By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008
In the perspective of history, what happened in Tiananmen Square, when over 1000 pro-democracy students were slain in the streets by government soldiers, will probably be seen not as the end of a decade of reform and increasing freedom, but as the beginning of an age of upheaval.
It was also the time when China’s intellectuals began to consider Christianity in a search for truth and meaning. In defeat, students and intellectuals have learned much – including the true nature of their atheistic government. The storming of Beijing on June 4, 1989, enraged and alienated a generation of China’s brightest and best, not just in the capital, but across the country.
Ever since 1989, the authorities have sought to control the students and intellectuals through various means, but they have failed to address one of the fundamental problems magnified by the pro-democracy movement – the lack of a sound ideology.
The Role of Intellectuals in 20th Century China
Looking at China’s 20th century history, Chinese intellectuals have played a major role in shaping the nation’s destiny. This was true in the overthrow of the Ch’ing Dynasty in 1911. The student riots of May 4, 1919 were an important watershed in the development of student nationalism in China. This nationalism grew through the 1920s and 1930s.
Prior to the Maoist revolution of 1949, students saw themselves as the voice of public opinion. Many were involved in human rights movements and espoused patriotism and democratic ideals. Such concepts did not just suddenly explode onto the scene in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but have been a part of a long development.
The events of June 4, 1989 have served as another turning point in Chinese history, but they have also acted as a catalyst in turning thousands of Chinese students to Christ. In many respects, the spiritual awakening within the Chinese intellectual community has no historical parallel in Chinese history.
The strand emerged, initially, in Beijing and subsequently spread to many other cities throughout China. Many of those who have embraced Christianity since June 4, 1989 are graduate students, university professors and scientists. A number are academics within the Chinese Academy of Science or the Chinese Academy of Social Science.
This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by Chinese authorities. Newspaper reports have mentioned there are now more Chinese students/intellectuals becoming Christians than those joining the Chinese Communist Party. In Beijing and other cities, over one-quarter of the government approved Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement congregations are composed of university students.
“Night and day we are busy with students and professors wanting to believe in Christ,” said one house church leader in Beijing. “We’ve never seen this sort of turning to the Lord before by Chinese intellectuals.”
Spiritual Awakening in the 1990s
Several factors have contributed to the unprecedented numbers of students and intellectuals embracing Christianity since June 1989. One is the worldwide “crisis of faith” in Marxism. Chinese authorities have linked the recent spread of Christianity in Eastern Europe with the demise of communism there.
Another reason for the intellectual revival in China in the 1990s is the perceived inept management of social, economic and political reforms by Chinese authorities. While searching for political reform and democracy, students and intellectuals came into an even more vigorous search for Truth. Truth, as an absolute, is not found in other Chinese philosophies, eg. Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism or Marxism.
Overseas, the response to Christianity since June 1989 has been remarkable. Several key student leaders in the pro-democracy movement who escaped to the West have since become Christians, while many others are attending Bible study groups.
The turning to Christ by Chinese intellectuals in China and their subsequent integration into the Chinese church is essentially a Chinese phenomenon – and it is continuing.
Recently, a young Chinese university professor, who converted to Christianity in the wake of the Tiananmen Square incident, shared the gospel with his 20 students. Over half the class committed their lives to Christ that day. In another city, a young professor of music was asked to train his students to sing Christmas carols in various hotels. He asked the students if they understood what they were singing. He later shared the gospel with them and over 20 of his students (from a class of 40) became Christians.
The Chinese Church, however, is still ill-equipped to accommodate and teach these young believers. There are a number of reasons for this: a lack of theologically trained pastors, the low academic standards of pastors who have been trained in seminaries, the inability of these pastors to answer the questions of intellectuals, the sheer numbers of new believers, and the lack of materials for training the new Christians.
A New Generation
There are a number of significant factors which point the way to the emergence of the Christian student work in the future.
Since June 4, 1989, Bible study groups have begun on many Chinese campuses, now joined by undergraduates, graduates, professors and researchers. Also, since the mid-1980s there has been a marked growth of Chinese teachers and professors who have become Christians. Throughout a number of Chinese cities, professors are now supporting and encouraging Christian student groups.
Further, in at least 12 Chinese cities new Christian fellowship groups have been established in the past year. In each case these are Chinese-led with little or no involvement by foreign Christians. Some of these university fellowships number at over 100 students.
Lastly, in several cities there are house churches working exclusively with university students. However, there does not seem to be any structural organization or network at either the provincial or national level.
There remains a tremendous openness to the gospel among China’s intellectual community. Lack of resources, however, will make the challenge of training the intellectual community a critical issue for the Church. The need for Christian literature and apologetic resources written by Chinese Christian intellectuals in simplified Chinese script is critical.
Christians outside of China must now consider creative ways in which to establish a partnership with Chinese Christian intellectuals in order to facilitate their effectiveness in evangelizing and training this new generation of Christian students who are part of the legacy of June 4, 1989.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 2, Number 1
Your comments are welcome!
Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“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.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)