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

Dr. Peter Parker
Medical missions in China by Protestant Christian physicians and surgeons of the 19th and early 20th centuries laid many foundations for modern medicine in China. Western medical missionaries established the first modern clinics and hospitals, provided the first training for nurses and opened the first medical schools in China. Work was also done in opposition to the abuse of opium. Medical treatment and care came to many Chinese who were helplessly addicted and eventually public and official opinion was influenced in favor of bringing an end to the destructive trade. The history of China’s current health institutions can be traced to many of the medicines, methods, and systems introduced by medical missionaries.

With time the expansion and growth of hospitals in China during the 1800s became more widely accepted. By 1937 there were 254 mission hospitals in China, but more than half of these were eventually destroyed by Japanese bombing during World War II or otherwise due to the Second Sino-Japanese War or the Chinese Civil War. After World War II most of these hospitals were at least partially rehabilitated, and eventually passed to the control of the Government of the Peoples' Republic of China, but are still functioning as hospitals.

Selected biography

Eric Henry Liddell (Born in Tianjin, China) (January 16, 1902 – February 21, 1945, Chinese name 李愛銳, Li Airui) was a Scottish athlete and Rugby Union international and also the winner of the Men's 400 metres at the Olympic Games of 1924 held in Paris. He then served as a Protestant Christian missionary to China. He was portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire. His surname is /ˈlɪdəl/ and rhymes with fiddle.

After the Olympics and his graduation, he returned to Northern China where he served as a missionary, like his parents, from 1925 to 1943 - first in Tianjin and later in Shaochang (Chinese 韶昌). During this time he continued to compete sporadically, including wins over members of the 1928 French and Japanese Olympic teams in the 200 and 400 metres at the South Manchurian Railway celebrations in China in 1928 and a victory at the 1930 North China championship.

The Japanese invasion of China reached Shaochang and the Japanese took over the mission station. In 1943, he was interned at the Weihsien (now known as Weifang) Internment Camp with the members of the China Inland Mission Chefoo (now known as Yantai) School. Liddell became a leader at the camp and helped get it organized. He died there of a brain tumor while in captivity.

In 1991, a memorial headstone, made from Isle of Mull granite was unveiled at Liddell's previously unmarked grave in Weifang, erected by Edinburgh University. A few simple words taken from the Book of Isaiah, formed the inscription: "They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary." The city of Weifang, as part of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the internment camp, commemorated the life of Liddell by laying a wreath at the memorial headstone marking his grave in 2005.

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