China’s…Reforming…Churches. I’m probably only “qualified” on one of these three words to offer a perspective–“churches”–since I have never even stepped foot in China and I would not really consider myself “Reformed” in regards to baptism and certain aspects of soteriology. But, I knew that I had to read this book for a couple of reasons. First, it’s no secret that China, as a nation, is a major entity in the 21st century whether it be politics, religion, economics, culture, etc. Secondly, China has remarkably become a beacon of resurgence in Christianity, despite the legal threats to “unregistered” churches. It is amazing to hear of the testimonies of people who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, even if they faced severe repercussions for doing so. Although I came into reading this book as very uninformed regarding Chinese churches, I came away from it with much greater understanding of this huge ecclesiastical development.
One of the most eye-opening chapters in this whole book for me was the first chapter: “A Brief History of the Western Presbyterian and Reformed Mission to China.” What went on in missions prior to the late 1900s in China, was a question I had not really given a whole lot of thought, with the exception of looking into the history pre-Reformation, Roman Catholic missions. I discovered that China was actually in a theological crisis–much like America–during the 1800s and into the 1900s. Liberalism was the culprit, and it was extraordinarily insightful to hear of a positive result of the widespread persecution that pushed out many, if not most, Christians during the Communist Revolution. “It purged China of theologically liberal Western missionaries. Since then, many orthodox evangelical missionaries have returned to China, but relatively few theological liberals have.” No, Communism itself was not a “good” thing, but God brought good out of it.
I think the average American Christian would benefit from this read. No, he/she may not ever step foot into China, but oddly enough, many of the struggles that the Chinese churches face are evident around the world, including the United States. In fact, God may even use this book to motivate some of its readers to become missionaries to China. Perhaps some are already planning on doing so; if that’s the case, then this is the book to read. Though there are some less relevant chapters–particularly for believers who don’t adhere to Presbyterianism–as a whole, it is recommendable.
Many thanks to Cross Focused Book Reviews for a review copy of this book. All opinions were my own.