The communication that generated this email follows at the end of the response:
I’m sure it’s a credible source, but I’m not sure they are telling the entire story. There is a strong division between government sanctioned churches and house churches. House churches are under persecution, and they claim it’s because the house churches are the real Christians and government churches are controlled by government propaganda. That’s the side of the story told by Fox News. The other side of the story, told by government sanctioned churches, is also interesting, but I’ve never seen their side reported.
The government sanctioned Protestant church is called the “3-self church”, meaning it is self propagating, self supported, and self controlled. It doesn’t receive any money from the government or foreigners, and it is required to follow certain rules. These rules were established by members of the 3-self church and were submitted for approval to the Chinese government. One rule is that the pastor must have a degree in theology from an accredited seminary and must pass an ordination exam. House churches hate that rule because the majority of their pastors have no theological education, have crazy ideas, and many of them are women. That is not the case in the 3-self church. I have attended several 3-self churches, and they have a liturgy, they say the Lord’s Prayer, they confess the Apostles Creed, they preach a gospel sermon, and they administer sacraments. I have also been to several house churches, and some seem perfectly normal. But, some of them scream their prayers at the top of their lungs, as if God had a hearing problem. They have competitions to see who can pray the most fervently, and whose prayers have the highest success rate. It’s funny, because I have heard stories about Christians in China having to whisper their prayers and hymns because of intense persecution. You can hear those house church Christians screaming from half way across town, and they jam up traffic, take up all the local parking, and jam an entire mega-church into some little apartment like a packed elevator. When neighbors complain about the noise, they rejoice that they are sharing in the persecutions of their Lord and Savior.
Many house churches have doctrines that are more Buddhist than Christian. Instead of studying the Bible, they empty their minds through meditation and breathing techniques and find truth by listening to God speak directly to their spirits (not their souls or minds). They cast out demons, speak in tongues, roll around twitching on the ground, and cause all kinds of trouble to try to get arrested and persecuted for their faith. They disrupt 3-self churches by marching in with signs and shouting that anyone who attends a government sanctioned church is going to hell.
Years ago, someone showed me an article in Voice of the Martyrs, talking about a Chinese house church pastor who was facing execution for his faith. The article was encouraging Christians and churches in the US to pressure the US government to sanction China for human rights violations unless this pastor was released. So, I looked into the other side of the story and found out the pastor was facing execution because he was running a sex cult and had raped several young girls in his house church. Of course no one believed my side of the story, because I was just listening to government propaganda spread by the government sanctioned church, and not accepting such a reliable source as Voice of the Martyrs. But, can you imagine how Chinese feel when a criminal rapes young girls, and then these foreign Christians start screaming about human rights violations and demand the criminal be released?
So, here is the government sanctioned church’s side of the story, at least as I have recently heard it. Yes, Christians in China are having their crosses destroyed. However, they are not ripping little crucifix jewelry off of someone and smashing it on the ground. What is happening is that there is an area in Hubei with a high concentration of house churches, and these churches are having a competition on what church has the highest, biggest red cross in town. The local government has asked the churches to stop doing that because it’s an eye sore, but the house churches intentionally disregard the laws so they can claim they are being persecuted for their faith. So, the local government sent in the police to knock down any new crosses above a certain height. The house churches are screaming persecution, of course.
In other places in China, house churches are being closed. This is usually, but not always, because the house churches were built without a building permit right in the middle of where the government planned a railway or highway, or they fail building and fire codes or have zoning or parking violations. Then, when the church is closed and destroyed, they claim it’s persecution for their faith.
As far as I know, the 3-self church is not facing persecution. However, the house churches are stirring up so much rebellion that I wouldn’t be surprised if the 3-self church does face persecution sometime in the future. The Chinese government has been very patient and supportive of Protestant Christianity, in my opinion. The government actually prints Bibles and over 50 titles of theological works, such as commentaries by Luther and Calvin. But house churches have responded by printing or smuggling in their own Bibles and selling them on the black market, claiming that the government Bibles have been corrupted. The government regularly burns illegal Bibles and cult literature being distributed by house churches and seriously cracks down on cults. Again, this is seen as religious persecution and human rights violations.
My guess is that about 2% of the population here is Christian, but of that 2%, about 95% are total wackos with very bad and dangerous teachings. I can’t really blame them for it, because a lot of the rebellion of the house churches is stirred up by Christians from the US going into China to teach English, and then spreading their teachings in the house churches. The last time I was in Yunnan, I went to listen to one of these Christian English teachers preach at a house church. It was horrible theology and a distortion of Christianity, but not anything unusual that isn’t taught at a typical Pentecostal or Charismatic church in the US. Basically he was piling guilt on people for not listening to the voice of God in their head. He said that one time God spoke to him and told him to witness to some stranger on the street. He disobeyed the voice of God, and later that guy died. So now he has to bear the guilt of his disobedience forever, knowing that he was responsible for sending that guy to hell. So he encouraged everyone to always obey that voice in your head to avoid having to go through life with a heavy burden of guilt. I was so encouraged by his message that a voice suddenly popped in my head saying, “Tell that guy to go back to the US!” Then another voice said, “No, we don’t want him teaching that in the US either, so just tell him to shut up!” Unfortunately, I didn’t tell him to shut up, so I will have to bear that guilt forever, knowing that actually I am the cause of all the religious persecutions and problems in China, all because I didn’t obey that voice in my head.
Above letter in response to the below email from a credible source:
Christians in China are having their crosses destroyed, Bibles burned and their churches closed by government agents who are also forcing people to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to a report by Fox News. China has long worked to suppress Christianity, but experts and activists say the Chinese government is waging its most severe suppression since religious freedoms were granted by the Chinese constitution in 1982. The increased suppression coincides with President Xi Jinping’s recent consolidation of power that made him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, Fox reports. According to Chinese laws, religious believers are allowed to worship only in government-sanctioned congregations. But many millions of Christians belong to underground or house churches that ignore government regulations. Fox reports that China has about 38 million Protestants.
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