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The Mandate

Church News From China - Vol. 3 No. 2

By Editorial Staff
Published April 21, 2008

The Chinese government, which has outlawed fortunetellers in its continuing battle against superstition, has tried to stop mounting anxiety. Earlier this year, the People’s Daily published an article entitled, “An Eighth Leap Month Is Not Necessarily Linked to Natural Disasters.” (Los Angeles Times)

The official response has been a circular to all provinces saying that all Party members found to be part of religious organizations should be expelled from the Party, and that those who take part in “underground illegal organizations” (which in communist terminology includes unregistered house churches) should be both expelled from the Party and dismissed from their posts. (News Brief)

The security officer then shaved a cross on Hu’s head and stabbed his hands with the scissors. A photograph showing the marks on Hu’s head and hands was included with the letter. (NNI)

Earlier this year, the leader of an overseas Christian organization that works with the official church in China, claimed that the government’s aim in 1995 is to register all the housechurches operating in China. Although the likelihood of achieving this is extremely remote, it shows how seriously the government is taking the perceived threat from Christian believers. (Update)

Wu found that the main reasons for believing in Jesus were: (1) the witness of other Christians, (2) an instinctive feeling that God exists and that Christianity is best suited to them, (3) personal spiritual experience, (4) personal crises and searching for meaning in life, and (5) being healed by God.

The Christians whom Wu interviewed had a pessimistic view of modern Chinese society. They referred to the rise in crime, worship of money, and the collapse of moral standards. Some saw the need for strengthening the legal system, but most saw this as only an external constraint. They said there is a need for an internal arbiter – a conscience – to prevent crime, and that only the Christian faith could do this.

All the Christians interviewed agreed that Jesus had changed their lives. They no longer lied or hated other people. They now acknowledged their sins and repented of them.

One seminary graduate gave an interesting response to a question concerning original sin and its incompatibility with traditional Chinese views on the innate goodness of human nature. “Originally I thought I was a good person, wanting to help others,” he said. “So how could I be a sinner? Later I came to see that not knowing God was the greatest sin.”

Although all interviewees admitted that the Christian concept of sin clashed with traditional Chinese views on the subject, they all said they had come to a point of confessing their sin and seeing the pitiable state of those living in sin.

Many admitted that coming to faith was a long, painful process. It meant looking with new eyes on Chinese racial traditions dating back thousands of years and abandoning atheism, which had been inculcated for several decades.

Mr. Wu, who is presumably not a believer himself, said that the Christians greatly impressed him with their sincerity and friendliness, which he found in marked contrast with society at large. “When I was with them,” he wrote, “I experienced their inner purity, goodness, faith, and love. They sincerely believe Christianity can save China.”

Wu concluded by saying that Christianity was fulfilling an increasingly useful role in Chinese society, although it is the religion of a minority. “One more Christian, one less criminal,” he said, was a true saying. (China Insight)


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