As Christianity grows powerfully in China, it should surely come as no surprise that many of the 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 that they must 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 grown to at least 80 million, though with some officials suggesting the number may be as high as 130 million.
I recently discussed this rapid growth with several experts, and I suggested that there appeared to be no particular benefits to a Chinese person in turning to the church.
Kody Kness is Vice President of the human rights organization ChinaAid. He agreed that there are no socio-economic benefits to becoming a Christian in China, but saw societal benefits.
He told me that Chinese citizens 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.”
Dr Carsten Vala, associate professor at Loyola University Maryland and a research fellow at Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society, also saw societal benefits in becoming a Christian.
“Churches provide needed social benefits and an encompassing value system that is a stark contrast to the surrounding moral decay of society,” he told me, adding that many Chinese can see how wealth is corrupting their society.
Thus, 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 has predicted 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.