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Church in China: Faith, Ethics, Structure

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


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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Preface 23


Preface The 19th century was the century of Europe, the 20th Century was the century of the United States of America and the 21st Century will be the century of Asia and China. This geopolitical analysis is of course a sim- plification of the complexity of history, but it shows a megatrend of in- fluence and power. The megatrend describes from where the driving political and economic forces act. But it can also be observed in other sectors such as technological innovation, scientific research, financial markets, sport or cultural development. Of course, we live in a multipo- lar, globalised, interconnected world, but the influence of Asia with China (but also India, South Korea, Thailand, Singapur, Japan, Indonesia and others) will be significant worldwide. And what will be the role of religions, Churches and ethical value systems from Asia? Is there a similar shift of the centers of gravity? Al- ready now, more Christians live in the Southern hemisphere than in the Northern hemisphere. Today, more Protestants live in China than in Germany and Switzerland, the two countries of the Reformation. More missionaries are sent abroad from South Korea than from any other country in the world except the US, and the country will soon be number one. The Confucius Institute project, administered by the Chinese Minis- try of Education, established during only four years more than 120 Con- fucius Centers worldwide to promote China’s language and culture. China will be not only the “world factory” of textiles, mobile phones and...

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