China's Reforming Churches: Mission, Polity, and Ministry in the Next Christendom

By Ng, Peter Tze Ming | International Bulletin of Mission Research, July 2015 | Go to article overview

China's Reforming Churches: Mission, Polity, and Ministry in the Next Christendom


Ng, Peter Tze Ming, International Bulletin of Mission Research


China's Reforming Churches: Mission, Polity, and Ministry in the Next Christendom.

Edited by Bruce P. Baugus. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. Pp. xii, 336. Paperback $20.

China's Reforming Churches, a collection of reports and assessments of the current state of Protestant churches in China, argues that Reformed traditions and Presbyterian polity are increasing in Chinese churches. The articles cover a wide spectrum of interests, ranging from the history of modern China to the phenomenal growth of Chinese Christianity in recent years, and from the development of church polity to the adoption of biblical Presbyterianism in China today. Though we cannot attribute the growth of Christianity solely to Presbyterian or Reformed missions in China, there are indeed links to the work of Reformed traditions in China.

Chinese Christianity has sought ways to survive in its own sociocultural and political context. Of the three types of church polity found in Western Christianity, Presbyterianism, with its rule by elders (vs. Episcopalianism and Congregationalism, which emphasize rule by a bishop or by the people), is more compatible with Chinese society, which emphasizes the father figure. Pentecostalism, with its strong, charismatic leader, is likewise particularly in line with Chinese emphasis on the father. It is thus not surprising that Chinese churches have favored Presbyterianism, for the concept of presbyter resembles the role of a father.

Brent Fulton's quotation of Martin Jacques is very appropriate: "The great task facing the West over the next century will be to make sense of China--not in our terms but in theirs. …

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