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Comity agreements and sheep stealers: the elusive search for Christian unity among Protestants in China.

One persistent criticism of the Protestant missionary enterprise in China has been its failure to overcome denominational divisions and create a genuine Chinese Protestant church. This accusation has been made most vociferously by many Chinese commentators. Indeed, as early as 1910, none other than Cheng Jingyi (1881-1939), eminent Beijing pastor who was prominent among Sino-foreign Protestants, publicly decried Western-imposed denominationalism at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference. (1) To be sure, in the early twentieth century the Protestant missionary endeavor was marked by considerable denominational variety in China. It was, moreover, represented by organizations and agents from several countries of Europe and North America, as well as from Australia and New Zealand.

In the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, missionaries from various mainline denominations had been able to establish themselves in most provinces of China. At the same time, existing missionary work was expanded and intensified, with greater emphasis on medical, educational, and social works. Around the turn of the twentieth century, new mainline missionary societies, especially missions supported by Lutheran churches in Scandinavia and ethnic Scandinavian churches in the United States, were entering the field. These developments called for greater coordination of, and greater unity within, the Protestant movement in China. Early moves in this direction had already been made at the General Conferences of Protestant Missionaries of China, held in Shanghai in 1877 and 1890, which no foreign mission body failed to attend. (2) These consultations achieved a significant consensus and prepared the way for a number of China-wide cooperative ventures, as well as comity agreements among the mainline societies that sought to prevent undue overlap of evangelistic work. Several cooperative councils and agencies were set up, such as the China Medical Missionary Association (1886) and the China Christian Educational Association (1890), to coordinate various activities of the major European and North American sending agencies. A traditional evangelical theology inherited from the nineteenth century provided further common ground, as shown for example in the role of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (SVM), coordinated by John R. Mott and so influential from the 1890s to the 1920s. (3) A sense of community among the mainline denominational missionaries was also created by the publication since 1867 of the Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal. In addition to informing its readers in China about current events, situations, problems, and movements, "its main functions [were] to be a medium for the exchange of ideas, methods, proposed experiments and policies between missionaries, Chinese and western Christians working in China and the Chinese and western churches." (4)

The China Centenary Missionary Conference at Shanghai in 1907 provided further impetus to cooperation on the China mission field. (5) In some ways this gathering anticipated the developments arising from the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference of 1910, the gathering that initiated the process leading to the formation of a nondenominational Chinese church. Plans for establishing local Chinese churches had already been developed in the nineteenth century, starting with the Amoy Plan in the 1860s. (6) This approach was subsequently adopted by American Presbyterians in their drive toward a united Chinese Presbyterian church. One of the key issues they considered was the role of foreign missionaries in the local bodies. More concrete steps toward nationwide Christian unity were taken by Presbyterian missionaries in China in 1906, on the eve of the Centenary Missionary Conference of 1907, with the establishment of the Synod of the Five Provinces as an autonomous Chinese church. This in turn led to the formation of the Council of Presbyterian Churches, with representatives from the mission churches of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (representing the Northern states), the Presbyterian Church in the United States (representing the Southern states), the Reformed Church in America, the Church of Scotland, the United Free Church of Scotland, and the Presbyterian churches in Canada, Ireland, and England, to act as a coordinating body for the new church that was to be established. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in China met in Shanghai in 1922 and decided on a name for the church. Having opted for "The Church of Christ in China," the Presbyterians invited other church bodies in China to join this union. (7)

In the meantime, another ecumenical venture with significant Presbyterian involvement had been initiated. Following the 1910 Edinburgh conference, the China Continuation Committee of the National Missionary Conference was set up to promote coordination among Christian groups in China and to serve as a means of connection between the Christian groups of China, the Continuation Committee of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, and the mission boards in the West. The committee brought its work to an end with the calling of a National Conference of delegates elected by virtually all branches of the Protestant churches and missions in China in 1922. This conference, in turn, created the National Christian Council of China (NCC), a national Protestant coordinating and liaison body which was to "foster ... unity of the Christian Church in China; to watch and study the development of the Church in self-support, self-government, and self-propagation; to encourage every healthy movement of the Church that leads to full autonomy; and to seek and work for the adaptation of the Church to its environment and for its naturalization in China at as early a date as practicable." (8) Asher

Raymond Kepler (1879-1942), of the American Presbyterian (North) mission, a committed proponent of church union, was asked by the National Christian Council in 1922 to prepare the convocation of a general assembly to formally establish the interdenominational Church of Christ in China (CCC).

The First General Assembly of the CCC was held in Shanghai in October 1927. The following groups were connected with this church:

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions

Baptist Missionary Society

Church of Scotland

London Missionary Society

Presbyterian Church in Korea

Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (North)

Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (South)

Presbyterian Church of England

Presbyterian Church of Ireland

Presbyterian Church of New Zealand

Reformed Church in America

Reformed Church in the U.S.

South Fujian Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church

United Brethren in Christ

United Church of Canada

In addition, the CCC included some independent Chinese churches. As a consequence of this union, the CCC became the largest Protestant church in China, as well as the most powerful member of the NCC. Despite differences in nuances and even outright disagreements over issues such as the role of schools or social services versus evangelization, the unity of the mainline Protestant community, still led by foreign missionaries but with increasing numbers of Chinese Christians playing leading roles as well, was to a large extent maintained until the end of the missionary era in China. However, the National Christian Conference of 1922 was the last major Protestant forum at which almost all missions and even some new independent Chinese churches were represented. (9) That is to say, the creation of the Church of Christ in China was only a partially successful move toward a genuine united national Protestant church.

Continuing Denominational Separatism

Despite this drive toward greater unity, Protestant Christianity actually became far more diverse during the first half of the twentieth century. Several factors account for this. For one thing, the CCC found it difficult to overcome inherent limitations. "In effect the Church of Christ in China lived a double life. On the one hand it was a national church representing a variety of denominational traditions and carrying on programs in the name of the total church. On the other hand it was a group of regional churches in loose association with a central staff and not very close relations with each other." (10)

At the same time, several major mainline denominations did not join this venture but set up their own Chinese national churches. In the wake of the First World War, the so-called fundamentalist-modernist controversy split the entire Protestant community in China, missionaries and Chinese Christians alike. Furthermore, a bewildering variety of new Protestant groups, large and small, were establishing themselves throughout the country--not to mention the many older groups, separated by belief and nationality. (11) Some of these were from relatively new sects at the fringe of the traditional evangelical consensus--Holiness people, Pentecostals, and Seventh-day Adventists, for example. Most were ardent millenarians, expecting the imminent second coming of Christ. (12) Especially the more radical evangelical bodies shunned any kind of organizational arrangements and refused to enter into comity agreements. Finally, the Chinese independent churches that emerged during the early decades of the twentieth century further added to the divisions of Protestantism in China.

The Anglican Communion in China. In accordance with the resolutions of their 1909 conference in Shanghai, the churches of every branch of the Anglican Communion in China--American, British, and Canadian--were amalgamated in 1912 into one ostensibly independent church, the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui (Holy Catholic Church of China). This included the churches of the American Church Mission, that is, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the Church Missionary Society, the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society, and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. In addition, the Missionary District of Shaanxi, "an area of abject poverty and hotbed for political revolutionaries," was formed as an initiative among the Chinese clergy and was to be completely funded and pioneered by Chinese. However, as Michael Poon has observed, the foreign missionaries "failed to establish a church in China that was rooted in its cultural and social contexts." It was only in 1949 at the Tenth General Synod that the decision was taken to set up a national office and a central theological college in Shanghai. (13)

The Lutheran Church of China. Under an agreement reached at the Jigongshan (Henan) Conference of 1917, the Chinese churches of several Lutheran mission societies from Europe and the United States became part of the Lutheran Church of China, which was formally established in 1920. This church maintained the Lutheran Board of Publication and the Lutheran Theological Seminary. At the National Council meeting in 1949, at the very end of the missionary era in China, four more societies joined the Lutheran Church of China. It should be noted, however, that the Basel and Rhenish societies had not only Lutheran but also Reformed missionaries. (14)

Faith Missions and Holiness Movements

one of the earliest and ultimately largest missionary societies with a mission strategy at variance with the operations of the "classical" Protestant missions was the interdenominational China Inland Mission (CIM). It differed from the traditional mission societies in several significant ways. During the late Qing Dynasty the CIM adopted an "extensive" rather than an "intensive" missionary strategy, promoting relatively superficial proclamation of the Gospel by foreign as well as Chinese itinerating laymen and the deployment of single Western women in the interior of China. Perhaps most important, the CIM began as a "faith mission," meaning that the necessary funds were not overtly solicited. (15)

By the end of the nineteenth century several new organizations had been founded on the CIM's faith-mission principle. In this connection, the Swedish evangelist Fredrik Franson (1852-1908) became an important organizer of missions to China among the Scandinavian immigrants in the United States, in Scandinavia, and in the German-speaking countries. (16) Most of these new societies became associate missions of the CIM in China. Eventually there would be thirteen bodies working under CIM auspices:

China Alliance Mission of Barmen

Evangelical Congregational Church

Free Missionary Society, Finland

Friedenshort Deaconess Mission

German Women's Missionary Union

Holiness Mission (Sweden)

Liebenzell Mission

Norwegian Mission in China

Norwegian Mission Union

Scandinavian Alliance Mission of North America

Swedish Alliance Mission

Swedish Mission in China

Vandsburger Mission

Thus, by the early twentieth century the CIM and its associates formed the largest Protestant missionary organization in the country, with foreign evangelists present in nearly every province and territory of the Manchu Qing Empire. (17)

Besides the China Inland Mission and its affiliates, the Holiness movements and premillennialist revivals spawned several other missionary organizations with work in China at the turn of the twentieth century. Canadian-born Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919) and his Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) had a significant impact on, and was affected by, the emerging Pentecostal movement, both in North America and in the China mission field.

Among the Protestant denominations that began to send missionaries to China at this time, including those of a postmillennialist persuasion, several were connected with the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness, known from 1893 as the National Holiness Association (NHA). The Canadian Holiness Movement Mission initiated its work in Hunan Province shortly after 1900. The Free Methodist Church of North America commenced its China mission in 1904. The Hephzibah Faith Mission sent its first workers to China in 1905. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) opened stations in Shanghai (1909) and Zhenjiang (1910). The first official Church of the Nazarene mission in China opened in Zhaocheng (Shandong) in 1914. As a "second blessing" Holiness church, it cooperated extensively with the National Holiness Association's China mission (started in western Shandong in 1910). Having been influenced by different strands of the Holiness movement in Britain, and in keeping with its dual role of evangelism and social work, the Salvation Army became involved in famine relief and medical work in China beginning in 1916.

Fundamentalist Reaction

The emphasis on social, educational, and medical work, as well as the increasing appreciation of Chinese culture by the majority of missionaries associated with the Church of Christ in China, provoked a response from conservative, fundamentalist elements within the mainline denominational missions. They became increasingly concerned about the high incidence of "modernism" in the various cooperative ventures and feared that cooperation in union projects would lead to doctrinal compromises. The ensuing fundamentalist-modernist controversy became particularly acute within American Presbyterianism and affected the missions in China. Alarmed by what they saw as the liberal nature of the CCC, conservative Presbyterians, with the support of the North China Theological Seminary at Tengxian, Shandong, organized a "continuing" Presbyterian Church to preserve traditional Presbyterianism and remain outside the multi-confessional union of the CCC. This fundamentalist Presbyterian Church, consisting of the five presbyteries from Jiangsu and Shandong as well as the Canadian Presbyterian Mission in Manchuria and the Christian Reformed Mission, organized the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Christ in China in November 1929. Being to some extent dissatisfied with the Bible Union of China (founded in 1920 to "maintain ... the fundamental and saving truths revealed in the Bible, especially those now being assailed"), these Presbyterians were instrumental in forming the League of Christian Churches in 1929. In addition to the General Assembly, this new organization included the churches connected with the Baptist China Direct Mission (Tai'an), the Mennonite General Conference Mission, the Bethel Mission Church, the churches connected with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Anhui Province, and the churches connected with the China Inland Mission Church Council of Henan. (18) In other words, "Even as the fundamentalists refused to join or else withdrew from the union institutions, they formed their own inter-denominational fellowships according to their own vision of Christian unity." (19)

There was considerable diversity within the fundamentalist camp. According to Kevin Yao, there were, on the one hand, such "mild" fundamentalists as Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936), after 1925 a "continuing" missionary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, (20) as well as Walter Stephen Moule (1865-1949), Anglican; Dixon Edward Hoste (1861-1946), director of the China Inland Mission and one of the Cambridge Seven; and Watson McMillan Hayes (1857-1941), a member of the Northern Presbyterian mission in Shandong. On the other hand, a radical minority group included Hugh Watt White (1870-1940), Albert Baldwin Dodd (1877-1972), and members of the Christian Fundamentals League for China, a new fundamentalist organization set up in 1927 that was much more militant than the Bible Union of China. Of all the mainline fundamentalists opposed to the NCC's program, the American Edgar Ellsworth Strother (1884-1947), from 1909 to 1928 general secretary of the Christian Endeavor Society in China, surely was the most militant. His publication The National Christian Council of China: A Bolshevik Aid Society expresses quite well the acrimonious nature of his polemical attacks. (21)

As concerns the controversy in the United States, the PCUSA ministers who perceived serious doctrinal error in their denomination formed the Presbyterian Church of America in 1936, renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in 1939. In 1937, however, many of the OPC members who advocated the establishment of a fundamentalist and evangelical church left to form the Bible Presbyterian Church, taking with them the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, which had been organized in 1933 for "Bible-believing" Presbyterians.

Unaffiliated Missionaries

In a climate of heightened revivalist expectations, many new and more radical mission groups sought access to the vast China mission field. Some of these were unconnected with any denominational church but were established solely to send missionaries to countries targeted for evangelization. Whereas some of the larger nonclassical missions such as CIM or CMA were organized as tightly controlled operations, many of the new groups in China showed an inherent distrust of any centralized decision-making body. At the same time, there was a significant increase in independent faith missionaries. These were individuals who were often not part of any organization at all but came to China entirely on their own, leading a precarious existence and sometimes leaving the field in disillusionment after a short time, a pattern that was particularly evident among the early Pentecostal missionaries.

In a time of extreme spiritual ferment among radical evangelicals at the turn of the twentieth century, when many premillennialist Christians believed that they were living in "the last days" and the evangelization of the "heathen" took on great urgency, the Pentecostal movement came into being. In these early days, however, it was not perceived to be a radical departure from the prevailing revivalist currents. As Allan Anderson has so aptly put it, "Pentecostalism was in a process of formation that was not seen as a distinct form of Christianity at least until a decade after the revival and missionary movements in which it was entwined. ... [I]t is a movement or rather a series of movements that took several years and several different formative ideas and events to emerge. Pentecostalism then as now is a polynucleated and variegated phenomenon." (22)

Finally, it is important to note that the emergence of Pentecostal missionary enterprises was not confined to North America. Evangelists from Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia were among the earliest Pentecostal workers in China. (23) Some traveled directly from Europe to the East; others had been recent immigrants in North America. Some went as individuals; others came in groups. Some of the men and women who joined the Pentecostals had come to China with older faith missionary societies. Thus, several members of the CMA, the CIM, and the South Chihli Mission joined the early Pentecostal missionary movement. Given their diverse backgrounds and religious convictions, the arrival of these radical elements on the mission field was not conducive to the creation of a united Protestant Church in China.

Chinese Independent Churches

The single most important factor in the continuing divisions within Chinese Protestantism was the rapid growth after 1900 of independent Christian movements under Chinese control, that is, only marginally connected to, or entirely separate from, foreign missions and indigenous in ideas and leadership. (24) Several important individuals founded new churches in the early decades of the twentieth century. Others were self-supporting evangelists or pastors. The independent churches were a diverse sector, made up of a combination of organized church groups (some nationwide with hundreds of congregations) and of individual congregations or even individual local Christian workers. Some of these coexisted with and interacted with the mission churches; others were quite separatist and had almost no contacts with other Christians, Chinese or foreign. These movements involved several major components.

Church federations. Various church federations were made up of self-supporting and self-governing congregations that had broken away or distanced themselves from foreign missionary bodies. One of these, the Chinese Christian Independent Church, had started as an independent, all-Chinese congregation, formed in Shanghai in 1906 by the Presbyterian pastor Yu Guozhen (1852-1932) and others. By the 1920s it had become a federation with over one hundred affiliated congregations. A smaller North Chinese movement emerged in 1912 in Shandong. The Tianjin congregation of this federation was led by Zhang Boliang (1876-1951), the founder of Nankai University. Cheng Jingyi (mentioned above), who subsequently held important offices in the mainstream Sino-foreign Protestant establishment, was briefly the lea der of the independent church movement in Beijing.

The True Jesus Church. A Pentecostal church founded in 1917, the True Jesus Church may have been the largest of the independent groups nationwide by the 1930s. Wei Enbo (later Baoluo [Paul] Wei; d. 1919) was instrumental in founding what became and remains today the largest and most dynamic Chinese Pentecostal church in the world, the True Jesus Church (Zhen Yesu jiaohui). Wei had been a member of a mission church in Beijing, where in 1916 he encountered the relatively new Pentecostal ideas of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and supernatural spiritual gifts. In early 1917 he claimed to have had a dramatic vision and personal encounter with God. In this vision, after which he changed his name from Enbo to Baoluo (Paul), he heard God command him to correct and reform the entire Christian movement in China. Within two years Wei helped bring into being an aggressively proselytizing, millenarian, and often antiforeign Pentecostal movement that included a sprinkling of Adventist ideas. This indigenous movement spread rapidly from northern China throughout the rest of the country to become the largest independent Chinese church before 1949.

The Assembly Hall (Juhuichu or Juhuisuo) or Local Church (Difang jiaohui). More commonly called Little Flock (Xiaoqun), this movement was organized in the mid-1920s by Ni Tuosheng (Watchman Nee, 1903-72). It was a strongly proselytizing church and rather antiforeign. After the True Jesus Church, this was probably the second largest independent Protestant group in China before 1949. In the 1920s Nee was influenced by Plymouth Brethren teachings, especially dispensationalist premillennialism, and by a strong focus on the Holy Spirit derived from the Holiness tradition.

The Jesus Family (Yesu jiating). A Pentecostal communitarian church, the Jesus Family was started by Jing Dianying (1890-1957) in rural Shandong Province in the 1920s. Jing, a native of the province, absorbed a great variety of religious influences before 1920, including education at a secondary school run by Methodist missionaries, elements of Chinese popular religion, and exposure to Pentecostal ideas and practices from a nearby American Assemblies of God mission. The result was his creation of a Pentecostal rural commune in the late 1920s. Dozens of other Jesus Family communities were established in later years, especially in Shandong but also more widely in North and Central China, all in rural or semirural areas. The believers in these communities lived and worked together, holding property in common, under the direction of the "family head" (jiazhang). (25)

Other independent movements. Several other independent but more loosely organized groups arose, such as the Spiritual Gifts Church (Ling'en hui), which emerged as a revival movement in Shandong in the 1930s. In addition, individual evangelists and teachers such as Wang Mingdao (1900-1991) and the radical revivalist preacher Song Shangjie (John Sung, 1901--44) contributed further to the growing indigenous diversity. (26)

It is indeed ironic that these indigenous churches and independent preachers, opposed to foreign denominationalism, insisted on maintaining their own separate identities. Some Chinese Christian commentators found the intensely competitive nature of Chinese Protestantism highly divisive. Z. K. Zia (Xie Songgao), for example, mused whether the numerous indigenous evangelistic campaigns in the 1930s were having a harmful effect on Christian unity in China. Hinting at the danger of a degraded form of Christianity gradually taking shape on Chinese soil, he noted that the approaches of John Sung and the Little Flock were splitting local Christian communities. (27) Indeed, Watchman Nee--who decried the evils of divisive denominationalism--was regarded as a "sheep-stealer" who denounced other indigenous movements as likely the work of the "prince of darkness." (28) In this light, it is perhaps not surprising to find J. Usang Ly (Li Zhaokuan; a.k.a. Li Yaosheng, b. 1888) arguing that the prevailing trend of building an indigenous church was undermining the catholicity of Christianity. (29)

The refusal to cooperate with others is also exemplified by the True Jesus Church (TJC). When the China Continuation Committee called the National Christian Conference in 1922 to promote cooperation among denominational missions and indigenization of Christianity in China, it also invited the TJC to send delegates to Shanghai. The TJC leaders, on their part, saw in the conference "an exceptional opportunity to spread the [teachings of their Universal] Correction Church" and sent three delegates. (30) At the conference, these delegates proved rather uncooperative, accusing the numerous foreign churches in China of "hanging up a sheep's head but selling dog's meat" and of "being used by the imperialists as the vanguard of their invasion." (31) This radicalism embarrassed the Chinese church leaders who had helped organize the conference, including Cheng Jingyi, who was chairing it. While the spirit of antiforeignism and the rise of Chinese nationalism precluded meaningful cooperation with the foreign mission churches, the TJC, the Jesus Family, and the Assembly Hall did not attempt to establish a genuine united indigenous church, but formed competing movements that went their separate ways.


The efforts of most liberal Protestant missionaries and Chinese leaders notwithstanding, at the end of the missionary era, true church union remained as elusive as ever. Although the Church of Christ in China--in its attempt to create an identity as an indigenous Chinese church--represented a substantial proportion of the total communicants, it could not overcome the significant divisions even among the mainline denominations, as the accompanying table indicates. It is also clear that missionaries of mainline bodies continued to play a significant role, not only in the Church of Christ in China but also in the denominational church unions.

Besides the major groups listed in the table, there were many smaller bodies (none with more than 5,000 communicant members), some of which worked unobtrusively in China and left hardly any written record of their activities. Although cooperation among the major denominational missions increased during the Anti-Japanese War in Free China, especially with regard to relief operations, we can only speculate whether the mainline mission-supported churches would have progressed toward greater indigenization and unity had it not been for the victory of the Chinese Communists in 1949. In any case, the influx of new, more radical missionary groups during the early decades of the twentieth century undermined the drive toward unity. At the same time, radical patriotic Chinese Christians and various emerging indigenous churches, especially those with Pentecostal tendencies and those promising exclusive salvation, also failed to initiate moves in this direction and went their separate ways. In other words, when foreign missionary operations ended in China in the middle of the twentieth century, the Protestant movement was far more divided than it had been at the beginning of that century. Indeed, in spite of the best efforts of the authorities in the People's Republic of China to create one unified post-denorninational faith, deep divisions persist to this day within indigenous Protestant Christianity.


(1.) For extensive quotations from this famous speech by Cheng, see Charles Boynton's obituary notice, "Dr. Cheng Ching-Yi," Chinese Recorder 70 (1939): 689-98.

(2.) Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China, Held at Shanghai, May 10o24, 1877 (Shanghai: Presbyterian Mission Press, 1878; reprint, Taibei: Ch'eng Wen, 1973); Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China, Held at Shanghai, May 7-20, 1890 (Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1890).

(3.) On the SVM in China, see Clifton J. Phillips, "The Student Volunteer Movement and Its Role in American China Missions, 1886-1920," in The Missionary Enterprise in China and America, ed. John King Fairbank (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1974), pp. 91-109.

(4.) 1936 Handbook of the Christian Movement in China Under Protestant Auspices, comp. Charles Luther Boynton and Charles Dozier Boynton (Shanghai: Published for the National Christian Council of China by the Kwang Hsueh Publishing House, 1936), p. 141.

(5.) Records, China Centenary Missionary Conference, Held at Shanghai, April 25 to May 8,1907 (Shanghai: Centenary Conference Committee, 1907; New York: American Tract Society, n.d.). See also Donald MacGillivray, A Century of Protestant Missions in China (1807-1907), Being the Centenary Conference Historical Volume (Shanghai: printed at the American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1907; repr., [Boston]: Elibron Classics, 2006).

(6.) David Cheung (Chen Yiqiang), Christianity in Modern China: The Making of the First Native Protestant Church (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

(7.) See G. Thompson Brown, Earthen Vessels and Transcendent Power: American Presbyterians in China, 1837-1952 (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1997), pp. 211-12.

(8.) China Mission Year Book, vol. 11 (Shanghai: Christian Literature Society for China, 1923), pp. 329-31. It should be noted that the Southern Baptists and, a few years later, the China Inland Mission chose not to be affiliated with the NCC.

(9.) See James A. Patterson, "The Loss of a Protestant Missionary Consensus: Foreign Missions and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Conflict," in Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions, 1880-1980, ed. Joel A. Carpenter and Wilbert Shenk (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), pp. 73-91; and William R. Hutchison, Errand to the World: American Protestant Thought and Foreign Missions (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), chap. 4.

(10.) Wallace C. Merwin, Adventure in Unity: The Church of Christ in China (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 69.

(11.) For a fairly complete listing of Protestant missionary groups in China, see R. G. Tiedemann, Reference Guide to Christian Missionary Societies in China (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 2009), part IV: "Protestant Missionary Societies."

(12.) On faith missions, see Dana L. Robert, "'The Crisis of Missions': Premillennial Mission Theory and the Origins of Independent Evangelical Missions," in Earthen Vessels, ed. Carpenter and Shenk, pp. 29-46. For the arrival of some of these new groups on the China missions scene, see Daniel H. Bays, "Christian Revival in China, 1900-1937," in Modern Christian Revivals, ed. Edith L. Blumhofer and Randall Balmer (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1993), pp. 168-9.

(13.) Michael Nai Chiu Poon, preface to "CSCA Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui Source Documents,"

(14.) For a study of Lutheran missions in China in the late 1940s, see Jonas Jonson, Lutheran Missions in a Time of Revolution: The China Experience, 1944-1951 (Uppsala: Svenska Institutet for Missionsforskning, 1972).

(15.) On the principle and growth of faith missions, see Klaus Fiedler, The Story of Faith Missions (Oxford: Regnum Books, 1994).

(16.) On Franson and his contribution to the missionary enterprise in China, see Edvard P. Torjesen, Fredrik Franson: A Model for Worldwide Evangelism (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1983). For a history of the German faith missions to China, see Andreas Franz, Mission ohne Grenzen. Hudson Taylor und die deutschsprachigen Glaubensmissionen (Giessen and Basel: Brunnen Verlag, 1993).

(17.) For details, see Tiedemann, Reference Guide to Christian Missionary Societies in China.

(18.) See Kevin Xiyi Yao, The Fundamentalist Movement Among Protestant Missionaries in China, 192001937 (Lanham, Md.: Univ. Press of America, 2003), pp. 216-19, 281-83.

(19.) Ibid., p. 222.

(20.) Following the merger of the majority of Canadian Presbyterians with the Methodist Church of Canada and the Congregational Union to form the United Church of Canada in 1925, the term "Continuing Presbyterians" was used by those who did not participate in this merger.

(21.) Edgar E. Strother, The National Christian Council of China: A Bolshevik Aid Society (Shanghai: E. E. Strother, [1927?]). This brief publication reprints correspondence from the North China Daily News and the Shanghai Times.

(22.) Allan Anderson, Spreading Fires: The Missionary Nature of Early Pentecostalism (London: SCM Press, 2007), p. 4.

(23.) Thomas Ball Barratt (1862-1940), the primary revivalist leader in Norway, was instrumental in spreading the Pentecostal message to other parts of Europe, influencing Alexander Boddy in England, Lewi Pethrus in Sweden, and Jonathan Paul in Germany.

(24.) For a detailed study, see Lian Xi, Redeemed by Fire: The Shaping of Popular Chinese Christianity in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2010).

(25.) For a comprehensive study, see Tao Feiya, Zhongguo de Jidujiao wutuobang: Yesu jiating (1921-1952) (A Christian utopia in China: The Jesus Family), (Xianggang: Zhongwen daxue chubanshe, 2004).

(26.) For further details, see Daniel H. Bays, "The Growth of Independent Christianity in China, 1900-1937," in Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present, ed. Bays (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 307-16.

(27.) Z. S. Zia, "Indigenous Evangelism and Christian Unity," Chinese Recorder 67 (July 1936): 408-12.

(28.) Noted in Lian, Redeemed by Fire, p. 171.

(29.) J. Usang Ly, "Do Chinese Christians Need a Special Fellowship?" Chinese Recorder 67 (July 1936): 412.

(30.) Quoted in Lian, Redeemed by Fire, p. 57.

(31.) Wei Yisa, Zhen Yesu jiaohui chuangli shanshi zhounian jinian zhuankan (Commemorative volume on the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the True Jesus Church), (Nanjing: Zhen Yesu Jiaohui, 1948), pp. C22, C27, quoted in Lian, Redeemed by Fire, p. 58.

R. G. "Gary" Tiedemann, a citizen of Germany, has taught as a visiting professor at Chinese universities since his retirement from the University of London. He is currently associated with Oxford House Research Ltd and is the editor of the Handbook of Christianity in China, vol. 2:1800 to the Present (Brill, 2010)
Major Protestant Church and Mission Groups
in China, 1934

Church and Mission Groups     Communicants   Missionaries

Church of Christ in China       123,043         1,151
China Inland Mission             85,345         1,356
Southern Baptist Churches        41,450           203
Methodist Episcopal Church       41,272           234
Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui         34,612           569
Lutheran Church of China         21,853           256
Methodist Church                 21,203           124
Seventh-day Adventists           14,546           215
North China Kung Li Hui          14,258            85
Methodist Episcopal Church,      12,991            89
American (Northern) Baptist      12,595           143
Basel Mission                     7,501            53
         TOTAL                  430,669         4,478

Source: 1936 Handbook of the Christian Movement in China, p. vi.
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Author:Tiedemann, R.G.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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