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Abstract

This paper explores the dynamic interplay between Christianity and the Roman Empire as articulated by Tertullian, a prominent figure in early Christian theology. Tertullian delves into the complex relationship between the burgeoning Christian faith and the established structures of the Roman Empire, highlighting the inherent tension between the two. Central to his analysis is the concept of dialogue, wherein Tertullian examines how Christians engage with the broader Roman society while maintaining their distinct religious identity. Furthermore, he discusses the conservative nature of Christian thought, emphasizing the preservation of core beliefs amidst external pressures. This paper provides insights into Tertullian’s perspective on the delicate balance between dialogue and the preservation of Christian values within the context of the Roman Empire.

In: Journal of Chinese Theology
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Abstract

The theory of reward for the good and retribution for the evil (善恶报应) was one of the key issues in the dialogue between Catholicism and indigenous religions in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Under the monotheistic framework, Catholicism advocates a supernatural God for rewarding good and punishing evil. It thus had a more logical and rigorous theological argumentation at its disposal in its exchanges and dialogues with Chinese native religions on the standards of good and evil, the question of who has the right to reward and punish, the consequences of reward and retribution, and so on. This article begins by analyzing the Confucian theory of stimulus-response between the heaven and human beings (天人感应). Secondly, it sketches the views expressed by the theories of reward for the good and retribution for the evil in Buddhism and Taoism. Then, it discusses the Catholic views on rewarding good and punishing evil during late Ming and early Qing, and also examines the responses of the native religions of China to the Catholic views on rewarding good and punishing evil. Finally, it summarizes the similarities and differences of the theories of reward for the good and retribution for the evil between Catholicism and Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. As for the intention to do good, there were some commonalities between Catholicism and Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism in the movement to promote good deeds during late Ming and early Qing. However, they were distinct in the perspective of the standards of good and evil, the subjects of retribution, and the roles of individuals in retribution, which caused the conflicts between Catholicism and its opponents in China. The introduction of the Catholic theory of reward for the good and retribution for the evil has undoubtedly further enriched Chinese religious thoughts since the late Ming dynasty.

In: Journal of Chinese Theology
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Abstract

As individualized education increases in popularity, homeschooling likewise garners more attention from Chinese middle-class families. Over the past decade, the number of families choosing homeschooling has increased annually. However, most homeschooling Chinese Protestants wish to focus on the cultivation of beliefs, character, and values in the education of their children. In their eyes, homeschooling provides the best way to transmit cultural heritage.

Homeschooling brings with it many challenges and difficulties in the daily lives of Chinese Protestants: cross-pressure from traditional Chinese culture systems, opposition from parents and other family members, conflicts with mainstream educational institutions, and power struggles with Chinese secular authorities. Moreover, educational resources, guides, and materials for Chinese homeschooling families are scarce, thus leaving homeschooling families to grope in the dark. The biggest deterrent to them is the disqualification of their children from taking college entrance examinations because homeschooled children lack the requisite status to enroll as official students. Thus, the role conflicts among Chinese, Christian, pariah, and legal deviant statuses pose considerable tensions for parents and children.

This paper offers insight into these issues through qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with 50 respondents from urban Chinese Protestant families that had previously been screened through a brief survey instrument.

In: Journal of Chinese Theology

Abstract

Prayer camps are Pentecostal healing centres established across various parts of Ghana. Prayer camps in Ghana have become notable centres offering mainly spiritual help to people with mental health conditions. Arguably, prayer camps serve as a breakpoint or watershed between traditional healing shrines and the ‘gardens’ operated by Spiritual churches, popularly known as Sunsum sorè, in Ghana. Analysing data collected from fieldwork between 2019 and 2021, this article shows that the healing rituals for the mentally ill at prayer camps in Ghana share similarities with traditional healing shrine practices. The article argues that while such practices reveal the appropriation of traditional healing approaches at prayer camps, they also bring the tension and contestation inherent to the concept of appropriation into perspective.

In: Exchange
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In: Exchange
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Abstract

This article applies selected aspects of Depesh Chakrabarty’s concept of “Provincializing Europe” to the discourse of world Christianity studies. It argues that colonial-era mission scholars constructed a grand narrative of a united Christian Europe to justify European missions to the rest of the world. Contemporary postcolonial efforts to de-center Europe now contrast a vitiated European Christianity with a vibrant nonwestern Christianity that is required to re-evangelize Europe. Paradoxically, the trope of a formerly Christian Europe merges with a caricature of its numerical failure to make European Christianity the permanent foil for world Christianity studies. The article urges that European Christianity be studied in its diverse contexts, that the distinction between migrant and missionary be queried, and that European Christianity be considered essential to world Christianity studies.

In: Exchange
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Abstract

After several decades of relative silence in the Netherlands on the topic of church and racism, the Black Lives Matter Movement and the public debate on reparations for colonial enslavement have brought the issue back on the agenda of church and theology. Fuelled by the Programme to Combat Racism (PCR), previous ecumenical discussions on this topic in the 1970s provide a good starting point for reflection today.

This paper first provides some basic background on the PCR and then describes three theological positions in relation to reconciliation that shaped the discussions around racism. Based on these historical insights, the article summarizes the experiences and insights of the PCR in three major points, and discusses their relevance for today’s conversation on church, diaconia, and racism. The paper argues that commitment, the transfer of power, and the value of discomfort provide important theological and practical insights for today’s debate.

In: Exchange
In: Exchange

Abstract

The war in Ukraine has generated a debate both within the orthodox church and on an inter-Christian level regarding the religious legitimation of military conflicts. The inability of inter-Orthodox and ecumenical bodies to formulate a common stance in the face of war has raised questions about the current methodology employed by ecumenical assemblies. Some have suggested exhausting the instruments of dialogue, while others have proposed expelling churches with a pro-war profile from ecumenical organisations. This article aims to demonstrate how this problem also arises from the politicisation of ecumenical assemblies, which detracts them from the ecclesiological principle that should guide Christian witness.

In: Exchange