United States Attitudes and Policies toward China: The Impact of American Missionaries

United States Attitudes and Policies toward China: The Impact of American Missionaries

United States Attitudes and Policies toward China: The Impact of American Missionaries

United States Attitudes and Policies toward China: The Impact of American Missionaries

Excerpt

A major aspect of missions is the extent to which they are involved in acculturation. China in the nineteenth century provides an interesting case study for acculturation since, during this period, a resurgent industrializing Western culture and an activist, mission-minded church were making a more concerted impact on the Ching dynasty. The dynamic interaction of Western culture and Christianity with Chinese civilization is a model of cross-cultural analysis.

Focusing on mission-provided education contributes significantly to an understanding of Western versus Chinese cultures because education is a socialization process. Therefore, mission schools become a means of communicating one culture to another, and in this process the comparisons between the West and China become apparent as divergent customs and values come into contact with one another. In the efforts of missionaries to foster their religious beliefs nurtured in their own cultural and historic traditions, the difficulties of transplanting these beliefs into another cultural milieu became manifest. Missionary educational efforts can be used to highlight this cultural clash.

The missionary was the agent for both this clash and cultural interaction. As John K. Fairbank has observed, "In China's nineteenth-century relations with the West, Protestant missionaries are still the least studied but most significant actors in the scene." It might be claimed in this connection that one of the least studied groups of these early Protestant missionaries are the Baptist missions. This paper attempts to examine one aspect of Baptist missionary activity in Chinese society, that of mission schools.

The Growth of American and English Baptist Mission Work in China During the Nineteenth Century

Modern missions were largely an outgrowth of the Pietist and Evangelical movements in Protestantism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These . . .

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