Towards A Good Samaritan World

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

CHRISTIAN CHINA?

I've been reading the book "Jesus in Beijing" lately, about the spread of Christianity in China. House Church leaders in China-- the Chinese house churches are semi-underground churches, as opposed to the officially sanctioned Christian "Three Self Patriotic Movement"-- estimate that there are 80 million house church Christians in China. The spread of Christianity in China seems to be driven in part by things like miraculous healings, which makes me slightly uncomfortable; I'm not sure to what extent I believe in miraculous healings. It's also partly because China is a sort of credal vacuum: the old Confucian traditions were swept away by communism and anyway are more cultural/philosophical than religious (I don't think most Christians would see anything incompatible about being a Christian and a disciple of Confucius in a qualified way) and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has been discredited by history, though this is perhaps less clear to those within China, still partly in the grip of state propaganda, than to those outside it.

Christianity in China today is a bit like Christianity in the late Roman Empire. A powerful empire, lacking something to believe in, represses Christianity intermittently, just enough to give it a supply of martyrs, to test Christians faith and solder their solidarity, but not enough to wipe the movement out. So it keeps growing. If the house churches keep growing at their present pace, China will be a majority-Christian country in another generation or two.

A fascinating possibility.

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