Jesus Family

Jesus Family
Protestant sect
The Jesus Family (Yesu jiating) is a charismatic, communal indigenous Protestant sect that emerged during the Protestant revival of the early decades of the twentieth century, along with the Little Flock and the True Jesus Church. The Jesus Family (JF) was formally established in 1927 by Jing Dianying (1890–1953), who had been drawn to monastic Buddhism and a White Lotus sect before embracing a Pentecostal strain of Protestant Christianity. Jing was strongly influenced by the communal lifestyle of the early disciples described in the book of Acts, and moulded the Jesus Family on that model. The group practised charismatic Pentecostal rituals, emphasizing gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues and divine revelations in trance, and cohered around highly millenarian beliefs, upholding the imminent return of Christ. Attracting mostly poorly educated and socially marginalized converts, Jing formed members into small communities of up to a few hundred adherents. The groups practised a communal lifestyle, living and working together and holding property in common under the direction of a family ‘head’ (jiazhang). Communities also constructed rigid boundaries, requiring members to several relations with the families outside the group.
By the late 1940s, the JF had formed more than a hundred ‘families’ with about 10,000 members.
After 1949, leaders of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) initially extolled the Jesus Family as a paradigm of Christian Communism. JF leaders were also early signators of the Christian Manifesto (see patriotic covenants). Nevertheless, the group came under attack in 1952. Jing Dianying was arrested, and TSPM officials were dispatched to disband all JF communities. The JF has revived somewhat in the reform era, mostly in Shandong and Shaanxi provinces. The group remains formally banned, however, and is subject to government repression.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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