Religious Entrepreneurism in China’s Urban House Churches: The Rise and Fall of Early Rain Reformed Presbyterian Church

1st Edition

Li Ma

Published July 5, 2019
Reference - 242 Pages - 2 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367221713 - CAT# 303110
Series: Routledge Studies in Religion


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This book offers a unique historical documentation of the development of the ambitious religious entrepreneurism by leaders of the Early Rain church (and later Western China Presbytery leadership), in an effort to gain social influence in China through local institution-building and global public image management. It unravels the social processes of how this Christian community with a public image of defending religious freedom in China was undermined by an internal loss of moral authority.

Based on publicly available texts from Chinese social media that aren’t readily available in the West as well as in-depth interviews, it is framed by existing scholarship in social theories of the public sphere, charismatic domination in social transition, and the role of power in organizational behaviour. These churches’ stories show how Christianity, which has long been politically marginalized in communist China, has not only adapted and challenged the socio-political status quo, but how it was also ironically shaped by the political culture.

This is an insightful and critical ethnographic study of one of modern China’s most famous house churches. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars of Religion in China as well as those working in Religious Studies, Asian studies, Chinese studies, and Mission Studies more generally.

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