Carl Kilcourse’s ‘Taiping Theology’ – A Book Review

Taiping Theology: The Localization of Christianity in China, 1843–64. By Carl S. Kilcourse. New York, NY, USA, Palgrave Macmillan 2016. Pp. xvii+281. $100.00.

9781137543141

As Christians around the world have been commemorating the quincentenary anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, many have reiterated one of its most famous dicta: sola Scriptura. These two Latin words have been used to summarise the spirit of Protestantism, especially as found through the reading of the vernacular bible. However, one often forgets that many of the translations were accompanied by copious notes to clarify words and expressions, and to comment on ‘correct’ Christian doctrine.1 While the Protestants behind each of these bibles held to the principle of sola Scriptura, they also held to a very strong sense that the bible read ‘incorrectly’ could be wielded — not as a sword of truth, but as a sword of blasphemy. In many ways, the book under review offers a profound case study of the power of the bible and the attempts of a religious leader in asserting his ‘correct’ reading of that vernacular text. Carl S. Kilcourse has provided a magnificent study of ‘Taiping Theology’ and the thinking of the main leader behind it, Hong Xiuquan. Continue reading “Carl Kilcourse’s ‘Taiping Theology’ – A Book Review”

The Legacy of the (Counter) Reformation in China: 3 Examples

This year, there are many festivities celebrating the legacy of the Protestant Reformation – 500 years after Martin Luther penned his Ninety-five Theses in 1517. However, one of the most important legacies which has been overlooked is the Counter-Reformation – the Catholic revival which responded to the protests of Luther and other reformers. When we consider a country like China – or most other places outside of Europe at the time – it is in fact the Counter-Reformation that had an arguably more important impact (at least initially). Three examples, I believe, are worth highlighting, as they show just how much Protestantism in China is indebted to Catholicism in China and, by extension, the Counter-Reformation. Continue reading “The Legacy of the (Counter) Reformation in China: 3 Examples”

Christianity as a Chinese Religion

Chinese Catholicism

I have been reviewing a number of very exciting proposals for the Chinese Christianities Seminar for the upcoming meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in November 2015.  They cover so many areas of Chinese Christianities – from various contexts around the world, to various conditions within a given locale.  Though I have tried arguing this in the past, it is important to recognise Christianity as not simply a ‘foreign religion’ or ‘foreign teaching’ (yang jiao 洋教), but in many ways also a Chinese religion. Continue reading “Christianity as a Chinese Religion”