T. C. Chao

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T. C. Chao (simplified Chinese: 赵紫宸; traditional Chinese: 趙紫宸; pinyin: Zhào Zǐchén) (1888–1979) was one of the leading Christian theological thinkers in China in the early twentieth century.[1]


In 1914, he went to the United States to study and received his MA and BD from Vanderbilt University. He was well known for his academic work as a professor of religious philosophy and dean at Yenching University. In 1948, the first general assembly of the World Council of Churches elected him as one of its six presidents. However, he resigned the post in 1950 in protest against the council's stand on the Korean War.[2]

When the Three-Self Patriotic Movement was launched, he was one of the 40 church leaders who signed the "Three-Self Manifesto". In the 1950s, he began to express anti-American sentiments publicly. However, he was accused of siding with the Americans by the Communist government in 1956 and was only rehabilitated in 1979, a few months before his death.[3]


Chao is regarded by many as the leading Chinese theologian of the twentieth century.[4] According to Gareth Jones, Chao was converted from Methodism to Anglicanism in 1941, when Bishop Ronald Hall confirmed, deaconed, and priested him all on the same day. The reason for his commitment to Anglicanism is due to "the deep appreciation of the ecclesial vocation."[5]

During the Anti-Christian movement of the 1920s, Chao advised Chinese Christians to remove the Western husk from Christianity in order to discover the true essence of the religion. A truly indigenous Christianity, Chao argued, would be a useful basis for social reconstruction in China. In later years, he became more conservative in faith, especially after his imprisonment by the Japanese for several months in 1942. Chao reconciled himself to the new Communist government in Beijing after 1949.[1]

These changes in the sociopolitical context would be reflected in his theology, especially in his view of Christ, which moved from a more liberal starting point to conservative one that addressed questions of human and societal sin.[4][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Glüer, Winfried (1982). "The Legacy of T. C. Chao". International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 6 (4): 165–169.
  2. ^ Glüer, Winfried (1998). Die Theologische Arbeit T.C. Chao's In Der Zeit Von 1918 Bis 1956 (Chinese translation). Chinese Christian Literature Council Ltd. ISBN 962-294-027-7.
  3. ^ Wickeri, Philip L. (2011). Seeking the Common Ground: Protestant Christianity, the Three-Self Movement, and China's United Front. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 244–249. ISBN 978-1-61097-529-2.
  4. ^ a b Chow, Alexander (2013). Theosis, Sino-Christian Theology and the Second Chinese Enlightenment: Heaven and Humanity in Unity. Palgrave Macmillan US. pp. 65–87. ISBN 978-1-137-31262-4.
  5. ^ Jones, Gareth (Autumn 2016). "The Church in China: R O Hall and the Future of Anglican Ecclesiology" (PDF). Minghua. 15: 16–17.
  6. ^ Yongtao Chen (20 September 2016). The Chinese Christology of T. C. Chao. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-32241-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chen Yongtao (2017). The Chinese Christology of T. C. Chao. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-9-004-32241-7.
  • Glüer, Winfried (1979). Christliche Theologie in China: T. C. Chao 1918-1956 [Christian theology in China: T. C. Chao 1918-1956] (in German). Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Mohn. ISBN 3-579-04490-7.
  • Hui, Daniel Hoi Ming (2017). A Study of T. C. Chao's Christology in the Social Context of China (1920-1949). Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-034-32802-9.
  • Ng, Lee-ming (1971). "An Evaluation of T. C. Chao's Thought". Ching Feng. 14 (1–2): 5–59.
  • Starr, Chloe (2016). Chinese Theology: Text and Context. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Chapter 3.