Education of love and humanity: Dialectics at work between the global and local in Chinese context

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Dr. Peter NG Tze Ming (NG) served as Professor of Religious Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for 23 years. He has held many guest appointments in mainland China and established networks worldwide in the fields of education, Christian higher education and the history of Christianity in China. Apart from serving as a senior researcher at Lumina College, NG is chair professor of China Victory Theological Seminary of Hong Kong; adjunct professors of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Chinese Society, Shanghai University, China; and of the School of Inter-Cultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA.



Having studied the history of Christian higher education in Modern and Republican China, NG reviewed Tao Xingzhi (Tao) and Lin Chi-ping (Lin)’s implementation of Christian education into the Chinese contexts of their times. Tao emphasized education of love whereas Lin advocated the education for true humanity. Both their thoughts and works illustrated how Chinese Christians have understood and demonstrated their Christian minds in their contemporary Chinese contexts.


Christian religious education has been translated into education of love by Tao during the Republican era in the mid-20th century China and as education for true humanity by Lin in Taiwan in more recent years. Both attempted to integrate Christian Faith to education and life in the Chinese contexts. NG then compared their respective understanding of Christian education and discussed how they could be seen as cases for the faith learning integration in their contemporary Chinese contexts.


Though Tao was in the Mainland and Lin in Taiwan, they both graduated from Christian universities and committed themselves to integrating Christian faith into Chinese culture. They were dedicated to the realization of Christian education into the Chinese context. NG expounded further his discovery on their dialectics at work between the global and local reality and how the Christian faith has enlightened Tao and Lin to go beyond the traditional and modern theories of education, and to offer themselves in the mid-20th century and in the early 21st century China.


Despite their different interpretations of Christian education, many important elements are found common in them:


  1. Global Perspective — they both opened themselves to a global perspective on faith and culture. Tao learned from John Dewey and others the progressive theories of education and developed a new perspective of life and society in relation to education in China; whereas Lin learned from the changing worldviews by Western scientific rationalism and development of technological advancements in recent decades and discovered that modern human culture has become one which is void of God and results in the loss of humanity.

  2. Dialectics at Work between the Global and the Local — they both realized the need to consider the local contexts, such as socio-cultural and political contexts into which they were implementing their Christian faith. Tao lived in a time during which the Chinese intellectuals were committing themselves to save China from poverty and backwardness when being challenged by Western powers. Tao, on the other hand, committed himself to save China, not by military or political forces, but by the education of the mass. Whereas Lin was confronted by the rising social problems in Taiwan and committed himself to the promotion of whole-person education to supplement the contemporary understanding of life education there. Both of them attempted to move beyond Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism by adding new ingredients from the Christian faith, which actually was another dialectic at work between Christian faith and Chinese culture.

  3. Create Culture in Local Contexts — they both believed that Christian faith could help create a new culture for China. Tao advocated “education for all” through education reform movements, especially the People’s Education Movements. This was seen in the motto “Let the whole world be filled with Love” when he started the Xiaozhuang Teachers’ College, and magnified later in his saying “Xiaozhung is born of love, … if there is no love, no Xiaozhuang”. While affirming the Confucian belief that human nature was potentially good, Lin emphasized that it could be based on the Christian belief that men and women were created “in the image of God”, and hence becoming “a spirited, living person”.


What can Christian education contribute to the world today? As revealed from the study of Tao and Lin, Ng concluded that if their Christian mind of knowing and doing in the education of love and true humanity could be recognized and developed, if the whole world be filled with God’s Love, and if the Christian faith could help to bring humanity back by restoring human relationship with God, then no matter they were in the American, Asian or Chinese contexts, they had already demonstrated how Christian faith could help to move beyond Western and Chinese cultures and create new cultural elements in them. Hence, the works of Tao and Lin are still relevant and worthy of the attention of our Christian scholars and of those who are serious about the integration of Christian faith and World cultures today.