(CEN) China opening for Global South primates

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Primates of the Global South coalition of provinces have opened ecumenical relations with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) — China’s official state Protestant Church.

The 12-day visit to China by 11 senior archbishops led by Singapore’s Archbishop John Chew — who represent a majority of the communion’s members — has sparked public controversy in evangelical circles with some conservatives perturbed by the outreach to the Communist Party-approved state church.

The visit will also pain supporters of the current institutional structures of the Anglican Communion, as the China trip marks the establishment of an international Anglican ecumenical movement independent of the London-based instruments of communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

4 Comments
Posted October 5, 2011 at 6:30 am

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1. Mark Baddeley wrote:

This is a very encouraging step, and it is great to see Conger’s characteristic analytical skills brought to bear in his reporting. Nothing shows what the future is going to look like with the Global South taking more of a lead then them doing something like this which fits none of the categories in the English speaking West. This is neither ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ politically. It’s something other - something nonWestern. That doesn’t make it necessarily right or wrong, good or bad. It does mean that the Global South Primates are acting in a way that reflects their nonWestern point of view. And that’s what this next phase is going to look like if the Global South takes more of the lead among the orthodox.

I was amused by this bit:

Conservative bloggers were quick to denounce this oversight with posters at the website StandFirm expressing outrage the Global South would align itself with the TSPM.

On the one hand we have a bunch of giants leading sections of the church in very difficult contexts. On the other we have some guys with computers and internet access (and I’m happy to include myself in that) blowing the whistle because something wasn’t in the statement that they thought should be in it.

I bet the Primates were completely crushed by the outrage of some posters on StandFirm. Heh.

October 5, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
2. Loren+ wrote:

1.  The picture is powerful with the complete absence of the TEC/CoE bishops.

2.  Archbishop Chew has been walking a steady path for years with respect to the Church in China, training selected pastors, educating scholars to train pastors in China, expanding options for distribution of literature, both Bibles and resources for pastors, and now helping the Chinese authorities to rethink the role of Christians in society (from the parasites in Marxist thought to productive citizens, a la Jeremiah 23).  There is more here than meets the eye.

3.  Going back to the photograph, note that there appear to be more Global bishops at the table than Chinese authorities—from an Asian perspective, that is an interestingly humble place for the Chinese leaders to be in.

October 6, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
3. Teatime2 wrote:

But how does one get around the fact that in the “state-approved” church in China, it’s basically the Communist Party that’s selecting the bishops? Or will it work differently for Anglicans than it does for the RCC there, in which the only RCC accepted and acknowledged by Rome in China is the underground, non-approved church?

October 6, 4:03 pm | [comment link]
4. Loren+ wrote:

Teatime2, the witness of the martyrs in China has left a huge and positive impression on the Communist authorities.  According to their own numbers (which are significantly higher than outside sources), the numbers of Christians exceed the number of Party members.  According to Chinese history, there is reason for the Party to believe that the Church will declare that the party has lost their “mandate of heaven” and attempt an overthrow of the government—as has been done numerous times in history, including two attempts by Christian related movements.  Instead, current Church leadership is openly talking about good citizenship, a la Jeremiah and Paul.  Meanwhile, Chinese government is a massive bureaucracy designed to prevent excesses.  There are two Protestant Church structures (TSPM and CCC), many of whose governing leaders are the same!  And there are two Communist/Government structures to oversee the Church structures.  Since the Church has remained humble yet confident, undeterred by their martyrdoms, and committed to the health of the country, the Communist structures tolerate or even appreciate the Church.  At the moment therefore, the Church can generally nominate and appoint their own leadership.  When the Party does not like a particular one, the bureaucracy kicks in to undermine and minimize that person’s ministry.  Meanwhile, the House Church leaders count more believers in their fellowships than do the TSPM/CCC churches—and the leaders of both are able to communicate either openly or through third parties.  The point is that after 50 years of persecution, the TSPM has earned enough respect by the Party to allow the Church to navigate the political realities and pressures.  Do I agree with all the decisions of the TSPM?  No—but neither have I endured their sufferings.

BTW, the Roman dynamic is different—Beijing is scared that the Pope, who is head of state of the Vatican, will prompt the RC’s to declare that the Party has lost the mandate of heaven.  The Protestants, including the Anglicans, do not have an external head of state to confuse the Church question.

October 6, 4:50 pm | [comment link]


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