Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality

John C.H. Wu

Foreword by Robert M. Gimello

In the essays collected here, John C. H. Wu (1899–1986), the prominent 20th-century scholar of both Chinese and western law, philosophy, literature, and spirituality, illustrates with striking originality the harmonious synthesis of Chinese humanism (especially the wisdom of the ancient sages) with Christian spirituality as articulated in the Bible and the writings of the saints, mystics, and such modern spiritual writers as Thérèse of Lisieux. They display the depth and breadth of Wu’s thought, which led him to the conclusion that the wisdom in all of China’s traditions—especially Confucian thought, Taoism, and Buddhism—points to universal truths that originate from, and are fulfilled in, Christ, and that the “marriage” of the East and the West in Christ is the key to a future concordant understanding.

Praise for Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality

“The essay on St. Thérèse and Lao Tzu is profound and interesting, and the one on Celine, which is Confucian, admirably balances it. I am delighted to see these essays, which I like so much, between the covers of a book.”

— THOMAS MERTON

“An astute reader of the classics of the Chinese traditions, a deft translator of several of them into English, and a connoisseur of the rich heritage of Chinese poetry, Wu offers in these essays insight after insight into the deeper meanings of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, while also critically evaluating them from the rare perspective of an accomplished sinologist who was also a devout Catholic intellectual. Just as Wu himself was prepared for his encounter with Christ through the mediation of Thérèse of Lisieux, and by his profound knowledge of the great trinity of Chinese traditions, so western Christians may also find in those traditions confirmations rather than subversions or attenuations of their commitment to Christ.”

— ROBERT M. GIMELLO, Research Professor of Theology and of East Asian Languages & Cultures, University of Notre Dame

“In a manner that extends the great inter-cultural dialogue started by Matteo Ricci, John Wu’s work delves deeply into the harmony between the various strains of Chinese humanism and Christian spirituality. Invoking an abundance of rich and fascinating examples throughout his writing, Wu shows how specific elements of Chinese and Christian tradition complement one another, and how Chinese traditions are fulfilled, and sometimes corrected, by the light of Divine Revelation.”

— JOHN A. LINDBLOM, University of Notre Dame

About the Author

John C.H. Wu

John C. H. Wu was born in Ningbo, China, in 1899, and educated under the traditional Chinese system before the beginning of the new Republic of China. After studying with outstanding legal thinkers in the United States, Germany, and France in the 1920s, he returned to Shanghai as a judge, lawyer and legislator who wrote the first draft of the nation’s constitution. In 1937, during a time of national turmoil and personal spiritual crisis, he returned to Christianity (to which he had first been introduced in his youth) and became a Catholic. In the war-torn decade of the 1940s, he escaped (with his large family) Japanese captivity in Hong Kong, translated thePsalms and New Testament into Classical Chinese at the commission of China’s president, Chiang Kai-Shek, and served as Nationalist China’s ambassador to the Holy See from 1946 to 1949. Exiled from China by the Communist revolution in 1949, Wu taught law and Asian philosophy at Seton Hall University until retiring to Taiwan in 1967, where he became the honorary president of Chinese Culture University.