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364 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 annotation preparation for an advanced-level course. As a component of a multimodal Chinese-language curriculum, both Trip and Peril can be recommended. Scott McGinnis University of Maryland ScottMcGinnis is an assistantprofessor in the Department ofAsian and East European Languages and Cultures at the University ofMaryland specializing in language pedagogy and linguistics. Wm Ralph R. Covell. The Liberating Gospel in China: The Christian Faith among China's Minority Peoples. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1995. 318 pp. Paperback $17.99, isbn 0-8010-2595-8. In The Liberating Gospel in China, Ralph Covell analyzes "people movements" to Christianity among Chinese minorities and seeks to learn why such people movements occurred among certain minorities and not among others. He accepts Donald McGavran's definition of a people movement: "The joint decision of a number of individuals—whether five or five hundred—all from the same people, which enables them to become Christians without social dislocation, while remaining in full contact with their non-Christian relatives, thus enabling other groups of that people, across the years, after suitable instruction, to come to similar decisions and form Christian churches made up exclusively ofmembers of that people" {Understanding Church Growth [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970], pp. 297-298). Covell asserts, furthermore, that Chinese minorities were in many instances more receptive to Christianity than the Han majority, and he alleges that Christian missionaries missed an opportunity by concentrating their efforts so heavily on the Han Chinese rather than minorities. In contrast to most Han, the Sediqs ofTaiwan and the Miao, Yi, Lahu, Wa, and Lisu of southwest China converted to Christianity by the hundreds, whole families and villages accepting the faith. "Who are the Chinese?" Covell asks. Not one homogeneous people sharing a common language, history, and culture, but fifty-six nationalities speaking differy mversity gnt ¡angUages or dialects, living in dissimilar environments, and holding a variety ofbeliefs. Though non-Han Chinese represent only 8 percent of the population, they are significant for the stability and prosperity of China. They live in 60 percent of China's territory, much ofit bordering on China's neighbors, and they ofHawai'i Press Reviews 365 supply most of China's livestock. Their homelands contain most of China's mineral resources. In addition, 8 percent ofChina's population equates to some one hundred million inhabitants. To convey an idea ofthe diversity of China, Covell opens his volume with a briefsketch ofthe history and present status of China's minority nationalities. He then presents eleven case studies ofthe response ofminority groups to the Christian message. His findings are summarized in a concluding chapter titled, "Why Did Some Receive and Others Refuse the Liberating Gospel?" Because Covell employs the contextual approach in explaining the negative or positive responses ofthe various peoples, he provides information for each minority on its religious beliefs and practices, its status vis-à-vis neighbors, and its economy. He is most persuasive when discussing those people with whom he and members ofhis Baptist mission worked or about whom he has done archival research : the Nosu ofYunnan and Sichuan, the Sediq ofTaiwan, and the Lahu, Wa, and Miao of southwest China. Here, he offers much new information and fascinating specifics. For his discussion of the Moravians in Tibet and the Roman Catholics among the Miao or the Mongols, his sources are limited. He frequently has to resort to broad generalizations that are less convincing than the rich details on the Nosu, Lisu, and Sediq. Which peoples were receptive, according to Covell? Those who were demoralized and weak; those who were negative about their own culture and therefore relatively open to new ideas; those for whom Christianity seemed to meet their felt needs. For these peoples, the Gospel could be a liberating force, freeing them from demonology and from alcohol and opium addiction. These peoples could find a new identity, a new sense ofworth in Christianity. People movements occurred among such peoples. Covell acknowledges that in mass conversions, individual understanding of Christianity might be minimal. The motivation might be simply the belief that the Christian God is more powerful than folk deities and can offer greater protection from evil forces. No matter...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 364-366
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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