Chinese Theological Review 14

From the Editor

Volume 14 marks the renewed publication of the Chinese Theological Review after a year's hiatus. A new beginning is a time for rethinking and new directions. Thus, in response to readers- suggestions, this and future issues will include focus on themes and concerns in the continuing development of Chinese theology. This provides the opportunity to draw on older material that could not be used in past issues for either editorial or space considerations. Two such essays appear in this issue, providing background and insight into the current interest in shenxue jianshe, or theological reconstruction.(1)

The call for theological reconstruction can be seen as a renewed effort to divest Chinese theological thinking of received viewpoints imported by conservative foreign missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries. In this it recalls the theological mass movement of the 1950s. Church leaders and educators have long been concerned about the need for more diversity and pluralism in theological thinking in the church while emphasizing adherence to the basic tenets of the faith. This is seen as especially important for a minority church in a developing socialist country, a church that has struggled hard to be identified with the people of China and to make the church better known and more acceptable to the non-Christian populace. Rigidly held views on belief vs. unbelief pose a possible threat to the hard won and increasing space for religious relievers in Chinese society. Me idea that Christians should not cut themselves oil from the people, or from government efforts at unity and stability, reform and openness is reflected in many of the essays in this volume. Theological reconstruction asks that theological thinking be opened up to a variety of viewpoints, new insights from within the church, as well as new ideas from the scholarly study of Christianity outside the church.

In his opening remarks at the second meeting of the Sixth National Christian Conference' held in Jinan, Shandong, 11-18 November 1998. Bishop K.H. 'Ping spoke op. the biblical evidence for a continuing and developing revelation that would lead to a more open approach to matters of faith. Following his address, other speakers highlighted the need to intensify theological reconstruction. For Han Wenzao, Su Deci and Chen Zemin, theological reconstruction also involves improving theological education and training intellectuals within the church who can both carry theology forward and dialogue with scholars outside the church. Wang Aiming's recent essay on self-government points toward some of the issues involved in relating theological reconstruction to other urgent concerns facing the church.

In various ways, the first four selections in the Articles & Essays section, and Du Fengying in her sermon, touch on an issue that is very much at the heart of theological reconstruction. This issue has been expressed as belief vs. unbelief: the "saved" and the unsaved"; the relationship between creation and redemption; how to understand truth, goodness and beauty outside the church; and the practical concern of how to relate to the majority of unbelievers in China. Each of these authors seeks to draw both sides of the equation into the whole of God's creation. For them, as for Xiao Ye, "whether the Chinese church will adopt an attitude of openness to its own people will determine its development and future." (p. 5)

Also included in this section are talks and a sermon presented at a consultation on ecumenical partnership between the China Christian Council and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) held in Louisville, KY in March 2000. The joint statement issued at the end of the consultation has also been included. These and other presentations at the consultation offer good summaries for an overseas audience of the ongoing work of the church in China, as well as its commitment to ecumenical relationships with other churches on a basis of true partnership and mutual respect.

I am happy to include the 1999 contents for berth the Yanjing and Nanjing journals, which should be interesting and useful for those who do have access to these publications. Others may be included in future. There is also a page on current (1999) statistics for the Protestant church in China, which will be updated each year.

Volume 13 of this journal carried a number of selections from the then forthcoming English edition of Bishop K. H. Ting's papers, Love Never Ends. Copies of the 540-page hardcover book can be ordered directly from the China Christian Council, 17 Da Jian Yin Xiang. Nanjing 210029, China. E-Mail: . Fax: (The cost is US $30 by surface mail and US $35 by air. A limited number are also available for North American orders from the editorial office of this journal at a cost of US $30, surface mail. Please refer to the address on the copyright page.

I am grateful to the authors of the essays that appear here for allowing their work to be shared through translation. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. Through 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. When the reference is not clear from the context, [Chinese edition] appears in brackets.

The editor and publishers would like to thank the Council for World Mission fix a three-year ecumenical project grant made to the China Christian Council for the partial support of this journal. As editor, would like to thank the Foundation for theological Education in South East Asia for their renewed and continuing support, and Dr. Marvin Hoff and Mrs. Joanne Hoff for their kindness and support. I would also like to thank our readers for their patience through an uncertain time and their continued interest in this publication. With this issue, all editorial and subscription matters have been moved to San Francisco Theological Seminary. Correspondence should be referred to the editor, using the address found on the copy- right page. I am grateful to the Seminary for providing this home for the publication.

Janice Wickeri

San Anselmo

1. This term has been translated in various ways. In these pages, "theological reconstruction" is used as a working translation, close to the original, and with echoes of past movements and emphases.