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Sino-Christian Theology

A Theological Qua Cultural Movement in Contemporary China


Edited By Pan-chiu Lai and Jason Lam

«Sino-Christian theology» usually refers to an intellectual movement emerged in Mainland China since the late 1980s. The present volume aims to provide a self-explaining sketch of the historical development of this theological as well as cultural movement. In addition to the analyses on the theoretical issues involved and the articulations of the prospect, concrete examples are also offered to illustrate the characteristics of the movement.
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Sino-Christian Theology, Bible, and Christian Tradition 161


Sino-Christian Theology, Bible, and Christian Tradition LAI Pan-chiu Introduction 1 In the last two decades, a group of intellectuals in Mainland China have come to the fore participating enthusiastically in Christian studies, especially in the discussion of Christian theology. Since not all of them proclaim themselves to be Christians, they are conventionally called “cultural Christians”. Many of these “Cultural Christians” attempt to promote a “Sino-Christian theology”. The main aim of this paper is to discuss the relation of Sino-Christian theology with biblical studies and the Christian tradition. Before embarking upon discussion of the main theme, it seems necessary first to clarify the terms “Cultural Christians” (wenhua jidutu) and “Sino- Christian theology” (hanyu shenxue). The term “Cultural Christians” is some what ambiguous and controversial. It is ambiguous and even misleading because it seems to imply that “cultural Christians” are “Christians” in a “cultural” instead of “religious” sense. In other words, they are “non-religious” and thus different from those who profess Christianity as their religion. The term “cultural Christians” also seems to imply that other Christians are “un-cultural”, which may mean un-civilized or barbaric in the Chinese context. Furthermore, the demarcation between “cultural Christians” and, if there is such a term, “religious Christians” is far from clear. Some people can be Christian in both “cultural” and “religious” senses of the word. Even Liu Xiaofeng, probably the best-known representative of “cultural Christians”, uses the term to refer to intellectuals from Mainland China with personal faith in Christ, rather than a person who simply...

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