The Construction of Chinese Local Protestantism
|Keywords||Pentecostal Belief Local Protestantism True Jesus Church Jesus Family Charismatic Movement|
Ever since the20th century, the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement has exerted afar-reaching effect on the development of Christianity in Europe, America and around theworld. For the Christianity in China, the most vital impact of this movement is the rise ofPentecostal denominations. The localization is especially important as it may change thelong-term Christianity pattern in China dominated by the western church missionarysocieties.Why the Pentecostal belief has such obvious influences on the localization whichmany Chinese believers have pursued with many efforts but got little effect? The thesis iscommitted to combining historical narration with theoretical interpretation so as to offer abetter explanation. Oriented with the construction of China local Protestantism, the thesiscomprehensively analyzes the Pentecostal belief with regard to its origin, development,dissimilation in China and relevant practical contents.Concerning its specific historical process, the Pentecostal belief was brought toChina by the Pentecostal missionaries and some missionary societies. They began topreach their religion through a series of activities, which to some extent shocked theauthority of the western dominant sectarian missionary societies. Moreover, it promotedthe development of the local Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement under the Christianityrevival background. All these improved the status of the local believers and earned morespace for them to act independently. On this basis, the local believers, who had acceptedthe idea and experience of the Pentecostal belief, gradually set up the real “three-self”local Pentecostal denominations in a specific circumstance along with other believers. Itspread and developed fast after the emergence. It also has particular influence on ChineseChristianity.As for the sociology of religion, the most basic perspective focuses on theinteraction between religion and society. Pursuant to this point of view, the study paysmuch attention to the independent value of the belief itself. The thesis holds that thecontents and experience features of a belief has a critical role in its possible socialpractice pattern. The most salient aspect of the Pentecostal belief is the directcommunication between humans and deity, followed by the mystical inspiration,emotional religious experience, and means of expression. It has great impact on the subjectivity construction of the local sectarian actors.At the same time, as for the foreign Pentecostal belief, this influence is limited to theselective affinity mechanism between itself and Chinese social culture. Generallyspeaking, it is reflected in the interaction between itself and believers including thesectarian leaders plus their long-standing religious habits. The latter two make it easierfor some elements in the Pentecostal belief to be accepted and implemented. There ismore space to interpret and construct the acceptance and implementation under theinfluence of the Apocalypticism and Restorationism and other theological creeds. Thiscomplicated, systematically combination contributes to the construction of the authorityof the Pentecostal denominations and the spiritual capital.Regarding the local Pentecostal denominations, the thesis focuses on the study oftwo important religious sects in modern times, namely, the True Jesus Church and JesusFamily. The thesis aims to manifest and illustrate the similarity and some specificdifferences in the practical patterns of the two. The contrast further embodies theindependent meanings that the Pentecostal belief may give rise to, as well as the selectiveaffinity relation between this belief and Chinese social culture in a particular context.Such comparison and contrast can further express and reveal the independent meaningbrought about by Pentecostalism as well as the selective process and outcome of affinityoccurred in the certain circumstances of china’s social culture.In modern era, Christianity develops with a more evident feature---globalocation.The prominent result of all the practices of Pentecostal belief in China is the constructionof Chinese local Protestantism. No matter in the belief contents or in the practical modes,such local Protestantism possesses a distinct property of local social culture. Within thestratum and power structure, it also has a considerable mass and local character.