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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 6 – A Revelation and Incarnation-focused Interpretation of Jesus Christ, the Sino-Japanese War and the Civil War in China (1937–1949)


Chapter 6

A Revelation and Incarnation-focused Interpretation of Jesus Christ, the Sino-Japanese War and the Civil War in China (1937–1949)

During this period, China first suffered from the external Sino-Japanese War and then the troublesome internal civil war. It is therefore significant to know what relevant message Chao preached in this context. In fact, Chao made a great change in his Christology because he was aware that his former Christology was inadequate as a response to the situation. It is interesting to note both the changes in Chao’s message and what remained unchanged, and to explore the extent to which the message was meaningful for building society. This chapter aims to discover how Chao developed his contextual Christology for the need of the Chinese people in this particular period. So, the main question will be: Did Chao’s interpretation of Jesus Christ show itself to be relevant to the social context of his time?

6.1 The Social Context and its Interaction with Chao’s Thought

The Japanese armies had moved close to Beijing, and consequently the whole area north of Beijing became a demilitarized zone from 1933 onward. Japanese military aggression intensified in July 1937. Their army marched south and attacked fiercely and Nanjing soon fell, along with most of the coastal area and the eastern half of China in November of that year.378 The nationalist government moved to Chongqing on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, becoming increasingly cut off from the...

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