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ERIC Number: ED581899
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 343
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-0-3555-0007-3
Factors Impacting Openness to Christianity among Chinese Graduate Students Who Attended a Christian University in the United States
Chamberlain, Michael A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Biola University
More than 300,000 Chinese students attend U.S. universities annually (USDHS, 2017), many of whom reportedly "Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus" (H. Zhang, 2016). However, research on this phenomenon of worldview change is thin, especially experiences of atheist or nonreligious Chinese graduate students attending Christian institutions. This grounded theory study investigated the central research question "What factors impact Chinese graduate students' openness to Christianity while attending a Christian university in the United States?" Supporting research questions included how curriculum and personal relationships affected Chinese students' openness to Christianity while attending a Christian university. Twenty-five Chinese graduate students from various majors were interviewed and shared their experiences at a Council for Christian Colleges and Universities member institution. Twenty participants entered the university identifying as nonreligious or atheist; three entered the university identifying as Christian members of the official or unofficial churches in China. One participant reported limited involvement in Christianity in China; another reported significant involvement in Daoism. The central understanding that emerged in this study is that Chinese graduate students who attended a Christian university experienced increased openness to Christianity, an experience characterized by competing factors---factors increasing openness to Christianity and factors decreasing openness to Christianity. Factors of openness in Theoretical-Curricular, Relational-Cultural, and Supernatural Dimensions outweighed inhibiting factors. Factors of openness included (a) Worldview Courses Analyzing Arguments For/Against God's Existence, studying atheist Richard Dawkins (2008) alongside Christian apologists J. P. Moreland (2007) and W. L. Craig (2010); (b) Faith Integration Requirements; (c) Intellectual Freedom; (d) The Bible; (e) Faculty and Classmates' Influence; (f) Church Relationships; (g) Family Support; (h) American Culture; (i) Direct Experience With the Supernatural; and (j) Experimental Prayer. Additionally, participants shared 10 factors inhibiting openness to Christianity, including Naturalist Indoctrination, Communist Party Membership, and Pushy Chinese Churches. This research gives voice to a large but under-studied demographic on U.S. university campuses--Chinese graduate learners. This study also supplements the lack of research on perceptions of Christianity in China, offering candid reflections from Chinese graduate students on topics seldom shared openly in China. Sinologists, university administrators, and Christian apologists will find the study fruitful theoretically and practically. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States; China