Info

28 Ibid., pp. 150—2. 27 Lo and Kang (eds.), University and Christian Studies, pp. 156—8.

Xu Yi Hua and Zhang Qing Xiong (eds.), Ji Du Jiao Xue Shu vol. I (Shanghai: Shanghai Gu Ji

leaders quite independently, much to the displeasure of the Three-Self top leadership. The universities involved are able to generate quite considerable income from their unique programmes. The two-year programmes aim at broadening the scope and horizon of the candidates' knowledge in the social sciences, humanities, theology and philosophy, with a much broader perspective than the church seminaries. This is bound to have a lasting impact on the mindset of candidates who have gone through an ideologically rigid system of education both within and outside the church. Unlike their previous theological education, which was given almost exclusively by church-related teachers, they are now being taught by academics of the university, the great majority of whom are not Christians. English is part of the core curriculum, and it is hoped that the level of English which the candidates obtain may eventually help them gain access to the literature and media of an exceedingly new world. These candidates should eventually be more equipped than their elders in the vital enterprise of theological 're-construction' in the post-Mao era.

The present theological re-construction of the organized church, which is under the leadership and control of Bishop Ting and his associates, does not seem to appeal to the ordinary clergy and laity. It is often perceived to be more ideological than theological in its effort to adapt the church to 'socialism with Chinese characteristics', so that the church could better serve its 'social function'. The theological task that the Chinese church faces is thus daunting and delicate: how to respond to the socio-political realities of modern China seriously and yet remain true to its Christian identity and mission. It remains to be seen if those who are currently doing theology outside the organized Chinese church could eventually have something significant to contribute to the challenging task of theological 're-construction'.

THINGS 'CHINESE' AND THINGS 'FOREIGN' ARE NO LONGER POLARIZED

All foreign missions in the past, from the time of the Nestorians in the seventh century, through the Catholic missions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and down to the Protestant missions in the modern period, had to face the long cultural traditions of China. Hence, different ways and forms of contextualization/indigenization/inculturation had been tried out, yet without much success. The 'foreignness' or 'strangeness' of Christianity remained a great stumbling block to the great majority of the Chinese. From the perspective of mission, Chinese communism was even harder for Christianity to deal with. As such, the basic assumption was that the more 'Chinese' Christianity appeared, the more attractive and appealing it would be to the Chinese. However, a new phenomenon since the late 1980s seems to have rendered such assumptions questionable.

Modern Chinese, especially the young and educated (and fashionable), who grow up with the 'market economy', have often been attracted to Christianity, not due to its affinity with traditional Chinese culture, but because of its 'foreignness'. Newly 'liberated' Chinese are not particularly interested in things which China already has, or presumes to have, such as Chinese religions and socio-ethical systems like Confucianism, but rather in things which China does not possess, including things 'Christian'. Such 'foreign' things may include Christmas celebrations and a wedding ceremony in the 'special atmosphere' of the church. This new attitude and mentality could hardly be disassociated from the whole Open Door Policy of China, which has already turned some fundamentals upside down. Many things which were formerly despised, discarded, even officially forbidden and condemned, have now become the very objects of people's search and inquiry, including Christianity.

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