The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a Twentieth-Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
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  • 1 University of California

Guanxi is the Chinese system of ideas and practices constituting social relationships and can be considered the foundation of Chinese societies. Protestant Christianity spread over guanxi networks from its first introduction to China, changing both guanxi and Christianity in the process. This paper proposes a causal model of guanxi and then analyzes how it was reconstituted in the indigenous Chinese Protestant group, the Local Churches. It is based on published writings by Local Church founders and members and on the author’s thirty years of experience with the group. This case contributes to the academic understanding of guanxi and Chinese Christianity, finding that extension of family, supply of resources, and social interaction are the core aspects of guanxi, but that specific practices change in the Christian context to preserve biblical commandments. Because guanxi networks are bonding rather than bridging, Chinese Christian groups will tend to diverge more than they converge.

關係是中國人構成社會交往的思想和實踐體系,可以說是中國社會的基礎。基督新教在中国的发展依赖于关系网络,在其传播过程中二者都发生了变化。本文先提出一个关于關係的因果模型,再分析關係如何在一個中國本土的新教團體—地方教會—中被重新構造。本項研究是基於地方教會創辦人和成員的寫作,也基於作者與該團體三十年的接触。這項個案研究 有助于擴展對關係與中國基督教的學術理解。關係最重要方面是家庭关系的延展,供應資源,以及社會交流,不過,基督徒為了遵守聖經的教訓, 改变了關係的某些实践。地方教会的关系网络强调内部团结,而不是对外开放,所以与其他基督教团体关系疏离,而不是趨向匯合。 (This article is in English.)

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