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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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5 The Ideal Type III: The Ethical Role of the Church in the Time of the Crisis: Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer 425

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5 The Ideal Type III: The Ethical Role of the Church in the Time of the Crisis: Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer 5.1 Introduction: the Ethical Paradoxes of Church in Modern World After the missionary movement during the 18th and 19th century, the Prot- estant world had formed the global powerful influences along with the Western colonists over the world. Consequently, the dilemma appeared before the church and the theologians in the West. Briefly, the Protes- tantism had benefited the colonialism, the imperialism and the liberalism in the political, cultural and commercial areas in the world, while the trade of the African people as the slavery, the business of the opium and the colonial wars occurred with the rule of the jungle based on the mili- tary power. Where were the Church and the theologians? That process was also the industrialization to transit from the agri- cultural period to the industry period in the human history. Especially since 1870, the human history entered into the new époque with the characteristic of the monopolies in the world markets. The political ide- ologies such the Communism and Capitalism replaced the traditional roles of the institutional religions, which were weakened systematically by the Enlightenment Movement and the positivist theories based on the empirical sciences. The negative effects of the secularization as the con- sequent result of the Reformation started to appear in the social and po- litical life. The church encountered the deep crisis that was the most serious than any time since...

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