Chinese Christianity and China Missions: Works Published since 1970

By Lutz, Jessie G. | International Bulletin of Mission Research, July 1996 | Go to article overview

Chinese Christianity and China Missions: Works Published since 1970


Lutz, Jessie G., International Bulletin of Mission Research


The study of Chinese Christianity and China missions is attracting increasing attention both in China and the West, with the focus shifting toward Chinese Christians rather than Western missionaries. The following bibliography represents a selection from among the many books that have been published on the topic during the last quarter century.

An excellent overall survey of China missions during the nineteenth century is Paul A. Cohen, "Christian Missions and Their Impact to 1900," in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 10, Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911, ed. John K. Fairbank (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1978), pp. 543-90. Still useful also is the collection of essays edited by John Fairbank and containing his introductory remarks on the significance of missions in intercultural relations between China and the West: The Missionary Enterprise in China and America (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1974). The compilation American Missions in Bicentennial Perspective, edited by R. Pierce Beaver (Pasadena, Calif.: Wm. Carey Library, 1977), is worth consulting as well. A recent collection focusing on the Chinese Christian church and issues of indigenization is Daniel H. Bays, ed., Christianity and China, the Eighteenth Century to the Present: Essays in Religious and Social Change (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press, 1996).

More specific historical studies of merit are Alvyn J. Austin, Saving China: Canadian Missionaries in the Middle Kingdom, 1888-1959 (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1986); George Hood, Mission Accomplished? The English Presbyterian Mission in Lingtung, South China: A Study of the Interplay Between Mission Methods and Their Historical Context (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Peter Lang, 1986); Gerald F. DeJong, The Reformed Church in China, 1842-1951 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1992); Herbert Hoi-Lap Ho, Protestant Missionary Publications in Modern China, 1912-1949: A Study of Their Programs, Operations, and Trends (Hong Kong: Chinese Church Research Center, 1988); Fernandos Mateos, S.J., China Jesuits in East Asia: Starting from Zero, 1949-1957 (Taipei: n.p., 1995); and T'ien Ju-k'ang, Peaks of Faith: Protestant Missions in Revolutionary China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1993).

In The Liberating Gospel in China: The Christian Faith Among China's Minority Peoples (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1995), Ralph R. Covell argues that missionaries missed an opportunity in neglecting China's minorities, many of whom responded more positively to Christianity than did most Han Chinese. He employs a contextual approach to explain why some minorities were resistant while others enthusiastically embraced Christianity. Ellsworth C. Carlson, in The Foochow Missionaries, 1847-1880 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1974), discusses the expectations of American missionaries as they departed for China and their reactions to the Chinese and the Chinese environment; he also includes detail on the "poison scare" of 1871 and the Wushishan Incident of 1878. Illustrated in Sidney A. Forsythe, An American Missionary Community in China, 1895-1905 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1971) is the tendency for Protestant missionaries to congregate in the treaty ports in insulated Western enclaves, a practice that is in many ways understandable but that has often been sharply criticized.

Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions, 1880-1980, edited by Joel A. Carpenter and Wilbert R. Shenk (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990), though not confined to China, is a welcome addition to mission literature. Until recently, evangelicals have shown little interest in historical or methodological studies, and it has sometimes been assumed that the era of expanding Protestant missions has passed. Though such may be true of the mainstream denominations, Earthen Vessels demonstrates that the same is not true for evangelicals, who today constitute the great majority of American missionaries. See also Leonard Bolton, China Call: Miracles Among the Lisu People (Springfield, Mo. …

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