2012 Conference

China and Inner Asia Session 108

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The Indigenization of Higher Education in Republican China’s Christian Colleges

Organizer: Christopher D Sneller, King's College, USA

Chair: Daniel H. Bays, Calvin College, USA

Our panel aims to explore the indigenization of higher education in Republican China’s Christian colleges. We will examine key players—both individuals and institutions—involved in leading these thirteen colleges and universities from 1911-1949. Established in 1922, the coalition included the University of Nanking, Ginling College, Yenching University, University of Shanghai, St. John’s University, Lingnan University, Fukien Christian University, Hwa Nan College, Huachung College, West China Union University, Shantung Christian University (Cheeloo), Soochow University, and Hangchow Christian College. These bi-cultural institutions played a crucial role in transmitting American liberal arts style education to China. For some Chinese patriots, however, the colleges were evidence of a Western cultural invasion of China. The success and survival of the schools would therefore depend on their ability to adapt to Chinese cultural and political circumstances. How could the colleges educate leaders for China’s modernization and, at the same time, avoid being overly “foreignized”? Part of the answer was for Westerners to give their Chinese colleagues the authority to administer the colleges. But a deeper question was how to bridge the gap between Chinese and Western learning? This complex process of adaptation was curtailed by the Chinese Communist Revolution, but has new relevance today.

T.C. Chao and Yenching School of Religion – A Case for the Study of Indigenization of Christian Higher Education in China
Peter Tze Ming Ng, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Of the Christian theologians in the Republican China, T.C. Chao (Zhao Zichen) distinguished himself as a professor at Yenching School of Religion, diligently working out the development of indigenous Christianity throughout the crucial years in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. This paper attempts to review the life and work of T.C. Chao in Republican China, focusing on his time at the Yenching School of Religion. The issue of indigenous Christian higher education would be discussed under the following sub-headings: (1) the teaching of religion and Christian theology at Yenching School of Religion; (2) the New Cultural Movements in the 1920s; and (3) Christian fellowship at Yenching University. Attempts will also be made to T.C. Chao’s adaptation and appropriation of American liberalism, Neo-Orthodoxy and Anglicanism in the rapid changing socio-cultural and political contexts in the 20th century China.

Christianity, Confucianism, and Leaders for a New China: The Case of Francis C.M. Wei
Terry Lautz, Syracuse University, USA

Francis C.M. Wei (Wei Zhuomin) was the first Chinese president of Huazhong University, one of China’s thirteen Christian colleges, from 1929-1951. Trained in Chinese philosophy and Christian theology, Wei sought a middle ground between Western and Chinese traditions (primarily Confucianism) and, ultimately, between Christian liberal thought and Communist ideology. His life-long quest was to reconcile the Christian missionary movement with China’s national priorities. A key question therefore was how to achieve self-supporting institutions in China. Wei’s moderate approach to indigenization was soundly rejected when the Communists came to power, but Chinese scholars have reconsidered his legacy in recent years.

Union Theological Seminary’s Role in the Indigenization of Christian Colleges in Republican China
Christopher D Sneller, King's College, USA

Founded in 1836, Union Theological Seminary sought to be a school where “moderate” theological views could be taught in the heart of America’s most important city (New York). Many historians have noted Union’s role in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s (and the forerunner of the controversy, the trial of Charles A. Briggs in the 1890s) but few have noticed the role Union has played in Chinese Protestantism. From 1911-1949, 196 Union alumni—an average of five students for each graduating class—went to China. Thirty-nine of these former students were Chinese nationals. Many of these played important roles in Christian colleges in Republican China and, later, in the establishment of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. In this paper, particular attention will be given to Timothy Tingfang Lew (Liu Tingfang) and Bishop K. H. Ting (Ding Guangzun).