Portal:Christianity in China

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THE CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA PORTAL

Introduction

The Nestorian Stele is a Tang Chinese stele erected in 781 AD that documents 150 years of history of early Christianity in China. It includes texts both in Chinese and in Syriac.

Christianity in China appeared in the 7th century, during the Tang dynasty, but did not take root until it was reintroduced in the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. Today, it comprises Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as Taoism, Mahayana Buddhism or Confucianism, Christianity, through various ways, has been present in China since at least the 7th century and has gained significant influence during the last 200 years. The number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly since the easing of restrictions on religious activity during economic reforms in the late 1970s; Christians were four million before 1949 (three million Catholics and one million Protestants).

Accurate data on Chinese Christians is hard to access. According to the most recent internal surveys there are approximately 31 million Christians in China today (2.3% of the total population). On the other hand, some international Christian organizations estimate there are tens of millions more, which choose not to publicly identify as such. The practice of religion continues to be tightly controlled by government authorities. Chinese over the age of 18 are only permitted to join officially sanctioned Christian groups registered with the government-approved Protestant Three-Self Church and China Christian Council and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church. On the other hand, many Christians practice in informal networks and unregistered congregations, often described as house churches or underground churches, the proliferation of which began in the 1950s when many Chinese Protestants and Catholics began to reject state-controlled structures purported to represent them. Members of such groups are said to represent the "silent majority" of Chinese Christians and represent many diverse theological traditions.

Selected article

Illustration of the distribution of Bibles in China up to 1908
Until the 19th century, no Chinese Bible Translations had been published, though translations existed, in private hands among the Roman Catholic churches, they were not distributed freely. Protestant missionaries, who arrived later, pioneered the translation of vernacular dialects, as well as the printing, and distribution of Bibles so that the knowledge of the Christian Gospel message could be more widely known in China.

The first Protestant effort to undertake the work of translating the Scriptures for the Chinese was made by the Rev. William Willis Moseley, of Daventry, in Northamptonshire, England. He found, in the British Museum, a manuscript translation in Chinese of a Harmony of the four Gospels, the Acts, and all of Paul’s Epistles. He then published “A Memoir on the Importance and Practicability of Translating and Printing the Holy Scriptures in the Chinese Language; and of circulating them in that vast Empire”. Copies of this memoir were sent to many Christian leaders.

The Archbishop of Canterbury recommended that the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge print the Chinese Bible; but, after four years deliberation, the project was abandoned...

Selected biography

Dr John Sung after his first Singapore visit in 1935, about to sail for Shanghai
John Sung Shang Chieh (simplified Chinese: 宋尚节; traditional Chinese: 宋尚節; pinyin: Sòng Shàng-Jíe; Wade–Giles: Sung4 Shang4-Chieh2) a.k.a. John Sung (29 September 1901 – 18 August 1944) was a renowned Chinese Christian evangelist who played an instrumental role in the revival movement among the Chinese in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia during the 1920s and 1930s.

Sung was born in Hinghwa (now Putian), Fujian, China.

He grew up with a Christian upbringing. His father was a pastor of the local American Wesleyan Methodist Church. Sung also helped his father in church duties. On certain evenings when his father was either too busy or was too ill, Sung would have to lead the sermons as a substitute instead. Because of his early contributions to the church work, many church members referred to him as “Little Pastor”.

However, it took Sung some years of testing before he became the influential evangelist that many knew. In 1920 he was sent to America for his higher education. He studied at Wesleyan University of Ohio and Ohio State University. A brilliant student, he earned a doctorate in chemistry in five years. His chemistry essays and research documents can still be seen in the University library today.

Despite the array of career opportunities in front of him, Sung believed that he was called by God to commit himself to work for Jesus Christ. In 1926 he went to Union Theological Seminary in New York for theological studies.

During his period at the seminary (more specifically, on 10 February 1927) John Sung claimed to have received the gift of the Holy Spirit during a time of prayer. He once exclaimed, “This my spiritual birthday! Although I already believed in Jesus since my early childhood days, this new experience is a life changing one for me ”. John Sung described that “The Holy Spirit poured onto me, just like water, on top of my head”, then “The Holy Spirit continuously poured onto me wave after wave”.

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