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A Study of T. C. Chao’s Christology in the Social Context of China (1920–1949)

Daniel Hoi Ming Hui

The aim of this book is to show that during the early half of the twentieth century, Chinese society was disillusioned by both internal dissension and external invasion, and the churches experienced many challenges. In response to the traumatic events of 1920–1949, the Chinese theologian Prof. T. C. Chao tried to construct a ‘new religion’ for China, believing that an indigenous Christianity would offer a solution to the national crisis. Chao searched for a new interpretation of Jesus Christ to make him relevant to China’s context and social thought, and tried to develop Christology based on the encounter of Western Christianity, Chinese culture and social change. A personality-focused interpretation of Jesus Christ was developed, and an image of Confucian Jesus was found in his thought. Chao tried to explore his contextual Christology with the purpose of being faithful to Christian faith, and being relevant to Chinese classical culture and the contemporary context in order to enable intellectual Christians to contribute to the national reconstruction of Country.

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Chapter 3 – A Humanity-Focused Interpretation of Jesus Christ and the New Thought Movement (1915–1922)


Chapter 3

A Humanity-Focused Interpretation of Jesus Christ and the New Thought Movement (1915–1922)

The purpose of this chapter is to show how Chao interpreted the Christian faith, particularly in the person of Jesus Christ, during the period of the New Thought Movement. An important question to be asked is: ‘Was Chao able to interpret Jesus Christ in a way that was relevant to the New Thought Movement?’ Again, if the answer is ‘yes’, we will continue to explore the ways in which it was relevant to the Movement. Again, an advanced question is: ‘How did Chao interpret Jesus Christ at that time?’ This chapter tries to deal with the above questions and answer them.

3.1 Social Context and its Interaction with Chao’s Thought

During the early nineteenth century, China faced great challenges from political changes and intellectual awareness. The unsuccessful outcome of Qing’s Self-strengthening Movement from 1861–1895,89 the failure of the←51 | 52→ ‘Hundred Day’ Reform of 1898,90 and of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900,91 all weakened the sovereignty of the dynasty. Chinese scholars from the top and ordinary people from the bottom gave up hope in Qing and even united to protest against it, which led to the end of the Qing dynasty, and the New Republic began in 1911.92 However, the New Republic was still facing the weakness which was the legacy of the Qing dynasty.

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