Following the prohibition of missionary activity after 1724, China's Christians were effectively cut off from all foreign theological guidance. The ensuing isolation forced China's Christian communities to become self-reliant in perpetuating the basic principles of their faith. Left to their own devices, the missionary seed developed into a panoply of indigenous traditions, with Christian ancestry as the common denominator. Christianity thus underwent the same process of inculturation as previous religious traditions in China, such as Buddhism and Judaism. As the guardian of orthodox morality, the prosecuting state sought to exercise all-pervading control over popular thoughts and social functions.
Filling the gap within the discourse of Christianity in China and also as part of the wider analysis of religion in late Imperial China, this study presents the campaigns against Christians during this period as part and parcel of the campaign against 'heresy' and 'heretical' movements in general.
'[T]he book offers many detailed and hitherto unknown insights into the history of Christianity in the capital, in established Christian centers as well as in remote villages during that time period… a truly original contribution to an expanding field of research. It adds many new elements to our understanding of Christianity in China between the Yongzheng period and the Daoguang years.' - Dominic Sachsenmaier, Sino-Western Cultural Relations Journal, XXIX, 2007
"Christian Heretics in Late Imperial China is a comprehensive, insightful and penetrating study of the growth of Chinese Christianity, its expansion into local society, its dialogue with other religious movements, and its encounter with the imperial state during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It should be pertinent to anyone interested in the history of Sino-Western interactions." -- Joseph Tse-Hei, Itinerario, 2007
'Christian Heretics in Late Imerial China could be one of the most important works on the history of Christian mission in China. It is a valuable contribution to the knowledge of the events of the period discussed, to the unlocking of the complex tensions in relation of Christianity and the state; and to the understanding of the developments up until present day' - Wilhelm K. Mueller, SVD
Part 1: Introduction 1. Defining the Research Parameters 2. 'Inculturation'- Defining a Concept 3. The Evolution of Chinese Christianity Part 2: Late Imperial Christianity: Popular Cult or Alien Creed? 4. Filial Sons and a World of Demons 5. Peasant Millenarianism and Christian Theology Part 3: A Protective Father: Official Perceptions of Christianity and Government Action against Sectarian Movements 6. The Philosophical Basis for Anti-Heresy Campaigns 7. Christianity as the Target: A Chronology of State Action 8. The Perplexed Official: Christianity as Heredox Mystery 9. Christianity as Internal Menace 10. Christianity as Alien Intrusion Part 4: Conclusion: Christianity as Popular Chinese Religion 11. Who is the 'Chinese Christian'? 12. Epilogue: Chinese Christianity into the Third Millenium