Studying Christianity in China introduces an emerging academic trend in contemporary Chinese scholarship. Through qualitative interviews with leading experts in Chinese Christian studies, Naomi Thurston has investigated the ongoing conversation between China and Christianity. Since the 1980s, this conversation has given rise to an interdisciplinary academic field that is quickly gaining traction as a cutting-edge, cross-cultural discourse. The Chinese intellectuals driving this field are encountered as unique transmitters of cultural knowledge: they are cultural mediators working in a range of humanities and social science disciplines who are not only re-interpreting Western theology, but are also lending a new voice to Chinese expressions of the Christian faith. As such, they are at the forefront of a novel force in World Christianity.
Naomi Thurston holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (2015). She currently works at Sichuan University in Chengdu. Her recent publications include “Reading Religion in China Today” (
Review of Religion and Chinese Society, 2017).
Table of contents
ContentsForeword by Thomas JansenForeword by Jason LamPrefaceAcknowledgmentsList of Tables and Charts
Part 1: Introduction, Methodology and Background
Introduction 1.1 Sino-Christian Theology and Sino-Christian Studies 1.2 Background and Approach, Questions and Aims 1.3 Current State of Research and Works Consulted 1.4 Plan of the Chapters 2
Theory, Terms and Methodology 2.1 Approaching a Phenomenon: “What Manner of Men Are These?” 2.2 The Terminological Instability of “Sino-Christian Theology” 2.3 Methodology 3
Religious Studies and Christianity in China Today 3.1 Approaching Religion in Post-Secular Chinese Society 3.2 Confronting Chinese Modernity: Theology Versus Ethicization 3.3 Evaluating Sino-Christian Studies
Part 2: Studying Christianity in China
Development and Institutional Context of Sino-Christian Studies 4.1 Institutions and Institutional Structures 4.2 Developing Christian Studies in Mainland China 4.3 Generational Distinctions Within the Sphere of Sino-Christian Studies 5
Trendsetting: Senior Scholars and the Social Sciences 5.1 China’s “Lost Generation” 5.2 Introducing Scholarly Types: The Common Thread of Academic Commitment 5.3 “Type 2”: Observing Christianity in Chinese Society 5.4 Historical Perspectives 5.5 Why the Marginal-Status Claim? 6
The Core of the Phenomenon: Senior Generation Theologians and Philosophers 6.1 Hong Kong Theologians: Mining the Symbolic Power of Sino-Christian Theology 6.2 Catholic Theology: A Beijing Theologian Shares His Perspective 6.3 Sino-Christian Theology: A Handmaiden for Philosophy? 6.4 The Potential of Sino-Christian Theology and Sino-Christian Studies 7
The Younger Scholars 7.1 Disciplinary Diversification Among the Younger Scholars 7.2 Recognizing the Accomplishments of Senior Scholars 7.3 The Missing Link of Biblical Studies 7.4 Vitality in the Margins 7.5 Christian and Non-Christian Identity Among the Younger Scholars 7.6 The Role of Theology 8
Analysis and Argumentation: Marginality and Sino-Christian Studies 8.1 Marginality and Prominence 8.2 Openness for the Marginal: Appraising the Interpretive Position of Tolerance 8.3 Inquiry, Discourse, Discipline: Legitimizing an Emerging Discourse 8.4 Suspended in Interdisciplinary Space
Part 3: Conclusion and Appendix
Conclusion 9.1 Translating Christianity into Chinese 9.2 Insiders/Outsiders: Voices from the Margins 9.3 Contributions of the Study 9.4 Suggestions for Further Research 9.5 A Final Thought
AppendixInterview Transcripts 1 Interview with Senior Generation Scholar, Theology and Religious Studies 2 Interview with Senior Generation Scholar, Theology and Religious Studies 3 Interview with Younger Scholar, Philosophy 4 Interview with Younger Scholar, Theology Interview Guide (Interviews 10–38)
All interested in Chinese theology and the academic study of Christianity in China.