Chinese Theological Review 15

The Study of Christianity in China Today

Zhuo Xinping

Research in Christianity by Chinese scholars began in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. The debates between missionaries and the Chinese literati of the time over the relationship between Christianity and Chinese thought and culture-Christ vs. Confucius, orthodoxy vs. heresy, Chinese vs. barbarian, along with the Rites Controversy and the Term Question-both stimulated and influenced the study and assessment of Christianity, on many levels and from many perspectives. But its status as an independent discipline in the humanities and social sciences and as the interdisciplinary field of modem religious studies is a 20th-century development. In the first half of the 20th century, the Christian denominations in China and their seminaries initiated some basic research and theoretical inquiries. Historians at some research organizations and institutions of higher learning undertook important textual research. In the 1950s and 1960s, scholarly circles in China engaged in related research in history, of philosophy, intercultural exchange, and investigation of social conditions. Since the late 1970s, contemporary studies in Christianity in China have entered the stage of systematic enquiry and substantive achievements have been realized.

1 Organization of Chinese Studies of Christianity

Organizationally, the study of Christianity in China can be roughly divided into four systems: specialized research institutes engaged in the study of Christianity; the Christian studies bodies of government departments; related departments at tertiary educational institutions and the religious studies institutes and centers for the study of Christianity that they founded; and important schools and research bodies of the Chinese Christian churches.

The main components of the system of specialized institutes for religious research are the research institutes under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and their counterparts at the provincial and municipal level. They have more personnel and their research is more systematic and comprehensive. Of these, the most important is the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, founded in 1964 (in 1977 the name was changed to the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). Research in Christianity is led by its Office of Research in Christianity and the Institute for Christian Studies. In addition, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences set up its Religious Studies Institute in 1980, the Religious Studies Institute of the Yunnan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences was established in 1984, and the Institute for the Study of Historical Religion of the Shaanxi Provincial Academy of Social Sciences in 1995. All of these have initiated research in Christianity.

The religious studies bodies of government departments rely mainly on the religious studies center of the Religious Affairs Bureau of the State Council, whose emphasis is on the current state and development of Christianity. It publishes the monthly Religion and World, providing a great deal of news and information for the study of contemporary Christianity.

Related departments in tertiary educational institutions and their religious research institutes whose research involves Christianity include the religious studies departments of Beijing University and Wuhan University, the Religious Studies Institute of Nanjing University, the Religious Studies Institute of Fujian Normal University, the Christian Culture Research Institute of People's University (Beijing), the Institute for the Study of Christianity at Fudan University (Shanghai), the Institute for the Study of Christianity at Zhejiang University, the Central China Normal University's Institute on the History of Church-Run Universities in China, Zhengzhou University's Institute of Religious Studies, the Beijing Foreign Languages University's Institute for the Study of Foreign Sinology, Shandong University's Institute for the Study of Modern Chinese Christianity (which became the Shandong University Institute of Religious Studies in 1998), Zhongshan University's Institute for the Study of Religious Culture, the Institute for the Study of Christian Culture at Shaanxi Normal University, and related research bodies at other institutions, such as the Yanjing Research Institute, the Matteo Ricci group of the Ming History Association, etc. The hallmark of these institutes is that they can do relatively concentrated concentrate research in a field or specialized topic that is fairly profound and concrete. But most of them de not deal comprehensively with Christianity.

Christian schools and research bodies were more numerous in the first half of the twentieth century; many Christian studies institutes at church universities were quite outstanding. Most Christian research bodies in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau since the 1950s are of this type. Before 1949, there were about twenty Christian universities in China. On the Protestant side, these included:

Yenching University (1916)
Tung Wu University (1901)
St. John's University (1905)
Jinling University (1911)
Hujiang University (1915)
Cheeloo University (1917)
Jinling Women's Univ. (1915)
Huazhong University (1910)
Fujian United Univ. (1918)
San Yu University (1927)
Zhejiang University (1910)
Lingnan University (1916)
Hwa Nan Women's Academy. (1914)
Huaxi United Univ. (1910)
Xiangya Medical Academy (1914)
Beijing United Medical College (1906)
Wuhan Wenhua School of Librarianship (1929)

Catholic-run universities included Zhendan University ( Aurora) (1903), Jingu University (1922), which became the Tianjin Academy of Industry and Commerce in 1933, Fujen University (1925), and Aurora Women's Academy (1937). These universities, to a greater or lesser degree, did undertake some study of Christianity, but in a very unsystematic and unspecialized way. Additionally, the Christian churches ran various levels of theological schools to train pastors and clergy and to engage in theology, with more focus on materials for theological education, publishing commentaries on the Bible, and issues of church development and theological construction.

In the early 1950s, Catholics had about twenty seminaries for training clergy and engaging in theological research. Since the early 1980s, the Chinese Catholic Church has reopened seven general seminaries and four novitiates, including the Chinese Catholic Seminary (1983), the Shanghai Sheshan Seminary (1982), the Beijing Catholic Seminary (1982), the Shenyang Catholic Seminary (1983), the Sichuan Seminary (1983), the Wuhan Zhongnan Seminary (1983), Hebei Catholic Seminary (1984), the Shanxi Catholic Seminary (1985), the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Catholic Seminary (1985), the Shandong Sacred Seminary and the Xi'an Catholic Seminary (1991), among others.

On the Protestant side, in 1917, there were 48 male seminaries and 16 female seminaries nationwide. In 1949, there were still 48; of these, the China Baptist Seminary, Jinling (Nanking) Seminary, and Yanjing ( Beijing) Seminary had the highest cultural and academic level. In 1952, Jinling ( Nanjing) Union Theological Seminary was established, a union of twelve existing seminaries:

Nanking Seminary, Jinling Women's Seminary, Shanghai Central Anglican Seminary, Shanghai Baptist Seminary, Hangzhou China Seminary, Wuxi North China Seminary, Jinan Jilu (Cheeloo) Seminary, Zhangzhou China Seminary, Fuzhou Union Seminary, Ningpo Trinity Bible College, Zhenjiang Baptist Bible College, and Jinan Mingdao Bible College.

In 1953, Yanjing Union Theological Seminary was established, uniting eleven former seminaries: the original School of Religion of Yenching(Yanjing) University, Beijing Seminary, United Women's Holy Word Academy, Beijing Holiness Church Seminary, Shenyang Northeast Seminary, Henan Kaifeng Inland China Baptist Theological Seminary, Shekou Lutheran Seminary, Hunan Bible College, Beijing Assemblies of God Truth Academy, Huazhong United Theological Seminary, and Beijing Xiangshan Monastery. In 1961, Yanjing Union Theological Seminary joined with Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, forming China's only remaining Protestant seminary at the time, based in Nanjing.

Beginning in the early 1980s, the Chinese Protestant churches now run seventeen seminaries:

Jinling ( Nanjing) Union Theological Seminary (reopened in 1982)
Northeast Christian Seminary (1982)
Zhejiang Seminary (1984)
Sichuan Seminary (1984)
East China Seminary (1984)
Zhongnan Seminary (1985)
Yanjing Seminary (1986)
Anhui Seminary (1986)
Guangzhou Union Seminary (1986)
Shandong Seminary (1987)
Shaanxi Bible School (1988)
Yunnan Seminary (1989)

Additionally, Catholic seminaries and research institutions in Taiwan include Fu Jen (Furen) University, which in 1992 set up an Institute of Religious Studies, the first department of religion in a university in Taiwan, the Ricci Center (1966), Luwen University Verbiest Cultural Association, Piyue Seminary, Taiwan General Seminary, Sacred Heart Seminary, North Regional Catholic Union Novitiate. Protestants have corresponding bodies at Central (Zhongyuan) University, Tunghai (Donghai) University, CCK University, Taiwan University, National Qinghua (Tsinghua) University and Politics University. Taiwan Seminary, Taizhong Taiwan Seminary, Taiwan Baptist Seminary, Zhongfu Institute of Religious Studies, Christianity and China Research Center (formerly " Chinese Church Research Center") are also important for the study of Christianity.

In Hong Kong, Catholic research bodies include, the Holy Spirit Study Center, the Diocesan Center for Teaching and Research, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Catholic Progressive Society, the Catholic Bible Seminary, the Hong Kong Catholic Bible Society, the Hong Kong Chinese Theology Society, etc. On the Protestant side there are denominational educational and research institutions that include Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong China Theology Society, the Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Religion and Philosophy, the Theology Division and Chung Chi (Chongji) College, the Tao Fong Shan Christian Center, the Christian Study Center on Chinese Religion & Culture, the China Graduate School of Theology, the China Evangelical Seminary, China Seminary, the Christian Culture Study Society, Evangel Seminary, Hong Kong Seminary, Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary, the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology, Bethel Bible Seminary, the Alliance Bible Seminary, China Bible Seminary, St. John's Seminary, China Baptist Seminary, Graduate School of Christian Education, Lingnan Academy, etc. And in Macau, the Macau Catholic Bible Society, the Macau Education Society, the Diocesan Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Macau Christian Union, Macau Bible School, also undertake more systematic studies in Protestantism.

In addition to universities and seminaries, there are Chinese church bodies that specialize in research work, such as Beijing's Catholic Center for the Study of Theology, the Shanghai Diocesan Guangqi Society, the Taiwan Ricci Society, the Tao Fong Shan Christian Study Center on Chinese Religion & Culture in Hong Kong, the Christian Center for the Study of Chinese Religion and Culture, etc.

In addition to academic bodies specializing in the study of Protestant Christianity, there are some scholars in research bodies in the social and natural sciences who devote most of their energy to the study of various aspects of Christianity; for example, in the Institute of Philosophy, Institute of History, Institute of World History, Institute of Modem History, Institute of Sociology, Institute of Nationality Studies, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; the Institute of the history of Natural Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Science; the Institute of History, the Institute of Philosophy of the Shanghai CASS, the Departments of History and Philosophy at Fudan University in Shanghai, the Department of History at Huadong Normal University, the Department of History at Nankai University, the Henan Academy of Literature, and the Institute of Philosophy at Hubei University.

2 The Contemporary State of Religious Studies in China

Chinese scholars' study of religion for the most part includes the history of world Christianity, Christian theology, philosophy, aesthetics, ethical thought, the study of the Bible, the history of Christianity in China, the study of the major denominations and their mission boards and missionary religious orders, the current state and trends in the development of Christianity, the study of Christian organizations and famous personages, the study of Christian art and culture, and so on. In these studies, the emphasis is on the history of Christianity in China and its current status, the point of departure being a comprehensive history of Christianity in China: Nestorianism in the Tang dynasty, the Yelikewen in the Yuan, Catholicism during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the development of Protestantism in China, Christianity since the Republican era, Chinese attitudes toward Christianity and the attack on and defense of religion (including "missionary cases," the anti-Christian Movement, and so on), the relationship between Christianity and Chinese culture, the history of Christian colleges in China, the indigenization of Christianity and the "Three-Self' Patriotic Movement, along with catalogues of historical documents relating to Christianity in China. But overall, the study of Christianity in China is still at the stage of collecting materials, individual case studies, and introductory historical studies. At present, some monographs and booklets have appeared, such as Lin Jinshui's Ricci and China (1996); Li Lanqin's Biography of Johann Adam Schall Von Bell (1995); Sun Shangyang' s Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi (19.93), with mention of Ricci, Johann Adam Schall Yon Bell, Ferdinand Verbiest, Xu Guangqi, Yang Tingjun, Wang Wei, Ai Rulue, Wei Kuangguo, J. Leighton Stuart, Y.T. Wu, T.C. Chao and others; the "Rites Controversy," the "Term Question," "independence," "indigenization," etc. There are a number of outlines of the historical development of Christianity in China, such as Xu Zongze's Introduction to the History of Catholic Missions in China (1938); Wang Zhixin's Outline History of Christianity in China (1940); Yang Senfu's History of Chinese Christianity (1968); and Gu Weimin's Christianity and Society in Modern China (1996). What is lacking is a general work of the history of Christianity in China: comprehensive in scope, well-substantiated, and setting forth a fresh point of view.

In addition, in the discussion of issues around the developmental trend of Chinese Christianity, the terminology for the "sinicization of Christianity" or "indigenization" is not uniform, and bias on both sides is marked. One group believes that the integrity of the Chinese church and its theology demands that it rid itself of the influence in the modem era of western missionaries and their theological thinking, methods and language, and engage with Chinese culture in order to realize their goal of an "indigenous church" or "indigenous theology."

The other side feels that the very terms "sinicization" or "indigenization" in themselves are misunderstandings of the true nature of Christianity. In their view, Christianity in China is not a question of "sinicization" or "indigenization": the idea of some sort of '-ization' is inimical to the meaning of the ecumenical and transcendent nature of Christianity. And thus, they suggest that a an understanding of communicating the Christian message should have a holistic basis. They propose to substitute "contextualization" and "mother-tongue theology" for the term indigenization, and in the "context" of China, put their efforts into the construction and development of "theology in Chinese." Of course, many scholars have reminded them, as they embark on this idealistic course, not to forget that Christianity, in its east-west dissemination and north-south development, is replete with instances of "cloaking itself in culture" and "syncretism." Christianity was introduced into China from the West, and its attendant Western cultural coloration is quite obvious. So-called "sinicization" is precisely the opposite of its western-ness, and in itself it suggests holding both sides at once, a very open attitude.

Compared to the study of Christianity overseas, especially in the West, that in 20th century China is on the level of a second- year course in religious studies. Usually, the history of Christianity, Christian scriptures, the history of Christian thought and the study of Chinese Christianity contain what overseas would be the various branches of the discipline: study of church history, dogmatics, religious philosophy, biblical theology, practical theology, evangelical theology, canon law and church governance, study of ancient texts, and Christian art and literature. Thus, there is nothing particularly theological about the main stream in mainland Chinese studies of Christianity in the latter half of the 20th century; rather these are inquiries into the many aspects of the humanities and the social sciences. The special features of Chinese studies of Christianity include the historical development of Christianity, Christian theological thinking, the history of Chinese Christianity and church education, the study of missionary cases, Christian culture, the current situation of Christianity, etc. The study of the history of Christianity includes general history and period histories, the history of global evangelism and regional developments, monasticism, and religious orders, along with the history of Vatican City and the corresponding opening up of study of the papacy. Several short histories and relevant works have been published, but there is an absence of comprehensive histories. The church histories that have been published are roughly put together outlines. We lack a multi-volume history of the history of global Christianity that is clearly argued and well researched.

The study of medieval Christianity, as well as the modem and contemporary periods is very weak. Period studies focus on the history of the 16th century religious reformation, and the fruits of these are fairly numerous. The history of world evangelism and the history of regional developments have coalesced into the study of evangelism and historical development of Chinese Christianity. It takes shape around Ricci and the history of the Jesuit missionaries in the Ming and Qing dynasties. This has opened up the study of east-west intellectual and cultural exchange, for example, Xu Minglong's Pioneers of East- West Cultural Exchange (1993); Xiong Yuezhi' s Western Learning in China and Late Qing Society (1994); Sun Shangyang's Christianity and Late-Ming Confucianism (1994); Lin Jinshui's Ricci and China Zhang Kai Zhe's Pantoja and China A Study of the Jesuit Policy of "Assimilation" (1997). The study of east-west social and political clashes has formed around the study of modem missionary cases, for example: Research into Missionary Cases in Modern China (1987); Zhang Li and Liu Jiantang's History of Missionary Cases in China (1987); and, in particular, Chen Zenghui et al of the History Department at Fujian Normal University who edited a collection of missionary case materials, published as Series of Modern Chinese Historical Materials. The first three volumes of six of Late Ming Missionary Cases, were collated and edited in collaboration with the Palace Museum, with Zhu Jinpu as chief editor, and published 1996-1998 by Zhonghua Press. There are also efforts underway to systematically write annals of (Chinese) Christianity on the national and local levels, for example, Zhuo Xinping's Annals of Christianity and Judaism (1998), which is part of the General Annals of Chinese Culture Series.

The movement for theological reconstruction in Chinese Christianity has attracted the attention of scholars in China and abroad. Its latest explorations and studies include Wang Weifan's Chinese Theology and Its Cultural Sources (1997); and Selected Writings of K.H Ting [English translation, Love Never Ends] (1998) published by Jiangsu Translation Press. The study of the history of monasticism and religious orders in China lays particular emphasis on the Jesuits, especially Jesuits in China. The work of a French scholar, Biographies and Bibliographies of the Jesuits in China has been translated several times in 20th century China; in a single volume by Feng Chengjun published in 1939 by the Commercial Press in Changsha, in a complete translation edited by Hao Zhenhua and Lu Junling, published by Zhonghua Books in 1995; a translation by Mei Chengqi and Mei Chengjun entitled Biographies of Jesuits in China in the Mingand Qing (1551-1773), was published in 1997 by the Shanghai Diocese Guangqi Press. Studies of the other religious orders, however, are scarce; nothing systematic has appeared. Translations of historical studies of the papacy appeared in the 1960s, for example, Shi Ziyu's selection and translation of A History of the Papacy (1962). Since the 1980s, discussion of the topic has gradually increased, but these inquiries have been extremely simplistic and unsystematic and therefore need further strengthening. Studies of the Vatican have concentrated on contemporary Sino-Vatican relations. Relevant studies by Hong Kong scholars include Lin Ruiqi's Reflections on the Modern History of Chinese Catholicism (1995); Liang Jiefen's Chinese Communist-Vatican Relations, 1976-1994) (1995), etc. Mainland scholars like Ren Yanli have also begun to open up the study of Sino- Vatican relations.

Inquiries into Christian theology and philosophy overseas are generally subsumed into theological-philosophical studies in Christian circles. Topics include dogmatic theology, systematic theology, foundational theology, history of dogmatics, history of theology, Christian philosophy, history of Christian thought, etc. Theological studies overseas place comparatively more stress on the construction of theological systems, the distinctions among theological schools and the history of theology. Most of those that are more influential are works by systematic theologians works on the history of Christian thought. Inquiries by Chinese scholars in this area began with the translation and introduction of foreign theological works. Original work in the strict sense in this area actually began in the 1980s. Though Chinese scholars have published some monographs and essays on certain topics or thinkers, there is no systematic work of the history of Christian thought to recommend. The latest development in this area are works which emphasize contemporary theological trends: Zhuo Xinping's Contemporary Western Protestant Theology and his Contemporary Western Catholic Theology (both 1998) engage in a profound and objective discussion, their systematic, inclusive research, based on both a subjective and objective understanding, has caused a breakthrough in this area. Several works have appeared to fill the void in the study of theological philosophy of the Middle Ages. Among these, Zhao Dunhua's 1500 Years of Christian Philosophy has attracted scholarly attention. Along with the new scholarly examination and reassessment of society and thought in the Middle Ages that took place in the latter half of the 20th century, studies of Christian philosophy in the Middle Ages by Chinese scholars will be more profound and detailed, with new attainments in sources, understanding, and viewpoints. In the study of Christian theology and philosophy, in the areas of theory of God, Christo logy, ethical views, social viewpoint, political theology, homeland theology or contextualized theology, animated and intense discussion and writing have taken place among Chinese scholars. Their traditional interest in medieval Scholasticism and neo-Thomism has broadened to include new areas and inquiries into hermeneutics, theological anthropology, and postmodem theology.

The main accomplishment in biblical studies in the 20th century in China has been the work of church scholars in the translation of the Bible: T.C. Chao, Cheng Zhiyi, Li Rongfang, Xu Dingxin, Luo Zhenfang, and Wang Shengyin have all produced studies and translations. For example, T.C. Chao's Life of Jesus (1935); Li Rongfang's Guide to Study of the Old Testament (1948); Cheng Zhiyi's Word Studies in the Text of the New Testament (1956); Luo Zhenfang's Manual of the New Testament (1990); Xu Dingxin's Guide to the Old Testament (1991); and Wang Shengyin's translation of The Dead Sea Scrolls (1995) have been original contributions to the study of the Bible. Zhu Weizhi has made a name for himself in the field of the Bible as literature. Catholic scholars in Hong Kong and Taiwan, through the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, have edited Dictionary of the Bible (1974) and are widely influential in the area of bible research. Since the 1980s, in the humanities and social sciences, new talents in biblical studies such as Liang Gong and others have appeared. Because of the difficulty of using the ancient biblical languages and the inconvenience of using original materials, in the branch areas of New Testament, Old Testament, pseudopigrapha, Dead Sea scrolls and so on, Chinese scholars are mainly active in translation and introductory research. Where Chinese scholarly activities differ from those of scholars overseas, is that, rather than doing textual criticism, archaeological excavations, and terminological commentary, they concentrate more on the social and cultural influence of the Bible. Discussion focuses on Bible history, evolution, literature, translation, and research from the standpoint of the greater cultural milieu in which religion exists.

In late 20th century, Chinese scholars have paid special attention to the study of the sociology of Christianity, which they view as an important component of the study of the sociology of religion. Originally, the sociology and psychology of Christianity, pastoral theology, Christian liturgy, and phenomenological studies were part of western Christian practical theology, and were related to the study of evangelism, comparative religion, and dialogical theology. Here Chinese scholars have broken the bonds of theology while extending the scope of sociology. Canon law is composed of Catholic legal codes and legal history. Since the 1980s, Chinese legal scholars and religious scholars have taken a few steps in this field and Chinese Catholic circles have also fostered their own church scholars who will specialize in the field. Besides the systematic translation and objective assessment of works of theological theory, the work of Chinese scholars in ancient and historical texts includes the collection and compilation of historical materials of Chinese churches, and especially the compiling and study of resources relating to missionaries to China and missionary cases, and the biographies and papers of famous church personages. In addition, the study of Christian culture, art, and literature has become a hot topic among Chinese scholars. This includes the Christian cultural tradition, literary works, legends and myths, Christian painting, sculpture, architecture, and specialized studies in the fields of music and art. But there is an absence of links and contacts in terms of course planning and comprehensive inquiry among these cross- and multidisciplinary studies. They give a single angle, and thus have not yet entered the ideal realm of "inclusivity."

Viewing the situation of Chinese studies of Christianity in the 20th century as a whole, we have a new force coming to the fore. The particularity and the uniqueness of the existence and development of Chinese Christianity lends to Chinese studies of Christianity their own unique meaning, such that it is able to take its own seat of importance in contemporary research in Christianity. Furthermore, in terms of the relationship between Christianity and Chinese culture, the dialogue with traditional Chinese thought, and the meaning and influence of Christianity on the modernization process in China, Chinese scholars have the possibility of being in prime position, on the cutting edge.

Under the prerequisite of systematization and regularization, the various fields and branches of studies of Christianity in China are developing along a path of comparative studies that reveal its special characteristics. Systematization and regularization require that Chinese scholars in related research bodies to fill the void in all fields of research in Christian studies, and to make a breakthrough in major research. Its special Chinese character is apparent in its grasp of what is suitable for China, in the urgent need for practical leading edge topics and hot issues, especially for strengthening research in cross-disciplinary areas. For this, the original, leading edge topics that Chinese academics are developing at the turn of the century include the development of contemporary Christian theology; comparative religions and inter-religious dialogue; Christianity and world peace and environmental protection; historical change and development in social and political relations of western Christianity; Christianity and the formation of national cultures and economic development; Christianity and modernization and the postmodern issue; the history and current situation of Chinese Christianity; the compilation of historical resources of Chinese churches; compilation and research into documents related to Matteo Ricci; selection and editing of important Christian documents; research in the Dead Sea scrolls; a new assessment of medieval Christian thought and culture; theological commentaries, etc. The important theoretical questions and practical hot issues these touch on include the modernization and contextualization of Christianity; ecumenism and the movement for unity; the relationship between Christianity and postmodernism; contemporary Catholic social theory and practical concerns; the Christian approach toward socio-politics, the ecology, human rights, feminism, race, etc.; the church and the secularization of society, the pluralistic development of contemporary fundamentalism, evangelicalism; liberalism; Christian conservatism and the Protestant right; the meaning of western theology and its philosophical metaphysical system, its application, and a new assessment; Christian ultimate concerns and real life; Christianity and regional development; and the analysis, prospects, and forecast for 21 51 century Christianity.

Chinese scholarship in the late 20th century has also strengthened its study of the major foundations of Christianity. Its emphasis and field of vision is on materials related to the general history of Christianity; introductions to Christianity; history of Christian thought; history of Christian ethics; Christian cultural history; history of Christian spirituality; historical Christian documents; history of biblical research; the Vatican and the history of the papacy. In the process of opening up important research with Chinese characteristics, the history of the development of Chinese Christianity; the evolution of Christian theology; research in theology in Chinese; the indigenization movement in Chinese Christianity; the history of Chinese Bible translation; research on church-run schools in China; the compilation of historical materials of Chinese Christianity; Christian dialogue with Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism; and the local annals of Chinese Christianity were also opened up. In addition, contemporary ecclesiology (church structure, organization, and fundamentalist denominations); Christianity and international politics; investigations of Christianity and Chinese essence; the coordination and adaptation of Christianity and Chinese society; the meaning and function of Christianity in the clash and melding of civilizations; development and change in eastern European orthodox churches following the dissolution of the Soviet Union; the history and current situation of Christianity in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau; contemporary Chinese Christian theology; trends in humanitarian thought and folk beliefs; trends in modern Catholic thought and the Chinese Catholic Church; the "culture Christian" phenomenon; the prospects for the influence of Christianity on the future development of China. All of these have drawn the attention and study of Chinese scholars. And in the modern academic atmosphere that stresses interdisciplinary courses, and all sorts of cross-fertilization, the study of Christianity has formed relationships with the fields of philosophy, sociology, psychology, and within many fields of Christian studies.

Since the 1980s, 20th century Chinese studies of Christianity within the humanities and social sciences are beginning to take shape. Many scholars originally in the fields of literature, philosophy and history have turned to research in many aspects of Christianity, and have brought new vision, new methods, and new views to the systematic study of Christianity. There are many new topics in these areas and these scholars are very active, which adds to the prospects for future building of the discipline. Furthermore, scholars within the Chinese Christian church have in the last twenty years undertaken devoted inquiries and conscientious study and have begun to make Chinese Christianity pay attention to its own social and religious functions, reviving and developing activity in theological study, in thought, culture, and academic realms. In this way, the Chinese church, too, offers to the new liveliness and the many new questions and challenges modem Chinese society faces in its transitional process a variety of topics from its interaction with a broad range of Christian studies overseas. This has attracted wide interest and attention. Chinese scholars combine the contemporary open world of information with Chinese essence to develop their studies of Christianity, and open up a way forward that is both intensive and extensive, which enables it to make new breakthroughs in many areas of research and to gain a pioneering academic position in some fields.

Of course, because 20th century Chinese study of Christianity got off to a rather late start, it met with rather a lot of difficulties, and there is a gap between it and foreign, especially western, research in Christianity in terms of overall strength and achievements. To decrease this gap, and to have an important seat in world Christian studies, Chinese scholars should actively develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to ensure that contemporary Chinese studies in Christianity no longer drift outside international level research, but become genuinely a component part of it. Chinese studies of Christianity should also deal appropriately with the relationship between "globalization" and "indigenization," for openness, complementarity, and commonality, in new directions for academic study. But domestically, Chinese scholars need to strengthen horizontal contacts and information exchange among personnel engaged in systematic research, societies and research centers should organize, harmonize, and promote scientific research activities in this field, They should promote complementarity, as well as intellectual innovation, and strengthen the foundation for contacts among scholars in the study of Christianity in Institute of Religions, in the Institute of History, the Institute of World History, the Institute of Philosophy, the Institute of the History of Sino-Foreign Relations, and the Institute for the Study of Chinese Judaism. Those engaged in research in disciplines related to Christianity should establish closer academic ties and cooperation outside their fields. In this way, the corps of those who study Christianity in China will grow and the fruits of their research multiply.

Study of Christianity, 1 (1999): 1-14.

Zhuo Xinping is Director of the Institute for Christian Studies and Director of the Institute of World Religions in Beijing.