The Three-Self Patriotic Movement are punishing seminarians, teachers, and pastors who encourage evangelism.

...TSPM Bishop Ting and other church leaders launched a campaign to purge evangelistically minded students from seminaries. Pastors and teachers protested Ting's expulsion of three students from Nanjing Theological Seminary who were known for their "evangelistic zeal," according to WEF. Several Nanjing graduates resigned their posts because of the expulsions.

...The TSPM is threatening seminary students and the churches that sponsor them. Officials threaten to expel students who are supported by churches that work with house churches, Gregory said. They have threatened to close the only two seminaries in Hunan province because of the relationship between official and unofficial churches.

...A leading pastor in Shanghai has been dismissed from his post, WEF reported. Several teachers at Nanjing Seminary who were friendly with house churches leaders have been dismissed.

...Doctrines also are threatened. Seminary teachers and pastors in provinces across China are forced to attend classes on Ting's unorthodox teachings. TSPM pastors opposed the teachings and resent the classes, a pastor told WEF. The heads of two seminaries have spoken out against the campaign, but others are afraid because their churches could lose financial support.

...Ting advocates liberation theology, a blend of Marxism and the Bible that holds that political revolution is a means of spiritual freedom. He also advocates New Age concepts that de-emphasize the importance of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, questions the divine inspiration of Scripture, and says evangelism is not necessary because God does not require people to believe in Him, WEF reported.

...Ting and others are concerned that official churches are working with unofficial churches, Robert Gregory of Project Partner With Christ (see link #2 below) told Religion Today. The Ohio-based ministry cooperates with official churches in China on long-term development projects, education, and medical projects.

...TSPM churches are forbidden to evangelize and new pastors are watched to make sure they obey the law, Gregory said. But some TSPM churches support evangelism by training leaders to leave the church and start unofficial congregations, called house churches, which meet in people's homes, he said. The official churches have broken no laws, but Ting and others in church leadership oppose the practice.

...The seminaries are dear to some house church leaders because they received their training from official pastors who were educated there, Gregory said. There are between 80 and 100 state-approved seminaries, he said.

...The house church movement in the past 20 years has fueled an explosion in Christianity in China that frightens Chinese leaders, Gregory said. "Deep down there is a fear that lies in the heart of communist leaders. They see a threat in any body of people that is growing in influence in any part of the country."


Religion Today - November 14, 2000

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