A Protestant Church in Communist China: Moore Memorial Church, Shanghai, 1949-1989
Bays, Daniel H., Journal of Church and State
A Protestant Church in Communist China: Moore Memorial Church, Shanghai, 1949-1989. By John Craig William Keating. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2012. 305pp. $85.00.
A Protestant Church in Communist China is a very worthwhile study, one that has modest goals but executes its strategy very effectively. John Keating, impatient with reading generalized descriptions of the church in China since the Communist period began in 1949, set out to document the life and experience of Moore Memorial Church in Shanghai, the flagship Methodist church before 1949 and, he argues, the most prominent Protestant church in all of China today. The latter claim cannot really be proven, but he makes a good case for it. Thus Moore Memorial becomes the first institutional case study of a long slice of the history of Protestantism in the past half-century.
What is the result? This study is well conceived and has been thoroughly researched, with the author (whose Chinese language ability seems excellent) gaining access to some private papers never before used and conducting a great many personal interviews. Although the author's style is not elegant, it is clear enough to convey his findings and analysis. The book is sensibly and straightforwardly organized, basically chronologically. The author shows very good familiarity with the literature of this field of research and of the issues being debated by scholars. He is also aware of those issues that must be handled very carefully because they are points of contention in some circles. These would include, for example, how many Christians there are in China, whether the registered churches (i.e., registered with the government, through the State Administration of Religious Affairs [formerly called the Religious Affairs Bureau] and the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement [TSPM]) suffer from government monitoring to the point of diluting the Christian message, and whether sermons in these TSPM churches are vetted in advance by the religious authorities. Keating is conscientious in indicating where his findings corroborate or contradict the claims of others, and he maintains an objective stance on conflicting interpretations. He ends up taking a balanced and nuanced position on controversial issues, such as the overall assessment of the positives and negatives of the pre- 1949 missionary movement, "collaboration" with the new regime by many Protestant leaders in the 1950s, and church-state relations in China since 1980. Sometimes he …
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Publication information: Article title: A Protestant Church in Communist China: Moore Memorial Church, Shanghai, 1949-1989. Contributors: Bays, Daniel H. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 54. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 2012. Page number: 656+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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