Three Early Missionaries to China

    Three Early Missionaries to China

    Christianity reached China as early as the 5th century, but the first three attempts of missionary to China failed to bear fruits for various reasons. The Nestorian Faith came to China during the Tang Dynasty. Unfortunately, China was not ready for this 'new' religion. Emperor Tang Tai Zong eagerly greeted Olopen with respect, but the king probably thought that all religions were the same, as indicated by his interest in Buddhism as well. Although quite a few Da Qin Temples were erected, most of the followers were not Chinese. This missionary eventually came to an end in China around 845 A.D., with followers still could be found in the north of China (like Mongolia). The second attempt was during the Yuan Dynasty. With the invasion of Mongolians, the Nestorian and Catholic Faith returned to China from the north, in the name of Erkeun or Arkaim. Unfortunately, with the oppression of the Mongolians on the Chinese, most people were not ready to adopt this belief that was introduced by the invaders. The third attempt (1500-1800) did not receive better treatment either. The conflict between the Chinese ritual and Christianity eventually led to the failure of the third missionary.

    Summarizing the three missionaries, an important lesson is learnt; in order to spread the gospel successfully, it must penetrate the bulk of the people (like sowing seed (gospel) to the soil (people)). All three missions reached Chinese royal family and the upper classes instead of her people. Although the first mission was eagerly endorsed by the Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, its message probably was not well understood, and often confused with the Buddhist teaching (when birds came they were snatched away). The second mission was like sowing seeds on rocky places. Since most believers were Mongolians in the royal family and administration, Chinese tended to reject its message (not enough soil for the seed to take roots). The third missionary is like sowing seeds among thorns. When persecutions came (conflicts with the Chinese rituals), the Chinese gave up their believes.

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