A Short Study--Christianity In China
An Admonishment For Believers To GO--
Calling Christians To The Battlefield
by General James Green
Foreign Missions in Battle Array*
An endless line of splendor,
These troops with heaven for home,
With creeds they go from Scotland,
With incense go from Rome.
These in the name of Jesus
Against the dark gods stand,
They gird the earth with valor,
They heed their King's command.
Onward the line advances,
Shaking the hills with power,
Slaying the hidden demons,
The lions that devour.
No bloodshed in the wrestling--
But souls new-born arise--
The nations growing kinder,
The child-hearts growing wise.
What is the final ending?
The issue, can we know?
Will Christ outlive Mohammed?
Will Kali's altar go?
This our faith tremendous,
Our wild hope, who shall scorn,
That in the name of Jesus
The world shall be reborn.
*Vachel Lindsay's Poem found in Collected Poems (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913)
LINDSAY'S POEM, as one writer expressed, is an admirable expression of the romantic idealism that has led Christian missionaries out to the ends of the earth. The last stanza recognizes that the final outcome is a matter of our faith, while the second stanza confidently pictures the whole process as one of steady advance--the Gospel is going forward.
When militant Islam came upon the world's scene in the Middle East, it looked as though the Christian Church, in that part of the world, would be totally blotted out! When I say "blotted out," I mean physically. Don't let the Muslims fool you into believing that their CONQUEST came by conversions rather than the sword. Militant Islam arrived on the "bloody offensive." In fact, during that time on, for about 1000 years (i.e., ca. AD 632-1500), the Islamic forces were so violent against the Gospel that one famous historian referred to that age of Christendom as "the 1000 years of uncertainty."
Historically, before the modern "house church movement" in China, there were three separate and protracted attempts to establish forms of Christianity in China. All three failed. The first was the Nestorian Church during the T'ang Dynasty (ca. AD 618-907). Second, the Nestorians tried again during the Mongol Dynasty (ca. AD 1280-1368). The second period also saw the Roman Catholic Church establish itself in parts of the vast Chinese empire, but both of the latter two attempts ended soon. A "vigorous isolationist nationalism" arose in the succeeding Ming Dynasty, and that basically "blotted out" both the Nestorian and Roman Catholic movements of that time. F. P. Jones mentions this in his historical account, The Church in Communist China (1962). During the next four centuries, the Lord's people regained the initiative and made great advances throughout the whole world. Such was the offensive that Lindsay was optimistically referring to.
Bishop Moule, in his Ephesians 6:13 study, wrote,
"On this account, take up, as laid before you on the ground by Him who wrought the weapons, by Him who is the victory, take up in a strong appropriating act, the panoply [i.e., the complete equipment--covering, protection--of a warrior] of our God, that you may be able to withstand these onsets, so formidable the crisis--as each crisis comes on--of temptation or of terror, and having accomplished all things (which your Captain asks of you, thus armed with Himself) to stand, unmoved at your post, unshaken in your loyalty, ready to the last to tread down your enemies in Him."
This is our generation and our time, dear Christians, to put on the whole armour of God and to STAND FAST!! The way to victory may be bloody--nevertheless, we must do our part. Moule also quoted the following poem:
"The sword that rules the war
The breastplate shooting bloody rays,
As dusky clouds in sunlight blaze
Refulgent from afar,
The polished greaves of molten gold,
The spear, the shield with fold on fold,
A prodigy of art untold."
My Christian friends, have you READY SANDALS? Are you ready to go to war to bring forth peace? Or are you one of the multitudes that find excuse for inactivity? Have you fought but a little, persecutions arose, and you have found excuse to retire from the field of battle? Where, oh where would we be today had those warriors in times past done what too many are doing today?
The Communist persecution against the Christian Church in China came to full scope in 1949. By 1952 almost all foreign missionaries had been forced to leave their fields of battle; the ones who remained were either killed or put into prison. We're talking about thousands of missionaries from all denominations! The famous China Inland Mission founded by Hudson Taylor withdrew 480 in 1951. Where were these warriors going to go now that they were expelled from China? Were they going to retire from service entirely? Well, by 1952, 130 had set sail to new fields; even more remained in the field and sixty more joined them..
"How shall they hear without a preacher? " (Romans 10:14). Satan might have formed a fortified beachhead by turning RED warriors loose against Asia. However, God's people answered once again the Lord's Royal Command to "Go!" Instead of putting off their sandals of peace, the missionaries re-shod their feet with READY SANDALS--ready to fight for the Prince of Peace in other lands.
"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (v. 15--This Scripture refers back to the prophets, Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15.). Shall any child of God be content to just remain idle on the firing line? We might at times find ourselves smitten; but it is the LORD's power, not ours, that enables any of us to do His will.
Despite the outlawing of missionaries, who were referred to as "foreign devils," the Gospel of Jesus Christ did not die in China. Thank God, there were and are still multitudes who "are ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus."
The growth of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was a terrible phenomena of modern times. Ironically, though it called for nationalism, it was based upon "imported" ideas, just like Christianity. LET THEM NOT FORGET THIS! The CCP was organized by a small group of men meeting in an upstairs room of a house in Shanghai in 1921; two years later it infiltrated Sun Yat Sen's Nationalist Party, based in Canton.
China became disorganized. By the time the Nationalist armies, commanded by Chiang Kai-Shek, began to try and unify the disorganized country, Communism had grown strong enough to withstand opposition. This led to the "Long March" to northwest China (1934-1935), where the CCP established itself in Shensi Province, with its capital being at Yenan.
During the war with Japan, the commies strengthened themselves in the art of guerilla warfare. After the war, the CCP commanded much of northern China, though (the USA General) General Marshall's endeavors were to bring the two opposing parties, the CCP and the Nationalists, together. Eventually, the Nationalist Government collapsed while the CCP took over all China. The Nationalist Government was finally pushed off the mainland onto Formosa, now Taiwan, where it was protected by the U.S.'s 7th fleet and its financial needs met.
With the rapid success of the CCP, it was easy to set up the communist land reform propaganda, which fooled the masses into supporting Communism. Mao Tse-tung lost no time in proclaiming the true "unity" with the Soviet Union and the rest of the communist world. Didn't Mao know that Communism was also an "import" like that of Christianity? What ever the case may be, the People's Republic of China was formally inaugurated in Peking on Oct. 1, 1949. Thus, the Marxists became the new masters of China and they swiftly began a pointed attack against Christ's Body of believers.
After 1949, the Chinese Church leaders were more and more restricted. They were told that it was unpatriotic to have "aliens" (foreign Christians) as members of the governing boards of schools and hospitals; missionaries must be sent away, commanded the commies, as soon as possible; monies from "alien" countries must also be rejected. By early 1951, most Christian missionaries of all denominations had left. Thus the communist government accomplished their first objective to get rid of all missionaries; so further steps could be taken.
Many Chinese Christian leaders foresaw the climactic changes coming their way. Some began looking for ways to compromise with the rising communist regime, others sought to remain true to Christ without compromise. So two movements began their birth: the (compromising) State Church, and the (uncompromising) Underground Church. In early 1950, a group of Chinese "Christian" leaders prepared a message to mission boards abroad. The following excerpt is one paragraph of that message.
From now on, a new political concept, a new philosophy, a new creed, and a new mode of living will be instilled into the masses of the people with a vigor that is hitherto unknown. Much of China's traditional heritage will be rigorously scrutinized and if need be discarded, and many new and far-reaching policies will be put into execution. Likewise, much of Western culture that has been introduced in recent years will be re-examined and shorn of its undesirable elements. Out of this will be born a new China, radically different from the China of old. Compared with the present moment, the change of dynasties in the past four thousand years has little significance; the revolutions of 1911 and 1927 and the war of resistance against Japan are but wavelets in the rapids of time. From such a change there is no turning back, and at such a time a die-hard reaction has no place.
F. P. Jones noted in The Church in Communist China that the above statement was comparatively noncommittal about the attitudes of Christians toward the expected changes. Jones specified that a later statement, the so-called "Christian Manifesto," was more explicit on how some Christians viewed the changes.
Y. T. Wu is most recognized for the first draft of the manifesto. The manifesto was criticized widely by the Chinese Church, so Y. T. Wu consented to a few minor changes. Even after the changes, many still did not like the draft. But Wu refused to make further changes, because he had already gained government approval for his draft, and that is where he stood. The manifesto was finally published in July of 1950 under the title "Direction of Endeavor for Chinese Christianity in the Construction of New China." Here is the "Christian Manifesto" quoted in full:
Protestant Christianity has been introduced to China for more than a hundred and forty years.
During this period it has made a not unworthy contribution to Chinese society. Nevertheless, and
this was most unfortunate, not long after Christianity's coming to China, imperialism started its
activities here; and since the principal groups of missionaries who brought Christianity to China all
came themselves from these imperialistic countries, Christianity consciously or unconsciously,
directly or indirectly, became related with imperialism. Now that the Chinese revolution has
achieved victory, these imperialistic countries will not rest passively content in face of this
unprecedented historical fact in China. They will certainly seek to contrive by every means the
destruction of what has actually been achieved; they may also make use of Christianity to forward
their plot of stirring up internal dissension, and creating reactionary forces in this country. It is
our purpose in publishing the following statement to heighten our vigilance against imperialism, to
make known the clear political stand of Christians in New China, to hasten the building of a
Chinese church whose affairs are managed by the Chinese themselves, and to indicate the
responsibilities that should be taken up by Christians throughout the whole country in national
reconstruction in New China. We desire to call upon all Christians in the country to exert their
best efforts in putting into effect the principles herein presented.
THE TASK IN GENERAL
Christian churches and organizations give thoroughgoing support to the "Common Political
Platform," and under the leadership of the government oppose imperialism, feudalism, and
bureaucratic capitalism, and take part in the effort to build an independent, democratic, peaceable,
unified, prosperous, and powerful New China.
(1) Christian churches and organizations in China should exert their utmost efforts, and employ effective methods, to make people in the churches everywhere recognize clearly the evils that have been wrought in China by imperialism; recognize the fact that in the past imperialism has made use of Christianity; purge imperialistic influences from within Christianity itself; and be vigilant against imperialism, and especially American imperialism, in its plot to use religion in fostering the growth of reactionary forces. At the same time, the churches and organizations should call upon Christians to participate in the movement opposing war and upholding peace, and teach them thoroughly to understand and support the government's policy of agrarian reform.
(2) Christian churches and organizations in China should take effective measure to cultivate a
patriotic and democratic spirit among their adherents in general, as well as a psychology of self-respect and self-reliance. The movement for autonomy, self-support, and self-propagation
hitherto promoted in the Chinese church has already attained a measure of success. This
movement from now onwards should complete its tasks within the shortest possible period. At
the same time, self-criticism should be advocated, all forms of Christian activity re-examined and
re-adjusted, and thoroughgoing austerity measures adopted, so as to achieve the goals of a
reformation in the church.
(1) All Christian churches and organizations in China that are still relying upon foreign personnel and financial aid should work out concrete plans to realize within the shortest possible time their objective of self-reliance and rejuvenation.
(2) From now onwards, as regards their religious work, Christian churches and organizations should lay emphasis upon a deeper understanding of the nature of Christianity itself, closer fellowship and unity among the various denominations, the cultivation of better leadership personnel, and reform in systems of church organization. As regards their more general work, they should emphasize anti-imperialistic, anti-feudalistic and anti-bureaucratic-capitalistic education, together with such forms of service to the people as productive labor, teaching them to understand the New Era, cultural and recreational activities, literacy education, medical and public health work, and care of children.
It should be noted that in the first paragraph of this "Christian Manifesto" the charge is made that for the past 140 years, the whole missionary movement was potentially the PUPPET of the imperialistic aims of the countries from which the missionaries came. The USA was singled out especially, because she was considered the leader of the anti-communist forces. You can clearly see that Y. T. Wu sided with the communists all the way. So what is new about this? A lot of Christians compromise in the face of pressure. Has not this happed time and time again? Is it not happening even as I write?
With the new Marxist masters in charge, the Chinese Christians had two choices: become a part of church organizations that chose to have the CCP as their immediate head, or go "underground" (i.e., form secret house churches). The State Church was the "Three Self Reform Movement" or the "Three Self Patriotic Movement." This movement stole the Christian missionary slogan about "self-support, self-government, and self-propagation." Now, under communist control and direction, the State-controlled churches were to claim and proclaim complete independence from ALL foreign "control" (which included all association with foreign churches and organizations). Though some minor changes may be in place, the State Church today remains the same compromising entity.
As noted on page 46 of this Battle Cry Sounding, under "Massive Arrests," the CCP calls the "House Church" or "Underground Church" an "EVIL CULT!" Now isn't that something! It's nothing new. Real Christians have been labeled "cultists" from the onset of the Church's birth, over 2000 years ago. So, our dear brothers and sisters of the "House Church Movement" (those not under the Three Self Patriotic Movement) are still being arrested, beaten, killed--all because they REFUSE to let the communists be their head. These brothers and sisters will have their reward in Heaven.
Christianity wasn't the only religion the communists attacked. Buddhism and Islam were similarly ordered to be regimented under newly created Chinese national organizations. Even Taoism was considered anathema to the communists. Communism is not peaceable with any other system, despite how the Communism-sympathizers in the West portray it.
There is no doubt that America has gone SOFT on Communism. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was in communist prisons in Russia for 11 years, stated, "If you [Americans] were born free, why do you help our slave owners? When they bury us [Soviet dissidents] alive please do not send them shovels." Sorry brother Solzhenitsyn, America has gone SOFT, even BLIND and HARD OF HEARING. Americans are concerned with one thing: "THE GOOD LIFE"!
According to those who study the hard, cold facts of RED COMMUNISM, Russian communists and Chinese communists have murdered tens of millions. Colonel Stanislav Lunev, Russia's highest-ranking military defector, warned that although China is America's biggest long-term threat, America is oblivious because American companies want Chinese business. I think we who are not asleep can say AMEN to that statement.
America has been overrun with "reds" FOR GENERATIONS. For decades, the UN and other agencies have acted as a platform for anti-American and anti-Christian rhetoric and as a staging base for terrorism, subversion, perversion, espionage, and many other networks within this nation's borders.
G.V. Smith, chief executive officer of the John Birch Society, stated,
"In totalitarian Communist regimes, the government declares open war upon religion and biblical morality; witness the suffering of the underground church in Red China, or Communist Cuba's war upon believers, or the persecution, enslavement, and martyrdom of Christians in Sudan. We've been spared the horrors of this magnitude in the U.S., but our ruling Establishment has been waging a cleverly disguised war against religion and morality in the name of "separation of church and state" and other deceptive slogans. The result has been the eviction of biblical morality from our public institutions and the steady disintegration of both public and private morality."
R. J. Rummel's monumental study, Death By Government (1994), stated that TOTAL GOVERNMENT IS MUCH DEADLIER THAN WAR. He documented that between 1900-1987, the governments of the world killed 170 million of their own people. That is a lot of people!! He also claimed that most was done during times of so-called PEACE. He called this "democide" in order to describe this kind of MASS MURDER of populations.
Dear readers, we're going to witness more of this carnage as time goes on. Should we not be equipped and shod for battle (Ephesians 6)? Are we going to sit passively by and "zip our lip," letting Satan and his demons wreck the rest of this mostly wrecked world? Cannot Jesus Christ make a difference? YES! YES! It is by changing hearts and renewing minds that we'll see what some call "a better tomorrow."
Bishop Moule, again in his studies in Ephesians, stated,
"In conclusion, strengthen yourselves always in the Lord, your one possible sphere and magazine of inexhaustible resource, to be drawn upon by obedient trust, and in the energy of His might, sure to be put forth on your behalf, clothe yourselves with the panoply, the armour cap-a-pie, of our God. Reduced to its essence, the panoply means Jesus Christ. The soldier, in other words, appears before us made strong for a victory which is otherwise impossible--by his relation to his LORD, he is safe, he is successful, because he is spiritually right with Christ, in God--given truth and righteousness; because he is sure of Christ beneath his feet as 'the equipment of the gospel of peace.'"
None of us can go back in time and stand with our dear brothers and sisters who refused to bow to worldly governments and lost their lives or freedoms. NO! But WE CAN STAND NOW! Our READY SANDALS can take us on long or short tedious missions--thru thick and thin, the harsh or smooth--WE ALL CAN ANSWER HIS CALL TO GO! "In acceptance lieth peace!" Let me repeat that again: "IN ACCEPTANCE LIETH PEACE!" Let us accept God's will and gain His peace. In our duty we can be helped and inspired. Missionaries of yesterday said, "For it is in His name [Jesus] we GO--to whatever battle the LORD has ready: a battle with longways, climate, illness, ties of the heart, hardship, sin, political uncertainty..."
On and on our dear brothers and sisters went, singing,
"We rest on Thee, our shield and our Defender,
We GO not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy might, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest in Thee and in Thy Name we GO!"