The organizational history of Zhabei Church over its one hundred years is a tale of universal Christianity evolving its local form through the bidirectional construction of institution-identification in Chinese society. In this process, its core Biblical theological principles and basic modes of worship have maintained a high degree of stability, but its affiliation, organizational structure, and operational mode have undergone significant changes. Study of the sociology of the evolution of Zhabei Church reveals a bidirectional construction process of institution-identification, which is different from simple transplantation of the Western Christian model and not directly affected by conflict-adaptation logic. This kind of bidirectional construction has become the driving force for the development of Zhabei Church and has thus produced a new form of local church, which roots Chinese Christianity deeply in China’s local socio-cultural network and has transformed her “Christian capital” into a resource for social and cultural identification.
According to Weber’s sociology of religion, Catholic moral book-keeping exhibits a tendency to offset merit with demerit, while that of Puritanism reflects a systematic and rational formation of a believer’s ethical life. This paper aims to prove that this distinction of Weber’s could be used to explain the tension between Catholicism in the late Ming dynasty and the traditional Chinese ledgers of merit and demerit at that time. Catholicism in the late Ming regarded the practice of keeping ledgers as representing not knowing God, leading to arithmetical moral practices that could undermine the purity of morality. Instead, what it required of its believers was a constant confession that enabled them to form a systematic self-examination and practice. This self-understanding of Catholicism is consistent with Weber’s interpretation of the Jesuit methodology of salvation.
The seventh century Chinese Christian manuscript Yishen lun (Discourse on God) is not what Jingjiao scholarship has said it is, i.e., an Aluoben document composed in Chang’an. This article explains why and examines information available in the text, including the political and social structure of the place of authorship, unusual terms such as zuoren, gǒu and dié, and localization details such as the fabric used for Jesus’ burial and the modification of analogies, and arrives at the conclusion that it was written in the Xiyu (Western Region), at a place such as Gaochang (Turfan). Similarity in language between Yishen lun and other manuscripts from Dunhuang and Turfan also lends support to this view.
Christian virgins were frequently targeted in official crackdowns by Ming and Qing governments on church activities, during which officials taking a Confucianist stance placed pressure on Christian virgins by scandalizing and criminalizing their motivations for practicing celibacy as their refusal to marry was regarded as a violation of Confucian morals. The legitimacy of Christian virgins depended on whether they were able to portray themselves as an “acceptable” type of celibate women within the Confucian patriarchal framework and the legal system of the Ming and Qing governments. During their interactions with the authorities, Christian virgins invoked pre-existing categories of chaste women that were accepted in the Confucian discourse on family order, such as “virgin widows” and “filial virgins,” to justify their way of life against attempts to criminalize their behavior. They also reaffirmed their affiliation to their patriarchal families through their everyday activities, constructing a positive self-image of themselves in stark contrast to the negative image presented by the anti-Christian literati. By adopting this strategy, they were more able to avoid external interference from the government in their religious life while remaining under the patronage of their natal family; however, the protection of their patriarchal family lost its efficacy once their acts were perceived as a direct political threat.
In the past, Christianity has been characterized in China as a “foreign religion” related to imperialism; today, Christianity is developing rapidly. What is the general public’s attitude to Christianity now? Based on data of the 2015 Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS), this paper analyzes differences between groups that have favorable impressions of Christianity and seeks to understand them. The results show that: in contemporary Chinese society, a favorable attitude towards Christianity is still in the minority, much lower than Buddhism, but higher than Taoism and Islam; in terms of who showed favorable attitudes to which religions, Christian believers are more likely to have favorable impressions of Christianity than other believers, women more likely than men, the rural population more likely than the urban population, those born since 1980 more likely than their predecessors, and there is no significant difference among those from different educational backgrounds and classes.
On March 13, 2022 (Sunday of Orthodoxy), Orthodox theologians and scholars from around the world issued an unprecedented theological declaration that draws on both the Barmen Declaration (1934) and the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, and is directed against the ethnophyletist and nationalist “Russian world” ideology that serves as the religious underpinning for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This ideology, fundamentalist in character, was developed by Patriarch Kirill (Gundiaev) of Moscow and both Putin and Patriarch Kirill repeatedly reference it in their active support of the Russian invasion. Having briefly outlined the Russian world ideology, the Declaration identifies the ideology’s main propositions, which are declared “heretical” from an Orthodox theological perspective. By contrast, the Orthodox scholars systematically outline affirmations drawn from Scripture and the Holy Tradition of Orthodox Christianity. Finally, the declaration calls all to be mindful of the theological principles outlined in their decisions in church politics.