China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future

Article excerpt

China and Christianity Burdened Past, Hopeful Future. Edited by Stephen Uhalley, Jr., and Xioaxin Wu. (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe. 2001. Pp. xiii, 499. $79.95.)

This collection of essays is from a conference, by the same name, held at the University of San Francisco in honor of Edward J. Malatesta, S.J., in October, 1999. The essays cover a range of topics from Christianity as the universal teaching from the West and revelation in Confucian and Christian traditions to Hungarian missionaries to China in the twentieth century and church-state relations in Hong Kong after 1997. Several of the essays deal with the Jesuit missionaries in the late Ming-early Qing period including those by Erik Zurcher, John W Witek, Han Qi, Robert Entenmann, Claudia von Collani, Paul A. Rule, Nicolas Standaert, and Li Tiangang. These essays cover such diverse topics as the image of Europe in China and its impact on the Chinese, cultural transmission, the question of whether heaven speaks, and the Rites Controversy in seventeenth-century Sichuan.

Zhang Kaiyuan's essay "Chinese Perspective-A Brief Review of the Historical Research on Christianity in China," divides Chinese scholars' work into three periods: before 1949, when he believes research on Catholic missionaries was better than that on the Protestants, from 1949 to 1976, when "Chinese-Western cultural communication was politicized" and research concentrated on antiforeign works, and since 1978, when the serious study of world religions has again attracted Chinese interest with more than 1000 papers and 100 monographs on Christianity being produced in the last two decades, and interest in China's Christian colleges has grown markedly. He notes there has been little co-operation between Chinese and Western scholars on these topics and believes the work is still at "the starting line."

Jessie G. Lutz provides a brief overview of the history of Protestant missionary work in China and the early efforts at indigenization. Two essays deal with the question of Chinese folk religion and its relationship to Christianity. Ryan Dunch's contribution on the contemporary Protestant church sees the emergence of evangelists, often with little formal education, as the reason why so many sects, some of them considered heretical by both mainstream churches and the government, have appeared in recent years. Richard P Madsen views present-day Catholicism as a folk religion due to the emphasis many Chinese give to its miraculous and apocalyptic aspects. …


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