Unity of Will is an Impregnable Stronghold

Since 2004, for the sake of uniting Chinese academics in and out of China, ISCS set up the academic committee to make new direction and strategy for constructing Sino-Christian studies/theology. The first committee includes 7 members, 4 from Mainland China and 3 from Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas. Members from Mainland China include Prof. GAO Shining of Chinese Academy of Social Science, Prof. WANG Xiaochao of Tsinghua University, Prof. YANG Huilin of Renmin University of China and Prof. ZHANG Qingxiong of Fudan University. Members from Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas include Prof. Pan-chiu LAI (chairperson) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Stephan CHAN of University of Seattle and Prof. Edmond TANG of University of Birmingham. This committee will invite other relevant scholars when discussing specific agendas. The director office and full-time academic staffs of ISCS work together with the committee to form a cooperative and interactive fellowship.


In 2006 we held the third annual meeting. The members reviewed the work of ISCS and discussed future issues. Therefore we also invited other scholars to join the discussion, including Prof. ZHAO lin of Wuhan University, Prof. HE Guanghu and Prof. LI Qiuling of Renmin University of China, Prof. ZHOU Xinping of Chinese Academy of Social Science and ISCS distinguished professor Dr. Milton WAN. We are grateful that Dr. XIE Zhibin helped to work out the meeting record.


Since these future issues may shape the working strategy of ISCS in the coming years, part of the contents are listed below. In doing so we hope that we may find more and more companions in the path of constructing Sino-Christian theology.


Future issues: the role of ISCS in promoting Sino-Christian studies/theology in the coming five years -

v           Daniel Yeung reviewed the transformation of Christian studies in the humanities of three periods: that before 1989, that between 1989-2000 and that after 2000. He articulated the phenomenon of the emergence of “public intellectuals” and the need of communication between Christian theology in the humanities and of the church. He hoped that the committee might suggest new paths for Sino-Christian theology under this situation.

v           Some members emphasized that Sino-Christian theology does not only belong to the church but should face the public academic realm. The dialogue partner and the space of development also belong to this realm. Sino-Christian theology is polyphonic and creative. For example, patristic studies scholars may also develop political theology.

v           Some other members suggested that Sino-Christian theology should also develop dialogue with different church communities. The dialogue partners should respect each other and avoid the mindset of instructing or leading the other.

v           Some members shared the experiences that a serious scholar could also be an enthusiastic believer. They are not conflicting identities. The key was how to use appropriate language in different communities. But the task of Sino-Christian theology is still to explore a way of making Christian studies a constituent of Chinese academic.

v           Some members thought that the developing direction and theoretical framework in the coming five years is still the public realm of the Chinese society. Therefore a good understanding of the present academic realm of Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong is very important.

v           Some members suggested that in the future Sino-Christian theology should strengthen its publicity, which is an inseparable nature of theology.

v           Some members thought that the substance of Sino-Christian theology should have breakthrough and development continually. Therefore there is no need to give definition to Sino-Christian theology too early.

v           Most members agreed with the conclusion of Prof. LI Qiuling’s “The Identity and Justification of Sino-Christian Theology”: 

  1. The term “Sino-Christian theology” is used to embrace all forms of Christian theology expressed in Chinese in the past and future.

  2. “Sino-Christian theology” is an ideal, whose initiators and promoters added to it some “oughts” from their own theories and praxis. Since it is not yet accepted widely, it has great potential to be developed.

  3. “Sino-Christian theology” is a movement. Its initiators, promoters, supporters and partners have exerted great effort in bringing it forth.

  4. Christian studies in Mainland China is not a kind of theology and has no intention to construct a theology. But part of it has undoubtedly become an inseparable partner of "Sino-Christian theology".

v           The chairperson Prof. Pan-chiu LAI concluded that:

n      The work of promoting Sino-Christian theology in the academia of Mainland China should be affirmed to be effective and valuable;

n      Dialogue with an open mind with different ecclesial communities is encouraged in the Chinese theological circles;

n      Effort should be paid on develop the publicity of Sino-Christian theology;

n      It is affirmed that Sino-Christian theology has referential and complementary role in relation to ecclesial theology. 

From my perspective as the director, I agreed to the four concluding points raised by Prof. LI Qiuling. He successfully made use of simple words to illustrate the beginning, development and present situation of Sino-Christian theology. The first point gives a definition to Sino-Christian theology in the broadest sense, and the next three points illustrate the specific sense of Sino-Christian theology. In which the second and the third point summarizes the interaction between ISCS, scholars doing Christian studies in Mainland China and Sino-Christian theology. The implication of the forth point is that since the religious situation of Mainland China is unique and the academic circle is dominated by atheism, most Chinese scholars participated in Christian studies for the sake of widening the horizon of their disciples and academic resources. Their research results (regardless of their relationship with the core issues of theology) are the organic parts of Sino-Christian theology. Moreover, I am confident and expecting that Sino-Christian theology is making contribution to theology of the local churches and ecumenical theology.


This is my prayer, and my vision.