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Hill Road Journal

Issue 39 (Jun 2017)

Contents: The Spirits and Traditions of the Reformation
There are 6 thematic articles, 1 discussion article and 5 book reviews
No. of Pages: 214
Price: HK$100
Thematic Articles
Pilgrim W. K. LO A Question of Meta-Reformation Abstract
CHENG Yang-en Progressing with the Times and Responding to the Challenges: The Contemporary Face of the Reformed Tradition Abstract
John Yueh-Han YIEH The Principle of Via Media in Anglican Theology, Liturgy, and Biblical Interpretation Abstract
Vincent C. P. LAU The Birth of Anabaptism: The Controversies between Zwingli's Students and Their Teacher — an Anabaptist Discourse Abstract
Nathan Ng Denominationism: A Baptist Principle? Abstract
Andres Tang Quakers: Beginning and Ending with Silence Abstract
Discussion Article(s)
Lindsay ROBERTSON "Bound to Love" — The Covenant Ecclesiology of Paul S. Fiddes Abstract
  • A Question of Meta-Reformation

    Pilgrim WK LO

    As Chinese Christian we are unfamiliar with the Reformation of the sixteenth century in Europe, yet it was a decisive turning point in Church history. Churches and theologians today give special attention to the Reformation, because 2017 is the 500th Year Commemoration of the Reformation. This essay arises out of the conviction that besides looking for the meaning of the Reformation for our time, a reflection on the question of meta-reformation is of great significance

    Regarding the Reformation there are many sayings, such as Reformation arose by the nailing of Luther's Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg to the dispute on the Power of Indulgences; the heroic roar of Luther "Here I stand" ended the hearing at the imperial diet of Worms in front of Charles V, the Roman Emperor. Some years after the high point of the Luther Renaissance, scholars are more concerned about the historical truth of the legends which may hold the key to the understanding of Reformation and its effects. On the other hand, a reconsideration of the “correct use” of Chinese terminology for the Reformation and a reflection on the spirit of the Reformation arouse considerable interests among Chinese theologians today.

    Was the Reformation successful? In what way should we continue the Reformation? These questions are worth our discussion. Nevertheless the author is of the opinion that “Reformation” is an ongoing process. The Reformation of our time, if there is or if there should be one, will not and should not be the same as the Reformation in Europe 500 years ago. The modern scholarship in the study of Reformation allows us to explore the Reformation from various perspectives; however it would be a great danger to historical scholarship if our understanding of the Reformation is restricted by the view of our own experience and if our interpretation of the Reformation is based merely on account of our own stand stance. Thus the author places stress on the reconsideration of the question of “meta-reformation”.

  • Progressing with the Times and Responding to the Challenges:
    The Contemporary Face of the Reformed Tradition

    CHENG Yang-en

    After first offering a succinct definition of the Reformed tradition, this article introduces the gradual evolution of her contemporary face in three parts. In the first part, the article describes the worldwide development of the Reformed tradition starting from the sixteenth century, by means of the notion and current research of the so-called “international Calvinism,” and her multiple ecclesiastical polities throughout the historical contexts. Secondly, the historical heritage and present ethos of the Reformed tradition are expounded by, on the one hand, reviewing the theological tradition which continues to shape her identity and, on the other hand, portraying the common cultural temperament which is manifested in this historical process. Lastly, in the third part, the contemporary face of the Reformed tradition is showcased through the new perception on human nature in the Enlightenment and the social praxis under the effect of the Ecumenical Movement, the former using the Scottish Enlightenment as a key example and the latter with the affirmative responses to economic, ecological, ethnic and gender issues by the present-day Reformed communities. The article concludes that, viewing from the historical development over the last five centuries, the Reformed tradition is an ever-renewing faith tradition that is both progressing with the times and responding to the challenges.

  • The Principle of Via Media in Anglican Theology, Liturgy, and Biblical Interpretation

    John Yueh-Han YIEH

    Anglicanism has an infamous launch and many tumultuous in-fights, politically and theologically, but it has grown from a tiny Church of England into a global Anglican Communion and made tremendous contributions to evangelism, education, and social services worldwide. One quintessential character of Anglicanism that helps it thrive is the principle of Via Media (the middle way).

    This essay has three purposes: (1) to explain how the principle of Via Media was developed in the Church of England, (2) to demonstrate how it guides the Reformers and the Catholics within the Church of England to find equilibrium in their debates over theology, liturgy and biblical interpretation, and (3) to propose how it may inspire churches today to articulate their beliefs and fulfill their missions.

    The principle of Via Media was born out of necessity for the nascent Church of England to survive as a national church, in which the King serves as the head of the church who needs to keep all citizens of Reformed and Catholic persuasions together as one nation undivided.

    The imprint of Via Media can be seen in the making of the Thirty-Nine Articles — the Constitution of Anglicanism — which incorporates basic beliefs from both Catholic tradition and Reformed principles and wisely avoids extreme positions on either side. Via Media can also be found in Hooker's interpretation of Incarnation, a mystery that shows the divine and the human can be combined in one Jesus Christ in communion with each other without losing subjectivity, to reveal God's love and redeem the world. Because, Hooker insisted, God has acted, and so follows effect. The same logic is used to explain why the living Christ can be present in the Eucharist bread and wine.

    The principle of Via Media is also operative in the creation of the Book of Common Prayer, as testified by the changing words of the Eucharistic Prayer that reflect the shifts of Eucharistic theory from the Catholic “transubstantiation” to Zwingli’s “memory,” to Queen Elizabeth I’s “faith,” and to Calvin’s “participation or communion.” Also significant is the Oxford Movement that revived a Catholic legacy of piety, bringing beauty, order, regularity and participation into the Anglican prayer and worship.

    The idea of Via Media can further be observed in the Anglican view of the Bible. To understand God's will, Anglicans believe the best approach is a “three-legged stool” of scripture, tradition, and reason. The Bible has the highest authority, but tradition and reason should not be overlooked. The Bible is the Word of God and a church book written by human authors. It contains revelation on salvation and should be interpreted in light of the early Father's “rule of faith,” with the help of reason, conscience and experience .

    The Anglican principle of Via Media often turns up well-reasoned and innovative ideas, not simply compromise or mediocrity. The churches today will do well to use it as a guiding principle.

  • The Birth of Anabaptism: The Controversies between Zwingli's Students and Their Teacher — an Anabaptist Discourse

    Vincent CP LAU

    In the evening of January 21, 1525, less than eight years after the Reformation in 1517, a group of around a dozen male Christians in Zurich, Switzerland, who were mostly disciples of Ulrich Zwingli, the leader of Zurich Reformation, gathered in a house by the Lake Zurich. After praying altogether, they were touched by the Holy Spirit and they restored the practice of adult believer's baptism, which had disappeared for a thousand years. This is the birth of Anabaptism.

    The purpose of this essay is to reconstruct the events (controversies) of the period from 1522 to early 1525 that led to the occurrence of the dialogues between Zwingli and his followers, namely, the struggle between the master and his radical disciples. As a matter of fact, these events were the underlying causes for the chasm between the two parties.

    This essay is a historical and theological analysis which is divided into four parts: Firstly, the concept of Anabaptist is defined. Secondly, the personal information of Zwingli and the background of the Zurich Reformation are briefly introduced. Thirdly, the details and discrepancies of the controversies are discussed. Finally, the theological significance of the insistence of the radical disciples on the issues of church-state relations is analyzed.

  • Denominationism: A Baptist Principle?

    Nathan K. N.G.

    This article tries to demonstrate historically and theologically that denominationism should not be a Baptist principle. Five reasons are listed. Firstly, the earliest Baptists evolved from English Puritans. Their main concern was to gain religious liberty against the Anglican State Church. They were very willing to cooperate ecumenically with other free churches in order to achieve their common goal. Secondly, Baptists of the seventeenth century tried their best to unite themselves with the Presbyterians and Congregationalists by revising their Confessions of Faith. Such ecumenical spirit was especially strong in Particular Baptists, who are the real fore-fathers of modern Baptist churches. Thirdly, Baptist faith emphasizes the lordship of Christ and the authority of the Scriptures. As Christian unity is a clear biblical teaching, there is theologically no reason to discriminate a non-Baptist denomination unless it is obviously apostate. Fourthly, the deterioration of catholic spirit among some Baptist groups was a tragic result of Landmarkism and Mullins' theology, both of which are problematic. Finally, Baptists all over the world have participated in the ecumenical movement again, including Southern Baptists who were most seriously influenced by the denominationism of Landmarkism and Mullins' theology.

  • Quakers: Beginning and Ending with Silence

    Andres S. TANG

    As the most neglected Christian community in the field of Church history study, Quakers are always identified as one of the spiritualists. This paper understands Quakers in the context of the English reformation as a product emerging out of the separationist movement in the seventeenth century. Being the most minimal version of the believers' church, Quakers are well known by their un-programmed worship in silence based on various theological grounds. Although in the nineteenth century Quakers were divided into three branches (conservative, evangelical and liberal), silence remains the center of their worship. In order to have an in-depth grasp of the Quakers' conception of silence in worship, this paper investigates how they understand the nature and use of language in terms of realism, semi-realism and non-realism. The The use of silence and the reflection of theological language are two significant issues Quakers contribute to the churches of the reformation, with a view for further reformation.

  • “Bound to Love” ― The Covenant Ecclesiology of Paul S. Fiddes

    Lindsay ROBERTSON

    This paper explores the distinctive Baptist contribution to ecclesiology made by Paul S. Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford. Fiddes's contention is that the shape of our ecclesiology is determined by the nature of the Trinity, which implies that church is a covenant community.

    His particular understanding of the Trinity as movement of being characterized by relationships in which we can participate, means two things: first, the communion in God of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are acts of covenant; second, our participation in God means that believers enter into both a vertical covenant with God (this is common to the Reformers) and also enter into a horizontal covenant with each other (a distinctively Baptist understanding). Hence, church is a covenant community, where members bind themselves to walk in God's ways but also bind themselves in promise to each other to have mutual oversight and care.

    After exploring the background of this view, especially in Barth's Trinitarian thinking, and discussing the Trinitarian nature of church, various implications of this for ecclesiology are then given, such as the role of the church, relations between clergy and members, authority structures, etc .