Public theology in post-1997 Hong Kong: the perspectives of Anglican theologians, scholars in Sino-Christian theology, and evangelical theologians, and a critical engagement with Stanley Hauerwas's theology
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date30/11/2021
Chu, Hang Yan
This thesis offers the first major study of the developments of Protestant public theology in Hong Kong. The thesis evaluates some of the major expressions of public theology that have arisen since 1997, referring to the period after which Hong Kong returned to China, and including the growing discourses of public theology during, but not limited to, the Umbrella Movement in 2014. The main groups of theologians investigated in this thesis are Anglican theologians, scholars in Sino-Christian theology, and evangelical theologians. These three groups tend to prioritise one of the three publics articulated by David Tracy—society, academia, and church—though they also engage other publics. Anglicans theologians have focused on the public of society, due to their commitment of collaborating with the state, the Hong Kong government and the People’s Republic of China, which highlights the polity realm in this public. A key representative of this group is Paul Kwong, Archbishop of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, because of his active engagement with both the state and the Anglican Consultative Council as a way to testify God. Scholars in Sino-Christian theology are known for their development of public theology in the public of the academy. A key figure of the Institute of Sino-Christian Studies, Lai Pan-chiu, a scholar in Sino-Christian theology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has produced a number of articles and a monograph about public theology under the umbrella of Sino-Christian theology. As relative latecomers in this discourse, evangelical theologians tend to develop public theologies for its main public, the church. Because of the political apathy for a number of evangelical churches in the Umbrella Movement, different theologians seek to create a theological response to the political crisis. While this type of public theology still has church as the primary audience, the church becomes a vehicle for a secondary audience, the society. Kwok Wai-luen, a theologian of Christian and Missionary Alliance at Hong Kong Baptist University, is a key figure among this group of theologians, due to his active partnership with different social movement organisations as well as his prolific writings on Protestant social participation. Along with evaluating these three groups, this thesis further argues that Stanley Hauerwas’s emphasis on the church’s communal witnesses can be employed to enrich the dialogue with these three groups of theologians, in relation to their primary publics. The alternative witness proposed by Hauerwas can be helpful for both Christians and non-Christians in Hong Kong for facing the political turbulence raised by the concerns of nonviolence and the church’s engagement in democratic movements. Hauerwas’s ecclesiology assists to connect the public theologies in these three different publics and suggests an approach to be distinct from the world, while not completely detached from society. The thesis also offers some preliminary observations of public theology for Hong Kong in the midst of the anti-extradition law protests, as public theologians continue their dialogue after the Umbrella Movement.
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