Special Issue "New Developments in Christianity in China"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Francis Khek Gee Lim
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Sociology programme, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798, Singapore
Interests: religion; tourism; development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Christianity’s rapid expansion in China in recent years has attracted much attention from scholars, the general public, Chinese policymakers, local and international media, foreign Christian groups and governments. This is partly because the practice of Christianity in China has profound implications that very often spill out of the “religious” domain. Debates, contestations and negotiations have proceeded on issues such as the divide between “official” and “unofficial” churches; the affinity between Christianity and Chinese culture; whether China is becoming Christianized (and over the exact number of Christians); the influence of foreign Christian groups; and the role of Christianity in international politics. Further, the close ties between some Christian groups in China and those based overseas (such as American and South Korean Christian organizations actively cultivating ties in China), and the Chinese Catholics’ complicated relationship with the Vatican, have contributed to the party-state’s intense suspicion over foreign interference in the country’s religious and political affairs.

Meanwhile, many Christian groups throughout the country are harnessing the tremendous power of new media such as the internet and mobile apps to share religious messages, participate in rituals, access information, create online communities, and to evangelize. As communications infrastructure continues to improve across China and with the country’s deepening linkages with the rest of the world, Chinese Christian networks are spreading both within and outside the country. These networks link and criss-cross at multiple scales and localities in China as well as deepen interactions with overseas Chinese Christians and global Christianity. Chinese Christians have also begun exerting their influence outside China through activities such proselytism, charity work, and development projects. We invite scholars to submit paper proposals that examine the above and other issues. Topics may include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Chinese Christian missions overseas
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Diaspora Chinese Christianity and its interaction with China
  • International and cross-straits relations
  • Internet and social media
  • Work and workplace
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Development and ecology
  • Social justice
  • Popular culture
  • Cultural identity

Prof. Dr. Francis Khek Gee Lim
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Christianity
  • ethnicity
  • international relations
  • diaspora
  • gender
  • media
  • work
  • mission
  • popular culture
  • development
  • health
  • wellbeing

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial
New Developments in Christianity in China
Religions 2020, 11(1), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010030 - 06 Jan 2020
Viewed by 920
Abstract
Christianity’s rapid expansion in China in recent years has attracted much attention from scholars, China policymakers, local and international media, and the wider public [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Article
The Catholic Church in Contemporary China: How Does the New Regulation on Religious Affairs Influence the Catholic Church?
Religions 2019, 10(7), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070446 - 23 Jul 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2148
Abstract
The Chinese government has regulated all religious activity in the public domain for many years. The state has generally considered religious groups as representing a potential challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which sees one of its basic roles [...] Read more.
The Chinese government has regulated all religious activity in the public domain for many years. The state has generally considered religious groups as representing a potential challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which sees one of its basic roles as making sure religion neither interferes with the state’s exercise of power nor harms its citizens. A revised Regulation on Religious Affairs (Zongjiao shiwu tiaoli 宗教事务条例) took effect in 2018, updating the regulation of 2005. This paper aims to introduce and examine the content of the regulation, especially how it differs from its predecessor and how the changes are likely to affect religious groups in China. The Catholic church in China has historical links to the worldwide Catholic church, so articles in the new regulation which seek to curb foreign influence on Chinese religious groups may have more of an effect on Chinese Catholics than on other groups. The paper addresses two main questions: How does the new regulation affect the Catholic church and what strategies are employed by the Catholic church in order to comply with the regulation? The research is based on textual analysis of the relevant legal documents and on field research conducted in the People Republic of China (PRC). The fieldwork consisted of open interviews with several church members and official representatives of the church conducted in Zhejiang Province between March and May 2018, and in May and June 2019. The paper thus aims to analyze contemporary Chinese religious legislation with respect to the lived experience of Catholics in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Article
A Sinicized World Religion?: Chinese Christianity at the Contemporary Moment of Globalization
Religions 2019, 10(8), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080459 - 01 Aug 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1963
Abstract
This essay explores the rise of Protestant Christianity at the contemporary stage of China’s globalization as a unique social and cultural phenomenon. Globalization can be seen as not only a homogenization process in political and economic terms, but also a process in which [...] Read more.
This essay explores the rise of Protestant Christianity at the contemporary stage of China’s globalization as a unique social and cultural phenomenon. Globalization can be seen as not only a homogenization process in political and economic terms, but also a process in which religious ideas and moral principles spread around the world. While in an earlier phase of globalization lack of Christianity was once constructed as a moral argument to ban Chinese migration to the Christian West, in the current context of China’s aggressive business outreach and mass emigration Christianity has become a vital social force and moral resource in binding Chinese merchants and traders in diaspora. By linking the rise of a sinicized version of Christianity in secular Europe with China’s present-day business globalization, I hope to suggest a new transnational framework for studying Chinese Christianity, which has often been examined in the nation-based political context of church-state relations, and for rethinking it beyond the static, decontextualized system of world religions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Article
The Rise of Calvinist Christianity in Urbanising China
Religions 2019, 10(8), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080481 - 15 Aug 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1919
Abstract
Over the past decade, Reformed Christianity, broadly based on the theology of Calvinism, has spread widely in China, especially by appealing to Chinese ‘intellectuals’ who constitute most of the house church leaders in urban areas. It draws its moral guidance from a so-called [...] Read more.
Over the past decade, Reformed Christianity, broadly based on the theology of Calvinism, has spread widely in China, especially by appealing to Chinese ‘intellectuals’ who constitute most of the house church leaders in urban areas. It draws its moral guidance from a so-called rational or intellectual focus on biblical theology, reinforced by theological training in special seminaries. It consequently rejects the ‘heresy’ of the older Pentecostal Christianity, with its emphasis on charisma, miracles, and theology based on emotional ‘feeling’. This Reformed theology and its further elaboration have been introduced into China in two main ways. The first is through overseas Chinese, especially via theological seminaries in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. For instance, preachings of the famous Reformed pastor Stephen Tong (唐崇荣) have been widely disseminated online and among Chinese Christians. Second, Korean missionaries have established theological seminaries mainly in cities in northern China. This has resulted in more and more Chinese church leaders becoming advocates of Calvinism and converting their churches to Reformed status. This paper asks why Calvinism attracts Chinese Christians, what Calvinism means for the so-called house churches of a Christian community in a northern Chinese city, and what kinds of change the importation of Reformed theology has brought to Chinese house churches. Various significant accounts have addressed this development in China generally. My analysis complements these accounts by focusing on a small number of interconnected house churches in one city, and uses this case study to highlight interpersonal and organizational issues arising from the Calvinist approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Article
Chinese Catholic Nuns and the Organization of Religious Life in Contemporary China
Religions 2019, 10(7), 447; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070447 - 23 Jul 2019
Viewed by 2066
Abstract
This article explores the evolution of female religious life within the Catholic Church in China today. Through ethnographic observation, it establishes a spectrum of practices between two main traditions, namely the antique beatas and the modern missionary congregations. The article argues that Chinese [...] Read more.
This article explores the evolution of female religious life within the Catholic Church in China today. Through ethnographic observation, it establishes a spectrum of practices between two main traditions, namely the antique beatas and the modern missionary congregations. The article argues that Chinese nuns create forms of religious life that are quite distinct from more universal Catholic standards: their congregations are always diocesan and involved in multiple forms of apostolate. Despite the little attention they receive, Chinese nuns demonstrate how Chinese Catholics are creative in their appropriation of Christian traditions and their response to social and economic changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
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Article
Online and Offline Religion in China: A Protestant WeChat “Alter-Public” through the Bible Handcopying Movement
Religions 2019, 10(10), 561; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100561 - 29 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1130
Abstract
Studies of digital religion frequently take democratic regime settings and developed economic contexts for granted, leaving regime and economic development levels as background factors (Campbell 2013). However, in China, the role of the authoritarian state, restrictions on religion, and rapid social change mean [...] Read more.
Studies of digital religion frequently take democratic regime settings and developed economic contexts for granted, leaving regime and economic development levels as background factors (Campbell 2013). However, in China, the role of the authoritarian state, restrictions on religion, and rapid social change mean that online and offline religious practices will develop in distinct ways. This article analyzes the 2019 Bible handcopying movement promoted through China’s most popular social media WeChat as a way to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the publication of China’s most widely used translation of the Bible. Drawing on interviews by and communication with the movement’s founder, the co-authors participated in and collected postings from a 500-member WeChat group from March to August 2019. We argue that while offline handcopying is an innovation in religious practice due to Chinese cultural and historical traditions, the online group constitutes a micro-scale “alter-public” (Chen 2015; Warner 2002), a site for religious discussion, prayer, and devotion that strengthens an “alternative” Protestant identity alongside that of Chinese citizen of the People’s Republic of China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
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Article
Being Christian through External Giving
Religions 2019, 10(9), 529; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090529 - 13 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1165
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Article
“Serving the Lord”: Christianity, Work, and Social Engagement in China
Religions 2019, 10(3), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030196 - 14 Mar 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1633
Abstract
This study examines how Chinese evangelical Protestant employees view work and the workplace, through the lens of their religion, and how they seek to influence the broader society, in a highly restrictive religious domain in China. Using the concept of everyday religion, I [...] Read more.
This study examines how Chinese evangelical Protestant employees view work and the workplace, through the lens of their religion, and how they seek to influence the broader society, in a highly restrictive religious domain in China. Using the concept of everyday religion, I examined how these employees seek to integrate faith into their work and the workplace, and the issues and challenges they face in the process. While existing China-focused studies have mainly looked at the experience of the business elite and Christian bosses, I inquired into the experience of the employees, specifically the professional class. It was found that they did not see a clear boundary between the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’ in the workplace. At the same time, they discursively constructed a distinction between their own Christian work ethos and that of their non-Christian colleagues. This discursive self-othering was double-edged. While it enabled the Christian employees to construct a distinctive workplace and social identity, it risked resulting in them being perceived negatively by non-Christian colleagues, as belonging to a “different kind” (linglei), thus, accentuating the social gulf and tension that might have already existed between the Christian and the non-Christian employees. Most regard the workplace as an important arena for the concrete expressions of their Christian faith and values in everyday life. In doing so, they seek a moral transformation of the workplace, as a way to transform the wider society. I argue that their effort to influence their colleagues and transform the workplace culture is an important kind of unobtrusive social engagement, without open mobilization in civil society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
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