Category Archives: Asia

Introducing Wang Yi 王怡’s 95 Theses on the House Church

As reported by the South China Morning Post, on 4 June of this year (this past Monday), ‘hours before a planned evening service to commemorate the Tiananmen Square anniversary’, Early Rain Covenant Church 秋雨之福歸正教會, a Presbyterian church in Chengdu 成都, was raided by police. According to SCMP, ‘The Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, had planned a two-hour prayer session at 7.30pm to mourn those killed in Beijing 29 years ago.’

My purpose here is not to explain the political implications of what was done either by Early Rain Covenant Church or by the police in Chengdu, but to draw attention to a document issued in 2015 by the church’s head pastor, Wang Yi 王怡. This document was ‘95 Theses: The Reaffirmation of our Stance on the House Church’ – or, in Chinese (simplified characters), 我们对家庭教会立场的重申(九十五条). Evoking the 95 theses of Martin Luther, these theses by Wang Yi were published online to coincide approximately with the 60th anniversary of the arrest of Wang Mingdao 王明道 in June 1955 for publishing ‘We Are for the Faith’, a declaration of the reason he and others refused to join the Party-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Wang Yi’s 95 theses are structured as follows:

Theses 1–17: God’s Sovereignty and Biblical Authority.
Theses 18–31: God’s Law and Christ’s Redemption.
Theses 32–39: Against the ‘Sinicization of Christianity’.
Theses 40–44: Church as the Body of Christ and His Kingdom.
Theses 45–72: The Relationship between Two Kingdoms and the Separation of Church and State.
Theses 73–95: Against the ‘Three-Self Movement’, and Affirmation of the Great Commission.

With some of Wang Yi’s 95 theses I heartily agree, and with others I firmly disagree on grounds both biblical and historical. I intend hereafter to write several blog posts here evaluating the principles expressed in these 95 theses. In the meantime, some will find it useful to read Chloë Starr’s 2016 article ‘Wang Yi and the 95 Theses of the Chinese Reformed Church’.

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為流產、墮胎死去的小孩舉辦案葬禮

教會若為流產、墮胎死去的小孩舉辦案葬禮,邀請全體的基督徒來送殯,經常在耶和華面前致哀痛悔,結果會如何呢?

https://m.weibo.cn/status/4248091403501809

Limitations of Suzhounese

Suzhounese 蘇州話, spoken in Suzhou 蘇州 (anciently known as Gusu 姑蘇) in Jiangsu 江蘇 province, sounds nice for saying nice things to your wife, and it sounds very attractive when spoken by women, but I couldn’t take seriously any military orders given in that language.

Addai and Mari for the Church of China Today?

To do honour to the Lord’s work in China of old, the Church of China could follow the first Chinese Christians in using the Anaphora of Addai and Mari (whose structure and content Thomas Mannooramparampil explains), at least on certain days. This Anaphora could be used within the existing Holy Communion service on the feast day of St Thomas the Apostle, on whatever feast day might be set for Alopen 阿羅本 the Missionary (7c.), and on Sundays in Lent:

First Gehanta, after the opening dialogue

Worthy of praise from every mouth and of confession from every tongue is the adorable and glorious name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost, who didst create the world by thy grace and its inhabitants by thy mercifulness and didst save mankind by thy compassion and give great grace unto mortals.

Sanctus

Thy majesty, O my Lord, thousand thousands of those on high bow down and worship and ten thousand times ten thousand holy angels and hosts of spiritual beings, ministers of fire and spirit, praise thy name with holy cherubin and seraphin shouting and praising without ceasing and crying one to another and saying:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; heaven and earth are full of his praises.

Second Gehanta

And with these heavenly hosts we give thanks to thee, O my Lord, even we thy servants weak and frail and miserable, for that thou hast given us great grace past recompense in that thou didst put on our manhood that thou mightest quicken it by thy godhead, and hast exalted our low estate and restored our fall and raised our mortality and forgiven our trespasses and justified our sinfulness and enlightened our knowledge and, O our Lord and our God, hast condemned our enemies and granted victory to the weakness of our frail nature in the overflowing mercies of thy grace.

Third Gehanta

Do thou, O my Lord, in thy many and unspeakable mercies make a good and acceptable memorial for all the just and righteous fathers who have been wellpleasing in thy sight, in the commemoration of the body and blood of thy Christ which we offer unto thee on thy pure and holy altar as thou hast taught us, and grant us thy tranquillity and thy peace all the days of the world.

Yea, O our Lord and our God, grant us thy tranquillity and thy peace all the days of the world that all the inhabitants of the earth may know thee that thou art the only true God the Father and that thou hast sent our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son and thy beloved. And he our Lord and our God came and in his lifegiving gospel taught us all the purity and holiness of the prophets and the apostles and the martyrs and the confessors and the bishops and the doctors and the presbyters and the deacons and all the children of the holy catholic church, even them that have been signed with the living sign of holy baptism.

Anamnesis

And we also, O my Lord, thy weak and frail and miserable servants who are gathered together in thy name, both stand before thee at this time and have received the example which is from thee delivered unto us, rejoicing and praising and exalting and commemorating and celebrating this great and fearful and holy and lifegiving and divine mystery of the passion and the death and the burial and the resurrection of our Lord our Saviour Jesus Christ.

[For on the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.]

Epiclesis

And let there come, O my Lord, thine Holy Spirit and rest upon this offering of thy servants and bless it and hallow it, that it be to us, O my Lord, for the pardon of offences and the remission of sins and for the great hope of resurrection from the dead and for new life in the kingdom of heaven with all those who have been wellpleasing in thy sight.

Doxology

And for all this great and marvellous dispensation towards us we will give thee thanks and praise thee without ceasing in thy Church redeemed by the precious blood of thy Christ, with unclosed mouths and open faces lifting up praise and honour and confession and worship to thy living and holy and lifegiving name now and ever and world without end.

Tfw Cannot Speak Taishanese

Central Guangdong

My ancestral home is in Taishan (Toisan) 台山 County, Guangdong 廣東. Even though I don’t speak or even really understand the Taishanese language – my mother tongue, and that of my parents, is Cantonese – and even though my grandfather was the last person among my closer relations who ever lived in Taishan County, I do identify as Taishanese. (The phænotypes of broadly Cantonese folk differ enough that I can sometimes tell which county people are from, and certainly there are people from Panyu who do not look like anyone from Taishan.) That I cannot understand much Taishanese, let alone speak it fluently, is something I find regrettable. A great majority of my ancestry is from Taishan County or from Xinhui County next to it, whose language is very similar.

 The Seiyap languages are in light purple, and the Guangfu dialects (Cantonese and similar languages) are in pink.

Edit: The Seiyap language group, to which belong the languages of Taishan 台山, Xinhui 新會, Kaiping 開平, and Enping 恩平, is arguably not Cantonese (or Yue) at all, being closer to Cantonese only through convergent evolution. According to Sau-Lim Tsang (no close relation of mine) in ‘Bilingual Education in a Chinese Community’ (pdf, 1982), however, ‘Research on Siyi phonology has also found that Cantonese and Siyi show regular and systematic correspondence.’

Taishanese is often thought to be a variety of Cantonese, but the two are about as different as Portuguese and Italian: the average Hongkonger who speaks Cantonese can understand about 30% of Taishanese accurately, and my guess is that a native speaker of Taishanese can understand about 50% of Cantonese without prior exposure. For those who know or can recognize Cantonese, this is a Tang dynasty (618–907) poem by Li Bai 李白 read aloud in Taishanese:

Here’s something more colloquial, about certain reduplicative constructions in Taishanese (warning: there’s one curse phrase in there):

Probably the most Taishanese thing about me is my boneheaded hillbilly stubbornness. Who knows? Maybe that could help me learn a bit more of the language.

China: a Fourth Rome?

Last month Thermidor Magazine published my article on the idea of China as a fourth Rome (#China4thRome); my article was also picked up by Geopolitica. That was pretty cool. May the Lord direct the growth of his Church in China, and purify the saints there, that his Church may serve his purposes and not unwittingly those of Antichrist.

Appropriating Geʼez Music as Chinese?

Æthiopian music like this can probably be adapted into Chinese music. It already sounds similar.

Holy Mount Cælestial

Now back to Zion goes the pilgrim’s eye,
Translating holy leaves into Chinese,
The sages for Aquinas. Riding high,
He circumambulates the Dipper’s keys.

Around the four directions goes his sign,
Yet stays where northern lights have made their home,
Facing the south, where province-cauldrons nine
Are come to offer to the lord of Rome.

For this is where we find Jerusalem,
And holy Zion in the pious heart;
This is the dwelling, faith the bosom’s gem,
Where Holy Ghost and Holy Church ne’er part.

By faith is fair Jeshurun in Cathay,
A promised temple for a coming day.

Beyond the Modern Degeneration of Architecture

Knight of Númenor says that the prevailing architecture of our time fails to convey meaning:

A building could look like a Cathedral, but if you go into the inside, it might be a dance floor. Most skyscrapers are built in a Brutalist manner, which gives little insights [sic] into what the business offices inside are trading, unlike buildings of yore: the townsmen knew this was a church, this was the Lord Mayor’s office building, and this was the merchant’s guild.

The first example is of the repurposing characteristic of ‘postmodernist’ architecture: whether through ironic appropriation of elements that don’t belong according to the historic vocabulary, or through retrofitting of a building for a purpose entirely unlike that suggested by the structure and ornamentation, such changes are superficially original but betray, underneath, a lack of both originality and a true sense of architecture. I am not a trained architect, but it only takes someone with common sense and some informed sensibility to know that such anti-architecture, undertaken not merely as a concession to practical constraints but rather with prætensions to artistic value, is the mercantile work of charlatans.

File:MIT Campus.jpg

Frank Gehry’s Stata Center at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The second example is of ‘modernist’ architecture, and of Brutalism in particular. Skyscrapers built in this manner, Knight of Númenor says, tell us little about what they are used for, unlike more traditional buildings that signal in a variety of ways what is a temple, what is a municipal office, and what is a merchants’ guild. Architecture of this character, one may say, is faceless.

File:Beinecke-Rare-Book-Manuscript-Library-Yale-University-Hewitt-Quadrangle-New-Haven-Connecticut-Apr-2014-a.jpg

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Both examples show a certain disorientation; both examples speak to the need for genuine social connexion rather than the social alienation we experience in the West, as Knight of Númenor describes:

Atomized individuals waddle through cities, among a sea of constructions, not having much connections to one another, unlike cities of old in which citizens knew the history and ideals of the city they live [sic] in.

What I mean by ‘the West’ is what Aleksandr Dugin articulates about Europe v. the West:

I consider myself to be an anti-Western ideologist in the fullest sense of the word. But I distinguish between Europe and the West. I believe that these are two different concepts. Europe is an historical territory where different peoples, traditions, and states have existed which highly interest me. I have written a series of books called Noomahiya (‘Clash of the Nomoi’) in which I discuss the logos of Europe, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece. I have the deepest reverence and respect for the logos of European culture. I study this logos together with the languages, literature, philosophy, and cultures of Europe, which I love. But I think that the path that European society has gone down over the last few centuries, beginning with the epoch of the Enlightenment and ending with liberalism and modern Anglo-Saxon liberalism, is not Europe, but Anti-Europe. And this is precisely what I attribute to the concept of the ‘West’. The West is sunset, the fall, the descent, which is precisely the etymology that the word has in Russian. I am against the West and for the East, for ascent. The West is the decline of Europe.

This is where, in opinion, I think I part company with Knight of Númenor. He is a cheerleader for the West, and I a partisan of traditional society; he champions the modern structures that have the veneer of tradition but are in fact whitewashed tombs that protect the degenerations of bourgeois society – or, should I say, bourgeois antisociety. This error is not unique to the papists, but I cannot help thinking that this is one form ‘reaction’ takes among papists and some Anglicans; what is needed is not an unconsciously modern reaction, which actually protects the degeneration that has insinuated itself into the system and into our very psyches, but a reasoned, and biblical, response to the changes of the past few centuries. A true classicist will respect tradition, which by the experience of men through the ages shows the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, but he will not look back to a single golden age as a time to return to, any more than Cicero would have tried to return the Roman republic to the way it was under King Numa Pompilius.

Kagawa Præfectural Government Office, Kagawa, Japan (1958).

Shown above is a well-known Brutalist design by Kenzō Tange 丹下 健三. Tange’s work here is certainly modern, in that it uses modern materials and its creator was strongly influenced by Corbu (the French modernist architect Le Corbusier), but it also has an unmistakable national character, drawing as it does from the Japanese tradition. The building’s protruding horizontal beams suggest the rafters of Japanese temples, but the number of levels and the massing suggest a Japanese castle. The construction is modern but traditional in the best sense, fitting for a government office.

The way is not merely to sigh, ‘Sic transit gloria mundi,’ nor is it to dream of the inevitable ‘Great Reset’ espoused by the (neo)reactionaries – which, unlike the General Strike (against capitalism and bourgeois-controlled ‘class collaboration’) of Georges Sorel and the syndicalists, is a bad myth, bad because it is neither true nor effectual. No, the way is forward, both ad fontes and excelsior: to the ancient sources and ever higher.

Translate Reformed Theologian Richard Hooker into Chinese

As the Church in China moves beyond fundamentalism versus modernism, and as it grows in numbers and confidence, it faces political questions that until recently it has not been in a position to do much about. Richard Hooker wrote to Elizabethan England, but I think his thought is useful today for China as well and deserves to be heard. (I do note, however, that in some things I think reform only puts off a necessary revolution that would overthrow a thoroughly tyrannical (dis)order. I do not share the reactionary or the bourgeois conservative’s horror of all things that go by the name of revolution. Nevertheless, the desire to clear everything away to start from scratch, especially in the divinely ordained Church, against the gates of Hades will not prevail, is a vain wish that brushes catholic experience aside in favour of private opinion.) Bradford Littlejohn and Bradley Belschner are translating Hooker’s antisectarian work into today’s English. Who will translate the same work into Chinese?

Time to Bring Dead White Reformed Divines to China

chinese-paper-hooker

A Chinese academic paper on Richard Hooker.

For better or worse, the Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR) movement, or New Calvinism, is in China. Much of the growth of seminaries in China may be Reformed, and every year Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) has students from China. According to Bruce P. Baugus, a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), ‘It’s not at all unthinkable that China would have more Reformed seminaries within 20 years than we do here.’ People are seeing the names of American Reformed celebrities such as Tim Keller and John Piper. About both I have my complaints, but I think the growth of New Calvinism – which is noticeably different from classic Reformed literature – also means the time may be ripe for Chinese translations of not only Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin, whose Institutes of the Christian Religion the ChiCom-directed China Christian Council (CCC) itself published in Chinese in 2005, but also the still untranslated authors Hieronymus Zanchius, Franciscus Junius, Johannes Althusius, and the judicious Richard Hooker 理查德·胡克 (see this Chinese paper on Hooker).

Hooker-Zanchi-1024x593.png

Zanchius and Hooker, Reformed scholastics.

Again I am reminded that the need for sound development of public theology in China will be great in the next 50 years, and I hope I can do my part, especially in interpreting the word of God and China’s history – such as recorded in the Zuozhuan 左傳 – in a way that is not Americanist or Western. I can already see, for example, that the article I have linked about public theology casts plurality in human authority – a constitutional arrangement common in the West and especially in the Anglosphere – in terms of plurality in the Trinity:

With the insufficiency of maintaining the tension between the two worlds, the Trinitarian order revealed through God becoming flesh is lacking attention in the Chinese Christian world. Anyone made in the Creator’s image cannot live out his image without the Creator’s revelation and redemption. The three persons of one essence of the Trinity – both one, yet many – is quite unlike the common, human, governing order where either one or many will be preferred instead of both simultaneously. The Son of Heaven in traditional Chinese dynasties, rather than the Son of Man of the Scriptures, has cast a long shadow over the popular Chinese impression of authority. Even in contemporary China, the head of any institution tends to be a paramount figure which makes it difficult to develop checks and balances between that individual and other associates and colleagues. It is no surprise then, for the Chinese to be more familiar with the monopoly of power than with the sharing or separation of power.

This interpretation and application I myself consider theologically unsound, even if we leave aside the Chinese author’s quiet anti-Chinese chauvinism. The popularity of social Trinitarianism in parts of the Western Reformed world does not help matters. As the facile application of unsound Trinitarian teaching suggests, it will be important for work in public theology to be done carefully, independent of Western liberal propaganda of the past 200 years, dependent rather on the word of God interpreted according to right reason and the common testimony of the fathers, and then applied respectfully and judiciously to a civilization that needs not the deception of the West but the light of Christ.

Edit:
This is rich. Meanwhile, New Calvinism colonizes the Chinese church by the œconomic and social power of the US-backed New World Order. Sometimes, New Calvinists are almost as bad as Jesuits.

Congratulations to Taiwan for Its Sodomitical Marriage Ruling

For 24 May’s court ruling on gay marriage in Taiwan, I have just a few gay words for such a happy occasion.

must-liberate-taiwan

‘We must liberate Taiwan.’

For this historic and brave moment, the strongest congratulations and gun salutes are in order – indeed, the event deserves a nuclear salute. Let the world know: Love is love. Taiwan, not China, is on the right side of history. It is entirely laudable, after all, to be at pains not to identify as Chinese while also claiming 5000 years of Chinese history as your own, and even more so to stake your identity on the kind of difference that draws upon you the fiery wrath of Almighty God.

Reread the Platform Sutra?

huineng_wallsutra

I wonder if I should reread the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch 六祖壇經. It’s been almost ten years since I read it last as an undergraduate at Berkeley, and it might be useful (for me, anyway) to write annotations on it as a Christian. On the other hand, would it be better for me to read and annotate something else this summer?

Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian 史記 in the Mandarin Vernacular

If you ever wanted Sima Qian in Mandarin, not just in the original classical Chinese, here’s your chance.

The Taiwanese Cannot Be Trusted

You v. the guy she told you not to worry about.

One cannot trust the Taiwanese. They cuck to the degenerate values America exports abroad, and they cuck to Japan almost 70 years after the Japanese left Taiwan. They say they are not Chinese despite speaking the same language as Xiamen on the mainland, and then they turn around and tell Koreans that they have no culture of their own and that the Koreans are Chinese. One can only conclude, from such beastly behaviour, that the famous politeness and hospitality of the Taiwanese is made null by the machinations of the Pentagon and the State Department. Indeed, they cannot even make hongdousha 紅豆沙 properly, which is the happy medium between lumpy beans and gooey paste, but can only produce an inferior red bean soup, whose consistency is as lumpy as their culture is cucked. As Jacques Chirac famously said of the British, ‘One cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad.’

Apologies for being a day late with my Thursday ethnic shittalk post. ごめんなさい。