What Christians can learn from China’s recent Church-State clash over Sanjiang Church’s demolition

In case you are not all too familiar with the subject of Sanjiang church, here is an event recapitulation from a recent New York Times report:

For nearly a year, the Sanjiang Church was the pride of this city’s growing Christian population. A landmark in the fast-developing northern suburbs, its 180-foot spire rose dramatically against a rocky promontory. Wenzhou, called “China’s Jerusalem” for the churches dotting the cityscape, was known for its relaxed ties between church and state, and local officials lauded the church as a model project.

Late last month, however, the government ordered it torn down, saying it violated zoning regulations. After fruitless negotiations and a failed effort by the congregation to occupy the church, on April 28 backhoes and bulldozers knocked down the walls and sent the spire toppling to the ground.

“People are stunned,” said one member of the congregation, who asked that she be identified only by her English name, Mabel, out of fear of government reprisals. “They have completely lost faith in the local religious authorities.”

This urban area of nine million in eastern China, nestled between rugged mountains and a jagged coastline, has moved to the center of a national battle with a Communist Party increasingly suspicious of Christianity and the Western values it represents. Since March, at least a dozen other churches across Zhejiang Province have been told to remove their crosses or have received demolition orders, a significant escalation in a party campaign to counter the influence of China’s fastest-growing religion. (read more)


Though diverse legal excuses and defense accounts were offered by the bureaucracy, an internal government document reviewed by The New York Times makes it clear the demolitions are part of a strategy to reduce Christianity’s public profile.

The Sanjiang Church, torn down in April, is now a pile of rubble on a hillside. Officials said it violated zoning laws, but a government document talked about reducing Christianity’s profile. (Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times)

So do Christian learn from Beijing’s unease over their rising influence in China? Let’s analyse the recent church-state developmental twist step-by-step:

1) President Xi praised Buddhism for its contributions to China and vows to take Confucianism seriously.

2) However, state-sanctioned Sanjiang ‘Three-Self’ Church was brutally torn down of its building of $5.5 million worth, allegedly for its ‘obtrusive’ cross symbol seen from nearby highway.

3) Other churches were also told to low-profile their Christian symbols to avoid a similar fate.


The apparent rationale, offered by Rev. Matthew Zhen at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing, is because “Buddhism and Daoism are embedded in Chinese traditional culture,”while « Islam, Christianity and Catholicism have a relatively short history in China. »

But we all know what « time » and « history » mean in this context. It means cultural integration and contextualization. 

A culturally integrated religion poses a smaller threat and is easier to harness for political gains when the government wishes to rule through culture.

However, borrowing Richard Niebuhr’s paradigm laid out in Christ and Culture (1951), it is obvious that only a « Christ of Culture » mode of Christianity would succumb to full cultural integration, while the « Christ above culture » and « Christ and culture in paradox » branches/elements of Christianity would be in no way compromise their essence.

This is not to say cross as a symbol per se is the quintessential to the Christian expression. On the other hand, Buddhism, Daoism, and folk religions have been so deeply culturally integrated so as to leave no capacity in drawing a critical distance from the Chinese culture and make themselves plastic to other cultures.

It is here that I see great pertinence in one of Dr. Alex Shaokai Tseng’s recent post, in which he warns the danger of a new form of idolatry perceived as discursive and pervasive among Chinese ministers. This idolatry is characterized by an eagerness to shoe-horn the gospel into all kinds of Chinese situations, as every attempt to renew the culture with the gospel (apparent ‘Christ transforming culture’) is indeed serving the cause of China instead of Christ.

Elsewhere, Tseng expressed his [ironic] cheerfulness to see the Chinese government brutally tore down the Sanjiang Three-Self Church, quoting reformed professor Richard Pratt’s saying, « consider it your glory if your seminary gets bombed by terrorists. »

Prima facie it may seem hard to swallow. So I have a few things to add. The old Chinese proverb from Mengzhi has this: « life springs from sorrow and calamity, death comes from ease and pleasure. (生於憂患,死於安樂) »

That suffering for the Lord, for justice, and for the things you did not really do wrong could serve as a ground for Christian joy is warranted by various biblical witnesses (Acts and 1 Peter in particular).

However, human weaknesses as expressed in Rev. Matthew Zhen and other ministers working locally should also be addressed with empathy and not blamed harshly. Zhen apparently sees that « insufficient integration » is the cause for this [avoidable] church-state clash, especially when Islam and Christianity have been seen as associated recently with separationist movements and historically with imperialist agendas, respectively. On account of this, no wonder many Chinese ministers would dive themselves into the enterprise of loosening the church-state tension with attempts to ‘hasten’ the contextualization process and to make « contributions » (tributes?) to the Chinese society, competing for constitutional/institutional favors against Buddhism and Daoism.

I am reluctant to say that this enterprise is wrongheaded, but our Chinese public theology endeavor must be more theologically ordered and nuanced, which should first remind us that, as Stanley Hauerwas said, « the distinction between church and state is the theologically primitive distinction, just to the extent that Christian theology must insist that we can only know the truth about who we are by attending to a story(Performing Faith, Brazos:2004, 16; emphasis mine).

This story is the church’s election and redemption in Christ, and a Christian public theology, with the belief that Christians’ responsibility extend beyond the church walls towards the public sphere, nonetheless cannot live up to this public (« creative ») call unless this theologically primitive distinction is maintained by a church faithfully undergirded in God’s elective (« redemptive ») call for her.

This boils down to three attitudes from us Chinese Christianity observers:

  1. We display indignation for the unjust and dishonest ruling communist party
  2. We show sympathy for the suffering and the human resort to ease them by the Chinese church leaders
  3. We express envy and hope for the purified faith and joy the suffering members of Christ shall be awarded in their unrelenting proclamation, « Christ is Lord! »



[文摘] Slavoj Zizek: How China Got Religion 談齊澤克〈中國如何掌握宗教〉

Referral Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/opinion/11zizek.html?_r=0

Zizek 2007年前的經典文章〈中國如何掌握宗教〉,與本人隔年寫的一篇學位小論文處理類似的主題。

zizek pixels


但Zizek 認為更根本的看,這是自由派與世俗主義在普世範圍贏得現代性一役(war on modernity)的明確指標,正如猶太-基督信仰在美國已大致被馴化為一種文娛文動、高等教育把宗教當一種人文學科來教──這表示社會已經不再尊重宗教的終極性。

All human sciences are turning into a branch of cultural studies; our societal elite follow (some of the) religious rituals and mores of our tradition only out of respect: Christmas trees in shopping centers every December; neighborhood Easter egg hunts; Passover dinners celebrated by nonbelieving Jews.

The significant issue for the West here is not Buddhas and lamas, but what we mean when we refer to “culture.”— the name for all those things we practice without really taking seriously.


Today, we seem to see the ultimate threat to culture as coming from those who live immediately in their culture, who lack the proper distance.

Perhaps we find China’s ‘management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism’ (basically prohibits Buddhist monks from returning from the dead without government permission) so outrageous NOT because they are alien to our sensibility, but because they spill the secret of what we have done for so long: respectfully tolerating what we don’t take quite seriously, and trying to contain its political consequences through the law. »


參見這段 Zizek 論神學的錄音,看來果真如此。

Zizek 表示:我拒絕 Feuerbach 那種把基督宗教當成人類高等自我投射的人學理解。Man is not enough and man has to be de-centered.



一、        不妥協、無益於社會:對社會共善無益、或含有盲目與暴力成分的基要主義信仰。

二、        可妥協、無益於社會:容易被政治利用而形成暴力、宰制、或叛亂根源的宗教信仰。

三、        不妥協、有益於社會:超然於政治、為社會帶來批判視角和獨特人才孕育系統的宗教信仰

四、        可妥協、有益於社會:以文化的形式成為社會共同精神資產的宗教信仰






[文摘] China’s ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment: How Beijing got religion

Maps of Zhejiang Province of China


Source Link: China’sCome to Jesus’ Moment – By Eric Fish

This article gives us an important insight that the what provides the leverage against China’s religious oppression and communist ideology is neither the usefulness of its knowledge (theology) nor its organizational power (evangelical constituents), but rather the « lived-out morality of Christian individual workforce, » namely a Protestant work ethic needed to undergird and stabilize China’s outrageous economics of state capitalism.


[I]n Nanjing, the government has funded the construction of an officially sanctioned 5,000-person Protestant church, one of China’s largest. And the U.S.-based Christian group International Cooperating Ministries reportsto have assisted in building 292 churches across China in recent years — with the government’s blessing. While this is partly in hopes of drawing followers away from underground churches, it might also be with the understanding that Christianity could be good for China’s economic development.

« Christianity is seen as useful from the official point of view because it’s not just about acting morally as an individual and being a good citizen. It’s about the work ethic, » argues Wielander, adding that there seems to be an attraction to the argument that Protestantism curbed excesses like greed and corruption in the market economy of the West during the early stages of capitalist development.

In the business hub of Wenzhou, which has a 20 to 30 percent Christian population, the government has begun to study the success of Christian-owned enterprises.

« Conservative Christian morality has, perhaps indirectly, contributed to Wenzhou’s success by helping maintain family stability and, thus, the stability of their family businesses in the context of perceived moral decadence, » says Nanlai Cao, author of Constructing China’s Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou. « After all, the family is the basic unit of petty capitalist production for Wenzhou people. » One Christian factory manager in Wenzhou in 2010 told the BBC that he prefers to hire Christian workers. « When they do things wrong, they feel guilty — that’s the difference, » he said.


Beneath the article, MIKEM’s pithy comment caught my eye and made me grin:


I certainly don’t want to discourage China from ceasing their oppression of religious people, or from facilitating the growth of Christianity (as long as its done justly and without coercion), but it seems like they’re reasons for doing these things are flawed.

The Chinese have shunned religion because it’s supposedly « the opiate of the masses. » Now they want to embrace it because they think that their people could use an opiate. They seem less interested in ending state oppression and more hopeful that Christianity will « dull the pain of oppression, » as Marx said it does.


Statue of Five Horses in Wenzhou, China
Image via Wikipedia



My take on this issue is that eventually (eschatologically) China will need both the knowledge and the organizational power of Christianity to nurture its work ethic, in spite that right now it is prevalent in Chinese minds that they can divorce Christian theology (ontology) and Christian community (ecclesiology)  from Christian morality (ethics).

If you cannot keep with me here yet, then just focus on the article.



[省思] 曼德:家庭教會:中國的清教徒運動

研讨会发言:中国家庭教会当前宗教政策的分析 from 曼德讲道集 on Vimeo.

1949年中國共產黨取得中國大陸政權後,使馬克思主義意識形態成為本質上的國家宗教(state church),而對基督教和其他宗教,使其成為了國家宗教的附屬宗教。當局扶持的三自教會(所謂的自治、自養、自傳的基督教會),本質上是國教的附屬宗 教。以吳耀宗、丁光訓為首的新派神學家在神學理念上完全認同共產主義意識形態,他們強調「因愛稱義」、「耶穌無神性」、「人無罪性」,人可以建立地上天國 —共產主義社會,他們只不過用基督教的名詞來闡述共產主義理念而已。在形式上,三自教會的牧者們全部受到官方培訓、官方控制。可見,三自教會實質上就是國 家宗教,這與清教徒時代英國國教聖公會有極大的相似性… (full article Part 1  and Part 2)

中國基督徒作家曼德在本文中認為,「目前中國家庭教會的政教關係,並不類似於受羅馬政權和猶太人雙重逼迫的初代教會時期,也不類似於宗教改革時期德國、法國、北歐基督新教受天主教逼迫時期。」原因是當前中國政府對家庭教會的管控與逼迫,不再像文革時期,是「有計劃、全面的 行動,存心要把基督教從帝國中連根鏟除」


他認為,「唯一與中國家庭教會目前處境比較類似的是在英國的清教徒。」這表現在 1) 清教徒對英國國教的分離,以及 2) 政權對清教徒運動不同歷史時期不同的逼迫程度。

清教徒運動是宗教改革運動在英國的繼續。1534年亨利八世宣布脫離羅馬天主 教,設立英國國教會(Church of English),也就是英國聖公會。曼德認為這與中國的三自教會非常相似,因為「三自教會也是國教,是馬克思主義這個國教的附屬物,國家元首是三自教會最高領袖。」

同時,1558年,伊莉莎白執政時,許多逃難到國外、日內瓦,推崇加爾文主義的信徒,希 望把教會中「天主教的舊酵old leaven of Catholicism」除淨,這批人就叫清教徒(Puritans)。

A fair Puritan
A Fair Puritan




家庭教會盡管自己絕無政治化的傾向,但在實質上卻為中國的民 主化起到了巨大的促進作用。歷史的吊詭讓他們不得不擔負某種政治方面的文化使命。


家庭教會信徒,也要有這樣的異像和策略,要把實現中國信仰自由、政教分離作為目標。廣傳福音,影響社會高層、影響有能力進行決策的人物。甚至 也要使三自教會中的高層,能夠同情和支持家庭教會。家庭教會要像清教徒一樣懂得抗爭,這次守望教會的持久堅韌抗爭,就是一個很好的範例。不懼王權主動抗爭、不怕流血犧牲,是清教徒的特征,這也正是中國家庭教會所要學習的。



他在最後引在中國人民大學教授、北京守望教會孫毅《北京守望孫毅長老對城市家庭教會發展之思考》說,傳統家庭教會的神學體系,從19世紀的敬虔派轉入改革宗神學和清教思想,變得 1) 更為強調對經文解釋的嚴格客觀性和絕對性、2) 教會治理方面,強調教會的組織與建制;3) 重視教會對文化使命和社群關係的建造。而這些是「可喜的轉變」。



I. 現象面
  • 清教徒真正的勝利並非在英國本土,而是在北美新大陸。事實上至今福音派在英國仍然是少數族群,主流是高派和自由派。在宗教改革的歐洲諸國中,英國的政教分離是做得最差的,從 Canterbury 大主教、西敏主教座堂到政府對宗教學校的補助,都為世俗人士所詬病。這部份不見於曼德的文章,卻仍亟待分析比較。
  • 被稱為清教徒革命的英國內戰成功,查理二世和詹姆士二世在十七世紀下半葉的復闢是重要導火線。此二人斯圖亞特王室成員的天主教背景和作為,無法為英格蘭新教徒所接受。當議會派和保皇派的戰爭衝突已久、宗教議題上升成為政治甚至軍事議題,查理二世和詹姆士二世復闢足以驅使國會中的清教徒和國教徒聯合採取政治上的抵制行動。尤其當年作為天主教徒的血腥瑪麗對宗教改革人士的恐怖鎮壓歷歷在目,人民容易同情新教徒對抗王室的聯合行動,並將天主教的剩餘影響肅清。中國的三自教會和家庭教會不具備這樣合作的條件,一個兩者需要共同攜手面對的宗教和政治霸權並不存在,使得教會涉政的舉動也將名不正言不順。
  • 中國基督教問題不是社會主流議題。中國現今只有 5-7%的基督徒人口,不像當初英國神學可以透過英格蘭國教的體系涉入政治與公領域。雖然需要神學是肯定的,但做政治神學(或其他建構神學)的思想難度會大得多。曼德樂觀地說,現在中國家庭教會也重視自身社會文化責任,但那完全只是剛開始萌芽的意識。我們需要看到這部分具體還差得多遠,以及其與其他自由國家教會間的鴻溝。
II. 異象面
  • 當代基督教在中國的發展將成為公民政治和民主化的基石,這個局勢在未來將會益發明朗。家庭教會在其中會扮演關鍵性的角色。問題在於時機和進程:現下家庭教會的當務之急仍然是應先深耕神學和靈命,而像守望一般浮上台面作塔台般的先知工作,雖也是教會身份的一部份,然而時機是否成熟?資源是否足夠?聖靈的聲音是什麼?
正如官方在《環球時報》針對北京守望教會謀求公開整體敬拜的戶外敬拜發 布的評論《個別教會要避免讓自己政治化》文中指出的:「成立任何大型組織,在中國一直是受到認真對待的事情。幾十年來中國社會形成了這方面的審慎習慣,政 府的相應管理一直比較嚴格。這方面是否需要有所松動,是全社會的政治大事。教會不應當在這個敏感問題上,充當推動變化的激進力量。否則教會就不是在搞宗 教,而成為搞政治,這是教會的大忌」。當局真正擔心的是家庭教會在衝擊結社自由的限制,是推動結社自由的激進力量。因此,我們從反面也可看到,家庭教會在單單實施自己的敬拜信仰自由時,無意地為中國公民的結社自由、集會自由做出了貢獻。盡管這不是家庭教會的本意。




  • 清教徒精神 vs. 清教徒神學:中國信徒需要的是改教精神,未必得限於改革宗神學。這意味至少還得包含路德會、重洗派、衛理神學,甚至接觸天主教、東正教。如同清末的革命志士推動中華民國的民主,需要各方負笈海外、引入新思潮的學人,我們不能自我窄化,不能忽視保守神學在19-20世紀遇到的困難,以及21世紀以來的發展。這些都需要人才和土壤(現在的中國大陸不能提供)。
  • 進入議會(或「人大常委」)這部份的挑戰,需要更多著墨。當年的清教徒有圓顱黨Roundhead)以清新的形像進入公家要職議事。家庭教會如何串連三自內有志之士,並送新一代的人進入國家決策核心?現在講「白色殉道」,都是講小市民神學。無一已經建立的教牧神學可以有效地觸及公權力的範疇。當注意符合改教精神、適合中國處境的神學是需要被消化與建造的。曼德在多數說加爾文神學、清教徒神學才是能擊碎人本主義的救國之道,然而它一堆充滿獨斷性 的宣稱也陷入巨大的認識論困境之中遲遲無法脫身。更別說它政治神學常墮入政教不分的「改造派」(Reconstructionism)思想,在對「權 力」的理解上需要後現代思想的制衡!
  •  戰爭與反政府的語言必須避免。曼德的類比多番強調清教徒勇於「組黨」、「發動戰爭」、「對抗王權不懼流血」,在守望仍然有待突破當前關卡的困境下,只怕火上加油,害了中國家庭教會。曼德應當避諱這些具有鬥性、挑動敏感神經的語言。個人認為,以捨己和愛的見證為主軸,贏取國內和國際社會的正面觀感,才是家庭教會與中國社稷發展的正途。並且要有長遠的異象、普及的神學教育,來為中國的民主化和社會風氣的重建做更好的鋪墊。
  • 加爾文神學難以推上政治前線,因為語言不夠豐富-都在神主權、人墮落無能這個路線上打轉。在我看來,耶穌並不是一位加爾文主義者。保羅神學思想也還有待比改革宗教義更豐富的理解(例如,路德認為保羅神學的核心是「因信稱義」, N.T. Wright 則縱述舊約和歷史地說「與基督連結」是保羅更基要的主旨)!我認為家庭教會需要 1) 充實向外部社會參與及改造的見證、2) 深化自身對聖經的理解和應用。 3) 持續在地方堂會的牧養和建造上實踐重視人性尊嚴、民主、平權的基礎價值,成為一個模範性公民社群。這也是我一直放在心中的禱告。


Gaddafi 未經審訊便遭武裝反抗軍虐殺,許多人憂心是社會公義的倒退國際社會秩序的危機。一如Bin Laden的死一般。
然而問題已經不在於回歸Luther的兩國論,因為即使最嚴密的世俗司法裁決都無法代替上帝自己的裁決。同時我們必須避免盲目將上帝理解為一個性格空泛、獨行其事的至高者。後自由神學(Barth, Hauerwas, McCormack, Gunton, Ford, and so on)說上帝之所以是絕對自由,不在於祂可以「選擇」做「任何」事-任意妄為的自由意志是啟蒙自由主義下的自由-;乃應在於唯有上帝可以完全做祂自己、忠於自己。
「人雖然失信,上帝仍是可信的,因為祂不能背乎自己。」(提後二:13)這是在社會關係中被異化、陷入存在性焦慮中、本質必須被行動所充填(per Sartre)的人類所沒有的自由。

Book Reviews: Jesus in Beijing

Aikman, David. Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing, 2003. 418 pages

0895261286 9781596980259

I. Thesis Statement

China is emerging as the world’s leading economic and military power, and many wondered what kind of world power China will be.

A work of veteran reporter David Aikman, former Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine, Jesus in Beijing takes the journalist’s investigative skills into the center of Chinese rural house churches to determine how Christianity would shape the face China is gradually unfolding to the rest of the world. Bracketed with early history and future prospects of Chinese Christianity, the book’s central thesis of Aikman’s observation can be rightly summarized into one sentence that the Christian transformation China is now experiencing, « was and is a native Chinese phenomenon » (266)—a phenomenon will bring a global implication of which none is allowed to be ignorant.

II. Chapter Summary

The first part of the book, consisting of chapter 2 to 3, is basically a brief sketch of the history of Chinese Christianity, ranging from the seventh century Nestorian mission, subsequent missions by the Franciscans and the Jesuits, and latter introduction of Evangelicalism that came hand in hand with Western colonial expansion, to the indigenous ‘patriarchs’ of twentieth century Protestant church leaders, such as Wang Mingdao (王明道), Allen Yuan (袁相忱), Samuel Lamb (林獻羔), Moses Hsieh (謝模善), and Li Tienen (李天恩).

The fascinating second part comprises chapter 4 to chapter 6. Aikman turns specifically into three of the five most representative house church networks (FangCheng [方城], TangHe [唐河] aka China Evangelical Fellowship [中華福音團契], World of Life [重生派], all three are in Henan [河南]province. The other 2 networks in Anhui [安徽]province did not receive fair coverage) with biographical sketches of their key leaders. Persecution, miraculous healing, and amazing conversion testimonies along with the explosive numerical growth of these churches all are so reminiscent of the first century apostolic church. The Holy Spirit has never stopped working in history.

Chapter 7 and 8 are dedicated to the development of TSPM, which is the ‘State church’ instituted by the ruling communist party. The founding fathers of Three Self theology, Wu Yaozong (吳耀宗) and Bishop Ding Guangxun (丁光訓), have also been addressed at length. Chapter 9 features Wenzhou’s (溫州) house church, which is essentially a different structural type from that of Henan’s (河南) network. Other ‘peripheral movements’, such as the ‘Back to Jerusalem’ movement, Chinese Catholic Church, cultic religions of Falungoon (法輪功) and Eastern Lightening (東方閃電), miscellaneous individual professionals making contextualizing efforts , and foreigners doing clandestine mission work as tent-makers are treated respectively through chapter 10 to 14. Here it is not difficult for one to detect that Aikman has a better grasp of foreigners’ missionary activity than that of indigenous movements— the latter has for some reasons been confined to second-hand source/hearsays and within the limited range of his contacts.

The author’s conclusion in chapter 15 takes into consideration the trends of China’s surging economy and the changing political structure in recent decades. He is very positive about the Christian influence over the nation’s overarching political ideology and social ethics. It seems to him that the « benevolent global imperial role » that U.S. has been playing since WWII will be jointly performed by the Christianized China, and both will shares the responsibility in maintaining world justice by acting « wisely, justly, and generously in the international arena » (286).

III. Personal Response

Personally speaking, after reading the depressing story of recent political turmoil documented by Howard French in the West and Central Africa, sharing the hope and promising prospects of Christianity in China has been indeed full of enjoyment. I would wholeheartedly applaud Aikman’s conclusion about the significant implication a ‘Christianized China’ would have on the global scale. However, there are serious flaws in the author’s reasoning steps that he unduly jumps from the socio-political implication of house church growth to the ramification of a Chinese Christendom. First, there is a serious lack of theological education among current and prospective house church leaders. As long as they remain unregistered there would be no way of forming a overarching theological framework (of politics, culture, and religion) that a possible formal dialogue with the power that be would require. Jonathan Chao (趙天恩) used to be among the very few qualified spokespersons for house churches, but he failed to act in a low-profile as an oversea Chinese and in consequence lost his credit to the Chinese government.

Second, there is a competing relationship between house churches and TSPM, not just because of doctrinal differences and House churches’ ‘stealing’ of TSPM’s sheep. That TSPM tends to demonize house churches and still present an obstacle to both the authority’s acceptance of house churches and the ecumenical prospect of harmony among all those under the big umbrella of ‘Christianity’.

Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as well as his predecessor Jiang Zemin (江澤民) , has so far deemed to be the most benevolent communist ruler toward house churches, but until recently there is still no one except Yu Jianrong (于建嶸) who is committed in the systematic work of providing unbiased account of house churches before the government’s hearing (which is a key for steering, if any, a substantial policy change).

Thirdly, the book tends to flatten the internal diversity among house churches, as there are ‘registered’ house churches, emerging urban churches, ethnic minority churches, to list a few, as well as many ‘small flocks’ that are not represented by the ‘centralized type’ of regional church networks (FangCheng [方城], TangHe [唐河], etc). Some of them depend heavily on foreign resources (which brings discredit on their ‘purity’ as perceived by the government), and some of them are the potential hotbed of heretic cults. Some sort of Chinese equivalent of the ‘Nicene Creed’ should be expected if one really wishes to go so far as to envision a Chinese Christendom.

Lastly, once China has been Christianized (or when full freedom of belief can be obtained), it is dubious if there will remain as strong a religious fervor as it is now in Chinese churches. The answer to this that history gives is « NO »; nor does it favors the idea that the Christendom is the peacemaker. These are all challenging issues that the Chinese Church, though seemingly full of hope now, needs to grapple with in the days to come.

daspeaker www.davidaikman.com


Additional side-notes:

1. The crucial factors that trigger the explosive growth of house church are the miraculous healing and undiluted gospel that come along with persecution from the government office. These fundamentals cannot be legalized and preserved in TSPM. It is not scientific, though. But if the communist cannot give up the idea of controlling religions through scientific criterion, it inevitably reduces theological truth to philosophy/science of religion. Then there can be no divine transcendence in religions.

2. 其實這本書的執筆角度,可以說完全以中國大陸的家庭教會發展為主。然而這個主題卻沒有系統地連貫起來。