The only Asian nation where Christianity is the official religion is the Philippines. This is most likely the outcome of the more than 300-year Spanish Catholic rule in The Philippines. For the majority of Filipino Americans, religion continues to be extremely important. Majority of Christians in the Philippines, make up 92.5% of the population, in Asia. A staggering amount when compared to Christians in some part of Europe or the United States.
On Open Doors’ annual list of the 50 countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian, the two Asian countries rose. India made its debut in the top 10 of the World Watch List as a growing danger from Hindu nationalism stoked anti-Christian sentiments. China, meanwhile, rose from No. 43 to No. 27 on the list as the Communist government keeps dismantling significant churches and imprisoning Christian leaders.
According to research, 1 in 3 Asian Christians currently face severe persecution for their faith.
St. John the Arab, a Nestorian church in the Assyrian settlement of Geramon, was built in the sixth century.
Beginning in the first century AD, Christianity expanded over the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean). The city of Antioch, which was once the seat of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire and is now in what is modern Turkey, became one of the most important centers of Christianity. According to the legend upon which the Antiochene patriarchate currently bases its claim to primacy, Peter the Apostle may have evangelized Antioch, but Barnabas and Paul were undoubtedly responsible. The term “Christian” was initially applied to its converts. They grew quickly, and Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople, estimated their population at roughly 100,000 by the time of Theodosius. Antioch, along with Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome, became the location of one of the original five patriarchates between 252 and 300. During this time, the church convened ten assemblies there.
It is thought that Saint Nino (290–338) is responsible for making Christianity the official religion of Georgia.
In 301 and 326, respectively, Armenia and Georgia were the first countries to formally recognize Christianity as their official religion.
Between 40 and 60 AD, two of Jesus’ twelve apostles—Thaddaeus and Bartholomew—preached Christianity in Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church is regarded as the world’s oldest national church as a result of its two founding apostles. The apostles Simon and Andrew were the first to preach Christianity in Georgia during the first century. In 326, it was declared the official religion of Kartli, Iberia, the location of Georgia’s capital. Saint Nino of Cappadocia is credited with converting Georgia to Christianity (290–338).
Empire of Parthians
Under the Parthian Empire, which exhibited a high level of religious tolerance, Christianity advanced eastward. It is said that Saint Thomas the Apostle was assigned the task of evangelizing Christians to Central Asia in the first century AD, beginning in Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau. The introduction of Christianity to India is another accomplishment attributed to Saint Thomas. The First Council of Nicaea was attended by Mesopotamian and Iranian Christians, who were grouped under a number of bishops.
Top Christian Countries in Asia Includes:
- South Korea
The Image below shows the Christian population in selected Asian countries in 2010.
Growth in Central Asia
The widespread use of Greek in the area (Seleucid Empire, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Indo-Greek Kingdom), as well as Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, appears to have aided the development of Christianity in Central Asia. The expansion of Jews in Asia following their expulsion from Babylon and Titus’ conquest of Jerusalem also appears to have played a role.
A text by Bar Daisan from around 196 AD has the earliest recorded mention of Christian communities in Central Asia: “Nor do our sisters among the Gilanians and Bactrians have any interaction with foreigners.”
Up until the persecution of Christians by the Zoroastrian priest Kartir under Bahram II (276–93 AD), the Sasanians also showed some tolerance for the Christian faith. Further persecutions appear to have occurred during the reigns of Shapur II (310–379) and Yazdegerd II (438–457), with the events of 338 doing great harm to the faith.
Chinese Early Christians
Christianity may have been in China earlier, but the Tang Dynasty is when it was first officially introduced. It is known that a Christian mission led by the priest Alopen, who has been variously identified as Persian, Syriac, or Nestorian, came in 635. There, he and his followers were granted an Imperial Edict authorizing for the founding of a church. The Luminous Religion of the Romans, or Dàqn Jngjiào (), was the name of the religion in China. Rome and the Near East are referred to as “Dàqn,” despite the Latin Christians’ opinion of Nestorian Christianity being heretical from a Western perspective.
The Buddhists and Daoists both opposed the Christians in 698 and 699, but Christianity persisted. In 713, a stone stele known as the Nestorian Stele was built in Chang-an, the Tang capital, which recorded 150 years of Emperor-supported Christian history in China. The stele’s text mentions thriving Christian communities throughout China, but except from this and a few other scant records, little little is known about their history. Other emperors in subsequent times were less tolerant of different religions.
In Conclusion, Philippines has the highest percentage of Christians (91%), with South Korea coming in second place with 30%. Small nations with Christian populations include Armenia, Georgia, Cyprus, and East Timor.