When the Peoples Republic of China was founded in 1949, the nation had 500,000 Christians. Add 70 years of official governmental oppression, and today Christians number more than 60,000,000. At that rate, by 2030 we can expect to see 200,000,000 Christians in Communist China, says Purdue University sociologist Fenggang Yang, making it home to the largest Christian population in the world. What is going on?
CHINA’S CHRISTIAN FUTURE
By Yu Jie
The beginnings of this immense growth can be traced back to two moments: . . . the Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong in 1966 and the Tiananmen Square massacre instigated by Deng Xiaoping in 1989. Countless innocent lives were lost . . . and the peoples belief in Marxism- Leninism and Maoism was destroyed. These events opened up a great spiritual void, and the Chinese began searching for a new faith . . .
Christianity is the largest force in China outside the Communist party. In China, home churches outnumber government-sponsored churches three to one. Against home churches that refuse to cooperate, the government has waged a large-scale cleansing campaign . . . particularly in the city of Wenzhou, known as Chinas Jerusalem, where 15 percent of the population is Christian. In two years, more than two hundred churches in Zhejiang have been demolished, over two thousand crosses removed . . .
However, Chinese Christians have refused to give in. One of the phrases I have heard most often among them is: The greater the persecution, the greater the revival. For Christian dissidents, cross removals and church demolitions are only the prelude in a story that repeats the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. They talk about how during the Cultural Revolution, the Christian population in Wenzhou actually grew many times over . . .
On the night of December 10, 2010 . . . I was kidnapped by the secret police and taken to the outskirts of Beijing. They beat and tortured me for hours, breaking my fingers one by one. I blacked out and was taken to a hospital. A hospital in Changping, a suburb of Beijing, refused to take me, saying I was hopeless . . . Before I lost consciousness, I prayed: Lord, if you take me, then make me a martyr. I am not worthy, but I am willing. In that moment, I clearly heard his voice: ”As surely as I live, not a hair of your head will fall to the ground . . .”
God let me live to witness and testify for him through writing. And for the 1.4 billion souls in my homeland, I shall continue. I do so in great hope. A growing faith in Christ, strengthened by the bonds of fellowship in church life, is breathing new life into my country. Neither the dead hand of Communism, nor the cynical imitation of Confucianism, nor capitalism, nor democracy, nor any earthly thing will determine the fate of my land. Christianity is Chinas future.
Yu Jie is a Chinese writer and dissident. This essay was translated from the Chinese by H. C. Hsu and was published in First Things: A Journal of Religion and Public Life (copyright August 2016 by Yu Jie. Above excerpts are reprinted under Fair Use provisions authorized by 17 U.S. Code § 107. My thanks to gracEmail subscriber David Pybus for alerting me to this article.
PERSPECTIVES REGARDING THOSE WHO NEVER HEARD
FROM JAY A. — We need not fully understand the details and mechanism to enjoy the ends. Abraham did not know the name of Jesus, or anything about the virgin birth, the crucifixion or the resurrection; yet he was saved.
I liken it to a light switch. My father was an electrical engineer. He could explain exactly how the power worked. I have no clue how electricity works. But when I flip a light switch the room turns bright for me, just as well as it ever did for him. Likewise, those with no knowledge of the life and actions of Jesus as the Christ who made possible our union with God, may still partake of his salvation if they have the contrite spirit and faith looking toward God.
But I’m not a universalist, so I think this is a minor percentage of humans who find salvation without the gospel. Sort of like a blind pig finding an acorn. Without the gospel, the intrinsic bent toward sin is overpowering and usually persuades people into arrogant self confidence. Whether or not the saved have an intellectual understanding of Jesus, we are not saved by intellect. We are saved by Jesus.
FROM MIKE S. — I appreciate your wonderful reply to this brother. Back in college, my grandmother had placed $1000 in my checking account without me ever knowing it. I kept my check book up to date knowing what I put in the bank and what I took out so statements simply went into the trash. For almost a year, I never touched the money because I didn’t know it existed even though it was mine.
While visiting my grandmother one day, she said, “You really need to get a couple of new tires on that truck to be safe.” I said, “Mama I don’t have the money to buy them right now and she asked if the money she had put into my account was all gone. I was pretty shocked and she said, “I guess I should have told you, but my first thought was just to make sure you didn’t overdraw your account.”
I fully believe this is what you described in your gracEmail by saying the preaching will inform some of what they do not know and allow them to enjoy the knowledge of being in Christ. I’m thinking how horrible it would be to not preach the story and allow them to go through life without any of the joy associated with Christ.
FROM JOHN D. — It seems that many Evangelicals actually like the ideas not only of hell as eternal conscious torment, but also that everyone except Christians will certainly go there! It is such a nice, clear-cut, packaged either-or message, as we see frequently in Seoul from Christian street marchers carrying the banner Jesus or Hell!
Thank you for this gracEmail on the topic. It is the best biblical rationale I have seen for Christian evangelism in response to the so-called “Wider Hope” (or “inclusivism” per Clark Pinnock and John Sanders). And you are, as usual, so gracious and kind in your approach.