Listening in the Course of History
Director of Chinese Culture Research Center
Looking back the two decades’ journey Chinese Culture Research Center went through, we can see a vivid footstep in its commitment of rooting and embodying the gospel in Chinese culture, and promoting a deeper understanding of the Christian faith against the background of Chinese culture and Mainland Chinese church today. Learning from the past, efforts are combined to edify churches in Hong Kong and Mainland China. This long path of endeavor will be continued and evolved by our successors.
How will our Chinese Culture Research Center progress in the next decade? There is only one question we have in mind: What criteria were there for church in China to gain worldwide recognition after 1949? The Chinese church went through three major reflections in the course of history. The first took place after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The second was the Anti-Christian Movement in the 1920s. The third reflective time occurred in the 1950s when the church reflected on the subjects of missions in China, Christian faith and Chinese culture, which resulted in significant value and contribution to Chinese church and world missions. In the past sixty years, China has undergone dramatic changes and the churches therein are tested and tried. Incredibly, Christianity did not perish like Da Qin Jingjiao (Church of the East) but thrived throughout China. How was that done? Undeniably, God has worked new and great things these past six decades. If we have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, then we are disregarding His works (Ps. 28:5).
As the thorny and glorious path of the Chinese church unfold, reviews are necessary after certain stages. Reflecting on history and observing God’s deeds throughout the ages, Mainland Chinese church could understand God’s heart in building up the Chinese church, walking better in His will today. On the other hand, witnessing God working mightily with Chinese church, overseas church could faithfully observe the current situation and needs of the Chinese church. The Chinese society and the public are able to showcase the Chinese church development in a fair and objective manner. Reflecting on the position of the gospel in terms of national, social and cultural modern transformation, the Chinese church is able to testify God’s grace and unique works in China’s ideological discourse in the public arena. Finally, reflections contribute towards theological education would give students a wider vision and more sensitive insight, allowing the gospel workers of our times to be conscientious towards both the church and our society.
Even our single question is not easy to answer and requires an integrated learning of theology, hermeneutics, history, sociology, politics, economics, cultural and ethical studies. We are thankful that God has prepared Chinese Christian scholars of diverse disciplines. Since the 1990s, the gospel has borne much fruit in Chinese university campuses. Graduates today are committed to church and the society, glorifying God in various academic fields. Our Chinese Culture Research Center is eager to liaise and research with them, and together trying to answer this question of our time.
History is not merely for us to observe, but more important, we need to listen, for we can only speak after we have heard. As Christians, we ought to see what God has done in the course of history, listen to His revelations, and then go and proclaim, just as David says, “…they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done.” (Ps. 64:9) Therefore, let us come humbly before God and say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”