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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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4 The Ideal Type II: The Ecclesial Ethics of John Calvin 303

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4 The Ideal Type II: The Ecclesial Ethics of John Calvin 4.1 Introduction If Martin Luther prepared the doctrinal basis of the Protestant Church during the Reformation, John Calvin achieved the ideal of Luther by establishing the institutional Church of the Protestantism. Therefore, we could say that Calvin had decisively made the Protestantism as the spiri- tual and institutional power of the Western civilization. It was the destiny of Calvinism to extend the Reformation of the Church throughout Western Europe, and thence out into the New World, and, actually, Calvinism is the chief force in the Protestant world today […] This deeper reason lies in the active character of Calvinism, in its power for forming Churches, in its international con- tacts, and its conscious impulse towards expansion, and, most of all, in its capacity to penetrate the political and economic movements of Western nations with its reli- gious ideal, a capacity which Lutheranism lacked from the very beginning.1 Thus, to study the ecclesial ethics of the Protestantism must give the high attention to the legacy of John Calvin. In this respect, we could use the theory of the Ideal Type of Max Weber to define the historicity of the ecclesial ethics of John Calvin as the references to the future of the church in China. Consequently, the question appears, namely, what kind of the ele- ments made the Ideal Type of Calvin as the dominant constitution of the Protestant Church with influence over the world. What then can we de- scribe...

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