The Art of Dialogue and Proclamation: A Case Study with John C. H. Wu (1899-1986)

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Theology


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: William Portier


This dissertation is a contextualized and hermeneutical study of the relationship between dialogue and proclamation through the work of John C. H. Wu. Dialogue refers to the intercultural and interreligious dialogue between Christians and members of other faiths. Proclamation refers to the explicit proclamation of the Gospel of Christ among the nations. It begins by placing Wu back into his historical context in Chinese modernity from the 1840s to 1949. He is described as a humanist who takes a different approach than liberals and Communists to the relationship between China’s past traditions and modernity, between China and the West. Wu’s participation in dialogue is explored through his cosmopolitan journal, T’ien Hsia Monthly, and his explicit writings relating Christianity to the traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. His involvement in the proclamation of the Gospel is explored through his Christology, his translation of the New Testament, and his interpretation of Thérèse of Lisieux. The examination of his work yields three main findings. First, dialogue and proclamation in the Chinese context are inseparable. Second, Wu applies an existential hermeneutic of joy as his criterion of comparison, through which he can appreciate with continuity the gift of his native traditions and the gift of Christ. Third, he displays a dynamic and contextualized theology of religions that can be termed “transfigured harmony.” His contribution to Christian theology lies in his ability to hold opposites in creative tension as well as his literary, aesthetic, and sapiential theological imagination.


Chinese Christianity, Chinese catholicism, John C. H. Wu, the Chinese church, interreligious dialogue, Chinese theology

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Copyright © 2023, author.