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Christianity in East Asia

Paul Simon writes: "Christianity in China is an interesting--and sometimes dangerous-- topic, at least in the mainland. There is archeological evidence that Nestorians and other eastern Christian groups made it to parts of China long ago, then died out. There was also the legend of Prester John. The Jesuits were certainly a force in the imperial court for a time several centuries ago, influencing art, science, and even language. Anyone interested might enjoy a biography of Matteo Ricci, arguably the greatest linguist ever, Ronald notwithstanding.

Under the current system in the mainland, there are five official religions, all controlled by the state. Two are Christian; The Patriotic Catholic Church (Aiguo Tianju Tang) and The Three-Self (San Zi) Protestant Church. The Patriotic Catholic Chuirch's sacraments are recognized as valid by Rome. Most of its bishops are not. It has no cardinals. The 3-self church has drifted into slightly odd theological waters by all reports.

There are also many illegal house churches, illegal missionaries from many countries, and an underground Catholic Church. I would put the number of practicing Christians in China in the low tens of millions, a large overall number but a mere tiny fraction of 1.32 billion people. The emerging Christian state in East Asia is South Korea. For unique political and historic reasons, Christianity has been booming in the ROK for many years".

Ronald Hilton - 6/24/02