The growth of Christianity amongst intellectuals has fundamentally “reshaped the religious landscape in China,” says Edmond Tang, a leading Chinese academic of the University of Birmingham. Back in 2009 he stated: “Today it is an open secret that Christian fellowships – a new kind of ‘house church’, run by Chinese professors and students, are active in most Chinese universities. More than 30 academic faculties and research centres are devoted to the study of a once maligned religion. The question is, why?”
Ironically, Mao’s reign and destruction of all religious institutions was arguably the greatest contributor to the recent Christian revival in China. Professor Xi Lian, a Professor of World Religion at the Duke Divinity School, speaks of a “crisis of belief,” explaining that the inspiring Communist ideology served as “almost a religious sort of promise of a new heaven, a new earth, a new kingdom, a new society of justice, equality, and liberation,” that was subsequently crushed during the violence of the Cultural Revolution and later, for intellectuals, during the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989.
Professor Lian explains that Christianity as a faith was positioned perfectly to fill the gaping void of trust and faith that the Cultural Revolution so devastatingly created, saying “its system of values, with its sense of the dignity and worth of individuals, and with its doctrine of love,” was attractive to a population who felt as if they needed to rekindle both a sense of individuality and community after an immense betrayal.
Serene Silin Li, the daughter of born-again Chinese pop-stars, who was educated in a top conservatory in Beijing, and is now studying at Yale, is typical of this new generation of highly educated Chinese Christians, just like many of the one thousand other Christians that sit by her side listening to the Sunday sermon in the Beijing International Christian Fellowship’s theatre.
Jesson Tian is a graduate student in Beijing working on a master’s degree in agricultural biology. During his second university year, a friend introduced Tian to Jesus, and since he became a Christian, Tian shares his faith wherever he can. But, while Tian has turned away from his atheistic roots, he hasn’t given up his Communist Party affiliation. In fact, Tian says over soup in a Beijing restaurant, he often tells people he is a Party member before he tells them about Jesus. “I think they will trust me more,” he says. His faith in Jesus is shared by many Party members. How this great body of Chinese Christians will influence the structure of the Church and missionary endeavour worldwide, we cannot know; but it does look to be a driving force that will shape China spiritually, morally and politically in the future.
The World Post; Christian Today
BIBLE STUDY: Luke 5:27-32
PRAISE God for the huge hunger for the Gospel among Chinese intellectuals. PRAY that these Christians will lead China to become a powerhouse for the Gospel.