New Agricultural Gospel: Protestant Agricultural Missions in China in the Early Twentieth Century

Thumbnail Image




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Agricultural mission was a mission taken by Protestant missionaries to improve people livelihood and, at the same time, to preach the Gospel, typically through applying modern science to the improvement of farming.This mission could be taken directly by an American missionary, or, more commonly, indirectly by a Chinese rural worker trained by agricultural education. In this project, I aim to address a seemingly paradoxical part of agricultural Missions in China with a more comprehensive understanding of the movement: how did the missions combine agriculture and Christianity?

The project consists of five chapters. The first chapters is a brief introduction to agricultural missions, and the second chapter a chronological review of the missions’ early development in China. In the third chapter I will discuss the challenges that agricultural missions faced, and the missionaries’ theoretical attempts to combine Christianity and agriculture. The fourth chapter is an attempt to discuss how their rhetorics/theories were applied to rural churches in practice. I will conclude by suggesting that a missionary rhetoric and a Christian theology emerged in the process of the movement to bridge the “spiritual” and “material” side of the movement. Even so, the combination of agriculture and Christianity served to defend the pursuit of secular interests in China, and agricultural missions may represent more of broadening the boundary of Protestant missions into secular realms than a Christianization of China’s rural communities. This is a key question that I will leave unanswered in this project, as an invitation for further conversation and research.



Version 2 of PDF uploaded by mjf33 at request of author 2018-06-08.




Cheng, Mengliu (2018). New Agricultural Gospel: Protestant Agricultural Missions in China in the Early Twentieth Century. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.