Guns and Gospel: Imperialism and Evangelism in China

By Ambrose Mong

An exploration of the history of Christian missionary work in China, and its often ambiguous and uneasy relationship with European imperialism.

ISBN: 9780227176252


During the nineteenth century, Christian missionaries vied for the Chinese souls they thought they were saving. But many things held them back: Western gunboat diplomacy, unequal treaties and their own prejudices, which increased hostility towards Christianity. “One more Christian, one less Chinese” has long been a popular cliché in China.

Guns and Gospel examines the accusation of ‘cultural imperialism’ levelled against the missionaries and explores their complex and ambivalent relationships with the opium trade and British imperialism. Ambrose Mong follows key figures among the missionaries, such as Robert Morrison, Charles Gützlaff, James Hudson Taylor and Timothy Richard, uncovering why some succeeded where others failed, and asks whether they really became lackeys to imperialism.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 200

 |   | 

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Ambrose Mong, PhD, is assistant parish priest at St Theresa’s Church, Hong Kong, and research associate at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Purification of Memory (James Clarke, 2015) and Accommodation and Acceptance (James Clarke, 2015).


Foreword by Mark DeStephano


1. Christus Victor
2. Opening China
3. Uprisings
4. Pro Deo et Patri
5. A Colourful Character
6. A Generous Spirit
7. All Things to All Men
8. Mission under Fire




Endorsements and Reviews

Ambrose Mong, OP, offers readers a nuanced interpretation of the Protestant experience in China, from the days of the earliest missionaries to the present day. Concentrating on 19th century missionary personalities, his theme is the interaction between imperialism and evangelism. He clearly shows how the ambivalent connection between Christianity and the Western incursion into China time and again presented obstacles to the spread of the gospel. Guns and Gospel should be read by all who are interested in the early history of Protestant Christianity in China, and its continuing impact on the church today.
Philip L. Wickeri, Professor of Church History, Ming Hua Theological College, Hong Kong

Ambrose Mong provides a valuable insight into the historical background of Chinese attitudes to Christian mission in China. In a wide-ranging study, Mong sheds light on why Christianity is still a minority religion in China. … The contents of this book are especially important for Western Christians seeking to understand China.
Trish Madigan, in The Swag: Quarterly Magazine of the National Council of Priests of Australia

Guns and Gospel is a fine synthesis that investigates the symbiosis between Christianization and Western imperialism. … essential reading for anyone interested in Chinese Christianity, interreligious dialogues, and cross-cultural engagements.
Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, Department of History, Pace University (New York)

This book is useful in stimulating interest in mission and cultural studies, even studies in contextual theology, particularly the popular topic of Asian theology.
Jihe Gaius Song, in The Expository Times, Vol 129, No 3

By outlining the Chinese mission history, Mong draws attention to both global and local forces that influenced the passions, visions, and actions of different Protextant missions, the missionaries’ perception of China as ‘the Other’, and the dissemination of Christianity in a Chinese context … Guns and Gospel is an essential reading for anyone interested in Chinese Christianity, interreligious dialogues, and cross-cutural engagements.
Joseph Tse-hei Lee, in Ching Feng, Vol 16.1-2

Guns and Gospel is a sophisticated overview of the work of Christian missionaries in China, and it its pages we see a range of human motivation ranging from rapaciousness to charity.
James Carter, in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 2018

Mong has made great efforts to show the personalities of the above-mentioned Protestant missionaries and pinpoint their ambiguous roles in imperialism and evangelism.
Wai-Yin Christina Wong, in Journal of Chinese Religions, Vol 46, Issue 1

The advantages of this book are its discerning and accurate assessment of the spiritual and ethical failings of Western missionaries in their accommodation to, and from Western military diplomacy and the benefits they reaped from it.
Brendon Norton, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 2

This is a valuable volume on this subject and should be on the reading lists for this topic.
Stuart Vogel, in New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, Vol 20, No 1