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China's House Churches: There's More to the Story
Chinese churches that register with the government are not necessarily less evangelical. They have millions of members and observe church life that we could emulate.


I read the piece on "barbaric" Christians and thought a few comments were in order.

The difficulty with writing that sets forth a case only for the house churches of China is that it becomes an argument which is difficult to disentangle from political interests that serve the United States. It creates the impression that anything connected to the Chinese government is tainted and compromised and probably not truly Christian.

What strikes me as curious is that we don't give it a thought that churches here register with the government …

The article virtually says as much. The Chinese government is an authoritarian government and so has a great deal of difficulty with any sort of group which appears not to place itself under the authority of the government. The Three Self Churches, or the churches of the China Christian Council, as they would call themselves, have chosen to register with the government and observe the rules that this implies. However, this does not mean they cease to be Evangelical, or that they do not teach the Scriptures forcefully and provide sound teaching to those who become believers. They have many churches throughout China, churches which in cases have thousands of members who attend and participate actively in the life of these churches.

The house churches tend to be more charismatic and in many cases more aggressive in evangelism, but the China Christian Council churches also have millions of members. I have visited these churches and observed church life that I wish we could emulate.

What strikes me as curious is that we don't give it a thought that churches here register with the government, we go through the hoops that are necessary to give charitable receipts, we don't think it's a compromise to respect zoning ordinances and other regulations of the state, yet when Chinese churches do it, they have denied the Gospel. We saw Bible schools and seminaries under construction in virtually all the cities we visited, and church buildings being returned to church groups with funding from civic authorities to restore them to use. While this is only part of the story, it is part of the story of the church in China. Amity Press, operated by the China Christian Council, has printed tens of millions of Bibles for distribution in the country. This to say that when you have accounts such as the one you carried, there is another side as well.

Harold Jantz was part of a church-related Canadian delegation that visited with the China Christian Council and Catholic church leaders in a number of major centres across China.

 

 
 
 
 

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