In evaluating the status of Christian religions in China today, this paper draws largely on unpublished sources. Since China is a "closed" country, accurate reports are somewhat limited and quite scarce. As a result, this thesis depends on unpublished memoirs of friends who were in China at the time and on correspondence and conversations with people who have made recent visits to the mainland. From these sources the paper attempts to describe the current condition of Christianity in China, trace some of the causative factors, and evaluate the potential for future mission work.

To provide a background and help explain the official policy toward Christianity in modern China, this paper begins with a picture of Christian missions in the last century. Some Christian missionaries meddled in internal problems and became involved in political intrigues, until eventually Christian missionary effort came to be equated with Western cultural and political aggression. When the Communist regime began in 1949, the activities of Christian denominations were curtailed drastically.

One of the first of many movements designed to "modify" Christianity in China was the Three-Self Movement initiated in 1951. The three elements--self-administration, self-support, and self-propagation--put church leadership into the hands of Chinese, in this case a governmental agency which prescribed the church's activities. By government order, each denomination held accusation meetings where church leaders were accused, falsely, by fellow workers and family of various crimes and then physically abused.

Risking personal punishment, certain Seventh-day Adventists translated some of Ellen G. White's religious books and tried to circulate mimeographed copies. They also conducted secret Bible study groups. In some rural communities untrained women conducted church services.

The period of "The Hundred Flowers Blooming and Contending" in the late 1950's saw the greatest freedom for Protestant churches in China. Then the "Great Leap Forward" Movement in 1958 brought unification of churches, communes, and compulsory productive labor for ministers.

With the first Red Guard rally in 1966 came "The Great Cultural Revolution." The Red Guard terrorized the entire nation with their mob attacks. Churches were desecrated and believers persecuted.

The Seventh-day Adventist church has had to go underground. Church-owned buildings are now government property, and most Bibles have been destroyed. The Chinese Christian way of life has been altered, but the Christian religion is still a fact in China.

This thesis concludes with an analysis of what could have been done before the Communist regime to prepare Adventist church members for the tribulation they had to face. In the first place, ministers and workers were not acquainted with Ellen G. White's warnings about the last day events; having these books available in their own language would have strengthened individual believers for the sudden turn of events. In the second place, Western missionaries preferred that national workers remain dependent, rather than training the Chinese for leadership responsibilities. When Westerners were evacuated, Chinese workers were unable to meet the challenges of organizing a church under governmental policies.

Spreading the gospel in China today will require new techniques. Seventh-day Adventists must become familiar with the problems of Christianity in China so they will be able to devise effective methods of fulfilling the gospel commission under the present atheistic political regime.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

A. Graham Maxwell

Second Advisor

Wilber Alexander

Third Advisor

Charles W. Teel

Fourth Advisor

Dalton D. Baldwin

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Seventh-day Adventists -- China -- History.



Page Count

xiv, 89

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

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This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


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Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

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