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China, Christianity, and the Question of Culture

Yang Huilin

Publication Year: 2014

Christian missionaries in China have been viewed as agents of Western imperialist values. Yang Huilin, leading scholar of Sino-Christian studies, has dedicated himself to re-evaluating the history of Christianity in China and sifting through intellectual and religious results of missionary efforts in China. Yang focuses upon local histories of Christianity to chronicle its enduring good. China, Christianity, and the Question of Culture illuminates the unexplored links between Christianity and Chinese culture, from Christianity and higher education in China to the rural acculturation of Christian ideology by indigenous communities. In a distinctly Chinese voice, Yang presents the legacy of Western missionaries in a new light, contributing greatly to now vigorous Sino-Christian theology.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The reputation of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European and American missionaries to China has been in very low repute in China itself for a long time. In public discourse for more than half a century, the missionaries have typically been characterized as “stalking horses for imperialist capitalism and gun-boat diplomacy.” One may still read such remarks occasionally in the press, and it is certainly to be found in some...

Part 1. Christianity and Chinese Culture

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pp. 1-2

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1. Language and Missionary Universities in China

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pp. 3-8

It is generally acknowledged that “the missionary universities were the forerunner of higher education in China.”1 It is also true that such institutions were primarily meant as “Christian missions.”2 What was not expected, however, was that the differences in the understanding of the relations between the original and target culture led to two diametrically...

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2. Three Questions in the Dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity

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pp. 9-24

In a relatively broad sense, the dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity actually started as far back as when Nestorian emissaries entered the Tang empire. The conceptual system of Buddhism was even the first interpretative structure that Christian thought relied on in China. This was called “extracting most of the essentials of the original Biblical scripture...

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3. Inculturation or Contextualization: Interpretation of Christianity in the Context of Chinese Culture

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pp. 25-46

A fundamental precondition for the dissemination of Christianity in China is the teaching and understanding of its tenets, whether on ideological or systemic planes, or on the plane of the recipients of the religion. Hence, in this process of dissemination, Christianity undergoes interpretation in the context of a different culture. In this sense, the teaching...

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4. "Ethicized" Chinese-Language Christianity and the Meaning of Christian Ethics

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pp. 47-60

The terms “ethics” and “morality” can both be explained on two levels in Western as well as Chinese languages—in other words, either as intrinsic value ideals or as extrinsic norms of behavior. However, the development on both these levels is highly unbalanced in the course of actual collisions between Christianity and Chinese culture, due to the ...

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5. The Contemporary Significance of Theological Ethics: The True Problems Elicited by Auschwitz and the Cultural Revolution

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pp. 61-76

In the memories of twentieth-century humankind, Auschwitz and the Cultural Revolution probably represent all the most profound sufferings. In whatever sense later generations look back on or describe these two already symbolic tragic events, they will lie across the path of spiritual progress and subject humankind’s existence, creations, rationality,...

Part 2. Theology and Humanities

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pp. 77-78

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6. The Value of Theology in Humanities: Possible Approaches to Sino-Christian Theology

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pp. 79-98

Speaking from the perspective of a nonbeliever, the legitimacy of Christianity in China’s context remains an unresolved issue. One key issue in the study of Christianity is whether—in the introduction, delineation, and presentation of its theological thinking, its history of propagation, and its tangible social-cultural influence on China—Christianity would lose ...

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7. The Potential Value of Contemporary Theology for Literary Theories

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pp. 99-112

The theoretical shape of Western literary theories in the twentieth century might be summarized in the following three major concerns: (1) form criticism centered on language, structure, and text; (2) criticism of meaning centered on writer, reception, and reader; and (3) cultural criticism centered on discursive power and ideology.1 What connects or...

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8. Six Problem Domains in Western Marxists' Theory on Religion

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pp. 113-122

Ever since the twentieth century, Émile Durkheim’s “functional differentiation” has been a classical thesis. In Peter Berger’s words, this means “part of society and culture has got rid of the religious system and its distribution of symbol.”1 In Jose Casanova’s book Public Religion in the Modern World, this “functional differentiation” was defined as “secularization”...

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9. To Reverse Our Premise with the Perverse Core: A Response to Žižek’s "Theology" in Chinese Context

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pp. 123-136

In recent years, the interaction between Christian theology and the humanities has drawn attention in Chinese academia. Scholarly works such as Critical Terms for Religious Studies and Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology have generated copious responses, and theological debates between leftist intellectuals and Western Marxists have proven provocative.1...

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10. From "Difference" to "The Other": A Theological Reading of Heidegger and Derrida

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pp. 137-150

Walter Benjamin has been recorded as buying a painting by Paul Klee. Benjamin observes that Angelus Novus
shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past . . . he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon...

Part 3. Scriptural Reasoning

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pp. 151-152

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11. James Legge: Between Literature and Religion

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pp. 153-162

The knowledge contained in the Liu yi (六艺, the six Confucian classics that give instruction in the six arts) has often been regarded as the model of traditional Chinese scholarship and culture. These six classics, selected and edited by Confucius, include ...

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12. The Possibilities and Values of "Scriptural Reasoning" between China and the West

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pp. 163-184

The term “scriptural reasoning,” originating from the term “textual reasoning,” was first introduced in the early 1990s by a group of Jewish scholars who followed the examples of Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Levinas, and attempted to reread the Christian Bible and the Jewish Tanakh and later on also the Muslim Quran, from the perspectives of transculturalism and comparative studies....

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13. Scriptural Reasoning and the Hermeneutical Circle

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pp. 185-198

From comparative studies among the three Abrahamic traditions to the Chinese classical texts translated by Western missionaries being investigated under the spirit of scriptural reasoning, there has emerged an area of issues and a space for interpretation, which has drawn the attention of scholarship both within and outside China. From the Western perspective, ...

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14. The Chinese Union Version of the Bible and Its Hermeneutical Analysis

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pp. 199-212

The saying “Being that can be understood is language”1 has almost become a fulfilled prophecy in today’s world. Originally it meant refusing to regard language as merely a tool for expressing meanings. What it has left us is a certain sense of frustration, because the limitations of language have decreed the limitations of understanding and interpretation; ...


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pp. 213-248

Works Cited

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pp. 249-262

Details of Previous Publications

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pp. 263-264

E-ISBN-13: 9781481301008
E-ISBN-10: 1481301004
Print-ISBN-13: 9781481300179
Print-ISBN-10: 1481300172

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2014