Yesterday evening I went to David Aikman's talk on Jesus in Beijing, organised by Christians in Media, hosted by the Annandale Community Church. It had a big turn out, showing there are many who are interested in Christianity in China. 2/3 were actually Asians from different background and different churches, who were exactly who Joshua's challenge was targeted for.
I have not actually read the book myself, but David's presentation briefed what the book is about. He claimed, as some Chinese house church pastors have "estimated", that there are around 72 million plus Christians in China. That was only a conservative measurement as most house churches are harder to detect than the F-117 Stealth Fighter. Moreover, Christianity is growing at an exponential rate -- not just in country villages but also amongst the professionals in the major cities.
How does it matter then? As China will be the superpower of the world in the next decade or two, as if it has not already been, a Christianised society, like the present day Korea, can really make impact on the whole nation's direction -- for the good of global politics. Moreover, it might as well be the final link to bring the gospel throughout the world, as back to Jerusalem is now targeting the Muslims.
What about some action points? It appears that there is no need for evangelism from the Western world, but churches in China need theological training and management training to minister great number of converts.
Joshua's talk, however, pointed the gun back to us, the Asians living comfortably in Australia. A Christianised society does not mean that it will have no issue. In fact, issues challenging the seven churches in Revelation will continue to be challenges to our present day churches, in China or in Australia. Human resource is still needed, gospel is still needed, evangelists are still needed, prayers are still needed...
But the question is, when the Almighty one calls out "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?", will we be like Isaiah, yelled out ""Here am I. Send me!"? Or would that be just another meeting, where the calling just flies overhead, again?
David's figure is a little bit difficult to swallow though. First of all, the figure of 72 million "Christians" is derived from 12m Catholics + 15m Three-Self Protestants + 45m house church Protestants. For statistics sake, we also need to define who "Christian" is, even though only God can decide. Is "Christian" a regular church/mass goer? Is "Christian" someone who has been baptised by water, sprinkled, full-emerge or anywhere in between? Is "Christian" someone who profess to know God? Is "Christian" someone who agrees with the Apostle's creed or the 39 Articles? Or is "Christian" someone who is known by God and is one of the elect?
For example, would you count every single regular Chinese Catholic attendee a "Christian"? I wouldn't. What kind of percentage figure should I be looking at, in terms of genuine Christians amongst Three-Self or house church goers? Henan province might be the "Jesus nest" in China, but it might also be the "anti-Christ nest" in China, where many cults originated.
Or maybe it is just that paranoid Sydney Anglican inside me, who has always been trained to verify first. I have written about B2J before with sceptical, and I do not think I have yet to get around that.
Not so easy to trust, huh?!
And talking about scepticism, the topic went onto the "Heavenly Man", again. During the question time, a lady asked David's stand on the Heavenly Man, and the response is that, as far as David has seen and experienced, he believed what has been written about the Chinese church in Heavenly Man is true.
I know it is going to create a stir, as I believe at the meeting the audiences' view can be quite divided. This issue has been previously discussed on this playground. I might feel as sceptical as three months ago, but I don't think brother Yun is the only fishy one here. Looking at some of the witness accounts, including Peter Hattaway's open response, I do not think I can conclude without investigating further.
Nevertheless, even if what B2J claimed is true, and brother Yun is the representative of Chinese house churches, that will only make me even more sceptical on what those 50-100 million so called "believers" believe.
Finally, it was an interesting afternoon. Also got a chance to catch up with some of my old friends. And just noticed that the moniker of "Club 5" is no more -- Challenge Conference is what it is called from now on. Huh?!