William Chalmers Burns in China

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The two main phases of the working life of William Chalmers Burns are often divided: his early revivalist preaching in Scotland, England, and Canada, and his later career as missionary in China. This essay concentrates on the latter period, placing his work in a closer cultural context through his time spent in James Hudson Taylor’s company, assessing the nature of his translation work—especially his influential work on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress—and examining his role in the “Chinese Union” controversy of 1850 in which James Legge was also deeply involved. Burns consistently committed himself to identifying closely with those to whom he preached the gospel, and to making access to the gospel message he preached as frictionless as possible. His life can be seen more holistically as that of an itinerant evangelist, no matter what his geographical or cultural location might have been: equally a missionary in Scotland and Canada as an evangelist in China.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScottish missions to China
Subtitle of host publicationcommemorating the legacy of James Legge (1815-1897)
EditorsAlexander Chow
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789004461789
ISBN (Print)9789004509634
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022

Publication series

NameTheology and mission in world christianity
ISSN (Print)2452-2953


  • William Chalmers Burns
  • Karl Gützlaff
  • James Legge
  • Translation and censorship
  • Christian mission
  • World christianity


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