Influential British contextual theologian from University of Manchester Graham Ward visited Gangwashi Church – one of the five officially recognized Protestant Churches in Beijing and where former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush attended services during his visit to China in 2005 – and participated in their communion service on March 1, according to Gangwashi Church’s website.
Along with Ward, another professor of University of Manchester Michael Hoelz and China’s foreign-affairs ministry secretary were also present. That day, the senior pastor of Gangwashi Church delivered the sermon on “God’s Image and New Creation.”
From a set parameter of life context, Contextual Theology seeks to define the theological meaning in various fields, ranging from politics, economics, social and cultural contexts, and provides theological answers to deep questions from within these contexts. From certain perspectives, controversial theologies such as Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, Black Theology, Theology of Sex, and Theology of the Body are viewed as the application of Contextual Theology.
Ward engages in different fields of Theology (esp. Postmodern Theology), and other disciplines like philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Gender studies and Queer Theory. He has written on the theology of language, postmodernism, cultural analysis and christology. His contemporary research focuses on Christian social ethics, political theory and cultural hermeneutics. He is editor of three book series: Radical Orthodoxy (Routledge), Christian Theology in Context (OUP) and Illuminations: Religion & Theory (Blackwell).
In recent years, China’s Protestant Churches have been experiencing a rapid growth of church-goers, but the level of theological education has always been a bottleneck, which prevents the advancement of China’s churches.
While China’s churches must quickly establish an orthodox and holistic understanding of theology, China’s churches and overseas churches have been very concerned about China’s theological education and developments.
Moreover, overseas Chinese churches have established various ministries in training Chinese churches and theological education, and hope to partner together more with the churches in China; an example would be the New York Theological Seminary, hoping to address the problem of shortage of ministers in China, has been offering theological education through online courses.
Various Christian scholars in China, such as He Guang Hu, who is a professor at Beijing Remin University, has published various articles, propagating the establishment of a Mandarin Theology that is suitable for China, and etc.
In 1998, Three-self Patriotic Movement Protestant Churches and China Christian Council (TSPM/CCC) or “lianghui” has brought up the “Construction of Theological Thoughts”, which pointed out the weakness of China’s theological understanding and stated the need to develop theological understanding, so they’ve sent out numerous students to study abroad to gain a more holistic theological understanding.
Reporter Ruth contributed to this report.