FREEDOM AND FAITH: Are Churches That Live in “Free” Societies More or Less Likely to Compromise Their Faith

“We feel that it is time to come out of the shadows,” Pastor Zhang Rongliang shockingly announced during a secret church meeting on Hainan Island, several years ago. Pastor Zhang is one of the most well-known Christian pastors in China. His life story can be found in the book, I STAND WITH CHRIST.

Pastor Shen of the China Gospel Fellowship agreed. Pastor Shen, co-author of the book KIDNAPPED BY A CULT, was meeting with government officials in Beijing to discuss the idea of registering his underground church of ten million believers.

However, the discussions with the house church leaders ended when President Xi implemented new policies to crack down on the church, prior to a decision being made.

Even though there were disappointments, there was a positive aspect as well. Among the many benefits was that the church did not have to evaluate what elements of their faith they may have to compromise in their registration process.

“The government would have required the church pastors to register in their city,” one BTJ manager in Beijing explained. “If they register here in Beijing for example,” he said, “then they will not be able to travel to other cities to preach without permission from the government.” This would have been a massive challenge for underground house church pastors who have fellowship locations in multiple cities.

It can be argued that persecution created an environment where placating the government at the cost of Biblical commands, could not thrive.

If persecution creates environments where spiritual compromise can’t thrive, is the opposite true?

Are churches that do not face intense persecution more or less susceptible to making compromises on their faith?

I have been attending a church in Sweden for several years and this year the pastor of the church decided to host a series of socially relevant topics, including the practice of homosexuality in the church and among church leaders. With the militant rise of LGBTQ groups and their support in liberal governments, especially in the Scandinavian countries, it seemed to be a subject matter that many Christians were looking for clarity on.

In the end, the pastor didn’t clarify much, but instead seemed to make an attempt to placate LGBTQ advocates. At best, his stance on the subject was murky and at worst, supportive of the idea of homosexuals in church leadership. That church is now facing a crisis, as many of their congregants have left and the LGBTQ groups and government leaders that were placated are not particularly known for their high church attendance.

After listening to the pastor in Sweden, I wondered if his explanation would have been different if his church were openly persecuted by the government, like what is currently being done in China. Does lack of persecution somehow create more of an accommodating environment to compromise one’s faith and Biblical beliefs?

It would seem to be more rational that churches would compromise more where they suffer the most persecution, to appease their attackers and thus suffering less. However, a quick scan of Biblical teachings among churches in Canada, Europe, and America compared to the Biblical teachings found in the underground house churches in China, Vietnam, and Iran might produce different results.

After more than 20 years observing, studying, and writing about the persecuted church, it seems that the churches that suffer the most persecution are less likely to compromise basic Biblical teachings.

 

 

Dr. Eugene Bach is a known trouble-maker with an active imagination and sinful past. He has a PhD, but is not a real doctor, so please do not call for him during a medical emergency on an airplane when someone is having a heart attack. Eugene started working for Back to Jerusalem in the year 2000 after a backroom deal involving Chinese spies, the NRA, Swiss bankers, and a small group of Apostolic Christians that only baptize in Jesus’ name. He spends most of his time in closed countries attempting to topple governments by proclaiming the name of Jesus and not taking showers. From time-to-time he pretends to be a writer. He is not good at it, but everyone around him tries to humor him.

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