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GOD, CHINA & CAPITALISM: IS CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA THE KEY INGREDIENT FOR ECONOMIC SUCCESS?. By William Jeynes, Ph.D. Senior Fellow, Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ Non-Resident Scholar, Baylor University in Waco, TX. HISTORY OF THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA.

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god china capitalism is christianity in china the key ingredient for economic success

GOD, CHINA & CAPITALISM:IS CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA THE KEY INGREDIENT FOR ECONOMIC SUCCESS?

By William Jeynes, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow, Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ

Non-Resident Scholar, Baylor University in Waco, TX

history of the growth of christianity in china
HISTORY OF THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA
  • Robert Morrison, the first modern day Protestant missionary to come to China.
  • DID NOT TRULY BECOME OPEN TO CHRISTIANITY UNTIL AFTER ITS DEFEAT IN THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR OF 1894-95. Suzanne Pepper (1990, p.10) observes: “Thereafter China could no longer maintain even the pretense of its ancient superiority as the center of the East Asian world.”
  • CHINESE BEGIN TO EMBRACE CHRISTIANITY- Western missions schools blossomed all over the country. American, British, and Swiss missions schools were doubling in number every 5-10 years. By 1920 there were 6,301 missions elementary schools in China.
history of the growth of christianity in china part ii
HISTORY OF THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA (Part II)

4) In the immediate aftermath of the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949, the number of Christians stood at about 1 million.

5) Mao Tse Tung leads a mass persecution of political opponents, including Christians, and promotes atheism. He especially resists faith during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976.

6) Now it is estimated that the number of Christians in China is about 100 million and is growing by 6-7 million per year.

why has china become so open to christianity
WHY HAS CHINA BECOME SO OPEN TO CHRISTIANITY
  • OFTEN WHEN THERE IS GREAT SUFFERING BY A PEOPLE, THEY TURN TO CHRISTIANITY. THE CHINESE SUFFERED MUCH UNDER MAO (e.g., South Korea).
  • FREQUENTLY, WHEN CHRISTIANITY IS REPRESSED FOR A CONSIDERABLE LENGTH OF TIME, THERE IS A “REACTION IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION,” WHEN THE REPRESSION SUBSIDES (e.g., in Russia & Eastern Europe).
  • THEY BELIEVE THAT CHRISTIANITY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MUCH OF THE HISTORIC SUCCESS OF WESTERN EUROPE & THE UNITED STATES (e.g., a Harvard Business Conference).
  • IMMORALITY IN CHINA IS OUT OF CONTROL & MANY IN THE GOVERNMENT BELIEVE THAT CHRISTIANITY MIGHT BE THE NATION’S BEST HOPE TO ESTABLISH MORALITY.
the chinese government s general attitude toward christianity
THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT’S GENERAL ATTITUDE TOWARD CHRISTIANITY
  • THEY BELIEVE THAT ECONOMIC PROSPERITY CANNOT CONTINUE IF THE CURRENT LEVELS OF IMMORALITY PERSIST.
  • THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT IS OFTEN OPEN TO CHRISTIANITY, BUT WANTS TO CONTROL CHRISTIANITY. THEY WANT TO LEARN FROM THE LESSONS OF THE FORMER SOVIET UNION IN THIS REGARD.

a) It is estimated that Christians constituted about 30% of those who protested in the Tiananmen Square uprising uprising of 1989.

indications that the chinese are nervous about christianity
INDICATIONS THAT THE CHINESE ARE NERVOUS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY
  • ARRESTS & PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IS STILL COMMON, e.g., following the Nobel Prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo.
  • ABOUT 75 MILLION CHRISTIANS ARE PART OF THE “UNDERGROUND” CHURCH & 25 MILLION ARE IN THE GOV’T APPROVED CHURCHES. THE KEY DIFFERENCE: WHETHER THE GOSPEL CAN BE SHARED WITH THOSE UNDER 18.
  • UNREST AROUND THE WORLD (e.g., recent violence in the Middle East) SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTS THE ATTITUDE OF THE GOV’T DAY BY DAY.
  • THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE POWER STRUGGLE BETWEEN GOV’T COMMUNISTS & THOSE WHO ARE EITHER CHRISTIANS OR OPEN TO CHRISTIANITY.
indications that the chinese government is open to christianity
INDICATIONS THAT THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT IS OPEN TO CHRISTIANITY
  • THE CHINESE GOV’T IS SPENDING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO BUILD CHURCHES & SEMINARIES
  • THE GOV’T HAS SET A GOAL FOR THE (MOSTLY PRIVATE) FOUNDING OF THOUSANDS OF CHURCHES & 200+ SEMINARIES OVER THE NEXT TWO DECADES.
  • THE GOV’T IS SHOWING OPENNESS TO THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE & BIBLE-BASED CHARACTER EDUCATION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
  • IN 2002 JIANG ZEMIN, THE PRIMARY LEADER OF CHINA FROM 1989-2002, WAS ASKED WHAT HE WANTED HIS LEGACY TO BE. MACCULLOCH (P. 1007) NOTES THAT ZEMIN REPLIED THAT HE WOULD “PROPOSE CHRISTIANITY AS CHINA’S OFFICIAL RELIGION.”
those who would assert there is a relationship between christianity economic prosperity
THOSE WHO WOULD ASSERT THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY & ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
  • MAX WEBER- Wrote the book, The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)
  • Has been expanded by some researchers to also apply to Catholicism (Gerhards, 1996)
  • Barro & McCleary in American Sociological Review (2003): “Religion is good for the economy.”
  • DANIEL LAPIN, America’s Real War (1999).
  • Many Chinese leaders understand the link between the morality that accompanies Christianity & economic prosperity.
slide10

THE OBSERVATIONS OF MAX WEBER & THOSE THAT SUPPORT HIS VIEWS

  • Nations with the highest percentage of Christians begin to dominate around 1050 or 1100 A.D.
  • Lapin, an Orthodox Jewish individual, notes that 90% of the scientific discoveries over the last 1,000 years were in nations in which Christianity was the primary religion
  • Protestant Christianity becomes economically & culturally dominant beginning just after Luther’s 95 Theses (1517).
  • In Weber’s view, Calvinistic Protestantism represents the type most conducive to economic prosperity and is practiced most in Great Britain and the United States after 1600, which in his view helps explain their rise to economic dominance.
  • The Peak of The United States’ Power (1956-1960)- At that time, Although The United States had only 5% of the world’s population, it produced 56% of the World’s Goods & Services (GDP). Church attendance was at a peak of 69% per week.
qualities inherent in christian practices that produced a work ethic prosperity weber
QUALITIES INHERENT IN CHRISTIAN PRACTICES THAT PRODUCED A WORK ETHIC & PROSPERITY (Weber)

1) A Sense of Calling- Directed by divine reason and more determined and passionate than others. A number believe there is a strong relationship between a sense of calling & the work ethic.

a) These people often have an “ascetic spirit,” which

often comes with a sense of purpose (God’s).

2) Honesty- Weber argued that this was necessary for trust to exist in society and trust was essential to encourage economic transactions.

a) Calvin/Weber- Most likely to emerge in societies

that discourage materialism.

qualities inherent in christian practices that produced economic prosperity weber part ii
QUALITIES INHERENT IN CHRISTIAN PRACTICES THAT PRODUCED ECONOMIC PROSPERITY (Weber) {Part II}
  • Love And Encouraging People To Be Their Best- The essence of virtue is ”selfless benevolence” (Jonathan Edwards & Lyman Beecher). Concern for raising the living standards of one’s neighbors.
  • Work Ethic- Weber believed the Bible’s warnings against idolatry and materialism helps. Weber believed that one of the key prerequisites for sustained economic prosperity was an absence of materialism. Because, in his (and the Bible’s) view, materialism dilutes one’s focus on the call that creates the personal intensity that ultimately produces prosperity.
why weber believed that other major religions were not associated with economic prosperity
WHY WEBER BELIEVED THAT OTHER MAJOR RELIGIONS WERE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

Martin Riesebrodt (2005, p. 25): “Having

studied the civilizations of India and China

for several years, Weber had a much

better understanding of what he regarded

as the basic differences between these

civilizations and the West.”

why weber believed that other major religions were not associated with economic prosperity hinduism
WHY WEBER BELIEVED THAT OTHER MAJOR RELIGIONS WERE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: HINDUISM

HINDUISM- 1) Hindus are born & not made. In its very essence, there is a large degree of passivity.

2) Hinduism’s caste system is not conducive to instilling in people a work ethic that is grounded in a hope in the future and that better days can lie ahead in which one rises above his or her present state to a higher level (Anderson, 1957).

3) Hinduism is more of a judgmental religion with its belief in “bad karma” and reincarnation.

4) There is an increased openness to Christianity in India, especially because of #3 (above).

why weber believed that other major religions were not associated with economic prosperity buddhism
WHY WEBER BELIEVED THAT OTHER MAJOR RELIGIONS WERE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: BUDDHISM
  • Buddhism is an offspring of Hinduism and therefore possesses a number of similarities, even as Christianity and Judaism are sister religions.
  • In advocating this respect and even obeisance, Buddhism tended to support the status quo and was not a catalyst for change, but rather stasis.
  • Buddhism also defines “desire” as fundamentally wrong and the cause of great suffering. This is in contrast to Christianity that distinguishes desire that is based on the goal of glorifying God and loving people versus desire that is either based on selfish or what the Bible terms “the flesh,” and desire that is based the influence of evil or Satan.
slide16
WHY WEBER BELIEVED THAT OTHER MAJOR RELIGIONS WERE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: CONFUCIANISM

Weber believed that Confucianism caused China and nations such

as Japan and Korea to follow an entirely differently economic and

cultural trajectory than in Protestant/Christian-based Europe.

  • Confucianism leaves much less room for social mobility than does Christianity (e.g., Galatians 3:28). Christianity focused on equality and Confucianism values a hierarchy.
  • Europe went in a different trajectory than the Confucian-based Far East is because Christianity encourages less dominating forms of government than does Confucianism.
why weber believed that other major religions were not associated with economic prosperity islam
WHY WEBER BELIEVED THAT OTHER MAJOR RELIGIONS WERE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: ISLAM
  • Islam, even more than Confucianism, emphasizes hierarchy.
  • Islam emphasizes compliance rather than the liberty of grace that Christ brings.
  • Christianity has “love” (e.g., “God is love,” and “For God so loved the world…” as its centerpiece, which would encourage people to help raise the living standards of others. What Jesus defines as the two greatest commandments of Christianity both include love. The five pillars of Islam appear to focus more on dedication to certain practices.
slide18
PERHAPS WE WOULD LIKE TO THINK THE USIS EXEMPT FROM THE TREND THAT WHERE CHRISTIANITY RISES, ECONOMIES RISE AND…

WHERE CHRISTIANITY DECLINES, RELATIVE ECONOMIC STRENGTH DECLINES.

the reality is
THE REALITY IS…

THE UNITED STATES MUST EITHER

RECOGNIZE THIS RELATIONSHIP OR

BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO A LONG

PERIOD OF RELATIVE ECONOMIC

DECLINE.

clearly the united states needs to return to faith family values
CLEARLY THE UNITED STATES NEEDS TO RETURN TO FAITH & FAMILY VALUES
  • A NATION OF LOVE THAT VALUES LIFE
  • A NATION OF INTEGRITY IN WHICH PEOPLE KEEP THEIR WORD & LIVE RIGHTEOUS LIVES
  • A NATION THAT IS TOLERANT TOWARD PEOPLE OF FAITH
  • A NATON THAT CHERISHES THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY & LOYALTY
  • A NATION OF HONESTY AND SINCERITY THAT VALUES JUSTICE MORE THAN IT DOES SELF-INTEREST
  • A NATION THAT HAS VISION (Proverbs 29:18-”Without a Vision the people perish.”)
slide21
THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FROM BOTH PARTIES LACK VISION. THIS IS WHAT CHINA PRESENTLY HAS AND THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SPECIFIC

ACTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN?

slide22

THESE ARE SOME OF MY RECOMMENDATIONS, WHICH IN SOME RESPECTS ARE SIMILAR TO THE FAITH-BASED ECONOMIC PACKAGE THAT I PRESENTED TO SOUTH KOREA IN 1998

  • DIAGONAL EXPANSION OF THE INTERSTATE FREEWAY SYSTEM
  • INVESTMENT INTO AREAS OF THE US LARGELY OVERLOOKED IN THE PAST (e.g., rural areas).
  • INVITE THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO HELP BUILD A HIGH-TECH CITY (e.g., Songdo in South Korea)
  • SCHOOL CHOICE TO REBUILD OUR NATION’S SCHOOL SYSTEM, ESPECIALLY IN THE INNER CITY (research on faith, family and the achievement gap)
  • GATHER INDUSTRIAL LEADERS TO COOPERATE REGARDING DEVELOPING NEW TECHNOLOGY AND EXAMINING AREAS WHERE AMERICAN COMPANIES CAN AGAIN BE COMPETITIVE IN THE MARKETPLACE.
it s not enough that we do our best sometimes we have to do what is required

“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”

-Winston Churchill

contact information

Contact Information:

whjharvard@post.harvard.edu