Science kills religion

Journal for Young Religious Studies

1In the present study, the use of the Chinese term Zongjiao (宗教) 1 - Religion - discussed in detail and comprehensively in modern Chinese religious studies. For this purpose, the drafts are presented in detail by three contemporary Chinese religious scholars - Zhuo Xinping, Lv Daji and Mu Zhongjian - who, with their theoretical considerations, want to achieve that the phenomenon of "religion" in China is understood as a normal cultural phenomenon through scientific observation . Since the end of the 19th century, religion has always been heavily criticized in the Chinese context, including as the "opium of the people". That is why contemporary Chinese religious researchers see it as their most urgent task today to forego a negative political judgment, by not only exploring the unity between religion and culture, but also with the Chinese term in their research Zongjiao (宗教) establish a »concept of religion« that is anchored in Chinese tradition. In view of this, however, attention must be drawn to the twofold effect of a term: A term is not only the passive description of an object, but also has an active effect on the observers and participants concerned. G. Frege, B. Russel and L. Wittgenstein have already described and justified this twofold effect in terms of language philosophy. In the following investigation this twofold effect of the Chinese term Zongjiao (宗教) should be taken into account when dealing with the theories of the above-mentioned three Chinese religious scholars. The following questions should be answered: What is meant by "religion"? And what is meant by "religion in China"? In this context, the need to locate the interpretation of the term becomes apparent Zongjiao (宗教). A paradox in Chinese religious studies becomes clear: on the one hand, religious scholars are looking for a general concept of religion by which all religious phenomena are to be determined, and on the other hand they want to point out the peculiarities of Chinese religions. However, this methodological paradox does not only affect Chinese religious studies, it is a general dilemma in post-colonial religious studies.

2In postcolonial religious studies, the definition of the concept of religion is questioned on the one hand, and on the other hand people have an everyday understanding of religion (cf. Bergunder 2014). On the one hand, football can be viewed as a kind of religion, but on the other hand there are reservations about calling Buddhism a religion. The following investigation is based on the question of the extent to which this discussion is carried out in Chinese religious studies.

3The idea of ​​a relationship between gods and humans, of something transcendent or an afterlife that can be understood as a feature of religion, has existed for a long time in Chinese culture. There were rituals in which heaven, earth, ancestors etc. were worshiped, or in which sacrifices were made to the ancestors. These rituals were not a priori as Zongjiao (宗教).

4The Chinese term Zongjiao (宗教), which in contemporary society refers to the five legally recognized, institutionalized religions in China (Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam), is a new invention in connection with globalization and modernization since the end of the 19th century. Century (see Meyer 2013). In the second half of the 19th century, in the course of colonization, western culture came to China. The historian Joseph R. Levenson used the following metaphor in his work Confucian China and Its Modern Fate described the encounter between the West and the Chinese:

"The metaphor of language is suggested irresistibly: what the West has probably done to China is to change the latter's language - what China has done to the West is to enlarge the latter's vocabulary" (Levenson 1968, 157).

5The unequal relationship between Western culture and Chinese culture is expressed in this encounter: Due to the oppression and threats posed by Western culture, Chinese culture was forced to change during the colonization period. Typical examples of this are new perspectives on the understanding of religion or the establishment of the term Zongjiao (宗教) for religion. The Chinese expression Zongjiao (宗教) first appeared in 6th century Buddhist texts. There he stood for the teaching of a respective school within Buddhism (cf. Zeng 2015). In the Chinese language, however, it was not considered an equivalent of the Western term "religion". So seen is the modern use of the term Zongjiao (宗教) not just an equivalent for the Western expression "religion", but an expression of a change in understanding under the impression of an asymmetrical, intercultural encounter. On the one hand it was about the interpretation of the Chinese tradition and on the other hand about the question of how one should react to western culture. In this respect, the modern conceptualization of Zongjiao (宗教) something new as a religion.

6Wilfred Cantwell Smith has in his book The Meaning and End of Religion mentions that certain Western definitions of religion do not fit into Chinese tradition and society, as, for example, a Chinese woman can feel at home in Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism at the same time. He also states that the Chinese would not even ask the question of whether Confucianism was a religion, since such a question could only arise from the misunderstanding of the Catholic mission of the 17th century, and only in the course of these missionary efforts Correspondence between Christianity and Chinese teachings was sought. Smith's opinion relates to the Chinese society before the opium war between China and Great Britain around 1840, because before that time China was an almost completely closed country and had little connections with other countries. However, from the late 19th century onwards, China had to respond to this question, although the Chinese tradition originally did not have a concept of religion as it existed in the West.

7The lecture »Confucianism«(Shuo Jiao) of the then Chinese ambassador Peng Guangyus to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 was an important milestone on the Chinese side for the development of a concept of religion that corresponded to the Western concept. In this lecture the ambassador answered the question whether Confucianism was a religion. In his reply, he also explains what he thinks is to be understood by religion in China. Peng Guangyu emphasized that Confucianism is not a religion, but that there are other forms of religion in China, e.g. the shamanistic tradition of Antique wu (巫) (cf. Chen, 1999, 21-23).

According to his account, Confucianism was not about the relationship between God and man, which he thereby established as the hallmark of religion, but about the relationship between people, which could hardly be understood as religion. Basically, he took the same position as Wilfred Cantwell Smith: The idea that Confucianism is a religion like Christianity is a misunderstanding of the Catholic mission. The debate as to whether or not Confucianism should count as a religion is still the subject of discussion among researchers, both in the West and in China (cf. H.-Y. Chen, 1999; Y. Chen, 2005; Sun , 2008). The following illustration shows that contemporary Chinese religious scholars are still working to overcome this problem. You ask the basic question: How can the Chinese term Zongjiao (宗教) define a phenomenon as a religious phenomenon? With a view to this question, the theories of the three religious scholars mentioned are presented as possible answers in the next section.

9 In the period between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, many Chinese religious scholars tried to view religion and culture as two different dimensions of human life: religious life as centered on God or the sacred and that cultural life as centered on people. After 1979, Chinese religious scholars tried to understand religion as part of culture.

Religion and religious studies according to Zhuo Xinping

The development of religious studies is directly related to western colonialism (cf. Asad 2009). In the contemporary post-colonial context, religious scholars tend to use the term religion with necessary additions, paying particular attention to clarifying the relationship between the religion in question and Christian theology (cf. Bergunder 2018). This is particularly evident in the context of Chinese religious studies. In the Chinese Communist Party's narrative system, Marxism, socialism and communism areXinyang«(Object of faith) considered. On October 27, 2016, the Chinese Communist Party adopted a new document entitled Some principles of political life in the party under the new situation.2 This document clearly states that party members cannot be members of any religious community. In principle, this is not a new rule, since this prohibition was already in the document at the beginning of the reform and opening in 1982 Basic Perspectives on Religious Issues in China's Socialist Period3 was established. In view of the growing number of believers, their increasing importance for economic life and because of the ethnic and international relations, the ban was emphasized again.

11 Zhuo Xinping (* 1955), director of the Institute for World Religions (shijie zongjiao yanjiusuo - 世界 宗教 研究所) at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (zhongguo shehui kexueyuan - 中国社会科学院) 4, was heavily criticized for his positions on this resolution (cf. . You 2014). In his opinion, members of a religious community can also become members of the party. Zhuo Xinping points out that such examples existed in the early history of the Chinese Communist Party. In view of his efforts to interpret the Communist Party's religious policy differently, his previous views on religion and religious studies have also been criticized, the most striking point of criticism being that his understanding of religion is rooted in Christian theology and that he rejects Marxist views on religion.

12In response to this criticism, Zhuo Xinping explained his understanding of religion and religious studies in his article The Responsibility of Shi and the Future of Religious Studies (Zhuo 2018). In this article, Zhuo Xinping focuses on the role of religious studies in understanding religious phenomena in contemporary China. In fact, Zhuo Xinping does not present any new ideas for understanding religion, but rather shows the current standpoint of Chinese religious studies. First of all, Zhuo Xinping emphasizes that religion should be viewed as a social phenomenon in the context of scientific research, instead of simply being the target of criticism and attacks in emotional political debates. On this basis, Zhuo Xinping explains the premise of religious studies as Xuanzhi (悬置). Xuanzhi (悬置) means the application of an agnostic method in Chinese religious studies, insofar as this method relates to a descriptive perspective or to an observation of religion from the outside. Indeed, the method realizes Xuanzhi (悬置) Primarily regards religion as a normal human phenomenon in human culture, which enables Chinese religious scholars to treat religion, like any other phenomenon, as an object of research. If religion were part of culture, it could theoretically exist as a universal cultural phenomenon in various societies, including ancient and modern Chinese societies. In this sense, religious researchers should examine the existence of religious phenomena in the past, research their social impact in the present and analyze their future development tendencies. The symbol system within certain religions, such as However, less attention is paid to the rituals or liturgies of the Christian religion, for example. Seen in this way, according to Zhuo Xinping, Chinese religious scholars could build a bridge for communication and understanding between believers and atheists in China. Therefore, Zhuo Xinping suggests that Chinese religious studies should, on the one hand, refer to the disciplinary system of international religious studies, but on the other hand, should remain rooted in Chinese tradition and reality. This is the most urgent task of Chinese religious studies.

13These moderate views of Zhuo Xinping have been criticized for their supposed relationship with Christian theology. This is likely because Zhuo Xinping emphasized the importance of the Christian religion in understanding Western philosophy in his early work. He also tried to reevaluate the Christian missionaries who came to China since the 19th century from an intercultural perspective. Because the Christian missionaries were largely viewed by Chinese politics as instruments of imperialist and colonialist aggression against China. Zhuo Xinping also emphasizes the ability to communicate between Christianity and Chinese culture and recognizes the important development achievements of Chinese Christianity since the 19th century. Such arguments met with a certain degree of rejection from atheists, nationalists and Marxists.

14As the head of the most important institute for religious studies in China, Zhuo Xinping explains the principles of Chinese religious studies by firstly emphasizing the respect for and support for the religious policy of the Chinese Communist Party. In early April 2018, the Chinese State Council Information Office published a white paper entitled China's Policies and Practices to Protect Freedom of Religion. It contains four basic principles for dealing with religious matters in China today: a) the full implementation of religious freedom policy; b) The regulation of religious affairs is subject to state legislation; c) the principle of independence and self-government should be followed; d) The necessary adaptation of religions to socialist society.5 In addition, Zhuo Xinping comments that, although religions are already being evaluated in China according to their benefits for society, religious scholars can still make creative contributions to understanding religions through their academic work and to help Chinese society deal with them. Because religious scholars are not only the executive body of religious policy, but also researchers and interpreters. Second, Zhuo Xinping emphasizes the right of citizens to religious freedom by citing Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution.6 Thus, he puts believers' citizenship above their status as believers. Third, Zhuo Xinping connects the development of Chinese religious studies with the development of international religious studies. On the one hand, he asserts that religious studies as a discipline originally had a close connection to Christian theology. On the other hand, he also emphasizes that the current independent method of religious studies is very different from Christian theology. Fourth, he regards religion as a cultural phenomenon and as a human spiritual need. This approach emphasizes the universality and objectivity of religious studies. With this, Zhuo Xinping justified the possibility and necessity of religious research in China.

Religion as a cultural system with four elements according to Lv Daji

15While Zhuo Xinping is committed to making religion the subject of research from a sociological perspective, Lv Daji sees his task as developing a fundamental theory for understanding religion. Lv Daji (1931-2012) was an influential Chinese religious scholar and professor at Minzu University. With regard to the evaluation of religion, he takes the same position as Zhuo Xinping: religion is part of culture.In contrast to Zhuo Xinping, Lv Daji systematically justified this claim and derived his own definition of religion from it.

16By referring to Marxist historical materialism and Malinowski's theory of culture, Lv Daji gives a definition of culture: culture is the humanization of nature. Humans are culturally active because they meet a need. Lv Daji also invokes the point of view of the American cultural anthropologist Spiro, in that he regards the religious system as a unique cultural expression of man. To show the uniqueness of religion, Lv Daji quotes the views of Feuerbach and Marx and regards religion as the product of the absolute alienation of human nature. On this basis, Lv Daji developed his own definition of religion: Religion is a social and cultural system that consists of social awareness of superhuman and supernatural forces and of behavior in which faith and worship are expressed. In his essay »What is religion? «Lv Daji elaborates on his reflections on the nature, the elements and the logic of the term» religion «. First of all, Lv Daji divides the definitions of religion into three categories: a) the object of religious belief and worship is at the center of the concept of religion, e.g. in religious anthropology; b) the believers are at the center of the concept of religion, e.g. in religious psychology; c) The social functions are the basis of the concept of religion, e.g. in the sociology of religion. As already mentioned, the Chinese religious scholars are very aware that in China Marxism defines the framework for religious studies, and they always emphasize that their academic research has never exceeded this limit. This point is very clearly reflected in Lv Daji's research method. Lv Daji dedicates himself above all to the reinterpretation of the views on religion of the classical Marxist writers such as Marx, Engels and Lenin and on this basis develops his own theory of religion. Lv Daji points out that Marx and Engels' views of religion basically belong to the second and third categories mentioned above. In addition, the Marxist interpretation of religion contains a strongly atheistic value judgment. This does not correspond to the basic attitude of religious scholars to maintain the value neutrality towards their research subject. In addition, their arguments are not complete, so that contemporary religious studies cannot orientate themselves exclusively on them. Because religion would be ranked low in the Marxist system and its possible positive function in contemporary society would go unnoticed. The aim of the Chinese religious scholars is to investigate what contribution religion can make as a cultural phenomenon in contemporary society. According to Lv Daji, Chinese religious scholars would have to develop their own understanding of religion in order to achieve this goal. It is in this sense that Lv Daji has his understanding of the term Zongjiao (宗教) (Religion) detailed. According to his theory, there is Zongjiao (宗教) from four elements: 1.) from religious thoughts, e.g. thinking about God or the divine; 2.) from religious emotion, e.g. reverence for God or the divine; 3.) from religious behavior, e.g. worship in rituals and in prayer; 4.) from religious organizations, e.g. the temple of Buddhism and the church in Christianity. In Lv Daji's theory, the focus is on religious thoughts, followed by religious emotions, religious behavior, and religious organizations. What is remarkable is his universal claim, which he connects with his definition of religion when he claims that all religions in the world correspond to the four-element theory. To this end, Lv Daji refers to the epistemological method of the logical relationship of the being to the phenomenon according to Hegel. The general validity of his concept of religion would then be legitimized by reference to Hegel's theory of reason. According to Lv Daji, the aim of his four-element theory is its application in society. When people realize that religion is made up of these four elements, they notice the philosophical influence of religious thoughts, the artistic influence of religious emotions, the ethical normative influence of religious behavior, and the social influence of religious organizations. Therefore, according to Lv Daji, religion can play an active role in rebuilding the social-ethical order in the development of today's Chinese market economy.

17Let us recap Lv Daji's arguments: First, Lv Daji regards religion as a special system of cultural symbols. Second, it recognizes the important role of religious thoughts, religious emotions, religious behavior, and religious organizations in the real world. Thus, with their academic work, the Chinese religious scholars should contribute to a better understanding of religious phenomena.

Shendao (神道) as a »religion« according to Mu Zhongjian

18The Chinese religious scholar Mu Zhongjian (* 1939) is a professor at Minzu University. His research focus is the Chinese history of religion with a focus on Confucianism. Mu Zhongjian developed a different definition of religion than Lv Daji, according to which man could better understand Chinese religious phenomena. Most Chinese people, for example, do not belong to any particular religion or denomination - they are rather interested in participating in various religious or denominational rituals. In contrast to Lv Daji, Mu Zhongjian does not develop a systematic concept of religion, but emphasizes the central position of the search for the hereafter in the various religions. Mu Zhongjian added that the term religion, which people use in everyday life, comes from the West and that Chinese religious scholars can no longer refuse to use the Western concept of religion, because it is already largely in the current everyday language integrated in China. On this basis, Mu Zhongjian deals with the extent to which certain phenomena in China can be understood as religious.

19It should be mentioned that Mu Zhongjian strongly emphasizes value orientation in religious studies. He assumes that, for the first 30 years of the last century, China's academic research followed a Western model and then a Soviet model. In this case, the Chinese researchers usually only inserted Chinese elements into the existing paradigm. They did not have their own paradigm. After reform and opening up in 1979, China's cultural self-awareness slowly began to grow. By cultural self-confidence, Mu Zhongjian understands that, if one starts from the traditional conditions of Chinese history, it is neither necessary to formulate materialism or idealism in the so-called Marxist sense, nor to formulate these conditions in the conceptual framework of modern western knowledge systems - such as philosophy or Religious Studies - to press. In a recent article on the development of religious studies in China, Mu Zhongjian explains that Chinese religious studies are not based on so-called value neutrality, but should include compassion and experience of the Chinese context. The aim of Chinese religious studies is to better understand the religions in China and thus to make them compatible with socialism. This corresponds to the condition that the current Chinese government also places on religious studies. However, Mu Zhongjian also mentions that the resurgence of Chinese culture inevitably goes hand in hand with global communication, as Western traditions could give new inspiration to Chinese traditions and revitalize Chinese culture. He says:

"We can accept the West, but we have to start from our own tradition and [insist on] our properties" (Mu 2016, 161).

20But what does Mu Zhongjian understand by Chinese tradition? There is no doubt that the Confucian tradition occupies a central position in the history of China. Therefore, Mu Zhongjian needs to clarify the relationship between Confucianism and religion. Therefore, he first points out that one must distinguish between Confucianism as a culture and Confucianism as a philosophy.

21First of all, for Mu Zhongjian, Confucian philosophy is a school that arose before the Qin dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC). The main concern of this school was to answer the questions how people should behave in relation to themselves, to the family and to the state and how they can develop an ideal personality. Because there are statements about heaven or the spirit in Confucianism, according to Mu Zhongjian, it can be called religious. The book The discussions According to Confucius, when his favorite disciple died, Confucius shouted: "Heaven is killing me!" But since then, Confucian thinkers have taken a detached attitude towards statements about the afterlife. From this perspective, Confucianism appears fundamentally as a teaching focused on people, society and ethical issues. Therefore, Mu Zhongjian is convinced that Confucianism is not a religion, since the afterlife is never the focus of his interest. But with regard to the relationship between Confucianism and religion, the political role of Confucianism in Chinese history must be kept in mind. With regard to the question of how the Confucian tradition is to be understood from the point of view of intellectual history, however, the Chinese religious scholars have given different considerations. They do agree, however, that Confucianism was not just a philosophy, especially at the time when it became the main subject of the civil service examination. This made Confucianism a cultural phenomenon.

The Confucian scholars selected through the official examination had to implement a systematic structure for the regulation and administration of the religions of that time in China on behalf of the state. The most famous work of the Confucian scholars, The book of rites, an important role. This may have contributed to the impression that religion was part of Confucian teaching. In the eyes of Confucian scholars, however, religious life was not at the core of their theory. From today's scientific perspective, Confucianism appears to be religious, but the scholars of the time did not regard it as a religion.

To sum up: Mu Zhongjian's studies have shown that Confucianism in Chinese history is not to be understood as a religion in today's religious-scientific sense, but rather as a philosophy or teaching, as the longing for the afterlife, which according to Mu Zhongjian for a religion is central, never was the core concern of Confucianism. Therefore, another question arises to which Mu Zhongjian must find an answer: What can be understood as a religious phenomenon or religious life in the Chinese tradition if it was not Confucianism?

24Mu Zhongjian makes a suggestion: What corresponds to today's understanding of religion in the Chinese tradition is Shendao (神道). Under Shendao (神道) Mu Zhongjian understands the worship of heaven, ancestors and gods. With the help of rituals, people establish a connection with gods and ancestors so that the gods keep evil away and promote good and the ancestors bless their descendants. To the term Shendao To be able to explain (神道) better, compares Mu Zhongjian Shendao (神道) first with Confucianism. In his opinion, the term is Shendao (神道) older than Confucianism. According to the documents available, Confucianism came into being around the 5th century BC. Founded by Confucius, but Shendao (神道) is already used in the 20th century BC. Mentioned BC: Shendao (神道) includes practices such as praying for rain and worshiping heaven. The characteristic of Shendao (神道) was that there were no "church" institutions in it, so the believers did not belong to a certain denomination as in the Christian tradition. In the Chinese tradition it was Shendao (神道) embedded in a patriarchal family structure. On the one hand it was Shendao (神道) maintained by this family structure, on the other hand it promoted and nourished this family structure. This connection is shown above all in the veneration of the ancestors, because for the veneration of the ancestors a family is required to perform this veneration; at the same time, a family's sense of togetherness is promoted through the veneration of ancestors.7 Since the entire political structure of ancient China was based on a patriarchal family structure, the emperor had almost the same status as the highest priest of the Shendao (神道). Examples of this are the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368 AD to 1912 AD) prayed for a good harvest every year, and the Taimiao in Beijing, where the Ming emperors - and Qing dynasties were able to venerate their deceased ancestors. In this way a combination of divine power and political power was realized. This was also shown in the fact that Shendao (神道) played a fundamental and central role in traditional Chinese society. Mu Zhongjian assumes that - compared to the Confucian tradition - Shendao (神道) was the older and greater tradition. But because of its ambiguity and historical dependence on Confucian tradition, it has not received the academic attention it deserves for a long time. Making up for this is the task of today's religious scholars in China, who are aware of the relationship between Confucian tradition and Shendao (神道), i.e. for the fact that there is no religious tradition in China only in the context of Confucianism and that the Confucian tradition must not be the sole yardstick for the validity of religious traditions.

25To understand how the term Zongjiao (宗教) to the term Shendao (神道) behaves, the linguistic differences must be considered. In terms of content means Zongjiao (宗教) "Teaching" in ritual and worship ", and Shendao (神道) means "God's way". The character Zong (宗) in Zongjiao (宗教) stands for rituals or worship in a house, and the character Jiao (教) in Zongjiao (宗教) means "teaching". The character Shen (神) in Shendao (神道) means "god" or "gods", and the character Dao (道) in Shendao (神道) means »ways«. Compared to Zongjiao (宗教) connects Shendao (神道) on the literal level more direct with god or gods. In traditional Chinese society, however, are neither Zongjiao (宗教) still Shendao (神道) Terms for a specific system of religious ideas and practices, although they seem to be in some ways equivalents to the term religion. However, the Chinese religious scholar Mu Zhongjian chooses the term Shendao (神道) to specifically describe Chinese religious phenomena. Because by choosing this term and by having the term Zongjiao (宗教) deliberately avoids, he would like to establish a Chinese paradigm for the religious phenomena in China. At the same time, it is an attempt to distance oneself from the ambivalent concept of religion in global religious studies. It is also worth mentioning that Mu Zhongjian is clearly in support of his interpretation of Shendao (神道) on the Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), one of the most important missionaries in China, and on the contemporary Chinese Islamic scholar Majian (1906-1978), whose Chinese translation of the Koran is still in use today.

26Mu Zhongjian's arguments can be summarized as follows: First, the authenticity of Chinese religious studies does not need to be confirmed by that Western paradigm of religious studies. Second, Chinese religious studies do not need the protection of the Confucian tradition. Third, instead of the term Zongjiao (宗教) the term Shendao (神道) used for "religion".

27 During the Cultural Revolution from 1967 to 1976, religion was completely demonized in China. There was even a national political campaign to create a non-religious city, which increased rejection of religion and led to the decline of theological education. In the political context of the time, religion was viewed only as an ideology and superstructure of the ruling class.Against this background, the Chinese religious studies today sees its most urgent task in drawing attention to the fact that religion is a normal cultural phenomenon and that freedom of religion is a fundamental right that the Chinese constitution guarantees its citizens. In addition, the Chinese religious scholars try to explain the positive effects religion can have on today's society. Your understanding of religion and religious studies consequently results from the concrete historical context. As pioneers in the development of Chinese religious studies after the reform and opening up of 1979, the Chinese religious scholars committed themselves to make religion known as a research subject within the framework of the modern scientific system in the context of Chinese politics and culture. To achieve this goal, they tried to examine the social dimensions of religion and the relationships between religion and culture from a philosophical, historical and sociological point of view. It is thanks to them that the everyday understanding of religion in China has changed a lot: religion is now understood more as a culture than an ideology. Of course, all of this cannot be separated from the ideological emancipation and openness of society as a whole, the growing number of religious believers and the increasingly important role of religions in social and economic life. It is these processes of change that form the frame of reference for Chinese religious studies.

From a global and intercultural point of view, Chinese religious scholars must take note of and process the research methods and current research results of the international academic community. That is why all the religious scholars mentioned here also rely on current international research results when reinterpreting religious phenomena in China, especially since religious studies as a discipline has its origin in Western tradition. With the contribution presented here it could perhaps be made clear that in the course of its development the Chinese religious studies also always raises the question of the relationship to Christianity, which is particularly clear with Zhuo Xinping. In contrast to the Marxist criticism of religion, the Chinese religious scholars have to justify the socio-cultural dimension of religious phenomena, i. H. they must justify why religion can make a positive contribution to contemporary Chinese society, as Lv Daji points out. And finally, it is the task of the Chinese religious scholars to assure themselves of their independence and their Chinese-cultural basis, as Mu Zhongjian shows. Against this background, however, the question arises to what extent research results from international religious studies can be incorporated into Chinese religious studies. This question becomes particularly virulent in connection with the question of how to find a Chinese identity in post-colonial modernity, as discrepancies can arise between the general normativity of science in the global post-colonial context and local Chinese value orientations and experiences. In this respect, this question is not just a Chinese question, but also a global question in our time.

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