By Martin Roth, BosNewsLife Senior Columnist
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– As Christianity grows powerfully in China, it should come as no surprise that many new converts are prominent members of the country’s ruling Communist Party elite, along with their families.
For as the prevailing doctrine of godless Communism is rapidly supplanted by a quest for wealth and material possessions, it is inevitable that a spiritual void is opening in the hearts of many people.
Indeed, as reported recently by BosNewsLife, so many Communist Party members have been turning to Jesus that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country’s top anti-corruption body, has issued an urgent warning to Party members to refrain from all religious activities.
This led a Chinese church leader to declare that “genuine believers in Communism are few and far between nowadays.”
China’s Communist Party has around 87 million members. Though official figures are not available, it is believed that the number of Chinese Christians has increased to at least 80 million, though some officials suggest the number may be as high as 130 million.
I recently discussed this rapid growth with several experts and suggested there appeared to be no particular earthly benefits to a Chinese person in becoming a Christian and going to church.
Kody Kness, vice president of human rights group ChinaAid, agrees there are no socio-economic advantages in embracing Christianity in China. But he does see societal benefits. Chinese citizens, he told me, are searching for alternatives to the government’s official propagation of atheism and are looking to fill a void that neither Communism nor materialism can satisfy.
Thus, he said, people are seeking to join communities that “value human dignity and justice and that refuse to adhere to the corruption and Communist ideology of the Chinese government.”
His opinion is shared by Carsten Vala, associate professor at Loyola University Maryland and a research fellow at Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society. “Churches provide needed social benefits and an encompassing value system that is a stark contrast to the surrounding moral decay of society,” he said, adding that many Chinese can see how wealth is corrupting their society.
In such an environment the surprise is perhaps that more Communist Party members – and others – are not becoming Christians. Though even this might be changing. One sociologist predicts that Chinese Christians will number 245 million by the year 2030. In other words, China is set to become the largest Christian nation in the world. Stay tuned.
(Martin Roth (www.authormartinroth.com) BosNewsLife’s Senior Columnist, is an Australian journalist and a former Tokyo-based foreign correspondent. He is the author of “Journey Out Of Nothing: My Buddhist Path to Christianity” and of the Brother Half Angel series of thrillers, which focus on the persecuted church. BosNewsLife Columns distributes opinionated columns and commentaries providing a fresh perspective on issues in the news. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BosNewsLife News Agency or its parent company.)