1. Miraculous Mundane: The True Jesus Church and Chinese Christianity in the Twentieth Century
by Inouye, Melissa; Supervisor: Harrison, Henrietta. Harvard University, 2011. 2011. 3446123.
Abstract: This dissertation centers on the history of the "miraculous mundane": the worldview within the True Jesus Church, informed by its exclusivist claims and an emphasis on literal Biblical adherence, in which supernatural efficacy is a central aspect of ordinary believers' lived religious experiences.
At the time of the church's founding in 1917, the visions and miracles attributed to the church's early leaders provided the basis for the divine authority claimed by the True Jesus Church as its members sought to overturn existing ecclesiastical hierarchies. Influenced by the transnational Pentecostal movement, the church's emphasis on the miraculous mode of Christianity allowed Chinese Christians within the True Jesus Church to engage directly with the Bible and to assert superior spiritual authority over well-established rival denominations.
This miraculous mode of Christianity is not unique to the True Jesus Church but is also a central feature of the history of Chinese Christianity. While previous studies of the significance of supernatural efficacy in Chinese Christianity have rightly called attention to "congruence" with Chinese popular religious practices, this study contributes an in-depth consideration of the church's transnational Pentecostal influences and believers' experience of Christianity on their own terms.
During the Republican era (1912-1949), the miraculous mundane worldview was especially significant in disrupting traditional hierarchies within the world of Chinese Christianity, giving native churches the opportunity to claim greater legitimacy than Western denominations and giving women the opportunity to exercise spiritual authority usually reserved for men.
Throughout the Maoist era (1949-1976), the miraculous mundane worldview persisted within the True Jesus Church at the grassroots level long after the church's institutional structures had been co-opted or eliminated by the party-state.
The historical centrality of this miraculous mode and its compatibility with grassroots practice helps to account for the robust resurgence of miraculous worldviews in contemporary Chinese Christianity.
2. Liang Fa's Quanshi liangyan and Its Impact on the Taiping Movement
Kim, Sukjoo; Beck, Rosalie; Pitts, William L.; Wang, Xin. Baylor University, 2011. 2011. 3469377.
Scholars of the Taiping Movement have assumed that Liang Fa's Quanshi liangyan (Good Words to Admonish the Age, being Nine Miscellaneous Christian Tracts ) greatly influenced Hong Xiuquan, but very little has been written on the role of Liang's work. The main reason is that even though hundreds of copies were distributed in the early nineteenth century, only four survived the destruction which followed the failure of the Taiping Movement. This dissertation therefore explores the extent of the Christian influence of Liang's nine tracts on Hong and the Taiping Movement. This study begins with an introduction to China in the nineteenth century and the early missions of western countries in China. The second chapter focuses on the life and work of Liang. His religious background was in Confucianism and Buddhism, but when he encountered Robert Morrison and William Milne, he identified with Christianity. The third chapter discusses the story of Hong especially examining Hong's acquisition of Liang's Quanshi liangyan and Hong's revelatory dream, both of which serve as motives for the establishment of the Society of God Worshippers and the Taiping Movement. The fourth chapter develops Liang's key ideas from his Quanshi liangyan and compares them with Hong's beliefs, as found in official documents of the Taipings. The fifth chapter describes Hong's beliefs and the actual practices of the Taiping Movement and compares them with Liang's key ideas. Even if Hong and his leaders received the new ideas of Christianity, they compromised their traditional culture. Furthermore, they tried not only to combine Chinese culture with Christianity, but also to believe in Christianity as far as they could understand it. This study finds that even though the Quanshi liangyan may have given the Taiping Movement its religious form and driving force, the theological vision of both Liang and Hong also emerged from their Chinese culture, which energized the Taipings. The Taiping Movement resulted from a deliberate synthesis of Christian ideas and native Chinese practices.
3. The concept of friendship and the culture of hospitality: The encounter between the Jesuits and late Ming China
Xu, Dongfeng; Yu, Anthony C.; Johnson, W.R.; Meltzer, Francoise; Scodel, Joshua. The University of Chicago, 2011. 2011. 3466498.
This dissertation discusses the China-West encounter in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, an encounter initiated by the Jesuit priests who took their apostolic missions from the Post-Reformation Europe to the Middle Kingdom. Of the issues raised and contended during this encounter, which cover virtually all concerns that the human race has ever had such as culture, religion, ethics, moral philosophy, arts, literature, science, technology and many more, the dissertation chooses for examination some topics related directly and closely to the concepts and practices of friendship and hospitality. Divided into two parts, with the first devoted to the friendship presented and promoted by the Jesuits in China and the second, to the Confucian hospitality displayed or denied to the missionaries, the dissertation contains seven main chapters, each approaching from its own perspective an issue related to the subjects of friendship and hospitality. Chapter One investigates the thinking of friendship in the Society of Jesus, discussing what friendship as determined by and elaborated in the Ignatian spirituality means to the Jesuits. Chapter Two continues the discussion on the Jesuit view of friendship by focusing on one specific example of work, A Treatise on Friendship , written in classical Chinese by Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), an early Jesuit missionary to China. Treating friendship as a concept concerning alterity, the discussion looks to dismantle the effort of assimilation in Ricci's friendship. Indeed, Ricci elaborated vigorously on friendship, hoping to establish some cultural analogy between, and eventually a Christian assimilation of, the West and China. His rhetoric and his very act of speaking to the Chinese audience, however, not only show that the difference could not be erased, but also prove that alterity is the absolute condition of possibility under which friendship--friendship between two individuals or a friendly relation between two cultures--happens. Chapter Three argues that Ricci's effort and practice in translating the term or concept of Deus or God into Chinese enacts both the impossibility and necessity of translation. Convinced by his theology that the name of God, the most proper of all proper names, had been from the beginning innate in all cultures and languages, Ricci argued that, a ready phrase Shangdi or Lord-on-High that he found from the Confucian classics, was the indication that the ancient Chinese had faith in God. The discussion will argue that Ricci's intention to use his translation, that is, his "rediscovery" of God in ancient China, to assimilate China under the Christian God as a universal and absolute reference could not succeed for the simple reason that he could not keep the same signified while adorning it with other signifiers. With Chapter Four, an introductory chapter on the Derridean and Levinasian theories of hospitality and the Chinese traditional Rite of Hospitality, the dissertation moves into Part II, the part tackling Ming China's Sino-centrism through examining from different angles the Confucian response to the Jesuits. Chapters Five and Six deal with a related problem: the impact on the Confucians and their ideologies left by modern science and technology such as cartography and astronomy of the West introduced by the Jesuits. With the world map showing the Chinese that the earth was a globe and the missionaries' calculation through modern mathematics being more accurate in the prediction of eclipse, the Confucians were forced to rethink and restructure their worldview and their dichotomy of the self and other. Chapter Seven takes this rethinking and restructuring further by looking at the Confucian effort to restore or return to the primitive Confucianism, a form of Confucianism supposedly free from and immune to foreign influences. But this attempt of restoration, an effort to separate the self from the other, the discussion will show, is already an assured sign that the other is nowhere else but in the self.