K. H. Ting

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K. H. Ting
Native name
ChurchChung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, China Christian Council
Other postsChinese People's Political Consultative Conference, National People's Congress
Personal details
Born(1915-09-20)20 September 1915
Shanghai, China
Died22 November 2012(2012-11-22) (aged 97)
Nanjing, China
DenominationProtestant Christianity
SpouseSiu-May Kuo
ChildrenStephen Yenren Ting, Heping Ting
Alma materSt. John's University, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary
K. H. Ting
Traditional Chinese丁光訓
Simplified Chinese丁光训

K. H. Ting, Ting Kuang-hsun or Ding Guangxun (Chinese: 丁光訓; 20 September 1915 – 22 November 2012), was Chairperson emeritus of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and President emeritus of the China Christian Council, the government-approved Protestant church in China.

Ting was trained in the Anglican tradition and, in 1955, was consecrated as Anglican bishop of Zhejiang. As he never renounced his ordination, he was technically a bishop until his death. However, the Anglican Church no longer exists as an independent institution in mainland China.

Ting had also held a number of political posts. He was a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (1989–2008), and a member of the National People's Congress, China's legislature.


Ting was educated at Shanghai's Saint John's University (1937–42), receiving his B.A. in 1937 and his B.D. in 1942. In the same year, he was ordained to the Anglican diaconate and married Siu-May Kuo (d. 1995).[1]

From 1942 to 1945, Ting worked in administrative affairs of the YMCA. In 1946, he and his wife moved to Canada where he became missions secretary of the Canadian Student Christian Movement. Ting subsequently studied at Columbia University and at Union Theological Seminary, both in New York City (1947 to 1948). He graduated with masters in arts and theology. From 1948 to 1951, Ting worked in administrative affairs of the World Student Christian Federation in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1951 the couple returned to China with their young son Stephen Yenren Ting, born in November 1948. Their second son Heping Ting was born in July 1952. Ting went on to serve as general manager of the Shanghai-based Chinese Christian Literature Society from 1951–53. In 1953, he became principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary.[1]

In 1954, 138 Chinese Christian leaders who presented the Christian Manifesto to the country, pledging the support of Christians for anti-imperialism, anti-feudalism, and anti-bureaucratic capitalism efforts.[2] This manifesto would launch the Three-Self Patriotic Movement,[note 1] of which Ting was elected to the standing committee the same year. In 1955, Ting was consecrated as the Anglican bishop of Zhejiang. By 1957, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement claimed the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of Christians in China.[2]

During the Cultural Revolution, Ting lost his positions but returned to prominence in the 1970s. In 1980, he became President of the China Christian Council and leader of the TSPM, positions he held until 1997. In 1985, Ting helped found the Amity Foundation and remained its president as well as being principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary until his death. In 1988, Ting proclaimed that "the church should be in tune with socialism, but should not be a government department", proposing the end of the Three-Self Movement by 1991. This proposal was rejected after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[3]

Ting died on November 22, 2012 and his body was cremated on November 27. Yu Zhengsheng attended his funeral on behalf of the central government.[4] Several Chinese Anglican leaders, such as Peter Kwong and Paul Kwong, led Ting's funeral service on December 8 at Christianity Mochou Road Church.[5]


Before the 1950s, influenced by his predecessor Y. T. Wu, Ting joined the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), attempting to devote to the national salvation and advocating that Christianity focuses not just individual salvation, but also social salvation. At that time, he also appreciated communism, though he showed cautious. In 1948 when he commented on the civil war in China, he wrote:[6]

With the fall of Chiang and the Kuomintang government, and after the defeat of contemporary Chinese reactionaries who now rally around Chiang, a democratic coalition government will be formed in which Communists, Democratic Leaguers, progressive Nationalists and members of other anti-reactionary parties will all participate. What Americans think of as a Communist dictatorship is not in the wind for China's future.

After he returned the new China in 1951, he joined the Three-self movement which was led by Y. T. Wu and chose to cooperate with the CCP regime. Ting became one of most influential Christian leaders in the national Three-self Patriotic Movement and the China Christian Council since the 1980s.

Theological reconstruction[edit]

Ting's writings were mainly published after the 1980s. Ting formally started to construct his theological discourse aiming to deal with the relation of Christian faith with communism and other religions; meanwhile, he promoted "theological reconstruction" (simplified Chinese: 神学思想建设; traditional Chinese: 神學思想建設; pinyin: shénxué sīxiǎng jiànshè) in an attempt to construct indigenous theology on the basis of Chinese socio-political and religio-cultural context. It was also seen by some as an attempt to remove fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity from the Chinese church.[7][8]


The TSPM was regarded as the application of the three principles of self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation. Ting claimed that "it is work of God."[9] Ting avidly accused Wang Mingdao of distorting the meaning of three principles and refusing to cooperate with TSPM. Besides, he believed that the church should play an active role in the society for serving the people, rather than cling to the church just paying attention to individual salvation.


Ting summarizes that a Cosmic Christ encompasses two aspects:[10]

(1) the universal extent of Christ's domain, concern and care, and (2) the kind of love which we get a taste of in Jesus Christ as we read the Gospels being the first and supreme attribute of God and the basic to the structure and dynamic of the universe, in the light of which we get an insight as to how things go in the world.

Influenced greatly by the thinking of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and process theology based on the writings of Alfred North Whitehead, Ting argues that creation is a long process in which Christ not just participated in creation in the beginning, but continues to sustain the incomplete creation.[11][12] Redemption is in the process of creation. Following this, he contends that not Christians but humankind are involved in Christ's redemptive work. In this way, he appeals to Christians to appreciate the values in communism and other religio-cultural resources.[13]

The sinned against[edit]

With regards to the doctrine of sin, Ting has pushed away from the traditional emphasis on people as "sinners" but also as individuals who are "sinned against."[14][12] Ting is opposed to creating "antagonism between believers and nonbelievers" by aggressive proselytization, favoring brotherly love towards and not condemnations to hell of Chinese non-Christians.[15] Because China is a Confucian society where the theory of the goodness of human nature is the mainstream.[16] The emphasis of "The sinned against" leads people to know the love of God and receive consolation after a long-time oppression and suffering in the history.[17]

Justification by faith[edit]

Ting has argued that the doctrine of justification by faith has been misunderstood by many Christians and that it was originally meant to liberate humans rather than consign people to hell.[18] Because of this, he has been accused of replacing the traditional Protestant doctrine with justification by love, to support the notion that those who God's love are within the boundaries of Christianity; it is therefore considered to be an attempt to reconcile the atheistic ideology of communism with Christianity in order to maintain good relations with the People’s Republic of China.[19] However, he has explicitly stated that he neither understands what the phrase means but considers it a misleading imitation of justification by faith.[20]

Relation between Christians and atheists[edit]

Atheists can be grouped into at least three categories of atheists: moral bankrupts, honest atheists and humanitarian atheists. The last category is referred to reformers and revolutionaries who have good morals and show God's love.[21] Ting considers that Christians should get along well with non-Christians and atheists of all sorts. Besides, he further stresses that "Provisional unities of truths we can observe with joy and thanksgiving because they illuminate us and point toward the ultimate unity in Christ which is the promise of his revelation."[22]


  • God is Love: Collected Writings of Bishop K. H. Ting, Cook Communications Ministries International, 2004. ISBN 0-7814-4233-8
  • No Longer Strangers: Selected Writings of K. H. Ting, edited by Raymond L. Whitehead, Orbis Books, 1989. ISBN 0-88344-653-7
  • Love Never Ends: Papers by K. H. Ting, edited by Janice Wickeri, Yilin Press, 2000. ISBN 7-80657-067-5
  • A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology: Selected Writings of Bishop K. H. Ting, edited by Janice and Philip Wickeri, WCC Publications, 2002. ISBN 2-8254-1358-5

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The term "three-self" refers the missiological principles of building an indigenous church that is self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating.


  1. ^ a b Whitehead, Raymond L. (1989). "Introduction: The Life and Work of a Chinese Christian". No Longer Strangers: Selected Writings of Bishop K.H. Ting. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. pp. 1–23. ISBN 9780883446539.
  2. ^ a b Lewis, Donald M. (2004). Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century. William B. Eerdmans. p. 90.
  3. ^ Zhou, Jinghao; Santos, Michael (2003). Remaking China's Public Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 138.
  4. ^ Yan (27 November 2012). "Body of late Chinese Christian leader cremated". Nanjing. Xinhua. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  5. ^ "參加丁光訓主教追思禮拜紀聞". www.christianweekly.net. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  6. ^ Ting, K. H. (1989). No longer strangers ; selected writings of Bishop K.H. Ting. Whitehead, Raymond L. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. p. 116. ISBN 9780883446539. OCLC 19971381.
  7. ^ Wickeri, Philip L. (2015). Reconstructing Christianity in China: K.H. Ting and the Chinese Church. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. pp. 333–369. ISBN 9781608333660.
  8. ^ Lu, Chen (April 2010). "Ding Guangxun's Critique of Fundamentalist Theology in Contemporary China and his Theological Construction". Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies. 27 (2): 95–110. doi:10.1177/0265378809357805.
  9. ^ Ting, K. H. (1989). No longer strangers ; selected writings of Bishop K.H. Ting. Whitehead, Raymond L. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. p. 143. ISBN 9780883446539. OCLC 19971381.
  10. ^ Ting, K. H. (2004). God is Love. Cook Communications. p. 111.
  11. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000) [1991]. "The Cosmic Christ". In Wickeri, Janice (ed.). Love Never Ends: Papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 408–418.
  12. ^ a b Chow, Alexander (2013). Theosis, Sino-Christian Theology and the Second Chinese Enlightenment: Heaven and Humanity in Unity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 89–111. doi:10.1057/9781137312624. ISBN 9781137312624.
  13. ^ Tang, Edmond (October 1995). "The Cosmic Christ — the search for a Chinese theology". Studies in World Christianity. 1 (2): 131–142. doi:10.3366/swc.1995.1.2.131. ISSN 1354-9901.
  14. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000) [1979]. "Human Collectives as Vehicles of God's Grace". In Wickeri, Janice (ed.). Love Never Ends: Papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 43–48.
  15. ^ Aikman, David (2006). Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing. p. 329.
  16. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000). Wickeri, Janice (ed.). Love never ends : papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 43–48. ISBN 9787806570678. OCLC 44801525.
  17. ^ Ting, K. H. (1989). No longer strangers: Selected writings of Bishop K.H. Ting. Whitehead, Raymond L. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. pp. 72–74. ISBN 9780883446539. OCLC 19971381.
  18. ^ Ting, K. H. (2000) [1996]. "On a Profound Christian Question". In Wickeri, Janice (ed.). Love Never Ends: Papers. Nanjing: Yilin Press. pp. 506–510.
  19. ^ Wang, Thomas (2004). "Foreword". Theological Construction — or Deconstruction? An Analysis of the Theology of Bishop K.H. Ting (Ding Guangxun). Christian Life Press. p. 7. ISBN 9780971901612.
  20. ^ Ting, K. H. (2004). God Is Love. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook. p. 621. ISBN 9780781442329.
  21. ^ Chow, Alexander (2013). Theosis, Sino-Christian theology and the second Chinese enlightenment : heaven and humanity in unity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 115. ISBN 9781137312624. OCLC 844772768.
  22. ^ Ting, K. H. (2004). God is Love. Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications. pp. 171–177.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tze Ming Ng, Peter (2011). "Global Christianity and Local Contexts: the Case of K.H. Ting and the Three-Self Church in China". Exchange. 40 (1): 57–70. doi:10.1163/157254311X550731. ISSN 0166-2740.
  • Wickeri, Philip. Seeking the Common Ground: Protestant Christianity, the Three-Self Movement, and China's United Front, Orbis Books, 1988. ISBN 0-88344-441-0

External links[edit]