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Being Christian through External Giving

Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam 999077, Hong Kong, China
School of International Studies and Academy of Overseas Chinese Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2019, 10(9), 529;
Received: 17 July 2019 / Revised: 26 August 2019 / Accepted: 10 September 2019 / Published: 13 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
This study examines how Christian informants understand and practice external (charitable) giving outside of their church, both in terms of money and volunteering time and effort. While existing quantitative researches have informed us primarily about the determinants of giving in the West, we carry out a small case study in a church in an Asian city of Hong Kong to explore how local Christians understand and practice external giving. It is found that external giving is not just an obligatory religious code of conduct that the Christians are obliged to follow. More essentially, drawing reference from the concept of technology of the self, we argue that giving is an integral part of the making of the Christian self. Through giving, individual Christians redefine, transform, and enact their sacred selves in relation to God and others in the community of the faithful. At a collective level, external giving contributes to the construction of a sacred moral economy, which places Christian givers and the needy recipients in a transcendent social relationship. In this state of transcendent social relationship, the givers and recipients are all children of God, hence of equal status. As such, the secular social distinction and material hierarchy distinction between these two groups pales into insignificance. Furthermore, we argue that while secular considerations of economic rationality colour how Christians select the recipients of their giving, these practical concerns are also spiritualized and incorporated into their logic of Christian morality. View Full-Text
Keywords: religious giving; Christianity; technology of the self; moral economy; Christian morality religious giving; Christianity; technology of the self; moral economy; Christian morality
MDPI and ACS Style

Cheung, S.W.L.; Kuah, K.E. Being Christian through External Giving. Religions 2019, 10, 529.

AMA Style

Cheung SWL, Kuah KE. Being Christian through External Giving. Religions. 2019; 10(9):529.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cheung, Steve W.L., and Khun E. Kuah 2019. "Being Christian through External Giving" Religions 10, no. 9: 529.

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