Friday, August 10, 2007

A Christian China?

The claim is stunning. Do 10,000 Chinese become Christians daily? Currently there are 111,000,000 Chinese Christians and that makes the People's Republic of China the third largest Christian country in the world (US and Brazil being 1 and 2). The 10,000 conversions a day would have 218,000,000 Christians and China with the country becoming the second most Christian country (even though Christians would make up less than twenty-percent of the population).

The growth is a internal development with Chinese doing most of the conversions. The Communist effort to expel the foreign missionaries actually increased Christianity's successes because the cultural gap between missionaries and subjects was eliminated.

Protestants and Catholics are playing two different games when it comes to converting. The Catholic Church is now trying to negotiate and bring the "official" church in China back into communion. Pentecostal Protestants however are bypassing government controls and setting up their own house churches. So far the Protestants are winning.

Christianity is old in China but ever since the Nestorians were outlawed (it is rumored they nearly converted an emperor). Today the emptiness of a post-communist (not post-Communist) culture has Chinese searching for answers in religion. Christianity and Islam are leading the charge in gaining new followers.

So what does this all mean? Well, in the future the Pope has a growing chance at being Chinese (think what John Paul II was to the Soviets), an African-Chinese tag team might knock on your door asking if you know about Jesus, and of course there is also geopolitics. Would a more Christian China be open to better relations with the West? Time may tell.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I have read much about the house churches in China and how they suffer. It's amazing that in the places where Christianity is challenged the most it flourishes, while here where Christianity is thought sometimes to be part of our culture and accepted or largely ignored it struggles to be what it should be.

Have you ever heard of the magazine "Touchstone"? I think you might appreciate it. It is a magazine written by both Catholics and Protestants and is Theologically rich.