According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Should the China Ambassador Worship at a House Church?

Observers discuss whether the U.S. ambassador to China should worship at an unregistered church to 'publicly identify with the persecuted.'

"The U.S. ambassador should worship in a house church, especially if he is a Protestant Christian. If he is Catholic, he should seek out a so-called 'underground church.' Such actions would likely result in more media attention to religious persecution in China, and perhaps give hope to the persecuted. However, media attention would be fleeting. Moreover, such an act—even if done regularly—would be primarily symbolic, and U.S. international religious freedom policy has for too long been characterized by symbols rather than substance. What we should be asking the U.S. ambassador to China is what concrete programs he will initiate to convince the Chinese that religious freedom is in their interests. How will he ensure that U.S. religious freedom policy in China becomes more than words and symbols, as it has been under this administration?"

Thomas Farr, professor, Georgetown University

"If the Chinese government allows it, there should be no problem with the U.S. ambassador to China visiting a house church. Indeed, such visits demonstrate a mature bilateral relationship while signaling a stable and responsible China that is comfortable with its religious minorities."

Chris Seiple, president, Institute for Global Engagement

"It has been estimated that as many as 80 percent of China's Christians worship in unregistered churches. So if an ambassador wants to show support to China's Christians, it would be good if he or she recognized not only registered-church Christians, but those in unregistered churches as well. However, the Chinese government would no doubt take great offense at such a show of support, and it is hard to imagine the current administration spending goodwill capital with the Chinese government to show support for house-church Christians, in light of their other stated priorities and in light of the large amount of debt owed to China by the U.S."

Todd Nettleton, spokesperson, Voice of the Martyrs

"Before deciding where to worship, the ambassador should consult with leaders of both registered and house churches, and then pray for discernment as to what decision will best advance the gospel and strengthen the witness of the church in China."

Galen Carey, director of government affairs, National Association of Evangelicals

"I think the most important consideration of the next U.S. ambassador to China should be: 'What actions of mine will most benefit the Chinese house church?' At present, I don't think an attempt by a senior U.S. diplomat to visit a house church in Beijing or elsewhere would be a good thing, because it would likely endanger the house church itself … I think a far more powerful form of protest would be for the ambassador to refuse to meet with anyone from the Three Self Patriotic Movement until freedom of worship is granted to Shouwang. I think all U.S. Christian organizations should be lobbying hard to stop any further hospitality to the Three Self Patriotic Movement or Catholic Patriotic Association officials in the U.S. until there is full worship freedom in China."

David Aikman, author, Jesus in Beijing

"The effect on the perceptions of Christianity within domestic society is likely to be unfavorable. The Chinese Christian population is a tiny minority in China, no more than 8 percent of the total, and official and unregistered churches still labor under the stigma of being a 'foreign' religion. The history of the modern era in China is framed by the humiliating defeat by the British in the 1840s Opium Wars. It was in the wake of military defeat that most foreign missionaries entered the country with the protection of foreign gunships. As a small percentage of the population, tying their fates directly to foreign international pressure plays into the hands of the regime's propaganda, which frequently warns of threats posed by 'foreign enemy religious forces' to China's sovereignty."

Carsten Vala, professor, Loyola University (Md.)

"Politics and religion do not, and should not, mix, in China or here. I know this is not a popular view among some, but it is the prudent view. In China, when Christianity and politics got mixed up in the 19th and 20th century, there was trouble for U.S. policy. The popular view toward Christianity also turned negative. Such will be the same today if the U.S., for whatever reason, seeks to interject religion into the relationship. Having the U.S. ambassador visit an 'underground' church would be counterproductive."

Gordon H. Chang, professor of history, Stanford University

"Identification by an American government official would be the kiss of death for unregistered churches in China. For many reasons, some of them quite understandable, the leaders of China are afraid of any organized movement with connections to the outside, especially America. Though they have no political ambitions, Chinese Christians outside the officially sanctioned church have enough difficulty already; any perceived link to the American government will only further arouse the government's suspicion and ire. We should not add to the church's troubles by a well-meaning but counter-productive show of support."

G. Wright Doyle, Global China Center

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