Last week, I wrote a post explaining the structure of many Chinese churches and the influence of patronage in pastoral relationships. By coincidence, ChinaSource Quarterly just published an entire issue discussing denominationalism in China. In case you missed it, the previous issue of ChinaSource Quarterly focused on contextualization!
The guest editor, Mary Li Ma, recently wrote Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China, which is already receiving acclaim from reviewers. She opens with an editorial “Let’s Be Honest about Denominationalism in China,” where she writes,
When it comes to discussions on denominations or denominationalism in China, Christians easily get stuck on the basic questions: Are there now denominations among churches in China? Isn’t China on the post-denominational end of the continuum? Should there be denominations? If so, how should they work?
The first two are factual questions, and the last two are more theological or missiological. This issue of ChinaSource Quarterly seeks to address these ongoing questions but also to extend the discussion beyond what meets the eye on the China scene. (For example, many of these issues boil down to the problem of leadership.) With the exception of one, the contributors to this issue are all Chinese nationals who have lived the experiences of the phenomenon in China.
Denominationalism or Nondenominationalism: Is There a Third Way?
The author looks at the history of denominationalism in China and discusses what being part of a denomination means.
The Waning of a Pragmatic Cosmopolitanism:Western Denominations in the Views of Cheng Jingyi and Ni Tuosheng
Sun considers the differences between the views of Cheng and Ni regarding denominations in the first half of the twentieth century.
The Influence of Denominations on Church Organizational Structure in China
The issues of theological stance and church governance that impact the decision of whether or not to be a part of a denomination are discussed.
Denominationalism: A Double-edged Sword
The author alerts us to the dangers that denominationalism can bring, especially with a new generation of educated, urban Christians who desire to pursue godliness.
The Shaping of Christianity in China Today
Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China by Li Ma and Jin Li Two book reviews provide Eastern (Jun Wang) and Western (Richard Cook) perspectives.
Questions Beneath the Surface
Brent Fulton, Editor
The Collected Works of Watchman Nee
The books, articles, and sermons of Watchman Nee available online in Chinese and English.