395) Church Growth in China

ALL THOSE CHINESE CHRISTIANS CAN’T BE WRONG:

THE CULTURE-SHAPING POWER OF CHRISTIANITY

By Eric Metaxas, April 28, 2014 at:  www.breakpoint.org 

         At the time of Chairman Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, Christianity in China seemed on the verge of extinction.

     Less than four decades later though, not only has Christianity in China not disappeared, but by some estimates there’ll be more Christians in China come the year 2030 than in any other country in the world!

     Purdue sociologist Fenggang Yang, author of the book, Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that “China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon.”  How soon?  Yang said that “it is going to be less than a generation,” and added that “not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”

     According to his estimates, by 2030 there’ll be 247 million Christians in China.  While that will represent less than one-fifth of the population, it may– depending on how you count who is a Christian and who is not– be the largest Christian population in absolute terms in the world.

     And remember, China is officially an atheist state that routinely harasses and persecutes Christians who get out of line.

     This harassment is by and large an acknowledgment by the Communist government of Christianity’s ability to shape a culture.  William Jeynes of California State University at Long Beach has written about how, on the one hand, Chinese officials are warily open to Christianity, because they see the link between Christianity and the West’s economic success.  But on the other hand, they also see a link between Christianity and Western freedoms, which is why they try to control the practice of Christianity.

     While Chinese officials and scholars see these links, the West is increasingly blind to them.  At the same time that the Telegraph was telling readers about the rise of Christianity in China, it was also reporting on the controversy over British Prime Minister David Cameron’s calling Britain a “Christian country” during remarks at the Easter Sunday reception at 10 Downing Street.  

     As soon as the remark was made, Cameron was accused of “fostering divisions in the UK.”  Fifty “prominent public figures including novelist, diplomats, Nobel prize winners and playwrights” signed a letter to the Telegraph in which they said that “Repeated surveys, polls, and studies show most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.”  They wrote that “although it is right to recognize the contribution made by many Christians to social action, it is wrong to try to exceptionalize their contribution when it is equaled by British people of different beliefs.”

     Well, to put it mildly, that is a comically absurd reading of British history.  Still, it reflects the opinion of many, if not most, opinion-makers in Britain and Europe.  And if church attendance is any guide, it also reflects the beliefs of most Europeans.

     That leaves me wondering: is the United States closer to Britain or to China?

     How ironic is it that in this country, more and more, the faith of our Fathers is seen as the enemy of human freedom.  Yet the Chinese communist leaders understand Christianity for what it is:  a culture-shaping source of human freedom.  And not only freedom.  The West’s superiority in economics, education, charity, and even technology and science, can all be traced to Christianity and the Christian worldview.

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Breakpoint provides links to other resources on Christianity’s powerful influence on all that is good in Western society at (bottom of page):

http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/breakpoint-commentaries-archive/entry/13/25091

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Romans 10:17-18  —  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  But I ask:  Did they not hear?  Of course they did:  “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Philippians 2:9-11  —  Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 2:4-5  —  Yet I hold this against you:  You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.  If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.    A word of warning not only for the first century church in Ephesus (verse one), but also for today’s American and British churches.

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O Lord, convert the world– and begin with me.

–A Chinese student’s prayer