cultural Christians


cultural Christians
The phenomenon of cultural Christians (wenhua jidutu) developed in the PRC in the 1980s. The term is often used in a wider context to describe the increasing number of researchers in the PRC doing varied studies about Christianity. They can be roughly divided into three groups: first, intellectuals researching Christianity in various ways without having a faith; second, intellectuals professing Christian faith but not associating with any church; and third, intellectuals who are active, baptized members in a congregation. A majority of the first group may not even consider themselves cultural Christians. The second group can be considered the core of cultural Christians, while the third group is quite marginal.
One of the most prominent cultural Christians is Liu Xiaofeng (b. 1956, Chongqing), theologian and philosopher.
Other well-known names are He Guanghu and Zhang Zhiyang. Liu wrote several books in the 1980s and the 1990s that attracted much attention in academic and church circles in the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as abroad. Liu’s and others’ theological and ethical reflections for a change in modern Chinese society have been seen by some other Chinese intellectuals as attempts to ‘save China’. Liu and others deny this but personal and national salvation is undoubtedly an important part of all aspects of the cultural Christian phenomenon.
Cultural Christians are few in number and have not developed any network or particular form of worship but are influential through their academic positions and publications. They have a decisive role to play in contemporary Chinese society and specifically for Christian development in China.
Zhuo, X. (2001). ‘Discussion on “Cultural Christians” in China’. In S.Uhalley and X.Wu (eds), China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future. Armonk, NY: M.E.Sharpe.
FREDERIK FÄLLMAN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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