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Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye - book author

Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye is a senior lecturer in Asian studies at the University of Auckland. She received her PhD in Chinese history from Harvard University. Dr. Inouye's research includes the history of Chinese Christianity, moral ideology in modern China, global charismatic religious movements, and women and religion. Her book China and the True Jesus: Charisma and Organization in a Chinese Christian Church was published by Oxford University Press in January 2019.

A member of the advisory board of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University, Dr. Inouye is committed to the mutually reinforcing relationship between faith and learning. Her writings on Latter-day Saint life and faith have been published online and in print in Patheos, the Washington Post, Meridian Magazine, Square Two, and the Ensign. She and her husband, Joseph, have four noisy and joyful children, botanically nicknamed Bean, Sprout, Leaf, and Shoot.

Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye is the author of books: Crossings: A Bald Asian American Latter-Day Saint Woman Scholar's Ventures Through Life, Death, Cancer, and Motherhood (Not Necessarily in That Order), China and the True Jesus: Charisma and Organization in a Chinese Christian Church

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01
In this collection of personal essays, letters, and even drawings, Melissa Inouye considers how Latter-day Saints in an increasingly globalized Church might cultivate unity without leaving their distinctive gifts behind. As an Asian American Latter-day Saint feminist and scholar, she feels the urgency of the Lord's command that the Church be one (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27).

With her unique mix of humor and candor, empathy and idealism, Inouye draws upon her academic training in Chinese history and religious studies, her rich cultural heritage, her experiences raising a family in an international setting, her tangle with cancer, and her resilient faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ to unfurl vibrant reflections on the enduring question of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint today.
02
In 1917, the Beijing silk merchant Wei Enbo's vision of Jesus sparked a religious revival, characterized by healings, exorcisms, tongues-speaking, and, most provocatively, a call for a return to authentic Christianity that challenged the Western missionary establishment in China. This revival gave rise to the True Jesus Church, China's first major native denomination. The church was one of the earliest Chinese expressions of the twentieth century charismatic and Pentecostal tradition which is now the dominant mode of twenty-first century Chinese Christianity. To understand the faith of millions of Chinese Christians today, we must understand how this particular form of Chinese community took root and flourished even throughout the wrenching changes and dislocations of the past century.

The church's history links together key themes in modern Chinese social history, such as longstanding cultural exchange between China and the West, imperialism and globalization, game-changing advances in transport and communications technology, and the relationship between religious movements and the state in the late Qing (circa 1850-1911), Republican (1912-1949), and Communist (1950-present-day) eras.

Vivid storytelling highlights shifts and tensions within Chinese society on a human scale. How did mounting foreign incursions and domestic crises pave the way for Wei Enbo, a rural farmhand, to become a wealthy merchant in the early 1900s? Why did women in the 1920s and 30s, such as an orphaned girl named Yang Zhendao, devote themselves so wholeheartedly to a patriarchal religious system? What kinds of pressures induced church leaders in a meeting in the 1950s to agree that "Comrade Stalin" had saved many more people than Jesus?

This book tells the striking but also familiar tale of the promise and peril attending the collective pursuit of the extraordinary-how individuals within the True Jesus Church in China over the past century have sought to muster divine and human resources to transform their world.