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Ethnic Revivalism

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Black River FallsOffline
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PostPosted: 26-03-2011 21:58    Post subject: Ethnic Revivalism Reply with quote

A few things have got me thinking about this, particularly the sudden prominence that a number of ethnic or multicultural but ethnic based churches seem to have.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God flyered me last September, which are based in Brazil, and look very dubious, the Redeemed Christian Church of God flyered me today, who are based in Nigeria and seem to be exclusively black, also there's a local Chinese christian church quite close to where I am that's suddently gone quite high profile in the last 6 months.

Probably it's not surprising that christian revivalism is doing quite well while a lot of things are going to sh*t, but where the Pre-Millenial Tension revivalism seemed to be more heavily based in traditional denominations that had turned quite evangelical/charismatic and some quite aggressive US multinational church planting, a lot of this seems to be very ethnic based.

Are some of these more evangelical (or just extreme) forms of christianity having an undue appeal to non-whites atm? I'm just curious about what's driving this?
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PostPosted: 26-03-2011 22:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really interesting question. Some of the evangelical and charismatic churches go out of their way to evangelise Third World congregations, using the very latest in, 'prosperity theology', satellite technology and mass psychology bahooky. Even the Roman Catholic church has been losing out to the new charismatic missionaries in places like Brazil, despite numerous logistical difficulties.


Half of Brazil's Population to be Evangelical Christian by 2020

The Christian Post ^ | Feb. 20 2011 | Andrea Marcela Madambashi. Posted on 02/21/2011 2:56:48 PM PST by wmfights

An international missions organization reports that evangelicals are expected to reach 57.4 million in Brazil this year in accordance with the evangelical annual growth rate of 7.42 percent.

Researchers at "Servindo aos Pastores e Líderes" (SEPAL) announced this 2011 figure last Monday based on findings from its groundbreaking study last year that predicted Brazil's evangelical growth rate over the next decade.

SEPAL had conducted this study utilizing results from Brazil's Census 2000 survey by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) and other information from a March 2007 study conducted by Datafolha, a major domestic information firm.

Based on figures obtained from both sources, SEPAL concluded that over half of the nation's population will be evangelical in less than a decade.

"We believe 52 per cent of the population will be evangelical by 2020, or about 109.3 million evangelicals within a total population of 209.3 million," said SEPAL researcher Luis André Brunet, in an interview with The Christian Post this week.

Brunet said that the findings were 95 percent accurate provided that the evangelical growth rate from 1990 to 2000 remains consistent in the next 40 years.

In 2010, Epoca, a well-read news magazine in Brazil, released figures from studies on evangelical growth. Those interviewed included theologians and anthropologists, who unanimously agreed that evangelicals were increasingly influencing all spheres of Brazilian life – concluding that the evangelical presence has contributed to the decline in alcoholism, increase in school enrollment, and reduction in the number of broken homes.

However, Brunet was quick to point out that Christians should "think beyond the numbers" before drawing conclusions.

"If we consider two lines of thought, a revival is not happening in Brazil," he said, adding that revival is characterized not just by "mass conversion of people, but also profound changes in social thinking – as influenced by born-again Christians."

First, Brunet attributed growth to "aggressive evangelical outreach, adoption of more flexible [church] rules, society's openness to Christian life, and an increasingly influential middle class."

Brunet also cited a substantially weaker evangelical presence in Brazil's northeastern region. According to the researcher, the region could be divided into A and B:

"A" represents beachside and large urbanized environments, where the evangelical growth rate is at modest but acceptable levels. "B" encompasses rural areas where evangelicals rarely exceed 1% of the local population.

Second, says Brunet, evangelical growth has been held in check by "strong Roman Catholic roots in the population, in addition to age-old mysticism." In addition, poorer road conditions and difficult access to mass media also contribute to difficulties in evangelical outreach.

Besides social conditions, Brunet adds, church growth has been hampered by internal matters especially those involving finances.

"Actually, the reason for this is that revenue is so minimal, that the mission cannot be self-sustained in the long term," Brunet continued.

In one SEPAL case study, the city of Quinze de Novembro has about 80.4% evangelicals, while its neighboring town of Alto Alegre has that of only 0.28%.

"The most evangelized city [is] beside one of the least evangelized cities of the country," commented Brunet, emphasizing that Brazil has "mostly unprepared leadership that lacks direction in theology, ecclesiology and missiology."

"Will life change in a Protestant-majority country," he asked, expressing concern that Brazil's growing prosperity may tempt Christian leaders towards materialism.

"The middle class is expected to double over the next year," said Brunet, saying that there are signs more materialistic leaders have begun leading their flock astray with prosperity theology. In addition, he maintained, evangelicalism has to overcome the "superficiality of life in Brazilian people."

"We see this [superficiality] among Brazilian evangelicals today, and it seems that it will remain for the next years, accelerating the duality between 'religious life' and 'secular life,' which already exists today," he said. "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the soul of a heartless world... It is the opium of the people. That is any human impulse caused by dissatisfaction for political, economic or social reasons."

Brunet mentioned "that selfishness and individualism present in these days can also be seen in religious life."

"Although some believers have concern for their neighbors, in other words other people, we can say that the majority are only concerned about their own welfare," he said.

At this time of writing, SEPAL researchers are awaiting the results from the IBGE 2010 census to confirm the projected growth rate of evangelicals in the Brazilian population. Upon doing so, SEPAL will create an outreach map based on comparing old and new data.

Conclusively, Brunet believes, positive changes can occur – including the creation of stronger institutions representing evangelicals "who cry aloud for the world of God."

"We must indeed pray to the Lord of the heavens that this transformation of the Brazil may be genuine according to the standards presented in the Gospel of Christ."

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Black River FallsOffline
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PostPosted: 12-09-2011 09:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like it's not just the Chinese in the UK that are getting 'Gawd'.

Interesting slant on the article too, 'prosperity gospel' isn;t a new idea, but i've never seen anyone lean quite as far before to propose a causal relationship between a desire for prosperity and christianity.

Christians in China: Is the country in spiritual crisis?

Many of China's churches are overflowing, as the number of Christians in the country multiplies. In the past, repression drove people to convert - is the cause now rampant capitalism?

It is impossible to say how many Christians there are in China today, but no-one denies the numbers are exploding.

The government says 25 million, 18 million Protestants and six million Catholics. Independent estimates all agree this is a vast underestimate. A conservative figure is 60 million. There are already more Chinese at church on a Sunday than in the whole of Europe.

The new converts can be found from peasants in the remote rural villages to the sophisticated young middle class in the booming cities.
Driven underground

There is a complexity in the structures of Chinese Christianity which is little understood in the West. To start with, Catholicism and Protestantism are designated by the state as two separate religions.
Haidian Church, Beijing The Haidian Christian Church in Beijing was completely re-built to cope with rising numbers

Throughout the 20th Century, Christianity was associated with Western imperialism. After the Communist victory in 1948, the missionaries were expelled, but Christianity was permitted in state-sanctioned churches, so long as they gave their primary allegiance to the Communist Party.

Mao, on the other hand, described religion as "poison", and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s attempted to eradicate it. Driven underground, Christianity not only survived, but with its own Chinese martyrs, it grew in strength.

Since the 1980s, when religious belief was again permitted, the official Churches have gradually created more space for themselves.

They report to the State Administration for Religious Affairs. They are forbidden to take part in any religious activity outside their places of worship and sign up to the slogan, "Love the country - love your religion."

In return the Party promotes atheism in schools but undertakes "to protect and respect religion until such time as religion itself will disappear".
House Churches

Protestants and Catholics are both divided into official and unofficial Churches.
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The old have seen the old certainties of Marxism-Leninism transmute into the most visceral capitalist society on earth”

The officially sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association appoints its own bishops and is not allowed to have any dealings with the Vatican, though Catholics are allowed to recognise the spiritual authority of the Pope.

There is a larger Catholic underground church, supported by the Vatican. Inch by inch, the Vatican and the government have been moving towards accommodation. Most bishops are now recognised by both, with neither side admitting the greater sovereignty of the other.

Yet in the past few months, the Chinese government has again turned tough, ordaining its bishops in the teeth of opposition from the Vatican which has in turn excommunicated one of them.

Even so, it would be wrong simply to dismiss the official church as a sham.

In the mountains West of Beijing, I visited the village of Ho Sanju where a Catholic Church has stood since the 14th Century.
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Find Out More
Tim Gardam with the Catholic sisters of Sanju

Tim Gardam is the Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford.
He is pictured here with the Catholic Sisters of Sanju.
God in China, Christianity and Catholicism will be on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm on Monday 12 September.

Read more about the programme
Read more about Tim Gardam
Catch up on iPlayer

The tough faith of these old people had withstood the Japanese invasion and the Cultural Revolution. The village clinic was run by nuns, one from Inner Mongolia, a Catholic stronghold.

It is from such villages that the Catholic Church recruits its young ordinands, to undertake training for the priesthood.

The official Protestant Church is growing faster than Catholicism.

On Easter morning, in downtown Beijing, I watched five services, each packed with over 1,500 worshippers. Sunday school was spilling on to the street.

However, these numbers are dwarfed by the unofficial "house churches", spreading across the country, at odds with the official Church which fears the house churches' fervour may provoke a backlash.

What the authorities consider non-negotiable is the house churches' refusal to acknowledge any official authority over their organisation.

The State fears the influence of zealous American evangelism and some of the House Church theology has those characteristics, but, in many other respects, it seems to be an indigenous Chinese movement - charismatic, energetic and young.

An educated young Christian described her church to me: "We have 50 young professionals in this church. Everyone is so busy working, you don't have time socialising, and even if you are socialising, you are putting on a fake face.

"But in church people feel warm, they feel welcome… they feel people really love them so they really want to join the community, a lot of people come for this."
Alpha marriage course

A Chinese academic close to the government told me that the government would prefer to ignore the house churches, as unlike the Falun Gong they are not seen as a threat. But where a church oversteps the line, as happened in Beijing this year, taking its worship on to the streets, then the authorities will crack down.
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The worship of Mammon… has become many people's life purpose”

Professor He Guanghu Renmin University, Beijing

In some areas the state has sought to enlist Christianity into its "big idea" of a "harmonious society" - the slogan that dominates Chinese public life. There has been official interest in the Western evangelical Alpha Marriage Course, because of alarm at the escalating divorce rate among young Chinese.

What must unsettle the authorities most is the reason why so many are turning to the churches.

I heard people talking again and again of a "spiritual crisis" in China - a phrase that has even been used by the Premier Wen Jiao Bao. The old have seen the old certainties of Marxism-Leninism transmute into the most visceral capitalist society on earth.

For the young, in the stampede to get rich, trust in institutions, between individuals, between the generations, is breaking down.

As one of China's most eminent philosophers of religion - Professor He Guanghu, at Renmin University in Beijing put it to me: "The worship of Mammon… has become many people's life purpose.

"I think it is very natural that many other people will not be satisfied... will seek some meaning for their lives so that when Christianity falls into their lives, they will seize it very tightly."
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