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Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power Paperback – 18 Feb 2005


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  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Monarch Books (18 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854246879
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854246875
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,116,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

David Aikman worked for Time Magazine for more than two decades, reporting from over 50 countries and interviewing figures as diverse as Boris Yeltsin and Mother Teresa. He lives in Virginia with his family.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Clive Orchard on 30 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, well-written, a valuable insight into the paradox that is modern China. Research is extremely good and very readable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 43 reviews
98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Most useful treatment of the church in China 10 Dec 2003
By George Doyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Veteran correspondent Dr. Advid Aikman has given us the fruit of many years of academic study, living in China, extensive travel, and wide-ranging interviews to produce what is possibly the most useful book on the church in China available today.
He maintains the high standard set by writers such as David Adeney (China: The Church's Long March) and Tony Lambert (The Resurrection of the Chinese Church; China's Christian Millions), achieving both objectivity and appreciation in a careful balance.
After an appetizer-introduction, he traces the history of Christianity in China from the earliest missionary endeavors in the Tang Dynasty to the most current developments. His wide knowledge of history enables him to place each stage of the shurch's story in its larger context.
Lively writing, minute detail, arresting stories of many heroic individuals, and strategic insights make a potent combination; the book is hard to put down!
We come away with a deep respect for men and women who have risked all, and suffered much, to follow Christ, especially since the Communists took over in 1949. Widespread persecution, often marked by brutal, even barbaric, torture, has brought Chinese Christians through the refining fire that could not quench their zeal.
Though he concentrates upon the house churches, who form the vast majority of China's Christian millions, Aikman also offers a careful analysis of both the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the two Roman Catholic organizations in China - one, like the TSPM, controlled by the government, the other loyal to the Vatican. He gives credit to those who have chosen to work within the confines of Communisty Party restrictions, but does not cover over the evidence for complicity in offical action against innocent believers by state-sponsored "church" leaders.
Perhaps the most arresting chapter highlights the growing role of Christians among the educated elite - artists, writers, intellectuals, even Party members. Such a large number of these talented people are becoming Christians that Aikman thinks they will eventually influence both domestic and foreign policy.
He could be right, for Chinese believers think that within a few years they will comprise 20 - 30% of the total population. Would such a critical mass tilt China towards America in the war on terrorism? It is possible, though the author also concedes that China could lurch back into rabid anti-Americanism, especially in a conflict over Taiwan.
As he began with missionaries from the outside, so Aikman does not neglect the current role of foreigners who teach English, do business, or even evangelize and educate house churches clandestinely (though certainly not without police cognizance).
Some think Aikman tends toward the optimistic, which is true, but he has reasons for his optimism, even if it needs tempering with inevitable realities to be found among Christians elsewhere, such as factions, division, abuse of authority, and neglect of family by many evangelists.
But whoever said Christians were sinless? Didn't Jesus die for sinners?
No book on Christians in China can be complete or perfect. Aikman could have said more, and does have his own preferences (as for the "charismatic" expression of Christianity, for example). But, all in all, he includes most of what we need to know, and leaves us with a thirst to know more.
"More" can be had in the books mentioned at the beginning of this review, as well as in others on sale, such as The Heavenly Man.
A first-rate book.
G. W. Doyle, Ph.D.
China Institute
Charlottesville, VA
74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A fair summary of the growth of Christianity in China. 1 Jan 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Jesus in Beijing" is a quick summary of the events, leaders, and movements behind the explosion in Christianity in China over the past few decades. Aikman breaks his book up into several sections devoted to topics such as the Chinese church patriarchs, the slightly less influential but still very important church "uncles," famous Chinese Christian women, the roots of Christianity in China, how Christianity is influencing different artists, musicians, and others contributing to present-day Chinese culture, and most controversially, the debate between the government-approved churches of the Three Self Patriotic Movement and the "underground" house churches.

While Aikman is clearly more favorable to the side of the house churches and their leaders, I do believe he was fair to Bishop Ding, the leader of the government's Three Self Patriotic Movement. While it can be argued that Ding has done much to advance Christian freedom in China, Ding also made statements in the past that go beyond simple respect for Chinese law... statements that were clearly pro-Communist. Ding also at times has professed a theology that is beyond liberal to a point that is simply not Christian. Ultimately, it is somewhat telling that Ding never spent a minute in prison while so many other Christians during Mao's reign, especially church leaders, were being brutally beaten and imprisoned for years at a time.

Aikman sides at the end of the book with Chinese Christians that are critical of far right American groups (including some Christians) that seem only to want to exploit Chinese government abuses (which are indefensible) in order to shut off US contact and trade with China. He supports the Christians who believe that China is making progress, even if it has a long way to go. He clearly believes with these Chinese Christian moderates that the worst thing the US could do would be to intentionally antagonize and isolate the Chinese government. So Aikman does understand that there is a reactionary element running in some Christian groups, both inside and outside of China, but he also realizes that there is something suspicious about Christians that are too comfortable with what is still a totalitarian, often repressive, Chinese government as well.

This book isn't the most exciting read as there are several typos, and Aikman's writing is fairly dry. But he has done his homework, he clearly cares about the people of China, both Christian and non-Christian, and he does a good job here of introducing the key players and laying out the background behind a fascinating movement occuring in a country that could very well dominate the 21st century, for good or bad, as much as America dominated the last century.
88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
A Great new look at Christianity in China 12 Dec 2003
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful new book on the Christian role in China is written by a former Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine. He begins by looking at the history of the Christian church in China, its roots in Protestant and Catholic missionaries. Throughout he reveals the stories and turning points of the growth of the Chinese church. This dynamic group of men and women stood against all odds to bring the word of Christ to the people of China. The author then explores the quick growth and sad repression of Christianity. In many ways he compares it to the relationship between the Christians and Rome. Although they were suppressed they finally came to dominate the Roman empire in less then 500 years. Missionaries have been China for 400. The author forecasts a massive exponential growth of Christianity, showing how once it becomes 10% of China its rise will be unstoppable. The final conclusion of the author is that China will become a key ally of the west against militant Islam and that the commitment China have to Christianity will help renew the faith in the west, where church attendance is down dramatically. A very interesting work. The author helps to remind us that John Birch, who gave his name to the right wing society, was actually a missionary in China before being murdered by the communists.
Seth J. Frantzman
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
House Churches in China 26 Feb 2004
By Candi K. Cann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Aikman's text is an excellent field ehtnography of Christianity in China, with a particular bias towards Chinese house churches and the growing evangelical movements in China. This text, however, does not give an unbiased view of Chinese Christianity (it tends at times to be somewhat disparaging of the Three Self Protestant Movement and Bishop Ding), nor does it answer the question about the global transformation of power (my guess is that this was an editorial choice of titles to maximize book sales). What Aikman DOES do, however, is provide a sweeping view of evangelical Christianity in China, giving us a birds' eye view of some of the challenges and problems of China's church today, while documenting major leaders of the autonomous house churches. I heartily reccomend this book for anyone desirous of learning more about evangelical Christianity in China today.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Jesus in Beijing 2 Mar 2007
By Brother Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jesus in Beijing is a well written account of the history of Christianity in China from 600 A.D. to the present. Most of the book deals with the 20th Century. In the early 1970's, after the oppression and persecution of Mao's Cultural Revolution some western observers wondered if Christianity still survived in China. As it turned out, the church was alive and well. In spite of persecution of varying intensity throughout the reign of the Communist Party in China, the church has grown from about three million to approximately seventy million people today. One of the most surprising things about this rapidly growing church is its response to the increasing affluence of freedom within China today. Instead of focusing on material pleasures and toys, much of the church is dreaming of evangelizing the predominately Muslim lands between China and Israel. They reason that the Chinese church already knows how to suffer poverty and persecution and feel that they are prepared to pay the price for spreading the Christian message in Muslim countries. The author's speculation about the impact of Christianity on China's geopolitical future are also very interesting. While the possibility of the emergence of China as a belligerent, adversarial superpower exists, the author feels that the influence of Christianity on China may lead to a future in which China and the United States may in fact become allies. An interesting, informative book. Highly recommended.
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