“The Role of Christianity in Modern China: The Bible and the Harmonious Society” Seminar

All participants in the 2012 Bible Seminar in Shanghai

Riding on the first wave of success of the inaugural Bible in China Seminar in 2011 (https://ubscp.org/bible-in-china-seminar/), the second Seminar from 1st to 3rd November 2012 saw a gathering of more than forty participants from all across China and overseas guests from UK, Singapore and Australia at Shanghai, to discuss on the theme, “The Role of Christianity in Modern China: The Bible and The Harmonious Society”.

As in previous year, this year’s seminar was jointly organized by The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) and Centre for Studies of Religion and Culture, with the support of British and Foreign Bible Societies (BFBS) and the United Bible Societies (UBS) China Partnership.

At the Opening Ceremony, Professor Yan Kejia, Director of Institute of Religious Studies with SASS, especially welcomed Lord Brian Mawhinney, Member of House of Lords of UK, Mr Stephen Timms, Member of Parliament of UK, Bishop John Chew, Vice President of UBS, Mr Wang Xinhua, Deputy Director-General of Shanghai Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission and Rev. Xie Bingguo, Chairman of Shanghai Christian Council.

Left to Right: Prof Yan Kejia, Prof Choong Chee Pang, Lord Mawhinney and Mr David Smith.

In his Opening Address, Mr Huang Renwei, Vice President of SASS, spoke of the need for values and faith to enable the Chinese to cope with the challenges and “social contradiction” resulting from the reform in China.  He believes that the Bible can play an important role in one’s personal well being as well as in the social harmony of a nation.  He is very pleased with the Bible in China Seminar and hopes that the Seminar will continue in the years to come.

Altogether, 18 papers were presented across 5 broad themes: The Role of Bible in Modern Society, Bible and Ethics, The Harmonious Ideas in the Bible, Bible and China and Lessons from Other Countries.

Lord Mawhinney presented his paper on “The Bible and Social Harmony in Northern Ireland” and spoke from his personal experience living in Northern Ireland and leading the Government there.  Mr Timms spoke with much conviction on “Ethics and the World Financial System”.

Bishop John Chew presented the paper on “The Social Management of Religion in Singapore” on behalf of Mr Richard Magnus, retired Senior District Judge, and he shared from the positive experiences of Singapore.   Dr Lee Soo Ann, President of Bible Society of Singapore and Senior Fellow of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, touched on “The Christian and Business Morality in China”.

Left to Right: Prof Wang Xinsheng, Mr Stephen Timms and Mr Andy Reed.

Prof Choong Chee Pang, UBS China Partnership’s Honorary Academic Consultant, espoused on “Pax Romana and Pax Sinica: A Tale of Two Empires” while Dr Shi Wenhua, UBS-Sponsored Bible Scholar, shared about Paul’s Quest for a Harmonious Society.

Another UBS scholarship holder, Rev. Geng Weizhong, Director of Qingpu Christian Council and Lecturer at Shanghai Huadong Seminary, presented on “The ‘Harmony’ of Social Ethics in Paul’s Theology”.  Dr Liu Kang, Associate Professor of Religion at Fudan University, discussed the Church-State relationship in contemporary China from the Biblical perspective.

On behalf of the BFBS, Mr James Catford, BFBS Group CEO, thanked the organizers, speakers and the participants of the Seminar for a stimulating and fruitful time of discussion and interaction.  He expressed continued support for the annual Bible in China Seminar.

Besides the Bible in China Seminar, a series of two other events were organized.  A Roundtable discussion on “Ethics and World Financial System: UK and China” was organized at SASS, with Mr Timms delivering the keynote lecture and responses from Directors of different Institutes of SASS.

The other event is a luncheon talk targeted at the banking and business community in Shanghai, jointly organized by Shanghai Integrate, a marketplace initiative, and the United Bible Societies.  Held at one of the restaurants along The Bund,  Mr  Timms and Lord Mawhinney shared their views on “Biblical Ethics and the World Financial System” to an audience of over 60 expatriate professionals, with very enthusiastic and spontaneous questions from the floor.

Reflecting on the Seminar, Mr Kua Wee Seng, UBS China Partnership Coordinator, said, “We thank God for all the papers and speeches, discussion and interaction, at the Seminar and at the two special events.  It has enhanced our mutual understanding and enriched our appreciation of the contribution of the Christian faith and Biblical values towards social harmony and ethics in our society.”

Given the success of the two Bible in China Seminars, we have begun to plan for the Seminar in 2013, with the proposed theme of “The Role of Christianity in Modern China: The Bible and Social Service”.


Story and photos by Davis Yap
For United Bible Societies China Partnership