China Chiristian Daily

- April 29, 2017 -

Culture

Why Christmas is Still Boycotted as “Foreign Day” in China?

By CCD contributor: Paul Wu
on December 27, 2016 06:12 AM

hosanna-church-christmas-celebration
Hosanna Church Christmas Celebration: (credit: ChristianTimes.cn)

As the Christians celebrating Christmas and cherishing Savior’s being born, there is boycott claiming that “Chinese descendant” should not be that enthusiastic to a foreign festival. 

Is Christmas a foreign day, only representing the western culture? What’s the Chinese Christians’ view?

A foreign day or not comes down to whether Christmas a western festival or not. In recent years there are many affection of the West as the culture coming from the west. Those stuff are named after “foreign” (洋, yang in Chinese), such as Yang Huo (matches), Yang Che (rickshaw). These name after the world “yang” is not but some take use of this to boycott anything that is not Chinese tradition.

Christian are preached into China by the western missionaries, so it was named after “yang jiao”, eg, foreign religion. But Christian is not a foreign religion. When talking about religion, there are terms as “national religion” and “world religion ”, the former is limited to one particular nation while the latter is universal. Judaism is a national religion, and Buddhism world. Christianity had broken the nation and country limitation since its very beginning, and the disciples in the early times preach the Gospel to all the people of all nationalities. 

That’s why the boycott of Christmas does not agree with the basic religious theory.

Besides, in the Bible, Jesus commanded his disciples to preach to all the people, recorded in Mat 28.19 and Acts 1.8. Jesus was crucified for all people in the world, and the salvation is not only for the westerns but also for the Chinese, Indian, Arabs and the African. So their ignorance can also be seen from their boycott.

From a historical view, Christianity originated from the Middle East, now from the West. The early church developed toward both the West and the East. In the late of Ming Dynasty, Christianity was introduced into China via the western culture as a carrier, which has left an impression of a western religion. 

As the rapid developing of Asian, African and Latin American countries, so is the modern church in those areas, thus the distribution of Christians have changed a lot. Numbers of Christians in those areas have surpassed that in the Western. So it is unwarranted to boycott Christmas as a “foreign festival.”

For various reasons, Christianity was treated as a foreign religion in China, while it is not a disaster as some people-outside-of-church declares. The word “yang” (in Chinese, it's pronounced Yang) representing advanced and fashionable on some degree. There are also some intellectual converted to Christianity because of their interesting and researching in western culture.

That being said, removing the modifier “foreign” in Christianity as “foreign religion” would do good for its development in China. Thus calls for the localization of Christianity. 200 years have passed since its landing on this eastern country, still there are many Chinese resisting the gospel. Why? The Chinese church has little deep understanding of traditional Chinese culture, even attack the traditional Chinese when it goes against with Christianity.

Christianity is universal and compatible on its fundamental. It’s structure and views in different areas could be different accordingly. Only when the truths agree with the local culture, the spreading could be available. With the 200-year developing, the church in China become structurally independent, while it still has a long way to go on the coordination with traditional Chinese culture. 

The dialogue between Theology and Chinese Classics are still standing. Theological system that goes with Chinese characteristics is highly needed. Thus we Christians should be more familiar with the Bible and Chinese Classics, and be conservative on belief and be open to academic study.

The author is a Christian in Trinity Church of Gulangyu, Xiamen province.
Translated By: Alice Wang
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