This article explores the impact of Western economics on early twentieth-century Chinese economic thought by focusing on the work of Richard Tawney and John Bernard Tayler on the modernization of Chinese agriculture. Tawney’s and Tayler’s approaches differed considerably. An established economic historian from the London School of Economics, Tawney was committed to a purely social science approach. Tayler, a Protestant missionary and professor of economics at Yanjing University, was representative of what the emerging group of Western academic economists called “missionary economics,” which combined economic reforms with evangelical goals. Despite their differences, however, both Tawney and Tayler saw in the Chinese rural village an opportunity to create their own version of a social and economic utopia, a living critique of Western industrial modernity.