For a variety of reasons, academic exchange presents one of the most effective ways of reaching Chinese with the Good News of Christ. First of all, Chinese intellectuals display an unprecedented openness to the Gospel. Ever since their confidence in the goodness of human nature was shattered by the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, they have seen the Christian view of man’s fallen nature as plausible. The general collapse of Communist ideology has further prepared the way for another total world-and-life view, which biblical Christianity offers. Study abroad has brought more than a hundred thousand of China’s best students into contact with Western Christians, opening their eyes to a totally different way of looking at life, and introducing them to real love. Over the past two decades, more and more Chinese scholars have begun to investigate the role which Christianity has played in Western society, especially in America, as well as the contribution that Christians – both foreign and Chinese- have made to their own nation. As a result, they have become aware of the immense contribution which Christians make a “salt and light” in any society, and they want to know more. Research into Christianity has become an accepted academic subject all over China. Academic conferences and publications have multiplied, with Chinese scholars sharing their findings with an ever-widening circle of interested colleagues.
At the same time, the Chinese government has been clamping down on Christian activity, particularly anything overt done by foreigners. In recent months especially, visas have been revoked and people told to go home. Unregistered religious activities and meetings are closely monitored, sometimes restricted, and occasionally banned and even punished.
Global China Center
Global China Center was started in 2004 to encourage genuine academic exchange. We seek to deepen the knowledge of Christianity and of its role in society, especially Chinese society. In a spirit of appreciative inquiry, our associates have, or are seeking to attain, rather advanced familiarity both with Chinese culture and with Christianity, and to share what we have learned with Chinese and Western scholars with similar interests.. In 2007, we participated in academic conferences in Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, and London, where the history of Christianity in China was discussed. Early in 2008, we presented a panel on eminent 20th century Chinese Christians at the American Society of Church History’s annual meeting. We also spoke at China ministry conferences. We shall present another panel at the Conference on Faith and History in September. We share our findings, and those of our colleagues, in other ways too. The Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity (www.bdcconline.net) presents the stories of foreign and Chinese Christians over the past centuries. Our Global China Center website (www.globalchinacenter.org) offers book reviews and analysis articles. Two of our associates have put together a volume containing short biographies of outstanding 20th century Chinese Christians, to come out this year. We are talking with the publisher about future volumes in a series on Chinese Christianity. Another associate is writing a doctoral dissertation on several prominent Protestants of the early 20th century. I am working on several books that I hope will increase understanding of China and present further opportunities for me to relate to Chinese intellectuals: A co-authored introduction to China, to be published later this year; an introduction to the theology of Carl Henry; a comparison of Confucius and Christ; and a study of Christianity in American society. The latest issue of Christian History & Biography, which is all about the Chinese church, features articles by four of our associates and two of our advisors. Go to http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/ for more information.
We covet your prayers as we study, write, participate in conferences, and befriend scholars. Our goal, of course, is the transformation of individuals through contact with the truth and with Christian love, leading to the transformation of Chinese society and the glory of God. If you are in the academy, as a teacher or a student, we urge you to ask God to lead you into fruitful relationships with Chinese whom he has prepared to investigate the claims of Christ. Going to China for a short visit to a university might further that process. Anyone living in a university town can find a Chinese student or family to encourage with your friendship. Remember, too, that we are talking about real “exchange.” We have a lot to learn from the Chinese, especially the heroic believers whose stories we seek to share with Western Christians in all our publications and presentations. We invite you to visit our websites or to write us for more ideas about how you can be a part of this exciting process. Your fellow student, Wright Doyle, Director