The Chinese Perception of Christianity Explained

June 22, 2016

Christianity has existed in China since at least the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). Yet after more than twelve hundred years there are only 30 to 40 million self-identifying Christians in China. That’s less than 3% of China’s total population compared to more than 87% that are not religious who mostly follow the teachings of Confucius and/or Taoism, and Muslims (Islam arrived in China in the 6th and 7th centuries) represent less than 2% of the people.

Christianity hasn’t had much success in Japan either. The first known appearance of organized Christianity in Japan was the arrival of the Portuguese Catholics in 1549 more than four hundred years ago but only 2% of Japan’s population are Christians today.

Why?

For an answer, let’s turn to what Lin Yutang had to say on this subject.

Lin Yutang (1895 – 1976) was a Chinese writer, translator, linguist and inventor. He was one of the most influential writers of his generation. In 1933, he met Pearl S. Buck in Shanghai and she introduced him, and his writings to her American publisher.

Lin Yutang says, “For most Chinese the end of life lies not in life after death, for the idea that we live in order to die, as taught by Christianity, is incomprehensible, nor in Nirvana, for that is too metaphysical, not in the satisfaction of accomplishment, for that is too vainglorious, nor yet in progress for progress’ sake, for that is meaningless.

“The true end, the Chinese have decided in a singularly clear manner, lies in the enjoyment of a simple life, especially the family life, and in harmonious social relationships.”

“The Chinese are a nation of individualists. They are family-minded, not social-minded.  …  It is curious that the word society does not exist as an idea in Chinese thought. In the Confucian social and political philosophy we see a direct transition from family, ‘chia’, to the state, ‘kuo’, as successive stages of human organization. …

“The Chinese, therefore, make rather poor Christian converts, and if they are to be converted they should all become Quakers, for that is the only sort of Christianity that the Chinese can understand. Christianity as a way of life can impress the Chinese, but Christian creeds and dogmas will be crushed, not by a superior Confucian logic but by ordinary Confucian common sense. Buddhism itself, when absorbed by the educated Chinese, became nothing but a system of mental hygiene, which is the essence of Sung philosophy.”

My Country and My PeopleLin Yutang. Halcyon House, New York. 1938. Pgs 94; 101; 103; 172, and 108

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Lin Yutang explains Christianity from a Chinese viewpoint

September 26, 2013

Lin Yutang (1895 – 1976) was a Chinese writer, translator, linguist and inventor. He was one of the most influential writers of his generation. In 1933, he met Pearl S. Buck in Shanghai and she introduced him, and his writings to her American publisher.

For most Chinese the end of life lies not in life after death, for the idea that we live in order to die, as taught by Christianity, is incomprehensible, nor in Nirvana, for that is too metaphysical, not in the satisfaction of accomplishment, for that is too vainglorious, nor yet in progress for progress’ sake, for that is meaningless.

The true end, the Chinese have decided in a singularly clear manner, lies in the enjoyment of a simple life, especially the family life, and in harmonious social relationships.

My Country and My People by Lin Yutang

“The Chinese are a nation of individualists. They are family-minded, not social-minded…. It is curious that the word society does not exist as an idea in Chinese thought. In the Confucian social and political philosophy we see a direct transition from family, ‘chia’, to the state, ‘kuo’, as successive stages of human organization.…

lin-yu-tang

Lin Yutang

“The Chinese, therefore, make rather poor Christian converts, and if they are to be converted they should all become Quakers, for that is the only sort of Christianity that the Chinese can understand. Christianity as a way of life can impress the Chinese, but Christian creeds and dogmas will be crushed, not by a superior Confucian logic but by ordinary Confucian common sense. Buddhism itself, when absorbed by the educated Chinese, became nothing but a system of mental hygiene, which is the essence of Sung philosophy.” Source: My Country and My PeopleLin Yutang. Halcyon House, New York. 1938. Pgs 94; 101; 103; 172, and 108

Discover China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Belching about China

June 20, 2010

I sometimes read opinions about China from individuals who should stay quiet.  Leo Hindery wrote one for The Huffington Post, which  is an example of an American castigating China from a Western cultural point-of-view.

These biased voices bother me and probably bother many Chinese too. Of course, Hindery has a right to voice his opinions, but most Chinese don’t understand that the American government has no control (at least we like to think so) of what appears in the American media.

Xu Xiao-dong, in Zhouzhuang, China, an artist in his shop earning a living without help from the American labor movement.

Since the media in China is the official voice of the government, many in China see the Western media the same way. Hindery says he is eager to see the “American labor movement smartly and creatively provide all the help to China’s workers that it can responsibly offer” to help Chinese workers earn more money along with better benefits. Considering what the American labor movement did for the US auto industry, that is a bad idea.

Due to Western meddling in China  during the 19th century, there were two Opium Wars  forcing British, French and American opium into the country along with Christian missionaries, which led to the Taiping Rebellion started by a Christian convert ending in 20 to 100 million killed. Then there was the Boxer Rebellion, a peasant uprising caused by meddling Christian missionaries, greedy Western businessmen and pompous politicians.

In fact, due to the West forcing China to open its doors, more than two-thousand years of Imperial rule ended leading to four decades of chaos and anarchy between 1913 and 1950 where millions more were killed.

My opinion is to let the Chinese fix China and leave the American labor movement out of it.

See China’s Labor Laws

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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