Christianity fever

Peter Berger is one of the major sociologists of our day.  A Lutheran Christian of the ELCA variety, he discusses the explosion of Christianity in still-Communist China, a phenomenon described in that country as “Christianity fever”:

The most reliable source for religious demography is the World Christian Database, headed by Todd Johnson, which has been counting Christian noses worldwide for many years now. Johnson and his associates claim that there were about one million Christians in China in 1970 (a sharp decline from earlier in the twentieth century because of Communist repression), and that there about 120 million today, with some 70 million in unregistered churches. Representing over 9% of the total population of 1.3 billion, this estimate, if correct, would constitute one of the most spectacular explosions in religious history. The WCD people further estimate that, if present trends continue (always an iffy assumption, of course) the Christian population in China will reach 220 million by 2050. This would be a considerably higher proportion of the total population, because of the demographic consequences of the one-child policy.  . . .

There are much lower estimates. The CIA World Factbook estimates 3-4% Christians. (Are CIA estimates on religion more reliable than those on weapons of mass destruction?) The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates 4-5%. The Chinese government comes up with a risible 20 million (but then, presumably, they only count officially registered Christians, or maybe those ex-Marxists engage in wishful thinking). But there is an estimate ever higher than the one by WCD. David Aikman is the author of a book, Jesus in Beijing (2003), in which he predicts a breathtaking future for Chinese Christianity. In a recent lecture which I attended, Aikman mentions a Communist party official who told him of a confidential estimate of 130 million. Aikman thinks that by about 2030 Christianity will have achieved cultural and maybe political hegemony in China.

via Counting Christians in China – Peter Berger’s Blog – The American Interest.

David Aikman, by the way, is the former journalist with Time Magazine who is now my colleague as a history professor at Patrick Henry College.

HT: First Thoughts

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    CIA Fact book data is quite accurate. I would not put too much stock in the numbers reported by the World Christian Database. That is a group run by supernaturalists, and they are mostly a propaganda outlet.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    CIA Fact book data is quite accurate. I would not put too much stock in the numbers reported by the World Christian Database. That is a group run by supernaturalists, and they are mostly a propaganda outlet.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • S Bauer

    “That is a group run by supernaturalists, and they are mostly a propaganda outlet.”

    Sounds like a (approximate) definition of the church.

  • S Bauer

    “That is a group run by supernaturalists, and they are mostly a propaganda outlet.”

    Sounds like a (approximate) definition of the church.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    webulite, what is the basis for your conclusion? What evidence do you have? Peter Berger (on the conservative side of the ELCA, John, though not nearly conservative enough, but enough to be Lutheran and Christian) is one of the top sociologists, recognized as such by his secularist colleagues. David Aikman has first hand journalistic experience and tons of contacts in China. He was citing numbers given to him by a government official, who was surely no supernaturalist. Do you think all supernaturalists are wrong, regardless of evidence? Do you really think not many people in China or elsewhere can have religous belief?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    webulite, what is the basis for your conclusion? What evidence do you have? Peter Berger (on the conservative side of the ELCA, John, though not nearly conservative enough, but enough to be Lutheran and Christian) is one of the top sociologists, recognized as such by his secularist colleagues. David Aikman has first hand journalistic experience and tons of contacts in China. He was citing numbers given to him by a government official, who was surely no supernaturalist. Do you think all supernaturalists are wrong, regardless of evidence? Do you really think not many people in China or elsewhere can have religous belief?

  • DonS

    So, now the CIA is “trustworthy” and it is the Christians who are “propagandists”? What a turn of events! :-)

  • DonS

    So, now the CIA is “trustworthy” and it is the Christians who are “propagandists”? What a turn of events! :-)

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    that’s strange, just came here to respond to annonymous DonS’s comment, and noticed on above it in blue. Strange, not sure what the blue comments are, but one thing about it, it did not spawn a email alert. So unless I happened to come to address annonymous DonS I would have missed that one.

    DonS, Well I am talking in the case of information regarding christianity in china. Of course the CIA will mislead both the US people and the world in matters of secret stuff, that is kind of a given. But their public reporting on data that is not a security issue is quite good. That CIA Fact Book (for example for China)

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

    is an excellent resource, not just for information on a nations religions, but for all kinds of stuff. The religion information for a nation is usually under the PEOPLE subjects. You see for China the distribution is;

    (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%

    The supernaturalist group mentioned above publishes mostly propaganda on that kind of thing. They attempt to raise money to support christian proselytizing missions, and generally balance between two types of stories; (1) christianity is growing in nation X isn’t that great and (2) attempts to raise money for proselytizing missions in country X. If is not surprising that supernaturalist group does what it does. After all, they have a goal. The goal is not accurate data reporting, the goal is to try to create supernaturalist members.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    that’s strange, just came here to respond to annonymous DonS’s comment, and noticed on above it in blue. Strange, not sure what the blue comments are, but one thing about it, it did not spawn a email alert. So unless I happened to come to address annonymous DonS I would have missed that one.

    DonS, Well I am talking in the case of information regarding christianity in china. Of course the CIA will mislead both the US people and the world in matters of secret stuff, that is kind of a given. But their public reporting on data that is not a security issue is quite good. That CIA Fact Book (for example for China)

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

    is an excellent resource, not just for information on a nations religions, but for all kinds of stuff. The religion information for a nation is usually under the PEOPLE subjects. You see for China the distribution is;

    (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%

    The supernaturalist group mentioned above publishes mostly propaganda on that kind of thing. They attempt to raise money to support christian proselytizing missions, and generally balance between two types of stories; (1) christianity is growing in nation X isn’t that great and (2) attempts to raise money for proselytizing missions in country X. If is not surprising that supernaturalist group does what it does. After all, they have a goal. The goal is not accurate data reporting, the goal is to try to create supernaturalist members.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • S Bauer

    What’s strange is someone hiding under an anonymous label making a point of others being anonymous — as well as not offering any warrant for the assertion that there is no supernatural.

  • S Bauer

    What’s strange is someone hiding under an anonymous label making a point of others being anonymous — as well as not offering any warrant for the assertion that there is no supernatural.

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    Dear S Bauer from the site geneveith.com

    Your comment inspired my do to a system change. “anonymous” for me means someone that I cannot contact. As a computer person, I keep all kinds of files. For example, when I make a comment on a blog, I actually enter it in a comment system I maintain. And then that comment will get posted to the appropriate blog. That way, I can go back and find comments made on various blogs by searching my local file.

    When dealing on the internet I think of people as two basic types. Those that I can directly contact, and those I can’t. There are various ways to contact someone, the two most basic being by their email address or by their web site (assuming they have some way to contact them on their web site, like a email link or a commenting system). So for example, I could directly contact the person that owns this blog by going to his blog, and looking for a “email me” link, and if such a link does not exist, I could make a comment entry on any of their posts, and chances are the person will see it.

    A extra level of complication occurs when you know of someone THROUGH a blog only. Some people when they make a comment entry on a blog fill in their URL, and then the comment system will provide a link for you to navigate to their web site, and you can contact them that way. Other people do not, and the only way you can contact them is to go back to the blog that you saw their comment on, and make a comment, with some “DEAR X” and hope that they re-read the comments, and notice your post to them.

    What I do when I post a entry to a commenter that I could not directly contact is post “Dear anonymous bob”, and that let me know if I was searching my comment entry file that this is a person that I only know through another site. I realized today that an even better nomenclature is “Dear bob @ somewebsite.com”, since that tells me not only that I cannot directly contact that person, but what web site I have actually met them trough.

    With regards to me “hiding under an anonymous label”, webulite is the nickname I use as part of the webulite community, which is a community site for discussion on the arts, sciences, politics, and religion. I also do have a personal web site, where I post mostly tech or computer oriented topical posts. If you navigate to the information page on webulite.com you will see a link to my personal information, which BTW is Google verified information, and anyone looking to contact me the specific person has the ability to do that as well.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    Dear S Bauer from the site geneveith.com

    Your comment inspired my do to a system change. “anonymous” for me means someone that I cannot contact. As a computer person, I keep all kinds of files. For example, when I make a comment on a blog, I actually enter it in a comment system I maintain. And then that comment will get posted to the appropriate blog. That way, I can go back and find comments made on various blogs by searching my local file.

    When dealing on the internet I think of people as two basic types. Those that I can directly contact, and those I can’t. There are various ways to contact someone, the two most basic being by their email address or by their web site (assuming they have some way to contact them on their web site, like a email link or a commenting system). So for example, I could directly contact the person that owns this blog by going to his blog, and looking for a “email me” link, and if such a link does not exist, I could make a comment entry on any of their posts, and chances are the person will see it.

    A extra level of complication occurs when you know of someone THROUGH a blog only. Some people when they make a comment entry on a blog fill in their URL, and then the comment system will provide a link for you to navigate to their web site, and you can contact them that way. Other people do not, and the only way you can contact them is to go back to the blog that you saw their comment on, and make a comment, with some “DEAR X” and hope that they re-read the comments, and notice your post to them.

    What I do when I post a entry to a commenter that I could not directly contact is post “Dear anonymous bob”, and that let me know if I was searching my comment entry file that this is a person that I only know through another site. I realized today that an even better nomenclature is “Dear bob @ somewebsite.com”, since that tells me not only that I cannot directly contact that person, but what web site I have actually met them trough.

    With regards to me “hiding under an anonymous label”, webulite is the nickname I use as part of the webulite community, which is a community site for discussion on the arts, sciences, politics, and religion. I also do have a personal web site, where I post mostly tech or computer oriented topical posts. If you navigate to the information page on webulite.com you will see a link to my personal information, which BTW is Google verified information, and anyone looking to contact me the specific person has the ability to do that as well.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • bunnycatch3r

    the religious people who help them and therefore less likely to self identify as atheists.

  • bunnycatch3r

    the religious people who help them and therefore less likely to self identify as atheists.

  • bunnycatch3r

  • bunnycatch3r


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