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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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1 Introduction 27

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1 Introduction 1.1 The Basic Question of the Research Are there ethical norms inside the institutional Church? Kurt Baier wrote: We must ask whether societies could exist without more or less severely sanctioned rules, such as are embodied in the law, in custom, and in social morality, and if so, whether it would be desirable to do away with at least the most intrusively coercive ones, as anarchists believe. Would everyone or indeed anyone be rationally justified in trying to keep them in existence or in resuscitating them once we have gotten rid of them? […] Can sanctioned rules be rationally justified?1 The background of my research is that the statistics of Christians have shown the rapid growth of believers every day in China without any ecclesiastical restriction in the matter of the Ecclesia of the historic church. Christian communities as special societies in society must obey certain rules besides law and legal regulations of the civil society in gen- eral. It was a serious question if there was the individual freedom of the religion in China 20 years ago. Now the question has become the follow- ing concern, namely, is there the legal frame for faith based organiza- tions? To me, the concrete question is that in what extent the Church could grow up within the proper doctrinal disciplines? As a pastor, what I care in the deep mind is that we must criticize ourselves about our Church in the institutional level with the criterion of evangelization in the...

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