Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions(CISMOR)Doshisha University

> Public Lectures > Between the Heaven and the Human:The Macro-history,Macro-parado and Macro-trend of “Sino-christian Theology” Movement.

Public Lectures

Between the Heaven and the Human:The Macro-history,Macro-parado and Macro-trend of “Sino-christian Theology” Movement.

Date: 2016/11/09 16:40-18:15
Place: Divinity Hall Chapel, Imadegawa Campus
Lecture: He Guanghu (Professor, Renmin University of China/ Research Fellow, Institute of Sino- Christian Studies, Hong Kong)
The ‘language’ component of “Sino-Christian Theology” and the Sino-Christian Theology of today in China made their appearance in the mid 1990s, but Professor He Guanghu construes the language component of Sino-Christian Theology to be employed in broad terms and considers such theology’s beginnings to lie with the Nestorians of the 7th century or, at the latest, with the Catholics of the 17th century.

Chinese civilization possesses a certain type of religious basis to its intellectual foundations which is faith the Lord of Heaven or simply in Heaven. Yet, from its early stages, the Chinese civilization created the concept of “Desecendent of Heaven,” which genetically has proven to be a culturally cancerous legacy. The Descendent of Heaven referred to the highest ruler within Chinese politics who claimed descent from the Lord of Heaven. Furthermore, the concept of Descendent of Heaven served to sanctify and absolutize dynastic rule. This concept existed from before the time of the first emperor and was systematized over time.

Confucianism criticized the intellectual justifications of dynastic rule; but it was unable to transcend the status quo, and many Confucian households were ostricized or forced to swear fealty to the authorities. Buddhism, on the other hand, respected divine descent and acknowledged the practical necessity of relying on the governing rationale and so was completely compliant with the political rule.

The sacrilization of the deception which uphols the monarch as God or direct descendent of Heaven devolved into worship of authority which itself manifested in despotic, autocratic rule. The result was the complete secularization of society. Because the economic reforms of the 1980s in China did not involve political reform, the legacy of reverence for rulers absolutized the political leadership and degenerated into a system which attacks human nature like a cancer. This cultural carcinogenic geneticism has despoiled human nature throughout China’s long history, and not just human nature but also culture and civilization up to the present.

Today, China has arrived at a threshold. It closely observes the changes of neighboring countries and rejects the concept of unique national character. China needs to refelct on the causes of the reconstruction of Europe after the demise of classical civilization. Research on the ideological and intellectual reforms and liberalizations, as well as the reception of Christianity is necessary. Christianity—that is, seeking after God’s essence and interpreting it—along with the resacrilization of the secular: these alone are the medicine which can save modern Chinese civilization which has secularized. From the 1980s, Chinese intellectuals of the Humanities began researching Christianity. Within this type of secular world, constructing God’s world is an historical imperative and inevitability.

Human consciousness is unable to move historic inevitability, and God’s plans exceed human consciousness and expectations. Within this context, possibility lies latent, even though such possibilities are out of reach of human power alone; and there are possibilities of the apparently irrational being realized. This is the biggest distinguishing characteristic of Sino-Christian Theology of the past twenty years and is the special characteristic of Sino-Christian Theology broadly defined.

In Christianity, Jesus Christ alone is God’s child and all humanity is God’s creation. All people are equally sinners in God’s eyes. Even royalty are not permited monopolized the status of God’s child. Because this type of idea conflicts with historical political systems and ideology in China, Christianity has been greatly suppressed and persecuted. This suppression is not just political but cultural and intellectual as well. Amidst such an unfavorable environment and having been suspected of being completely vanquished, Christianity made a truly amazing comeback in China in the second half of the 20th century.

Sino-Christian Theology and Christian Studies was virtually non-existent in China for 30 years between 1949 and 1979. But in the 1980s, the Dictionary of Religion and the Comprehensive Chinese Encyclopedia were published in which Christianity was treated objectively. In the 1990s, a movement toward Sino-Christian Theology in the narrow sense began and many essays and letters were drafted. This influence spread throughout academia, the business world, the literary world and the political world.

Sino-Christian Theology is forced now to confront the great cultural and traditional legacies of China as well as its pragmatic system, in addition to the issues of “culture wars,” pluralism, and interdisciplinarinism. Amidst such a hostile environment, theologians of Sino-Christian Theology have entered their fourth generation, yet Sino-Christian Theology continues to be marginalized. Nonetheless, the speaker rounded out his talk by predicting that Sino-Christian Theology would eventually come to play a major role in regenerating Chinese culture and civilization.

Translated by
Stig Lindberg (Kyoto University)