Why is Catholicism not considered ji1du1jiao4?

Just an idle question re: the Chinese translation of English terms.

Catholicism: 天主教 “church of the Lord”

Protestantism: 基督教 “church of Jesus”

Does anyone else agree that 基督教 seems better suited to mean “Christianity” than “Protestantism?” These Chinese terms seem to imply inaccurately that Jesus is not the source of Catholicism.

Anyone know how these terms originated? My guess would be they were the Chinese translations coined by Catholic and Protestant missionaries to China in the 19th century, who had a vested interest in emphasizing the differences between their religions, anyone know further details?

update - my roommate supplies the following:

Christianity - 基督教 “church of Jesus”

Protestantism - 請教 “the pure(?) church”

…but she says that 基督教 is not understood to include Catholicism, so it is more or less synonymous with Protestantism. wtf? Seems like Protestant missionaries beat Catholics to the punch in the naming game…

Interesting question. I’ve thought of this just about every time I’ve had a conversation about religion in Chinese. Most Chinese don’t seem to see the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian Churches in the same light that we do. That’s most likely because of the reasons you’ve mentioned. It makes it especially difficult for someone like me, an Episcopalian, to explain what my church is to a Chinese speaker. We see ourselves as “Catholic,” but not Roman Catholic. Aside from references to the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Pope, a Roman Catholic and an Episcopalian might find it difficult to tell each other’s church services apart. Most Chinese just don’t get it that their two stock terms for what we call Christianity don’t describe with any accuracy the differences among denominations.

I’ve never seen 请

This is a problem every time I discuss religion with a Taiwanese person. What I find especially annoying is that even though this is Western culture, they just won’t believe Westerners when they say that both Roman Catholics and Protestants are Christians.
I also think it must be because early missionaries emphasized the differences, not the common origins.
I had a lot of trouble once when I was trying to help a Taiwanese translate something. The story was about the Romans throwing Christians to the lions. The woman just couldn’t understand it, because, as she kept exclaiming, “But they’re not Christians! They’re Roman Catholics.” A quick sketch of the history of Christianity didn’t really convince her - she finally came to the conclusion that foreigners just didn’t understand their own religion and the basis of their civilization as well as the Chinese did.

[quote=“bababa”]This is a problem every time I discuss religion with a Taiwanese person. What I find especially annoying is that even though this is Western culture, they just won’t believe Westerners when they say that both Roman Catholics and Protestants are Christians.
[/quote] Most Protestants I know don’t believe it either. :wink:

[quote=“Vannyel”][quote=“bababa”]This is a problem every time I discuss religion with a Taiwanese person. What I find especially annoying is that even though this is Western culture, they just won’t believe Westerners when they say that both Roman Catholics and Protestants are Christians.
[/quote] Most Protestants I know don’t believe it either. :wink:[/quote]

Vannyel, has anyone ever told you that :wink: of yours often comes across as very condescending? You obviously have an opinion, so please share it with the rest of us.

i’ve heard a few condescending comments from protestants about the catholic church in my time. old prejudices die hard, and it wasn’t that long ago that such prejudices were very strong. of course those prejudices were 2 way.

wait i think that means i agree with vannyel… well there’s a first time for everything :wink:

I guess becasue the different branches, sects, and offshoots of Christianity often are so hostile to one another, it must seem like they’re not all branches of the same tree. The Bible-thumpers back home think the Catholics are all superstitious idolaters (sp?) - the Mary problem; the devout Catholics think the Protestants are all devil worshippers (witness our strange behavior at Halloween); most people are only nominally one or the other and so don’t really care. Where they really do care, though, Protestant/Catholic battles rage - eg. Northern Ireland.
Probably many Sunni Muslims think Shiite Muslims aren’t really Muslims, and vice versa. I question, though, whether this means we should be giving our Asian students a view of Christianity (or Islam) skewed by our own religious beliefs. Surely we should be trying to give them a balanced view, except for those of us who actually are missionaries. I’ve met too many Taiwanese people who think the only true Christianity is Mormonism. Try explaining to them it’s not exactly mainstream in the West.

Technically, in Chinese, Catholicism is 天主教 and Protestantism is 新教, while Christianity is 基督教, and covers both Catholicism and Protestantism. But it seems most Chinese are unaware of that, at least in my experience.

There are other errors that occur in everyday Chinese - one that always amuses me is when someone calls Niagara Falls “Nicaragua Falls”.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”
“Why shouldn’t I?” he said.
“Well, there’s so much to live for!”
“Like what?”
“Well… are you religious?”
He said yes. I said, “Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?”
“Christian.”
“Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ?”
“Protestant.”
“Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”
“Baptist”
“Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”
“Baptist Church of God!”
“Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God!”
“Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?”
He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!”
I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.
(Emo Philips)

[quote=“Vannyel”][quote=“bababa”]This is a problem every time I discuss religion with a Taiwanese person. What I find especially annoying is that even though this is Western culture, they just won’t believe Westerners when they say that both Roman Catholics and Protestants are Christians.
[/quote] Most Protestants I know don’t believe it either. :wink:[/quote]

Huh? :idunno:
Please explain.

[quote=“Spack”][quote=“Vannyel”][quote=“bababa”]This is a problem every time I discuss religion with a Taiwanese person. What I find especially annoying is that even though this is Western culture, they just won’t believe Westerners when they say that both Roman Catholics and Protestants are Christians.
[/quote] Most Protestants I know don’t believe it either. :wink:[/quote]

Huh? :idunno:
Please explain.[/quote]
I think bababa summed it up pretty good with…

I am not sure what is left to explain. :s
braxtonhicks…sorry if you find a :wink: very condescending. Why would you? I had no opinion on this, I was merely stating that most of the Protestants I know don’t believe Catholics are true Christians. What more is there to say? Personally, I really don’t care. :laughing: (is this condescending as well???)

I discussed this many years ago with a Jesuit who was giving a lecture on the history of Christianity in China, and raised the same question. Jplowman’s guess that the terms “were the Chinese translations coined by Catholic and Protestant missionaries to China in the 19th century” is not far off, but a tad late; checking online sources to refresh my memory, I see that the Jesuits were in Macau in the mid 16th century and in 1601 Ricci went to the imperial Chinese; given that Ricci published a book entitled Tianzhu shiyi in 1603, I imagine that the term Tianzhujiao couldn’t have been far off. Protestant missions began a bit later, with the first, by Robert Morrison in Canton, in 1807. I don’t actually have any info on when these Chinese terms were coined, though.

Could be; or perhaps they merely translated the terms independently, without a thought for the confusion which would follow. Protestants often introduce themselves as “Christian” too, while Catholics tend not to choose that word when volunteering self-identification. I imagine that the Chinese terms merely reflect this.

[quote=“chris”]Technically, in Chinese, Catholicism is 天主教 and Protestantism is 新教, while Christianity is 基督教, and covers both Catholicism and Protestantism. But it seems most Chinese are unaware of that, at least in my experience.
[/quote]

Yes, very common problem; most use 基督教 jidujiao to mean “Protestant”, which is of course confusing. Just FYI, another term for Protestantism is 新基督教 xin1 ji1dujiao4, and another for Catholicism is 舊基督教 jiu4 jidujiao. But neither is commonly understood.

Who cares what your friends think? They could be bigoted idiots for all we know. Do you think Catholics are true Christians?

Who cares what your friends think? They could be bigoted idiots for all we know. Do you think Catholics are true Christians?[/quote]
What is your problem? You asked a question and I gave you the answer and then you fire back with this crap. And you obviously don’t bother to READ posts too carefully, otherwise you would have see this in my last post…

And what this really means is, I haven’t given any thought to the question of whether Catholics are true Christians or not…in other words, “personally, I really don’t care.”

When you said, “Personally, I don’t really care” I took that to mean you didn’t care whether you sounded condescending or not.
I mistook your meaning, but since you brought up the view of most of your Protestant friends I thought it reasonable to ask what your own opinion is. I was curious as to whether you would seek to distance yourself from an opinion that most of my friends (Christians, Buddhists, you name it) would consider totally whacked.

If you ask a Catholic “What’s your religion?” they’ll say “Catholic.”

If you ask a Protestant, “What’s your religion?” they’ll say “Christian.”

I’m pretty sure this is how the confusion got started. You’ll never straighten it out at this late date. In scholarly circles they use “jidu zongjiao” to mean Christianity in general. If you really want to avoid ambiguity there’s another translation of “Protestant” which I can’t remember right now, but that can only be used to refer to that movement which is about 500 years old, and not the 2000-year-old one.

I like to tell my students that to English speakers, it seems obvious that the pope is a Christian.

I’ve never met a real Christian in my life. You know, give up all your earthly possessions and walk the earth barefoot preaching love & faith to society’s outcasts. Being a genuine Christian seems too tough of a job for me.

Who cares what your friends think? They could be bigoted idiots for all we know. Do you think Catholics are true Christians?[/quote]

Personally I don’t care, but I believe that it something to do with the whole Mary issue. A lot of Catholics pray to Mary, this would be cool if Mary were God, but according to Christian theology, she isn’t. That becomes having another god besides the one God, doesn’t it? One Catholic explained it to me as this, “what son could refuse the request of his mother, so I pray to Mary and she goes to Jesus”. So, according to this guy, he was going into emotional blackmail with God.

Once again, personally I don’t care, it’s just something I heard.

How unfortunate.