For more than three weeks in September, I lived and traveled in Taiwan, where I spoke with more than three dozen taxi drivers and an equal number of Protestant Christians, including both missionaries and Taiwanese. The following report summarizes what I saw and heard.
This well-researched book records the lives and work of some of the early women missionaries in China. Valerie Griffiths traces the lives of several notable female missionaries, from the 1820s through the 1990s, who traveled to remote villages in the interior of China to reach out to women who had never been exposed to God’s message of love.
Wise Man from the East: Lit-sen Chang (Zhang Lisheng)
contains translations of two shorter works by this once-influential but now largely forgotten theologian: Critique of Indigenous Theology
and Critique of Humanism
. Chang (1904-1996) was once an ardent believer in China’s “Three Teachings” – Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism. Converted to Christ at the age of fifty after a distinguished career in the academy and in the government, he re-examined his former convictions in the light of the Scriptures and then wrote extensively to show how the Bible offers what other religions could not.
A few years ago, I began writing monthly letters based on the theme of reaching Chinese around the world with the gospel of Christ. These have been expanded into a book, Reaching Chinese Worldwide.
This volume is a collective biography of forty seven Alabama missionaries who served in China between 1850 and 1950.
Contrary to repeated, and increasingly shrill, claims of widespread, systematic, and violent persecution of Christians in China today, almost all Chinese Christians meet together without harm. There are severe legal restrictions on religious activity, of course, though these are often not enforced.
The contents of this magisterial volume deserve careful reading by everyone interested in Chinese Christianity. We cannot understand the residual resistance to Christianity among educated Chinese without a knowledge of the material covered in this section on the late Qing scene.
This superb volume, edited and written by some of the world’s leading scholars, should be read carefully by every serious student of Christianity in China. The book is divided into three parts, dealing respectively with late Qing China, Republican China, and the People’s Republic, Hongkong, Macao, Taiwan. This review will deal with Part One only.
This fine historical study traces the vicissitudes of a major Protestant church in Shanghai, from its beginnings in 1887 almost to the present, with a focus on its experiences during the first forty years of the communist era. Though ostensibly limited to a single congregation, the book ranges widely, and manages to place this one institution within the broader arena of Christianity in China in the past one hundred twenty years.
Hudson Taylor loved the Chinese people and did all he could to identify with them; he possessed the greatest possible admiration for their long and illustrious civilization; and he required all his missionaries to learn as much as they could about Chinese culture and religion.
What was Hudson Taylor’s attitude towards Chinese culture? In the words of our conference theme, how did he change and adapt himself as he sought to serve Christ among the Chinese?
The official Chinese media in late September reported several new initiatives to be promoted within the TSPM-CCC circles: a “charities” week and a five-year “theological exchange” campaign. As with other such formal pronouncements, "tea leaf reading" is always a fun challenge.
With the publication of this final volume in the highly-acclaimed Salt and Light series, stories of nine outstanding Chinese provide yet more evidence that Christian ideas and ideals played a vital role in the formation of modern China.
In God is Red
, Liao Yiwu brings his reporter’s eye to the vibrant and multifaceted world of Christian life and faith in China.
Anthropologist Nanlai Cao has painted a detailed portrait of an enormously significant phenomenon – the rise of “boss Christianity” in the port city of Wenzhou. With their national and global reach, Wenzhou Christians may be building a type of Christianity with immense consequences for Chinese Christianity everywhere.
Arising from a conference held in Hong Kong in 2008 with the theme, “Beyond Our Past: Bible, Cultural Identity, and the Global Evangelical Movement,” the book contains a dozen chapters from as many contributors. Half the authors are Caucasian, and the rest are Chinese, giving the collection a good balance of ethnic perspectives.
The following is a list of some of the scholarly books related Christianity in China that have appeared in the last fifteen years. Many more could have been included.
We conclude our review of Daniel Bays, A New History of Chinese Christianity
with a survey of the last four chapters.
The author divides the history of Christianity in China into eight periods, devoting a chapter to each, with an appendix on the Russian Orthodox Church and Ecclesiastical Mission in China. A few highlights:
Daniel Bays has given us the results of decades of study in a volume that is remarkably comprehensive, concise, and compelling...The book provides both a broad sweep of the history of Chinese Christianity and sufficient detail to make the story interesting.
This issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research
holds particular value for all those who seek to understand the church in China today. No fewer than six major articles, including the lead editorial, deal with the history of Christianity in China, with pointed references to the situation today.
In part II of her book, Dr. Robert re-visits the history of missions by focusing on three themes: 1. The Politics of Missions; 2. Women in World Mission 3. Conversion and Christian community
Students of Chinese Christianity need this book for at least two reasons: First, to counter the common misconception that Christianity is a Western religion that has been imposed on China by foreign imperialists. Second, to help us see that the...
With some trepidation, I opened the cover and began reading chapter one of Safely Home. My red pen in hand and notebook at my side, I was ready to mark down any egregious errors in depicting the life of fellow...
The second section of this fine volume deals with Christianity in the context of modern Chinese society. “Comprehensive Theology: An Attempt to Combine Christianity with Chinese culture,” by Zhuo Xinping, emphasizes the priority of “seeking similarity” as the “precondition and...
These excellent chapters point out the necessity of all those who are interested in Chinese Christianity to take the relationships between it and other faiths very seriously. Obviously, the traffic has gone both ways, as Christians have, both intentionally and unconsciously, absorbed ideas and practices from outside the Bible.
This important volume contains so many insightful chapters, with such immediate relevance to all who seek a better understanding of a vital topic, that it deserves extended treatment. The book is divided into two parts; in this review, I shall limit consideration to the first, “Christianity in Relation to the Chinese Religious Tradition,” especially those parts which compare and contrast Confucianism and Christianity.
The Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity
now includes a major new resource for the study of Christianity in China: A “Directory of Christian Organizations” includes the abbreviation, full name in English, name in Chinese, and date established/started work in China for more than two hundred Christian organizations.
This helpful article appeared in the Spring, 2011, issue of the Institute of Sino–Christian Studies News. Very concisely, Professor Lai brings us up to date on the rapidly-changing status of Sino-Christian theology.
Let me say from the outset that this book possesses unusual worth for all students of Chinese Christianity. Not only does it analyze a very important sector of the Chinese church, but also presents a model which, with some variations, is both inspiring and challenging.
The publication of this translation may help us understand at least one of the factors involved in the recent government crackdown on large house churches in some parts of China, including its response to the decision of Shouwang Church leaders to try to hold Sunday worship meetings outside.
Getting Saved in America
“tells a story of how people become religious by becoming American.” The author focuses almost entirely upon immigrants from Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s, which is when many of the Chinese churches in the United States began as Bible study groups initiated by these highly-educated newcomers. Anyone working with, or wanting to understand, Chinese churches in America today should read her carefully-wrought study, for it explains much.
In the October 2010 newsletter of Asia Harvest, Paul and Joy Hattaway published a statistical summary of how many Christians live in each province of China. They spent ten years collecting information about believers from published sources, contacts within house church networks, and from other missionaries.
This important article both explains the growing significance of Confucius for today’s China and more than hints at a possibly abrasive confrontation with the rapidly-expanding Christian population.
We continue our review of Mario Poceski’s Introducing Chinese Religions with his discussion of “Later transformations of Confucianism.”
We continue our review of Mario Poceski’s excellent Introducing Chinese Religions
, picking up the story at his chapter on popular religion. With the publication of Redeemed by Fire
, by Li Xian, with its demonstration that much of house church Christianity in China draws upon, and reinforces, powerful themes and trends in Chinese popular religion, understanding this growing phenomenon is all the more imperative.
Dr. Carol Lee Hamrin, sharing stories of Chinese believers serving society as "salt and light" — both then (1910 ff.) and now, 100 years later — at the "Worldview for World Healing" conference sponsored by the Wilberforce Academy, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2010.
Anyone who wants to understand Chinese Christianity today must have some knowledge of its religious milieu. We need to familiarize ourselves with this religious landscape, lest we seriously misconstrue the recent rise, nature, and problems of Chinese Christians today.
Clearly written, tightly organized, well-documented, this volume helps us understand the multiple roles played by the Chinese church in America in the lives of its members. Along the way, we learn a great deal about the aspirations, struggles, and profound transformation of Chinese who become committed evangelical Christians in their adopted land.
This first volume in the Oxford Studies in World Christianity, also edited by Professor Sanneh, has set the highest possible standard. A full survey being impossible, my review will only highlight a few major features of Sanneh’s overall thesis, with a focus on the insights they provide for students of Chinese Christianity.
As you might expect, the article on whether Protestant Chinese house church Christians are currently being actively persecuted generated a lot of comments. In the interest of fairness, balance, and accuracy, I shall list these below in complementary, usually contrasting, pairs, and with no evaluation.
Redeemed by Fire
is a major contribution to our understanding of popular Chinese Christianity... Both specialists and beginners will find this volume a rich resource and compelling account. Lian’s mastery of the sources, clear and convincing argument, and energetic style combine to create a book well worth careful reading.
The high-level talks on human rights between the United States and China this week provide a good occasion for us to re-consider the question: Are Chinese Christians still being persecuted?
From his position on the faculty of the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Tobias Brandner has access to nearly first-hand sources from which to construct a critical analysis of a key component of the “Back to Jerusalem [BTJ] Movement.”
Because of the length and cost of these two scholarly volumes, making them inaccessible to all but a few, we are greatly indebted to this fine review by Joseph Lee. The first volume studies the perception of the Jesus by...
From this brief examination of the life and ministry of John Song, we see how he, along with many other Chinese Protestants in the same era, brought peace, calm, and even joy and hope, in a world wracked by chaos and suffering.
Who said history wasn’t relevant? Though at first glance a biography of a largely-discredited independent German missionary who was born almost two centuries ago might seem to have little to do with our current situation, Jessie Lutz’ masterful narrative and analysis of the life and times of Karl Gutzlaff provokes the question, Has anything changed?
The stories in this volume come from one end of China to the other. They speak of rural and urban evangelism; healing and exorcism, compassionate care for needy children, community life of the Jesus family, church planting and growth in remote areas not penetrated by outside Christian witness, and the impact of the gospel to produce economic prosperity.
As the first Protestant missionary to China, Robert Morrison laid a foundation for what would become the imposing edifice of today’s Chinese church. Morrison was quite conscious of his role, and worked deliberately to prepare for others, Chinese and Western,...
There has always been a close correlation between the state of U.S.-China governmental relations, and Chinese official attitudes toward Christianity and the treatment of the Chinese church. A brief historical review illustrates this.
This is a marvelous book, and represents the learned Sinology of a long line of French Roman Catholic scholars, going back for hundreds of years. Though he devotes most of his attention to the story of Roman Catholicism, the author does give fair and generous summaries of important aspects of Protestantism in China.
Hudson Taylor believed not only in the theological truth of Christ's incarnation, but also in its missiological necessity and the numerous practical advantages which flowed from following the example of Christ.
That Protestantism has become a Chinese religion is demonstrated by its history; indigenous leadership; contextualized literature; rapid growth; geographical distribution; numerical strength; social impact; self-propagation; and official status. I shall expand on this statement briefly before talking about just how culturally “Chinese” this relatively new faith in China is.
A colloquium on Chinese biblical studies sponsored by the Center for the Study of Christianity in China, King’s College, London, was held January 17th-21st. This symposium showcased some of the fine scholarship being done by Chinese around the world. One of the largest such gatherings in recent decades, it both marked the progress of biblical studies by Chinese and advanced the conversation in a number of key areas
Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation
will now be required reading for anyone seeking to understand why Chinese intellectuals have accepted, rejected, or modified the Christian message since the time of Matteo Ricci. Paulos Huang has given us a fine, clearly-organized study with a great deal of thought-provoking findings and suggestions.
Though certain to stir up controversy, this book contains a message which should be pondered by Western, especially American, Christians with a burden for China. Falkenstine seeks to “clarify perceptions of China and her church,” so that Western Christians may understand the current situation and serve more effectively.
Through a century of political turmoil and disillusionment, waves of Chinese intellectuals have come to Christ.
Since the Bible serves as the main source of Christian doctrine, the nature of its reception, interpretation and influence must be understood in order for us to comprehend the varying streams of Chinese Christian faith and practice and the different responses to Christianity among non-Christians.
“No” – The traditional view The answer to this question would seem to be obvious, at least to some. Almost all books on Chinese religion discuss Daoism (Taoism), Buddhism, Chinese popular religions, Islam and – as a belief system that...
The number of religious believers in China continues to grow almost exponentially, far outpacing population growth.(1) Meanwhile, vague and unchanging official estimates, which since 1994 have reported “over 100 million faithful” in the country, reflect the government’s tendency to mask...
Today’s Chinese Christians have roots that go back over 200 years for Protestants and 400 years for Catholics. In my view a grasp of the essentials of that history, at least for the 20th century, is crucial for us to understand the Chinese church under Communist rule.
Let me start by explaining the choice of terms used in my title: “Greater China” refers to the Chinese diaspora of traders, emigrants and political exiles from the coastal provinces – including many Christians --who played a very important role...
The purpose of this brief paper is to explain the existence of the Three Self-Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council and the resistance of the government to unregistered house churches.
China’s Millions contains much information that could be used for a concise, objective, and accurate history of the CIM under the leadership of Hudson Taylor. Alas, that book remains to be written.
Like the previous review of Volume II, this one will focus on the sections dealing with Christianity in China. At the outset, we should note Moffett’s the fluent, almost racy, style that makes the book hard to put down, even...
This well-written, beautifully-produced volume represents many years of painstaking study, a firm conviction that the Bible is God’s special revelation, and a profound love for the best in Chinese civilization. As a result, it possesses many strengths and will be...
The establishment of Christian colleges in China by Protestant missionaries was one of the most significant aspects of the Sino-Western cultural engagement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These schools were first started as a way of training...
While doing justice to those who still suffer for their faith, Americans need to ensure that our activism supports, rather than hinders, China’s next generation as they seek to add to their hard-won freedoms.
By common consent, development of leaders is the most urgent need for the Chinese church. With explosive growth over the past few decades, there are not enough shepherds for the flock.
Only the sections on the growth Christianity among the Chinese will be discussed. Samuel Moffett has presented us with a work that is comprehensive, yet concise; lucid, yet lively; balanced and yet not totally without an occasional, but mostly-controlled, bias;...
Burklin's book possesses much value as a description of legal Christian activity in China, and as a general overview of some aspects of Chinese Christian history.
Though its title, and especially the sub-title, would lead you to think that God and Caesar in China deals mostly with church-state tensions, this tightly-edited book really represents one of the best overviews of Christianity in modern China.
Marshall’s thesis is that “God’s fingerprints are all over Chinese culture. He has, you might even say, prepared China for the news of Jesus Christ.” Thus, Jesus does not “come as a stranger to the Chinese people” but, in the word’s of the book’s subtitle, “fulfills the Chinese culture.”
In the vast hinterland where 800 million peasants dwell, isolated, tiny meetings in humble homes have multiplied into mighty networks with thousands of churches and millions of members governed by widely-networked leaders.
Broomhall chronicles the life of Taylor and the growth of the China Inland Mission in meticulous detail, drawing upon archives and previously-unused letters, as well as standard histories.
I would like to begin with a review of the history of God’s interaction with the Chinese people, including the centuries-long efforts to bring the Gospel to China since most Americans, even most Chinese people, are very unaware of the long legacy of Christianity in China.
Thomas Harvey traces the conflict of Wang Mingdao and K.H. Ting, and the movements they represent, from the first days of the communist victory in 1949 to the beginning of the 21st century.
This autobiographical account of the great Chinese pastor, Wong Ming-Dao, follows the first forty or so years of his life. The book demonstrates the deep and life-changing effects of Christianity on this man, as well as his distinctive Chineseness. Wong tells the story of his ministry, beginning in his early twenties and ending the account right before World War II.
This substantial volume includes eighteen papers from a conference on its title theme held in San Francisco under the sponsorship of the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History and the Center for the Pacific Rim of the University of San Francisco in 1999.
Almost all observers agree that there is a serious gender imbalance in the Chinese church. David Aikman, in Jesus In Beijing, states that the average ratio is 60-80% women in churches on the Mainland. In Taiwan and elsewhere, the ratio may be less extreme, but there are usually many more women than men attending church on any Sunday morning. The proportion of women serving in the church may be even greater.
Soul Searching, a collection of essays written by Chinese Christian intellectuals, gives a fascinating glimpse inside the Chinese mind and heart. Issues like democracy, culture, and the arts are examined with honesty and clarity.
The Cross: Jesus in China is a 4-DVD set of documentaries exploring the church in China. Each disc examines a slightly different aspect of the church, covering personal testimonies of conversion, the ministries of several of the leaders of the Chinese house churches, the lives of laymen in the churches, and a collection of hymns that are widely used in the churches of China.
The twenty chapters in this collection of essays fall into four sections, entitled: “Christianity and the Dynamics of Qing Society”; “Christianity and Ethnicity”; “Christianity and Chinese Women”; and “The Rise of an Indigenous Chinese Christianity.”
David Aikman has given us perhaps the most controversial introduction to the explosive increase and growing influence of Christianity in China. According to Aikman, we are talking not just about an incredible increase in the number of Chinese Christians in the past fifty years (from one or two million to more than 70 million), but what might become a fundamental shift in world power alignments.