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Reasons Why Chinese Pastors not Writing

Reasons Why Chinese Pastors not Writing

File Photo File Photo(CCD)
ByCCD contributor: Abiram October 25, 2016
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2017 marks the 110th year of the introduction of Protestant Church in China. Let's say there are 25 years of a generation, then there have been 4 generations. But we found out that only a small part of the data spread within the Christian Church is written by Chinese. Regardless of the quality of the data, if we focus on the quantity of it, we will find out that Chinese pastors are not really into writing books. In fact, some of them have fallen in love with "writing", but they just write some commentaries, sermons, and devotional  essays.There are few theological writings and Chinese pastors hardly ever come up with new thinking.

In fact, for the Chinese, theology is a vague concept. We can know what Chinese think about theology through my own experience. After I graduated from high school,  the Church told me that I should go to seminary instead of college and I was supposed to preach full-time in our church then. As a matter of fact, theology was quite mysterious for me at that time.I went to preparatory class for two years, whose name was "XX theological center". The study of theology there meant taking notes and reading the Bible every day. And a teacher would give classes about a volume of commentary copied on the Internet.I did feel very bored because I thought that it must not be theology. The so-called "theology" is connected with thinking. With such cramming method of teaching, I only stayed there for one year. Later, I was  admitted to the "seminary" in the provincial capital. But the situation did not change a lot, I was still supposed to sit there for lectures. The good thing was that there were more books. I was not interested in the lectures, so I read a lot of books.The new ideas and theological thinking method in the books made me obsessed with them.

After my graduation, the Church wanted me to go back to preach. There was no problem for me to preach, but there were a lot of theological questions I myself felt confused about. If I didn't understand, how can I preach clearly? In their view, theology is the study of the Bible and reading theology is to learn to preach. I considered this idea wrong. So I did not stop, and I continued to pursue my obsession with theology. In Jinling Seminary, I found that there was the theological palace that I was looking for. Although I didn't take notes every day, my ability of thinking was practiced a lot and I got a further  understanding of theology. Theology was not born for preaching.Theology is the study and thinks of god. Some people is angry at "studying God",which is not necessary. Because for us, without our thinking, God is not worthy of worship. As Aurelius Augustinus said, without a doubt, there is no real belief.

So for Chinese believers, theology is "learning the Bible" and then combining several of the same meaning in a sermon, which contains a few small stories. There is no thinking, and there is no need to think.The pastors who are educated in this way are not willing to do further study.Because with enough courage, an elementary school graduate can make a small sermon. They are just supposed to say no wrong words and talk about something of God.

When I was in the seminary, a teacher said in class that many Chinese seminaries had become places where people kill their time, because some teachers there even were not able to write papers, not to mention publishing papers every year. I believe that the teacher was telling truth because I do rarely read good papers written by a certain teacher from a Chinese seminary.

So we can think about why we Chinese pastors do not like writing books. I try to roughly sum up the reasons and I find that the number is not small. Now just to name a few:

1, We have already got a lot of books. Developing in the past 2000 years, Christianity has hoarded a considerable amount of books, which almost involve all aspects of Christianity.If we need theological information, we can easily collect a lot. So the inertia of people is revealed. It is easier to pick up a ready-made than to write a new one. When I was in "XX theological center", no sooner had the teacher finished class than we found which book was the content of his lecture on the Internet. It made a lot of students feel that being a teacher is easy, as long as one's qualifications and experience are sufficient and one is able to copy something on the Internet. Especially nowadays, when we are in a network-developed society, it is so easy to find information on the Internet.

2, Rules. We, Chinese people, are particularly concerned about the rules. We always think that the past is the rule, which should not be broken. It is wrong.Because as far as Jesus is concerned, the rules were made for man, and not man for the rules (quote: The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath). Why have the rules become a major obstacle for Chinese to write books? We always believe that the predecessors have written all we need and what were previously written are the rules. We can not change them and should modestly follow them, which is called "to follow the path of the Sacred".

3、The lack of skepticism. It corresponds to the Chinese culture.The lack of skepticism is not a problem of the Christians only. Our whole national education never focuses on the spirit of doubt, we will be suspected of treason. When I was in "XX theological center", a college student and I were classmates. He used to make the teachers speechless with questions and was finally sent home for disobedience. At that time, I liked to chat with him and now we are good friends. After school, he went to the United States, studying theology in a university in the United States.When we are chatting, he always says that there will not be theologians in China, for all the theologians have been sent home.

4, No freedom of belief. It is not the government's business and does result from our internal reasons.Because we Christians are not inclusive on the whole.We not only are not inclusive to outsiders but also can not stand the new ideas. I have a Catholic classmate.Once, because we have different ideas on a topic, he said:"If you were in the middle ages, you had been put into the Inquisition."Today, although there is no an actual inquisition, there are internal Inquisitions. As long as we hear something different from what we consider right, we will immediately consider it as heresy,which is not necessary.It will stop a lot of people from thinking. Luther, who is highly praised by us, was called a heresy by the early Catholic Church.

5, Sensibility. Chinese people do not like to be rational.We are always satisfied with the emotionally being touched but seldom try to find the truth of a problem. For example, we Chinese love to listen to storytelling rather than logic. A lot of Official Accounts of good quality on WeChat get less attention, but some kind of articles of chicken soup have plenty of people's interest. It is very different from the West. When Hegel taught at a University, the audience were all immersed in Hegel's dialectical method. There was only one exception, who was Schopenhauer. He did not identify himself with the logical method of Hegel. In the same university, Schopenhauer got the same size of the classroom as Hegel's(it was said that it can hold more than 400 people) and began lecturing. He criticized Hegel from every aspect without logic, but he only had four people as his audience. In our Chinese Church, reason is the least valuable thing and also has the smallest market. But writing needs us to be the rational, especially writing theological books.How many people want to read them after we finish our books?

There are many other reasons why Chinese pastors do write books.We just mentioned some of them above, such as low cultural level, simple knowledge structure, lack of reference books and worry about the writing is not good enough and so on. As a pastor, I know that writing is a creative process, which is quite difficult. We need to continue writing something to practice our writing ability. As a pastor, I know my writing is not good enough.  But I insist on writing, which itself is a skill. And a skill will only be more and more skilled in training. Like a child learning to write a composition, we naturally can write well after longtime practice.

(The author is a preacher in Henan Province.)

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