Torch-Bearers of Modernity? Western Missionaries, Demonism and Exorcism in Modern China (1860s–1930s)

In: The Church as Safe Haven

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Focusing on Chinese Christians’ engagement with popular religions, this chapter explores the complexity of indigenization as a window onto larger intellectual, cultural and religious issues confronting China during a time of rapid change. In particular, popular religious traditions of millenarian Buddhist and Daoist origins and which predated the teachings of foreign missionaries greatly impacted the indigenization of the Chinese Church. This study investigates the culture of fear and insecurity in rural China by reviewing the spiritual responses of both Catholic and Protestant missions towards demon possession and exorcism from the end of the Taiping wars to the Japanese invasion. Such a popular and often subconscious form of syncretism still characterizes many Catholic and Protestant communities in China today.

The Church as Safe Haven

Christian Governance in China