Heavenly Teaching or Heterodox Teaching: The Construction of the Heterodox-Teaching-Image of Catholicism in the Ming China

Sun Xuliang


Ever since Jesuits were first allowed to stay in China in 1583, persecutions against them have never been ceased. Some of them were initiated due to their as foreigners while others were directly targeted their identities as Catholic missionaries. In such anti-Catholic persecutions, Catholicism was particularly accused and depicted as a heterodox teaching and was therefore classified into the same category with other traditional Chinese heterodox teachings like the White Lotus Sect, the Non-Action Sect, and so forth. This is actually a very strange, yet interesting phenomenon given the fact that Catholicism and traditional Chinese heterodoxy teachings share almost nothing in common whether in terms of doctrines, organization patterns or cultural backgrounds. Based on the research conducted by Barend ter Haar on the White Lotus Teaching tradition that the heterodox teachings in China represented by the White Lotus Sect is nothing but a political construction, which has no relevance to its actual religious beliefs, this paper aims at a detailed analysis on the process of the construction of the heterodox-teaching-image of Catholicism in the Ming China through a thorough study on the three labels that are repeatedly employed by anti-Catholic official-scholars, which are “assembling at night and dispersing at dawn”, “men and women indiscriminately mingling together”, and “sorcerers and sorcery-performing” respectively. Besides, the necessity and significance of the construction of the heterodox-teaching-image of Catholicism in the anti-Catholic persecutions will also be elaborated.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/jar.v4n3p77


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