China's Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church

By Liu, Ruomin | International Review of Mission, June 2018 | Go to article overview

China's Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church


Liu, Ruomin, International Review of Mission


Anthony E. Clark, ed. China's Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church. Leiden: Brill, 2017. 300 pp.

Volume 50 of the series Studies in Christian Mission is China's Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church--a book on the history of the struggle of indigenous churches in China. Edited by Anthony E. Clark--the Edward B. Lindaman Endowed Chair and associate professor of Chinese History at Whitworth University--the book contains an introduction and ten chapters, with a total of 300 pages and 25 historical pictures. The contributors are Robert E. Carbonneau, CP; Christie Chui-Shan Chow; Amanda C. R. Clark; Lydia Gerber; Joseph W. Ho; Joseph Tse-hei Lee; Audrey Seah; Jean-Paul Wiest; and Xiaoxin Wu.

Systematic and deep analysis through historical detail and persuasive evidence mark the academic character of the book. China's Christianity describes the period of churches in China from the 17th century on. The book focuses on the history of the striving of the indigenous churches in Mainland China, excluding the church history of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. The history of the Roman Catholic Church (chapters 3, 4, 6, 7, 9) and Protestant churches in China (chapters 1, 2, 5)-and even the Seventh Day Adventists (chapter 8)--are objects of the book's study. It offers a historical start to the study of church history in China: both the Catholic Church and Protestant Church are Christian. Under the administration power in China, the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church are separated into two religions in China. Most of the previous books on the history of the Church in China followed this wrong separation: the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church are two religions.

The book's main topic is seeking "China's Christianity: to assert that Christianity can belong to China is tantamount to acknowledging its long sought after independence from foreign control and influence" (p. 1). Could theological uniqueness also function as a legitimate Chinese Christian cultural expression in the formation of its own ecclesial identity? Also central in the book's exploration is how missionary influences, consciously or unconsciously, introduced seeds of independence into the cultural ethos of China's Christian community. Chinese girls who pushed "the limits of proper behaviour," for example, added to the larger sense of confidence as China's Christians began to resist the model of Christianity they had inherited from foreign missionaries.

A good book can always promote further study and deep thinking:

1. The book focuses on studying history, how the people were seeking to construct the indigenous church in China. The history began with the movement of mission in China, the Chinese mission of the Roman Catholic Church in the 17th century. …

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