By Jay Rogers
Published March 1, 1990
Among Chinese Intellectuals
“It’s all because those soldiers on June 4th used real bullets to shoot the people. If they had used rubber bullets there would be no revival among the students today.”
- Beida University Student
Behind these emotional words, spoken in December by a young man called Jiang, a recently converted student from China’s premier Beida University, lies a brilliantly cogent argument – one which goes at least some way to accounting for a remarkable phenomenon in modern China. Namely, the turning of thousands of Chinese intellectuals away from a Maoist to a Christian faith.
Because the Chinese government put down the pro-democracy movement with such ferocity and cruelty, China’s students saw two truths clearly for the first time in their lives, which set them on the road to Christianity.
First, they saw that the Chinese Communist Party could no longer be trusted. “Before June 4, we were all quite ‘pink’ in our attitude to the government. We were the elite of society, and hoped to receive the plum placements in China at the end of our courses,” said Jiang.
“To be rebuffed with such murderous ferocity by a government we thought was flexible enough to make real changes woke us up to the fact that we must no longer have any faith in the system.”
The disillusion was bitter. As a Christian teacher involved in the demonstrations said in December, “We are all still in a state of shock. It never crossed our minds that the government would do such a terrible thing as order the army to mow down defenseless civilians.”
The second truth that dawned on Jiang was a startlingly simple one: People are evil. Yet in a Chinese context, this is a radical conclusion. As a Christian professor in Beijing said, “All our religions for the past 5,000 years, including Maoism, teach that man is basically good, and only circumstances make him bad.”
“We saw pure evil …”
The brutality of the massacres in Tiananmen square was inexplicable to the Chinese people. “We saw pure evil,” said a Beijing surgeon, “and it horrified us.” Fright, horror, fear, and shock are still written on the faces of the Beijing student population eight months later.
One young woman said, “In our dorm we heard that the PLA was shooting students, but that seemed ridiculous, so I went to the square with my boyfriend.” She related, with tearful eyes, how she watched him approach a soldier to ask about the reports, then saw him wheel around in terror. He was shot in the back of the head at point blank range.
Sobered by the carnage, and disillusioned with the system that instituted it, students began to look for spiritual comfort. But which religion should they choose?
Jiang explained, “We could not try any of the Chinese religions like Confucianism, Taoism or even Buddhism, because they were based on a premise that people are morally good!” He said, “I turned to Christianity because it seemed the only realistic religion … it told us we had evil tendencies, but that this evil could be conquered.”
Are claims of revival far-fetched?
Admitting his argument is in no way a complete explanation of why China’s students are converting to Christianity, is Jiang’s claim of revival far-fetched?
According to Dr. Leslie Francis, a Christian academic specializing in Chinese intellectual history, and a visitor to Beijing in December, “The turning of students to Christianity since June 4 involves not merely hundreds, but thousands throughout China.” She added, I would rate this as one of the most significant periods in the history of Chinese intellectualism.”
Sources among the student population confirm this turning. Students have indicated that at several of China’s most prominent universities, as much as 10 percent of the student body has been converted to Christianity. In some cases, entire dorms or even faculties have become Christian.
A veteran foreign teacher related how he attended church in July and was pinned to his seat after the service for two hours by inquisitive students asking questions about his faith. He said, “In five years in China, I have never seen anything like it. It was an explosion of interest in the Christian faith, and all the Three-Self churches I know here are just overwhelmed by the numbers coming to the services.”
The Christian broadcasting company, Trans World Radio, reported it had received a letter from a member of the Hua Xiang Three-Self church in Fuchow sharing that a staggering 8,000 students had come to that church since June 4, inquiring about the Christian faith.
House church leaders in the major cities also report being inundated with converted students asking to be discipled. A leader of a large house church in northern Beijing said, “Frankly, we cannot cope with the discipling of these new converts.”
Even the press is starting to notice. In fact, they have been the first to use the term “revival.” In the Chinese language newspaper Ming Bao in Hong Kong, it was reported, “There has been a revival of religious interest in China … more students are going to church at Christmas time than ever before.”
A new phenomenon among Chinese intellectuals
The teachings of Jesus Christ have attracted thousands of battered and disillusioned students. A Beijing professor contends that “students are attracted to the twin notions of absolute truth and unconditional love that are enshrined in the Christian faith.”
To a people weary of the relativism and the constant revision of Marxist tenets, to say nothing of their distaste for the lying that is so much a part of life, a religion which professor to have truth which is intrinsically objective, unalterable, and pure, is indeed a great attraction. As one student said, “I cannot tell you what a relief it is not to have to believe a lie, or live a lie anymore!”
China’s intellectuals are becoming Christians in unprecedented numbers today. In Chinese intellectual history, and in Chinese Christian history, this represents a completely new phenomenon.
It remains to be seen whether traditional house churches can provide a suitable context for nurturing the majority of these new intellectual converts. It could be that an entirely new strand of Chinese Christianity has come into being as a result of the tragic events of 1989 – a strand that will stand on its own.
The difference these new believers may make to the fabric of Chinese society could be crucial, especially in these uncertain days. Dr. Leslie Francis envisages a bloody overthrow of the Chinese government sometime in the next two years. She argues, “All the elements that historically signal the end of a dynasty are in place – rural discontent, urban unrest, military regionalism, economic stagnation, and an inept government.
Yet there is a new factor which may sway the inexorable laws of history. Speaking to intellectuals in 1977, a certain Chinese philosopher asked, “Why was MAO so great?”, and answered, “Because we were all kneeling down.” China’s intellectuals are knelling down again in 1990, but this time no longer to Mao, but to Jesus Christ.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » China
Your comments are welcome!
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)