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China: Set To Become The World's Most Christian Nation


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"It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence," beamed Jin Hongxin, a 40-year-old visitor who was admiring the golden cross above Liushi's altar in the lead up to Holy Week.

"If everyone in China believed in Jesus then we would have no more need for police stations. There would be no more bad people and therefore no more crime," she added.

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"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

"It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change."

China's Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Prof Yang said. "It's ironic – they didn't. They actually failed completely."

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The new spread of Christianity has the Communist Party scratching its head.

"The child suddenly grew up and the parents don't know how to deal with the adult," the preacher, who is from China's illegal house-church movement, said.

Some officials argue that religious groups can provide social services the government cannot, while simultaneously helping reverse a growing moral crisis in a land where cash, not Communism, has now become king.

They appear to agree with David Cameron, the British prime minister, who said last week that Christianity could help boost Britain's "spiritual, physical and moral" state.

Ms Shi, Liushi's preacher, who is careful to describe her church as "patriotic", said: "We have two motivations: one is our gospel mission and the other is serving society. Christianity can also play a role in maintaining peace and stability in society. Without God, people can do as they please."

Yet others within China's leadership worry about how the religious landscape might shape its political future, and its possible impact on the Communist Party's grip on power, despite the clause in the country's 1982 constitution that guarantees citizens the right to engage in "normal religious activities".

As a result, a close watch is still kept on churchgoers, and preachers are routinely monitored to ensure their sermons do not diverge from what the Party considers acceptable.

In Liushi church a closed circuit television camera hangs from the ceiling, directly in front of the lectern.

"They want the pastor to preach in a Communist way. They want to train people to practice in a Communist way," said the house-church preacher, who said state churches often shunned potentially subversive sections of the Bible. The Old Testament book in which the exiled Daniel refuses to obey orders to worship the king rather than his own god is seen as "very dangerous", the preacher added.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10776023/China-on-course-to-become-worlds-most-Christian-nation-within-15-years.html

 

 

I've always perceived that other Christian churches do a better job at converting atheists or non Christians than we do.  Perhaps this is their role as people journey to the fulness of the Gospel.

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I've always perceived that other Christian churches do a better job at converting atheists or non Christians than we do.  Perhaps this is their role as people journey to the fulness of the Gospel.

 

Of course, the irony is that very large numbers of mormons become atheists or agnotics when they leave the church.  (http://www.wheatandtares.org/13566/reasons-disaffected-mormons-become-atheists/)  So maybe its some sort of cycle:  atheist -> evangelical -> mormon -> atheist -> etc.

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In terms of raw numbers (not percentages, certainly, but raw numbers) China likely will become the world's most Mormon Christian nation, one day!  Just sayin'! :D;)

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Of course, the irony is that very large numbers of mormons become atheists or agnotics when they leave the church.  (http://www.wheatandtares.org/13566/reasons-disaffected-mormons-become-atheists/)  So maybe its some sort of cycle:  atheist -> evangelical -> mormon -> atheist -> etc.

 

Yes, I think Atheism is one of the only rational ways for a disaffected Mormon to go.  We are at the peak of Christianity, know all the truth that God wants His Church to know and have the only sound and defensible Biblical interpretation, and if the other major religions don't satisfy, there is nowhere else to turn.

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I've always perceived that other Christian churches do a better job at converting atheists or non Christians than we do.  Perhaps this is their role as people journey to the fulness of the Gospel.

Perhaps this has something to do with the similarity between Eastern spiritual traditions and orthodox Christianity of beliefs about the nature of ultimate reality, the ultimate essence of all things.  Both traditions believe that ultimate reality is spiritual, ineffable, inexpressible, beyond all idea and concept, transcendent, ultimate being, One, the ground of reality, primal pattern, etc.  It is the principle or source of all order and harmony in creation.  Taoists call this the Tao; Buddhists call it the void; Hindus call it Brahmin; ancient Greeks called it Logos.  Eastern spiritual practices seek a direct intuition and awakening to ineffable reality beyond concept - the impersonal divinity (God) that permeates and is identified with the universe (pantheism).  Ancient orthodox Christians personified the Logos as Christ, the Word which issues from Mind (the Father), so their spiritual practices, although similar (asceticism, contemplation) don't aim at awakening but at union with personal divinity (prayer is added to asceticism and contemplation).  As the Word spoken by the Father, the Word is the agent that creates and sustains all things.  This is very similar to Taoist philosophy, although Taoism posits an impersonal, sustaining ordering principle (Tao) and not the personified logos of Christianity.  For instance, the Orthodox translate the first verse of John into Chinese as "In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God and the Tao was God."  The Chinese idea of the Tao and the traditional Christian notion of the creating, sustaining Divine Logos are quite similar.  It seems like it wouldn't be hard to convince Chinese Taoists that the Tao is a Person who became incarnate in Jesus.  The Orthodox have had some success with this approach.  Given that Catholics and most Protestants are also Trinitarians, it seems likely that the successes of traditional Christianity in China might have less to do with methods of evangelism and more to do with similarity in the underlying ancient philosophies. 

 

This book contains a history of Orthodoxy in China and discusses these similarities. 

http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Eternal-Tao-Hieromonk-Damascene/dp/1887904239/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398121666&sr=8-1&keywords=tao+of+christ

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This is what the church gets for playing by the rules, keeping the government informed, etc...

These fast growing churches are often the underground ones, or are flying in the face of government restrictions. A few years back, they would have just been rounded up and been guests of the state for a few years, but now there are so many of them, it's just not practical.

The optimist in me hopes that the government will decide to encourage growth by a religion that sustains the law of the land, even if it disagrees with it. 

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This is what the church gets for playing by the rules, keeping the government informed, etc...

These fast growing churches are often the underground ones, or are flying in the face of government restrictions. A few years back, they would have just been rounded up and been guests of the state for a few years, but now there are so many of them, it's just not practical.

The optimist in me hopes that the government will decide to encourage growth by a religion that sustains the law of the land, even if it disagrees with it. 

 

I don't. I don't want the government encouraging us. I want them to let us preach and not interfere one way or another. If the people think a government is trying to push one faith, it's the fastest way to cause problems.

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Activists accuse Communist Party of ‘barbaric’ campaign against Christianity after demolition teams and police descend on a church that became a symbol of resistance




china23_2894442b.jpg

Photographs sent to The Telegraph and posted on social media sites showed at least four excavators that appeared to be ripping down large sections of the church’s exterior










 



By Tom Phillips, Shanghai



9:47AM BST 28 Apr 2014


 

 




Demolition teams began destroying parts of a Chinese church that has become a symbol of resistance to the Communist Party’s draconian clutch on religion, activists and witnesses said on Monday.




Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, a wealthy coastal city known as the "Jerusalem of the East", made headlines earlier this month when thousands of Christians formed a human shield around its entrance afterplans for its demolition were announced.




Church members accused Communist leaders in Zhejiang province of ordering an anti-church crackdown and claimed there were plans to completely or partially demolish at least 10 places of worship.




Officials rejected those accusations, alleging the church had violated building codes.




After mounting their high-profile occupation in early April, many protesters withdrew from Sanjiang church after its leaders appeared to have negotiated a compromise with the government.




 



church1_2894780c.jpgPicture of the felled church


However, that deal appears to have broken down in recent days with reports that some church leaders and worshippers had been harassed and detained by security agents and officials.


On Monday morning demolition teams began tearing down parts of the church in Wenzhou, a city around 230 miles south of Shanghai that has one of the country’s largest congregations.


“I saw three or four excavators out front, demolishing the church, and three or four out back, demolishing the annex building. I also saw a small excavator going inside the church doing demolition work inside,” said one witness who claimed there were around 100 police around the church, including armed officers.


++++++++++++++++++


 


The demolition of Sanjiang church would “definitely further erode the little remaining trust between millions of Chinese Christians and the Chinese government,” added Mr Fu, president of the Texas-based group China Aid.


“History has proved and will prove again with this case that another church revival will happen after this new wave of persecution.”


In an unusual step, Chen Yilu, the head of the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, spoke out against the provincial government’s “crude and hard-line” handling of the Sanjiang church crisis.


In a strongly-worded commentary that has been circulating online, Mr Chen said the incident would damage the Communist Party’s image as well as harming “social stability”. He called on Beijing to “intervene as soon as possible to avoid further deterioration”.


Provincial authorities deny they are waging an orchestrated campaign against Christian places of worship. However, Feng Zhili, the head of Zhejiang’s ethnic and religious affairs committee, complained earlier this year that Christianity’s spread had been “too excessive and too haphazard”.


china2_2894445c.jpg


Other images showed black police vans, military trucks and security agents standing on the main road


In a recent interview Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, said he believed the Asian country could overtake Brazil, Mexico and the United States to become the world’s most numerous Christian congregation by 2030.


However, Prof. Yang warned that Chinese Christians should brace themselves for growing interference as the Communist Party fought to stunt the Church’s growth.


One of the Party’s most senior officials hit out at those predictions last week, in an indication of Beijing’s discomfort at the rapid growth of Christianity.


Ye Xiaowen, a member of the elite 205-member Central Committee, dismissed Prof. Yang’s projections as “unscientific” and “obviously inflated”.


“It is completely meaningless to predict how many people might believe in Christianity in China in the future,” said Mr Ye, who was the country’s top official in charge of religious affairs until 2009.


Asked to comment on Monday’s demolition, a propaganda official from Zhejiang’s Communist Party Committee said, “I don’t know” before the line went dead.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10792386/China-accused-of-anti-Christian-campaign-as-church-demolition-begins.html





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I've always perceived that other Christian churches do a better job at converting atheists or non Christians than we do.  Perhaps this is their role as people journey to the fulness of the Gospel.

 

wow, that fits with a bunch of my theological theories!  surprising

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Nearly a week after Chinese Christians thwarted government attempts to remove the cross from their place of worship as part of an ongoing “anti-church” campaign, authorities returned to destroy the religious symbol.

guantoucrossoff2_2944283f.jpg
The cross is removed

Last Wednesday, members of the Guantou church in Wenzhou, a city known as China’s Jerusalem,successfully forced demolition teams to abandon a predawn attempt to remove its cross.

However, demolition workers returned in the early hours of Tuesday morning to complete their task, which activists and academics believe is part of a renewed Communist Party crackdown on faith that began in the eastern province of Zhejiang earlier this year.

“The cross was secretly taken down between 3am and 6am,” said Zheng Legou, a local church leader.

Officials had vowed to tear down the entire church – as they did with the nearby mega-church of Sanjiang in April – if congregants attempted to halt the removal for a second time, Mr Zheng claimed.

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At least 15 churches have received notices from authorities in the last week informing them that if they do not “voluntarily” remove their crosses by the end of this month they will face demolition, China Aid, a Christian advocacy group said on Monday.

Around 360 church buildings and crosses have been demolished already this year, according to the group.

 

++++++++++++++++

guantoucrossdown_2944286c.jpg

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10904942/Chinese-churchs-fightback-fails-to-stop-cross-removal.html

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This came from another website, and is admittedly second hand. But apparently several weeks ago, when a Chinese area authority was visiting a conference in Dalian, China (Port Arthur to you history buffs), the local police showed up during sacrament meeting, disbanded the meeting, and ordered those in attendance not to return. 

Apparently, due to the trust the church has cultivated over the past several years as far as obeying Chinese law, a few phone calls straightened out the mess, and the Dalian congregation-I presume it's a branch-was able to meet the next week and subsequently without interference. 

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This came from another website, and is admittedly second hand. But apparently several weeks ago, when a Chinese area authority was visiting a conference in Dalian, China (Port Arthur to you history buffs), the local police showed up during sacrament meeting, disbanded the meeting, and ordered those in attendance not to return. 

Apparently, due to the trust the church has cultivated over the past several years as far as obeying Chinese law, a few phone calls straightened out the mess, and the Dalian congregation-I presume it's a branch-was able to meet the next week and subsequently without interference. 

 

It really helps that we do not have a cross adorning our chapels.

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