so that the work of historical studies must provide political service to the proletariat'; Tai Ping Tian Guo Shi [A History of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom] (Beijing: Zhong Hua Shu Ju, 1991), pp. 9—11. I6 Zhi, Zhong Guo JingJiao, pp. 10—11.

Wang Xiao Zhao, 'A Review and a Vision: Christian and Religious Studies in China', paper presented at the fifth annual meeting of Chinese scholars in Christian and Religious Studies. Boston, USA (2—5 June 2000).

Wang elaborates: 'Personally, we could say that the Chinese individual accepts Christianity as his own faith and spiritual pillar; culturally . .. the Chinese culture accepts Christianity as an important ingredient and stimulant for its own renewal and change; socially .. . the Chinese society accepts Christianity as an important force for its own stability and development. Ever since the time of China's current reform the Government has repeatedly stressed the need to utilize the positive social function of religions which necessarily includes Christianity'; Ping and l8 Sayer (eds.), The Christian Religion and Contemporary Society, pp. 53—4. Feng, Wen Hua Ji Du Tu [Cultural Christians], p. 65.

between eastern and western cultures would be beneficial to the Chinese in their search for a direction on their way to modernization.19 Zhao Dun Hua, Dean of the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies of Beijing University and author of the now popular book Fifteen Hundred Years of Christian Philosophy (1994), states that the purpose of his writing is to help readers understand western culture comprehensively; to help readers compare Chinese and western philosophies and cultures; and to help readers think more rationally.20

Zhuo Xin Ping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences thinks that Christianity is not only the largest world religion but also the most socially influential. He believes it is quite impossible to understand the history of human civilization and current world development without some basic knowledge of Christianity. Zhuo is convinced that with the arrival of the new millennium, studies on the development of Christian intellectual culture have become more important and urgent.21

It was largely along similar lines of thinking that China's top academic institution, Beijing University, which began to offer religious studies in 1982 in the Philosophy Department, formally established a Department of Religious Studies in 1996 with the following aim:

The Department commits itself to academic study and interdisciplinary research of religions as well as cultures in general, with a scientific approach and rigorous attitude. It places emphasis on an objective, unbiased evaluation of the history and reality of the major religions of the world. The Department's tasks are to educate students with broad, basic knowledge of religion, philosophy and other relevant disciplines and to train specialists and intellectuals to meet the country's needs in the areas of religious studies, public administration and social activity.22


That the non-Christian academia in China has now committed itself so enthusiastically to Christian studies is certainly unprecedented in the long history of the nation where Christianity has failed repeatedly to take root socio-culturally since AD 635. The current unique situation must also be

9 Li Ping Ye, Zhong Jiao Gai Ge Yu Xi Fang Jin Dai She Hui Si Chao [The Reformation and the 20 Modern Social Thinking of the West] (Beijing: Jin Ri Zhong Guo, 1992), p. 12.

Zhao Dun Hua, Ji Du Jiao Zhe Xue Yi Qian Wu Bai Nian [Fifteen Hundred Years of Philosophy]

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