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June 1988


Editorial Comment

China's Intrigue

In Hudson Taylor's Day....

Why is the China Inland Mission/North America's 100th Year Celebration So Significant For Us Today?

Why Suddenly Are Many Reports On the Number of China's Christians So Drastically Subdued?

At the Center

Dividing the Church-- What is TSPM Leadership Up To?

China's Three-Self Church

Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves: Christians in China Tell Their Stories

Around the World

Regional Workshops Spark Cooperation!

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Why suddenly are many reports on the number of China's Christians so drastically subdued?

by Ralph D. Winter

In the last month both Christianity Today and Moody Monthly have published the Chinese Communist Party line÷that there are about one-tenth as many Christians in China as many experts believe.

In CT, Nien Cheng, in the cover story, is quoted (without batting an eye) as saying that the four million Christians at the time of the Communist takeover (most say it was far less) have grown one million more. This is colossally different from growing from 1.5 million (evangelicals) lo 50 or 60 million today, which is an average growth rate 16 times as large!

Moody Monthly also simply reports the official figures, which are less than one-tenth of the actual.

Ed Plowman, editor of the National and International Religion Report, clearly the most reliable bi-weekly newsletter on religion in the world today, just came back from China (where he accompanied Billy Graham). He, too, quotes the official line and only vaguely refers to larger actual numbers.

Why is this? It is not because these outstanding periodicals are "afraid of China," but because the preponderance of the people they are quoting, and the people whom the quoted people are reading, are China specialists who are not at all eager to incur the wrath of the government of China. You can easily understand why people like Billy Graham, whose primary means of ministry is to get invited into the country, would not be inclined to heavy criticisms in print.

Christianity Today actually pitted two China scholars against each other in an issue some time back. One was a seminary professor who has been a missionary in China, who did his doctoral dissertation on China, who is in a position quite possibly to make some contribution to the present situation in China÷if only he does not wear out his welcome to China! The other, Dr. Jonathan Chao, is equally a scholar. But he has such an acute knowledge of China, and has not shrunk back from publishing embarrassing things about the Chinese church, that he is a marked man. He has nothing to lose, now, and can speak freely. This is the sort of thing you are reading in this issue of Mission Frontiers. Brent Fulton, who writes the following story, is the director of his North American office.

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