From Christ to Confucius


My first book, From Christ to Confucius: German Missionaries, Chinese Christians, and the Globalization of Christianity, 1860-1950, was published by Yale University Press in 2016.

The book explores a dramatic transformation in recent world and religious history: the shift of Christianity from a predominantly "European" religion to one that is largely non-European. It tells this story through the lens of German Protestant and Catholic missionaries, who entered China in the nineteenth century committed to destroying Confucianism. Yet when they left China in the 1950s, they had become Confucianism's ardent defenders. Pushed by their Chinese Christian counterparts, missionaries began to change their views, arguing that Christianity's global survival hinged on the synthesis of Christianity and Confucianism. Through their encounter with China, missionaries began to reconsider Christianity's relationship to other religions, and ultimately began to re-examine central tenets of Christianity, such as the exclusivity of Christian salvation. German missionaries, I argue in the book, were agents of both globalization and secularization. Finally, they were not just handmaidens of empire. Rather, they were complex figures who at times challenged the German imperial project.


Related Articles 

I have written several articles related to this book project:

“The Quest for an ‘Indigenous Church’: German Missionaries, Chinese Christians, and the Indigenization Debates of the 1920s,” The American Historical Review 122, no. 1 (February 2017): 85-114. [Link]

“Forever a Patriot: Chinese Christians and the Repudiation of American Liberal Protestantism,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 85, no. 1 (March 2017): 112-135. [Link

“Ernst Faber and the Consequences of Failure: A Study of a Nineteenth Century German Missionary in China,” Central European History 47, no. 1 (March 2014): 1-29. [Link]

“Catholic Universities as Missionary Spaces: Wilhelm Schmidt, Chen Yuan, and the Catholic University in Beijing.” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften 24, no. 2, special edition on “Missionsräume,” edited by Christine Egger and Martina Gugglberger (June 2013): 92-112.

“Catholic and Protestant Individuals in Nineteenth-Century German Missionary Periodicals.” In a forum on “The Form and Function of Nineteenth-Century Missionary Periodicals,” Church History 82, no. 2 (June 2013): 394-398. [Link]

“Converting Individuals, Saving the State: Narratives of Conversion in Nineteenth-Century German Missionary Periodicals.” Book Chapter in Missions and Media: The Politics of Missionary Periodicals in the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by Felicity Jensz and Hanna Acke (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag): 79-96.