Is Christianity in China making headway? What about North America? Dr. John Neufeld discusses the persecution of Christians at home and abroad.
I recently read a headline in The Gospel Herald announcing that China was losing its fight against Christianity. The article told the story of approximately 10,000 Chinese-owned companies in Africa and a large number of Chinese nationals living among African Christians and hearing the gospel. After that, many are returning home, sharing the gospel when they come home. This is happening against a background of growing Chinese government repression of Christians.
It is strictly forbidden for children under 18 years old to attend church in China
I have been unable to further verify this story. But Open Doors, a ministry that tracks Christian persecution worldwide, notes that there has been a sudden spike in the persecution of Christians in China. Open Doors says, “China rose 16 spots on the World Watch List in the last year, a stunning leap impacted by increasing pressure on Christians and churches.” Right now, it is strictly forbidden for children under 18 years old to attend church. Also, because of the increase in surveillance, Christians are being closely watched. Furthermore, old rules once used to oppress Christians in the past are suddenly being reinforced. Online Bibles are stopped by the state.
We must pray more fervently for persecuted Christians. But we must also remember that we are in a fight. Persecution is one of the tools Satan uses to stop the advance of the gospel. But, it is not the only tool.
In the Western World, youth are not forbidden from attending church, but one consistently hears reports of a vast group of youth leaving the church. Anecdotally, we all know of accounts where this is so. And yet, unlike China, youth are not forbidden from attending but are often choosing to no longer attend. What gives?
The reason youth are leaving is because they lack an objective, historical faith rooted in our ancient doctrines
I think the answer has very little to do with persecution. Nor does it have to do with the new sexual morality, the conflict between science and faith, religious pluralism and syncretism in the wider culture. The reason youth are leaving is because they lack an objective, historical faith rooted in our ancient doctrines. Instead, the church has been preaching a subjective faith, based on internal feelings. Youth are not so much leaving the faith, as they are disinterested in the subjective faith that has been given to them.
And that has gotten me thinking. How many of our youth have actually been raised in the church, hearing a sermon with a child on one side, and a senior citizen on the other? Instead, they have been put into age-appropriate structures made to be relevant to them.
Furthermore, how many of our kids can articulate the attributes of God:
- the nature of the Trinity,
- the Biblical definition of sin,
- the doctrine of the atonement,
- the two natures of Christ,
- the economy of the Trinity,
- the nature of effectual calling,
- the biblical doctrine of creation,
- the doctrine of the Holy Spirit,
- the providence of God,
- the nature of humanity,
- the atonement,
- the nature of the church,
- the ordinances of the church,
- the final judgment,
- the eternal punishment of the unjust and
- the new heavens and new earth?
I suspect most of the kids that leave church have never been taught any of this. They are not rejecting historic Christianity; they have never been subjected to it.
And so, how does this relate to Christianity in China and the persecution of the Chinese church. We, like they, are in a battle. If we don’t fight as they do, we will not share in their reward.