Dr. Carol Hamrin shares research on influential Chinese Christians
President Mouw with author Carol Hamrin
Carol Lee Hamrin, research professor at George Mason University and senior associate with Global China Center, was hosted for a luncheon at Fuller during which she spoke on her book Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China (edited with Stacey Bieler).
Much has been written about missionaries to China, China’s political and cultural leaders, and faith leaders of the Western world—“But what about those ‘heroes of the faith’ who are Chinese?” Dr. Hamrin asked. This question led her to research and write about ten lesser-known but outstanding Christian laypeople who, between 1850 and 1950, exerted a quiet but powerful influence in a multitude of arenas in China.
“These are quite amazing people,” Hamrin said. “A few of them are known in China, but nobody knows they were Christian.” Beginning in the latter decades of the nineteenth century—an era of early globalization, with “the telegraph and the steamship bringing the world closer together”—these faith heroes were pioneers who helped China make social, cultural, and moral progress despite economic depression, war, and revolution. All of them, Hamrin explained, “found their purpose, courage, and hope in their Christian faith.”
Hamrin went on to touch on several of the individuals whose lives are detailed in the book. She described how they were influential in the development of six different areas in China: moral and scientific education, modern professions, public media and civic organizations, acceptance of women in public leadership, social work, and international partnerships.
Most of the reformers studied in the United States, and creatively applied their Western knowledge and experience to solve the problems facing their nation, Hamrin said. From Tang Guo’an, who became the first president of Tsinghua University and helped stop China’s opium trade, to Ding Shujing, the first Chinese woman to head the YWCA in China, all helped shape modern China—mostly out of the limelight. “These were reformers who made lasting contributions to China and to the world slowly, gradually, and in peaceful ways,” Hamrin observed.
“A book like this is a wonderful gift because it gives us these names” of the Chinese modernizers who are not well known for their work and the underlying faith that motivated them, said President Richard J. Mouw, in comments offered at the luncheon. This kind of luncheon conversation is an important learning opportunity for Fuller as the seminary works to build understanding and partnerships with China, he said.
Carol Hamrin has extensive expertise on China’s modernization and experience with China-U.S. relations, having served with the U.S. Department of State for 30 years. She has also authored the books God and Caesar in China and Decision Making in Deng’s China.