On the Academic Position and Research Orientation of Sino-Christian Theology

Since the establishment of the ISCS in 1995, we have relied on deliberation by the ISCS Academic Committee for making important decisions about the academic goals and research orientations of “Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology.” In recent years, we have been reviewing the objectives, basic characteristics, core values, fundamental framework, and principal approaches of “Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology,” in order to respond to the latest changes in and needs of the academic environment. After several rounds of in-depth discussion, we have arrived at a consensus among all of the committee members concerning the following:


The Objectives of ISCS

1. To further Sino-Christian Theology

2. To promote religious dialogue

3. To enrich Chinese academia


The Basic Characteristics of Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology

  1. Academic: Initiated within Chinese academia, Sino-Christian Studies uses the methodologies of the arts, humanities, and social sciences to explore and investigate Christian thinking and culture and through dialogue to integrate it with Chinese tradition and contemporary discourses.
  2. Trans-denominational: Sino-Christian Studies does not adhere to any particular denomination or sect, but encompasses all of Christianity and draws on all of its theological resources from across the centuries, whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Due to its organic relationship with Christianity, Judaism is also included as a research topic within Sino-Christian Theology.
  3. Cross-cultural: Sino-Christian Studies understands itself as a deep-level dialogue between Chinese and Christian thinking, a two-way translation, interpretation, reception and creation process that can be an important bridge in cross-cultural communication.


The Core Values of Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology

  1. Upholding academicity without proselytism
  2. Accepting plurality across differences
  3. Respecting mutuality instead of one-sidedness


The Fundamental Framework of Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology

•  The Bible and Its Interpretation

1. Biblical interpretation in Western academic discourse

2. Biblical interpretation in the contemporary Chinese context

3. Scriptural reasoning in the ancient Chinese classics and the Bible

•  Comparative Studies

1. Comparative studies on Chinese and Western thinking and culture

2. Comparative studies on religious and secular approaches to Christianity

3. Comparative studies on different conceptions of Sino-Christian Theology

•  Interactive Studies

1. Sino-Christian Theology and the plurality of Chinese culture

2. Sino-Christian Theology and the age of globalization

3. Sino-Christian Theology and ecumenical theology

•  The Chinese Context

1. Sino-Christian Theology and its cultural contexts in China

2. Sino-Christian Theology and Chinese society

3. Problems and experiences of Sino-Christian Theology

The Principal Approaches of Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology

Sino-Christian Studies/Sino-Christian Theology comprises the academic study of Christian thinking and Christian culture across a range of disciplines. ISCS has gained much experience in this endeavour over the years since its establishment in 1995. The development of interdisciplinary research is has recently become one of the main focuses of ISCS. The idea of organic connectivity involved in such an interdisciplinary approach in turn encourages closer collaboration between Christian studies and many other disciplines—including humanistic studies, jurisprudence, politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and especially classical studies—in investigating questions of common concern, widening research horizons, opening up space for common academic discourse, and promoting the recognition of our responsibilities for the common destiny of humanity.

More concretely, the following approaches, among others, are involved:

• Biblical Studies (textual interpretation of original classic texts, interreligious scriptural reasoning)

• Philosophy and Theology (philosophical and theological reflections within various Christian traditions and denominations)

• Historical Studies (figures, events, and problems in various Christian sects and in the spread of Christianity in China)

• Literature and Art (Christianity and literature, Christian art, sacred music)

• Cultural Studies (postcolonial studies, feminism, eco-theologies)

• Religious Anthropology and Sociology of Religion (empirical studies of Christianity in various regions, nationalities, and communities)

• Religious Dialogue (dialogue between Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity)

• Public Theology (similarities and differences between public theology in the West and other parts of the world, the uniqueness of Chinese public theology)

• Interdisciplinary Studies (collaboration and integration with other disciplines, participation in the public discourse of Chinese academia)

Herewith, I cordially invite scholars and researchers from all disciplines in China and overseas to verify the correctness and practicability of this working document.