Five-Year Planning Outline for Advancing the Sinification of Christianity(2018-2022)

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[“Christianity” as used in this translation refers to Protestant sects, a separate document on the Sinification of Catholicism was released as well]

Chapter I: Overview

I. The Meaning, Goals, and Principles for the Sinifcation of Christianity

Sinification is the sustaining direction for religions in China; meaning that religious doctrines are to be guided by the core socialist values, are to promote excellent Chinese traditions, and cultivate ideas such as unity, progress, peace, and tolerance; extracting content from the doctrines that are conducive to social harmony, contemporary progress, health, and civility, while preserving fundamental beliefs, core religious doctrine, and ritual systems, the Sinification aims to extract, and interpreting doctrines in ways that meet the requirements of China's contemporary development and progress and fit with exceptional Chinese traditional culture. The Sinification of Christianity means preserving fundamental religious beliefs in accordance with Bible, inheriting the traditions of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation, anchoring faith and social practice in Chinese culture, practicing the core socialist values, and preaching the gospel, testifying for Christ, and running churches in this context.

The aim of the Sinification of Christianity is to set up a church that holds up the union of Christ and conservatism; a church that is faithful to Biblical truth, rooted in Chinese culture, and able to contextualize its theology; a church that boldly takes on social responsibility and lives as a testament to life; a church that can connect devotees everywhere and make a unique contribution to the global church; bringing about the transformation from "Christianity in China" to "Chinese Christianity". The sinification of Christianity is an important goal for churches running in accordance with the three principles [ *self-administration, self-support, and self-propagation] and is a necessary path for adapting to socialist society.

The sinification of Christianity is not only an objective requirement for the Chinese church‘s own development, but also the expectation of the Party and government. In recent years, the Party and government repeatedly emphasized the importance of doing religious work well, and that the Party's basic directives on religious work should be implements, persisting in orienting towards the sinification of religions in China, and actively guiding the adaption of religion and socialist society. In this historic time when socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, advancing the sinification of Christianity, continuously strengthening conscientious identification with contemporary China in terms of politics, conscientious integration in terms of culture, and conscientious adaptation in terms society; establishing deep bonds of kinship with the Chinese people, sharing in the joys and sorrows of the motherland, and feeling common cause with the people; and contributing to the achievement of the "Two Centenary Goals" and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and China dream; have already become the consensus of Chinese Christianity.

The Chinese church and Christians the principal body for the advancement of the sinification of Christianity. During the process of promoting the sinification of Christianity, the following rules must be obeyed: uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China, follow the guidance of the core socialist values, and acknowledge the system, path, theory, and culture of development in our nation; be grounded in the teachings of Bible and preserve the fundamental beliefs and core doctrines; persist in independence and autonomy with unity of direction; consider both the church's universality and its locality; to draw insights from the practice of faith, spiritual experience, and theological heritage of the global church; merge with the splendid Chinese traditions and advanced socialist culture; boldly dare to take on social responsibility and integrate with the Chinese society.

 

II. The Current State of the Sinification of Christianity

The historical lesson from the repeated setbacks to Christianity's spread in China comes down to its failure to overcome its foreignness. The Three-self Patriotic Movement launched in the 50s realized the Chinese church 's self-organisation and sovereignty, and the building of theological ideology that began in the 90s endeavored to establish to the Chinese church's own theological ideology. The Three-self Patriotic Movement and the establishment of theological ideology were both aimed to develop the "Chinese characteristics" of the Chinese church and to 'Sinify the Chinese church'; not only were they the practice and achievement of the sinification of Christianity in China in different historical times, but they also built a solid foundation for Christianity's adaptation the pace of contemporary China's progress and the further sinification of Christianity.

In 2013, the ninth meeting of the delegates of Chinese Christianity proposed researching "how to promote and realize the sinification of Christianity" In 2014, a symposium was held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Three-self Patriotic Movement of Christianity in China, formally proposing to begin a deeper level of sinification of Christianity at this new historical starting point. In 2015, a symposium on the sinification of Christianity was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bishop Ding Guangxu, and a consensus was formed regarding the meaning of sinification of Christianity has been reached. 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and another seminar was held proposing that the sinification of Christianity should be carried out in the spirit of the reformation. In recent years, the national and local two Christian commissions, and institutes of theology, have continuously organized colloquia, convened symposiums, and held forums, inviting experts from government and academia, as well as church personnel from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and abroad, to create a receptive atmosphere and positive momentum for discussion, publicity, and promotion of the sinification of Christianity. The two national Christian copmmissions edited and published books and albums such as "Bishop Ding Guangxun on the Sinification of Christianity", "Essays from the Symposium on the Sinification of Christianity" (two volumes), and the theological ideology preaching group's “Lecture Collection" and "Holiness unto the Lord: photography of the Architecture of Chinese Church" ; and some provinces held original music concerts and performances on the sinification of Christianity, continuously creating new forms and rich content for promoting the sinification of Christianity .

However, in advancing the path of the sinification of Christianity, there are a few challenges and misunderstanding to confront. When there is a lack of talents who are both well cultured and theologically accomplished, it can lead to an ineffective conducting of some foundational works, such as translating the Christian classics and interpreting the Christian doctrines in a sinified way; to a certain degree there exists a phenomenon where the two national associations of Christianity pay high attention and some provinces actively follow up, while other grass-root Christian associations and churches do not have high level of understanding and active involvement; come clergymen do not have clear understandings of the inherent relations between the three-self patriotic movement, the construction of theological ideology, and the sinification of Christianity, and even an incorrect understanding that this is a movement required by the government, evading their responsibility; in some places the promotion of the sinification of Christianity has been overly simplistic and restorative, applied mechanically, and not taken seriously, thus resulting in a vulgar tendency. Meanwhile, the anti-China and anti-three-self forces abroad proposed a motion of "the nationalisation of church, the evangelisation of China, and the Christianisation of culture" in an attempt to befog the minds of the people, causing misunderstandings about the sinification of Christianity, etc.

Thus, the promotion of the sinification of Christianity must be combined with the realistic situation of the development of contemporary Chinese society; cannot divorce from reality and fall into empty talk and discussion; it needs to carry out a theoretical study in a deep-going way, as well as to conduct practical explorations. This is a long-term historical progressive process; there is a long way to go and it needs a long time to succeed.

 

Chapter II: Primary Tasks

The primary mission of the sinification of the Christian church in the upcoming 5 years is the gradual advancement from the publicity and mobilization phase to the implementation and practice phase. Both national and local Christian associations should enhance their sense of mission and responsibility, reinforce patriotic education, cultivate and practice the core socialist values; further deepen the construction of theological ideology, strengthen the theological foundation of sinification; accelerate the pace of cultivating talents and improve on their quality; ground Christianity on Chinese culture and express faith using Chinese culture; progress steadily and achieve substantive results in the aspects of philanthropy, social services, etc.

 

I. Cultivate and Practice the Core Socialist Values, Ushering in the Sinification of Christianity

Advocate the Core Socialist Values of prosperity, democracy, civility, and harmony; freedom, equality, justice, and rule of law; and patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship, to embody the basic character and fundamental traits of the Core Social Value system, reflecting the systems' rich connotations and requirements for practice. Promotion of sinification of Christianity must be guided by the Core Socialist Values, strengthening the "four awarenesses," persisting in the "four self-confidences" and implementing them in all parts of work such as systems of theological ideology and rules; implementing them into the daily life of believers, further stimulating patriotic sentiment of pastors and the believers at large, and upholding the running of the church in accordance of law.

——Pull out content of the bible that are consistent with the core socialist values, organize forces to write easily understandable exposition and provide this to churches and pastors and the local level, and to believers at large, to publicize them and expand their influence within Christianity.

——Include the Core Socialist Values as an important part of the phase of preaching by the preaching groups establishing theological ideology, and organize study and training of preachers to go to the local levels and preach, guiding believers' practice.

——Promote the Core Socialist Values entry into campuses, classrooms, teaching materials, and students' minds; organizing teaching demonstrations and exchange activities on the Core Socialist Values in theological institutes, forming platforms for publicity and practice in classroom education, societal practice, and campus culture.

——Make practice of the Core Socialist Values an important standard for rating the development of civilized and harmonious churches, vigorously publicizing advanced examples, selecting and commending models of morality, and giving play to the use of outstanding Christians in all fields as role-models, forming a positive atmosphere for practicing the Core Socialist Values in the Christian community.

—— Earnestly organize publicity, study, and implementation of the newly revised "Regulations on Religious Affairs" and teach believers to correctly recognize the relationship between state law and church rules, consciously comply with the Regulations, and continuously strengthen legal awareness, maintaining the dignity of the law; making running the church in accordance with laws and regulations an effective path for the integration of Christianity into society.

 

II. Continue to Deepen the Establishment of Theological Ideology, Solidifying the Theological Foundation for Sinifcation of Christianity

The core and soul of the sinification of Christianity is the sinification of theological thought; a true sinification means to achieve the sinification of theological thought. Otherwise, the sinification of Christianity will become an empty slogan, a tree without roots, water without source. Through a deepening the construction of theological ideology, guide the Chinese Church to find a model of development that is suitable for China's national, social, and educational conditions; gradually constructing a Chinese Christian theological system adapted to socialist society. Further the theoretical study of the construction of theological ideology and advance outcome transformations:

——Strengthening bible study and establishing a correct view of the bible and a scriptural interpretation compatible with the situation, are the foundation for establishing theological ideology. Conscientiously cultivate researchers of the bible to set about laying a solid foundation for reinterpreting the bible or writing scriptural annotations.

——Focus on the theoretical research on the doctrine of the church and establishing active and healthy religious relationships, gradually forming theoretical self-confidence in the Chinese church.

——Promptly adjust the current theological preaching team corps' establishment of theological ideology, strengthening the training of preaching team members, pushing preaching work towards the local level and towards the church, using preaching to spread propaganda and education on the sinification of Christianity.

——Establish academic journals on Chinese Christianity and encourage academic research, to make a platform for expressing the theoretical research accomplishments of the sinification of Christianity.

——Assimilate historical resources; collecting, organizing, and researching articles and discourse of Chinese church elders and theologians related to indigenization, contextualization, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and the development of theological thought, to compile and publish a series of books.

——Revise "Key Questions and Answers" to compile materials for daily spiritual less, preventing extremism, resisting heresy, opposing cults, and defending against infiltration.

 

III. Continue to Regulate Theological Education, Accelerating the Pace of Training Practitioners

Personnel development is the top priority for the healthy and harmonious development of Chinese Christianity, and the key advancing the sinification of Christianity. Advancing the sinification of Christianity will require the efforts of generation upon generation, and the goals of cultivating personnel should be clarified as required to persist in the sinfication of Christianity, forming a training model planned at the top levels, optimizing structures for personnel training, giving play to the important function of theological education, planning and integrating existing resources for theological education, constructing a platform for all kinds of personnel to give play to their talents, expanding channels for training, striving to train more exceptional personnel that are politically reliable, religiously accomplished, morally persuasive, and able to play a role at critical moments, to continuously inject new vitality into the sinification of Christianity.

——Cooperate with relevant departments to implement the "Mid-term and Long-term Plan for Training Chinese Christian Personnel" to put together top-down personnel training and to improve the establishment of ranked teams.

——Promote the development educational reform of theological institutes and schools, paying close attention to the "Planning Outline for the Medium and Long-term Development of Chinese Christian Theological Education" in standardizing theological education.

——Maintain the correct orientation for handling education, strengthening the regulation and management, and striving to increase the quality of teaching at theological institutes and schools; integrating the sinification of Christianity into teaching and research. giving play to the important role of theological institutes and schools in the course of promoting the sinification of Christianity.

——Adjust the curricula to require a higher proportion of courses on the Core Socialist Values, patriotism, Chinese history, literature, philosophy and arts and other traditional culture; persisting in having the sinification of Christianity enter campuses and classrooms to correctly guide students.

——Emphasize the importance of training work for in-service pastors and volunteers, and gradually establish a three-dimensional training system in which the national and local Christian commissions coordinate and interact to complement each other's advantages; and increase content on the sinification of Christianity at all levels of training.

——Organize Chinese Christians' compilation of their own teaching materials for theological institutes and schools and volunteer training materials; working to publish 1-2 volumes of teaching materials that embody the sinification of Christianity.

 

IV. Root Chinese Culture, Using China's Cultural Forms with Chinese Characteristics to Express Faith

Christianity is a religion, and it is also an important component part of world civilization. There is one God, but expressions of faith in god should be rich and colorful. Chinese culture is ancient and splendid, extensive and profound, a testament to the spiritual pursuits of the Chinese people, and exhibiting their great wisdom. Persisting in the direction of sinifying Christianity requires Christianity to remove the "binding" of the West and to put on the 'clarity' of China; to make interpretations of church doctrines and rules suited to the exceptional Chinese culture to form a sinified way of expressing the Christian faith.

-- Study, draw from, and absorb the exceptional traditional culture of the Chinese people, and the advanced socialist culture, consciously rooting Chinese culture in rich soil, deriving beneficial nutrients to enrich oneself.

——Advocate the integration of Chinese elements into the churches' worship and liturgy, sacred music and hymns, pastoral clothing, church construction, and so forth, to make them embody the ethos of the Chinese people, and embody Chinese characteristics.

——Encourage original creations in areas such as scriptural interpretations, spirituality, arts and literature; based on sources such as Chinese church life, believers' testament, and social conditions. Provide assistance and give support in publication and distribution.

——Organize the collection and composition of hymns and paeans which have traditional Chinese melodies or local tunes; compile and publish sinified hymns and hold special performances along or art exhibitions, to promote the sinification of sacred music.

- Use uniquely Chinese cultural forms that people adore, such as Chinese painting, calligraphy, seal carving, and paper cutting as expressions of Christian faith, organizing art exhibits, and inspiring Sinicized works.

- Promote diversity in church construction, encouraging churches to integrate Chinese architectural styles or local architectural features.

 

V. Engage in Public Interest Charity, and Work to Serve Society

Service to society and working for the good of the people is an important way for churches to demonstrate their faith and testament, to take on social responsibility, and to integrate into society. The sinification of Christianity requires the Chinese church to combine the traditional Chinese culture's charitable notion of 'caring for the elderly as if they were the elders of our own family and caring for the young as if they were our own family's children" with practice of the biblical teaching of 'loving thy neighbor', to carry forward the exceptional traditions of the light and the salt [Mathew 5:13] and honoring god and helping people, to cultivate a charitable Christian culture and actively carry out social service.

——Give play to the Church's active role in humane care, ethics and morality, and spiritual consolation, being a good testament to honoring God and benefiting people by properly handling relationships between all parties and striving to promote social harmony.

——Call on Christians to love their work and be devoted to it; to observe social mores, professional ethics, family values, and personal morality; to establish a positive and upbeat outlook on life and correct values, to be the salt and the light, and to be good citizens who obeys the law and discipline and are kind to the people.

——In line with the principles of "acting according to local conditions, sending help as needed, fixing problems, and working according to one's abilities," continue to carry out social charity projects such as care for the elderly and the young, support for impoverished students, poverty alleviation and disaster relief, and constructing public facilities, environmental protection, and health care.

——Explore effective mechanisms for Christian service to society, promote the registration of Christian social service establishments, using training as a handle by which to cultivate professionals and advance the level of operational management and professional skills in Christian social services.

——Continue to respond and carry out 'Religious Charity Week' and organize and implement activities on the theme of public interest and charity, inspiring love and devotion of believers, and continuously expanding the scope of participation in public interest charitable activities.

——Answer the call of the two national Christian Commissions' "Proposal on Responding to the National Strategy for Poverty Alleviation and Launching Meaningful Poverty Alleviation" by properly contributing to "ensuring the poor in impoverished areas have escaped poverty by 2020".

——Build the brand of Chinese Christian eldercare services, increasing the overall level of Chinese Christian social service ministry.

 

Chapter III: Key Work Arrangements for 2018-2022

Advancing the sinification of Christianity is the direction for Chinese Christianity's efforts, and the sinification of Christianity has always been in progress. While conducting widespread publicity and mobilization, it is necessary to implement the goals and tasks set out in the "Planning Outline" , incorporating them in specific work and practice, to achieve tangible results. In the coming 5 years, in addition to dividing the goals and tasks of the sinification of Christianity and including them in routine work, the two national Christian commissions are also to make plans for their integration with major events, times and holidays; for their forceful advancement and implementation.

 

I. 2018

  1. Make thorough study of the spirit of the 19th Party Congress and sinfication of Christianity the guiding thought and central content of the 10th meeting of the China Christian Council;merging forces, centralizing intelligence, forming a united power, and advancing the sinification of Christianity
  2. Hold symposiums on the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening, Increasing systemic, pathway, theoretic, and cultural affinities between Christianity and contemporary China.
  3. Continue to study and implement the newly revised "Regulations on Religious Affairs" and follow the spirit of the Regulations to revise the "Charter of the China Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee", the "Charter of the China Christian Council", and the "Charter of the Chinese Christian Church”; increasing content on the development of the theory and practice of sinification of Christianity, to embody the latest accomplishments of the sinification of Christianity.
  4. Use the 20th anniversary of establishing theological ideology as an opportunity to hold commemorative events such as seminars and symposiums explaining the connection between the establishment of theological ideology and the sinification of Christianity, and arts exhibits and performances on sinified Christianity. Look back and summarize the 5 years of the preaching groups' work in establishing theological ideology, and adjust the preaching group's functions and duties, and the orientation of its efforts, to advance the sinification of Christianity.

 

II. 2019

  1. Celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China by organizing calligraphy, painting, paper cutting, photography, and other such exhibitions, displaying the exploration and accomplishments of the sinification of Christianity, conducting patriotic education, thinking together with the people and walking together with the motherland, and devoting oneself to establishing the great socialist motherland.
  2. Fully use resources such as "The History and Inheritance of Chinese Christian Patriotism" in patriotic education bases, enhance the patriotic education of clergymen and theology students; edit and publish relevant historical materials on patriotism and make patriotism an obligation for Christians.
  3. Combine Chinese and the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Chinese translation of Bible, organise relevant commemorative events and seminars, and promote the sinified interpretations Bible. Process Bible annotations that were interpreted by Chinese Christians, and promote a foundational theological support for the sinification of Christianity.

 

III. 2020

  1. Commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Three-self Patriotic Movement, holding essay competitions and symposiums; organically combine the Three-self Patriotic movement with strengthening theological ideology and advancing the sinification of Christianity, persist in independence and autonomy for the new situation, and resist foreign penetration.
  2. Hold an exhibition on 70 years of Three-self accomplishments; organize special performances of original church music and hymns; strive to publish sinified hymnals, further promoting the integration of Christianity, splendid traditional Chinese culture, and advance socialist culture.

 

IV. 2021

  1. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party by launching educational practicum activities with practicing the Core Socialist Values as their theme; and pull up and promote the deeds of Christians from all eras who were in solidarity and in step with the party, to teach and guide believers.
  2. Use methods such as soliciting themed articles through "Tianfeng", displays, and preaching to lead believers in taking on their predecessors' love of country and love of the faith, to further the conscious identification with the leadership of the CCP and the socialist path.
  3. Incorporate the building of a relatively prosperous society and realizing the first "100 years" of the "200 years" overall goals for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people; organize activities to commend the contribution of the Christianity in economic and social development, inspire awareness of serving the people in the churches and believers, and cultivate a culture of Christian public charity with Chinese characteristics, to better integrate with society.

 

V. 2022

  1. Hold meetings to exchange experiences in efforts on advancing the sinification of Christianity, exchanging good methods and experiences from each region to promote coordination among regions in the advancement of the sinification of Christianity.
  2. Reflect on and summarize 5 years of experience implementing the 'planning outline', strive to compile a planning outline for the advancement for the sinification of Christianity for 2023-2027.
  3. Focus on doing a good job of training, selecting, and using personnel, forming a team of team echelon so that every aspect of the sinification of Christianity has professional leadership.

 

Chapter IV: Organization and Implementation

This "Planning Outline" was submitted by the Chairs of the two national Christian commissions and the board of council heads to the Standing Committee of the two national Christian commissions for deliberation and adoption. Under the guidance of the State Religious Affairs Bureau, the two national Christian commissions are to undertake primary responsibility for organizing the implementation of the "Planning Outline", while the two commissions, theological institutes and schools, and churches in each province, autonomous region and directly-governed municipality are to actively cooperate and coordinate efforts to strive to complete the work plan in the next five years. Specific implementation measures are as follows:

  1. The strengthen leadership and work related to the big picture of advancement, the two national Christian commissions are to set-up a leading group for the advancement of the sinification of Christianity consisting of members of the general affairs committee, with the chairman and president as the group leader and resident team members as deputies.
  2. In the first quarter of each year, the leading group on the advancement of the sinification of Christianity is to submit concrete implementation plans activity arrangement for the coming year; and report on implementation to the standing committee (joint committee) at the end of each year.
  3. The national and local two Christian commissions are to keep their eyes on the long-term goal of the sinification of Christianity, further completing and improving each rule system to providing strong institutional safeguards for advancement work to make it so that advancement work is institutionalized and normalized.
  4. The special committees of the two national committees are to use their advantages of having large staffs, being strongly representative, and in close contact with the local levels, to provide recommendations and consultation on decision-making in advancement work, and undertake some actual work when necessary.
  5. Each department of the two national commissions is to formulate work plans revolving around this Plan, undertake and breakdown tasks, and implement each work item for real and verifiable effect. Strengthen coordination and cooperation between all departments to ensure that major activities are completed on time and maintaining quality.
  6. The two national Christian commissions are to encourage, guide, and promote each areas' two commissions, theological institutes and schools, and churches to earnestly plan, organize in detail, and systematically employ multiple ways of advancing the work of all areas based on the content and deployment of the "Planning Outline" and the actual local situations.
  7. At appropriate times, the two national Christian commissions are to organize exchanges of experience to advance work, promptly summarizing and actively spreading the good methods and effective experiences of each region, and promoting the collective progress of each region.
  8. Intensify the force of publicity, actively creating a public opinion environment conducive to the sinification of Christianity, earning the understanding and support of all sectors of society at home and abroad. The websites of the two Christians commissions, 'Tianfeng', 'Huixun', WeChat public accounts, and so forth, are to promptly report on relevant activities and publish books, hymns, calendars and A/V products about the sinification of Christianity.
  9. In accordance with the Plan, publish academic journals and strengthen exchanges and communication with academia, achieving theoretical and research breakthrough with the help of their academic research and intellectual support. Promote friendly exchanges with other fraternal religions, learning from their beneficial experiences.
  10. Do a good job of monitoring and inspections, establishing mechanisms for monitoring and assessment, and conducting annual monitoring and assessment of the progress and efficacy of advancement work, and make necessary adjustments to goals and tasks.

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has entered a new era, and the new journey has already begun; we are closer to any generation before us to reaching the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people. The Chinese Christian church will always share a common destiny and fate with the motherland and the people; persist in running the church in accordance with the three-selfs principle and continuously advance the sinification of Christianity, so as to actively contribute to building a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious, beautiful and modernized socialist nation, and composing a magnificent chapter in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

 

 

National Committee of the Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China Christian Council

December 2017

 

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