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January 2017 News and Prayer Bulletin

The aim of the Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia is to promote the advance of God’s kingdom amongst Chinese people by making available reformed literature in the Chinese language.

The Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia (RTF – Australia) welcomes you and your local congregation to join it in a concerted effort to pray for God’s blessing upon the people and the Churches of China. As China grows in influence what happens in that country will have an ever-greater influence upon us all. As the Church in China grows we rejoice that many millions of people are hearing the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. Yet we continue to pray that the emerging Church in China will be solidly grounded upon the Scriptures.

It is the conviction of RTF – Australia that the historic doctrines of grace which were so wonderfully rediscovered in the Churches of Europe during the sixteenth century are vital to the health of Churches in every age and on every continent. That is why RTF has, for over sixty years, translated works of reformed theology into Chinese and distributed them amongst the churches in China. Most of the emerging churches in China know little of Reformed doctrine and have little access to the resources which many of us treasure. We comment this ministry, as well as the Churches of China, to your prayers.

The Rise of Reformed Theology in China Today: Five Reasons

(Taken from Alexander Chow’s Blog, retrieved on 22nd Dec. 2016 (

This summer, I attended two academic conferences offering a presentation about a key figure in the development of Protestant Christianity in China since the 1980s: The Reformed missionary, Jonathan Chao (1938–2004). The focus of my paper was on how his theology and approach has shaped his engagement with the house church movement. The surprising thing is that most of the questions that arose from my presentation was not about Chao himself, but about why there has been a recent rise in the interests in Calvinism in China.

Of course, as Calvinism (and Christianity) is on the decline in the West, this has caught the attention of a lot of people, reporters and academics. Here, let me offer five reasons for these developments:

1.       First, it must be said that Calvinism is not new to China. For example, the first Protestant missionaries – both the Dutch missionaries to Formosa (or Taiwan) in the 17th century and Robert Morrison in the 19th century – came from Calvinist theological backgrounds. Some of the older Calvinist churches that were closed during the Cultural Revolution would reopen in the 1980s and often affiliated with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM).  However, the growing number of Protestants tended to be more influenced by the independent Chinese Christian leaders of the earlier period, such as Wang Mingdao, Watchman Nee, or Wei Enbo – individuals who were not as directly shaped by Calvinism.

2.       After the end of the Cultural Revolution, missionaries would again travel into China. One of the first and most important was Jonathan Chao, who travelled as early as the 1980s bringing with him Chinese translations of many Reformed texts. Many of these texts were translated by the Reformed Translation Fellowship (RTF) that his father (Charles Chao) helped to start. In the 1990s, along with missionaries of other theological orientations, an increasing number of other Calvinist missionaries (including diasporic Chinese, South Koreans, and Korean Americans) would begin to work in China.

3.       In the early-1990s, a growing number of Christianity-inspired ‘evil cults’ would form such as the Shouters and Eastern Lightning. Many Christians, wanting to strengthen their theology, show their orthodoxy, and distance themselves from these groups, turned to the Reformed tradition to underscore the importance of theology and reason, above subjective experiences and emotions.

4.       The 1990s also witnessed an economic prosperity which was partnered with a growth in Christian entrepreneurs. Hence, there would be a growing sense of credibility to Max Weber’s thesis about the close connection between the Calvinist work ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

5.       Furthermore, many of the students and young intellectuals involved in the events of 1989 had converted to Christianity and still wanted to transform China. Some were drawn to the teachings of covenant theology and saw Calvinism as offering possibilities in underscoring a stronger sense of constitutionalism and rule of law in China. There was also a strong emphasis on ecclesiology, sometimes built on the teachings of Dutch Neo-Calvinism, as a means for the church to actively engage the society and the state.

Observing all these factors, what is quite apparent is that the five-century-old theological tradition that traces back to John Calvin has now become a contextual theology in China. Today, there is a growing body of Reformed literature being translated into Chinese. The writings of many Calvinist and New Calvinist thinkers like John Piper, D. A. Carson, and Tim Keller can be found in Christian bookstores throughout China, and a lively discussion about Calvinism can likewise be found online. However, only time will tell if this translation of Reformed theology is merely a phase in the shifting history of Chinese Christianity or if it will become deeply rooted in the Chinese soil.
Dr Alexander Chow
Lecture in Theology and World Christianity, The University of Edinburgh

RTF - Australia Publication Project for 2017

During 2016, we were delighted to follow the progress of the publication project sponsored by RTF - Australia of “The Victory of the Lamb”, by Frederick S. Leahy.  This was translated into Chinese by Lorna Chao throughout the year and due to be published in early 2017.

For 2017, the RTF committee decided to support two of the upcoming titles:
  1. Douglas Milne, “Let's Study Luke” from the Let's Study the Bible series of Banner of Truth.
  2. Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism: The Stone Lectures of 1898.
The famous Stone Lectures delivered at Princeton University by the great Dutch theologian Abraham 

Banner of Truth’s “Let’s Study” is a well-written commentaries series seeks to combine explanation and application through the exposition of Scripture. “Let’s Study Luke” was written by Rev Dr Douglas Milne, former principal of Presbyterian Theological College in Victoria, Australia.
Kuyper, outlined the foundation of the Reformed doctrine and its impact on “every square inch” of society.  This book will also mark the 500th-anniversary celebration of the Protestant Reformation movement in the year 1517.

We will be seeking to raise 8000 AUD during this year to sponsor both translations and final publications; you can find our donation details at the end of the newsletter or on our website.

Report from RTF Press Taiwan

We give thanks for God’s grace and providence in leading the RTF Press ministries over the years, we would have not been able to accomplish so much without His guidance from the beginning.

Over the course of 2016, RTF has managed to publish several newly translated works and as well as revisions of previous publications. Our most recent translated work is “Religious Affection” by Jonathan Edwards.  This great work of Edwards guide the readers to distinguish between genuine and false religion by showing the marks of a saving work of the Holy Spirit in men.  We hope by translating this work will help in correcting many wrong views within the current church.

Other major works we published in 2016 includes the revision of “The Atonement” by Loraine Boettner on the work of Christ in reconciling God and men; Louis Berkhof’s “Manuel of Christian Doctrine”, a summarised version of his magnum opus “Systematic Theology”; and “The Plan of Salvation” by B.B. Warfield, a study of God’s plan of salvation understood by the various branches of professing Christendom throughout history.

For the year 2017, we are looking forward to the publication of the following titles:
  • Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism: The Stone Lectures of 1898 *
  • John Newton, Select Letters of John Newton
  • Douglas Milne, Let's Study Luke, Let's Study the Bible series *
  • Frederick Leahy, The Victory of the Lamb: Christ’s Triumph over Sin, Death and Satan *
  • Palmer Robertson, God's People in the Wilderness
  • Thomas Watson, All Things for Good
  • Richard B. Gaffin Jr., By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation
  • Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King
  • Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants
  • Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance
  • Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic
  • John Calvin, Acts Commentary
* Sponsored by RTF - Australia

Pray for China Day 2017

It has been our practice in recent years to encourage our supporters and their local congregations to join in a united effort to uphold the work of RTF and the Church in China in prayer before the God of heaven. This year we hope that you will set aside Sunday 29th January as the 2017 Pray for China Day. We hope that this will provide an opportunity to make the work of RTF better known in Australian Churches. If you would like to spread the word about RTF, you will find that several resources have been circulated with this newsletter. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:11).  We have valued your prayerful interest in this ministry in the past and encourage you to continue with us in helping those who hunger for the doctrines of grace in China.

Materials to help congregations do this (poster, bulletin insert, information sheet) have been prepared and have been sent along with this newsletter. If you know someone who would like to receive this material for the 2017 Pray for China Day, please email us at or simply download the materials from our website at

Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia

Chairman: Rev. Stuart Bonnington 08 9398 1304 0400 012 865
  Fremantle, WA    
Secretary: Rev. Andrew Stewart 03 5229 4697  
  Geelong, VIC    
Treasurer: Mr. David Barkley 0417 310 197  
  Geelong, VIC    
  Rev. Stefan Slucki 07 4123 4784 0428 960 801
  Maryborough, QLD    
  Rev. Julian Bull 0402 433 320  
  Perth, WA    
  Mr. Steven Yu 0401 043 641  
  Maroubra, NSW    
Website: Email:
Contact: Rev. Andrew Stewart, 12 Fenwick Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
Donation: By Cheque: RTF Australia
12 Fenwick Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
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Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia · 12 Fenwick Street · Geelong, VIC 3220 · Australia

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