Guanxi and Gospel: Conversion to Seventh-day Adventism in Contemporary China

in Social Sciences and Missions
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This article studies the symbiotic relationship between social networks and Christian conversion among some Seventh-day Adventists in contemporary China. Drawing on the Chinese Adventist testimonies, I argue that the longstanding kinship, friendship, and discipleship networks (guanxi 關係) are fundamental to the Adventist conversion process. This extensive web of human relationships helps sustain potential converts’ interest in Christianity, nurture their understanding of Adventism, and reinforce their efforts to cultivate a distinctive Christian selfhood and identity in Adventist terms. These relationships also give meaning to the Adventist congregational practices such as Sabbath observance and healthy lifestyle, insofar as the converts rely on the relational resources of the family and church for support. In addition to the positive connection between social mobility and conversion, these stories reveal the challenge of downward social mobility when the converts are confronted with the tension between adhering to Adventist doctrinal practices and pursuing higher education in secular institutions. Lastly, this study addresses the function of Christian publication in the conversion process. Through the publication of their conversion testimonies, the converts seek to make Adventism easily accessible to ordinary people by showing the relation between Adventist theology and the daily lives of Christians.

Guanxi and Gospel: Conversion to Seventh-day Adventism in Contemporary China

in Social Sciences and Missions

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