Q : 
Why are the Western people more easier to accept Christianity while the Oriental people are not?
【 Question from 】 Hong Kong 香港

Fr. Francis : 

I think the difference is not in culture, but in time. When Christianity started in Europe, it was not initially widely accepted either. Many Christians were persecuted for no reason at all. And for centuries, it was rejected outside of the Roman Empire. However, over the centuries, Christian values became the core of the Western civilization, so much so that European languages and customs are completely inalienable from it. Even the atheists today could not help but use a thoroughly Christianized vocabulary to express the simplest ideas. To evangelize a Westerner today, therefore, there is a lot to appeal to their cultural and mode of thinking.

For the Far East, especially for China, however, Christianity has never taken deep roots. For instance, a simple word “person”, which is central in understanding the kind of God we have and the kind of relationship He wants to have with us, this word is untranslatable to Chinese. We use 「人」 to translate it, but God is not a man. Theology has to create a word, 「位格」 to express it, but who can understand that? It is the same with all the other ideas. We have much less to appeal to their culture and customs. And if we make one misstep, they quickly label us as foreign and unwelcome. That is to be expected. After all, that’s exactly what happened in Europe two thousand years ago.

But this is not an oriental problem. Look at the Philippines, Vietnam and Goa and Kerala. Christianity has taken deep roots in these places. Their cultures and languages have also been christianized. They don’t have the gap as we experience as Chinese.

But here we are talking about evangelizing cultures, which is not the same as evangelizing individuals. The longing for God in each person across time and space is the same. We all need love, the kind of love that can only be found in God. So to each person regardless of culture, we Christians have something to offer that they cannot refuse. We have God. We just need to rely on God’s providence and put in a lot of love, prayer and patience.