A Study of a Chinese Charismatic Church and Its Female Leadership

The Femininity of Chinese Christianity

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Joy K. C. Tong
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Fenggang Yang Purdue University,;

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This study intends to answer the question of why charismatic faith appeals to Chinese Christians. Through a study of an influential Chinese charismatic church, the California-based Forerunner Christian Church (frcc), and its senior pastor, Rev. Grace Chiang (Xiuqin), we suggest that charismatic faith provides a platform for an alternative and more liberating expression of faith through challenging the male dominance and the authoritative and suppressive aspects of Confucianism and Christian fundamentalism. Further, it endorses characteristics such as passionate behavior, emotional expressiveness, and authenticity, which are seen as feminine in nature. It opens up an accepting arena where men and women can feel the liberating power of faith and freely express themselves. In doing so, charismatic Christianity unwittingly plays a role similar to that of Daoism in Chinese tradition by providing notions of the divine that have both masculine and feminine characteristics; the two religions also resemble each other in their treatment of women and their attitude toward the status quo and gender roles. As Daoism is deeply embedded in Chinese tradition and minds, and as it still plays an important role in contemporary folk religion, this resemblance partly explains why charismatic faith resonates with the Chinese consciousness and appeals to Chinese Christians.

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