Institutions And Scholars Involved In Christian Studies In China

Chen Jian Ming of Sichuan University has put those Chinese institutions which are engaged in Christian studies under four categories: institutes for Religious Studies in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as well as academies in the provinces and cities; research units in charge of religious studies under the various governmental departments; seminaries of the Chinese Christian Church (CCC); and various religious studies institutes under the various departments in the universities and other institutions of higher learning.8

There are broadly three categories of scholars and students who are involved in Christian studies, according to Chen Chun Fu of Zhejiang

K. H. Ting, Anthology of K. H. Ting (Nanjing: Yi Lin Chu Ban She, 1999), pp. 371—2. Zhuo Xin Ping and Josef Sayer (eds.), The Christian Religion and Contemporary Society (Beijing: Religious Culture Publisher, 2003), pp. 282—3.

Lo and Kang (eds.), University and Christian Studies, p. 175; Chen lists sixteen Chinese universities which have Christian studies in the year 2002, including leading universities such as Beijing, Tsinghua, Fudan, Ren Min, Nanjing, Zhejiang and Zhongsan.

University: those who approach Christian studies purely from an academic perspective, treating it just as a subject of serious inquiry (primarily from universities and government-sponsored institutions); those who treat Christian studies and the Chinese Church socio-politically (including scholars, policy-makers and policy-implementers whose research institutions are closely linked to the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) as well as other governmental departments); and 'freelance' scholars who are not attached to any institution but nonetheless take a keen interest in Christian studies.9

Generally speaking, it would be quite right to think that there are scholars and students in the first and third categories who also combine academic studies with some kind of a personal spiritual quest. In the last two decades or so, a relatively new, but somewhat controversial and enigmatic term, 'cultural Christians' (wen hua ji du tu), has been used, apparently for want of better words, to describe those who possess a certain amount of 'faith' in Christ or subscribe to some Christian beliefs, values, 'spirit' (jing sheng) and 'ideal' (li xiang). This has become a new kind of cultural phenomenon, hence 'cultural Christians'. Some 'cultural Christians' have eventually 'crossed over' to the side of the Christian community, while a great many more remain outside the organized church. There are obvious reasons, some of which are socio-political (such as, party membership), and others, religio-cultural (such as, formal church membership which requires baptism and so on), to explain why they remain outside the church (extra ecclesiam). Christian attitudes toward such an apparently strange phenomenon vary a great deal.10

Naturally, there are also those who would declare their non-Christian position quite openly, and yet honestly admit that certain aspects of the Christian faith or a particular piece of Christian literature has become part of their 'philosophy of life'.


The publication of works written by Chinese scholars who are not Christians as well as by the so-called 'cultural Christians' has been quite impressive both quantitatively and qualitatively.11 Zhao Dun Hua's Ji Du

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