From peasant to pastor -- The rural-urban transformation of Protestant Christianity in Linyi, Shandong Province
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Through ethnographic fieldwork, the project examines the rise of Christian ‘house churches’ in Linyi, Shandong Province, China, in the context of China’s rapid urbanization and rural depopulation. The thesis explores how Christian religious organization has adapted to social and political change by adopting discourses and behavior more suitable to urban life.
The process which has been analyzed in the thesis is the transformation of local house church organization and their Christian beliefs and behavior as part of the rural-urban transition. As a result of rural depopulation and the loss of young church members, many preachers try to develop new urban churches in recognition of the urban lifestyles. The shift from village to town involves a shift in church leaders’ Christian behavior and beliefs. In town, they are attracted to the values of theological education and its emphasis on biblical truth. In the rural area, on the contrary, suffering, faith, healing and belief in miracles continue to be emphasized as key Christian virtues instead. Working for money is regarded in the rural area as loving worldly matters and as having no faith in and devotion to God.