ERA 7 <<
† 24.1.1 Overview
cross: In past centuries, repeatedly, Christianity had been
† 24.1.2 Tang Dynasty [618–907]
The Nestorians sent missionary Olopan to
† 24.1.3 Yuan Dynasty [1271–1368]
John: Franciscan missionary John Montecorvino visited
† 24.1.4 Ming Dynasty [1368–1644]
the end of 16th-c, the Jesuits came to southern
Strategy: Ricci’s strategy of evangelism
consisted in penetrating into
Accommodation to culture: The Jesuits
accommodated Chinese culture because they argued that Confucianism was not a
religion, and that there was much in the teachings of Confucius that could be
used as a point of entry for the gospel. As to ancestor worship, they claimed
that this was not a true worship, but rather a social custom whereby one showed
respect for one’s ancestors. Eventually, the
† 24.1.5 Qing Dynasty [1644–1911]
· Jesuits: Kangxi Emperor permitted the Jesuits to freely preach Christianity  but he banned Christian missionaries as a result of the controversy involving Chinese rites .
Catholic missions: Some monks were involved in political
struggles. They helped the enemies of the emperor. The emperor therefore issued
an edict to ban Christianity , and the work of the RCC in
† 24.2.1 Missionaries
He settled (and eventually died) in
He founded the China Inland Mission . It accepted missionaries from all
denominations. It refused to make use of the supposed advantages based on
unequal treaties. After his first visit to
Significance: A historian Ruth Tucker
Impact: The China Inland Mission was
responsible for bringing to
T. Studd, M. Beauchamp, W. W. Cassels, D. E. Hoste, S. P. Smith, A. T. Podhill-Turner,
C. H. Polhill-Turner. They went to
† 24.2.2 Important political events
War [1839–1842]—After the war,
& Christianity: The unequal treaties of 1842, 1843, 1844,
1858, 1860 included provisions for missionaries to freely preach Christianity
and to receive protection from the government. Afterwards, many denominations
sent missionaries to
rebellion was influenced by Christian writings. Because of the impoverished
living conditions of the people, a group rebelled establishing a kingdom using
Christian principles of sexual equality, with laws prohibiting prostitution,
adultery, binding of girls’ feet, opium, tobacco, and alcohol. While many
teachings were doctrinally incorrect and heretical, it did lead to the
spreading of Christian ideas. For a time, they became the government around
was an uprising by a group called the Society of Right and Harmonious Fists. It
was originally established against the Manchu government. Gradually, it shifted
to opposing foreign influence in areas such as trade, politics, religion and
technology. They were encouraged by Empress Dowager. They burnt foreign
churches, schools, and hospitals and 189 missionaries and their children were killed.
The rebellion ended when the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded
† 24.3.1 Anti-Christian activities
When the republic was established in 1912, there were tens of thousands of
Protestant missionaries in
· May 4 Movement : It was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement. Because Christianity was regarded as part of imperialism, the movement also opposed Christianity.
Coalition : It was formed by academics who opposed and
criticized Christianity. It was a reaction to the conference of World Student
Christian Federation in
· Results: To fight against the accusation of being a superstitious foreign religion, the church adopted the policies of:  Liberal theology: emphasizing the ethical aspects of Christianity and abandoning the supernaturalism.  Contextualization: attempting to fit Christianity into traditional Chinese culture.  Founding three-self churches: establishing independence from western churches.
† 24.3.2 Establishment of independent churches
· The Church of Christ in China 中華基督教會: The church began from the separation of 10 Presbyterian churches from their mother church in the West . With the help of western missionary societies, the Chinese churches promoted a union of churches from different denominations. Many churches joined the movement. The first national council met to establish the church  which represented 120,000 Chinese Christians, one-third of the national total. It adopted the three-self model. Each church must follow 3 basic doctrines:  Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour.  The Bible is the inspired Word of God and the highest authority for doctrine and practice.  The Apostles’ Creed is accepted. Each church could decide on their own government and liturgies.
It was founded by Wang Ming Dao王明道
It was founded by Watchman Nee倪柝聲
It was founded by Jing Dian Ying敬奠瀛
† 24.3.3 Chinese theologians
In his early career, he stressed that Christianity is about love. He tried to
harmonize Christianity and Confucianism. He believed that Christianity can
reform the society through preaching the gospel of peace and participating in
social work such as education, medicine, and helping the poor. In his late
career, he turned to the Word of God and accepted supernaturalism in the Bible
although he still believed in establishing the
· Wang Ming Dao 王明道(1900–1991): He held to evangelical doctrines completely, emphasizing the study of the Bible, the inspired Word of God. His first priority is to lead non-believers to repentance and born-again lives. He criticized any shortcomings of the Chinese churches as well as society. He strongly opposed any evils or injustices in Chinese society and he emphasized that Chinese Christians should live a holy life.
· Watchman Nee 倪柝聲(1903–1972): He was influenced by the Quietism of Guyon and the Holiness Movement of Pember. In his gospel preaching and ministry, he always stressed more on the “inner-life” issue in a believer’s life rather than the “outward-work”. He believed that to be a Christian is altogether a matter of the divine life. His doctrine on the church followed an authoritarian model under the apostle and he himself was an apostle.
† 24.4.1 Period 1: Reorganization [1949–1960]
History of the
in 1949: When the communists took over the government of
· Three-Self Movement: The communist government pushed for the formation of the Three-Self Movement in order to eliminate all foreign influence . After the establishment of the Committee of Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement , the suppression of those who did not join the movement began. The most famous were long sentences of imprisonment for Wang Ming Dao (22 years) and Watchman Nee (15 years), being classified as “anti-revolutionaries”.
· Government control: All public churches were controlled by the communists. Political indoctrination became the main form of education in three-self churches. Under the Great Leap Forward , all private properties were confiscated. It became necessary for pastors to work for their living. Most Christian seminaries and publishing companies were forcibly closed.
† 24.4.2 Period 2: Persecution [1960–1976]
· Corruption: Under government control, the Three-Self Movement gradually became a propaganda tool of the communists. When the Great Leap Forward starved 25 million to death, the movement spoke out on the side of the government, denying deaths. Many Christians withdrew from the churches.
· House churches: In order to free the churches from the domination by the communists, house churches were founded, beginning in the 1960s. The number of house churches boomed and quickly surpassed those in the Three-Self Movement. Their zeal of evangelism brought millions of new believers. The government suppressed these churches by sending church leaders to long imprisonment. The Three-Self Movement cooperated with the government by betraying and exposing the location of house churches. The house churches resorted to meeting in secret places. Despite these suppressions, house churches continued to grow exponentially.
· Cultural Revolution [1966–1976]: All public churches stopped worship services. Bibles, hymn books, and books were all burnt. Leaders of the Three-Self Movement were purged. Yet the house churches did not stop meeting. Miracles frequently occurred, leading to new converts. Because they had to meet secretly, they were more developed in rural areas.
† 24.4.3 Period 3: Adjustment [1976– ]
· Change in policy: After the Cultural Revolution, the government reversed its policy towards religions. Formal religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism) were declassified from the rank of superstitions. Previous suppressions of religions were attributed to the sins of the “Gang of Four”. Religions were accepted as a contributing force to build a better society.
· Reopening: The Three-Self Movement was reorganized. Worship services in the public three-self churches started . The Nanjing Seminary was reopened. The printing of Bibles began again.
· Document 19 : The central communist government issued the document to re-state its Marxist policy toward religions. According to Marxism, religion is the opiate of the people and will eventually disappear. In the meantime, it was to be tolerated and religious leaders would be recruited to help improving the society. Members of the communist party, however, were forbidden to join any religion.
· Growth in the 1980s: The reopening of three-self churches and the toleration of house churches led to continuous growth of Christianity. New churches were built; new seminaries were opened.
· Document 6 : This document issed by the central government was a partial reversal of the 1982 document. It restricted expansion of religion and closely monitored contacts with foreign organizations and people.
· Recent situation: The 2 documents (1982, 1991) represent the 2 different attitudes of communists towards Christians. They lead to the constantly changing policies, resulting in cycles of suppression and relaxation. In 2006, the government attempted to have better control of house churches. They forced all house churches to register with the government and they started a new cycle of persecution against those who do not register. Despite all these suppressive policies, the Gospel continues to convert thousands of new Christians everyday. The present number of Christians is estimated to be between 80 and 100 million.
† 24.4.4 Contextualization (Indigenization)
· Meaning: Contextualization refers the process where foreign cultural elements are adapted and accepted into the native culture. Here, it refers to the amalgamation of elements of Christianity and elements of traditional Chinese culture so that Christianity can be more acceptable to Chinese.
· Early emphasis: Attempts to contextualize Christianity since 1900 were in the directions of:  adding Chinese style into Christian buildings and liturgies,  finding a commonality between Christianity and Chinese philosophy—both are general revelation from God and are complementary to each other,  building churches with the principle of “three selves”—self-government, self-support, and self-propagation,  stressing the contribution of Christianity in helping the nation.
· Conservative direction: Conservatives go in the direction of criticizing Chinese traditional culture, stressing the contribution of Christianity in modern society, as a better alternative and as a reforming force of Chinese culture.
· Communist direction: The emphasis is on the cooperation of Christianity and socialism.
for balance: The original intent of contextualization is a
well-meaning one. For example, an exposition of the complementarity of
Christianity with traditional Chinese culture (particularly Confucianism) helps
to make Christianity more acceptable. On the other hand, contextualization
could go too far. There are essential Christian doctrines based on the Bible.
If a Christian allows a compromise of these doctrines, his Christian identity
will no longer be authentic. For example, in
 treasure our heritage
gospel of salvation was brought to
 appreciate God’s providence
The number of Chinese Christians increases rapidly, despite cycles of persecution by the communist government.
 avoid past errors
Corruption occurs when the church links too closely with the government.
 apply our knowledge
Both Wang Ming Dao and Watchman Nee emphasized the commitment of Christians to live a deeply dedicated life.
 follow past saints
For working to expand God’s kingdom, many Chinese Christians died or were imprisoned for 15-30 years.
Matteo Ricci’s method of evangelism in
o Ricci never built a church or chapel, nor did he preach to a large audience. He relied on personal contact to convert his powerful Chinese friends. It had one advantage of converting intellectual elites who could then influence many other people. But the process was too slow. Nevertheless, his other consideration was to avoid being expelled. This might be a justified reason.
● What should our attitude be towards Confucianism (is it a religion?) and ancestral worship (is it idolatry?)?
o Confucianism is a moral philosophy, not a religion but some people later developed it into a religion, though only by a minority. Many principles in Confucianism are in fact similar to those in the Bible, such as emphasis on virtues such as honesty, promise keeping, filial piety.
o Ancestral worship’s main intention is to show respect to ancestors and to reinforce those attitudes of respect. It was originally not a deity worship but later did develop into idolatry. Christians should keep the attitude but refrain from participating in it.
● How should our attitude be towards the Three-Self Churches vs the House churches?
o The Three-Self Churches did betray Christians during the Cultural Revolution. Yet if they are truly repentant, they should be forgiven. It is also important to discern whether they were true Christians by requesting a confession of their faith.
o The Houses Churches are composed mostly of true Christians. They need our prayers and practical help. We need to pray for them asking God to relieve them from persistent persecution by the communist government. We should also provide all the help that they need, including money, Christian resources, training, people.