Authority in a Collectivist Church: Identifying Crucial Concerns for a Chinese Ecclesiology
AbstractHow might different cultural conceptions of authority or leadership shape one’s ecclesiology? The differences between China and the West are well known. It is inevitable that cultural perspectives of authority will affect how churches are formed and led. Western Christians face the potential of ignoring important features that mark a collectivistic, honor-oriented society like China. While many today talk about contextualization and theology, very little has been written to explore the potential opportunities and challenges that this eastern context affords the Church. If one is not careful, either cultural presuppositions on authority will be uncritically absorbed into the Chinese church or western ecclesiologies and views of leadership will prevail without careful consideration for the costs. It should be recognized that because the Chinese context shares so much in common with the biblical cultures, examining and further developing a Chinese, collectivistic ecclesiology would highlight important biblical themes that may otherwise get minimized by more individualistic churches and missionaries.