Tag Archives: China

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.

South China Morning Post to Become Pro-CCP Propaganda

Spectators in front of a large sign on Nixon’s motorcade route in China.

Mainland Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, reports the New York Times, is buying Hong Kong’s respected South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Alibaba is acquiring an award-winning newspaper that for decades has reported aggressively on subjects that China’s state-run media outlets are forbidden to cover, like political scandals and human-rights cases. Alibaba said the deal was fueled by a desire to improve China’s image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets. While Alibaba said the Chinese government had no role in its deal to buy the Hong Kong newspaper, the company’s position aligns closely with that of the Communist Party, which has grown increasingly critical of the way Western news organizations cover China.

I agree that WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) nations have pretty biased mainstream media, which is why I also read RT with its pro-Putin bias; but the way to confront the false propaganda of the WEIRD media, with their often duplicitous talk of ‘human rights’, is not to add false propaganda supporting the CCP and ‘China stronk’ (強國). Because of money, the SCMP is already under pressure from the HK-China oligarchic establishment, but this development just seals the deal.

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?

Aside

Stephen Grabill says, in his introduction to ‘Selections from the Dicaeologicae’ (Journal of Markets & Morality 9, no. 2 (2006): 399–483), ‘The Dicaeologicae was Althusius’ principal juridical work and evidences the “method” of legal systematization initiated at Wittenberg by Johann … Continue reading

Hong Kong Decolonialized

The post below is not geopolitically sound in the slightest. Britain is a vassal of the globalist oligarchs who rule America. I have learned a lot since 2014, and I cannot bring myself to agree with the political evaluation I articulated at the height of the Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong.

Those who know me often find out quickly that I am an Anglophile and that I support (for all its faults) the idea of a coherent British Empire. From that point, especially when I express my wish that Hong Kong were still a British colony today, it is easy to extrapolate that I think Hong Kong should have remained a British colony in perpetuum.

Convention of Peking (1860).

Convention of Peking (1860).

But, though I often feel the need to correct people’s impressions about the terms of the unequal treaties concluded between the Qing Empire and the British Empire, such an inference about my ideals and sentiments is inaccurate. Indeed, I believe such a disposal of Hong Kong would run against important facts of both practicality and justice.

I do believe British rule has done Hong Kong much good. To romanticize those ‘good old days’, I know, would be both naïve and irresponsible, but God really did bring good out of the evil of the Opium War. In Hong Kong he has brought to the Chinese people a mature rule of law that the rest of China does not have. While even Taiwan was under martial law for decades after the Second World War, Hong Kong prospered in relative peace and openness. After 4 June 1989, Hong Kong was the safe destination to which Operation Yellowbird (黃雀行動) moved Tiān’ānmén Square dissidents. The destinies of Hong Kong and China are bound together, and the Lord has graciously seen fit to use Hong Kong as a special place for the good of China.

Nevertheless, in my judgement, it was wrong for Britain to have colonized Hong Kong in the first place, and at the end of the Second World War it was wrong for the United States to have backed Britain’s determination to be the power receiving Japanese surrender in Hong Kong despite the city’s being part of Chiang Kai-shek’s operational control zone. We must be frank about the Western powers’ dishonourable acts, and I must say honestly that the only motivation I can see for Britain’s insistence on being the power to accept Japan’s surrender in Hong Kong was greed and unwillingness to let Hong Kong go.

Given these considerations on both sides, I can state what I think the ideal for Hong Kong. I speak not as a native but as an American who has harboured bonds of affection for a city I have never lived in, yet always thought of as the home of my heart, a place to speak of ‘returning’ to, and never a foreign place.

My view of the ideal is most certainly not for Hong Kong to have remained a colony of anyone. For the dignity of the place and its people, it was not fitting that it should stay in the jurisdiction of a foreign Parliament elected by foreigners, with no legislative representation of Hong Kong’s own interests. If Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are by rights independent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, how much more the Pearl of the Orient? And yet, equally, despite its national kinship with China, how is Hong Kong rightfully subjugated by people who neither speak its languages nor have sympathy for its customs and its legal institutions? Hong Kong’s part in the Chinese nation is a sic et non. To keep it entirely apart from China would be untrue to what its people have always felt, because many of its people have felt the stirrings of Chinese nationalism; and yet to subsume it entirely into the rivers and mountains of China would be to rewrite history. The place is peculiar; its identity is not easily untangled.

Œconomically, of course, Hong Kong has its own currency and its own stock exchange. Having its œconomic policy determined by outsiders, even very sympathetic outsiders, could not be in its interest; nor would the city tolerate such interference. Even though Hong Kong has been free of tariffs, only a long period of gradual integration, potentially centuries long, could ever change this need for autonomy.

To put it crudely, I would say Hong Kong would best be an independent free city, ruled neither by Britain nor by China, but intimate with both; but such terms are inadequate. Hong Kong’s identity, though difficult to define, is more coherent than that of Singapore. Nevertheless, there are problems unique to city-states with not much hinterland to speak of. Given the relative size of such states, their œconomies and defence are always dependent on unequal relationships with larger powers. Though every state has to be responsible for its own defence, there is no way a state as small as San Marino can stand without a significantly larger Italy. This principle is without exception, that very small states live by the power of imperial forces larger than themselves. For Andorra, these powers are France and Spain; for Singapore, the United States and (increasingly, it seems) red China. For Hong Kong, naturally, the balance must include China – some China, whether based in Nanking, Taipei, or Peking – and the most natural second force would be Britain.

The best that can be desired, I think, supposes a free and Christian China. Such a China would differ from Hong Kong in its laws and currency but have a common defensive interest and a common respect for the rule of law. The churches of Hong Kong would be part of Chinese denominations because the Christian faith would be not only tolerated but given every opportunity to influence public institutions and provide the Chinese nation with ethical guidance. Naturally, over time, the laws of Hong Kong would converge in some areas with the laws of China. A certain degree of integration could develop that would not be desirable with the China of today, even as Hong Kong maintained its independence.

The chief executive, serving as head of government, would continue to be elected by a committee, but one that was much more broadly representative than today and included a large number of delegates elected by universal suffrage of citizens aged 18 years and older. To maintain a balance between attachment to China and distinction from China, there would be two heads of state to oversee foreign affairs, grant pardons and other acts of clemency, and open and dissolve sessions of the Legislative Council: the Chinese head of state and the monarch at the head of the Commonwealth of Nations. Thus the city’s independence in internal affairs could be assured by local votes – and, importantly, its currency could be pegged to the American dollar, the British pound sterling, or anything else – but its international dependence on larger powers would also be acknowledged in the form of its diarchy.

Such is the arrangement that, however odd, I find the most natural for such a unique city as Hong Kong. No doubt among many people it would meet with disapproval, but I mean to suggest that it might best conduce to the honour and prosperity of the city’s people.

ROC National Celebration Day (雙十節)

Today is National Day (Double Ten Day) for the first republic in all of Asia, born in a time when the rest of the continent was under the Japanese emperor, the Ottoman sultan, the king of Siam and the colonial powers of Europe. As such, it is appropriate for me to direct the reader to China Emergent, penned by Madame Chiang Kai-shek for Time magazine, May 1942. Even when I feel cynical, I still desire such things to be realized. Perhaps I’m a compulsive anti-pragmatist: not that things do not have to work but that they must be worth something.

So what is the state and the destiny of the Middle Kingdom?

Let me not only speak about the future of China but also share something about the faith of the cross that refreshed me, because the two are intertwined, surely even more than I know. For it is not the cross-strait politics per se that most concern me but the future of the people on either side, whether unified or separate. Thus for me Taiwan independence would be an issue of self-determination under exercise of wisdom, and unification would be an issue of preserving God-given liberties for the sake of His justice. It is about God and His love that I must speak, through the lens of China’s right to freedom. Continue reading