Rethinking Hong Kong Theological Education: An Argument for Decolonising Hong Kong’s Theology

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Abstract

Hong Kong public opinion has been moving towards a narrative that diminishes the public value of the humanities within its society and in the broader context of Mainland China. From the influences of existential and neo-Confucian thinkers who migrated from mainland China in the 1950s leading to the heightening status of humanities, to the current scientism stemming from national policy incentivising big data and technological advancements, which has led to a diminishing value of humanities, Hong Kong’s understanding of the public value of the humanities has changed significantly. This, in turn, has affected theological education in Hong Kong, which often uses Western Enlightenment paradigms, theories, and materials. What does it mean to value local theological knowledge in Hong Kong? How will the global trend of decolonising curricula affect the pedagogy of Hong Kong theologians and academics? The changing intellectual context demonstrates how Hong Kong’s understanding of theology is heavily influenced by others, be it Britain, Germany or China. But what if Hong Kongers begins to ground their understanding of contextual theology in themselves? What if the practices of Hong Kong’s laity is important to local theologians’ theorisation of Hong Kong theology?

This paper argues that decolonising Hong Kong Christians’ understanding of theology is urgent and necessary, especially in the post-Handover era of Hong Kong. This will enable the development of a Hong Kong theology based on the lived theology of the laity, reflecting theological lessons learned from post-Handover Hong Kong socio-politics. First, I argue for the public value of the humanities in Hong Kong and the need to decolonise university education. Second, in a culture where theological education is largely seen as vocational training for ministers, I explore why Hong Kong lay Christians wish to study theology, and suggest the necessity of decolonising theological education by lifting up local, lay knowledge. This is also in line with the increasing localism and emerging local identity in Hong Kong’s wider context. I examine narratives by Hong Kong’s laity in church magazines and social media comments to assess whether pragmatism and Eurocentrism in theological education is a problem. For example, the pragmatic way of handling theological study in churches is prevalent, so Sunday schools tend to teach whatever their pastors happen to know, rather than a systematic curriculum of what congregants need to know to solidify their faith. As for Eurocentrism, theological professors are often educated in Europe, and their theology is largely shaped by British or German understandings of what church communities are or should be. I suggest that experiential learning, such as lived theology, can contribute to decolonising theological education. Finally, I argue for decolonising theological education, as well as for rethinking theological education for the laity in a comprehensive, liberal arts style, intended to stimulate the laity’s ability to think critically about their faith. It is crucial to work out one’s theology in community with others, as it is in communities where the emotional and affective dimensions of religion are accounted for and theologies are cross-checked with lived experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages3-4
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2023
EventRethinking Hong Kong: A Hong Kong Studies Symposium - Zoom
Duration: 8 Dec 20238 Dec 2023
https://drive.google.com/file/d/18Q9UBXBOMM88iAbCXhF6a6umz8MshUhK/view (Link to abstracts)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/11PeIG5qiWMo1dlJLMJdQr3uG12wokg5-/view (Link to symposium programme)

Symposium

SymposiumRethinking Hong Kong
Period8/12/238/12/23
Internet address

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