Chapter 1 Christianity and Community Governance in Modern China

In: The Church as Safe Haven
Joseph Tse-Hei Lee
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Lars Peter Laamann
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This chapter conceptualizes the rise of Chinese Christianity as a new civilizational paradigm that encouraged individuals and communities to construct a sacred order for empowerment in times of chaos and confusion. Once global Christianity had enrooted itself in Chinese society as an indigenous religion, local congregations acquired much autonomy, which enabled new faith-based institutions to take charge of community governance. In an increasingly autonomous managerial public sphere, Christian China assumed the role of a quasi-state, channeling aid from afar and rehabilitating severely affected localities during emergencies. Local churches did not just survive disasters, wars, revolutions and persecutions throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They skillfully adjusted their faith to the existing political, social and cultural climates of specific periods. Instead of being passive recipients of Christianity from foreign missionaries, Chinese Christians became active evangelistic agents, and played a critical role in the promotion of inter-religious dialogue, the establishment of native churches and faith-based institutions and the transmission of religious values between the generations.

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