December 22, 2003

Sometimes things change ...

There's an interesting article in NRO on Christianity in China.

....Kathryn Jean Lopez: How many Christians are there in China?

David Aikman: [There are] about 70 million Protestants and about 12 million Catholics.

Lopez: How have that many Christians managed to flourish in China, largely underground? What drives them?

Aikman: During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) every single church building (and mosque and temple as well) was closed in China. The formal, permitted structures of Chinese Protestantism and Catholicism had also been dissolved by Mao's Red Guards. Christians become used to gathering in totally clandestine situations, in homes, fields, forests. Because the government was so overtly hostile to religion, Christians took the view that the best response was open and energetic evangelism wherever and whenever they could. Even when China began to open up in 1979 and the "official" churches were permitted to function once more, the "house church" networks had established such a powerful presence all over China that it made sense to continue to operate completely outside of the domain of any Chinese officialdom.

Lopez: Many of the Christians are elites � scientists, intellectuals. How did that happen?....

Christianity is apparently growing rapidly in China, which could have big implications for the future. I'm always fascinated by any sort of renovatio. A country like China, we just assume that it will carry on much the same, and that we will have to struggle with the same intractable problems far into the future. Sometimes, it turns out, not so...

Posted by John Weidner at December 22, 2003 5:21 PM
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