Xi Lian

Professor of World Christianity
059C Langford

Duke Divinity School
Duke University
407 Chapel Drive
Duke Box #90968
Durham, NC 27708-0968

(919) 660-3410
  • B.A. (Fujian Normal University)
  • M.A. (Fujian Normal University)
  • D.A. (State University of New York at Albany)

Professor Lian’s research is focused on China’s modern encounter with Christianity. His first book, The Conversion of Missionaries (1997), is a critical study of American Protestant missions against the backdrop of rising Chinese nationalism in the early twentieth century. His second book, Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China (2010), winner of the 2011 Christianity Today Book Award, examines the development of missionary Christianity into a vibrant, indigenous faith of the Chinese masses. One of his current research projects looks beyond grassroots Christianity and examines the emergence of Protestant elites and their prominent, if also precarious, role in the search for civil society in today’s China.

Selected Publications


Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010).

Winner of Christianity Today 2011 Book Award (Missions/Global Affairs category); winner of the 2010 Award for Academic Excellence given by Chinese Historians in the United States, an affiliate of the American Historical Association and the Association for Asian Studies; chosen as one of Fifteen Outstanding Books of 2010 for Mission Studies by International Bulletin of Missionary Research. Read highlights of reviews of the book.

Yuhuo dejiu: Xiandai Zhongguo minjian Jidujiao de xingqi 浴火得救---現代中國民間基督教的興起 (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2011).

Chinese edition of Redeemed by Fire, translated by He Kaisong and Lei Ayong in collaboration with the author.

The Conversion of Missionaries: Liberalism in American Protestant Missions in China, 1907-1932 (University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997).

Scholarly Articles

“'Cultural Christians' and the Search for Civil Society in Contemporary China." The Chinese Historical Review, 20. I (May 2013): 71-88.

"A New Journey in the Study of Christianity in China." The Chinese Historical Review, 20. I (May 2013): 1-4.

“A Messianic Deliverance for Post-Dynastic China: The Launch of the True Jesus Church in the Early Twentieth Century.” Modern China, 34, 4 (October 2008): 407-41.

“Western Protestant Missions and Modern Chinese Nationalist Dreams.” East Asian History 32/33 (December 2006/June 2007): 199-216.

“The Search for Chinese Christianity in the Republican Period (1912-1949).” Modern Asian Studies 38, 4 (October 2004): 851-98.

“Evangelists of Pluralism.” The Journal of Presbyterian History 81, 2 (Summer 2003): 106-9.

“The ‘Spiritual Gifts Movement’ in War-Torn China” (online article), copyright © 2007 by The Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity and Yale University Press (PDF)

Book Reviews

"A New Lens and a New Picture of Christianity in China," featured review of Daniel H. Bays, A New History of Christianity in China. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. China Review International 19, 2 (Spring 2013).

Review of Paul P. Mariani, Church Militant: Bishop Kung and Catholic Resistance in Communist Shanghai. Harvard University Press, 2011. American Historical Review 117, 5 (December 2012).

Review of Kang Liao, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge Across the Pacific. Praeger, 1997. H-Net Reviews, July 1998.


"Returning to the Middle Kingdom: Yung Wing and the Recalled Students of the Chinese Educational Mission to the United States." Modern Asian Studies (2014).