Tag Archives: Calvinism

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).

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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.

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The Anxiety of the Chinaman

Lu Xun, A Madman’s Diary.

Lu Xun, A Madman’s Diary.

Why do the Chinese always call others lazy? Wrapped up in this crass rhetoric, we seem indifferent to the suffering of others. The Westerner hears our words and sees our conduct, and he acknowledges to himself that he simply cannot understand. We have always been creatures of subtlety, inscrutable, and the Westerner is able only to ascribe our strange behaviour to this ineluctable racial essence. But in fact our attitude is quite intelligible with some empathy, even if Westerners cannot share this attitude. This posture of ours is of a piece with our recent and ongoing struggle with the modern West.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the subjects of the Son of Heaven, the people who stood closest to the spiritual pole of the world, the nexus of heaven and earth, had never suffered domination by a non-central (i.e. non-Sinitic) power without doing what Greece had done to Rome: Græcia capta ferum victorem cepit. Nevertheless, we had twice in a single millennium been ruled by northern barbarians, the Mongols (1271–1368) and then the Manchus (1644–1911), both of whom had kept us in an inferior caste rather than assimilating fully to our superior culture. When the Western powers came barging in, we were still ruled by the Manchu dynasty. To then be forced by thoroughly non-Sinitic powers to be one nation among many, rather than the source of all civilization with the imperial Son of Heaven at our head, was the last straw. It was the toppling of a sacred order whose sanctity had never been seriously violated.

When we suffered foreign insult in the nineteenth century, insult that continued into the twentieth, some of our intellectuals promoted social Darwinism as a way of recovering national prestige, and most of us tried very hard to imitate the dominating success of the Western nations we envied, especially by playing up technocracy. If Japan was playing that game, such a people at the edge of the world could not be winning at our expense except by our own decadence. If there was something fundamentally unsound about us, we nevertheless were Heaven’s elect, living where Heaven’s blessing came to earth, endowed with the gifts of civilization. Any failure, therefore, was due to laziness and other kinds of moral weakness. We believed in palingenesis.

Whether we stayed in China or moved on to other lands – lands of mastery – our destiny was the same. Some of us had no God and felt ourselves elect all the same. But God is free, and God is the one who chooses; he is the one who elected to send the only-begotten Son of Heaven to die in our stead, that believing we might live. He alone is our hope. It is that Elect man who gathers up all things in himself; it is that Elect man in whom the Chinese nation must believe; it is that Elect man in whom we are truly the elect of God. We cannot forsake God and wonder lama sabachthani: why hast thou forsaken me? In the end, national destiny is not about industry, nor is it about flesh improving flesh. All things will die. What remains is, Will we be raised?