Toward a Chinese American evangelical theology: the promise of neo-Calvinism
Ong, Andrew David
Recent evangelical scholarship increasingly calls for ethnic theological perspectives in the American context; for just as the center of World Christianity has shifted from the West to the Majority World, the ethnic and cultural center of American evangelicalism is soon to shift – if it has not already. However, among the contextual theologies developed in the U.S., neither an explicitly Chinese American, nor a Chinese American evangelical theology have been pursued. This is surprising, given that Chinese Americans are the largest demographic of Asian Americans and that the majority of Chinese American Christians identify as evangelical. Thus, this thesis pursues a contextualized Chinese American evangelical theology. This thesis first begins by explaining the socio-historical factors behind the prevalence of conservative American evangelicalism amongst Chinese American Christians. Secondly, it identifies the most significant ill-effects of American evangelicalism amongst Chinese American Christians, and diagnoses these ill-effects as theologically rooted in anthropological uniformity, individualism vs. collectivism confusion, and a dualistic doctrine of creation. Thirdly, this thesis considers the “pent-evangelical” theology of Amos Yong as a possible path forward. However, this thesis concludes that while Yong has much to offer Chinese American evangelicals, the neo-Calvinist tradition can not only complement Yong at many points, but also bodes greater promise with less obstacles for a robust theology of ethnicity, a harmonic vision of individuals and collectives, and a holistic doctrine of creation that is still able to maintain distinctions. Hence, this thesis takes a step in the direction of a contextualized Chinese American evangelical theology that both critiques and benefits not only Chinese American evangelicals, but the broader swath of American Christians who have uncritically embraced some of the problematic assumptions found within popular and conservative American evangelical theology.