British Missionaries' Approaches to Modern China

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British missionaries in modem China is not a topic that attracts as much scholarly attention as it should have been. A scholarly attempt to do so is therefore in order because British missionaries had already left significant marks since 1807 in the history of modem China in its struggle against imperialism and its search of modernisation. These are the two major lines of modem history not only in China, but also in many parts of the non-Westem world. Due to the magnitude of the British missionaries' involvement in modem China, it is impossible to include every dimensions of their activities in this study. Thus, this paper confines itself in pursuing a reflection of the extent to which their work led to the incorporation of Christianity in modem China along the lines of Western imperialism and the Chinese search of modernisation.

This paper begins with some salient features in the historiography of mission studies in general and Chinese Protestantism in particular. The discussions of British missionaries' approaches in modem China are carried out through the seven case studies. These seven missionaries are Robert Morrison (1782-1834), James Legge (1815-1897), Benjamin Hobson (1816-1873), Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), Timothy Richard (1845-1919), Thomas Torrance (1871-1959), and Ronald Owen Hall (1895-1975). In addition to their brief biographical sketches, the question of the extent of their work led to the incorporation of Christianity in modem China would be dealt on individual basis. Based on the seven cases, the conclusion is an attempt to offer an overall view of the incorporation of Christianity in modem China as seen through the threefold relations, namely mission-politics relations, mission-society relations, and mission-politics relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-309
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2000


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