A New History of Christianity in China

A New History of Christianity in China

A New History of Christianity in China

A New History of Christianity in China

Synopsis

A New History of Christianity in China, written by one of the world's the leading writers on Christianity in China, looks at Christianity's long history in China, its extraordinarily rapid rise in the last half of the twentieth century, and charts its future direction.
  • Provides the first comprehensive history of Christianity in China, an important, understudied area in both Asian studies and religious history
  • Traces the transformation of Christianity from an imported, Western religion to a thoroughly Chinese religion
  • Contextualizes the growth of Christianity in China within national and local politics
  • Offers a portrait of the complex religious scene in China today
  • Contrasts China with other non-Western societies where Christianity is surging

Excerpt

This book has been close to my heart for many years, and in some ways it has been implicit in all my academic endeavors for the past three decades. In the early 1980s, when Christianity, along with other religions, was being resurrected in China after the Cultural Revolution and was showing immense vitality, I became part of a new generation of scholars, Chinese as well as American and European, who saw in the history of Christianity in China an important understudied area. Some topics in this area had in fact been studied; these studies centered mainly on the foreign missionaries and the story of what they did in China. But the other, and arguably more important, piece of the picture was the rise of Chinese Christians in the joint Sino-foreign endeavor to establish and nurture the faith in Chinese soil. This process was characterized by a persistent, overriding dynamic: the Chinese Christians were first participants, then subordinate partners of the foreign missionaries, then finally the inheritors or sole “owners” of the Chinese church. It was also a “cross-cultural process,” the result of which has been the creation of an immensely varied Chinese Christian world in our day. I have attempted to track some of the main features of this cross-cultural process over several centuries. I have also focused on China proper, making little reference to Christian stirrings among China’s minority peoples and in overseas Chinese communities. Both of those topics are worthy of in-depth attention by other scholars.

I have been told by many that there is a need for a volume such as this. I myself have felt compelled to write it, if only for the sake of my own understanding. My aim has been, in the writing process, to incorporate the considerable amount of research of the last 25 years into a coherent narrative. Previous accounts which are somewhat comparable to this effort include Kenneth Scott Latourette’s A History of Christian Missions in China (London, 1929), a large and remarkably detailed reference-type work which is unfortunately 80 years old. A 1988 book by the Rev. Bob Whyte . . .

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