New YouTube channel!

About three years ago I considered starting a YouTube channel to discuss some Christian related topics. I was told by a friend that it might not be a good idea because people wouldn’t watch.

Two days I decided to go ahead and begin a channel for the purpose of exploring some of the topics in my current area of studies. Preparing and making videos forces me to carefully think through the details and logic of my arguments, while also making me a better teacher.

My goal is to upload a new video once every month. I will also upload book reviews as a part of my upload schedule.

My first video explores the early 19th century missionary to China, Karl Gutzlaff, and his involvement with the organization of Chinese missionaries called the Chinese Union. Please watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF_PGzoITb4

A dead end and new opportunity

For several weeks now I’ve had my heart and mind set on studying the True Jesus Church in Edinburgh. Briefly, the TJC is a Oneness Pentecostal church originating in 1917 and begun by Wei Enbo. It’s a heterodox church.

Through a conversation with Alex, I was set on investigating the factors that promoted belonging and disaffiliation among TJC members. I also wanted to study how ex-TJC members reoriented their identity given that most members are from one small island off Hong Kong named Ap Chau.

I joined TJC’s Saturday Sabbath once, fellowship twice, and had a conversation with a preacher. Sabbath was definitely different from what I’m used to at Chinese evangelical churches. Prayer is done on the knees and almost everyone speaks in tongues. Each prayer session lasts 15-20 minutes (except giving thanks for food, which is about 2 minutes on knees, speaking on tongues). If I were to guess, on the average weekend a TJC is on his or her knees praying for 60-90 minutes. This pious behavior is definitely something worth commending.

Whenever I visited the church I remained completely transparent, informing them of my background and education. Unfortunately the preacher decided that I was not allowed to conduct research on the TJC. From our conversation and his body language, my best guess is that he felt threatened by my presence and perhaps had suspicions about my intent. When I was rejected, I was honestly disappointed. My proposal was already written and submitted. I had my heart set on studying the TJC over summer. But God had closed the path.

A new topic has come up. It is fascinating and quite promising. Even though God closed the path to study the TJC, He opened up a new one that might be more nourishing and valuable to the scholarly community.

Fall 2018 @ The University of Edinburgh

My first semester in the Master of Theology in World Christianity program is quickly coming to an end. It has been a quick 10 weeks and in 3 weeks, I will be submitting three 4,000 word essays. My topics are:

  1. Dynamic equivalence theory in Chinese Bible translation and the Chinese Union Version.
  2. Lu Xiaomin’s Christian hymns and contextual grassroots theology.
  3. Modalities of religion in China with a case study on the sectarian group, Lightning from the East.

These essays present an interesting array of topics in my pursuit for better understanding Christianity in China. Hopefully they will offer good summaries and even some new insights into their perspective fields.

On Death

This week the fathers of two friends – David and Jonathan – have passed away, or as Dr. Smith likes to put it, have graduated.

Father, receive their spirits with mercy. Comfort loved ones who remain here, as we hopefully await for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Death has a way of putting Life into perspective. I realize how important each moment of living. Each moment can be lived out with a deep awareness of the presence of Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Living in that presence, we’re able to be truly present in each holy interaction of our daily lives. Each hello becomes an act of care and welcoming. Each goodbye becomes an act of thanksgiving and prayer. Every moment so deeply cherished because God has made it good.

Bonhoeffer on Listening

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.