UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The unbearable lightness of faith : Wang Tao's attitudes towards Christianity Huang, Xuan


The Christian faith of Wang Tao 王韜 (1823-1897) has long been a focus of study among scholars. Throughout his life, Wang displayed different or even contradictory attitudes towards Christianity, at once praising and criticizing the religion to which he officially converted. Wang’s faith seemed to waver according to circumstances and hence he is often viewed as an opportunist. In addition, his wavering attitudes towards Christianity reflect the complexity witnessed in the dissemination of Christianity in late-Qing China and serve to underscore the problem of using “conversion” as a marker of one’s religious identity. Wang’s differing attitudes towards Christianity thus complicate our understanding of what it means to be a “true Christian” as well as what constitutes “faith” and one’s “religious identity.” Rather than treating religious identities as fixed entities, I argue that we should think of them as spectrums, along which individuals might locate themselves differently depending on their current circumstances.

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