In Christianity, the service of Christ ought to be voluntary, not by compulsion!


In Christianity, the service of Christ ought to be voluntary, not by compulsion!

Evangelical Christians look on China as the premiere Christian hating country, and most of these China hating Christians are Americans.  Who were probably the last in the west, with a claim that their country was introduced to Christianity in the 16th-century?

Christianity was introduced to North America as it was colonized by Europeans beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish, French, and British brought Roman Catholicism to the colonies of New Spain, New France and Maryland respectively.  While Northern European peoples introduced Protestantism to Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Netherland, Virginia colony, Carolina Colony, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Lower Canada. Among Protestants, adherents to Anglicanism, Methodism, the Baptist Church, Congregationalism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Quakerism, Mennonite and Moravian Church were the first to settle in the US, spreading their faith in the new country.

Note.  In 1634, even Maryland, the colony with the most Catholics, had less than 3,000 Catholics out of a population of 34,000.  By 1785, when the population of the 13 Colonies was nearly four million, there were fewer than 25,000 Catholics.

Because the Spanish were the first Europeans to establish settlements on the mainland of North America, such as St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, the earliest Christians in the territory which would eventually become the United States were Roman Catholics. However, the territory that would become the Thirteen Colonies in 1776 was largely populated by Protestants due to Protestant settlers seeking religious freedom from the Church of England (est. 1534). 

The first Christian book to be printed in North America was the Bay Psalm Book, printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay colony in 1647. 

But what of China? China has a long history of Christianity going back to 635 CE. And in 781 CE they erected the Xi’an Stele or the Jingjiao Stele, and sometimes translated as the Nestorian Stele, is a Tang Chinese stele erected as said in 781 CE that documents 150 years of early Christianity in China.  It is a limestone block 279 centimetres (9.15 ft) high, with text in both Chinese and Syriac.  (I am certain the Nestorian link to the stele, as well as the Syriac text, did not please Rome when they hear about it!)  Describing the existence of Christian communities in several cities in northern China, at the imperial capital city of Chang’an (modern-day Xi’an) in central China.  So, probably some Chinese families can claim Christianity before most European countries of today.  Including most English Christians ancestors, who made-up the Germanic hordes that came into Britain from 449 CE, if one is to believe the Saxon Chronicle.  With the Jutish king Ethelbert being the first Germanic king to be Christianized in 601 CE.  However, he did not force his people to convert, as there were still Paganism among the Germanic’s in the 8th-century. 

Bede on the Christianization of king Ethelbert (d. 616) of Kent.

‘It is told that the king, while he rejoiced at their conversion and their faith, yet compelled none to embrace Christianity, but only showed more affection to the believers, as to his fellow citizens in the kingdom of Heaven. For he had learned from those who had instructed him and guided him to salvation, that the service of Christ ought to be voluntary, not by compulsion.’—Bede on King Ethelbert of Kent.  Christianity within the Germanic tribes did not come overnight, and presumably took decades.  With the Scandinavian Countries being Christianized between the 9th and 12th-centuries.  So, China can rightly boast that Christianity came to China before most of Europe, and especially the New World.  What do you say?


Jero Jones

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