Sino-Christian theology (simplified Chinese: 汉语神学; traditional Chinese: 漢語神學; pinyin: hànyǔ shénxué or simplified Chinese: 汉语基督教神学; traditional Chinese: 漢語基督教神學; pinyin: hànyǔ jīdūjiào shénxué, literally meaning "Christian theology in the Chinese language") is a theological movement in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
There are two generally recognized senses of the term Sino-Christian theology. In the broad sense, it belongs to the tradition of indigenous theology which stretches as early as the works during the time of the Jesuit China missions, until the present day. However, these indigenizing efforts are often critiqued for a lacking in their assessments of traditional Chinese culture, particularly as found in Confucianism. In the narrow sense of the term, Sino-Christian theology is associated with cultural Christians like Liu Xiaofeng and He Guanghu who have challenged the indigenizing approach and have proposed the greater need to articulate a critically reflective theology using the Chinese language.
In recent years, it has been observed that there has perhaps been the growth of a younger generation of scholars in Sino-Christian theology. While the earlier generation included so-called "cultural Christians" (Chinese: 文化基督徒; pinyin: wénhuà jīdūtú) who often used methodologies within the humanities and social sciences, the younger generation includes individuals who identify themselves as “Christian scholars” (simplified Chinese: 基督教学人; traditional Chinese: 基督教學人; pinyin: jīdūtú xuérén) with a greater commitment to the Christian faith and believe the use of the human sciences is inadequate for articulating Christian theology. Many have become elders and pastors in urban churches, and often gravitated towards Calvinism as a means to offer a public theology for the Chinese Christian church.
Much of the writings within this field have looked at Christian theology as a means to engage China, in its pursuit for modernity. Often, this has focused on comparing Western culture, shaped by Christianity, with Chinese culture, shaped by Confucianism and Daoism.
One areas of discussion has been around the Christian doctrine of sin. Liu Xiaofeng and Zhuo Xinping, for instance, have described China as having a "culture of joy" whereas the West has a "culture of sin."[a] In a post-Cultural Revolution context, they explain how the doctrine of original sin is useful in explaining the social ills that exist in contemporary Chinese society.
Another area is with regards to morality. Whereas Confucianism is often understood as fundamentally a system of ethics, some have written about how the Christian understanding of morality has been shaped by the two commands of loving God and loving neighbor. Yang Huilin has gone as far as to compare Auschwitz with the Cultural Revolution, and speak of how the Christian virtues of love and forgiveness may benefit the Chinese context.
- Fällman, Fredrik (2008). "Hermeneutical conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China". In Starr, Chloë F. (ed.). Reading Christian Scriptures in China. New York: T & T Clark. pp. 49–60. ISBN 978-0567638465.
- Lai Pan-chiu & Jason T. S. Lam (2010). "Retrospect and Prospect of Sino-Christian Theology: An Introduction". In Pan-Chiu Lai & Jason Lam (eds.). Sino-Christian Theology: A Theological Qua Cultural Movement in Contemporary China. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. pp. 8–9. ISBN 9783631604359.
- He, Guanghu (2008). "Three Generations of Chinese Christianity Researchers: from the 1950s to 2007". In Felix Wilfred; Edmond Tang; Georg Evers (eds.). China and Christianity. London: SCM Press. pp. 67–68.
- Fällman, Fredrik (2013). "Calvin, Culture and Christ? Developments of Faith Among Chinese Intellectuals". In Lim, Francis Khek Gee (ed.). Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-cultural Perspectives. London: Routledge. pp. 153–168. ISBN 978-0415528467.
- Chow, Alexander (2014). "Calvinist Public Theology in Urban China Today". International Journal of Public Theology. 8 (2): 158–175. doi:10.1163/15697320-12341340.
- Chow, Alexander (2018). Chinese Public Theology: Generational Shifts and Confucian Imagination in Chinese Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 70–91. ISBN 9780198808695.
- Zhuo, Xinping (1995). "Original Sin in the East-West Dialogue -a Chinese View". Studies in World Christianity. 1 (1): 80–86. doi:10.3366/swc.19220.127.116.11.
- Chow, Alexander (2013). "The East Asian Rediscovery of 'Sin'". Studies in World Christianity. 19 (2): 129–131. doi:10.3366/swc.2013.0048.
- Zhuo, Xinping (2001). "Religion and Morality in Contemporary China". Studies in World Christianity. 7 (1): 40. doi:10.3366/swc.2001.7.1.34.
- Yang, Huilin (2014). China, Christianity, and the Question of Culture. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. pp. 61–75. ISBN 978-1481300179.
- Starr, Chloe F. (2016). Chinese Theology: Text and Context. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. pp. 240–262. ISBN 9780300204216.
- Yang Huilin; Daniel H. N. Yeung, eds. (2006). Sino-Christian Studies in China. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press. ISBN 9781847180063.
- Lai Pan-Chiu; Jason Lam, eds. (2010). Sino-Christian Theology: A Theological Qua Cultural Movement in Contemporary China. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. ISBN 9783631604359.
- Liu Xiaofeng (2015). Sino-Theology and the Philosophy of History. Leiden: Brill.