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The Chinese and the Bible

A Third Century Christian writer named Tertullian said that Sanguis martyrum semen christianorum (The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians). And it is true, even today, in countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. Yet in those countries faith is strengthened more and more. This is the case of China, persecuted for decades, since the Communist Party came to power in 1949. Not only persecutions strengthen the faith, but also is strengthened the desire to better know the Christian religion among Chinese population.

Among destroyed churches, priests jailed and forced underground Christians – reports the Financial Times – it was sold the 125 millionth Bible copy by a factory governed by the Amity Foundation and Bible Society! Some analysts argue that this incredible interest in the Bible is a consequence of the increased standard of living of the Chinese, most of whom no longer live below the threshold of survival. They can thus afford to devote time and resources to spirituality and to better know the par excellence Christian faith’s source: the Bible.

Statistics show that between 3000 and 10,000 people a day are converting to Christianity and if at the advent of the Communist Party Christians were only one million today they are 100 million! Moreover, Christianity in China has ancient and very deep roots, as it penetrated into China as early as the seventh century BC, thanks to Nestorianism, the third-century Christian sect who rejected the divinity of Jesus. It was precisely the Nestorians who built a stone stele, in 781 AD, which contains the oldest evidence of a Chinese translation of the Bible. But the real China’s evangelizers were the Franciscan Friars, who arrived in China in the thirteenth century, to be followed in the seventeenth century, by Jesuits. They will start regular official contacts with China, until Father Matteo Ricci was admitted, along with his comrades in Beijing. So at the end of 1600, born the first Chinese dioceses.

We hope that the violent persecution that is still affecting China, combined with this prodigious spread of the Bible, is the prelude to a springtime of the Church and Evangelization. “By 2030, China will almost certainly have more Christians than any other country” argues Fenggang Yang, Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. Is it true? We aren’t persecuted, and we have a standard of living much higher than that of Chine population, so we should be interest in Bible much more than Chinese, is not?

Simone Venturini


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