On La Croix’s (newspaper) interview with Pope Francis

Last month, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who is also a Catholic, came to Taipei for two interesting talks. In one of them Taylor laid out two models of secularism that in his naming are « the American model » and the « the French model. » Gauging each model by how faithfully they correspond to the democratic spirit of modern pluralistic society respectively, Taylor favors the formal and holds his critique of the latter.


In this interview La Croix conducted (my summary of it in Chinese here), you can clearly see how Pope Francis echoes Taylor’s call in his rejection of the French model of laïcité, namely, the political understanding of the government as the embodiment of the « counter-church, » whose role is to keep all pubic religious exercises at bay so as to minister to a « religionless » public square.

So as the French model prevails there, Pope Francis is also daring enough to call the French [Catholics] « the eldest daughter of the Church, but not the most faithful, » whose republic nowadays has downgraded itself to a « mission country, » rendering the land « a periphery to be evangelized. »




But he is convinced that there isn’t necessarily « a need for priests in order to evangelize. » Baptism, and the Holy Spirit whom the believers received upon baptism, should provide the motif to evangelize, which means « to go out, to take the Christian message with courage and patience. »

« The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of whatever happens in the Church, its motor. Too many Christians are ignorant of this (in their false reliance on and espousal of ‘clericalism’). »

Just the other day I was working on the German weekly Die Zeit’s cover story on Christian ecumenism in which ample external evidences are offered to suggest that Francis is a very Protestant-friendly Pope.

That pales in comparison to his internal convictions stated here though. You can see how « Protestant reformed » this Pope is.

[文摘] 教宗方濟願為火星人施洗的理由

If then God gave them the same gift He gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?

When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way’… and Peter in that first diocese – the first diocese was Antioch – makes this decision: ‘Who am I to admit impediments?’

A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never.


既 Pope Francis 上週以彼得被上帝挑戰的救恩論想像為例,表態「願為火星人施洗」後,幾天前他說明「沒有教會就不成基督徒」。


One cannot « understand a Christian alone » any more than « Jesus Christ alone » can be understood.

Jesus Christ did not fall from the sky like a superhero who comes to save us. No. Jesus Christ has a history. And we can say, and it is true, that God has a history because He wanted to walk with us. And you cannot understand Jesus Christ without His history. So a Christian without history, without a Christian nation, a Christian without the Church is incomprehensible. It is a thing of the laboratory, an artificial thing, a thing that cannot give life.



Our Christian identity is belonging to a people: the Church . Without this, we are not Christians. We entered the Church through baptism: there we are Christians.


And for this reason, we should be asking for the grace of memory, the memory of the journey that the people of God has made; also of personal memory: What God did for me, in my life, how has he made me walk … Ask for the grace of hope; ask for the grace to renew the covenant with the Lord who has called us every day.
May the Lord give us these three graces, which are necessary for the Christian identity.





[省思] Steve Jobs and Christianity

In the starting pages of the recently-released biography of Steve Jobs, there is an intriguing (yet saddening) passage on Jobs’ early interaction with Christianity:

Even though they were not fervent about their faith, Jobs’s parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. “If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?” The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.” Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, “Well, does God know about this…

I wonder if the situation would change had the Sunday school teacher been trained to think through God’s middle knowledge. But IMO, the biggest issue about the Sunday school teacher is the lack of empathy.

[省思] 曼德:家庭教會:中國的清教徒運動

研讨会发言:中国家庭教会当前宗教政策的分析 from 曼德讲道集 on Vimeo.

1949年中國共產黨取得中國大陸政權後,使馬克思主義意識形態成為本質上的國家宗教(state church),而對基督教和其他宗教,使其成為了國家宗教的附屬宗教。當局扶持的三自教會(所謂的自治、自養、自傳的基督教會),本質上是國教的附屬宗 教。以吳耀宗、丁光訓為首的新派神學家在神學理念上完全認同共產主義意識形態,他們強調「因愛稱義」、「耶穌無神性」、「人無罪性」,人可以建立地上天國 —共產主義社會,他們只不過用基督教的名詞來闡述共產主義理念而已。在形式上,三自教會的牧者們全部受到官方培訓、官方控制。可見,三自教會實質上就是國 家宗教,這與清教徒時代英國國教聖公會有極大的相似性… (full article Part 1  and Part 2)

中國基督徒作家曼德在本文中認為,「目前中國家庭教會的政教關係,並不類似於受羅馬政權和猶太人雙重逼迫的初代教會時期,也不類似於宗教改革時期德國、法國、北歐基督新教受天主教逼迫時期。」原因是當前中國政府對家庭教會的管控與逼迫,不再像文革時期,是「有計劃、全面的 行動,存心要把基督教從帝國中連根鏟除」


他認為,「唯一與中國家庭教會目前處境比較類似的是在英國的清教徒。」這表現在 1) 清教徒對英國國教的分離,以及 2) 政權對清教徒運動不同歷史時期不同的逼迫程度。

清教徒運動是宗教改革運動在英國的繼續。1534年亨利八世宣布脫離羅馬天主 教,設立英國國教會(Church of English),也就是英國聖公會。曼德認為這與中國的三自教會非常相似,因為「三自教會也是國教,是馬克思主義這個國教的附屬物,國家元首是三自教會最高領袖。」

同時,1558年,伊莉莎白執政時,許多逃難到國外、日內瓦,推崇加爾文主義的信徒,希 望把教會中「天主教的舊酵old leaven of Catholicism」除淨,這批人就叫清教徒(Puritans)。

A fair Puritan
A Fair Puritan




家庭教會盡管自己絕無政治化的傾向,但在實質上卻為中國的民 主化起到了巨大的促進作用。歷史的吊詭讓他們不得不擔負某種政治方面的文化使命。


家庭教會信徒,也要有這樣的異像和策略,要把實現中國信仰自由、政教分離作為目標。廣傳福音,影響社會高層、影響有能力進行決策的人物。甚至 也要使三自教會中的高層,能夠同情和支持家庭教會。家庭教會要像清教徒一樣懂得抗爭,這次守望教會的持久堅韌抗爭,就是一個很好的範例。不懼王權主動抗爭、不怕流血犧牲,是清教徒的特征,這也正是中國家庭教會所要學習的。



他在最後引在中國人民大學教授、北京守望教會孫毅《北京守望孫毅長老對城市家庭教會發展之思考》說,傳統家庭教會的神學體系,從19世紀的敬虔派轉入改革宗神學和清教思想,變得 1) 更為強調對經文解釋的嚴格客觀性和絕對性、2) 教會治理方面,強調教會的組織與建制;3) 重視教會對文化使命和社群關係的建造。而這些是「可喜的轉變」。



I. 現象面
  • 清教徒真正的勝利並非在英國本土,而是在北美新大陸。事實上至今福音派在英國仍然是少數族群,主流是高派和自由派。在宗教改革的歐洲諸國中,英國的政教分離是做得最差的,從 Canterbury 大主教、西敏主教座堂到政府對宗教學校的補助,都為世俗人士所詬病。這部份不見於曼德的文章,卻仍亟待分析比較。
  • 被稱為清教徒革命的英國內戰成功,查理二世和詹姆士二世在十七世紀下半葉的復闢是重要導火線。此二人斯圖亞特王室成員的天主教背景和作為,無法為英格蘭新教徒所接受。當議會派和保皇派的戰爭衝突已久、宗教議題上升成為政治甚至軍事議題,查理二世和詹姆士二世復闢足以驅使國會中的清教徒和國教徒聯合採取政治上的抵制行動。尤其當年作為天主教徒的血腥瑪麗對宗教改革人士的恐怖鎮壓歷歷在目,人民容易同情新教徒對抗王室的聯合行動,並將天主教的剩餘影響肅清。中國的三自教會和家庭教會不具備這樣合作的條件,一個兩者需要共同攜手面對的宗教和政治霸權並不存在,使得教會涉政的舉動也將名不正言不順。
  • 中國基督教問題不是社會主流議題。中國現今只有 5-7%的基督徒人口,不像當初英國神學可以透過英格蘭國教的體系涉入政治與公領域。雖然需要神學是肯定的,但做政治神學(或其他建構神學)的思想難度會大得多。曼德樂觀地說,現在中國家庭教會也重視自身社會文化責任,但那完全只是剛開始萌芽的意識。我們需要看到這部分具體還差得多遠,以及其與其他自由國家教會間的鴻溝。
II. 異象面
  • 當代基督教在中國的發展將成為公民政治和民主化的基石,這個局勢在未來將會益發明朗。家庭教會在其中會扮演關鍵性的角色。問題在於時機和進程:現下家庭教會的當務之急仍然是應先深耕神學和靈命,而像守望一般浮上台面作塔台般的先知工作,雖也是教會身份的一部份,然而時機是否成熟?資源是否足夠?聖靈的聲音是什麼?
正如官方在《環球時報》針對北京守望教會謀求公開整體敬拜的戶外敬拜發 布的評論《個別教會要避免讓自己政治化》文中指出的:「成立任何大型組織,在中國一直是受到認真對待的事情。幾十年來中國社會形成了這方面的審慎習慣,政 府的相應管理一直比較嚴格。這方面是否需要有所松動,是全社會的政治大事。教會不應當在這個敏感問題上,充當推動變化的激進力量。否則教會就不是在搞宗 教,而成為搞政治,這是教會的大忌」。當局真正擔心的是家庭教會在衝擊結社自由的限制,是推動結社自由的激進力量。因此,我們從反面也可看到,家庭教會在單單實施自己的敬拜信仰自由時,無意地為中國公民的結社自由、集會自由做出了貢獻。盡管這不是家庭教會的本意。




  • 清教徒精神 vs. 清教徒神學:中國信徒需要的是改教精神,未必得限於改革宗神學。這意味至少還得包含路德會、重洗派、衛理神學,甚至接觸天主教、東正教。如同清末的革命志士推動中華民國的民主,需要各方負笈海外、引入新思潮的學人,我們不能自我窄化,不能忽視保守神學在19-20世紀遇到的困難,以及21世紀以來的發展。這些都需要人才和土壤(現在的中國大陸不能提供)。
  • 進入議會(或「人大常委」)這部份的挑戰,需要更多著墨。當年的清教徒有圓顱黨Roundhead)以清新的形像進入公家要職議事。家庭教會如何串連三自內有志之士,並送新一代的人進入國家決策核心?現在講「白色殉道」,都是講小市民神學。無一已經建立的教牧神學可以有效地觸及公權力的範疇。當注意符合改教精神、適合中國處境的神學是需要被消化與建造的。曼德在多數說加爾文神學、清教徒神學才是能擊碎人本主義的救國之道,然而它一堆充滿獨斷性 的宣稱也陷入巨大的認識論困境之中遲遲無法脫身。更別說它政治神學常墮入政教不分的「改造派」(Reconstructionism)思想,在對「權 力」的理解上需要後現代思想的制衡!
  •  戰爭與反政府的語言必須避免。曼德的類比多番強調清教徒勇於「組黨」、「發動戰爭」、「對抗王權不懼流血」,在守望仍然有待突破當前關卡的困境下,只怕火上加油,害了中國家庭教會。曼德應當避諱這些具有鬥性、挑動敏感神經的語言。個人認為,以捨己和愛的見證為主軸,贏取國內和國際社會的正面觀感,才是家庭教會與中國社稷發展的正途。並且要有長遠的異象、普及的神學教育,來為中國的民主化和社會風氣的重建做更好的鋪墊。
  • 加爾文神學難以推上政治前線,因為語言不夠豐富-都在神主權、人墮落無能這個路線上打轉。在我看來,耶穌並不是一位加爾文主義者。保羅神學思想也還有待比改革宗教義更豐富的理解(例如,路德認為保羅神學的核心是「因信稱義」, N.T. Wright 則縱述舊約和歷史地說「與基督連結」是保羅更基要的主旨)!我認為家庭教會需要 1) 充實向外部社會參與及改造的見證、2) 深化自身對聖經的理解和應用。 3) 持續在地方堂會的牧養和建造上實踐重視人性尊嚴、民主、平權的基礎價值,成為一個模範性公民社群。這也是我一直放在心中的禱告。


Gaddafi 未經審訊便遭武裝反抗軍虐殺,許多人憂心是社會公義的倒退國際社會秩序的危機。一如Bin Laden的死一般。
然而問題已經不在於回歸Luther的兩國論,因為即使最嚴密的世俗司法裁決都無法代替上帝自己的裁決。同時我們必須避免盲目將上帝理解為一個性格空泛、獨行其事的至高者。後自由神學(Barth, Hauerwas, McCormack, Gunton, Ford, and so on)說上帝之所以是絕對自由,不在於祂可以「選擇」做「任何」事-任意妄為的自由意志是啟蒙自由主義下的自由-;乃應在於唯有上帝可以完全做祂自己、忠於自己。
「人雖然失信,上帝仍是可信的,因為祂不能背乎自己。」(提後二:13)這是在社會關係中被異化、陷入存在性焦慮中、本質必須被行動所充填(per Sartre)的人類所沒有的自由。

[書摘] Christ and Canon, theology and history—the Barth-Harnack dialogue revisited

Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854
Temptation of Christ


Kimlym J. Bender, “Christ and Canon, theology and history—the Barth-Harnack dialogue revisited” in Theology as Conversation: The Significance Of Dialogue In Historical And Contemporary Theology: A Festschrift For Daniel L. Migliore, Bruce McCormack and Kimlym J. Bender eds., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009, pp. 3-29


My summary:

Because of the diversity and heterogeneity of the books in the Bible, Harnack insisted historical knowledge and critical reflection on necessary to understand its content. Without these faith would advance an unchecked speculative fantasy at best and at worst a theological dictatorship that “seeks to culture the consciences of others with its own subjective experience”.

Barth responded to the criticism with an emphasis on unity [between Christ of faith and Jesus of history]. For Barth, the Jesus of Nazareth no much historical science fails to display Jesus true identity is abstracted from the confession of him as the risen Lord. If Christ is the Lord of history, any historical reconstructions are his earthly life that ignores his Lordship can at best be an abstraction.

Historical science alone is unable to move beyond speculative reconstruction to confession.

Indeed, the precise determination of the Christian canon’s development is in a large part lost to history. But the question of its subject matter is clearly shown to us to be the God to whom the canon witnesses and the contemporary confessions of faith profess.

It is the unity of the Lord that grounds the unity of Scripture and the makes it a unified witness. To understand Scripture rightly entails that one read it as a participant in its truth. (For Harnack, this emotional attachment risks of loss of scientific objectivity and responsibility.)

Barth’s commitment to a different kind of objectivity and the responsibility is expressed in his third edition of the Romans commentary where he insists that we must think not so much about Paul but after and with Paul towards the subject matter with which he himself was concerned. (For a discussion of what exactly Barth takes to be historical science positive and preparatory function, which Barth has only alluded to but never fully explains, see Burnett, Karl Barth‘s Theological Exegesis, pp.230-240)

However, Harnack score a point. While the exact genetic history of canonical development may ultimately be unanswerable, we are still left with the canonical question concerning its composition and the parameters, which is not solved by the ultimate definition of the canon’s theological and the Christological nature. For example, shall we be siding with Luther’s (and thus Judaism’s) version of the Hebrew OT or the Catholic Church’s (and thus the engine church’s) LXX OT? Whose canon? Whose Scripture? (the same question needs to be posed against Childs.)

Latter Barth is clearly in his mature reflections aware of the historical messiness of canonical development in the contested boundaries, is refusing all the way the [confessional] church any final authority. He deems that the revelation of God which comes through Scripture is the ultimate basis and criteria for the canon, which must overrides even historic usages and past decisions of councils. But paradoxically, if anyone today wants to challenge particular books of their canonical status or revelatory significance, Barth would give precedence to the Church’s past decisions by aligning them with the obedient hearing of God’s voice.

Barth views the Scripture through a single lens of Christology, whereas Harnack employs multiple lenses, including a Kantian universal rationalism modified in light of Schleiermacher, a modern Lutheran law and the gospel dichotomy modified by Ritschl, and his spiritual moralism alike. Though he still attempted to preserve the uniqueness of the person of Jesus against Troeltsch’s appeal for a more consistent/critical historicism, he is separating the message of Jesus from his own historical [i.e., Jewish rabbinical and first century eschatological] roots in favor of a universal moral message that it can be extracted from both Testaments. Barth on the contrary is classically orthodox—he sees Christ foreshadowed in the old and attested in the new (But still, in various fronts, he has been criticized for having not taken the Old Testament on its own terms).

In the end, if Barth really needs to be faulted in his open confessional position, it was in his ready acceptance of the findings of radical biblical criticism, telling to criticize not only its presuppositions but also its findings. This was due in no small part to Barth’s early liberal inheritance [from Hermann]: his early ambivalence toward history and a dialectic of contradiction that has only to be overcome in time with a dialectic of correspondence.

But no doubt, what intrigues many of us today in the Harnack/Barth dabate, is Barth’s  hermeneutics of trust and the canonical richness, rather than Harnack’s hermeneutics of suspicion and canonical reductionism.