Los Angeles – With all the news about the survival of Christianity in Communist China, it is important to realize that there are two kinds of churches in China today, not just one, a noted China watcher said here.
The Rev. Silas Hong, executive director of United Evangelism to the Chinese, based here, warned those trying to make contact with Christians in China that there is an official, government- sanctioned church in China which may not represent the Gospel for the purest of motives.
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement is the Chinese Equivalent of the Soviet Protestant Council for Religious Affairs which strictly controls all church matters for political reasons, Dr. Hong pointed out.
“It is common knowledge,” Dr. Hong said, “that this ‘Chinese Religious Affairs Bureau’ is very surprised and concerned with the mushrooming of home churches all over China,” churches that faithfully represent a revival of spirituality among the Chinese.
The thousands of “house churches” remain strictly separate from the government-controlled religious movement for spiritual, not political reasons, Dr. Hong explained. In many, if not most cases, they are “religious groups organized in secrecy (or semi-secrecy) among citizens” for their own safety.
The danger to the prospect for evangelization in China is that Westerners will assume that the official church truly represents the revival of Christianity that visitors to China lately have sensed and some have witnessed. Actually, to assume that the official church is the point of contact with the underground Christian movement could result in both embarrassment and danger to that movement, Dr. Hong suggested. (This article was taken from the Presbyterian Journal, Dec. 1980)