21.4.17

CHRISTIANITY IS BOTH UNIVERSAL & ETHNIC


As a westerner working in China, and doing religious work on the side, I find the white Christian obsession with dissolving racial identity increasingly ridiculous.

If I told Chinese people they had to give up racial identity or ethno-nationalism in order to become a Christian they would probably never take a second look at Christianity. Among the most common questions I encounter are those related to a broader one: "Can I be a good Chinese person and still be a Christian?" How we answer this question is crucial.

I assume the modern Chinese sentiment I face every day was even more common in the ancient first century when traditional ethnic identity was even stronger than it currently is in China.

The Council of Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15, has taken on new meaning for me. The reason for not forcing Jewish customs on gentile converts was a way to open Christianity to being integrated into different national identities. If I told Chinese converts they couldn't eat pork anymore they might starve, and it would become difficult for them to socialize with their co-ethnics over a meal. Most of the dishes here are mixed with pork or cooked in pork products.

Christianity is a universal religion in that it can and should be integrated into every national identity.