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In: Beyond Indigenization: Christianity and Chinese History in a Global Context


After the First Sino-Japanese War, Christian missionaries were attacked and even sustained loss of lives as many grave incidents of religious strife erupted in China. To protect their safety and defend their right to carry out missionary work, Protestant missionaries in China united to elect Timothy Richard and others to represent them in submitting a petition to the Qing government in hopes of being granted an audience with the emperor. However, after exhausting efforts and enduring many twists and turns, they only obtained a meeting with Prince Gong and other high ministers of the Qing central administrative yamen. They requested of these officials the banning of writings that vilified Christianity, such as the Illustrated Treatise on the Maritime Kingdoms and the Second Imperial Treatise on Managing the Affairs of the World, that Christianity not be seen as a heterodox cult, that Christians not be persecuted because of their beliefs, that officials and gentry of various locales be ordered to observe and learn about the religious cultivation and benevolent practices of the Western countries, and that they not personally discriminate between Chinese and Westerners in negotiations, all in hopes of bringing the occurrence of religious incidents to a permanent end, especially since imperial officials that were friendly to Christianity had been censured or sidelined into positions with no power. Nevertheless, while this attempt to petition the Emperor did not come to full fruition, the missionaries did have an opportunity for dialogue with central court ministers, showing that they did have some influence with the court. As a result of this episode, the missionaries were able to come to an understanding and build friendly relations with many high officials and gain a glimpse at future improvements in the relations between officials and religious representatives.

In: Beyond Indigenization: Christianity and Chinese History in a Global Context

Chinese medicine and Western medicine first met when Western missionaries came to China in the late Ming and early Qing period. Initially, they regarded the two types of medicine as almost equals, but gradually their evaluation of traditional Chinese medicine became more negative. After the Opium War, with the establishment of missionary hospitals, Western medical missionaries commonly criticized the theories of Chinese medicine, denigrated its practitioners and questioned its value. However, after the founding of Republic of China, the emergence of medical schools in Christian universities provided favorable conditions for the in-depth study of traditional Chinese medicine; at the same time, the fact that Western trained Chinese medical men in China were providing an introduction to traditional Chinese medicine corrected many of the missionaries’ misinterpretations of its canonical texts. In particular, some medical missionaries who had worked together with practitioners of Chinese medicine for many years began to take a “sympathetic view” of the theories and clinical experience of traditional Chinese medicine and the value of its pharmacopeia, thus pioneering Western understanding and use of traditional Chinese medicine.

In: Social Sciences and Missions
Editor / Translator:
The volume, edited by Tao Feiya and featuring recent Chinese scholarly articles translated into English for the first time by Max L. Bohnenkamp, traces the history of Christianity in China and explores the dynamics of Christian practices in Chinese society. Its twenty chapters, written by Chinese scholars of the history of religion, span the development of Christianity in China from the era of the Tang Dynasty to the twentieth century. The four parts of the volume explore the Sinicization of Christian texts and thought, the conflicts within China between Christianity and Chinese institutions, relations between religious groups, and societal and political issues beyond religion. Taken together, this volume places the practice of Christianity in China into the context of world history, while investigating the particular and localized challenges of Christianity’s spread in China.