Chinese Church Voices

Demolish! It’s Just a Building!

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

In the week since the Sanjiang Church was demolished, netizens in China (both Christian and non-Christian) have taken to social media to comment on the incident. While some acknowledge the chaotic nature of the growth of Christianity in Wenzhou, most of the posts by Christians express anger towards the local officials, anguish at the loss, and encouragement to fellow believers to stand firm. The three translated posts below are examples of these types of comments.Weibo user Sun Haiyang:

Do you think you can save your position by demolishing the church? Do you think that others will forget about it? No! You may want to trivialize this matter, but it will not forget you!

QQ user Aidie/mg Zhendi wrote this poem:

Pray for Sanjiang; may the Lord grant comfort.Today, my eyes are shedding tears;
Today, my heart is broken.Father! Forgive them,
They do not understand what they did.
Demolish! Its just a building.
You cannot remove the cross from our hearts;
Demolish! Its just the Sanjiang Church.
But there will be hundreds of thousands of Sanjiangs which will stand firm;
Demolish! This is like the labor pains of birth,
It will usher in revival,
United, we will be victorious!
A tragic day for Sanjiang.
The enemy said: "demolish, demolishright down to the foundation!
Lord God, I beg you to remember this hatred.
Father, May your will be done.

Weibo user Yang Mushi (Pastor Yang) wrote the following three posts:

Throughout church history, pressure from the outside has only made the gospel spread more and more. This is because the gospel is not contained in a visible structure. Tears may be in our eyes today, but we can also see a greater revival coming. What we see is not the end, but a new road leading to a new door.

When it comes to our faith, the word jiaohui (church, congregation, fellowship) is not the same as jiaotang (church building). It may be possible to deal violently with a jiaotang, but not with the jiaohui. Christians shouldnt be so sad. Maybe this is a good time to reflect and wonder if we have put too much focus on church buildings. With this jiaotang now destroyed, we should focus our efforts on building the jiaohui. The church (jiaohui) is not a church building (jiaotang). The original meaning of the term church (jiaohui) is a people called by God gathered together. The key terms are called by God, people, and gather together. It does not say that that gathering together must be done in a church building (jiaotang).

Protestant theology has always emphasized that the key functions of the church (jiaohui) are preaching the Word and properly administering the sacraments. These two principles define what a true church (jiaohui) is. It says nothing about a building.

On Wednesday, April 29, The Gospel Times reported on the demolition of the church. Hundreds of comments were posted to the article, including the following:

Ciaizhiguang: People around the world, everyone knows that Gods children sacrificed their time and money to build the church. What is the government doing?

Weiyijianzhizhenli: Maybe the church didnt bribe any corrupt officials.

Yiri: They may be able to demolish the visible temple, but they will never be able to demolish the invisible temple of our hearts.

Zhenzhuzhiyouyiwei: Lord, forgive these ignorant sinners. Your Son Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. Why not forgive them also? They really are ignorant. They dont know you are a loving and merciful God.

Dashihua: Only an ornate church building can show a prosperous and happy life. This will show non-believers that Christians can have wealth, and more of them will believe. Do you really think that worshipping in small and secret places will attract people to believe in the Lord? Do you really think that it was Gods will that this church be demolished? Impossible!

Shangdideernu: I know that my Redeemer lives. He is the everlasting God.123: I think we should investigate the Zhejiang Party Secretary to see how much he has embezzled.

Jidutu: The reason there are so many believers in Zhejiang is because of these big and beautiful church buildings. When outsiders see the good life of Christians, they are gradually drawn to the faith. If worship took place in secret, do you think there would be so many Christians in Wenzhou? So building a large church so others can see the wealth of the church is a good evangelistic strategy!

Gospel Times article: 永嘉县三江教堂已被拆除

Image credits: Chai, by Alex Kirsch, via Flickr and Asia News

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