A Theological Qua Cultural Movement in Contemporary China
Edited By Pan-chiu Lai and Jason Lam
Theological Translation and Transmission between China and the West 83
Theological Translation and Transmission between China and the West1 LAI Pan-chiu Introduction Some might suggest that Chinese Protestant theology in the past was essentially a translated theology, consisting of western theologies translated into the Chinese language, while innovations were out of the question. According to this view, the history of Chinese theology is nothing more than the history of the translation and transmission of western theologies in China. In the 1950s, Chen Zemin commented on the theological publications of “Old China” in this way: If we examine the theological publishing in the pre-1949 Chinese church, we find little to recommend it. Most of the publications were translations, and most selections were made by western missionaries. Most theological books edited or written by Chinese authors were compilations rather than original works, or were general reviews. Genuinely creative works were rare. At such a time there could be no genuinely Chinese church, the Chinese church could not govern or support itself, and we had little authentic spiritual experience of our own upon which to draw for self-propagation. In such a situation, poverty of theological thought was only natural, and a theology able to transcend its times was an impossibility.2 Chen mentions a few examples to support his judgment: In the first decade of this century, American theologians wrangled endlessly over the issue of fundamentalism vs. modernism, and the fray was soon introduced into the Chinese church. 1 This paper itself has undergone a process of theological translation. It was originally written in...
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