The only major unreached people block less defined by religion than by political boundary is the Chinese peoples. What makes it difficult to adequately characterize this block is that the Chinese government and, to some extent, the people of China have pursued the idea of the “Great Tradition”-that the Chinese are one people, sharing culture, communication, and ways of conducting affairs. In the light of this view, the Chinese government recognizes one majority people, the Han, and only 55 minority peoples within the borders of the People’s Republic of China.

In spite of the diversity, some generalizations may be made about Chinese block of unreached peoples. For example, this block reflects two influences, ancient Confucianism and modern communism.

Confucius (551-479 B.C.) emphasized the order necessary to society. His teachings urged the Chinese to value social relationships, to live properly in courtesy and common respect, and to admire self-denial as the key means of benefitting all. Confucianism teaches that humans are basically good, although a person’s goodness can be weakened and distorted by greed, selfish ambition, or corrupt leadership.

The fact that communism eased into Chinese society on the coat-tails of Confucianism is no surprise. Although hundreds of millions of Chinese don’t really think of themselves as communists, their cultural thought patterns do reflect the communist ideals of (1) submission of the individual to the good of the whole, (2) the evils of a society based on economic classes, and (3) the eventual workers’ paradise.

Chinese communistic/Confucianistic thought holds that:

Humankind determines its own destiny. Religion is a dangerous fantasy - “the opiate of the people.” Rational thinking - science - leads to truth.

With this mind-set, many of the people groups of China reject Christianity. That rejection is especially acrid when merged with the anger that many Chinese still feel at the historic blunders of “Christian” countries that meddled in China’s affairs.

Classifying more than a billion Chinese citizens is anything but simple. And yet these basic characteristics help explain that, while in the midst of the greatest church growth on earth, scores of Chinese people groups comprising hundreds of millions of individuals are still very much unreached.

For more indepth information, download the China Religious Profile

Photo: Guilin Skyline Panorama, by Cliff Hellis