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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bush betrays Chinese Christians: Is state-sponsored church a real "church" at all?

CNN is reporting that President Bush attended services at a government-sanctioned church in China today. Which is odd because Bush does not attend services at any church while he is home in America, but I digress from the point of this discussion...

There are two kinds of churches in communist China. There are the "approved" state-allowed churches, and the only real reason that the Chinese government has lately tolerated any Christian churches at all is that it wants to improve its image in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. There are three "movements" making up the state-run churches: the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the China Christian Council, and what passes as Catholicism in China. And guess what: all of them owe their first loyalty to the state, which has absolute control over the congregations. The government taps the pastors (it can even install priests in the Catholic churches without Vatican say-so), decides what will and what will not be preached, keeps everything pertaining to them on a tight leash. If you want to worship in a church in China without fear of reprisal, you have no choice but to enter the doors of a state-sponsored congregation.

And then there are the underground "house churches". Which from my perspective are the ONLY real Christian churches that exist in China. This is the true persecuted church in this world. Worshipping in a house church is an offense that can get you arrested, imprisoned, and sometimes even executed. Just a few days ago several Chinese "house Christians" were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for running an underground church and distributing illegal copies of the Bible.

The underground church in China is one of the most brutalized and hunted-down religious movements in world history. And yet the adversity is causing growth: the house churches are widely considered to be the most active and thriving churches in China, in spite of the threats facing it. Nonetheless, most Christians in China still face dire consequences if they are ever caught practicing their faith without license from the government.

By attending a state-run church, Bush has effectively thumbed his nose at those Christians who live by faith in God alone, instead of kow-towing to what other men would have them do. He even dared suggest that the state churches are smiled upon by God when he said at the service that "The spirit of the Lord is very strong inside your church."

Christians are supposed to be baptised in the name of God, and not in the name of any government. The moment they seek counsel from worldly authority as to how they are to approach God, they cease being of God and fall back under the spiritual jurisdiction of this carnal realm.

If President Bush wanted to act like a real leader - and especially a Christian leader - he would have rebuffed the state-sanctioned churches entirely. He would have readily understood that the church can not be an institution that acts with the approval of temporal government.But once again, the "leaders" of this country have shown a willingness to demonstrate that they seek to honor the god of this world, instead of honoring the God of Heaven. It is more important to Bush and too many other politicians that the Chinese government be placated for the vast market it controls, instead of made to answer for its harsh treatment of those who merely wish to serve and worship God as their consciences - and not their own politicians - would so lead them to do.

And some people wonder why it is that I am so disgusted with so many professing "Christians" in America.


Lee Shelton said...

I'm not surprised to see Bush praising state-run churches. We're very close to having them here in the U.S. (http://www.evervigilant.net/shelton/shelton092705.html)

Chris Knight said...

Maybe it's time for America's own Christians to begin an underground house church movement. Most of the churches in this land owe too much obeisance to the state as it is. If there was anything that demanded a divorce, it is those who seek Christ from those who desire power.

Anonymous said...

By going to a state run church Bush brought attention to the issue of religious freedom. He did it in a way where the leaders of China will still respect him and possibly listen to what he has to say. He stood outside of the church and said "God is love" among other words. Without going to that state-run church service he wouldn't have been able to say that. What he did was smart and brought alot of media attention to the issue.