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“Cultural Christians” and Political Dissent in Contemporary China

Harvard University's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies hosts Professor Xi Lian who will speak on Christians in China.

October 21, 2011 12:15pm to 12:00am

The term "Cultural Christians" refers to Christian and Christian-influenced public intellectuals in contemporary China. As a religious and social phenomenon, it can be traced back to the 1980s. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, "Cultural Christians" have been drawn toward growing political and social activism, and have often played a prominent role in political dissent and in the “rights defense” (weiquan) movement. Professor Lian assesses both the promises and the precariousness of the struggle of Protestant public intellectuals; he also compares the political potentials of "Cultural Christians" and grassroots Christians that make up the predominantly rural, theologically conservative “house church” movement.

Xi Lian is professor of history at Hanover College. He is the author of Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China (2010), which won the Christianity Today 2011 Book Award (Missions/Global Affairs). Its Chinese edition, under the title Yuhuo dejiu: Xiandai Zhongguo minjian Jidujiao de xingqi, was recently published by the Chinese University Press in Hong Kong. Professor Lian’s other published works include The Conversion of Missionaries: Liberalism in American Protestant Missions in China, 1907-1932 (1997).

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