of the Crisis ............................................................................ 53 8 1.3.4.1 The Ethical Difficulties of Protestantism in Modern Times of the West ............................................................ 53 1.3.4.2 “The Communion of the Saints”: the Ecclesial Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer .......................................... 54 1.3.4.3 Karl Barth and His Ecclesial Concerns ............................ 55 1.3.5 The Hermeneutical Approach to Construct the Ecclesial Ethics in China ....................................................................... 58 1.4 Conclusion .................................................................................... 61 2 Faith and Church of Protestantism ................................................... 67 2.1 Introduction .................................................................................. 67 2.2 The Theological Dimension of Faith ............................................ 70 2.2.1 The Morphological Scriptural Elements of the Faith ............. 72 2.2.1.1 The Place...

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