Redeemed by Fire


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The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China

Lian Xi

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This book is the first to address the history and future of homegrown, mass Chinese Christianity. Drawing on a large collection of fresh sources—including contemporaneous accounts, diaries, memoirs, archival material, and interviews—Lian Xi traces the transformation of Protestant Christianity in twentieth-century China from a small, beleaguered “missionary” church buffeted by antiforeignism to an indigenous popular religion energized by nationalism and millenarianism. Lian shows that, with a current membership that rivals that of the Chinese Communist Party, and the ability to galvanize China’s millions into apocalyptic convulsion and messianic exuberance, the popular Christian movement channels the aspirations and the discontent of the masses and will play an important role in shaping the country’s future.

Lian Xi is professor of history at Hanover College and author of The Conversion of Missionaries: Liberalism in American Protestant Missions in China, 1907–1932.  He lives in Louisville, KY.

"Redeemed by Fire presents a fascinating and impressively wide-ranging account of China's modern Christian experience, which is all the more valuable for the author's shrewd observations about the religion's future impact in the emerging superpower.  Particularly striking are his rich descriptions of China's flourishing prophetic and popular movements."—Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity

"Lian Xi's book, an important contribution on a neglected subject, is the only in-depth study of popular, independent Chinese Christianity. He knows his Chinese history and philosophy and writes clearly with vivid and apt metaphors."—Jessie Lutz, author of Opening China: Karl F.A. Gutzlaff And Sino-western Relations, 1827-1852

"What scholars in the field of modern China studies will find in this book is a thorough, boldly conceived, well-executed, and frankly convincing argument and analysis, backed up by copious research and command of sources."—Daniel Bays, Calvin College

"Truly a landmark book. . . [a] must-read. . . written in an elegant style that makes it a pleasure to read. . . . Essential for understanding China today."--Daniel H. Bays, International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"A major contribution . . . a rich resource and compelling account . . . clear and convincing."—Dr. G. Wright Doyle, Christianity in China

"Important . . . very valuable."--David Lyle Jeffrey, Books and Culture

"Beautifully researched and sympathetically written . . . accessible and attractive . . . important and provocative . . . essential reading."—Henrietta Harrison, American Historical Review

"Succeeds wonderfully."—Philip Jenkins, Christian Century

“[A] remarkable book . . . essential reading.”—Christianity Today (2011 Christianity Today Book Award, Missions/Global Affairs category)

"This remarkable book, based on primary sources ,confirms and documents what is often not understood in the West: Indigenous Christianity in China was uniquely Chinese, millenarian, and frequently anti-foreign. This book is essential reading, providing a little foretaste of what the ecclesiastical, theological, and missiological future of the global church might look like."—Christianity Today

"Why has Protestantism grow at such an astonishing rate in China and what shape will it take in the future? With China now playing a major role on the world stage, these are important questions and anyone who wants to find an answer to them would be well advised to read this important book."—Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper

Chosen as one of the “Fifteen Outstanding Books of 2010 for Mission Studies” by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research

“Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the burgeoning of Christianity in China today . . . [a] rich and subtle historical account.”—Richard Madsen, Journal of Asian Studies

"Redeemed by Fire is a timely, elegantly written study"—Simon Scott Plummer, Times Literary Supplement

“Redeemed by Fire eloquently expresses some of the spiritual and religious impulses that have brought millions of Chinese to faith in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and the complexities that emerge in a popular religious movement.”—Lawrence Braschi, Church Times

"Fascinating. . . . Lian's work excels. . . . [A] well-executed and detailed portrayal of the formation of Christianity as a Chinese religion. This engaging and provocative book would readily provoke stimulating discussion in many undergraduate classrooms."—Jeff Kyong-McClain, Journal of Church History

“This history hasn’t been told so authoritatively in a Western language before. Lian can range across Chinese sources with ease, even as he writes in cogent English prose.”—Ian Johnson, New York Review of Books

Winner of the 2011 Christianity Today Book Award in the Missions/Global Affairs category sponsored by Christianity Today

Winner of the 2010 Award for Academic Excellence given by the Chinese Historians in the United States, an affiliate of the American Historical Association

Chosen as one of Fifteen Outstanding Books of 2010 for Mission Studies by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research
ISBN: 9780300123395
Publication Date: February 23, 2010
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
21 b/w illus.