Most experts have agreed for many years that Christianity arrived in China in the seventh century with the Nestorian missionaries. We have covered much of it in our Chasing Revival series.
But what if this is not the earliest sign of Christianity in China? What if there is evidence that Christianity has been in China since the very beginning, with one of the Apostles of Jesus?
There is emerging evidence that might suggest just that!
Experts are asking the question about whether Christianity might have been in China, arriving with the Apostle known as ‘Doubting Thomas.’
It is said that the Chinese Emperor, Mingdi, around the year 65 AD had a disturbing dream and asked it to be interpreted. One of them told him that the dream foretold that there existed a god in the West who was known as the Man of Light or called “luminous.”
Not long after this dream, according to ancient writings found in India where the Apostle Thomas died, the Apostle Thomas arrived in Lianyungang at the mouth of the Yellow River in China. He had been going around the world preaching about the Light of the World.
Instantly, the brother of Emperor Mingdi, Prince Ying, was converted to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Chinese referred to it as the True Way or the Dao. A small monastery was established where the White Horse Temple stands today.
Amazingly, this story is reflected in ancient stone petroglyphs that seem to commemorate the arrival of Thomas and his companion Shofarlan. A frieze 80 feet-long with about 50 images has embedded in it an image of Mary with the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes and a figure with the sign of the Cross on his forehead.
Could this be true, or is this all just Christians mustering up fake folklore?
Well, we do know that there was extensive trade between China and Antioch during the days of the apostles. We also know that the trade route’s furthest outpost was Kaifeng on the Yellow River in Eastern China, which is home to an ancient Jewish community that BTJ supports to this day.
Oddly, this story is not new to the Chinese, but it has always been interpreted as Buddhism’s arrival in China. What if this Buddhist version is revisionist history to wipe away China’s Christian roots?