Critiquing the Political Instrumentality of the Christian Faith in Chinese Christianity

faith-and-politics

Among certain “Chinese Christian intellectuals,” the use of the Christian faith and even the reformed faith as a mere instrument for a certain secular political purpose, is something that has plagued Chinese Christianity for about a century, often at the expense of doctrinal integrity.

Early Chinese Communist Party figures such as Chen Duxiu expressed his affection for Christianity for that purpose; the Communist Party after the establishment of the PRC uses religion at large and Christianity in particular to control the masses for its political ends by undermining orthodox Christian doctrines, through the efforts of so-called “theological reconstruction;” Today, Christianity is an instrument for the realization of the nationalistic “Chinese Dream” under the Xi Jinping regime.

The more liberal “cultural Christians” of the 80s and 90s and perhaps into the 2000s, similarly viewed Christianity as a means to a political end, for bringing about democracy, constitutionalism, and freedom, as some of these intellectuals realized the Christian roots of these ideals. These “cultural Christians” are for the most part unbelievers, and lack fundamental convictions towards the basic tenets of the Christian faith.

These days, many Chinese Christian intellectuals are evangelicals rather than the unbelieving “cultural Christians”; some are somewhat reformed in their theology, but they still somehow tacitly and perhaps even unknowingly treat the Christian faith as seemingly primarily for a political ends. This is manifested when they are willing to compromise doctrinal integrity of the Orthodox Biblical Christian faith for something they deem politically convenient. This is truly unfortunate, showing their lack of conviction (perhaps even lack of basic understanding) to the genuine Christian faith and some of the most basic doctrines that evangelical and Reformed Christians hold dear.

I believe this kind of misuse of the Christian faith, this kind of theological ignorance and naiveté, as it has been for about a century, will not help to realize a more just society, nor does it glorify God, when the Christian faith is used a mere instrument for a secular political end, while the orthodox doctrines are undermined.


在劉曉波先生去世之際,再思『因信稱義』與上帝的主權

xiaobo今年是宗教改五百年。想起宗教改革,人們便想起馬丁路德,想到因信稱義(或透過信心稱義)的教義。雖然『因信稱義』不能說是宗教改革這一歷史事件的總結,也不是改革宗信仰救恩論的全部(是其中不可或缺的重要一環),但它確實是一個極為重要的教義。這是絕大部份福音派信仰的教會都認同的教義,人得救不是靠行為,而是靠上帝的恩典,耶穌基督的救贖,聖靈的工作。

劉曉波去世前,我為他的禱告,除了他身體的健康跟行動的自由等實際需要之外,我的禱告更重要的是為他的救恩。即便偉大如曉波者,即便有人說他是比許多基督徒更能體現基督徒信仰的人,他仍不過是凡人,仍是罪人,需要為己罪向上帝悔改,信靠耶穌基督,承認基督耶穌為救主。以人的標準來看,劉曉波,甘地,曼德拉等,可稱為偉人。以上帝的標準來看,依據聖經教導的教導,沒有任何人可以以自己的行為向上帝誇耀以致得救,除非他願意悔改認罪,承認耶穌基督為他的救主。在我們每個人的心中,都有一片不為人知的陰暗角落,沒有一人是聖人。我們或許會否認,或許會壓抑,但是我們知道,上帝知道(羅1)。

我不知道有多少人在曉波先生彌留之際,有為劉曉波的救恩禱告,但這卻是我禱告最為緊迫的事情。因為死亡不算什麼,若是在基督裡的人,我們無需懼怕『那些能殺死身體卻不能殺死靈魂的』 (太10:28)。若是在基督裡的人,可以有確據如使徒保羅那般: 『我…情願離世與基督同在,因為這是好得無比的』(腓1:23)。若是在基督裡的人,現在身體的死亡不算什麼,因為在未來我們有榮耀復活的盼望,上帝會賜給我們一個榮耀復活的身體,與基督復活的身體相似(哥前15)。所以,我不但為曉波先生身體自由向上帝祈求,我更向上帝祈求,求上主施憐憫賜恩典予他,在他人生的最後時日能悔改歸向上帝,與我們眾聖徒一同享受在基督耶穌裡,與祂緊緊聯合的諸多福分(弗1)。

我知道此時許多關愛他的基督徒,包括他身邊最好的一些基督徒朋友在內,充滿了悲傷憤慨,以致於或許不小心做了神學教義性的宣告,表達了與基督教信仰之因信稱義的教義相悖的言論。我完全理解他們的感傷情緒。

或許有人會覺得我迂腐,但允許我這麼說,此時是體現我們作為基督徒之神學底蘊跟堅持信仰立場的機會。曉波先生,無論他是否是基督徒,他是一個常年堅持自己的政治理想跟立場的人,至死如此。我們作為基督徒,特別是改革宗信仰的基督徒,堅持我們最為基礎、最為根本的神學教義跟信仰立場,如果曉波先生在世,應該也會讚許我們對信仰的堅持跟委身。

曉波先生去世後去了哪裡?我沒有答案。這只有曉波知道,上帝知道。我們或有我們的期許跟希望,但是讓我們將這一切交託給這位全知,全善,不改變,掌主權的上帝。當我們願意信靠這位掌主權的上帝,面對困難,面對風雲變幻的人生,我們才會有安慰,我們的生命才會有確定性。

求上帝擦乾眼淚,安慰受傷的人。

P.S. 我寫此篇文章,已經會預料到可能會有人攻擊謾罵。沒關係,我理解大家的情緒。


論三自

Sanzi

朋友貼出這幅圖,有人回應說無需敵對三自,為福音的緣故應遷就融入三自。這樣的觀點既不了解中共建立所謂『三自愛國運動』的目的,也不了解當初加入三自之人士的信仰背景。

共產黨領導下的三自教會與西方傳教士起初定下的三自原則大大不同,前者是控制教會的手段,後者是西方宣教士中的有識之士為了使中國教會有日能自立不依賴西方差會與宣教士而推出的建議。

而中共移花接木的三自政策,根本不是為教會的益處,更遑論傳福音。

三自在50年代初成立之後,沒多久便經歷了幾場政治運動的浩劫。三自內的少數福音派領袖如陳崇桂被打成右派,下場淒慘。而三自自創立起初是以親共的持自由派神學的人士為主,也就是不信派人士主導,如吳耀宗,丁光訓等人,文革前與期間,三自跟其他四個控制主要宗教的鷹犬,即五個宗教協會停止運作。三自的不信派到文化大革命之後又卷土復來成為三自領袖。保守的福音派基督教人士如王明道,倪柝聲等本土非宗派基督教領袖則因不苟同三自而沒有參與跟加入三自,並因此入獄。

中共領導下的三自本來就是以不信派人士為主,被當時福音派的基督徒所斥責。認為為福音緣故而加入三自融入三自沒什麼不好,其實不了解三自自其創立起初的目的及其主要領袖的不信背景。中共成立三自的目的不是為福音,這樣想有點一廂情願。三自創立時主要及大部分的領袖也不是堅信聖經的基要派福音派基督徒。融入三自,是與不信派為伍,對當時許多堅持聖經信仰的基要派基督徒來講,加入三自即是賣主求榮。

當然,今天的三自或許已經跟當初的三自或有不同,三自教會內相信聖經的福音派基要派基督徒也比半世紀前多了許多,講台信息甚至也很福音性。但三自作為中共統戰工具的性質並沒有改變。而且從近年來中共也迫害一些個別三自教會,三自的基督徒及教會領袖的個案表明,中共會不吝嗇嚴懲那些反對它的教會人士,無論他們屬於三自與否。我們也看到有三自前牧師脫離三自成立家庭教會的情況。

從歷史源頭看來,不加入融入三自不是反福音。恰恰相反,反對福音反對基督的是中共的宗教政策,三自是統戰跟控制教會的工具,不是傳福音的工具。


Book Review: A New History of Christianity in China

All around us are the debris and the artifacts of the“post-Christian West,”and taking shape on the horizon is post-Western Christianity.” I would guess that it is here, in the kingdom of post一Western Christianity, that China may contribute something out of the treasure trove of her own rich Christian history. – Daniel Bays, concluding remarks in “A New History of Christianity in China.”

It is indeed a great scholarship done by Prof. Bays (Calvin Seminary; PhD University of Michigan), a sequel of his edited book “History of Christianity in China” written 20 years ago. This new volume is rather comprehensive, but with good breadth and right depth, quite easy to consume the information presented. Good introduction for someone interested in learning about the history of Christianity in China, including both Catholicism and Protestantism. I regret, however, that Prof. Bays left out one important development in this book, which is the development of Reformed Christianity in China. However, contemporary issues related to Christianity was probably something not of priority for this book. Overall a very good read, and informative for a book on an expansive subject, written in mere 200 pages. Hopefully a second edition would correct the number of typos I found in the book.


共和黨或使用『核選項』(nuclear option)通過大法官任命

參議員共和黨團或將使用『核選項』(nuclear option),以簡單多數51票方式通過最高法院大法官任命,而無須60票。參院民主黨團2013年用過該參院議事規則快速任命了奧巴馬內閣成員。

3年前共和黨譴責民主黨改變議事規則,不顧兩黨合作關係,使得參院兩黨不共戴天,但3年後反而是共和黨從中受益,使得川普內閣成員可以快速通過。當年只改變了內閣成員任命的議事規則,但是大法官任命過程的規則沒有改變,但現在共和黨也要動員核選項來通過大法官任命。其結果可能就是bi-partisanship變得更不可能,少數黨也無法以正常方式來阻撓議事進程。對共和黨的壞處,就是風水輪流轉,共和黨不可能永遠掌權,今天動用核選項的結果,就是日後共和黨淪為少數黨,它將無法順利阻撓議事進程。

但是大法官任命茲事體大,或許動用核選項會是明智之舉。特別是如果川普任內有另一或兩位民主黨的大法官退休的話,動用核選項會變得更加有用處。


Pluralism?

The idea that when a Christian citizen enters the public square, he/she must somehow conform to the majortarian secular values and abandon his religious convictions altogether to fit in, and if he wants to practice his religious faith, by which his worldview and moral values are informed, it must be relegated to private quarter, and private quarter only–betrays “pluralism” and “equality” in the true sense of the word.
When a Christian citizen peacefully dissents from the secular majority in the public square about a certain matter, because his Christian conscience tells him so, he might be called a bigot, all at the same time when the secular majority practices the same kind of bigotry they accused the Christian of. Yes, they cannot tolerate the Christian point of view voiced peacefully in public. This kind of logic is absurd, preposterous, and self-contradictory, sadly also advocated by some Christians who buy it. This reasoning somehow suggests that a Christian citizen is less of a citizen of the republic because of his religious faith, and that he must be a secular individual if he wants to engage in any kind of public debate for which the Christian is a part.
Basically, the secular majority gets to define what “pluralism” and “equality” mean, and “pluralism” and “equality’ they are clearly not!
Unfortunately, this kind of absurdity and pseudo-pluralism is something the Protestant Christian majority helped created in the 19th century America. So, quite ironically, it seems that evangelical Protestants have no other to blame but themselves for the “cultural wars” raging in America today. Alas.

多給誰,就像誰多要

最近南韓總統朴槿惠因醜聞黯然下台,不僅南韓國會通過彈劾罷免,使她這位首位女總統成為南韓憲政史上首位被彈劾下台的總統。南韓最高法院的大法官們也一致贊同國會的決定,使得朴槿惠不但失去青瓦台的總統寶座,也失去了總統的檢控豁免權,因此甚至有可能會被定刑罪跟坐牢。

在政界,這樣的事情屢見不鮮。不只是在韓國,各國各地官員貪腐比比皆是。且不論天朝如何,就連有相當好牽制機制以及官員相對清廉的美國也不例外。今朝被人前呼後擁,被看作政壇巨星,前途無量的;竟也是他日被眾人唾棄,如過街老鼠般,黯然下台的。人世間的可悲,或許就屬政界的這些起起落落,最充滿戲劇性了,令人唏噓不已。

這些很有野心跟企圖心的政客們,就像希臘神話中的英雄勇士們,總有一個致命的弱點;在他們意氣奮發得意洋洋之際,驟然從高台墜落,跌倒谷底。歷史上亦是如此,舊約聖經中所記載的,以色列歷史上最偉大的三位君王,掃羅,大衛,跟所羅門,都有過光輝的過去,他們們有權力,智慧,勇敢,財富,眾人的擁戴,但也都有他們致命的弱點,也曾犯致命之罪。以色列歷史上最偉大的三位君王尚且如此,就更別說在他們之後,猶大國和以色列國那諸多劣跡斑斑的惡王了。

是的,在我們每一個人心裡,在我們的生命中,都有一些個不為人知的黑暗角落。無論我們外表如何道貌岸然,人的內心都存在著恐怖的黑暗。若非上帝光照我們的內心,救拔我們,重生我們,使我們為己罪痛心不已而認罪悔改,不然墮落的人性總是會選擇忽視,選擇不去理會這內心的黑暗。這黑暗甚至攪擾著我們,使人無法自拔,以罪為樂,自恃甚高,不可一世(弗2)。

權力,地位,名聲,總是吸引著人,我們的個人本體都渴望著眾人的肯定跟讚美。因此,政治界總是吸引著許多有才幹,有口才,有能力的人。某種程度上,在基督教會界中,也有相同的情況。當人越有權力跟影響力時,當越來越多人對你前呼後擁時,感覺飄飄然時,就越需要警惕。

19世紀的英國政治家阿克頓男爵 (Lord Acton) 曾經如此說,『權力導致腐敗,絕對權力一定導致腐敗』。一個聰明有智慧的領袖,一個認識自己,認識自己罪性之不堪的領袖(無論是政治領袖,還是教會領袖),應該是一個懂得要讓自己有透明度,使自己被正當地監督的人,使自己有屬靈好友同工可以幫助監督你,免得自己私心膨脹,自以為是地步上萬劫不覆之路。教會領袖與政治領袖一樣,需要注意個人操守。但教會領袖與政治領袖不同的是,他還要注意教義的純淨,免得自己在教導上,在治會上,強解聖經跟傳講異端,自取沉淪(彼3)。

所以,越是好為人師的,越是有權力影響力,越是有才幹的人,越要警惕自己的言行,越需要正當的主內肢體的幫助與監督(accountability)。上帝多給誰,就像誰多要(路12:48)。才能,權力與責任成正比是應當的。