- We love the Lord, the Chinese people, and the state; we support the unity of the nation and the unity of the peoples.
- We support the constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the leaders and the government of the people that God established.
- Even though we are often misunderstood and persecuted by the government, we do not respond with a reactionary attitude, nor have we taken any reactionary action.
- We have never betrayed the interest of the Chinese people. We only do what is beneficial for the people.
II. Our Attitude towards the Religious Policy of the Government: Why do we not register?
- Because the state ordinances on religion and the regulations for registration are contrary to the principles of the Bible, such as the “three-designates” policy:
- Designated location: churches may only conduct religious activities in registered places; otherwise such activities are considered illegal religious activities. But the Bible tells us that we can meet anywhere. As long as we meet in the name of the Lord, he will be with us.
- Designated personnel: only those who have been issued preaching licenses by the Religious Affairs Bureau are allowed to preach. But according to the teachings of the Bible, as long as preachers are called by the Lord and recognized and sent by the church, they may preach.
- Designated sphere: preachers may only preach within their assigned district; they may not preach in other villages or provinces. But the Bible teaches us to preach the Gospel to all the people and to the ends of the earth, and to establish churches.
- Because the state policy does not allow us to preach the Gospel to those under 18, or to lead them to Christ and be baptized. But Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me and forbid them not.” Therefore, those under 18 should also have the opportunity to hear and to believe in the Gospel.
- Because the state policy does not permit believers to pray for the sick, to seek their miraculous healing, or to exorcise demons out of them.
- Because the state policy does not allow us to receive fellow believers from afar, but the Bible teaches us that elders should receive brothers and sisters from afar.
- Because the state policy does not allow us to have communication with churches overseas, but the Bible teaches us that the church is universal and that there is no division between Jews or Gentiles, and hence no division between Chinese and foreigners. Christ has redeemed his people from all nations with his blood. The believers [from all nations] are to love each other and to have communion with each other.
III. Why We Do Not Join the Three-self Patriotic Movement.
Chinese House Churches do not join the TSPM for the following reasons:
- The head of the two is different:
- Three-self churches accept the state as their governing authority: their organization and administration are governed by the government’s religious policy.
- House churches take Christ as their head, and they organize and govern their churches according to the teachings of Scripture.
- The methods of establishing church workers are different:
- The Religious Affairs Bureau must first approve religious workers in the TSPM churches before assuming office.
- Leaders in the house churches set apart their own workers. Those workers who are spiritually anointed, trained in the truth, possess spiritual gifts, approved by the church, and have spiritually qualified character are ordained to the ministry of the gospel.
- The foundation of the two is different:
- The Three-self churches are products of the Three-self reform movement which was founded by the government. These reforms were started by Wu Yao-tsung who propounded a liberal social gospel type of theology. Some of the founders of the TSPM were not even Christians.
- House churches take the Bible as the foundation of their faith. They developed from the traditions of the fundamentalists and evangelicals.
- The path of the two is different:
- The Three-self churches unite politics with the church. They follow the religious policies of the state and they engage in political activities.
- House churches believe in the separation of the church from the state. They will obey the state when such obedience is in accordance with the Scriptures. When the two are in conflict with each other, they will “obey God rather than man.” For such obedience [to God] they are willing to pay the necessary price [of suffering under the state policies], which is known as “walking the pathway of the cross.”
- The mission of the two is different:
- The Three-self churches can preach the Gospel, preach and conduct pastoral ministry only within the designated places of religious activities.
- House churches obey the great commission of preaching the gospel [to all men] and planting churches [in all places].
IV. Our Attitude towards Persecution
- House churches are persecuted not because of political or moral issues, but solely because they refuse to register with the government and refuse to join the TSPM.
- When house church Christians are persecuted, they do not hate the government, but accept suffering as permitted by the Lord. They endure suffering silently. They yield to the government, intercede for the government and bless it.
- When leaders and evangelists of house churches are persecuted, fined, interrogated, sent to labor instruction camps or labor reform camps, they do not complain. They still love their country and the government, waiting for God to grant them mercy.
- The grassroots cadres who persecute the church can testify that the persecuted ones are innocent. These cadres have no choice but to execute their duties.
- The two [labor] reform institution [personnel] have a high estimate of believers and pastors who come under them. Reform institution personnel trust Christians and are sympathetic with them. These people all testify that the persecuted Christians have a heart that loves their country and people. They also testify that Christians have high moral integrity.
- The faith of the house churches is orthodox. Their model of ministry is in accordance with the Bible and they enjoy the presence of God. Therefore, although persecuted, the number of believers increases rapidly – a force that cannot be resisted. The number of [house church] believers in all of China is much larger than in the Three-self churches. This is God’s confirmation of [our house church work].
We sincerely appeal to the government:
- We appeal to the government to recognize the truth about our beliefs and the purpose of our preaching, and no longer mistake us for cults.
- We sincerely ask the government to stop its persecution against house church Christians by brutally beating them, searching their houses, fining them, or sentencing them to detention camps and labor camps. We sincerely petition the government to actually implement freedom of religion.
- We ask the government to free all Christians and evangelists who are detained in the labor camps because of their faith or for preaching the gospel, and to do so as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, wherever there are more believers, there is also greater social stability, higher spiritual civilization, better social atmosphere, and greater blessings from God. May there be peace in China and among her people. May God bless China abundantly?
By the representatives of the House Churches in China
November 26, 1998 Translation by Dr. Jonathan Chao, Ph.D., December 18,1998;
Edited by Dr. Tim Yates, D.Min., March 1, 1999