Christianity in China

Christianity in China

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Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

is a growing minority religion that comprises Protestants
Protestantism in China
Protestant Christianity entered China in the early 19th century, taking root in a significant way during the Qing Dynasty. Some historians consider the Taiping Rebellion to have been influenced by Protestant Christian teachings. Since the mid-20th century, there has been an increase in the number...

 ( or ), Catholics , and a small number of Orthodox Christians
Chinese Orthodox Church
The Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church is an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church in China. It was granted autonomy by its mother church, the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-1950s.-Ancient Period:...

. Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as the institutional religions of Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, and the social system and ideology of Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, Christianity has existed in China since at least the seventh century and has gained influence over the past 200 years.

The growth of the faith has been particularly significant since the loosening of restrictions on religion by the People's Republic since the 1970s. Religious practices are still often tightly controlled by government authorities. Chinese over age 18 in the PRC are permitted to be involved with officially sanctioned Christian meetings through the "China Christian Council
China Christian Council
The China Christian Council or CCC was founded in 1980 as an umbrella organization for all Protestant churches in the People's Republic of China with Bishop K. H. Ting as its president. It works to provide theological education and the publication of Bibles , hymnals , and other religious...

", "Three-Self Patriotic Movement
Three-Self Patriotic Movement
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement or TSPM is a state-controlled Protestant church in the People's Republic of China...

" or the "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association". Many Chinese Christians also meet in "unregistered" house church
Chinese house church
Chinese house churches are a religious movement of unregistered assemblies of Christians in the People's Republic of China, which operate independently of the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council for Protestant groups and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic...

 meetings. Reports of sporadic persecution against such Christians in Mainland China have caused concern among outside observers.

Terminology


There are various terms used for God in the Chinese language, the most prevalent being Shangdi
Shangdi
Shangdi , also known as Di in Oracle Bone Inscription and Thirteen Classics, refers to the supreme god or a divine power regarded as the spiritual ultimate by the Chinese people from the Shang Dynasty. He controlled victory in battle, harvest, the fate of the kingdom, and the weather...

(上帝, literally, "Emperor (Sovereign) Above"), used commonly by Protestants and also by non-Christians, and Tianzhu (天主, literally, "Lord of Heaven"), which is most commonly favored by Catholics. Although strictly speaking 'Shen' (神) is a more amorphous and general term, like "god," "theos" or "kami," it is also widely used by Chinese Protestants. Historically, Christians have also adopted a variety of terms from the Chinese classics as referents to God, for example Ruler (主宰) and Creator (造物主)

While Christianity is referred to as 基督教 (Christ religion), the modern Chinese language typically divides Christians into three groups: believers of Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Xin jiaotu (新教徒, literally "new religion followers"), believers of Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 Tianzhu jiaotu (天主教徒, Lord of Heaven religion followers), and believers of Orthodox
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

 Dongzheng jiaotu (東正教徒, Eastern Orthodox religion followers, but more correctly "zhengjiaotu" 正教徒, because there is only one Chinese term for both Eastern and Oriental which is "dong" 東 and simply means the east. The latter term is more correct also because Eastern Orthodox churches are not in communion with and thus differ from the Oriental Orthodox churches.)

Pre-modern history



Earliest documented period



The first documented case of Christianity entering China was in the 7th century, which is known from the Nestorian Stele
Nestorian Stele
The Nestorian Stele is aTang Chinese stele erected in 781 that documents 150 years of history of early Christianity in China. It is a 279-cm tall limestone block with text in both Chinese and Syriac, describing the existence of Christian communities in several cities in northern China...

, a stone tablet created in the 8th century. It records that Christians reached the Tang dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 capital Xian in 635 and were allowed to establish places of worship and to propagate their faith. The leader of the Christian travelers was Alopen
Alopen
Alopen is the first recorded Christian missionary to reach China, during the Tang Dynasty. He was a Nestorian, and probably a Syriac-speaker from Persia...

.

Some modern scholars argue whether Nestorianism is the proper term for the Christianity that was practiced in China, since it did not adhere to what was preached by Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

, and are instead preferring to refer to it as "Church of the East", a term which encompasses the various forms of early Christianity in Asia.

In 845, during a time of great political and economic unrest, Emperor Wuzong
Emperor Wuzong of Tang
Emperor Wuzong of Tang , né Li Chan , later changed to Li Yan just before his death, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, reigning from 840 to 846. Emperor Wuzong is mainly known in modern times for the religious persecution that occurred during his reign...

 decreed that Buddhism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism be banned, and their very considerable assets forfeited to the state.

In 986 a monk reported to the Patriarch of the East:

Medieval period


The 13th century saw the Mongol-established Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 in China. Christianity was a major influence in the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, as several Mongol tribes were primarily Nestorian Christian, and many of the wives of Genghis Khan's descendants were strongly Christian. Contacts with Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 also came in this time period, via envoys from the Papacy to the Mongol capital in Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

 (Beijing).

Nestorianism was well established in China, as is attested by the monks Rabban Bar Sauma
Rabban Bar Sauma
Rabban Bar Sauma , also known as Rabban Ṣawma or Rabban Çauma, , was a Turkic/Mongol monk turned diplomat of the Nestorian Christian faith. He is known for embarking on a pilgrimage from Mongol-controlled China to Jerusalem with one of his students, Rabban Markos...

 and Rabban Marcos, both of whom made a famous pilgrimage to the West, visiting many Nestorian communities along the way. Marcos was elected as Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 of the Church of the East, and Bar Sauma went as far as visiting the courts of Europe in 1287-1288, where he told Western monarchs about Christianity among the Mongols.

In 1289, Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 friars from Europe initiated mission work in China. For about a century they worked in parallel with the Nestorian Christians. The Franciscan mission collapsed in 1368, as the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 set out to eject all foreign influences.

The Chinese called Muslims, Jews, and Christians in ancient times by the same name, "Hui Hui" (Hwuy-hwuy). Crossworshipers (Christians) were called "Hwuy who abstain from animals without the cloven foot", Muslims were called "Hwuy who abstain from pork", Jews were called "Hwuy who extract the sinews". Hwuy-tsze (Hui zi) or Hwuy-hwuy (Hui Hui) is presently used almost exclusively for Muslims, but Jews were still called Lan Maou Hwuy tsze (Lan mao Hui zi) which means "Blue cap Hui zi". At Kaifeng, Jews were called "Teaou kin keaou "extract sinew religion". Jews and Muslims in China shared the same name for synagogue and mosque, which were both called "Tsing-chin sze" (Qingzhen si) "Temple of Purity and Truth", the name dated to the thirteenth century. The synagogue and mosques were also known as Le-pae sze (Libai si). A tablet indicated that Judaism was once known as "Yih-tsze-lo-nee-keaou" (israelitish religion) and synagogues known as Yih-tsze lo nee leen (Israelitish Temple), but it faded out of use.

It was also reported that competition with the Roman Catholic Church and Islam were also factors in causing Nestorian Christianity to disappear in China, with "controversies with the emissaries of.... Rome, and the "progress of Mohammedanism, sapped the foundations of their ancient churches." The Roman Catholics also considered the Nestorians as heretical

The Ming dynasty decreed that Manichaeism and Christianity were illegal and heterodox, to be wiped out from China, while Islam and Judaism were legal and fit Confucian ideology. Buddhist Sects like White Lotus were also banned by the Ming.

Post-Reformation




By the 16th century, there is no reliable information about any practicing Christians remaining in China. Fairly soon after the establishment of the direct European maritime contact with China (1513), and the creation of the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 (1540), at least some Chinese become involved with the Jesuit effort. As early as 1546, two Chinese boys became enrolled into the Jesuits' St. Paul's College
Saint Paul's College, Goa
St. Paul's College was a Jesuit college founded circa 1542 at Old Goa. It was once the main Jesuit institution in India. It housed the first printing press in India, having published the first books in 1556...

 in Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

, the capital of Portuguese India. It is one of these two Christian Chinese, known as Antonio, who accompanied St. Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534...

, a co-founder of the Society of Jesus, when he decided to start missionary work in China. However, Xavier was not able to find a way to enter the Chinese mainland, and died in 1552 on Shangchuan island off the coast of Guangdong
Guangdong
Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

.

It was the new regional manager ("Visitor") of the order, Alessandro Valignano
Alessandro Valignano
Alessandro Valignano, , was a Jesuit missionary born in Chieti, back then part of the Kingdom of Naples, who helped supervise the introduction of Catholicism to the Far East, and especially to Japan....

, who, on his visit to Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

 in 1578-1579 realized that Jesuits weren't going to get far in China without a sound grounding in the language and culture of the country. He founded St. Paul Jesuit College (Macau) and requested the Order's superiors in Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

 to send a suitably talented person to Macau to start the study of Chinese.

In 1582, Jesuits once again initiated mission work in China, introducing Western science, mathematics, and astronomy. One of these missionaries was Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

.

In the early 18th century, the Chinese Rites controversy
Chinese Rites controversy
The Chinese Rites controversy was a dispute within the Catholic Church from the 1630s to the early 18th century about whether Chinese folk religion rites and offerings to the emperor constituted idolatry...

, a dispute within the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, arose over whether Chinese folk religion rituals and offerings to their ancestors constituted idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

. The Pope ultimately ruled against tolerating the continuation of these practices among Chinese Roman Catholic converts. Prior to this, the Jesuits had enjoyed considerable influence at court, but with the issuing of the papal bull, the emperor circulated edicts banning Christianity. The Catholic Church did not reverse this stance until 1939, after further investigation and a clarified ruling by Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

.

17th to 18th centuries


Further waves of missionaries came to China in the Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 (or Manchu) dynasty (1644–1911) as a result of contact with foreign powers. Russian Orthodox
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

y was introduced in 1715 and Protestants began entering China in 1807.

Missionary expansion (1807–1900)




140 years of missionary seed-sowing began with Robert Morrison, regarded among Protestants as being the first Christian missionary to China, arriving in Macau on 4 September 1807. Morrison produced a Chinese translation of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. He also compiled a Chinese dictionary for the use of Westerners. The Bible translation took twelve years and the compilation of the dictionary, sixteen years.

Under the "fundamental laws" of China, one section is titled "Wizards, Witches, and all Superstitions, prohibited." The Jiaqing Emperor
Jiaqing Emperor
The Jiaqing Emperor was the seventh emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the fifth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1796 to 1820....

 in 1814 A.D. added a sixth clause in this section with reference to Christianity. It was modified in 1821 and printed in 1826 by the Daoguang Emperor
Daoguang Emperor
The Daoguang Emperor was the eighth emperor of the Manchurian Qing dynasty and the sixth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1820 to 1850.-Early years:...

. It sentenced Europeans to death for spreading Christianity among Han Chinese and Manchus (tartars). Christians who would not repent their conversion were sent to Muslim cities in Xinjiang, to be given as slaves to Muslim leaders and bey
Baig
- History & Origins:The name Baig originates from a Turkic clan called Barlas . They played a pivotal role in Turko-Persian empires in Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia....

s.


The clause stated: "People of the Western Ocean, [Europeans or Portuguese,] should they propagate in the country the religion of heaven's Lord, [name given to Christianity by the Romanists,] or clandestinely print books, or collect congregations to be preached to, and thereby deceive many people, or should any Tartars or Chinese, in their turn, propagate the doctrines and clandestinely give names, (as in baptism,) inflaming and misleading many, if proved by authentic testimony, the head or leader shall be sentenced to immediate death by strangulations : he who propagates the religion, inflaming and deceiving the people, if the number be not large, and no names be given, shall be sentenced to strangulation after a period of imprisonment. Those who are merely hearers or followers of the doctrine, if they will not repent and recant, shall be transported to the Mohammedan cities (in Turkistan) and given to be slaves to the beys and other powerful Mohammedans who are able to coerce them. . . . All civil and military officers who may fail to detect Europeans clandestinely residing in the country within their jurisdiction, and propagating their religion, thereby deceiving the multitude, shall be delivered over to the Supreme Board and be subjected to a court of inquiry."


Some hoped that the Chinese government would discriminate between Protestantism and Romanism, since the law was directed at Romanism, but after Protestant missionaries in 1835-6 gave Christian books to Chinese, the Daoguang Emperor demanded to know who were the "traitorous natives in "Canton who had supplied them with books." The foreign missionaries were strangled or expelled by the Chinese.

"The Missionary herald, Volume 17" published an entry from the Peking Gazette
Peking Gazette
Peking Gazette was a publication of the Chinese imperial court dating back to the Tang dynasty in the 8th century, and issued almost every day from then until 1912, soon after the last Qing Dynasty fell and republican China was born....

 translated by Dr. Morrison-


Ying-ho, Commander in Chief of the National Infantry, kneels to present to his majesty, the particulars of a ciise, on which he requests the Emperor's decision.

The metropolis which lies immediately below the wheels of the Imperial car, being a most important region, should at all times be searched with tiie greatest strictness. I, your majesty's slave, and those associated with ine, therefore gave the most positive orders to the officers and men under the several Tartar banners, to make a very full and careful search in all those districts which pertain to them; and not to allow any person, whose circumstances and character was not perfectly plain, to lurk about. In consequence of this order, a scout, named Toomingleang found out a culprit of suspicious appearances called CMnleenching. It was discovered that this man practised the religion of the western ocean, (i. e. Europe,) and therefore he, and three others of the same religion, were seized, together with a cross, &c. which were brought before us.

We, yonr Majesty's slaves, subjected them to a strict examination. Chinleenching gave the following account of himself.

"I am a native of the provinoe Ganhwuy, and am now in my 4tst year. In the third year of Kea-king, (22 years ago,) I came to Peking, and lived behind the western four faced turret, on the bank, getting a livelihood by carrying burdens and shaving heads; or by being a travelling barber. I now live in a barber's shop, situated in Paoutize street; his name is Ching Kivei Knng.

"During the 1st moon of the 11th year (of the late Emperor, fourteen years ago) an acquaintance, whom I had known some time, whose name was Ho, induced me to enter with him the European religion; and I then went to the Church and read prayers. In the 6th or 7th moon of that year, the European church was declared illegal, and put a stop to; and officers of government watched it, and would not let me enter; I therefore remained in the shop and read prayers. The other three persons connected with the shop, are all of the European religion. Wang-ke^o the father of Wangszevdh, came to the shop to procure hair, which was given him, and he carried it to the Foitching gate of the city. I went after him, but could not find him; and waiting till it was very late I could not get back into the city. I therefore sat down on the west side, and was there till the fourth watch, when I was seized by people connected with government; and when 1 confessed that I was of the European religion, they carried me to the shop, and apprehended the three other men, anil seized a cross, and a eatechism called yaou le wan ta, and finally they brought us all here. It was I who induced Wtmgkew to enter the European religion. The man called Ho, who induced me to adopt that religion, died long since. I real, ly have no desire to quit that religion; but only beg for mercy."

Two of the other men, it was found on examination, belonged also to Gan-hwuy province, aid they received their religion from their fathers. Wangszeirih belongs to Peking, and he followed his lather Wangke-w in the profession of the European religion. They all declared they did not desire to quit the religion; but Wangkew, when examined, said he had already forsaken it.

Now, the European religion is by law most rigorously forbidden; yet here, Chinleenching has audaciously presumed to keep by him a cross and a catechism; and to read prayers with these three other men: which shews a decided disregard of the laws. We apprehend that this culprit may have propagated the religion and deceived the multitude: or perhaps done something else which is crimnal; it is therefore incumbent on us to lay these circumstances before your majesty, and request your will, commanding, that all these four culprits, the cross and the eatechism be together delivered to the penal tribunal, and that the men be then subjected to a severe trial, and have their sentence determined.

Reply, in the Emperor's name—"Your Report is recorded and announced."


The Missionary herald, Volume 17 then wrote the following analysis of the letter-


The phrase employed, in the above paper, for the Christum religion, or the religion of Rome, viz. Se-yang keaoxi, is one which has been of late adopted by the enemies of that religion in China, instead of the phrase employed by the Catholic Missionaries, viz. Teenchoo Anion-, which means the Religion of heaven's Lord, a designation which imports great dignity; and, even to a Chinese reader, appears venerable.

It would seem that the Tartar rulers of China dread the introduction of what they choose to call (tic "European religion:" not because it differs from the ancient usages of China, nor yet because they think it false, but lest it should he connected with European politics and governments, in such a way as to affect their own domination over the Chinese.

No form of Christianity is more dissimilar to the ancient opinions of China, than Buddhism oHcidia, the Tartar Shamanism, and the religion of the "yellow cap," i. e. the Thibeliau Lamanism.

The shaved head, of which the above statement reminds one, and the long tail of modern times in China, are all anti-Chinese, unknown to their forefathers, and imposed on them by their Tartar conquerors on pain of death; which alternative was preferred by many of the old sons of Han, the dynasty in which the Chinese glory, and from which they take their national name.

It would seem that the Tartar rulers of China dread the introduction of what they choose to call (tic "European religion:" not because it differs from the ancient usages of China, nor yet because they think it false, but lest it should he connected with European politics and governments, in such a way as to affect their own domination over the Chinese.

No form of Christianity is more dissimilar to the ancient opinions of China, than Buddhism oHcidia, the Tartar Shamanism, and the religion of the "yellow cap," i. e. the Thibeliau Lamanism.

If the writer of this is not mistaken, Ying-ho, the commander-in-chief has long manifested himself an officious enemy of the Christians; and, if he has not some other sinister end)hfi bringing forward this (even according to his own shewing,) trivial case, indicates how anxious he is, that Taou-kwang, the new Emperor, should confirm the edicts of his father.

The polytheism of ancient China—the worship of hills, rivers, deceased men and women, &c; the worship of living human beings; Buddhism, Shamanism, and Lamanism, as well as atheism, are all tolerated in China. The Monotheism of the Arabian Prophet, is also tolerated; why then their hatred to the name of Jesus!


The pace of missionary activity increased considerably after the First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

 in 1842. Christian missionaries and their schools, under the protection of the Western powers, went on to play a major role in the Westernization
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

 of China in the 19th and 20th centuries.

During the 1840s, Western missionaries spread Christianity rapidly through the coastal cities that were open to foreign trade; the bloody Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

 was connected in its origins to the influence of some missionaries on the leader Hong Xiuquan
Hong Xiuquan
Hong Xiuquan , born Hong Renkun, style name Huoxiu , was a Hakka Chinese who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty, establishing the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom over varying portions of southern China, with himself as the "Heavenly King" and self-proclaimed brother of Jesus Christ.-Early...

, who has since been hailed as a heretic by most Christian groups, but as a proto-communist peasant militant by the Chinese Communist Party. The Taiping Rebellion was a large-scale revolt against the authority and forces of the Qing Government
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. It was conducted from 1850 to 1864 by an army and civil administration led by heterodox
Heterodoxy
Heterodoxy is generally defined as "any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position". As an adjective, heterodox is commonly used to describe a subject as "characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards"...

 Christian convert Hong Xiuquan. He established the "Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace" with the capital Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 and attained control of significant parts of southern China, at its height ruling over about 30 million people. The theocratic
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

 and militaristic regime instituted several social reforms, including strict separation of the sexes, abolition of foot binding
Foot binding
Foot binding was the custom of binding the feet of young girls painfully tight to prevent further growth. The practice probably originated among court dancers in the early Song dynasty, but spread to upper class families and eventually became common among all classes. The tiny narrow feet were...

, land socialization, suppression of private trade, and the replacement of Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

 by a form of Christianity, holding that Hong Xiuquan was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. The Taiping rebellion was eventually put down by the Qing army aided by French and British forces. With an estimated death toll of between 20 and 30 million due to warfare and resulting starvation, this civil war ranks among history's deadliest conflicts.Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 viewed the Taiping as early heroic revolutionaries against a corrupt feudal system.

Christians in China established the first modern clinics and hospitals, and provided the first modern training for nurses. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants founded numerous educational institutions in China from the primary to the university level. Some of the most prominent Chinese universities began as religious-founded institutions. Missionaries worked to abolish practices such as foot binding
Foot binding
Foot binding was the custom of binding the feet of young girls painfully tight to prevent further growth. The practice probably originated among court dancers in the early Song dynasty, but spread to upper class families and eventually became common among all classes. The tiny narrow feet were...

, and the unjust treatment of maidservants, as well as launching charitable work and distributing food to the poor. They also opposed the opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 trade and brought treatment to many who were addicted. Some of the early leaders of the Chinese Republic, such as Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen was a Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Nationalist China, Sun is frequently referred to as the "Father of the Nation" , a view agreed upon by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China...

 were converts to Christianity and were influenced by its teachings.


By the early 1860s the Taiping movement was almost extinct, Protestant missions at the time were confined to five coastal cities. By the end of the century, however, the picture had vastly changed. Scores of new missionary societies had been organized, and several thousand missionaries were working in all parts of China. This transformation can be traced to the Unequal Treaties
Unequal Treaties
“Unequal treaty” is a term used in specific reference to a number of treaties imposed by Western powers, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, on Qing Dynasty China and late Tokugawa Japan...

 which forced the Chinese government to admit Western missionaries into the interior of the country, the excitement caused by the 1859 Awakening
Great Awakening
The term Great Awakening is used to refer to a period of religious revival in American religious history. Historians and theologians identify three or four waves of increased religious enthusiasm occurring between the early 18th century and the late 19th century...

 in Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and the example of J. Hudson Taylor
Hudson Taylor
James Hudson Taylor , was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China, and founder of the China Inland Mission . Taylor spent 51 years in China...

 (1832–1905). Taylor (Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren)) arrived in China in 1854. Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette
Kenneth Scott Latourette
Kenneth Scott Latourette was an American historian of China, Japan, and world Christianity. His formative experiences as Christian missionary and educator in early 20th century China shaped his life's work...

 wrote that "Hudson Taylor was, ...one of the greatest missionaries of all time, and ... one of the four or five most influential foreigners who came to China in the nineteenth century for any purpose...". The China Inland Mission
China Inland Mission
OMF International is an interdenominational Protestant Christian missionary society, founded in Britain by Hudson Taylor on 25 June 1865.-Overview:...

 was the largest mission agency in China and it is estimated that Taylor was responsible for more people being converted to Christianity than at any other time since Paul the Apostle brought Christian teaching to Europe. Out of the 8,500 Protestant missionaries that were at one time at work in China, 1000 of them were from the CIM. It was Dixon Edward Hoste
Dixon Edward Hoste
Dixon Edward Hoste was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China and the longest lived of the Cambridge Seven and successor to James Hudson Taylor as General Director of the China Inland Mission, ....

, the successor to Hudson Taylor, who originally expressed the self-governing principles of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
Three-Self Patriotic Movement
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement or TSPM is a state-controlled Protestant church in the People's Republic of China...

, at the time he was articulating the goal of the China Inland Mission to establish an indigenous Chinese church that was free from foreign control.

It was not always this way. Back in the era of the emperors, there were charitable organizations for virtually every social service: burial of the dead, care of orphans, provision of food for the hungry. The wealthiest in every community -- typically, the merchants -- were expected to give food, medicine, clothing, and even cash to those in need. According to Caroline Reeves, a historian at Emmanuel College in Boston, that began to change with the arrival of American missionaries in the late 19th century. "One of the reasons they gave for being there was to help the poor Chinese," she says. "Because of that need to justify their existence in China, they downplayed China's own charity. That attitude, that denial of reality, is still very strong today."

By 1865 when the China Inland Mission began, there were already thirty different Protestant groups at work in China, however the diversity of denominations represented did not equate to more missionaries on the field. In the seven provinces in which Protestant missionaries had already been working, there were an estimated 204 million people with only 91 workers, while there were eleven other provinces in inland China with a population estimated at 197 million, for whom absolutely nothing had been attempted. Besides the London Missionary Society, and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was the first American Christian foreign mission agency. It was proposed in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College and officially chartered in 1812. In 1961 it merged with other societies to form the United Church Board for World...

, there were missionaries affiliated with Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

, and Wesleyans
Wesleyanism
Wesleyanism or Wesleyan theology refers, respectively, to either the eponymous movement of Protestant Christians who have historically sought to follow the methods or theology of the eighteenth-century evangelical reformers, John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley, or to the likewise eponymous...

. Most missionaries came from England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, or Holland.

In addition to the publication and distribution of Christian literature and Bibles (see:Chinese Bible Translations
Chinese Bible Translations
Chinese Bible translations mean all works on translating whole or parts of the Bible into the many dialects of Chinese language. The creation of Chinese Bible Translations began in the nineteenth century, but availability only became widespread in the early twentieth century.-Catholic translation...

), the Protestant Christian missionary movement in China furthered the dispersion of knowledge with other printed works of history and science. As the missionaries went to work among the Chinese, they established and developed schools and introduced the latest techniques in medicine (see:Medical missions in China
Medical missions in China
Medical missions in China by Protestant Christian physicians and surgeons of the 19th and early 20th centuries laid many foundations for modern medicine in China. Western medical missionaries established the first modern clinics and hospitals,provided the first training for nurses, and opened the...

). The mission schools were viewed with some suspicion by the traditional Chinese teachers, but they differed from the norm by offering a basic education to poor Chinese, both boys and girls, who had no hope of learning at a school before the days of the Chinese Republic.
The Boxer Uprising
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

 was in part a reaction against Christianity in China. Christianity was prevalent among bandits in Shandong, China. In 1895, the Manchu Yuxian, a magistrate in the province, acquired the help of the Big Swords Society in fighting against Bandits. The Big Swords practiced heterodox practices, however, they were not bandits and were not seen as bandits by Chinese authorities. The Big Swords relentlessly crushed the bandits, but the bandits converted to Catholic Christianity, because it made them legally immune to prosecution and under the protection of the foreigners. The Big Swords proceeded to attack the bandit Catholic churches and burn them. Yuxian only executed several Big Sword leaders, but did not punish anyone else. More secret societies started emerging after this.

In Pingyuan, the site of another insurrection and major religious disputes, the county magistrate noted that Chinese converts to Christianity were taking advantage of their bishop's power to file false lawsuits which, upon investigation, were found groundless.

Popularity and indigenous growth (1900–1925)



The opening of the twentieth century was a period of transition for both the church and the nation. China moved from Qing dynastic rule to a warlord-dominated republic to a united front of the Guomindang and Chinese Communist party in league against warlords and imperialism. Variety within the Protestant community increased; conservative, evangelical societies strengthened their presence; the social gospel approach gained momentum, and Chinese formed their own faith sects and autonomous churches.

The Qing dynasty Imperial government permitted Christian missionaries to enter and proselytize in Tibetan lands, which weakened the control of the Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, who refused to give alleigance to the Chinese. The Tibetan Lamas were alarmed and jealous of Catholic missionaries converting natives to Roman Catholicism. During the 1905 Tibetan Rebellion the Tibetan Buddhist Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 Yellow Hat sect led a Tibetan revolt, with Tibetan tribesmen being led by Lamas to kill and attack Chinese officials, western Christian missionaries and native Christian converts, the revolt was aimed at expelling Christians and overthrowing Chinese rule. The Lamas responded to the Christian missionaries by massacring the missionaries and native converts to Christianity. The Lamas besieged Bat'ang, burning down the mission chapel, and killing two foreign missionaries, Père Mussot and Père Soulié. The Chinese Amban
Amban
Amban is a Manchu word meaning "high official," which corresponds to a number of different official titles in the Qing imperial government...

's Yamen
Yamen
A yamen is any local bureaucrat's, or mandarin's, office and residence of the Chinese Empire. The term has been widely used in China for centuries, but appeared in English during the Qing Dynasty....

 was surrounded, the Chinese General, Wu Yi-chung, was shot dead in the Yamen
Yamen
A yamen is any local bureaucrat's, or mandarin's, office and residence of the Chinese Empire. The term has been widely used in China for centuries, but appeared in English during the Qing Dynasty....

 by the Lama's forces. The Chinese Amban Feng and Commandant in Chief Li Chia-jui managed to escape by scattering Rupee
Rupee
The rupee is the common name for the monetary unit of account in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, and formerly in Burma, and Afghanistan. Historically, the first currency called "rupee" was introduced in the 16th century...

s (money) behind them, which the Tibetans proceeded to try to pick up. The Ambans reached Commandant Lo's place, but the 100 Tibetan troops serving under the Amban, armed with modern weaponry, mutinied when news of the revolt reached them. The Tibetan Lamas and their Tibetan followers besieged the Chinese Commandant Lo's palace along with local Christian converts. In the palace, they killed all Christian converts, both Chinese and Tibetan.

During the Boxer Rebellion, Chinese Christians were abused by western Christians and missionaries trapped with them during the Siege of the International Legations (Boxer Rebellion). The besieging Chinese forces made peaceful overtures to the trapped westerners, the Chinese Imperial Army even sent food and supplies to the foreigners. While the westerners hoarded food for themselves, champagne was flowing for them and they had access to rice, they refused to share with Chinese Christians, giving them dog meat, crows, horses and forcing them to eat bark and leaves. The westerners also enjoyed access to alcohol, and many became drunk. An incident occurred when Russian soldiers wanting to rape Chinese Christian schoolgirls was discovered by the British. It is unknown whether it was discovered before any rapes occurred, as sensitivity prevented an investigation.

Boxers, non Christian Chinese, and Imperial Army Chinese Muslim
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 Kansu Braves regarded Chinese Christians as traitors, acting as spies for the foreigners in the legations, when the foreign westerners began killing innocent Chinese civilians, the Boxers and Muslim troops responded by murdering any Chinese Christian they came across, some being burned alive and looting their property.

Since missionaries contended that Western progress derived from its Christian heritage, Christianity gained new favor. The missionaries, their writings and Christian schools were accessible sources of information; parochial schools filled to overflowing. Church membership expanded and Christian movements like the YMCA
YMCA
The Young Men's Christian Association is a worldwide organization of more than 45 million members from 125 national federations affiliated through the World Alliance of YMCAs...

 and YWCA became popular. The Manchurian revival
Manchurian revival
The Manchurian revival of 1908 was a period of spiritual renewal in the life of the Protestant Christians at churches and mission stations in Manchuria, . It was the first such revival to gain nationwide publicity in China as well as international repute...

 swept through the churches of present day Liaoning
Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

 Province during the ministry of Canadian missionary, Jonathan Goforth. It was the first such revival to gain nationwide publicity in China as well as international repute.

The number of Protestant missionaries had surpassed 8,000 by 1925 and in the process, the nature of the community had altered. Estimates for the Chinese Protestant community ranged around 500,000.

There were also growing numbers of conservative evangelicals. Some came from traditional denomination, but others worked independently with minimal support, and many were sponsored by fundamentalist and faith groups like the Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

, the Christian Missionary Alliance, and the Assemblies of God
Assemblies of God
The Assemblies of God , officially the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 140 autonomous but loosely-associated national groupings of churches which together form the world's largest Pentecostal denomination...

. Pentecostal, charismatic and Millenarian preachers brought a new zeal to the drive to evangelize the world.

Parochial schools also nurtured a corps of Christian leaders who acquired influential positions in education, diplomatic service and other government bureaus, medicine, business, the Christian church and Christian movements. In the Christian community, individuals like Yu Rizhang (David Yui 1882 - 1936), Zhao Zichen (趙紫宸, 1888–1979), Xu Baoqian (徐寶謙, 1892–1944), and Liu Tingfang (Timothy Liu
Timothy Liu
Timothy Liu is an American poet and the author of such books as Bending the Mind Around the Dream's Blown Fuse, For Dust Thou Art, Of Thee I Sing, Hard Evidence, Say Goodnight, Burnt Offerings and Vox Angelica. He is also the editor of Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry...

/劉廷芳, 1890–1947) stand out. Most were characterized with liberal theology, commitment to social reform, deep Chinese patriotism, and acquaintance with Western learning. Many of these leaders
held popular revival meetings in Christian schools throughout China and, along with conservative churchmen like Cheng Jingyi
Cheng Jingyi
Cheng Jingyi was an articulate pastor of an independent church in Beijing who came to hold every high office in the mainstream Sino-foreign Protestant establishment in the 1920s and 1930s. He was also the founder of the Church of Christ in China. Cheng was born in a Christian family of Manchu...

 (1881–1939), sparked the drive for greater Chinese autonomy and leadership in the church.

They became Chinese spokesmen in the National Christian Council, a liaison committee for Protestant churches, and the Church of Christ in China (CCC), established in 1927 to work toward independence. Even so, progress toward autonomy proved to be slow, for Western mission boards were reluctant to relinquish the power of the pocket book, which gave them a decisive voice in most matters of importance.

Adding to the diversity and also to the conservative trend was the proliferation of completely autonomous Chinese Christian churches and communities, a new phenomenon in Chinese Protestantism. Noteworthy was the China Christian Independent Church
China Christian Independent Church
The China Christian Independent Church , began before 1910 with headquarters in Shanghai. By the 1920s, this church had well over one hundred congregations affiliated with it...

 (Zhōngguó Yēsūjiào Zìlìhuì), a federation which by 1920 had over 100 member churches, drawn mostly from the Chinese urban class. In contrast was the True Jesus Church
True Jesus Church
The True Jesus Church is a non-denominational Christian church that originated in Beijing, China, in 1917. The current elected chairman of the TJC International Assembly is Preacher Yong-Ji Lin. Today, there are approximately 2.5 million members in fifty three countries and six continents...

 (Zhēn Yēsū Jiàohuì), founded in 1917; Pentecostal, millenarian and exclusivist, it was concentrated in the central interior provinces.

Sometimes independence derived not so much from a desire to indigenize Christianity as from the nature of leadership. Wang Mingdao (1900–1991) and Song Shangjie (John Sung
John Sung
John Sung Shang Chieh a.k.a. John Sung was a renowned Chinese Christian evangelist who played an instrumental role in the revival movement among the Chinese in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia during the 1920s and 1930s.-Career:Sung was born in Hinghwa , Fujian, China.He grew up with a...

, 1901–1944) were zealous, confident of possessing the truth, and critical of what they perceived as lukewarm formalism in the Protestant establishments. During the 1920s and 1930s both Wang and Song worked as independent itinerant preachers, holding highly successful and emotional meetings in established churches and other venues. Their message was simple: “today’s evil world demands repentance; otherwise hell is our destiny”. To this doomsday prophecy, Song added faith healing. Their premillennial
Premillennialism
Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration...

 eschatology attracted tens of thousands of followers set adrift in an environment of political chaos, civil war, and personal hardship.

Era of national and social change, the Japanese occupation (1925–1949)



In the aftermath of World War I, many Westerners experienced a crisis of confidence. How could western nations, which had just emerged from one of the most destructive wars of modern times, justify preaching morality to others? Volunteers, financial and intellectual support began a steady decline. The 1929 depression soon compounded the economic troubles. Yet the difficulties accelerated indigenization.

Since many Chinese Christian leaders were internationalists and pacifists, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 in 1931 presented a dilemma. Most abandoned their pacifism, and many joined the National Salvation Movement. During the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 , Japan shortly invaded much of China and then after the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 the Pacific region, with the evacuation or internment of most Westerners. As a result of being separated due to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Christian churches and organizations had their first experience with autonomy from the Western-guided structures of the missionary church organizations. Once again Chinese were left to carry on and once again the Chinese Protestant church moved toward independence, union, or Chinese control. Some scholars suggest this helped lay the foundation for the independent denominations and churches of the post-war period and the eventual development of the Three-Self Church and the CCPA. After the end of the war, the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 began in earnest, which had an effect on the rebuilding and development of the churches after the close of Japanese occupation.

The chaos that was China during the 1930s and 1940s spawned religious movements that emphasized direct spiritual experience and an eschatology offering hope and comfort beyond this cruel world. In opposition to the "Y" and the Student Christian Movement
Student Volunteer Movement
The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions was an organization founded in 1886 that sought to recruit college and university students in the United States for missionary service abroad. It also sought to publicize and encourage the missionary enterprise in general...

, conservatives organized the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is an inter-denominational, evangelical Christian, student-led ministry which for the past 70 years has been dedicated to establishing witnessing communities on U.S. college and university campuses...

 in 1945; for them, Social Gospel
Social Gospel
The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early 20th century United States and Canada...

 theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 was not simply impotent; it had lost sight of the centrality of a personal relationship with the divine. The Jesus Family
Jesus Family
The Jesus Family was a unique Pentecostal communitarian church first established in rural Shandong Province in a village called Mazhuang, in Taian County about 1927. In later years, other Jesus Family churches were established in North and Central China, many of them in Shandong but others as far...

 (Yēsū Jiātíng), founded about 1927, expanded in rural north and central China. Communitarian, Pentecostal, and millenarian, its family communities lived, worked and held property jointly; worship often included speaking in tongues and revelations from the Holy Spirit.

The salvationist promise of Wang Mingdao, John Sung
John Sung
John Sung Shang Chieh a.k.a. John Sung was a renowned Chinese Christian evangelist who played an instrumental role in the revival movement among the Chinese in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia during the 1920s and 1930s.-Career:Sung was born in Hinghwa , Fujian, China.He grew up with a...

, and Ji Zhiwen (Andrew Gih/計志文, 1901–1985) continued to attract throngs of followers, many of them already Christians. Ni Tuosheng (Watchman Nee
Watchman Nee
Watchman Nee was a Chinese Christian author and church leader during the early 20th century. He spent the last 20 years of his life in prison and was severely persecuted by the Communists in China. Together with Wangzai, Zhou-An Lee, Shang-Jie Song, and others, Nee founded The Church Assembly...

, 1903–1972), founder of the Church Assembly Hall (nicknamed as "Little Flock"), drew adherents with its assurances of a glorious New Jerusalem in the next life for those who experienced rebirth and adhered to a strict morality. By 1945, the local churches claimed a membership of over 70,000, spread into some 700 assemblies. The independent churches altogether accounted for well over 200,000 Protestants.

British and American denominations, such as the British Methodist Church, continued to send missionaries until they were prevented from doing so following the establishment of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. Protestant missionaries played an extremely important role in introducing knowledge of China to the United States and the United States to China. The book The Small Woman and film Inn of the Sixth Happiness tell the story of one such missionary, Gladys Aylward
Gladys Aylward
Gladys May Aylward was the evangelical Christian missionary to China whose story was told in the book The Small Woman by Alan Burgess, published in 1957...

.

Communist rule


The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 was established in October 1949 by the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

, led by Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

. Under Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 ideology, religion was discouraged by the state and Christian Missionaries left the country in what was described by Phyllis Thompson of the China Inland Mission as a "reluctant exodus", leaving the indigenous churches to do their own administration, support, and propagation of the faith. The Chinese Protestant church entered the communist era having made significant progress toward self-support and self-government. Though Chinese rulers had traditionally sought to regulate organized religion and the CPC would continue the practice, Chinese Christians had gained experience in the art of accommodation in order to protect its members.

From 1966 to 1976 during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, the expression of religious life in China was effectively banned, including even the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
Three-Self Patriotic Movement
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement or TSPM is a state-controlled Protestant church in the People's Republic of China...

. The growth of the Chinese house church
Chinese house church
Chinese house churches are a religious movement of unregistered assemblies of Christians in the People's Republic of China, which operate independently of the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council for Protestant groups and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic...

 movement during this period was a result of all Chinese Christian worship being driven underground for fear of persecution. To counter this growing trend of "unregistered meetings", in 1979 the government officially restored the TSPM after thirteen years of non-existence, and in 1980 the CCC
China Christian Council
The China Christian Council or CCC was founded in 1980 as an umbrella organization for all Protestant churches in the People's Republic of China with Bishop K. H. Ting as its president. It works to provide theological education and the publication of Bibles , hymnals , and other religious...

 was formed.

In 1993 there were 7 million members of the TSPM with 11 million affiliated, as opposed to an estimated 18 million and 47 million "unregistered" Protestant Christians respectively. According to a survey done by China Partner (Founder Werner Burklin), there are now between 39-41 million Protestant Christians in China. The survey was done with 7.400 individuals in 2007-08 in all 31 provinces, municipalites and autonomous regions except Tibet. Another survey done with 4.500 individuals by the East China Normal University in Shanghai came to the same result.

Persecution of Christians in China has been sporadic. The most severe times were during the Cultural Revolution. Believers were arrested and imprisoned and sometimes tortured for their faith. Bibles were destroyed, churches and homes were looted, and Christians were subjected to humiliation. Several thousand Christians were known to have been imprisoned between 1983-1993. In 1992 the government began a campaign to shut down all of the unregistered meetings. However, government implementation of restrictions since then has varied widely between regions of China and in many areas there is greater religious liberty.

Independent churches and a variety of evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 sects have broadened the appeal of Protestantism, especially in rural China. Although outside observers thought that the Cultural Revolution had ended Christianity in China, Christianity in all its variety had taken root and possessed the strength and techniques to survive decades of hostility and persecution.

Contemporary PRC


Since 1949, indigenous Chinese Christianity has been growing at a rate unparalleled in history. Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas Donabet Kristof is an American journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. He has written an op-ed column for The New York Times since November 2001 and is known for bringing to light human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, such as human trafficking and the...

, a columnist of the New York Times wrote on June 25, 2006, "Although China bans foreign missionaries and sometimes harasses and imprisons Christians, especially in rural areas, Christianity is booming in China." Most of the growth has taken place in the unofficial Chinese house church
Chinese house church
Chinese house churches are a religious movement of unregistered assemblies of Christians in the People's Republic of China, which operate independently of the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council for Protestant groups and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic...

 movement. Christianity also follows Chinese migration. After 2000, the center of gravity has shifted from the countryside to the cities, spreading Christianity among intellectuals and associating it with modernity, business and science. In 1800 there were 250,000 baptized Roman Catholics, but no known Protestant believers out of an estimated 362 million Chinese. By 1949, out of an estimated population of 450 million, there were just over 500,000 baptized Protestant Christians. Anonymous internet columnist Spengler speculated in 2007 that Christianity could "become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now."

The current number of Christians in China is disputed. The most recent official census enumerated 4 million Roman Catholics
Roman Catholicism in China
Roman Catholicism in China has a long and complicated history...

 and 10 million ‎Protestants
Protestantism in China
Protestant Christianity entered China in the early 19th century, taking root in a significant way during the Qing Dynasty. Some historians consider the Taiping Rebellion to have been influenced by Protestant Christian teachings. Since the mid-20th century, there has been an increase in the number...

. However, independent estimates have ranged from 40 million to 130 million Christians. According to the China Aid Association, State Administration for Religious Affairs
State Administration for Religious Affairs
The State Administration for Religious Affairs , abbreviated SARA , is a functioning department under the State Council which oversees religious affairs and issues for the People's Republic of China...

 Director Ye Xiaowen
Ye Xiaowen
Ye Xiaowen is a Chinese politician who held various top posts relating to state regulation of religion from 1995 to 2009.Born in 1950 in Ningxiang County in Hunan, Ye became one of the first students of sociology at the Guizhou Academy of Social Sciences after a ban before China's reform and...

 reported to audiences at Beijing University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences , established in 1977, is the premier and highest academic research organization in the fields of philosophy and social sciences as well as a national center for comprehensive studies in the People's Republic of China. It was described by Foreign Policy...

 that the number of Christians in China had risen to 130 million by the end of 2006, including 20 million Catholics. This has been officially denied by the Foreign Ministry. According to a survey done by China Partner and East China Normal University in Shanghai, there are now 39 to 41 million Protestant Christians in China. These include Christians in registered and unregistered churches. All other numbers previously mentioned were rough estimates that never have been substantiated. The survey was done with 7,400 individuals in 2007-08 by China Partner in all 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Another survey done with 4,500 individuals by East China Normal University in Shanghai reveals up to 40 million. Other studies have suggested that there are roughly 54 million Christians in China, of which 39 million are Protestants and 14 million are Roman Catholics; these are seen as the most common and reliable figures.


Today, the Chinese language typically divides Christians into two groups, members of Jidu jiao (literally, Christianity), Protestantism, and members of Tianzhu jiao (literally "Lord of Heaven" religion), Catholicism (see Protestantism in China
Protestantism in China
Protestant Christianity entered China in the early 19th century, taking root in a significant way during the Qing Dynasty. Some historians consider the Taiping Rebellion to have been influenced by Protestant Christian teachings. Since the mid-20th century, there has been an increase in the number...

 and Catholicism in China
.)

Official organizations



Since loosening of restrictions on religion after the 1970s, Christianity has grown significantly within the People's Republic. It is still, however, tightly controlled by government authorities. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement
Three-Self Patriotic Movement
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement or TSPM is a state-controlled Protestant church in the People's Republic of China...

, China Christian Council
China Christian Council
The China Christian Council or CCC was founded in 1980 as an umbrella organization for all Protestant churches in the People's Republic of China with Bishop K. H. Ting as its president. It works to provide theological education and the publication of Bibles , hymnals , and other religious...

 (Protestant) and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association , abbreviated CPA, CPCA, or CCPA, is an association of people, established in 1957 by the People's Republic of China's Religious Affairs Bureau to exercise state supervision over mainland China's Catholics...

, which has disavowed the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 and is considered schismatic by other Roman Catholics, have affiliations with the government and must follow the regulations imposed upon them.

House churches



Many Christians choose however to meet independently of these organizations, typically in house churches. These fellowships are not officially registered and are seen as illegal entities that are persecuted heavily, and are thus sometimes called "underground churches". These Christians have been persecuted throughout the 20th century, especially during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, and there remains some official harassment in the form of arrests and interrogations of Chinese Christians. At the same time, there has been increasing tolerance of house churches since the late 1970s.

Some informal groups have emerged in the 1970s that seem to have been wholly new in origin, or perhaps to have sprouted from earlier seeds but grown into distinctly new movements. One of the best documented of these groups was founded by Peter Xu
Peter Xu
Peter Xu is the founder of an Evangelical Christian movement in China known as the "New Birth", "All Range", or "Born Again Movement." It is a Chinese house church movement, unregistered by the Chinese government. In 1997, he was sentenced to three years in prison for his leadership role...

, an independent evangelist who began preaching in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 in 1968. his organization, variously called Born Again Movement, the Born-again Sect (重生派), the Total Scope Church (全范围教会), or the Criers, is accused by some as being heretical. It is distinguished by a strong emphasis on a definitive experience of conversion, usually during an intensive three-day "life meeting", and by an emphasis (some say a requirement) on a confession of sins with tears. Xu has claimed that his organization consists of over 3500 congregations and has sent evangelists to more than twenty of China's provinces. These numbers cannot be independently verified, but it is evident that there are several other organized networks claiming a similarly large number of adherents, and many other groups of smaller scope.

Free churches



There is a new third church movement that is growing rapidly in the urban areas of China today. Traditionally, the churches in communist China were thought to be either “Three-Self churches” (official and government-controlled churches), or “house churches” (churches meeting in homes, not part of the state). But now, there is a third church movement called the “free church” movement in China and it is gaining momentum.

Before discussing the free church movement, there is a need to explain briefly the different church movements in China since the communist revolution in 1949. When the communists systematically persecuted, and eventually outlawed the Chinese Christian church before and during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s, the church went underground. As a result, the term “underground church” came into use. But after the death of Mao, the government legalized the Christian church. Then, the Christians in China began to come above ground into the officially sanctioned church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) or the Three-Self church.

The term “Three-Self” originated with John Nevius, who was an American missionary to China and Korea in the late nineteenth century. He proposed a strategy of self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating local churches in China and Korea. The strategy took hold in Korea in the late nineteenth century, and resulted in explosive church growth in the twentieth century. However, in China, the strategy was hijacked by the communists as a tool to rid the church of “foreign influence.” The Three-Self church was officially recognized by the government in 1979, but instead of having a foreign influence, it was dominated by communism, thereby coming short of being a genuine, independent church.

When the Chinese Christians realized that communist control of the Christian church was detrimental to the spirituality and the health of the church, many of them continued to meet in homes, thus the beginning of the “house church” movement in the early 1980s. For the next three decades, these two church movements dominated the Chinese church scene. Generally, the Three-Self church is served by seminary-educated ordained ministers, whose theology is parallel to the liberal mainline churches in the US and the state churches of Europe. The house churches, however, are basically a church movement led by lay leaders in the countryside. House church members often attend the Three-Self churches on weekends to receive the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, in addition to being part of a house church. The house churches have had explosive growth as a mainly rural church movement. Due to lack of training and discipleship, however, these churches have been plagued with the problems of heresy and cultic teachings.

A number of Three-Self pastors also often have house fellowships of their own. These pastor-led churches sometimes come into conflict with other house churches in the area. Unfortunately, many of these conflicts result in either the Three-Self churches turning the house church leaders over to the authorities for their “illegal” church activities, or the house churches categorically shunning the Three-Self churches as “apostate.” There is a real need for reconciliation among the churches in China.

More recently, some of the evangelical Three-Self pastors and the Chinese Christians who have studied at overseas seminaries have begun to plant their own independent churches in the urban areas of China such as Beijing and Shanghai. Unlike the rural house churches, which attract mostly farmers, the urban free churches tend to attract well-educated, affluent people. For example, Zion Church of Beijing is led by a former Three-Self pastor named Jin Mingri. In addition to his education at Beijing University and Nanjing Seminary in China, he also earned a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary in the United States. In the spring of 2007, Jin returned to China and planted the Zion church. In less than three years, it grew to being a multisite church with close to 1,000 worshipers attending the different Sunday services. Many of the church members are scholars, officials, international businessmen, and college-educated merchants. Zion is not a house church that meets underground but an above-ground church that meets in an office building, and that refuses to either disband or register with the authorities. Despite harassment from the police, they have persevered by walking in the light rather than hiding, and by preaching the gospel boldly rather than living in fear. The authorities are beginning to dialog with free churches, which could lead to official recognition.

Even with the Back to Jerusalem Movement (a movement led by house church leaders with the massive goal to send tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Chinese missionaries to the Middle East), the kinds of training they propose (such as practicing jumping from a window in case of police crack-down or preparing for martyrdom) and the lack of international experience (such as being turned back from the border due to lack of passports), often causes house church movements to fall short. On the other hand, the next generation of Chinese church leaders and missionaries will likely come out of the free church movement in China. Their highly educated members and leaders with extensive international exposure are often backed with a vast reserve of wealth in the cities. Throughout China, there is a massive influx of the Chinese into the cities. China will be overwhelmingly urban in the next decades. This makes the urban free churches all the more important as future leaders of evangelical Christianity in China.

Orthodox Christianity



There are a small number of adherents of Russian Orthodoxy
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 in northern China, predominantly in Harbin
Harbin
Harbin ; Manchu language: , Harbin; Russian: Харби́н Kharbin ), is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China, lying on the southern bank of the Songhua River...

. The first mission was undertaken by Russians in the 17th century. Orthodox Christianity is also practiced by the small Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 ethnic minority in China. The Church operates relatively freely in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 (where the Ecumenical Patriarch has sent a metropolitan, Bishop Nikitas and the Russian Orthodox parish of St Peter and St Paul resumed its operation) and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 (where archimandrite Jonah George Mourtos leads a mission church).

Religious practice


Officials from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council (TSPM/CCC), the state-approved Protestant religious organization, estimated that at least twenty million citizens worship in official churches. Government officials stated that there are more than 50,000 registered TSPM churches and 18 TSPM theological schools. The Pew Research Center estimates that between 50 million and 70 million Christians practice without state sanction. The World Christian Database estimates that there are more than 300 unofficial house church networks.

The Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) reports that 5.3 million persons worship in its churches and it is estimated that there are an additional 12 million or more persons who worship in unregistered Catholic churches that do not affiliate with the CPA. According to official sources, the government-sanctioned CPA has more than 70 bishops, nearly 3,000 priests and nuns, 6,000 churches and meeting places, and 12 seminaries. There are thought to be approximately 40 bishops operating "underground," some of whom are in prison or under house arrest. During the reporting period, at least three bishops were ordained with papal approval. In September 2007 the official media reported that Liu Bainian, CPA vice president, stated that the young bishops were to be selected to serve dioceses without bishops and to replace older bishops. Of the 97 dioceses in the country, 40 reportedly did not have an acting bishop in 2007, and more than 30 bishops were over 80 years of age.

On August 30, 2010, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revealed its on-going efforts to negotiate with the Chinese authorities to regularize its activities in China. The LDS Church has had expatriate members worshiping in China for a few decades previous to this, but with many restrictions.

Religious restrictions



The Government restricts legal religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered religious groups and places of worship, and seeks to control the growth and scope of the activity of both registered and unregistered religious groups, including "house churches." Government authorities limit proselytism, particularly by foreigners and unregistered religious groups, but permit proselytism in state-approved religious venues and private settings.

In 2008, the Government's repression of religious freedom intensified in some areas. Unregistered Protestant religious groups in Beijing reported intensified harassment from government authorities in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Media and China-based sources reported that municipal authorities in Beijing closed some house churches or asked them to stop meeting during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. During the reporting period, officials detained and interrogated several foreigners about their religious activities and in several cases alleged that the foreigners had engaged in "illegal religious activities" and cancelled their visas. Media reported that the total number of expatriates expelled by the Government due to concerns about their religious activities exceeded one hundred.

"Underground" Roman Catholic clergy faced repression, in large part due to their avowed loyalty to the Vatican, which the Government accused of interfering in the country's internal affairs. The Government continued to repress groups that it designated as "cults," which included several Christian groups.

Demographics and geography



It is not known exactly how many Chinese consider themselves Christian. Estimates of Christians in China are difficult to obtain because of the numbers of Christians unwilling to reveal their beliefs, the hostility of the national government towards some Christian sects, and difficulties in obtaining accurate statistics on house churches. It seems clear that the numbers are growing
  • In 2000, the People's Republic of China
    People's Republic of China
    China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

     government census enumerated 4 million Chinese Catholics
    Roman Catholicism in China
    Roman Catholicism in China has a long and complicated history...

     and 10 million ‎Protestants
    Protestantism in China
    Protestant Christianity entered China in the early 19th century, taking root in a significant way during the Qing Dynasty. Some historians consider the Taiping Rebellion to have been influenced by Protestant Christian teachings. Since the mid-20th century, there has been an increase in the number...

    . The Chinese government once stated that only 1% (13 million) of the population is Christian while the Chinese Embassy has stated that 10 Million (0.75%) are Christian.

  • The official figure in 2002, which consists of members from official Protestant churches, is about 15 million, while some estimates on members of Chinese house church
    Chinese house church
    Chinese house churches are a religious movement of unregistered assemblies of Christians in the People's Republic of China, which operate independently of the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council for Protestant groups and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic...

    es vary from 50 million to 100 million.

  • In 2006 it was stated that there were 4 million members of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
    Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
    The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association , abbreviated CPA, CPCA, or CCPA, is an association of people, established in 1957 by the People's Republic of China's Religious Affairs Bureau to exercise state supervision over mainland China's Catholics...

     and an estimated 12 million members of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China as of 2006. Kiven Choy stated, in a Chinese weekly newspaper in Hong Kong, that the correct number of Protestants in China should be at around 20 million , while Time Magazine reported 65 million in 2006.

  • In October 2007 two surveys were conducted to estimate the number of Christians in China. One poll was held by Protestant missionary Werner Burklin, the other one by Liu Zhongyu from East China Normal University in Shanghai. The surveys were conducted independently and during different periods, but they reached the same results. According to these studies, there are roughly 54 million Christians in China, of which 39 million are Protestants and 14 million are Catholics as the most common and reliable figure among others.

  • In 2008, the official number is 20 million in the Official Protestant churches and 10 million in the Official Catholic Church. According to China Aid Association, Ye Xiaowen, the director of the government body which supervises all religions in China, said privately that the figure was indeed as much as 130 millions in early 2008. The claim was denied by Mrs. Guo Wei, director of the Foreign Affairs Department in Beijing. Some bloggers had attributed the report to the official Xinhua News Agency, which denied having reported anything such. According to John Micklethwait
    John Micklethwait
    John Micklethwait is the editor-in-chief of The Economist.-Biography:Micklethwait was born in 1962 and educated at the independent school Ampleforth College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied history. He worked for Chase Manhattan Bank for two years and joined The Economist in 1987...

     "a conservative guess" (as at the end of 2008) "is that there are at least 65 million Protestants in China and 12 million Catholics"


The CIA World Factbook indicates that 3%-4% of all the population in China are Christians (2002 est.). Independent estimates have ranged from 40 million to 100 million.

A relatively large proportion of Christians are concentrated in Hebei
Hebei
' is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "" , named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei...

 province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

, in particular Catholics. Many internationally-reported arrests of Catholic leaders have occurred in that province. Hebei is also home to the town of Donglu
Donglu
Donglü is a village in Qingyuan County, Hebei province, China.It has become known for the apparition of Mary, known as Our Lady of China, witnessed there in 1900, and the Marian shrine and pilgrimage site which have since developed.-Geography:...

, site of an alleged Marian apparition and pilgrimage center.
Another major population is Christianity in Henan
Christianity in Henan
Henan province of China has one of the largest Christian populations of East Asia. Christianity is a population of millions in Henan, most of them attending Chinese house churches. Christianity in Henan is a notable proportion of Christianity in China at large. Henan has one of the largest...

.

Hong Kong



Christianity has been in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 since 1841. Of about 670,000 Christians in Hong Kong, most of them are Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Macau



Roman Catholic missionaries were the first to arrive in Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

.

Protestants record that Tsae A-Ko
Tsae A-Ko
Tsae A-Ko was the first known Chinese Protestant Christian. He was baptized by Robert Morrison at Macau about 1814. Morrison acknowledged the imperfection of this man's knowledge, but he relied on the words, " If thou believest with all thy heart ! " and then he administered the rite...

 was the first known Chinese Protestant Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

. He was baptized by Robert Morrison at Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

 about 1814.

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region


Predominantly Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, very few Uygur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 are known to be Christian. In 1904, George Hunter with the CIM
China Inland Mission
OMF International is an interdenominational Protestant Christian missionary society, founded in Britain by Hudson Taylor on 25 June 1865.-Overview:...

 opened the first mission station in Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

. By the 1930s there existed some churches among this people, but because of violent persecution the churches were destroyed and the believers were scattered.

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region


Though the Hui people
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 live in nearly every part of China, they make up about 30% of the population of Ningxia
Ningxia
Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

. They are almost entirely Muslim and very few are Christian.

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region


Rapid church growth is reported to have taken place among the Zhuang people in the early 1990s. Though still predominantly Buddhist and animistic, the region of Guangxi
Guangxi
Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

 was first visited in 1877 by Protestant missionary Edward Fishe of the CIM
China Inland Mission
OMF International is an interdenominational Protestant Christian missionary society, founded in Britain by Hudson Taylor on 25 June 1865.-Overview:...

. He died the same year.

International interest



In large, international cities such as Beijing, foreign visitors have established Christian church communities which meet in public establishments such as hotels. These churches and fellowships, however, are typically restricted only to holders of non-Chinese passports.

American evangelist
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 Billy Graham
Billy Graham
William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian evangelist. As of April 25, 2010, when he met with Barack Obama, Graham has spent personal time with twelve United States Presidents dating back to Harry S. Truman, and is number seven on Gallup's list of admired people for...

 visited in China in 1988 with his wife, Ruth, and it was a homecoming for her since she had been born in China to missionary parents, L. Nelson Bell
L. Nelson Bell
Lemuel Nelson Bell was a medical missionary in China and the father-in-law of famous evangelist Billy Graham. Few people had more influence on Billy Graham than Bell. -Life:Bell was born in Longdale, Virginia...

 and his wife, Virginia.

Since the 1980s, American officials visiting China have on multiple occasions visited Chinese churches, including President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, who attended one of Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

's five officially-recognized Protestant churches during a November 2005 Asia tour, and the Kuanjie Protestant Church in 2008. During an official visit to Beijing for the Beijing Olympic Games, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Prime Minister of Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd
Kevin Michael Rudd is an Australian politician who was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010. He has been Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2010...

 with his wife Therese attended the Northern Cathedral, Beijing, for Sunday services in August 2008. Secretary of State
Secretary of State
Secretary of State or State Secretary is a commonly used title for a senior or mid-level post in governments around the world. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple Secretaries of State in the Government....

 Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 attended Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

 services in Beijing in 2005.

During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, three American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Christian protesters were deported from China after a demonstration at Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen Gate located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world...

, and eight Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 Christians were stopped after attempting to sing in chorus. Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 urged China to be open to Christianity, and said that he hoped the Olympic Games would offer an example of coexistence among people from different countries.

See also


  • Christianity in India
    Christianity in India
    Christianity is India's third-largest religion, with approximately 24 million followers, constituting 2.3% of India's population. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings and 14th century Portuguese missionaries created an illusion to convert Indians that Christianity was introduced to...

  • Chinese house church
    Chinese house church
    Chinese house churches are a religious movement of unregistered assemblies of Christians in the People's Republic of China, which operate independently of the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council for Protestant groups and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic...

  • Chinese Union Version
    Chinese Union Version
    The Chinese Union Version is the predominant Chinese language translation of the Bible used by Chinese Protestants. It is considered by many to be the Chinese Protestant’s Bible....

     of the Bible
  • Chinese New Hymnal
    Chinese New Hymnal
    The Chinese New Hymnal was published during the early 1980s and is the predominantly most used hymn book at the worship of the Protestant churches in the present-day China.-Chinese New Hymnal:...

  • China Christian Council
    China Christian Council
    The China Christian Council or CCC was founded in 1980 as an umbrella organization for all Protestant churches in the People's Republic of China with Bishop K. H. Ting as its president. It works to provide theological education and the publication of Bibles , hymnals , and other religious...

  • Historical Bibliography of Christianity in China
  • Historical Bibliography of the China Inland Mission
  • Protestant missions in China 1807–1953
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church in the People's Republic of China
    Seventh-day Adventist Church in the People's Republic of China
    The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a significant presence in the People's Republic of China. There are about 400,000 Seventh-day Adventists in China. Many of its pastors in China are women. There are or used to be more than 350 SDA congregations in Jilin Province. Pastor Jan Paulsen, the...

  • Timeline of Christian missions
    Timeline of Christian missions
    This timeline of Christian missions chronicles the global expansion of Christianity through a listing of the most important missionary outreach events.-Apostolic Age:.Earliest dates must all be considered approximate...


Further reading

  • The Church of the Tang Dynasty, John Foster, SPCK, London, 1939
  • The Lost Churches of China, Leonard M. Outerbridge, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1952
  • The Story of Mary Liu, Edward Hunter, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1956
  • Come Wind, Come Weather, Leslie Lyall
    Leslie Theodore Lyall
    Leslie Theodore Lyall was a British Protestant Christian missionary in China. He also authored several books about China. He served with the China Inland Mission.-Bibliography:...

    , Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1956
  • Red Sky at Night, Leslie Lyall, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1961
  • Christianity in China, George N. Patterson, World Books, London, 1969
  • The Cross and the Lotus, Lee Shiu Keung, Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture, Hong Kong, 1971
  • Decision for China, Paul T. K. Shi, St John's University Press, N.Y., 1971
  • The Jesus Family in China, D. Vaughan Rees, Paternoster Press, Exeter, 1973
  • Christians and China, V. Hayward, Christian Journals Ltd, Belfast, 1974
  • Nathan Sites
    Nathan Sites
    Nathan Sites was a 19th century Methodist Episcopal missionary stationed at Foochow, China.-Life:Dr. Rev. Nathan Sites was graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. In 1861, he reached Foochow with his wife Sarah Moore Sites to begin his oversea missionary work which would last until his death...

    : An Epic of the East
    , Sarah Moore Sites, Revell, New York, 1912
  • The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Jonathan D. Spence, New York, 1984
  • Jesus in Beijing, David Aikman, Regnery Publishing Inc., Washington D.C., 2003
  • China's Christian Millions (New Edition, Fully Revised and Updated) Lambert, Tony
    Tony Lambert
    Tony Lambert is a former British diplomat to Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan and author of several significant books regarding Christianity in China.-Works authored:* China's Christian Millions ...

     (2006)
  • Counting Christians in China: a cautionary report.: An article from: International Bulletin of Missionary Research Lambert, Tony
    Tony Lambert
    Tony Lambert is a former British diplomat to Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan and author of several significant books regarding Christianity in China.-Works authored:* China's Christian Millions ...

    (2005)
  • The Resurrection of the Chinese Church Lambert, Tony
    Tony Lambert
    Tony Lambert is a former British diplomat to Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan and author of several significant books regarding Christianity in China.-Works authored:* China's Christian Millions ...

    (1994)
  • The Believing Heart, C.S. Song, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999.
  • Theology from the Womb of Asia, C.S. Song, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1986.
  • Tell Us Our Names, C.S. Song, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1984
  • Third Eye Theology, C.S. Song, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1979
  • What Has Jerusalem to Do With Beijing? K. K. Yeo, Harrisburg: Trinity: 1998.
  • William Scott Ament and the Boxer Rebellion: Heroism, Hubris, and the Ideal Missionary, Larry Clinton Thompson, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009

External links