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Faith in China

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Baby Boomers who remember the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao may be surprised when they read a statement made by China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, in the wake of terrible snow storms that are currently treatening thousands of Chinese lives:

We have the faith, courage and ability to overcome the severe natural disaster.

Faith? That’s right. It appears that Communist China is slowly moving from Marxism to morality.

In fact, anonymous blogger Spengler, who is with the Asia Times Online, writes that ten thousand Chinese become Christians each day, 200 million Chinese may comprise the largest Christian population in the world by mid-century, and Christianity will have become a Sino-centric religion just two generations from now.

The churches of Christ have been in China since the late ninteenth century. Although mission efforts have been slowed by the controversy over Missionary Societies, the Second World War, and Communism, there is evidence leading us to believe that the Lord’s church is quite strong in that part of Asia. Because of we have no central headquarters, it is hard to know just how many churches of Christ exist in China, but missionaries report great growth and baptisms in the thousands.

An interesting sidenote: Because J. Russell Morse established several churches among the Lisu in southwest China using the name Church of Christ before World War II, after the Cultural Revolution the Chinese government issued a directive that, in keeping with the universality of the name, Lisu congregations of every denominational affiliation should similarly be called Churches of Christ. This directive currently encompasses over 200,000 Lisu believers in southwestern China (Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, 38). While the government’s intervention makes it difficult to ascertain what is believed and practiced from congregation to congregation, it does support the argument that preachers of the restoration plea have made for years: Denominational names are divisive, and unity cannot be achieved as long as Christians subdivide themselves from the whole with names derived from practices, doctrines, and personalities.