One More Step

I have been thinking of how to further develop Sino-Christian theology through the platform of ISCS since last year. For the sake of gathering opinions, in the middle of 2008 I drafted a research outline and sent it to tens of scholars in different academic areas for their comments. After more than four months the framework was established. It was then discussed in the academic committee held in Dec 2008. Although there are different and even conflicting opinions, they are illuminating to me. Assisted by Prof. YANG Huilin, friend of ISCS for many years, the research outline was finalized in the beginning of 2009. I hope that this outline may help friends and scholars construct a flourishing Sino-Christian theology in the next decade with clearer orientation.

  1. Comparative Study
    • Between the resources of thought and existential experiences of Chinese and western languages
    • Between the theological studies of the humanities and faith community
    • Between Sino-Christian theology in the broad and narrow sense
  2. Study of Influence
    • The influence of the multicultural China on Sino-Christian theology
    • The influence of the globalization age on Sino-Christian theology
    • The mutual relationship of ecumenical theology and Sino-Christian theology
  3. Scripture and Interpretation
    • Biblical interpretation in the humanistic realm of the West
    • Biblical interpretation in contemporary Chinese situation
    • The Scriptural Reasoning of the Bible and Chinese classics
  4. Theology and the Public
    • Sino-Christian theology and traditional Chinese culture
    • Sino-Christian theology and the resources of modern thought
    • The possible influence of Sino-Christian theology on Chinese society
    • The issues and experience of Sino-Christian theology

In a conference held at Wuhan University in Nov 2008 and in the academic committee meeting held at Beijing in Dec 2008, many scholars pointed out that a solid foundation was laid for Sino-Christian theology in the last ten years. As a creative and dynamic academic entity, Sino-Christian theology is undoubtedly been affirmed by the Chinese academia. At the same time, China has stepped into the 30th anniversary of reform and opening policy and has become an influential international power. The financial tsunami in 2008 is another event which pushes China to consider its role in the international arena. In the meantime, Chinese are thinking of how to make up its cultural appearance in face of other countries. Prof. ZHAO Lin of Wuhan University pointed out in wisdom the three big issues to be encountered by Sino-Christian theology in the near future: 1. The rise of China as a significant international power; 2. The revival of Chinese traditional knowledge; 3. The rise of nationalism. Prof. ZHAO's words make me think of how Sino-Christian theology is to do constructive dialogue on these issues.

Recently the Mainland academia is discussing how to establish an autonomous academic platform without following completely the western paradigm. It is an interesting phenomenon since it is also the central concern of Sino-Christian theology from the very beginning. The first principle is to know the Christian religion correctly with serious and professional methods. Then we may extract the essentials of Christian theology so as to integrate and do dialogue with the Chinese cultural heritage. China is the only "living" country of the four great ancient civilizations. Chinese language and culture have several thousands years of history and is highly regarded by the world. This is an important resource and foundation of the Chinese academic platform as an autonomous one. But the contemporary situation is formed in the bombardment between the Chinese tradition and its need for modernization. This also shapes the working environment of Sino-Christian theology. It can hardly be overemphasized that the existential situation of the narrow sense of Sino-Christian theology is the Mainland academia. Thus its working principle and method of integration and dialogue should follow the rules of this platform. Of course, we should also be aware that the autonomous Chinese academia does not oppose the values observed universally. Only in this way can a Sino-Christian theology full of Chinese characteristics be developed to face the whole world.

We hope that all friends and scholars are walking hand in hand to write a new chapter for Sino-Christian theology when China has stepped into 30th anniversary of reform and opening.