K. H. Ting

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K. H. Ting or Ding Guangxun (simplified Chinese: 丁光训; traditional Chinese: 丁光訓; pinyin: Dīng Guāngxùn; Wade–Giles: Ting1 Kuang1-hsun4) (20 September 1915 – 22 November 2012), was Chairperson emeritus of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and President emeritus of the China Christian Council, the government-approved Protestant church in China. He was an Anglican Bishop in the 1940s and 1950s. As he has not renounce his ordination, he was technically a bishop until his death, although the Anglican Church no longer exists as an institution in China. Along with all recognized denominations, it was merged into the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in the 1950s.

Ting had also held a number of political posts. He was a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (1989–2008), and a member of the National People's Congress, China's legislature.

Biography[edit]

Ting was educated at Shanghai's Saint John's University (1937–42), receiving his B.A. in 1937 and his B.D. in 1942. In the same year, he was ordained to the Anglican diaconate and married Siu-May Kuo (d. 1995).

From 1942 to 1945, Ting worked in administrative affairs of the YMCA. In 1946, he and his wife moved to Canada where he became missions secretary of the Canadian Student Christian Movement. Ting subsequently studied at Columbia University and at Union Theological Seminary, both in New York (1947 to 1948). He graduated with masters in arts and theology. From 1948 to 1951, Ting worked in administrative affairs of the World Student Christian Federation in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1951 the couple returned to China with their young son. Their second son was born in 1952. Ting went on to serve as general manager of the Shanghai-based Chinese Christian Literature Society from 1951–53. In 1953, he became principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary.

In 1954, 138 Chinese Christian leaders who presented the Christian Manifesto to the country, pledging the support of Christians for anti-imperialism, anti-feudalism, and anti-bureaucratic capitalism efforts.[1] This manifesto would launch the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating), of which Ting was elected to the standing committee the same year. In 1955, Ting was consecrated as the Anglican bishop of Zhejiang. By 1957, the movement claimed the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of Christians in China.[1]

During the Cultural Revolution, Ting lost his positions but returned to prominence in the 1970s. In 1980, he became President of the China Christian Council and leader of the TSPM, positions he held until 1997. In 1985, Ting helped found the Amity Foundation and remained its president as well as being principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary until his death. In 1988, Ting proclaimed that "the church should be in tune with socialism, but should not be a government department", proposing the end of the Three-Self Movement by 1991. This proposal was rejected after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[2] Ting died on November 22, 2012 and his body was cremated on November 27. Yu Zhengsheng attended his funeral on behalf of the central government.[3]

Theology[edit]

Bishop Ting's contribution to theology in China includes his controversial campaign of "theological construction" or "theological reconstruction." This is an attempt to create an indigenous Christian theology, devoid of foreign influence but sensitive to the Chinese context.

He is known best for his Christology of the Cosmic Christ. Influenced greatly by the thinking of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and process theology, Ting's Cosmic Christ attempts to teach (1) that the whole cosmos is Christ's domain and (2) that God must be understood in terms of the love of Jesus, as seen throughout the four Gospels.[4]

In regard to the hamartiology, Ting has pushed away from the traditional emphasis on people as "sinners" but also as individuals who are "sinned against."[5] Ting is opposed to creating "antagonism between believers and nonbelievers" by aggressive proselytization, favoring brotherly love towards and not condemnations to hell of Chinese non-Christians.[6]

He has been accused of replacing the traditional Protestant Doctrine of justification by faith with justification by love. Some have accused that this allows those who practice love to be within the boundaries of Christianity, regardless of their religious confession, and is considered an attempt to reconcile the atheistic ideology of Communism with Christianity in order to maintain good relations with the People’s Republic of China. However, he has explicitly stated that he neither understands what the phrase means but considers it a misleading imitation of justification by faith.[7]

Bibliography[edit]

  • God is Love: Collected Writings of Bishop K. H. Ting, Cook Communications Ministries International, 2004. ISBN 0-7814-4233-8
  • No Longer Strangers: Selected Writings of K. H. Ting, edited by Raymond L. Whitehead, Orbis Books, 1989. ISBN 0-88344-653-7
  • Love Never Ends: Papers by K. H. Ting, edited by Janice Wickeri, Yilin Press, 2000. ISBN 7-80657-067-5
  • A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology: Selected Writings of Bishop K. H. Ting, edited by Janice and Philip Wickeri, WCC Publications, 2002. ISBN 2-8254-1358-5

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lewis, Donald M. (2004). Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century. William B. Eerdmans. p. 90. 
  2. ^ Zhou, Jinghao; Santos, Michael (2003). Remaking China's Public Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 138. 
  3. ^ "Body of late Chinese Christian leader cremated". Nanjing: Xinhua. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  4. ^ K. H. Ting, “The Cosmic Christ,” in Love Never Ends: Papers by K. H. Ting, ed. Janice Wickeri (Nanjing: Yilin Press, 2000), 408-18.
  5. ^ K. H. Ting, “Human Collectives as Vehicles of God's Grace,” in Love Never Ends: Papers by K. H. Ting, ed. Janice Wickeri (Nanjing: Yilin Press, 2000), 43-48.
  6. ^ Aikman, David (2006). Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing. p. 329. 
  7. ^ K. H. Ting, God is Love: Collected Writings of Bishop K. H. Ting (Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries International, 2004), 621.

See also[edit]