VIDEO: Liu Series in Chinese Christianities, Double Book Launch

Author: Liu Institute

The Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and the University of Notre Dame Press launched the next two books in the Liu Institute Series in Chinese Christianities in a virtual event on Tuesday, April 9, cosponsored by the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion and the Department of Theology.

The books are "Following Christ and Confucius: Wang Mingdao and Chinese Christianity" by Christopher Payk and "Protestant Missionaries in China: Robert Morrison and Early Sinology" by Jonathan A. Seitz.

Payk and Seitz participated in a virtual panel with Alexander Chow, senior lecturer in theology and world Christianity at the University of Edinburgh, who serves as the book series editor. Christie Chui-Shan Chow, the author of the previous book in the series, "Schism: Seventh-day Adventism in Post-Denominational China," served as a discussant.

“It is exciting to see our series move forward, especially with these books that examine the lives of two important, yet vastly different, figures in Chinese Christian history,” said Michel Hockx, director of the Liu Institute. “Christopher Payk and Jonathan Seitz are making valuable contributions to the understanding of Chinese Christianities, and their panel discussion with Professor Chow will underline the overall value and quality of the Liu Institute book series.”

"Following Christ and Confucius" is the first full-length critical biography and theological analysis of Wang Mingdao, the spiritual father of China’s house church movement. One of the most influential figures in Chinese Christianity, Wang rejected state control of religion in favor of the religious freedom of the unregistered house churches—a choice that made him a frequent target of government persecution.

Payk traces Wang’s life and Christian development through the sociopolitical tumult of 20th-century China. Drawing on unpublished sermons, journals, and additional sources in English and Chinese, Payk argues that Wang’s theology was shaped by Confucian tradition, reason, and personal experience. "Following Christ and Confucius" brings new clarity to Wang’s uncompromising faith and lasting impact.

Payk earned a Ph.D. from National Chengchi University in Taipei. A chaplain at Morrison Academy Taipei, he is the author of "Grace First: Christian Mission and Prevenient Grace in John Wesley."

With a focus on Robert Morrison, "Protestant Missionaries in China" evaluates the role of 19th-century British missionaries in the early development of the cross-cultural relationship between China and the English-speaking world.

An early British Protestant missionary, Morrison went to China in 1807 with the goal of evangelizing the country. His mission pushed him into deeper engagement with Chinese language and culture, and the exchange flowed both ways as Morrison brought depictions of China back to eager British audiences. Seitz proposes that, despite the limitations imposed by the orientalist biases that propped up British colonialism, Morrison and his fellow missionaries were instrumental in creating a new map of cross-cultural engagement that would evolve, ultimately, into modern sinology. After his return to Britain, Morrison endowed the chair of Chinese at the University of London, a post Hockx held from 2003-2016, prior to his move to Notre Dame.

Seitz earned a PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is associate professor at Taiwan Graduate School of Theology in Taipei and a mission co-worker with the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is the editor of George Hunter McNeur’s "Liang A-Fa: China’s First Preacher, 1789–1855."

The Liu Institute Series in Chinese Christianities with the University of Notre Dame Press examines several denominations of Christianity in modern China. Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in mainland China and among the linguistically and culturally diverse Chinese diaspora that encompasses more than a fifth of the world’s population. Still, the academic world has been slow to take into account the role of Chinese Christians and their distinctly Chinese interpretation of Christianity in examining world Christianity. 

The Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies provides integrated and multidisciplinary research and teaching on Asia. The Institute also promotes general awareness, understanding, and knowledge of Asia through public events and supporting student and faculty scholarship and engagement with partners in Asia. The Institute, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, was established in 2010 by a gift from the RM Liu Foundation that supports the philanthropic activities of Robert and Mimi Liu and their children, Emily and Justin, both Notre Dame graduates.