The Growth Of Christianity In East Asia -- By: John Mark Terry

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:2 (Summer 2011)
Article: The Growth Of Christianity In East Asia
Author: John Mark Terry

The Growth Of Christianity In East Asia

John Mark Terry

John Mark Terry is Adjunct Professor of Evangelism and Missions at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In addition, he also serves as a professor at a seminary in the Pacific Rim. Previously, Dr. Terry has served as a professor of missions at Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary, Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary, and as professor of evangelism and missions at Clear Creek Baptist College, in addition to serving 15 years as a missionary in the Philippines. Dr. Terry is also the author or editor of a numbers scholarly works, including Missiology: An Introduction (B&H, 1998), Church Evangelism: Creating a Culture for Growth in Your Congregation (B&H 1997), and Evangelism: A Concise History (B&H, 1994).


Missiologists and missions administrators focus much of their attention on East Asia. This is natural because East Asia contains about 25 percent of the world’s population. China’s population alone represents 20 percent of the people on earth. What is the status of Christianity in East Asia? This article will survey the progress of Christianity in these nations of East Asia: China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan. As will be shown, much has been accomplished, but much remains to be done.

Christianity In China

A noted Chinese Christian leader, John Ong, often speaks of—The gospel “to” China, the gospel “in” China, and the gospel “from” China. Those helpful designations provide an outline for this brief survey of Christianity in China.

The Gospel “To” China

Christianity first came to China through the efforts of Nestorian missionaries. The Nestorians entered China in the seventh century, traveling along the ancient Silk Road from the Middle East. They were welcomed by the emperors of the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907) and were allowed to build monasteries and establish churches. The Nestorian monks continued their work in China for two hundred years until Emperor Wu Tsung ordered the monks and their monasteries expelled in A.D. 845. The fate of the Nestorian converts in China is unknown, but a Nestorian monk, sent to ascertain the state of the church in China in A.D. 987, reported that he did not find any Christians in China.1

Christianity re-entered China after the visit of Marco Polo in 1266. His account of his adventures in China prompted the Vatican to send a Franciscan monk, Giovanni of Monte Corvino, to China in 1294. The emperor welcomed him and gave him freedom to build a church and evangelize. By 1305 he had six thousand baptized believers. The Roman Catholic mission prospere...

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