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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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During the early half of the twentieth century, Chinese society was disillusioned by both internal dissension and external invasion, and the Church experienced many challenges from the New Thought Movement, the Anti-Christian Movement, the national crisis, and the Sino-Japanese War.

In response to the traumatic events of 1920–1949, a Protestant intellectual, T. C. Chao (1888–1979) tried to construct a ‘new religion’ for China, believing that an indigenous Christianity would offer a solution to the national crisis. In order to achieve indigenization, Chao particularly attempted to develop a person-oriented Christology. He attempted to reinterpret Jesus Christ in the light of his relevance to the social context and new social trends. In order to explain Chao’s contextualization, his Christology is classified and analysed for the purpose of this study in various periods defined by the changing social contexts.

Although Chao’s work is considered by many Chinese Protestant thinkers to be controversial, and although he himself was uncertain of its success, the author finds it enlightening for constructing Chinese theology today, since the questions Chao asked, and the problems he encountered in the process of contextualization still exist. In investigating the uniqueness of Chao’s work, three comparative studies of Chao’s Christology are made according to his interpretation of Jesus Christ: a comparison between Chao’s own writings in different periods, a comparison between Chao and other Protestant thinkers of his time, and a comparison between Chao and contemporary theologians. It then goes on to evaluate Chao...

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