Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. History




College of Humanities & Social Sciences

First Advisor

Wang, Edward Q.

Second Advisor

Morschauser, Scott

Third Advisor

Wiltenburg, Joy


China, Christianity, May Fourth Movement, Missionary, Republic of China, United States


Christianity--20th century; China—History—Republic, 1912-1949; Missionaries


Asian History | Christianity


This thesis investigates the beliefs and practices of Chinese Christians and their American missionary counterparts in the Republic of China (1912-1949). Between the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the rise of the People's Republic, the Chinese people seriously reexamined politics, religion, and their relationship with the West. Many scholars claim that Chinese people could not completely understand and accept Christianity due to insurmountable cultural differences. I would argue religious misunderstanding did not befall our historical subjects the Chinese Christians; rather misunderstanding has plagued the modern scholar. Misunderstanding did not arise from a centuries old cultural mindset. Instead, Sino-Christianity conformed to the relatively new paradigm of the Republic. This study argues two central things: Sino-Christians, through scholarly pursuits, formed a religion and a Jesus that best suited nationalistic needs. Secondly, American missionaries, either passively or actively, encouraged native Chinese Christians to interpret religion for themselves. Through Sinification, biblical reading blended with the Literary Revolution, the May Fourth Movement redefined Christ's divinity, Confucianism merged with Christian concepts, and Jesus became a KMT revolutionary. Basically, Sino-Christians of the Republic were trying to find a Chinese Jesus.