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Denomination Names in Chinese

As a follow-up to the current edition of ChinaSource Quarterly exploring the issue of denominationalism in China, I thought it would be a good time to tap into my inner Chinese teacher and present a brief language lesson. What, you might be wondering, are the Chinese names for some of the various denominations and sects in China?

Let’s start with the various broad terms for Christianity. As I wrote in a previous post titled “Christian or Catholic,” Protestant Christianity and Catholic Christianity are two of the five approved religions in China. It’s an odd distinction to those outside of China, but it is rooted in the language.  Even though Eastern Orthodoxy has no official status in China, there are still pockets of believers, especially in Heilongjiang Province.

These are the terms used:

Catholic                      天主教                      Tiānzhǔ Jiào

Eastern Orthodox     东正教                       Dōngzhèng Jiào

Protestant                  基督教                        Jīdū Jiào

The main Protestant denominations are:

Anglican                     圣公会                      Shènggōng Huì

Baptist                        浸信会                      Jìnxìn Huì

Lutheran                    路德会                       Lùdé Huì

Methodist                   卫理公会                  Wèilǐ Gōnghuì[1]

Presbyterian              长老会                        Zhǎnglǎo Huì

Some important descriptors, or classifications are:

Charismatic                灵恩派                      Líng’ēn Pài

Evangelical                 福音派                      Fúyīn Pài

Fundamentalist         基要派                        Jīyào Pài

Pietist                          敬虔派                      Jìngqián Pài

Reformed                   改革宗                       Gǎigé Zōng

And finally, there are two other sects from the West that have a presence in China today, but which we would not necessarily consider to be “denominations:”

Mormon                     摩门教                       Mómén Jiào

Jehovah’s witness     耶和华见证                Yēhéuá Jiànzhèng

Something to add to your stack of flashcards!

Image credit: Joann Pittman, via Flickr.


  1. ^ Note: The original post had an error in this entry which has  been corrected. 
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Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement 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

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