Wang Zhixin

    Wang Zhixin

    An advocate of the Harmonization Approach in the Indigenization Movement. Harmonization did not mean to admit the inadequacy of Chinese Culture. It was not compromising. Wang Zhixin believed that Christianity is a universal cultural system that can accommodate both eastern and western cultures as they are. They examined Jesus' teaching, and looked for evidences, which support the teaching of the Chinese culture.

    This school of thought argues that such accommodation was taught in the Bible with Jesus implying that there are other sheep not of this fold (John 10:16). Indeed this implies Gentiles who include Chinese. However, although God accepts Chinese, He never says that He will accept our culture as well. For He said, ' Your way is not my way' and 'My Kingdom is not of this world' (John 18:36). The same teaching can be seen in the Old Testament, with God trying to preserve the Israelites from the (idolatry) culture of the surrounding nations, by requesting all males to be circumcised and prescribing other laws (e.g., forbid eating of unclean animals) to them. When the Israelites conquered their opponents, God instructed them to kill all living beings (1 Sam 5:3, Numbers 31:17,18) so that the Israelites will not pick up their custom and culture.

    This school of indegenization taught that harmony between Christianity and Chinese culture is like the harmony between physical and spiritual need. They pointed out that Jesus taught Nicodemus about spiritual things, but He also took care of the physical needs of people by feeding them with bread and fish. Both of the above passages can be found in the book of John. Ironically, Apostle John's intention in writing the Gospel was to point to who Jesus was (whose kingdom is not of this world). The Gospel of John contains eight miracles which John called 'signs'. Signs themselves are not significant, but they point to something more important, Jesus. For example, we saw Jesus healing a blind man. In doing so, He contrasted the physical blindness of the man with the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees; the blind man saw, but the Pharisees remained blind. To this, Jesus said, I am the light. Jesus fed the crowd with bread, but He said later, 'do not labor for food which perishes' (John 6:27), 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger.' (John 6:35). Jesus also contrasted (physical) water with the living water (spiritual), 'whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.' (John 4:14). Thus at every turn, John tried to divert our attention from our physical needs to our spiritual needs. Jesus said, 'which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' (John 3:6). Contrary to Wang's belief, the harmonization approach was not adopted by Jesus Himself. Christians should be in the world but not of the world.

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