Chinese Christian Theological Association (CCTA) , November 20, 2012
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in mainland China, after developing in the countryside in the 1980s, spreading among China's intellectuals in the 1990s and experiencing fast urban growth post-2000, has since 2010 been entering the Pauline era.
The Apostle Paul was a great intellectual, an expert in the law, a theologian and a member of the elite class. He was the last apostle chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ and he carried out these great missions: he wrote one-third of the New Testament, he was the first to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, he preached the Gospel to the Romans, who had an advanced and developed Greek civilization, and he established and taught the church in developed urban centers. Paul was also the first missionary sent out by the church, starting with the church in Antioch. The church in Antioch later also became the church that spread the Gospel to China, mainly by way of the Silk Road (see History of Christianity in Xinjiang, China - With a Brief History of Xinjiang, published by CCTA). Paul was called by God to take up and carry out the purpose of the mission, which was: after the church has finished the early growth stage, it needs to start developing its academic mission, which is to develop an intellectual system centered on theological thought that will lead to the creation of a completely new church civilization and social civilization that God delights in.
(Illustration depicting Paul speaking to the scholars and social elites of Athens)
Like all churches throughout history, as the mainland Chinese church expands from its beginnings at the grassroots level of society and slowly spreads to the middle and upper levels of society, it inevitably will influence all aspects of society and start to influence the religious beliefs and culture of other ethnical groups, just as Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." This being the case, the training and development of theological knowledge is necessary in both the social background of Christians and in the larger missions that the church undertakes. The Chinese church both at home and abroad have already reached a common understanding about this and is already making efforts in this regard. Nonetheless, there is one point that many people have overlooked, and that is that what Paul represented was a development model centered on academic theology that affected the Christian faith, evangelism, ethics, politics, and many other academic fields.
Over the past 400 years, the world--beginning with Europe--has followed a cultural model of promoting the development of social civilization that is centered around education, in particular Athens-style higher education. This has become the main method for shaping and changing mankind's thinking and culture. Later, many anti-Christian ideas also got started through higher education, and through academic means abetted by the bias of the academic point of view, they have had a soft brainwashing or "peaceful evolution" effect. This is the situation in Europe and in today's America. Statistics show that in recent years up to 70 to 80 percent of American Christians in college lose their faith or have weaker faith or become agnostics by the time they graduate. Of course, there are also many students who become Christians during their college years. As for China, we certainly do not want to see a repeat of this kind of mistake in higher education in the future. Therefore, among the many tasks set before the church and Christians of this age, the mission of higher education must not be overlooked. And now is the time to start to act.
The Chinese Christian Theological Association was established precisely to call for and to shoulder the Chinese church's academic mission, to promote a "Jerusalem-style" model of higher education. Founded in 2009, CCTA's aim is to establish and develop-- by using the most outstanding academic materials as “gold, silver, costly stones”-- a multi-discipline academic construction centered on theology that is based on conservative Christian faith and has Jesus Christ as the foundation (I Corinthians 3:11-13). Our hope is to play a small role in fulfilling the obligation of the Chinese church in the Pauline era: to transform academia, transform the church and transform society, as well as to call for and to spread the vision of this mission, so that the church and all Christians can be aware of this important transitional phase and the accompanying responsibility, which cannot be shirked, as well as to urge and call on Christian academics to unite. (Please see CCTA's mission and faith statements: http://www.ccta.me/p/mission-and-faith.html )
In its first stage of fulfilling this mission, CCTA has already published a number of Chinese and English books. During this Thanksgiving holiday, churches and Christian groups can enjoy a 40% discount plus free shipping. Also, CCTA recently won the rights to translate and publish David Aikman's Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. To see a list of CCTA publications, go to: http://www.ccta.me/p/publications-and-authors.html
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CCTA would like to hear from you. You can contact Mark Shan at Mark@ccta.me or 617-383-9120
Thanksgiving 2012, Boston
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