Chinese Theologian Chen Zemin Dies at 101

By Grace Zhi, June 07, 2018 01:06 AM

Professor Chen Zemin

On June 4, 2018, the Chinese theologian and pastor Chen Zemin, the retired honorary president of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary(NUTS) and former president of CCC, died of illness in Nanjing, aged 101.

His funeral and memorial service is scheduled on Friday.

Born in Shantou of Guangdong in 1917, Professor Chen Zemin, received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Shanghai in 1941. Three years later, he got a diploma of theology from NUTS. In 1995, he was granted a doctoral degree of theology by the University of the Philippines. Since 1952, he taught systematic theology, historical theology, church music in NUTS. Later he became the provost and vice president of the seminary and the senior pastor of Nanjing St. Paul's Church.

The three generations of his family were devout Christians and the Christian background influenced Chen much. His grandfather was one of the first batch of preachers in Chaoshan, eastern Guangdong, who fulfilled her mother's wish that one of her children would be a preacher.

When he was young, he happened to hear a sermon preached by John Sung, a renowned Chinese Christian evangelist. As a result, he wanted to be a preacher after graduation from middle school. His son Chen Ruoping, a photographer, said that his father contacted with foreign missionaries in his childhood and helped them do voluntary work when he was a pupil at school.

In the 1950s, Chen put forward a new theological theory that theology was like an ellipse who had two focal points - men and God. He emphasized on applied theology that helped congregations realize the basic function of a church.

Also a lover of music, Chen wrote many catchy hymns with Chinese characteristics. He could both play Guzheng, a Chinese plucked string instrument, and the piano and the pipe organ.

He was the only Chinese pastor who enjoyed the special allowance of the state council.

In 2007, the book Quest and Witness: Selected Writings of Chen Zemin was published, which collected his lifetime knowledge and fully expressed his Christian theology.

- Translated by Karen Luo 

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