The reasons why many Chinese become Christians are primarily "metaphysical"; the "pragmatic" ones (healing, escape from loneliness, help, ...) come later. The results of a survey carried out by a Protestant pastor show that Christian communities are made up of 72% of women and that the intellectual level has risen: 22% are university graduates.
Rome (AsiaNews) - The Chinese are converting to Christianity because they "seek the truth" and "a place in heaven", but they also seek healing and well-being; they are attracted to the faith by the testimony of a friend, by their mother, or by the joyful and full life of a Christian and by reading the Bible: these are some of the characteristics that emerge from the survey carried out by Pastor Steve Z. published in a series of articles on "China Source”, of which we published Part I yesterday.
In a first article (see the original here) he expresses some considerations on the demography of the Protestant Christian communities in China. Based on the responses received in the survey, he notes that 72% of the responses come from women; 21% from men; 7% give no indication of sex.
That communities are mostly comprised of women is an almost obvious and universal fact. But the educational level of those who responded is quite unusual in the results. In fact, at least 22% are graduates; 32% have a secondary school diploma; 15% attended vocational schools; 23% attended primary school and only 8% are illiterate. This data is startlingly different from those cited in the Blue Book of Religions, by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to which 54% of Protestants are illiterate or people with elementary level education.
This means that today's Christian communities have developed to a culturally much higher level since 1949, when there was a majority of rural, often illiterate faithful. According to Pastor Steve Z., this allows contemporary Christians to read the Bible in a personal way and deepen their faith also from a theological point of view, by contacting other communities abroad thanks to the knowledge of some foreign language.
The survey also shows that the largest group of faithful is made up of people born in the 1960s and who are now in their 60s. This means that they “were born in a period of great famine [the Great Leap Forward - ed] or in the turbulent period of the Cultural Revolution. They were educated for the most part in the 1970s. They experienced the impact of the growth of materialism from the Cultural Revolution up to the period of reforms and openness. In this way, their conversion carries an important seal of time and they have a profound personal vision”. For Steve Z., they are the backbone of today's Christian communities. It should also be said that the majority of the members are aged 40 to 60 and there are few young people.
In a second article, dedicated to studying the results of the survey (see the original here), Pastor Steve Z. highlights that at least 75% of those who answered come from a Christian background, formed in the 1950s or earlier and rediscovered later.
But the most sensational revelation in the survey concerns the reasons why they became a Christian. Unlike the pragmatic cliché attributed to the Chinese, the main reasons for becoming a Christian are to "know the truth" and "get to heaven". The author defines these as "metaphysical" reasons. There are certainly also "practical" reasons, such as "being healed" or "having God's help in life", but these are on the same level as "asking for forgiveness for sins".
According to the author, "these metaphysical concerns are the primary driving force for the growth of Chinese Christianity in the past 40 years".
In a final article (see the original here), Steve Z. lists the primary reasons that lead a Chinese of the present day to believe in Jesus Christ. The first reason is the testimony of someone who shares his faith; the second is the desire to be healed and to be helped to solve this problem; the third is having discovered the love experienced by the members of a community.
Finally, looking at the people who most influenced their decision to faith, the answers to the survey emphasize first the pastor, then the evangelizers (catechists, preachers, etc.). Only as a third party is one's mother and family of origin mentioned.
All these indications lead to a revision of the methods of evangelization.