Dreaming Different Dreams: Popular Christianity, Religious Authority and the State in Contemporary China

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

This paper explores the ways in which two different visions of Christianity (and religious authority) – that of Protestant churches and that of the local state – interact at the leadership level and how church leaders make sense of them. The paper adopts an ethnographic approach to these interactions and is based on extensive fieldwork in urban “Three-Self-affiliated” churches in China between 2009 and 2014. I will argue that officially-recognised “Three-Self” leaders seek to maintain their state-assigned “religious” authority through compliance with state-defined limits on religious activity whilst at the same time maintaining ling’en authority recognised and valued more by the wider Protestant community than state-assigned authority. This ling’en authority has its basis in and is maintained through dreams, faith healing, prophecy, exorcisms and the like. This paper, therefore, furthers our understanding of popular Christianity leadership at the grassroots and how church leaders position themselves in relation to what are essentially different visions of modernity in contemporary China. This paper also contributes to our understanding of how state-sanctioned religious institutions are (carefully) engaging with the wider “signs and wonders” movement in China.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventSacred Models: Authority and Representation in Asian Religions: Asian Religions Network - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 31 Oct 20141 Nov 2014

Conference

ConferenceSacred Models: Authority and Representation in Asian Religions
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityManchester
Period31/10/141/11/14

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