Chinese Theological Review 16

From the Editor

The 7th National Chinese Christian Conference met in Beijing May 22-27, 2002. The Conference generally meets at five-year intervals to assess the work of the outgoing Standing Committees of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China (TSPM), to elect new officers, pass resolutions on important matters facing the church, revise their respective constitutions and chart a course for the coming five years. At the 2002 Conference, new leaders were chosen for both national bodies. Rev. Cao Shengjie was elected President of the CCC, the first woman ever to hold the office, and Elder Ji Jianhong was chosen to be Chairperson of the TSPM. As materials were being prepared for this 16t h issue of the Chinese Theological Review, many documents of the Conference had not yet been made available, but the Work Report of the outgoing Standing Committees as well as the revised constitutions are included here.

The revised constitutions go further in setting out the structure and governing regulations for each organization, their officers and members than these documents have in the past. Particularly noteworthy are articles on the use and management of finances and qualifications for officers. Overall there is more emphasis on relationships with related government departments and the legal status of each organization. This reflects the concern, echoed in the Work Report, that "religious work" on the part of the government be regularized and not a matter of summary "administrative measures." It is also part of the often-invoked adaptation of religion, here Christianity, to socialist society: setting the church on a solid footing in society according to the same norms that govern other "mass organizations." The opening and closing addresses by the incumbents, a short biographical sketch of each, and names of the new Standing Committee and Advisory Committee members round out this section on the 7t h National Conference.

Among the other essays and articles in this issue, the text of a presentation by Cao Shengjie includes current statistics and advice to overseas friends in their relationships with the Chinese church.

The Commission on Theological Reconstruction continues its work. Several essays address this topic directly, stressing the need for the church to keep pace with a rapidly modernizing society and seeking to reassure a largely conservative Christian constituency that although theology can, and must, change and adapt, basic Christian faith retains its essential substance and does not change. The church, it is argued, must adapt to the society that forms its context, both in order to grow and develop, and to play its rightful role in society. A plurality of theological views is needed to respond to the spiritual needs of an increasingly pluralistic society.

Two reports on a joint Shanghai-jiangsu symposium on theological reconstruction are interesting for their picture of provincial-level efforts to win hearts and minds among clergy and pastoral workers for the cause of theological exploration. In the issues that come up for discussion among Christian clergy and lay leaders we glimpse the issues they wrestle with in their ministries, and the challenges the organizers of the study sessions and seminars face. Similar seminars and symposia are being held in other provinces.

Wang Aiming's essay contains his 15 points on theological reconstruction, which have been widely circulated overseas.

As always, I am grateful to the authors of the essays in this volume who have allowed their work to be shared through the imperfect medium of translation. Any errors in representing their work are entirely my own. To minimize the inelegancies and pitfalls of back-translation, quotations have been changed from direct to indirect when the quoted work could not be consulted in its original language or standard English translation.

In referring to the various levels of Church and Three-Self structure in this issue, I have mostly abandoned the use of lianghui or the two bodies, etc. for the simpler and, I hope, clearer, expedient of CCC, TSPM or CCC/TSPM for the national level and CC/TSM with the appropriate modifier (local/ regional) for other levels. Biblical quotations are taken from the NRSV.

Please note that the editorial e-mail address has changed: . The mailing address remains the same. The publisher's address and e-mail have also changed and these may be found on the copyright page of this issue.

This volume marks the final year of partial support of this publication by a three-year ecumenical project grant to the China Christian Council by the Council for World Mission. I would like to express my own gratitude and that of the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia (FTE) for their assistance. As ever, I am grateful to the FTE for their continuing support of this journal and in particular to Dr. Marvin Hoff and Mrs. Joanne Hoff. I would also like to thank Ms. Suzanne Johnson of San Francisco Theological Seminary for her invaluable technical assistance on this issue.

Janice Wickeri

A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology: Selected Writings of Bishop K.H. Ting
edited by Janice & Philip Wickeri

A selection of essays and sermons from Bishop Ting's nearly 60-year career as a church leader and theologian.
Published June 2000, 128pp.
From WCC Publications, World Council of Churches, PO Box 2100, 121 1 Geneva 2, Switzerland
US$ 1 2.95