Indigenous Chinese preacher Watchman Nee is considered to have had the greatest theological influence on China’s vibrant house church movement, yet there are few studies detailing his influence on church practices. This paper analyzes the writings of Watchman Nee and other Local Church members to show how Nee contextualized the message of Western missionaries to China, using subaltern strategies of returning to scriptural fundamentals and reducing the scale of organization and worship. He divested mission Christianity of its hegemonic trappings and created flexible Christian practices, which take place in the ‘divine and mystical realm,’ out of reach from ‘worldly’ power structures.
J. Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences,”The Structuralist Controversy: The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man, Ed. Richard Mackvey and Eugenio Donato, Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1970:247–265, p. 251.
W. Nee, “Collection of Newsletters (2),”The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol. 26, Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1993, online at http://www.ministrybooks.org/collected-works.cfm (accessed 25 July 2012).
T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright, “Making Sense of China’s State-Society Relations: Protestant House Churches in the Reform Era,”Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-Cultural Perspectives, London and New York: Routledge, 2013: 220–223; T. Wright & T. Zimmerman-Liu, “Engaging and Evading the Party-State: Unofficial Chinese Protestant Groups in the Reform Era,” China: an International Journal (11:1), April 2013: 1–20; T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright, “Protestant Christianity in China, Urban and Rural: Negotiating the State, Propagating the Faith,” The Changing World Religion Map, Springer (forthcoming).