Within 15 years, China should become the country with the most Christians in the world, according to a study.
Fenggang Yang, of Purdue University, predicts that China will reach 224 million Christians by the year 2030, as quoted in the UK Financial Times.
“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Yang, an expert in sociology and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, in the UK Telegraph.
“It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”
In 2010, the U.S. had around 159 million Protestants, and many observers say congregations are in decline.
As part of a possible passing of the baton, China is now sending missionaries – especially to North Korea.
“The number of Christians is extremely underestimated (in China) intentionally because the increase of religion would reflect negatively on government officials.” said Yang.
Currently, there are about 100 million Christians in the China, which eclipses the 86.7 million-strong membership of the ruling Communist party, according to the Financial Times.
The basics behind the rapid growth of Christianity in a communist country that officially does not subscribe to any religion have been laid down by two academics, Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang. In their book “A Star in the East: The
Rise of Christianity in China,” which was published in 2015, they simplify that “progressively educated Chinese are becoming Christians to find the true meaning of life in modern times.”
Rodney Stark, who is a sociologist, is of the view that many Chinese citizens, above all those who are better educated are currently experiencing “cultural incongruity” between traditional Chinese culture and industrial-technological modernity.
This phenomenon is leading masses to “spiritual deprivation,” which is certainly best countered by Christianity.
“The question of what does the world mean, and how do we live in it, persists and so that’s a major motor in the Christianisation of China, and it explains why it’s the most educated Chinese who are the most apt to join,” he said.
Stark maintained that according to most Chinese academics contemporary and traditional Eastern religions “don’t fit the modern world they’re engaged in” and are “anti-progress.” But Christianity is quite the opposite, as it aptly fits in thoroughly with modern scientific technology.
There are two main types of churches in China; the registered and the unregistered ones.
The registered churches or the Three-self churches are the government-approved and the government-controlled ones and serve under the restrictions of the government.
The unregistered churches, on the other hand, are the ones that have faced a lot of persecution at the hand of the government over the years and have hence strengthened in faith.