A One-China (Church) Policy

Werner Burklin says overseas evangelicals perpetuate the gulf between state-approved churches and illegal house churches.
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In a book that is part memoir, part polemic, Werner Burklin castigates overseas evangelicals that he says are perpetuating the gulf between state-approved churches and illegal house churches. Burklin, born in China to German missionary parents, returned in 1981 and was surprised at the warm reception he received from China's state-controlled church, contrary to warnings that he had received from underground Chinese house church leaders. Instead, Burklin saw a genuine Christian spirit.

In Burklin's China, the state-sanctioned China Christian Council (CCC) has "proven to be a binding force among churches. … In a number of regions of China, house churches have now registered with the government and thus found fellowship with the CCC. … The spirit of reconciliation, extended more readily by members of the CCC, is finally bearing fruit."

Last year, another portrait of the spread of "the spirit of reconciliation" by state-authorized churches was written by the director of the government's religious affairs office in Jiangsu Province. Of key house church leaders who refused to join a pro-government Three-Self church, according to the report: "199 people were arrested … and 12 were sentenced to reeducation through labor. Thus, illegal preaching and external infiltration were efficiently contained."

The Chinese government continues to try to enforce a religious monopoly. Burklin is well placed to advise the state to open up the religious market—much like the nation's fast-growing and diverse economy—to attain true reconciliation, rather than forcing churches to work with Communist Party ideologues, propagandists, and police.



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