Yes, you read that correctly. China bombed a church. And the bombing was legal. It was part of their ongoing attempt to redefine Christianity.
I was in the middle of writing about China’s new Religious Affairs Regulations when I came across an article about the Chinese government bombing a Christian megachurch to demolish it. It’s from the Western Recorder.
It’s shocking. That is, shocking to some people in some parts of the world.
In other places, it’s normal. In too many places, it would even be celebrated.
And yet, it could be worse. After all, it’s only a building. It’s the end goal that should be truly alarming. Because the end goal is about Christianity in general. Not to wipe it out. Rather, to make it as unlike anything Jesus taught as possible.
The end goal is to essentially remake God in man’s image by remaking religions that believe in, teach, worship God. It’s a goal for Satan. And sadly, it’s a goal for lots of people.
China bombs megachurch in drive to silence Christianity
China bombs megachurch in drive to silence Christianity. That was the headline in the Western Recorder article. Sadly, the site may no longer be available. I wrote the original version of this piece in Feb 2018. Now, more than 5 years later, I’m doing an update. The news and the quotes from the articlse are unchanged. Obviously.
However, my focus has very much changed in this rewrite. Originally, it was about the fact that China was demolishing, including literally blowing up, Christian churches when they didn’t follow the rules for approved churches. The fact that it’s legal should be scary to everyone.
But this time, I’m adding the long-term impact as well. Blowing up a church, if it’s empty, doesn’t necessarily affect people’s beliefs about God. However, the full intent of these new religious regulations goes much further than “just buildings”. It goes right for the very souls of those trying to practice Christianity.
Also, years ago, I asked if western nations would follow suit. So far, no, we aren’t blowing up churches. But, we are blowing up some of the core beliefs of Christianity, just as the Chinese regulations do, right here in the U.S. Worse though is the reality that these things are being led not by admitted atheists, but by self-proclaimed Christians.
That’s what we’ll look at as this series continues.
The article includes:
China bombs megachurch in drive to silence Christianity: “With 20 centuries of church history behind us, we can now assure the communist authorities in China that if they thought they could extinguish the Gospel of Jesus Christ by blowing up a building, they’ve deluded themselves,” said Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “But we should also note that if the Chinese party in China thought that it was making a statement of its power by excluding this church, it was actually demonstrating its weakness and its paranoia.”
That may very well be true. However, I believe it misses the real point. Yes, it speaks to the inability of people to completely and permanently suppress God. However, it doesn’t address the impact in individual people. And let’s face it, church buildings don’t go to Heaven or to Hell. But people do. And while the buildings are a very visible symbol of what’s going on, the people are the actual target of these laws.
So, let’s go back to the beginning. Here’s how the Western Recorder article starts.
The article starts off with: The bombing demolition of a megachurch in China is indicative of a rush to silence Christianity under new laws that will heighten religious persecution, according to human rights group ChinaAid.
They got the point here. Shocking as it is, and awful as it is, it’s only a symptom. It’s not the disease. The disease is the atheist Communist government trying to convert all its citizens into little atheist Communist party followers.
Looking at China’s attempt to redefine Christianity
What we’re doing here is examining both the laws and their intended consequences, as well as the futility of any government trying to fight against God. Yes, there will be times when it looks like the government is winning. And yet – ultimately, it will fail.
There’s a short book in the Old Testament – Habakkuk – that has a similar scenario. Habakkuk asks God when He is going to intervene and put an end to all the evil around him. Certainly, what the communist government is doing qualifies as evil. And God does respond. The third, and final, chapter begins with this verse.
Hab 3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
Hab 3:2 LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
As this is being written, I’m also doing a series called “God where are you?” that goes into the question, specifically looking at Habakkuk’s “complaint” and God’s answer. I invite you to check it out for a more detailed look at what the Bible has to say about God and His apparent tolerance for evil. See the inset box for that.
As I said, China blowing up a megachurch certainly qualifies as evil. Was it literally a bomb, as the headline says? To answer that – let me pose a different, and better, question. Does it matter? The church was blown up. Visual evidence is at the top of the page.
And here’s more on what happened.
The Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen, Shanxi, was home to some 50,000 worshippers before the Chinese government bombed and demolished the church Jan. 9, according to news reports.
That’s a whole lot of people attending one church. It’s hard to come up with exact numbers, but 50,000 people appears to put in on a part with the top 5 churches in the U.S.
It’s even harder to get accurate attendance for churches around the world, but I did find one list that put Lakewood Church in Houston Texas at number 5. Given the numbers I found for the U.S., the Golden Lampstand church in China was larger than Lakewood. This means they were also, most likely, within the top 5 in the world.
There is a caveat to that, given that countries like South Korea have multicampus churches claiming hundreds of thousands of attendees each week. I’m not sure everyone counted like that, or if that even counts as a megachurch, with all the satellite locations, translations into different languages, etc. It may just be a collection of churches under a larger umbrella name.
Religious persecution is at its harshest in communist China in perhaps 50 years, ChinaAid President Bob Fu told BBC News Jan. 11.
What’s interesting about this is the “new” approach to religious persecution in China. It’s no longyer a goal to eradicate churches. Now, they’re working on getting people to think they are “believers”, but have them believe in something other than what their religion teaches in the rest of the world.
This kind of thing is often in the news these days. Christians are supposed to join the Chinese version of Christianity by way of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement church. Muslim Uighurs are sent for re-education. And the Pope is not, for some reason, allowing the Chinese atheist government to have more control over Catholicism in their country.
The bombing shows “the increasingly deteriorating situation of religious freedom and rule of law in China” under President Xi Jinping, “which many suggest is the worst since the end of the cultural revolution,” Fu told the BBC Jan. 11. “I mean, all the leaders of this church were arrested since this church was built in 2009, and they were sentenced from one to seven years’ imprisonment for building this church, and many of them were even tortured.
This is reminiscent of what happened in the early church. But, I wonder, how will they react? Will they follow the leaders of that early church?
Ac 7:54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Ac 7:57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Ac 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Ac 8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
Torture and death. They were real threats in the early church. And in some countries, they still are today. Those in the Christian church in China may very well follow in the footsteps of Stephen. But I wonder, what about those of us in Western countries who don’t appear to have a clue what real persecution is?
By the way, if you weren’t aware, Saul in that passage, after an encounter with the resurrected Jesus, became Paul, who wrote large parts of the Christian New Testament.
“And China is now imprisoning more prisoners of conscience than the number combined by the rest of the world,” Fu told the BBC.
Speaking of Paul, here’s one of his experiences while in a Roman prison.
Ac 16:16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
Ac 16:19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
Ac 16:22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Ac 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Ac 16:29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Ac 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.
Ac 16:35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”
Ac 16:37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Ac 16:38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
Every Christian might/should wonder, if we were in Paul’s situation, could/would we do the same? You see, the problem with just saying “that’s in the past, it won’t happen today”, is that we supposedly believe all things happen for a reason. And we should all know that Christianity tends to flourish more in places with problems than in richer countries where life is pretty easy.
Who are we to say that God won’t put us in a situation to help others? And to bring glory to Him? Here in the U.S. Christians seem to use the government to push our personal views more than to be sure people, non-Christians, learn the truth about Christ.
Military police directed by the highest government officials detonated explosives in underground worship halls beneath the church and proceeded to demolished the above-ground building, ChinaAid said.
Why did the Chinese government destroy this church?
The Golden Lampstand Church is among many Protestant congregations not registered under the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) that places congregations under total government control. Among the new guidelines, all churches or religious groups must register “their establishment, modification, or deregistration … in accordance with the relevant State provisions on the management of social groups,” according to a translation of the law provided by ChinaAid.
When I was writing the first version of this piece, I was literally in the middle of writing about this very regulation when I came across the article on the bombing. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Psalm 14 struck me as relevant to what happened and what’s happening.
14:1-7 pp — Ps 53:1-6
For the director of music. Of David.
Ps 14:1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
Ps 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
Ps 14:3 All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Ps 14:4 Will evildoers never learn—
those who devour my people as men eat bread
and who do not call on the LORD?
Ps 14:5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
Ps 14:6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.
Ps 14:7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Put that together with the passage from Habakkuk. Now, you can begin to see how someone can say,
…if they [the communist Chinese Government] thought they could extinguish the Gospel of Jesus Christ by blowing up a building, they’ve deluded themselves…
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
I don’t normally include passages like the one below. They can falsely lead people to believe that God is mean, or worse. And yet, there are things that must be done by a God who is just. There is a price to be paid for the things we say and do. That price can be paid by Jesus. In fact, it has been paid by Jesus. But we have to accept Him as our Lord and Savior – as the Christians in China have – and will continue to do so. For those who refuse, they must pay the price themselves. And for those people, God has spoken to them.
Dt 32:39 “See now that I myself am He!
There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,
and no one can deliver out of my hand.
Dt 32:40 I lift my hand to heaven and declare:
As surely as I live forever,
Dt 32:41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand grasps it in judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and repay those who hate me.
Dt 32:42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
while my sword devours flesh:
the blood of the slain and the captives,
the heads of the enemy leaders.”
Dt 32:43 Rejoice, O nations, with his people,
for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
he will take vengeance on his enemies
and make atonement for his land and people.”
Is that Unfair?
It’s not unjust. It’s not unfair.
Nor is it just empty words. It has happened. And it will happen to those people in the Chinese government who are perpetrating evil on God’s people in that country as well.
The Christians in China – they know this. They continue to follow Jesus. They know the risks – and still they will not turn away from Him.
For those of us in the rest of the world – we need to know what’s happening there. We need to support them. We also need to realize something from Deuteronomy – from an earlier portion of the previous passage, The Song of Moses.
Dt 32:35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
and their doom rushes upon them.”
The Roman government wasn’t overthrown and forced to become Christian. The emperor converted. No wars. No battles.
Remember, Jesus didn’t come to be an earthly king.
We don’t think like that anymore. We want to use military power to overthrow governments. God is left out of the picture.
Support can come in many ways. But whatever those ways are – fighting with weapons of war is not the way.
Remember what Paul said about weapons.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
These are the “weapons” of a Christian. And please – don’t forget about that last paragraph.
And don’t forget that many, many people don’t have the luxury of being able to follow Jesus without literal, life-threatening, danger.
Conclusion – China lawfully bombs megachurch in attempt to redefine Christianity
There’s a lot in here about right and wrong. And that right isn’t always lawful in our world. Nor is wrong always unlawful in our world.
And yet, in spite of that, we Christians must try to stay with what’s right in God’s eyes because those things are always lawful in His Kingdom.
Yes, people and governments may try to blow up, burn, or otherwise destroy our buildings. They may try to persecute Christians in various ways.
But they cannot take away our faith. They cannot remove God from our hearts.
The only one who can possibly take God away from us is ourselves. We can do that by focusing on the here and now instead of the eternal. By focusing on man’s laws instead of God’s laws. By caring more about our comfort than our souls.
Yes, there are many ways we can trip ourselves up. But if we turn to God for His strength, then we can also stay strong. Those two things will be seen by others. And that keeps God’s Kingdom strong on this earth.
China can blow up churches. The Bible tells us, especially as we approach the end, that this kind of thing will get worse and be spread across the earth. But we can keep them from blowing up our faith. And we can support each other.
When we do that, then I believe the words from Jesus to the Church in Philadelphia will help us.
Rev 3:7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.