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Protestantism and Christianism in China

Protestantism in China

Protestant missionaries first appeared in the early 19th century. Protestantism took a dominant position in Europe and entered to China. The period from 1807 to 1842 was the time Protestantism began its dissemination in China. Quite a number of missionary churches, including London Missionary Society, Dutch Reformed Church, American Baptist Association, American Church Mission, Church Missionary Society, and Protestant Episcopal Church and so on, began their activities in China from that time. Many of them were teachers, doctors, professors, writers and so on. At that time, since the Qing government forbade Christianity, the missionary churches could only propagandize religion secretly.

Although Protestantism came to China later than Catholicism, Protestant missionaries adopted measures appreciated and easily accepted by Chinese. For example, they were more enthusiastic in participating various social activities. They set up colleges and universities, hospitals and charity organizations. In this way, they received warmer welcome from Chinese people. They expanded their cause to Chinese hinterland and even some remote regions and were more successful than Catholic churches.

Contribution to China
As we all know, from the Opium War in 1840, China suffered the colonialist aggression for almost 110 years. At the beginning, preach of Protestantism featured colonialism in China. While there is no denying that it really made contribution to China. Some famous university were set up under the help of Protestantism, and provided the opportunity for Chinese students to accept western thought.

Christianism in China

Christianism in China

Christian missionaries have been active in China since Roman Catholics belonging to the Jesuit order arrived in the early 17th century.

As early as in 1625, the end of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a tablet was unearthed in western Xi'an City of Shaanxi Province. Carved on the tablet were the words Monument to Nestorian Church in China. When it was dug out, the tablet was basically intact and the words were still clear enough to be recognized. The tablet is 2.36 meters high, 0.68 meters wide, about 0.25 meters thick and is about two tons in weight.

People find that a cross is carved on the top of the tablet with lotus and clouds beside it. There is an epigraph of 1,695 characters in 36 lines with 62 characters a line carved on the tablet. Names and positions of some people are carved on the margins and at the end of the epigraph. Each name is in both Chinese and Syriac. Furthermore, each person is accompanied with his/her position in churches, such as primate, Chinese godfather, presbyter, friar, priest and doctor, etc. The epigraph was composed by a person who called himself Monk Jingjing of the Nestorian Church and written by L ü Xiuyan, a local official of Taizhou. According to the epigraph, this monument was erected in 781 during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Nestorian Monument in China is one of the four famous stone carvings in the world and is highly regarded as a historical relic. It is the earliest and the most convincing evidence of the dissemination of Christianity in China.

However, all the Christian missionaries had difficulty converting Chinese’s thoughts in ancient China because Christianity was associated in the popular mind with Western imperialism. By 1949 there were only 3 or 4 million Christians in China, less than 1 percent of the total population.

Contribution to China

After the founding of the Republic of China, Chinese government said repeatedly all kinds of religions will be treated equally, which made Christianism rapidly spread in China. It's worth mentioning that besides preach Christianism, Christians were keen to set up school, hospital, and orphanage and so on.