Book Review: Kingdom Minded People: Christian Identity and the Contributions of Chinese Business Christians
At one time in Chinese history, it was assumed that a mission school graduates who went into business was lost to the cause of Christ. The historical records suggest, however, that many such Chinese graduates went on to do great things as Christian business leaders in China and in Australia. This is the topic of a new book by Dr Denise A. Austin, Academic Director (Queensland) for Alphacrucis College, a Students for Christ alumni from James Cook University Townsville and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Whilst studying an Asian Studies degree at the University of Queensland, Denise discovered that a number of leading Chinese businessmen of the early 1900s were also Christians but little research had been done on their contributions to society. Meanwhile from missionary records, there were occasional references to donations from nameless Chinese business people. Here was a gap that needed to be investigated. Who were these unnamed Chinese business Christians and what was the significance of their faith? This led to a doctoral thesis in the history department of the University of Queensland.
Now, these research findings have been published by Brill, one of the most prestigious religious publishers in the world. “Kingdom-minded People: Christian Identity and the Contributions of Chinese Business Christians” reveals that these entrepreneurs, many of whom had been converted in Australia, conducted their business out of their identity as Christians. This was evident through their contributions to the societies they lived in, their business practices, and their involvement in active Christian ministry sponsoring church plants, Christian schools and hospitals. The motivations of these early Chinese Christian business people were made clearer through comparisons and investigations with Catholic and contemporary Chinese Christian business people. It has been suggested that ‘this systematic study provides new understanding of how Christian identity motivates Chinese business Christians toward economic, social and religious contribution.’
Denise A. Austin, Ph.D. (2004) in History, University of Queensland, is Academic Director, Queensland for Alphacrucis College (Australian Christian Churches). She has contributed to several works on Chinese and Australian Christian history, including “Religion and Spirituality” (IAP, 2010).