Approaches to Theological Reconstruction in the Chinese Church
A Reading of K.H. Ting's Love Never Ends
In the three years since the publication of K.H. Ting's Love Never Ends, 1 Nanjing Theological Review and Tian Feng have regularly carried essays by readers discussing Bishop Ting's theology, expounding their perceptions, understanding and insights with regard to some of the ideas found therein. I found that I gained much through my own reading of the volume; though it is not strictly systematic, it is profoundly intellectual, enlightening and distinctive. Love Never Ends gives expression to K.H. Ting's great foresight in the matter of Chinese theological reconstruction.
I found five very important and inspirational "C's" in Love Never Ends.
Christianity is a religion of faith in Christ and knowledge of Christ. In that case, how to believe in and understand Christ is the central question with which Christian theology must deal. The three creeds of Christianity (the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed) proclaimed a correct knowledge of Christ, with a proclamation of faith in pure faith terms. But Christians do not live in a vacuum, they must continuously think about issues raised by the conflicts between Christ and culture, faith and reality, reason and emotion. And so throughout the ages the church has produced an array of Christologies which are not entirely the same.
In "A Talk at a Theological Forum," discussing how to view truth, goodness and beauty outside the church, Ting summarized five approaches of certain Christologies:
1) Seeing non-Christian cultures through the eyes of rulers and with an attitude of superiority; 2) The so-called "angels of light" theory – “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" (Tertullian) -- proclaiming that Christ differs from culture; 3) The inclusivity of Christ -- all truth, goodness and beauty come from Christ; 4) Christ as Fulfiller -- the fulfillment of the law, of religion and of culture; 5) The Cosmic Christ -- "recognizes the cosmic nature of Christ Jesus in addition to his human and divine natures." 2
Obviously, Ting agrees with the fifth option. "Among these five approaches, the Cosmic Christ seems to embrace many aspects of the issue set out at the beginning: It enables us on the one hand to affirm the Christ of the New Testament and to affirm the very high Christology of John and Paul, while taking an enlightened and open approach to the truth, beauty and goodness of this world." 3 Ting makes his Christology even clearer in his essay "The Cosmic Christ."
The biblical evidences for the idea of the Cosmic Christ are found in John 8:58 and 17:24; in 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9-11; and Colossians 1:15-20. The French theologian Teilhard de Chardin was one of the first to give expression to it. He was a Jesuit and paleontologist who worked in Beijing on the Peking Man site. His major works include The Human Phenomenon, Le Milieu Divin, and La Vision du Passe. De Chardin emphasized the wholeness of the cosmos as an entity in a constant process of creation. God's creation was ongoing and creatures constantly evolving, as was the human spirit, and all within the cosmos was under the Lordship of Christ.
Ting believes the significance of an emphasis on the Cosmic Christ is threefold:
1 The extent of Christ's work, concern and care are universal. The traditional concept of the Trinity on the one hand stresses that the three persons of the triune God are a perfect whole; on the other hand each person has that person's own work: the Father creates, the Son redeems and the Holy Spirit sanctifies and teaches. According to such an explanation, if the Son comes to the fore, the Father must "step down"; if the Holy Spirit comes to the fore, the Son must "retire". But according to the concept of the Cosmic Christ, "Creation, redemption, sanctification and education are one." 4 Ting believes that, "As creativity is inexhaustible and creation a long process, Christ has everything to do with Creation thus far and with Creation as it goes on now." 5 Redemption and sanctification are two prominent points in this process, and all is under the Lordship of Christ. All God's activities of creation and redemption are for the purpose of making humanity complete.
2 We believe in a God of love. "God is the Cosmic Lover, not the cosmic tyrant. Love is God's supreme attribute, over and above all his other attributes and subordinating them all. Love is the force directing God's ever-continuing work of creation, redemption and transfiguration." 6 "For Chinese Christians, to discard the image of a vengeful, frightening God, God the omnipotent in dealing with humans, and to come to adore God the Lover, the Sympathizer, the fellow-sufferer who comes to us, is a shift that is truly liberating." 7 In "God is Love" and "Understanding the Heart of God," Ting again explains the significance of belief in a loving God. "What is the most important and most fundamental attribute of God? It is God's love, the love shown in Christ, the love which does not hesitate before suffering or the cross, the love which made him give up his life for his friends. The justice of God is also God's love. If love spreads through humankind, it becomes justice. This is love entering into the world. Love does not come to destroy, but to sustain, heal, teach, redeem and give life." 8 "God is love. God is the Lover in the cosmos, the Lover at the center of all reality. The revelation of Jesus Christ transcends and corrects all that we humans are able to say of God. Love seeks the highest good for us. Nothing good will be lost; it will be fulfilled and lifted up, even to that heavenly kingdom which shall be, a kingdom founded in love.” 9
Since God is love, this gives us confidence to believe that everything will develop in a good direction, the human future will be bright, and semi-finished products will become rather good final products. "Since God is the Lover in the universe, he prefers to act through teaching and waiting rather than by coercion. Though not a few Christians lack loving hearts, since humankind is changing, they, too, are changing. A world in transformation is bound to have its dark and ugly side. Our comfort lies in the faith that says that no matter how dark things are, the world and we ourselves are changing and that change is taking place within God's creative process, as we evolve from half-finished products to better ones." 10 Consequently our hearts are filled with comfort and thankfulness for the world of God's creation, and it is from this that a positive view of human life and largeness of spirit spring.
3 Harmony, not opposition. An emphasis on the cosmic nature of Christ, points to the fact that "the whole of reality is God's concern...," 11 both believers and unbelievers are under the principle of God's love, thus believers and unbelievers are no longer in an antagonistic relationship, but in one of dialogue and cooperation. To affirm God as the cosmic Lover is to see love as the motive force in God's continuing act of creation. This motive force is the creation of harmonious human society. Ting feels that since Christians are people who understand God's great love, they should take the initiative in reconciling with others, and the content of that reconciliation should include affirmation of all truth, beauty and goodness outside the church, no longer exaggerating the difference between belief and unbelief, but affirming the reasonableness of socialist society, thus enabling Christianity to adapt to socialist society, Ting says, "Today, what catches all Christians' vision is the picture of Christ leading the whole Creation towards the goal of unity in God. In this saving work of his, all human movements of progress, liberation, democracy and humanization are joined. The church is important as the place where Christ is explicitly known, confessed, adored and preached. The world needs the church's gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation and peace. But God's saving work is not coterminous with the boundary of the church. It has the whole cosmos as its limit." 12
Christology is the center of Christian theology. Traditional Christologies were often products of the debate between "from higher to lower" or "lower to higher." The first gave prominence to Christ's divinity and transcendence. In modern theology, Barth and Rahner have been the leading proponents and developers of such a Christology. The latter type stresses Jesus as the model of religious meaning, with the emphasis on Jesus' human nature. Han Kung is associated with the promotion and development of this view. Both of these Christologies perhaps have their strengths and weaknesses. The first is often criticized as a form of cultural imperialism, while it is often difficult to justify the latter, for if human morality is taken as the standard, why should Jesus be revered as the Christ? Why not Confucius? Thus we see that in terms of Christology, the Cosmic Christ provides much more inclusive space. Yet there is no way to make a detailed distinction as to what in the cosmos is Christ's work and what is not.
"...we like to say: our faith is like an ellipse with two centers, the two C's; Christ and China." 13 China is another axis of Bishop Ting's theology. This C includes identification with Chinese culture. Ting graduated from St. John's University in Shanghai, a university famous for its westernized ways and use of English that was run by the American Episcopal Church. K.H. Ting is well known for his excellent grasp of English, but he is not sycophantically western. He studied and worked overseas for many years, gaining a number of "foreign" degrees. But though he may have worn western clothes, his heart remained Chinese. In the early years following Liberation, he resolved to return to China, where he became involved in the Three-Self Movement and work for the church. This showed his identification with Chinese culture, his reliance on his native land and his love for new China.
Ting often calls upon Chinese classical culture and thinking; for example, he uses words of Lao Tzu to illustrate the truth of the resurrection: "What is of all things most yielding can overwhelm that which 1s most hard. Being substanceless, it can enter in even where there is no crevice. That is how I know the value of action which is actionless. But that there can be teaching without words, value in action which is actionless, few indeed can understand." He goes on to comment: "I think here Lao Tzu was feeling after something the Christian resurrection truth represents." 14 His attitude toward Lao Tzu's "innate goodness theory" was even more sympathetic. Attitudes like these express an identification with one's native land.
This C also contains patriotic sentiments. He likes to quote Psalms 137 and 126 as expressions of a Christian patriotic feeling: "Patriotism of this kind expresses itself in sorrow over national backwardness and humiliation and in joy over the people's emancipation and achievements." 15 Bishop Ting has this inner feeling, even more, he translates it into action. With the largeness of heart that marks the great people among us, he forgives the unfortunate things of history. Mrs. Ting, Siu-may Kuo, suffered during the Cultural Revolution, and her health was damaged. Yet, faced with these unfortunate setbacks to family and those he loved, Bishop Ting forgave history: "Events all over the world are telling us how tortuous the way is towards the perfect community of free, loving children of God, and how dear a price in suffering God and human beings have to pay for every inch of progress towards that goal." 16 But Christ's love and grace will triumph over all!
K.H. Ting says that his support of socialism is based on conviction and rational choice, a choice personal suffering did not make him regret. "We attach our hope to socialism, not so much because we know exactly in detail what the socialist way is, but because we are fed up by all the other choices open to us. What is common in these other choices is the large scale of private ownership of the means of production and the unfair distribution of wealth, requiring the masses of the people to bear the cost by enduring endless suffering." 17 Bishop Ting's patriotism is not simply a result of his condemnation of the capitalist system of private ownership, more important is the fact that though Communists are atheists, they also have the truth, goodness and beauty that come from the Cosmic Christ: "With the success of the people's revolutionary movement, the Communist Party, the People's Liberation Army, the people's government and the democratic parties all emerged before the people. They showed great moral caliber and had a high appeal to Christian intellectuals. These Christians felt that the New Being whom Paul talked about was there already, not in Christ but without him." 18 Since human history lies within the hands of the Cosmic Christ, we have no reason to completely deny the great enterprise of the establishment and construction of new China because of its being located outside Christ. In his "The Cosmic Christ" and in liberation theology, Bishop Ting has found the basis of theology. His patriotism is founded on a choice made through feeling and reason.
Barth's theology has been called a "theology of proclamation," that of Tillich, a "theology of response" or "dialogue theology." These are two different approaches, but since all theology is closely related to the context of the theologian, it would also be appropriate to call them "contextual theologies."
K.H. Ting's thinking is also related to his context. In "Theological Mass Movement in China," he points to the relationship between his theological transformation and the transformation of Chinese society. In 1949, the Chinese people were liberated from three great mountains [feudalism, imperialism and bourgeois capitalism--ed.] and established new China. Chinese Christians at the time had two attitudes toward these historical changes:
1 They realized that revolutionaries and Communists were not the monsters and rascals they were rumored to be; they were highly ethical and dedicated. Though they had no love for religion, they had no plans to persecute it or try to abolish it. A number of Christians saw hope in them and left the church and the faith. "In discovering these true revolutionaries the Chinese were both happy for seeing in them the hope for the future of China, and fearful before the haunting question whether there was still any ground for the existence of Christianity. Indeed, at that time, a number of Christians, in joining revolutionary ranks, did move away from the church and from the faith." 19
2 Some other Christians stubbornly denied the revolutionaries and new China. They saw the establishment of new China as the end of the world, attacking the revolutionaries with "spiritual" language, denying the value of their good deeds, promoting the doctrine of "security of the believer," which meant that "the Christian has the freedom to do anything, while others are condemned no matter how good their work is." This "security of the believer" became a kind of weapon, misleading Christians in maintaining the dream of old China or being good citizens of the KNIT and imperialism. Such radical non-adaptation to the world as it is caused others to react against Christians, and so some left the church, and this increased the revolutionaries' vigilance against Christians.
“These two facts set Chinese Christians thinking. On the one hand, while being truly impressed by the conduct and deeds of the revolutionaries, many of us found it impossible to take leave of Christ but chose to say with Peter, 'You, Lord, have the words of eternal life. To whom can we go?' On the other hand, antinomian reactionism actually wanted us to go and stand and work against the people's iiberation movement with all its goodness and beauty, and that was certainly an ethically indefensible alternative. Caught in between, Chinese Christians all over the country started to do theological reflection on their own." 20 Here Ting makes a profound reflection on historical fact. There is no reason why Christians should abandon our faith either because of the good deeds of others non-Christians) or, politically, because we support the Communist Party, or because our society has changed for the better. Of course, neither should we, armed with the idea of the security of the believer," try to eliminate them. For one who lives in new China to build a theology appropriate to old China is tantamount to attempting to put new wine into old wineskins.
Since the appearance of the socialist system, many people have been exploring the relationship of Christianity to Marxism and socialism: some promote resistance, some dialogue, others submission-the notion of willing handmaidens -- similar to the "servant theology" of the former East Germany. Faced with the new lessons of Christian theology, Ting has not duplicated the paths of western theologies, but has made the choice for active inquiry and contextuality, and his has been an extremely significant attempt. Ting has a number of important theological points here.
1 Hold fast to the truth of Christand do not abandon the church. He quotes Peter, "Lord you have the word of life, to whom shall we go?"
2 He urges Chinese Christianity to turn from the error of antinomianism to the right path and emphasize the significance of Christian values. For Chinese from the background of Confucian culture, which promotes "innate goodness of human nature," and for revolutionaries with revolutionary ideals and a sense of moral responsibility, this provides an easy channel of access. 21
3 An emphasis on the Cosmic Christ is a theological viewpoint with an inclusivity which can embrace all things and thinking marked by values and ideals; within it there is no conflict between theist/atheist or believer/unbeliever. It gives expression to a kind of inclusive thinking that embraces peaceful theology, religious toleration and Chinese culture."
4 His approach does not exaggerate the differences between belief and unbelief. Ting in no way denies these differences, nor does he term it unimportant, but he feels that for Christians living in a nation under the leadership of the unbelieving Communist Party and in a nation where the majority of the people are unbelievers, there is no benefit to Christianity in emphasizing the difference; it is stupid and dangerous. 23
5 He emphasizes a "God of love," because he believes that if we want to cause Chinese to believe in God, we should present God not as a destroyer, but as a lover. To him, love is God's most important attribute, even to the point of believing that justice submits to love." 24 China is a country in which people place their hopes of happiness on a system of enlightened rulers. Against such a cultural background, belief in a God of love is good news indeed. Justice is a principle more easily understood in a nation with a culture of rule by law. It is unfamiliar to Chinese who had their fill of oppressive feudalism. Thus, Ting's emphasis on God's love has great significance for proselytism as an attempt to break through the difficulties Christianity has always had in being accepted in China.
6 He stresses God's creation. There has always been a conflict within Christianity on whether creation or redemption should be paramount. Creation stresses the continuity and completeness God's creation holds; redemption stresses human sin and the miraculousness and hope of redemption in Christ. Ting does not stress a foregrounding of Christ because of salvation, but rather the importance of the creation of hope because of Christ (the Cosmic Christ). This is a creation of love, a creation that brings hope, and thus is the creation of a Lover through whom hope comes to humankind. "This emphasis on God as the great lover working out his purpose for the world brings in its train an understanding of reality as becoming. It gives us hope for and beyond history." 25 If Moltmann stresses the cross (suffering) in his theology of hope, then Bishop Ting, in his "theology of hope" stresses creation and love.
Ting's theology has at its center an "expanded Christology" and extends this to God's creation and God's attributes, and then from this extends it to his theory of human nature. He does not, as Rahner does, use cosmology to expand his theory of humanity or follow his concept of "anonymous Christians," but places God at the center of his theology. Nor is he like Hans Kung, proposing the kind of theological dialogue which is like a flower without fruit or what has been called courtship without marriage, but rather expresses respect for the truth, beauty and goodness outside the church. For this truth beauty and goodness, though outside the church, is within the Cosmic Christ. Nor is he like an older generation of Chinese scholars, striving to establish an "indigenous theology" on the basis of Chinese culture. Retreating to an "indigenized" Christianity from a Christianity that is already universal and modernized is unrealistic; it can only be a local indigenization. Ting proposes an entirely new form of "nationalization." "Christianity is now making itself indigenous on a large scale, at a comparatively rapid pace and at a deep level. This has never happened before in history. This is the unique characteristic of the mission of our Chinese Christians." 26 "Nationalization" points not only to faith explorations on the cultural level, but is contextual theological reflection on the level of culture, political environment and historical conditions.
An overview of Love Never Ends shows us that Ting's thinking is very critical in nature. "Critique" means an analytical study reflecting a measured approach, not a disputational one.
Ting's critique encompasses three major areas: 1) The idea, put forward by some people overseas that Christianity must oppose an atheist government; 2) "Religion as opium"; 3) Conservative and backward theological thinking in the church.
Communists are atheists. Because of ideological differences, some people at home and abroad, especially those who have experienced the trauma of the Cultural Revolution, are extremely hostile to the Communist Party and to new China and this sense of antagonism is extremely serious. Some people even believe that a true Chinese Christian would resist an atheist government and be ready for martyrdom. Bishop Ting makes the following response:
1 "Socialism is good: it is lifting our country out of 'poverty and blankness.' We support it as a matter of course," 27 though it cannot solve all humanity's ultimate questions.
2 "I am not terribly upset by the advocacy of atheism because the fact that God was, is and will be forever is not changed by any human denial of his existence. In our overwhelmingly secular society, even the very attempt to deny God is sometimes helpful by calling people's attention to the question of God." 28
3 "We can join forces with humanitarians of many sorts. ... There is a part of me which utters a hearty 'Amen' to what they [Communists] advocate and exemplify, a part of me that refuses to rebuke them, but rather warms to them and wants to work with them against forces we both want to combat, even though we get our orders from different chains of command." 29
4 "As long as there is common ground between communists and Christians as Chinese citizens, as long as there is space for us to maintain Christian worship and witness and church life, and as long as ways are open for useful dialogue on the implementation of the principle of religious freedom, we see no justification for thinking that atheists are our enemies and that belligerency is called for." 30 In "A Letter to a Believer," Ting reminds Christians in China, "should we be talking about opposition and fighting, or contact and dialogue? This is a very important question. ... the fact that those in the government do not believe in God, this does not constitute a reason for opposing the government either." 31
Ting criticizes the attitude that proposes resistance based on ignorance of the realities of China and of the actual actions of the atheist government. Such a proposal is not rational, is dangerous and not in line with the Christian spirit of reconciliation. In a secular and pluralist society, we should be concerned, not with whether the people believe in the existence of God or not, but with whether we are able to witness to the existence of God; not with what the people may believe in, but with whether we have freedom of religious belief ourselves; not with what atheists may propose, but with what they do. A government of ideals, one with a sense of responsibility, one that can solve the needs for food and shelter of 1.3 billion Chinese -- why would we want to oppose it? Whether a government is good or bad depends not on whether it holds a certain religious belief, but on what it does for the people. Jesus was basically opposed to using religion to interfere in politics. He never considered establishing a Christian nation, and in fact, in the strict sense there could not be a Christian nation or government.
The theory of religion as opium has a long history. "Religion is the opiate of the people" has become a slogan, and is regarded with almost superstitious faith by some. But Bishop Ting makes a bold and objective challenge to this mistaken view: "Religion is a complex social phenomenon that plays many roles. Its role as an opiate in society, its narcotic role, the role it has played to obliterate the spirit of rebellion among the toiling masses, is, of course, a fact. But this is only one of the roles it plays, certainly not its only role-and by no means its main role under all circumstances." 32 "Today, we should pay greater attention to religion's role in exhorting people to do well. This aspect of religion can be beneficial for unity and stability and economic production in socialist society. If the standard for the united front is not communism but patriotism, people can appreciate that believers' "good behavior" is good for the nation and need not scoff at it simply because they do not begin from a Marxist standpoint. As long as what believers' do is acceptable, religion will be more compatible with socialism and we should allow different paths to the same goal." 33 Ting's critique of the religion as opiate theory is clever and adroit and makes the point that political authority should have a tolerance of religion it should take a scientific view of religion, its mass nature, ethnic nature. international nature, long-term nature and complexity and dual with religious issues in the socialist period front a united front stance, taking into account the fact that religion can adapt to a socialist society.
In Ting's critique of "religion as the opiate of the people," we see his courage, wisdom and creativity, worthy of an astute church leader. Here we sense the spirit of the early Christian apologist Justin Martyr.Ting is not a martyr to the conflict between church and state, but an apologist who reconciles the two. In the third point. the term conservative refers to rigid, isolating, doctrinaire theology. The term “backward” refers to a disparity between faith and action, words and behavior, an inability to catch up with the modern age.
The church n China has been quite profoundly influenced by American fundamentalism of the l 920s. In itself, fundamentalism is a good thing but because of the narrowness, rigidity and self-importance of those involved, it came to be nearly synonymous overseas with " lots of enthusiasm but little knowledge," a faith unable to guide life in the modern world.
In Ting's view, the conservatism and backwardness of some Chinese theology is expressed in several ways:
1 "Antinomianism," a separation of faith from actions, empty talk about salvation and an absence of good works, such that Christianity is not respected by Chinese citizens. This has become a stumbling block to the gospel.
2 "Believers and unbelievers shall not be yoked together," exaggerating the contradiction between the two. This is certainly harmful to Chinese Christians who are a small minority.
3 An inflexible biblical eschatology that believes every word in the Bible is the literal revelation of God and ignores the idea that biblical revelation is gradual.
4 A stress on human sinfulness and its concomitant uplifting of salvation theory. This is accompanied by a downplaying of creation and a separation of creation, salvation and sanctification.
5 Intensifying the fearsomeness of the end of time and denying the meaning of this life. When Ting criticizes the backwardness of theological thinking in the church, it is not in order to negate the church, nor to disparage one sort of theology and praise another. His primary goal is to reflect theologically, to give Chinese Christians a correct picture of the tension between faith and context, so that the Chinese Church will not simply be a pragmatic structure, but a church with its own theology, one that witnesses to Christ within the universal church.
Bishop Ting's critique at one time attracted some argument and resulted in palpable tension. Today, the theory that "religion is the opiate of the people," is passe. The idea that Christians should oppose an atheist government is sometimes heard, but the Chinese Church has more and more friends, backward theology is gradually declining, and the theology of the Cosmic Christ and God is love are gradually being accepted by more and more Christians. These ideas still meet with obstacles, but doesn't the meaning of faith lie precisely in the overcoming of obstacles, thereby coming to know God's might and great love?
Many of the selections in Love Never Ends deal with the church; this could be the subject of a monograph. For this reason, I am only skimming the surface here, and will make just three points:
1 The church is both local and universal in nature. Ting strongly emphasizes the necessary balance between the two; further, only by implementing its particularity can its universal nature show forth. In the case of the Chinese Church, its particularity or localness lies in running the church well according to the three-self principle.
2 The Chinese Church's post-denominational nature.
3 The co-existence of the visible and the invisible church. On the one hand, Ting stresses the salvific community -- the visible church -- for Christ is the way of eternal life and therefore we cannot look lightly upon the visible church On the other hand, seeing the invisible church within the culture from the standpoint of the Cosmic Christ that Christ's truth, goodness and beauty also exist outside the church and that within culture (including Chinese Culture) Christ's revelation and action can also be dimly seen so that this is a church hidden or invisible within culture. This is where the views of Bishop Ting and Paul Tillich coincide, a very important and enlightening point for the Chinese Church.
Theological reflection must have a solid grounding. Without this, it becomes mere empty talk or an ivory tower. It is my view that these five C's, found in Love Never Ends, can provide such a grounding for theological reconstruction. To put it more precisely, they function like a musical staff. Developing along the lines of the staff, we will certainly compose an outstandingpiece of music.
Perhaps some people will find these five points insufficient, fearing not everything will be covered. This is naturally the case, yet perhaps the time for a work like the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas is past and it is not our present task to seek the last and encompassing word on the subject. Therefore, these five C's represent a possible direction for our present endeavor of theological reconstruction.
K.H. Ting's Cosmic Christ is a broad and rich theological concept. Modern rationalist theology limits God to the sphere of reason, denying God's transcendence, as Newton's scientific view placed God within the confines of science, God being useful only for what science could not explain, and as science grew and developed, the space for God shrunk accordingly. The Christ of the traditional church was a God barred within the sacred precincts of the church with precious little power to affect secular matters. Karl Rahner's "anonymous Christians" was a bold attempt to break through Catholic tradition into the modern age, but it has been criticized as cultural imperialism. By comparison, the Cosmic Christ is more inclusive, flexible and modern, encompassing a broader space. Perhaps there is some social gospel background to it, but it transcends the social gospel's blinkeredness. The Cosmic Christ can be said to be the liberation and sublimation of Christ, freeing Christ from the fetters of traditional concepts and giving Christ more scope: Christ should not be fettered, the Cosmos submits to Christ, and Christ transcends it.
From within his concepts of China, context and critique, Ting also brings out the importance of patriotism in theology and establishes thereon a "nationalized" and modernized Chinese Christian theology. This is a bold association and a brand new attempt, setting the coordinates for approaching Chinese Christian theological reconstruction.
NanjingTheological Review 9/2001: 3-10.
Chen Yilu is Vice-Principal of Guangdong Theological Seminary.
1 Love Never Ends was published in Nanjing by Yilin Press in September 1998. A traditional Chinese character version was later published in Hong Kong, and there are now English and Korean versions as well. 2 K.H. Ting, "Talk at a Theological Forum," in Love Never Ends ( Nanjing: Yilin, 2000), 522. [Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are taken from Love Never Ends.] 3 Ibid., 526. 4 "The Cosmic Christ." 5 Ibid., 412. 6 "A Report to My Alma Mater," 466. 7 "The Cosmic Christ," 416. 8 "God is Love," 268. 9 Ibid., 268-9. 10 "Understanding the Heart of God," 445. 11 "The Cosmic Christ," 415. 12 Ibid.
13 "A Rationale for Three-Self," 1 35.
14 "The Truth of the Resurrection," 88.
15 "A Rationale for Three-Self," 134.
16 "One Chinese Christian's View of God," 437.
17 Ibid., 431.
18 "Chinese Christians' Approach to the Bible," 383. "Without" or outside Christ, here means outside the church.
19 "Theological Mass Movement in China," 137.
20 Ibid., 138-9.
21 See "Theological Mass Movement in China," and "Another Look at Three-Self."
22 "A Report to My Alma Mater," 463.
23 "Theological Mass Movement in China," 14S. 24 "God is Love," 268.
25 "Chinese Christians' Approach to the Bible," 388.
26 "Another Look at Three-Self," 93.
27 "On Ultimate Questions," 242.
28 "A Report to My Alma Mater," 463-4.
29 Ibid., 464.
30 Ibid., 464.
31 "Letter to a Believer," 293.
32 "On Religion as Opiate," 227. 33 Ibid., 231.