This is no news to readers of this blog or really any missiological information, but the Drudge Report has been running a link to this Telegraph article about China becoming the “Most Christian Nation:”
Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.
Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
Full article here…
I think there are significant dangers to the continued growth of the Chinese church. Two primary issues give me pause: Materialism will grow there as the economy grows and the institutional church is being exported from the US to China.
However, now is the time that we might see a significant shift in missionary sending from China to the world. Below is a link to a field trip I took last year, documenting the need for established missionary agencies to provide support to the Chinese church at this critical point in their development:
Multiply: Pakistan from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.
I was a bit surprised to see that the book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, was a “book of the month” pick by Amazon as well as #123 in the Amazon sales list. So I clicked, read the reviews, and was doing a little research on it.
It turns out that this book is nothing more than re-hashed anti-Chrisitian propaganda from a Muslim author. This is a retelling of the same debunked arguments we have been getting for years. The argument goes like this:
- Jesus was a great guy!
- Jesus never claimed to be God.
- Paul messed things up – you can read about in the “other gospels.”
- Jesus never intended for us to believe that he was the foundation of Christ belief.
If this is all the book said I would not be mentioning it here. This is moldy leftovers.
But… is there a cover-up afoot? It seems that Aslan’s book (yes – strange isn’t it? This guy should read up on Narnia) was reviewed glowingly by NPR as well as the reviews on Amazon. They make almost no mention of the fact that Aslan is a Muslim and is simply regurgitating the Islamic view of Jesus.
Read more by clicking here.
Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history, worse even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero. Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every five minutes. And most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians, forty-two have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.
Read the whole thing here…
Yousef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old Iranian father of 2, has been convicted of the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity. The sentence could be carried out at any time. We may wake up tomorrow to read of his death, or we might wake up as the Iranian government pats itself on the back for releasing him to show the world their tolerance. You can read more by clicking here.
His case highlights a global injustice. Particularly in Islamic countries, blasphemy laws make it a crime to choose one’s own religion.
In the West we pride ourselves on the freedom of speech. And we should. We believe it’s of value to protect the rights of minorities. And we should. We value freedom of conscience. And, of course, we should. I can think of no greater assault on these ideals of Western liberal society than the archaic, medieval, blasphemy laws that send so many to prison and sometimes, to death.
Our current president has been nothing short of abysmal on this issue. Under his watch Christians have been exterminated or forced to flee Iraq. Coptic Christians in Egypt are better candidates for the endangered species list than most of the wildlife threatened by the Keystone Pipeline. Our foreign policy should reflect concrete steps to reward those nations that extend complete freedom of conscience to its citizens while punishing those that do not.
In this year of presidential elections I have my ear to the ground listening for any sign that our elected officials, and those aspiring to be elected, understand the importance both pressuring these repressive regimes when it comes to religious freedom.
Please join with me in praying pastor Nadarkhani.
This past year I read Philip Jenkins excellent book, “The Lost History of Christianity.” He describes the disappearance of large swaths of Christianity. In particular, the Nestorian and Jacobite churches were all but overrun within a few generations by Islamic conquerers. While Muslims are quick to describe the bloody and abhorrent behavior of the Crusaders, they don’t mention the horrific genocide of these eastern Christians. As I read this book I kept thinking, “How could this happen? Where were the church leaders in other parts of the world standing against this?” According to Jenkins, rivalries between Christians and general apathy were at least a part of the reason. Corruption in the church played a role. Overall, though, the pattern is clear: Islamic military and cultural pressure either killed Christians, ran them off, or they converted to avoid persecution.
This leads me to write about the current war on Christians taking place in the Middle East. As I type this post, Fox News is reporting that 100,000 Christians have left Egypt in the past few years. Iraqi Christians have fled wholesale, leaving just a few behind in an embattled minority. Israel, often thought of as a bastion of liberalism, applies pressure on its Christian minority. Iran persecutes its Christian population with zeal. The very few LIbyan Christians cower in fear of what the future might hold now that Ghaddafi has been removed. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Christians in the Middle East are an endangered species.
Why is this? Certainly the militant Islamic movement is the main reason. The Arab Spring is apparently giving way to the fall of Christianity in these nations. If the events of Egypt are any indication of what we can expect in other Muslim countries, then I can certainly understand why Christians there are choosing to flee.
I don’t know what sort of positive things we as Western Christians can do to help out. Protestants don’t get too cranked up about the plight of Coptic Christians. Catholics aren’t so eager to assist the Orthodox. I often see commercials run by organizations pleading for cash to assist poor, elderly Jewish people in Israel. My sense is that these are tailor made to appeal to an Evangelical audience. Should we prioritize elderly Jewish people in Israel over Christians suffering from persecution in their Muslim-dominated homelands?
Will, in our generation, the Christians of the Middle East be eradicated?