Spreading the Gospel: Christian Posters in Early 20th Century China

Lecture Recording

Between 1919 and 1949, posters were the most common Christian visual imagery in China. They were printed by the millions and hung in tea rooms, on city walls, and on temple gates. Posters were put up in houses and churches; they were unfolded for street evangelism. They were extremely popular because they were aesthetically pleasing and symbolically rich, yet easy to understand. Unlike theological treatises written by Chinese theologians, these images were designed by laypeople and intended for popular consumption. In this lecture, Daryl Ireland of Boston University showcased some of the 700 Chinese Protestant and Catholic posters he has located and explained why they are changing the way we think about Chinese Christianity.

In his talk, Dr. Ireland showed how a collection of posters calls us to rethink Christianity in China in five arenas:

  1. Christians and Chinese Politics
  2. Fundamentalism and Modernism
  3. Catholic Contradictions
  4. Christian Innovation and Popular Culture
  5. Popular Chinese Theology

The full video of the event is also on our YouTube channel:

The lecture begins at 7:08.
The Q&A begins at 57:20.

About Daryl Ireland 

Daryl Ireland is a Research Assistant Professor of Mission at Boston University, where he focuses on the history of Christianity in Asia, as well as the intersection of international development and faith. He is the author of John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man (2020). His book, Visions of Salvation: Chinese Christian Posters in an Age of Revolution was published in April 2023. 

We are grateful to Billy Graham Hall at Wheaton College for hosting this event and to Christianity Today for co-sponsoring.

This event is part of our ongoing collaborative lecture series cohosted by ChinaSource, the US-China Catholic Association, and the China Academic Consortium.

Share to Social Media
Image credit: All images of Chinese Christian posters are courtesy of Chinese Christian Posters.
ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

Written, translated, or edited by members of the ChinaSource staff.          View Full Bio