A great deal continues to be written on the need for and importance of theological reconstruction or renewal in the Chinese Protestant Church. Many of the essays included in this issue relate this to various aspects of the church's life. Wang Aiming, commenting on the nature and purpose of the movement, notes that its significance is theological and ecclesiological, as well as social and political. Other articles explore the nature of theology and how theology changes in response to social change. Kan Baoping considers what theological renewal can mean for theological education and church development.
The discussion of theological reconstruction leads to its important corollary: adaptation of Christianity to socialist society. The term "socialist society" is generally used in preference to "socialism." In calling for theological reconstruction the authors included in this issue stress that faith does not change (it does not become socialist). The emphasis is on theology changing in response to the fact of a socialist society and to changes in society under socialism. These changes include the policy of reform and openness with its greater exposure to the world and its economic reforms, as well as the attendant challenges people face in a rapidly changing society.
These essays, along with four essays grouped here as Feminist Perspectives, suggest that theologians, church leaders, pastors, and teachers of theology have responded to the call for theological renewal with an emphasis on a theological consideration of problems facing the Chinese church. In February 2000, a Discussion on Women's Work and Theological Reconstruction was held in Shanghai. The focus was on a consideration of feminist theology and hermeneutics, seeking the meaning of biblical teachings on women for Chinese women today, through a consideration of feminist theological issues grounded in the Bible. Essays from this Discussion can be found in Nanjing Theological Review, nos. 2 and 3 (2000) and Yanjing Journal of Theology, no. 1 (2000).
The necessity for greater attention to theology and a greater diversity of viewpoints continues to be contrasted to the conservative theological attitudes that presently hold sway among large numbers of Chinese Christians, especially in rural areas. The 21st century requires the Christian church to express itself in a language people today can understand and identify with. Theological renewal is also linked to the work of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in running the church well. As the TSPM celebrated its 50th anniversary in September 2000, theological reconstruction was described as the development and deepening of Three-Self.
Academic research and publications in the study of Christianity continue to flourish. Zhuo Xinping, director of the Institute for Christian Studies and of the Institute of World Religions in Beijing., and editor of a new journal, Study of Christianity, provides an overview of the state of Christian studies in China, noting developments both in the academy and in the Protestant and Catholic churches. He does not limit his focus to mainland China, but to efforts in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau as well. He hopes for greater sharing and communication with scholars and institutes all across China, as well as "new fruits" from multi- and cross-disciplinary research in the mainland.
Prof. Luo Zhenfang, long-time professor of New Testament at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, a gentle soul loved and respected by his students and well known in church circles overseas, died September 22, 2000, at the age of 81. He is remembered here in two tributes by colleagues.
Contents of the Yanjing Journal of Theology and the Nanjing Theological Review for the year 2000 have been included for those who do not have ready access to the originals. Unfortunately, it was not possible to include updated church statistics in this issue. These should be available following the 7th National Chinese Christian Conference scheduled for November 2001 and will be included in volume 16 of the Chinese Theological Review.
I am grateful to the authors of the essays that appear here for allowing their work to be shared through translation, and apologize if the resultant translation does not do justice to their ideas. I would like to thank Elisabeth Wickeri for her assistance with translation in this issue. Throughout the journal, the Chinese term lianghui refers to the "two bodies" - the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China (TSPM). The English title of Bishop Ting's book, Love Never Ends, is used when referring to either the Chinese or English edition. Quotations from this work are taken from the English edition, and page references in translations have been changed to reflect this. In some cases, direct quotations have been changed to indirect quotations where the English source was either unavailable or unidentifiable, and some notes have been deleted.
The editor and publishers would like to thank the Council for World Mission for a three-year ecumenical project grant made to the China Christian Council for the partial support of this journal. As editor, I would like to thank the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia, Dr. Marvin Hoff and Mrs. Joanne Hoff for their continuing support.