K. H. Ting

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K. H. Ting
Native name Ding Guangxun (simplified Chinese: 丁光训; traditional Chinese: 丁光訓)
Church Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, China Christian Council
Other posts Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, National People's Congress
Personal details
Born (1915-09-20)20 September 1915
Died 22 November 2012(2012-11-22) (aged 97)
Nationality Chinese
Denomination Protestant Christianity
Spouse Siu-May Kuo
Children Stephen Yenren Ting, Heping Ting
Alma mater St. John's University, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary

K. H. Ting or Ting Kuang-hsun (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.

Ting was trained in the Anglican tradition and, in 1955, was consecrated as Anglican bishop of Zhejiang. As he never renounced his ordination, he was technically a bishop until his death. However, the Anglican Church no longer exists as an independent institution in mainland China.

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.


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).[1]

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 City (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 Stephen Yenren Ting, born in November 1948. Their second son Heping Ting was born in July 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.[1]

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.[2] This manifesto would launch the Three-Self Patriotic Movement,[n 1] 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 Three-Self Patriotic Movement claimed the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of Christians in China.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]


Bishop Ting's contribution to theology in China includes his controversial campaign of "theological reconstruction" (simplified Chinese: 神学思想建设; traditional Chinese: 神學思想建設; pinyin: shénxué sīxiǎng jiànshè). This is an attempt to create an indigenous Christian theology, devoid of foreign influence but sensitive to the Chinese context, but was also seen by some as an attempt to remove fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity from the Chinese church.[5][6]

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.[7][8]

With regards to the doctrine of sin, Ting has pushed away from the traditional emphasis on people as "sinners" but also as individuals who are "sinned against."[9][8] 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.[10]

Ting has argued that the doctrine of justification by faith has been misunderstood by many Christians and that it was originally meant to liberate humans rather than consign people to hell.[11] Because of this, he has been accused of replacing the traditional Protestant doctrine with justification by love, to support the notion that those who God's love are within the boundaries of Christianity; it is therefore considered to be an attempt to reconcile the atheistic ideology of communism with Christianity in order to maintain good relations with the People’s Republic of China.[12] However, he has explicitly stated that he neither understands what the phrase means but considers it a misleading imitation of justification by faith.[13]


  • 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


  1. ^ The term "three-self" refers the missiological principles of building an indigenous church that is self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating.


  1. ^ a b Whitehead, Raymond L. (1989). "Introduction: The Life and Work of a Chinese Christian". No Longer Strangers: Selected Writings of Bishop K.H. Ting. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. pp. 1–23. ISBN 9780883446539. 
  2. ^ a b Lewis, Donald M. (2004). Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century. William B. Eerdmans. p. 90. 
  3. ^ Zhou, Jinghao; Santos, Michael (2003). Remaking China's Public Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 138. 
  4. ^ Yan (27 November 2012). "Body of late Chinese Christian leader cremated". Nanjing: Xinhua. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Wickeri, Philip L. (2015). Reconstructing Christianity in China: K.H. Ting and the Chinese Church. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. pp. 333–369. ISBN 9781608333660. 
  6. ^ Lu, Chen (April 2010). "Ding Guangxun's Critique of Fundamentalist Theology in Contemporary China and his Theological Construction". Transformation: an International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies. 27 (2): 95–110. doi:10.1177/0265378809357805. 
  7. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000) [1991]. "The Cosmic Christ". In Wickeri, Janice. Love Never Ends: Papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 408–418. 
  8. ^ a b Chow, Alexander (2013). Theosis, Sino-Christian Theology and the Second Chinese Enlightenment: Heaven and Humanity in Unity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 89–111. doi:10.1057/9781137312624. ISBN 9781137312624. 
  9. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000) [1979]. "Human Collectives as Vehicles of God's Grace". In Wickeri, Janice. Love Never Ends: Papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 43–48. 
  10. ^ Aikman, David (2006). Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing. p. 329. 
  11. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000) [1996]. "On a Profound Christian Question". In Wickeri, Janice. Love Never Ends: Papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 506–510. 
  12. ^ Wang, Thomas (2004). "Foreword". Theological Construction — or Deconstruction? An Analysis of the Theology of Bishop K.H. Ting (Ding Guangxun). Christian Life Press. p. 7. ISBN 9780971901612. 
  13. ^ Ting, K. H. (2004). God Is Love. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook. p. 621. ISBN 9780781442329. 

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wickeri, Philip. Seeking the Common Ground: Protestant Christianity, the Three-Self Movement, and China's United Front, Orbis Books, 1988. ISBN 0-88344-441-0
  • Wickeri, Philip. Reconstructing Christianity in China: K. H. Ting and the Chinese Church, Orbis Books, 2007. ISBN 1-57075-751-8

External links[edit]