Chinese Religion – Protestantism


Protestantism is called the three major schools of Christianity along with Catholicism and Orthodox Church. Including the 16th century European Reformation from the Ecumenical Church of Rome (the Grand Duke of Christianity) and the emergence of new denominations: Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, and more sectarian afterward from these sects continue to split off. Protestantism is also called “Corrected Church” and “Anti-Luo Zong”. China often uses the term ” Christianity ” to refer solely to Protestantism. The folks often call it the Church of Jesus, because they protest against the Roman Catholic Church (that is, the Catholic Church ) and do not recognize the pope status of the Roman bishop. Therefore, the West generally refers to Protestantism as the “Anti-Roman Sect” or “Protest Sect”. This term originated from the German word “Protestanten” (protestant), which originally referred to the Protestant princes and city representatives who protested the resolution to restore Catholic privileges in the German Reichstag in 1529 and later became the common name of all Protestant denominations. Mainly distributed in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, the five Nordic countries, and the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.




Protestantism development in China

Late Qing Dynasty

At the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, when Catholics were working hard to carry out missionary work in China, some Protestant Christians in the UK also began to pay attention to preaching to China. Until 1807 the British missionary Robert Morrison instructions from the London Missionary Society to send missionaries to China. Due to the refusal of the ship of the East India Company, Morrison had to take the money transfer to New York on January 31, 1807, and on May 12 of the same year, he took the trigeminal ship to bypass the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean and passed the Strait of Malacca on September 4. After arriving in Macau one day, he sneaked into Guangzhou three days later, stayed secretly in an American warehouse, learned Chinese, and became the first Protestant missionary to come to China.
On the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar in 1814, Morrison baptized Cai Gao, who helped him with his printing work, and became the first Chinese Protestant Christian. Morrison worked for the East India Company for 25 years and devoted himself to text evangelism, translation, and printing of the Bible. He published the “New Testament” in 1813 and the “Old Testament” in 1823, most of which he translated himself. In 1823, Morrison went to Malacca, Singapore inspection and any temporary Malacca Ying Wa College priest; the fall of that year returned to Guangzhou Li Liang as ministers and as the son of Liang Liang Jinde Baptist. Since Morrison and other pioneer missionaries came to China to preach, some Protestant missions in Europe, America, and other countries have also begun to pay attention to China. Bridgman (Elijah Coleman Bridgman, 1801- 1861 years) by the United States Congregational (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions ) delegation, missionary to China in 1830, is an American church pioneer missionary work in China in the early in history-US relations on have a certain influence. Pizhiwen arrived in Macau in 1830 and took a boat to Guangzhou on the 25th, where he stayed in the American Chamber of Commerce. After that, he participated in the publication, education, and medicine of early Christianity in China, and participated in the founding of some early Christian groups. He founded the first English monthly magazine of Chinese Christianity, Chinese Repository, and served as an editor, aiming to investigate and publish China’s meteorology, geography, production, business information, and other information, and introduce China to the West Political, historical, legal, custom, literary, religious and humanistic conditions. “China Series” was the main material for Westerners to understand China at that time. In November 1834, he served as the Chinese secretary of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China (The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China). In January 1836, the Morrison Educational Association was established. Its purpose was to open and fund schools in China, teach Chinese youth to read Chinese and English and pass on various Western knowledge to them through the media. Pi Zhiwen served as the communications secretary.
Before the Opium War, Protestant Christianity had been introduced into China through the efforts of Morrison and others. However, foreigners could not enter China as missionaries, let alone enter the mainland of China. Therefore, the number of Christian Protestant missionaries was not large and the influence was not large. Large, not spread widely. After the Opium War, with the conclusion of a series of unequal treaties, foreign missionaries flooded into China under the protection of the “missionary clause”. Moreover, Protestant Christian missionaries have also been sent into China by foreign missionaries from various countries. In a short period of time, more than 130 foreign missionaries have come to China. In terms of nationality, these missionaries mainly belong to Britain, the United States, Germany, Canada, and other countries; in terms of denominations, they mainly belong to the Anglican Church, Baptist Church, Congregational Church, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church, Supervisory Committee, and Mainland Church. Department etc. [29]  Among them, regarding the development of Protestant Christianity in China, we have to specifically mention the Mainland China Association founded by Dai Desheng in 1865. This special mission organization that crosses nationalities and transcends sects has become the Chinese Protestant Christianity and even the entire Christianity expansion to the whole of China, which is of landmark significance.

Republic of China

When the Qing government was overthrown, China entered a new era. Chinese society has experienced profound social changes, the most fundamental of which is the Revolution of 1911 and the establishment of the Republic of China. [30] After the establishment of the Republic of China government, many people who held important positions in the government believed in Christianity. According to Wang Zhixin’s statistics, Christians account for more than 65% of the people in the Guangdong provincial government. This historical background provides another excellent opportunity for the development of the Christian mission. In addition to the scale and regularization of churches in various places and the rapid development in numbers, evangelism and its missionary work were also widely carried out in every corner of society at that time. Protestant Christianity was also in education, medical treatment, text publishing, and Philanthropy and other fields are booming.
In the 20th century, there was a church elementary school near almost every church. According to incomplete statistics, by 1920, there were 5,637 primary schools with 151,582 students; 962 senior primary schools with 32,899 students; and 291 middle schools with 15,213 students. There is also an objective number of normal schools. At the same time, the church is also committed to the construction of higher education institutions. Missionary universities have been established one after another. Some missionary universities are jointly established by several missionary churches of different denominations. The Chinese Missionary University Presidents’ Meeting held in Shanghai in October 1919 established the China Missionary University Federation. The members are Yanjing University, Qilu University, Jinling University, Jinling Women’s University, Soochow University, Zhejiang Shanghai University, St. John’s University, Zhejiang University, Fujian Union University, Wenhua University, Boshu Academy, West China Union University, Lingnan University, Yali University. The number of students in these 14 universities reached 2017, and 10 of these 14 universities are in secondary schools attached to their campuses. The teachers and equipment of these secondary schools are higher than those of ordinary middle schools.
The medical career of Protestant Christians in China is an important part of the missionary career in China. Since the 20th century, with the rise of the social gospel, many missions have paid more attention to the development of the church’s medical career. More importantly, Chinese society has an increasing demand for new-style medical care. In less than 20 years, foreign doctors have increased by 54%, and hospitals and pharmacies have increased by 165%. [33]  After entering the Republic of China, all Protestant Missionary Society in many churches across the country opened the hospital, such as Fujian Tongan Hospital, Changle holy church hospitals, Hebei Hejian China Holy Cross Hospital, Taizhou Gospel Hospital, Changzhou Wujin hospitals; including The newly established church hospitals in Lu province mainly include Chengdu Renji Hospital in Sichuan, Suining Boji Hospital, Ziliujing Renji Hospital for Men and Women, Xufu Mingde Women’s Hospital, etc., Hengyang Renji Hospital in Hunan, Xinhua Xinyi Hospital, Taoyuan Wenjin Hospital, etc. And so on, Jiujiang Life Living Water Hospital in Jiangxi, Guling Zhonghua Puren Hospital, etc., Xiangyang Tongji Hospital in Hubei, Kunming Huidian Hospital in Yunnan, Xi’an Guangren Hospital in Shaanxi, etc. According to statistics, in the five years from 1919 to 1924, as many as 38 missionary hospitals were built by the mission. There are a total of 326 church hospitals and 244 pharmacies in each province.

New China

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, how to face this new society that is different from any previous society and how to survive and adapt to the new China under the leadership of the Communist Party is a serious issue for Christianity. In the social background of the time, the victory of the Chinese revolution also broke the relationship between China and Western countries led by the United States. At that time, the Chinese church, which mainly relied on the support of foreign mission associations, faced great difficulties and faced great economic and ideological challenges. Many Christian leaders estimated that certain difficulties would occur in the Christian church in the future, and hoped to continue to receive sympathy and support from overseas missions. In the autumn of 1949, 19 members of the upper echelons of the Chinese church jointly issued “An Open Letter to the Foreign Mission Department” to remind “foreign friends” We have noticed the difficulties encountered by our Christian work in the current situation, the responsibilities we should bear, the changes in policies, and the adjustment of external relations.”
On July 28, 1950, “The Ways of Chinese Christianity in the Construction of New China” (the “Three-Self Declaration” ) was published, and China’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement was officially launched. At the beginning of the development of New China, Chinese Protestant Christianity faced another major challenge, that is, the situation of China’s anti-rightist expansion. In the historical background of the Cultural Revolution, China’s Protestant Christianity faced major problems such as shrinking faculty, a sharp reduction in meeting places, a sharp decline in the number of believers, and economic difficulties for the church. Under the circumstances at that time, in the first half of 1958, Christian joint worship began to appear, and until the end of 1958, churches across the country basically realized joint worship. United worship was produced under a special political situation, but its development was relatively stable and has continued to this day, bringing the Chinese church into a period of “post-denominationalism”.
The “Cultural Revolution” swept across China in 1966, and Chinese Protestant Christianity went through this severe disaster along with the whole of China. At this time, family gatherings became the only form of Christian activities, and the countryside became the main place for Christian activities and development. At the same time, this special history also deepened the believers’ distrust of the government and the Three-Self Patriotic Association.
In December 1978, the Third Plenary Session of China’s Eleventh Central Committee was held, China ushered in reform and opening up, and the development of Christianity in China also ushered in spring again. To meet the needs of the majority of Christians to live a religious life, the two Christian churches that have been restored and established in various places have tried their best to withdraw churches and resume worship. By the 1980s, major churches in various places were restored one after another, and a large number of churches sprung up. One or two churches were built every two or three days nationwide.  Including the Jinling Theological Seminary, including the Cultural Revolution in the process of being shut down across the country seminary school, it has been restored. At the same time with the increase of the faithful, for theological team construction of more and more urgent, in the restoration of the original theology At the same time, a total of 22 two-year to four-year seminaries were established.
Today, the development of Chinese Protestantism in China has become more and more vibrant. With the deepening of theological ideology, the quality of clergy and believers has been comprehensively improved. Protestant Christianity in China has become an important page of China’s multiculturalism. With the further development of China and its own prosperity and strength, the rise and self-confidence of the Chinese nation have also made Chinese Christianity an important contact point for China to open up and communicate closely with the world.
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