Book Reviews

Book Review: A Star in the East by Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang

In the face of increasing opposition, it is easy for Western Christians to become discouraged, and, like Elijah, feel that we are the only ones left to stem an ever-rising tide of evil. God encouraged that Old Testament prophet with the knowledge that there were still 7,000 who had “not bended the knee to Ba’al”. In the case of modern Christianity, if Stark and Wang are to be believed, there are “tens of millions”, and they live in China.

A Star in the East (Templeton Press, 2015) offers the results of comprehensive research into the origins and present state of affairs of Chinese Christianity. And the conclusions are astounding.

*During the intense period of persecution following China’s descent into Communism, Christianity not only survived, but thrived.

*The Christianity that survived and is now growing exponentially in China is of the orthodox, fundamentalist variety. To quote the book: “Therefore, China’s answer to Harry Emerson Fosdick’s famous rhetorical question—’Shall the fundamentalists win?’—is ‘Yes.’ 

*The strength of Christianity in China today is due to the dedicated missionary effort of a century ago.

*Christianity in China is growing both among rural populations, among the educated elite, and in universities.

*There are more Christians in China than Communist Party members.

*There are many Christians, some open, some in secret, within the Communist Party.

Is a Christian China out of the question? Hardly. According to the authors,

…significant Christian influence within the party is not a pipe dream. And were it to occur, then all fo the discussions above would need radical revision. A Christian-influenced Communist Party might very well privatize the state-owned enterprises and shift the economy to a free-market capitalism, subject to socially responsible regulations of such things as pollution and graft. It also might institute democracy. We shall have to wait and see.

Indeed. A Christian China does not fit many eschatological models, but then agains, God has not shown Himself too willing to follow our eschatological models.

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