Christianity, China, and College Students

I just read an interesting article

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about Christianity in China. The emphasis of the piece is on the dominance of Reformed theology in Chinese Christianity, but I was struck by the comments on the role of universities in the revival.

And in China, the place where Calvinism is spreading fastest is the elite universities, fuelled by prodigies of learning and translation. Wang Xiaochao, a philosopher at one of the Beijing universities, has translated the two major works of St Augustine, the Confessions and the City of God, into Chinese directly from Latin. Gradually all the major works of the first centuries of the Christian tradition are being translated directly from the original languages into Chinese.

All of this is happening outside the control of the official body which is supposed to monitor and supervise the churches in China. Instead, it is the philosophy departments at the universities, or the language departments and the departments of literature and western civilisation that are the channel.

“The [officially recognised] churches are not happy with universities, because it is not within their control. And their seminaries are not at the intellectual level of the universities,” says Dr Tan. “Chinese Christianity using Chinese to do Christian thinking has become a very interesting movement.”


If [May Tan] goes to preach at an official church, she says, “There will be perhaps 1000 people and 95% of them are over 65. So it’s a sunset church. But if I went to house church – there would be 1000 people; perhaps 20 of them in their 50s, and all the rest are youngsters. The older ones will all be professors at the universities. So these are the future of the churches. They have registered pastors, and no access to seminaries: But they have youth, and future, and money.”

And later on

“Very soon”, said Dr Tan, “Christians will become the majority of university students… that could happen.”

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3 thoughts on “Christianity, China, and College Students”

  1. Interesting stuff.

    I’m especially curious about the “Reformed Christianity is a theology of resistance” idea. Maybe in comparison to Luther, but I’m not sure how any monergystic theology (Calvin or Muhammad or Pantheism) could be considered resistance. If the point of the theology is to submit to God for His eternal glory, and everything that happens is sovereignly controlled by God… um, no room for resitance.

    Calvinism is a theology for the wealthy and the educated. The contrast between Calvinism in S. Korea and China to African pentecostalism at the beginning of this article is very insightful.

    Calvinism is not a theology of the weak and oppressed. An insight driven home to me when I watched Gangs of New York (the end of the movie), and more recently, through the insightful facebook notes of my friend: T.C. Moore. See the Calvinism and Holy Hip Hop notes from March.

  2. Yeah — I was pretty unimpressed with the author’s take on Reformed theology and especially with his contrast between Reformed theology and Pentecostal theology.

    I can’t open up the link at the end of your comment. Is it available someplace other than Facebook? Your friend’s privacy settings won’t allow me to view his note(s).

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