Surviving the State, Remaking the Church

Surviving the State, Remaking the Church

Basic information

  • Author(s):
    • Li (Mary) Ma
  • Other contributor(s):
    • Jin Li
  • Published: December 11, 2017
  • Publisher: Pickwick Publications
  • Page count: 226
  • ISBN: 978-1532634604
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1532634611

Surviving the State, Remaking the Church

In a sociological portrait, the author examines how Chinese Christians have coped with life under a hostile regime over a span of different historical periods, and how Christian churches as collective entities have been reshaped by ripples of social change. China's change from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, or from an agrarian society to an urbanizing society, are admittedly significant phenomena worthy of scholarly attention, but real changes are about values and beliefs that give rise to social structures over time. The growth of Christianity has become interwoven with the disintegration or emergence of Chinese cultural beliefs, political ideologies, and commercial values.

Relying mainly on an oral history method for data collection, the authors allow the narratives of Chinese Christians to speak for themselves. Identifying the formative cultural elements, a sociohistorical analysis also helps to lay out a coherent understanding of the complexity of religious experiences for Christians in the Chinese world. This book also serves to bring back scholarly discussions on the habits of the heart as the condition that helps form identities and nurture social morality, whether individuals engage in private or public affairs.

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Li Ma and Jin Li have written an unusually valuable book on the recent history of Christianity in China. Unlike too many others (often speculative or ill-informed), they support their general narrative with extensive ethnographic research. The individuals they have interviewed provide fascinating insights into conversions in prison, the Christian 'harvest' from the Tiananamen Square massacres, effective evangelism at McDonald's and Starbucks, and emergence of Christian NGOs, ongoing tensions between believers and the Chinese Communist Party, the surprising emergence of self-conscious Chinese Calvinist theology, and much more. The result is extraordinary insight concerning perhaps the most important scene of Christian development in the world today.
-Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame

Readers in the West and the East alike are keen to know more about life in China, both today and in the recent past. For Christian readers, this eager curiosity extends to the churches of China, the majority of which remain officially illegal and are often hidden. What does it mean to be a Christian in China today? How do today's Chinese Christians remember the past? Why have they come to faith? What difference does Christianity make in their lives? Sociologist Li Ma and her husband, theologian Jin Li, have interviewed over 100 Chinese Christians from various parts of the nation. Their voices, so seldom heard, come through with amazing force. This book reveals the hearts and minds of Chinese Christians as never before.
-Joel Carpenter, Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin College

Ma and Li have given us an invaluable set of voices from China's Christian world. Through patient combing of printed texts and many hours of interviews with people today, they allow Chinese Christians to speak for themselves and let us understand how Christianity has become China's fastest-growing and one of its most influential religions. Understanding China requires understanding its faith and beliefs, and especially those of its youngest but most dynamic faith: Christianity.
-Ian Johnson, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao

Suviving the State, Remaking the Church
is a truly illuminating vbook. Based on interviews with Chinese Christians, it provides valuble glimpses into the remarkable stories of how the Chines churches survived during the era of the most severe repression. It also provides vivid and thoughtful accounts of the may contemporary challenges facing Chinese Christians even as their churches continue to flourish.
-George Marsden, University of Notre Dame


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