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"Builders of the Chinese Church"

A Book Recommendation


Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders, edited by Wright Doyle. 

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders, edited by Wright Doyle. 

Robert Morrison’s arrival in 1807 marked the beginning of the era of Protestant Missions in China. There were thousands who followed, serving as evangelists, educators, and medical professionals, all with the goal of seeing a healthy church take root in the Chinese soil.

This book, edited by Wright Doyle and Carol Hamrin, tells the story of nine pioneers (seven missionaries and two Chinese) who served between 1807 and 1920.

Each of the nine gets their own chapter, written by different scholars and historians:

  1. Robert Morrison: Missionary Mediator, Surprising Saint
  2. Liang Fa: Leader in Chinese Indigenization
  3. James Legge: Linking Chinese Evangelical Spirituality with Cross-cultural Engagement
  4. Griffith John: Faithful Pioneer Missionary
  5. J. Hudson Taylor: Advocate  for China’s Inland Millions
  6. William A. P. Martin: Pioneer of Progress in China
  7. “Pastor Hsi” – Xi Shengmo: “Overcomer of Evil” through Prayer and Preaching
  8. Timothy Richard: A Missionary Who Impacted the Late Qing Dynasty
  9. Jonathan Goforth: Tireless Evangelist and Revivalist

Not wanting each story to be mere hagiographies, or idealized stories, Doyle says their goal is to present a balanced picture of each:

The contributors were asked to be both appreciative and critical. After all, Christian teaching holds that “there is none righteous, no, not one,” for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” At the same time, however, we have tried to show why these men exercised such great influence over others and have received such honor, not only in their own time, but in ours as well.

Image credit: 工友 by JiKang Lee via Flickr.

Correction: The original post listed Carol Hamrin as co-editor of the book. The book was edited by Wright Doyle. 

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio