The Christian theological conversation spans two millennia. Recently, however, more scholars have begun to recognize that, in the words of Andrew Walls, “the theological agenda is culturally induced; and the cross-cultural diffusion of Christian faith invariably makes creative theological activity a necessity.” What does that look like in practice? Doesn’t that lead to syncretism? Can’t we just teach a pure gospel?
On June 10, 2021, Dr. Jesse Ciccotti spoke on theologizing in Chinese contexts by first discussing theology as an “idiomatic activity,” that is, an activity by which Christian thought is expressed in ways that are natural to a cultural native. He then highlighted key Chinese cultural material in Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism and illustrated these with examples. He closed with a discussion of the relevance of cross-cultural theological creativity, as well as its risks.
About Dr. Jesse Ciccotti
Jesse Ciccotti holds a PhD in Comparative Philosophy from Hong Kong Baptist University and an MA in Chinese Philosophy from Wuhan University. He and his family lived in China for 12 years.
Dr. Ciccotti’s primary research area in philosophy has led him down several interdisciplinary paths, one of which is historical studies of Christianity in China, regarding the transmission of the Christian message across cultural boundaries, examining the lives and works of Chinese Christians and foreign missionaries to China. His work for the Center for Global Christianity and Mission focuses on the recently opened online archive of Chinese Christian posters.
Dr. Ciccotti has also provided the content of his lecture for download and a reading list for those who want to learn more.
This event was part of a collaborative public lecture series, “Exploring Christianity and Culture in China: Today and Yesterday,” cohosted by ChinaSource, the US-China Catholic Association, and the China Academic Consortium.