Jane Weijen Liang, Imperialism, modernization and postcolonial Christianity: The indigenization of American Methodist China missions (1880-1930) (dissertation)
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing (September 11, 2011)
Situated in the modern Christian mission movement, this dissertation project is a historical analysis, focusing on the indigenization (1880-1930) in American Methodist China missions, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Concentrating on the first stage of indigenization, the institutional and administrative changes in American Methodist China missions, the time span of this project is from the 1880s, when Chinese Methodists of most regional American Methodist China missions initially practiced the principle of self-support, until the 1920s, when the increase of Chinese Methodist leaders concurred with the decrease of Western missionaries and the first Chinese bishop was elected. Through examining this period of history, this project suggests that viewing the history of foreign missions from the process of indigenization may provide a more inclusive perspective, giving crucial issues, such as modernization and imperialism, the proper places in the formation of autonomous, postcolonial Chinese Christianity. Thus, this dissertation project attempts to provide an alternative interpretation of the indigenization of Chinese Christianity, suggesting that the buildup of selfhood of Chinese Christianity is not the dilemma of "one more Christian, one less Chinese," but the Christian interconnectedness of Western and Chinese cultures. For the advancement of indigenization, imperialism and modernization, mainly via education, were both crucial to the progress of ecclesial indigenization. While modern education prepared Chinese Methodist leaders for the day of autonomy, Western imperialism gave the Chinese a reason to arrive at a nationalist consensuses and the formulation of Chinese churches. Therefore, through evaluating the achievements of indigenization, this dissertation articulates that "Chinese Methodism" is a Chinese Christian community with cultural hybridity, such that the indigenization of American Methodist missions in China paved the way toward a postcolonial Christianity that would continuously interact with Chinese and Western cultures.