More Information
ISBN: 9781839732188
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 23
Publication Date: 30/09/2021
Pages: 442
Series: Studies in Christian History
Language: English

Zhang Yijing (1871–1931) and the Search for a Chinese Christian Identity


Can Christian identity and national identity be reconciled? For Christians in China, this question is particularly fraught. While Sinicization offers the indigenous church one path forward, it fails to provide a tenable solution for believers unwilling to submit their love of God under love of country.

Dr. Jue Wang explores an alternative roadmap for Chinese Christian identity in the writings of Zhang Yijing. The editor of True Light, a Chinese Baptist publication, Zhang was also a Chinese patriot, Confucian, and life-long proponent of science and reason. Utilizing the lens of identity studies, Dr. Wang examines Zhang’s process of reconciling faith and culture in his quest to be both authentically Christian and authentically Chinese. This study offers a fascinating glimpse into the modern history of the Chinese church, while uncovering the significance of an often-overlooked Chinese Christian apologist. Zhang’s example offers encouragement and hope for believers around the world seeking to integrate social, cultural, and national identities under the lordship of Christ.

Author Bios

Jue Wang (王珏)

JUE WANG has a PhD from Middlesex University, London, UK. He is a lecturer for the College English Faculty of Shenzhen University, Guangdong, China, where he has worked for eighteen years. He teaches the Bible in his spare time.


Mission workers and promoters should welcome Dr. Wang’s book with thankful hearts. The study tells how Jesus freed a Chinese scholar’s heart to soar above the culture of missionaries who introduced the faith.

In fifty years of promoting foreign missions, especially in China, I was so busy telling the story of missionaries that I did not adequately know the minds and identities of the most important persons – the Chinese believers. I did not even remember the name of Zhang Wen Kai or of his pseudonyms. I am ashamed. I knew the names of American missionaries who ran the China Baptist Publication Society, never stopping to realize that there must have been Chinese Christians doing the daily work and the cutting-edge scholarship and apologetics. I can blame the language barrier, which Dr. Wang helpfully breaks down. I knew “True Light” – the journal, the buildings. Now I can know and applaud the writer, the powerful editor, who embodied the True Light for twenty-five vital years. Thank you, Dr. Wang, for shining that light on my thinking. May he shine on for China today.

Catherine B. Allen, LHD
Former President,
Women’s Department, Baptist World Alliance (1995–2000)

Jue Wang’s timely study on the life and identity of Zhang Yijing is an essential work for those who wish to understand how modern nationalism, rationalism, and culture have shaped the identity of Chinese Christianity. Further, it probes new avenues by which to understand identity and contextualization of Chinese Christianity and the various challenges this contextualization has overcome to become deeply rooted in China today.

Thomas Alan Harvey, PhD
Academic Dean,
Oxford Centre for Mission Studies,
Oxford, United Kingdom

Dr. Wang’s meticulous, exhaustive, and culturally attuned analysis of the life and works of Zhang Yijing (张亦镜), an early twentieth century Confuciantrained Chinese Protestant writer and journalist, gives us an insider’s perspective on Zhang’s strategic trajectories for promoting the integration of Christian and Chinese identities. Dr. Wang helpfully extricates timeless principles from Zhang’s three-fold indigenization framework of Confucianism, nationalism, and ‘scientism’ that can resource contemporary Christians who are seeking relevant and transformative intersections between their personal and social identities.

Ralph Korner, PhD
Platform Coordinator, Kairos
Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Taylor Seminary,
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Jue Wang, as a dedicated researcher of the Chinese Christian Community, has written a comprehensive account of Zhang Yijing’s search for a Chinese Christian identity. Dr. Wang’s understanding of the life and struggles of Zhang Yijing in his desire to bring an identity to the Chinese Christian is unparalleled in the development of China’s indigenous church. I recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in China, Christianity in China, the impact of Christian outreach throughout China, and the Chinese Christian communities of China. On this subject, there is no book I can recommend more than this volume.

Michael D. Suman, PhD
Missionary with One Mission Society as International Professor
Author, The Church in China: One Lord Two Systems

Meticulously researched, this work by Dr. Wang recovers the heritage of Zhang Yijing, a prolific Chinese Christian intellectual of the late Qing and the early Republic. In a tumultuous era when Chinese identity and the fate of the Chinese nation were called into question, Zhang reflected deeply on and engaged actively with the political and intellectual discourse of his day as a Christian. This work enriches our understanding of the history of Christianity in China, especially as a case study of the fruitful encounter between the gospel and the intellectual and political realities of early twentieth-century China.

Gloria S. Tseng, PhD
Associate Professor of History,
Hope College, Holland, Michigan, USA

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgement
  2. Abstract
  3. List of Abbreviations

  4. Chapter 1: Introduction and Literature Review
  5. 1.1 Relevance of This Research
  6. 1.2 Review of Paradigms of Studying Christianity in China
  7. 1.3 Introduction to Identity
  8. 1.4 Identity Literature Review
    1. 1.4.1 Erikson’s Definition of Identity
    2. 1.4.2 Ego Identity, Personal Identity, and Social Identity
    3. 1.4.3 Marcia’s Theory of Identity Statuses Model
    4. 1.4.4 Extension of Marcia’s Identity Statuses Model
    5. 1.4.5 Multiple Identities
    6. 1.4.6 The Importance of Spiritual Identity to Ego Identity
    7. 1.4.7 The Significance of Commitment to Identity Status
    8. 1.4.8 Application of Marcia’s Identity Statuses Approach to Spiritual Identity
    9. 1.4.9 Applicability of Identity Theory to the Eastern Society
    10. 1.4.10 Discussion of Christian Identity
    11. 1.4.11 Qualitative and Narrative Research Methodologies
    12. 1.4.12 Disruptive Issues or Crisis in Revealing One’s Identities
    13. 1.4.13 Methodology
  9. 1.5 A Brief Introduction to Zhang Yijing
  10. 1.6 Current Research on Zhang Yijing
  11. 1.7 Conclusion

  12. Chapter 2: Christianity in China before 1930 and Zhang Yijing’s Life
  13. 2.1 A Brief History of Christianity in China before the 1920s
  14. 2.2 The Social and Political Context during the 1920s
  15. 2.3 Zhang, before Joining True Light
  16. 2.4 Zhang, after Joining True Light
    1. 2.4.1 Zhang’s Readership
    2. 2.4.2 Zhang’s Works
    3. 2.4.3 Zhang as an Apologist
    4. 2.4.4 Zhang’s Daily Schedule
    5. 2.4.5 Zhang’s Views on Some Works of the Church
    6. 2.4.6 Zhang and Missionaries
    7. 2.4.7 Zhang’s Sensitive Conscience
    8. 2.4.8 Some Chinese Christians Praised by Zhang
    9. 2.4.9 Some Other Views of Zhang
    10. 2.4.10 Zhang’s Last Days
  17. 2.5 People’s Comments on Zhang
  18. 2.6 Conclusion

  19. Chapter 3: Zhang Yijing’s Search for a Christian Confucian Identity
  20. 3.1 Confucianism
    1. 3.1.1 Manufacturing the Terms “Confucius” and “Confucianism”
    2. 3.1.2 What Is Confucianism?
    3. 3.1.3 Is the School of Confucianism a Religion?
    4. 3.1.4 Confucianism and Its Three Developmental Epochs
    5. 3.1.5 Confucian Values and Confucian Terms and Clichés
    6. 3.1.6 Confucianism and the Chinese
  21. 3.2 A Confucian or a Christian?
    1. 3.2.1 Reasons for the Conflict
    2. 3.2.2 An Ignored but Typical Way of Being a Confucian and Being a Christian
  22. 3.3 Zhang’s Confucian Identity and Christian Identity
    1. 3.3.1 Is Zhang a Confucian?
    2. 3.3.2 Becoming a Confucian Christian in the Mid-1890s
    3. 3.3.3 Being a Confucian Christian before 1905
    4. 3.3.4 Being a Confucian Christian after 1905
  23. 3.4 Different Methods of Contextualization
    1. 3.4.1 Christians Should Make Sacrifices to Their Ancestors
    2. 3.4.2 Confucianism Should Be China’s State Religion
  24. 3.5 Conclusion

  25. Chapter 4: Zhang’s Search for a Modern Chinese Christian Identity
  26. 4.1 Nationalism Literature Review
    1. 4.1.1 A Brief Review of Research of Nationalism in Modern China
    2. 4.1.2 Different Versions of Nationalism in China
    3. 4.1.3 Cultural Nationalism and Modern Nationalism
  27. 4.2 Nationalism and National Identity
    1. 4.2.1 Different Ways of Being Modern Chinese but with One Commonality
    2. 4.2.2 Competition through Discourses and Narratives
    3. 4.2.3 Competition between National Identity and Other Identities
    4. 4.2.4 The Way of Studying Zhang’s National Identity
  28. 4.3 Being a Modern Chinese or Being a Christian
  29. 4.4 Zhang’s National Identity and His Christian Identity
    1. 4.4.1 His National Identity in the Cultural Sense
    2. 4.4.2 Being a Modern Chinese Christian before 1905
    3. 4.4.3 Being a Modern Chinese Christian before 1920
    4. 4.4.4 Being a Modern Chinese Christian in the 1920s
  30. 4.5 Conclusion

  31. Chapter 5: Zhang’s Encounter with Scientism
  32. 5.1 Scientism Literature Review
    1. 5.1.1 The Concepts of Scientism
    2. 5.1.2 Sources for Scientism in China
    3. 5.1.3 The Influence of Scientism in China
    4. 5.1.4 Being Scientific and Being Chinese
  33. 5.2 Zhang’s Response to Science and Scientism
    1. 5.2.1 Welcoming Science
    2. 5.2.2 Being Critical of Scientism
    3. 5.2.3 The Difficulty of Answering the Scientistic Challenges Outside
    4. 5.2.4 Answering Scientism Inside and Discovering Its Eastern Root
  34. 5.3 Zhang’s Dealing with the Early Chapters of Genesis in Response to Scientism
    1. 5.3.1 Zhang’s Pursuit of Being Scientific
    2. 5.3.2 Science Is Used as a Value in Debate
    3. 5.3.3 The Significance of Literal Interpretation to Zhang and His Shift
    4. 5.3.4 The Elements of Evidence and Reason in His Dealing with the Great Flood
  35. 5.4 Exploring Zhang’s Shift between Biblical Interpretation Lines
    1. 5.4.1 The Development of Zhang’s Nonliteral and Nonconcordist Position
    2. 5.4.2 Prioritizing between Zhang’s Two Interpreting Approaches
  36. 5.5 Two Christian Leaders’ Response to “Scientistism”
  37. 5.6 Conclusion

  38. Chapter 6: Conclusion

  39. Appendix 1: The Chronology of Zhang Yijing – My Deceased Father (先严亦镜年表), By Zhang Qiutao (张秋涛)
  40. Appendix 2: The Works of Mr. Zhang Yijing (张亦镜先生的著作)
  41. Appendix 3: A Brief History of True Light (1902–1927) (真光小史)

  42. Bibliography