Tom Gilson

Christianity in China: Hope of Freedom

An outsider’s view of the West can be enlightening, especially when that person’s view moves him toward spiritual answers. Here is one such voice from China. The source is a Christianity Today article, “Great Leap Forward.”

Hsu, a former television journalist for the state-sponsored CCTV, is a telling example of how a member of China’s educated elite moves to Christianity.

Hsu told his story to CT over a meal at a crowded Beijing KFC. It began with his search for freedom—politically and personally. The search led him to European history. “Westerners are not more interested in freedom than anyone else,” he says.

Yet the West has achieved and sustained a greater degree of liberty than any other culture. Hsu wondered what the West had that China didn’t. “Before freedom comes, you have to have a foundation. In the West that foundation is Christianity.”

Hsu’s vision for a new China parallels his readings on the march of freedom in the West. From the 10th to 12th centuries, Hsu reasons, Europe developed legal studies, hospitals, and universities, all of which grew out of the church. These developments resulted in breakthroughs in human liberty, as seen in the Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. Today, Hsu says, the church is an incubator for similar developments in China.

“After the country adopted Western science and philosophy, it left a value vacuum,” Hsu says. “After Tiananmen Square, some scholars lost hope. They wanted to start asking the ultimate questions about the purpose of life. People in China have lost faith in human wisdom. The Cultural Revolution was a disaster, but this spiritual awakening is an unexpected result.” Hsu’s quest led him to the Bible. There, he learned that “faith in God as the Lord is the beginning of freedom.”

Recently, he delivered a paper on freedom to a local gathering of the American Political Science Association. In it he wrote, “The more I knew about the growth of freedom in the West, the more I was captivated by the role of faith in God as the Lord.”

“You need a standard of absolute truth,” Hsu told CT. “You have to convince people that the God of the Jews and Christians is the God of the universe.”

The rest of the article, by the way, is filled with encouragement for those of us who have been praying for China.


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