Date of Award

8-11-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Douglas R. Reynolds

Second Advisor

Kathryn E. Wilson

Third Advisor

Charles G. Steffen

Fourth Advisor

Alexander Cummings

Abstract

This study explores the twentieth-century Christian indigenization movement in East Asia through a case study of Jiang Wenhan of China and Takeda Kiyoko of Japan, two leading scholars and Christian activists in their respective countries. Drawing primarily on their own writings and recorded activities, both published and unpublished, my narratives include their interactions with Christian leaders and public intellectuals in six aspects – theological, missiological, political, ethical, sinological, and ecumenical – to pinpoint what social-political actions Asian Christians took in response to the unsettling changes and the ecumenical movements of their times.

This study also highlights the historical encounters with Christianity in China and Japan to uncover the roles of Asian Christians in the reconstruction of Christianity in East Asia after World War II. It focuses on how Christianity, as a centerpiece of Western civilization, was perceived and received in China and Japan, each with its own distinctive culture, and how this “foreign” religion took root in Asia through confrontational encounters, including the global and the local process of cross-cultural transmission between the “universal” and the “particular” in confrontation, adaptation, competition, coexistence, and mutual influence.

As part of globalization, Christian indigenization in East Asia sharpened the churches’ awareness of standing in a dynamic interaction within a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. The profound impact of state-religion hegemony in China and Japan not only created the unique characteristics of local churches and Christian communities but also made two important bases for Christianity: a non-denominational Three-Self church in China and the multi-denominational churches in Japan. From this point of view, Christianity, after repeated endeavors, has finally integrated into East Asian nations. In helping to transform Christianity into an indigenized Asian religion, Jiang Wenhan and Takeda Kiyoko, each in their own way, have made Christian faith more accessible to the common people and Christian churches more acceptable in society. Their interactions with each other and their practices in the indigenization movement, with their Sino-Japanese Christian solidarity crossing a broad terrain from Shanghai to Tokyo, stood as one of the most significant achievements of Asian Christianity in the twentieth century.

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