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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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2 Faith and Church of Protestantism 67

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2 Faith and Church of Protestantism 2.1 Introduction As in the worldwide system of spirituality, Christianity presents itself through three principal ecclesiastical forms, i.e. the Orthodox, the Ro- man Catholic and the Protestants.1 The Christians are divided into major churches or groups of churches that are called Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Independent, and Pentecostal and so on – each with its own customs and practices which have often changed and de- veloped over the years.2 In fact, considering the Church itself, if purely at the dimension of the doctrines, the Church, no matter which form, always keeps the nature of holy and catholic with the interpretation of the creeds. Meanwhile, be- cause of its existence in concrete society with the cultures, the socio- politic factors in the form of certain institutions, it more or less contains different situations from these social and cultural realities as the precon- ditions recognized in history.3 Thus the question appears: which elements made the Protestant Church to exist and develop through different forms and systems? In my personal reflection, there are the fundamental elements which could be considered as possible references of question, namely, the elements of faith, the elements of the institutions with ecclesiastic diversity; the ele- ments of ethics and the models for dealing with the temporal world. The 1 Adolf M. Ritter et al., “Church,” in: The Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol. 1, ed. by E. Fahlbusch et al., trans. G. W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999, pp. 477–502. 2 John...

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