My Declaration: The Faith of Disobedience

Pastor Wang Yi, December 24, 2018

 

Chengdu, WY, 64, SCMP

Pastor Wang Yi. “June 4th, pray for our country.” Photo: SCMP.

 

In line with the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the leaders that God placed in power over China, because the coming and going of kings and leaders is all His hands. In this vein, I shall obey the arrangements God has made for Chinese history and its government.

As a pastor of the Christian church, my starting point is the Bible, and I have my own understanding and views on society, politics, and law, as well as on the proper definitions of justice and benevolent governance. I abhor the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of the church, how it deprives people of their right to free faith. However, it is not my calling to bring about changes in politics or society, and neither is this the meaning of the Good News that God brings to his people.

All the ugliness of reality, with its political injustices and arbitrary application of the law, show that the cross of Jesus Christ is the Chinese people’s sole hope for salvation. It also shows that true hope and perfect human society cannot come about through any change in secular politics or culture—only through the forgiveness of human sin by Jesus Christ can man gain eternal life in Heaven.

As a pastor, my faith in the gospel and my teachings for the masses, as well as my condemnation of all sins, come from Christ’s command in the gospel, out of His unmeasurable love. Human life is so short. God is eager to command the church to lead and allows anyone to repent so long as they are willing. Christ is willing, and so urgently waiting, to forgive all those who turn from sin. This is the mission of all the work that the church is doing in China. It is to, before this world, bear witness to Christ, to bear witness to the kingdom of heaven before the Chinese, and to bear witness to the eternal life of heaven before the short life of the earth. This is my calling as a pastor.

For this reason, I accept and respect the CCP’s political power as a temporary state allowed by God. As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, a tyrant comes as God’s punishment for the wicked, with the purpose being to urge the people of God to repent. For this, I am willing to physically obey the rules of their law enforcement as a form of discipline and ordeal from the Lord.

At the same time, I must make it clear that the Communist regime’s persecution of the church is a heinous crime. As a pastor of the Christian church, I must resolutely and publicly condemn these sins. My calling also requires me to transgress all human laws, albeit nonviolently, that violate the Bible and God’s commandments. Christ, my Savior, also asks me to joyfully bear all the consequences that come with the transgression of these evil laws.

This, however, does not mean that my personal and clerical disobedience is a political act in the sense of rights defense or civil disobedience, for I have no intention to change any of China’s institutions or its laws. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is disobedience commanded by faith, a resistance that can bring a jolt to mortal sinners and serve as a testimony of the Christian cross.

As a pastor, my resistance is part of the Gospel mission. The great mission of Christ requires our great resistance in the face of worldly adversity. The purpose of resistance is not to change this world, but to bear witness to another world.

The mission of the church is simply to function as a church; it is not to be part of any secular institution. Speaking in a passive sense, the church must separate itself from the world and avoid letting itself be institutionalized by worldly influence. At the same time, all actions of the church are but efforts to prove to this world the reality of another world. The Bible teaches us that we can only obey God, not people, in matters concerning the gospel and human conscience. Therefore, disobedience out of faith and the resulting physical endurance are the ways we witness another, eternal world and the glory of its sovereign.

This is why I have no interest in changing any political and legal institutions in China. When or whether the CCP’s policies of persecution against the church will change is of no concern to me. No matter the regime, whether today or tomorrow, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the church and violate the human conscience, which belongs to God alone, I will continue my resistance as one of the faithful. Because all the missions that God has given me are manifested through the sum of my actions: I act so that more Chinese may understand that the hope of mankind and society lies only in Christian redemption of Christ, in the supernatural grace of God.

If God decides, by way of the CCP regime’s persecution of the church, to lead more Chinese people to a state of despair, make them experience the disillusionment of faith, so that they will come to know Jesus, overcome hardships, and build their own church, then I am very happy to obey God’s arrangements, because His are always loving and perfect.

It is precisely because in all my words and deeds I neither seek nor expect any changes in society or politics, I am no longer afraid of the powers that govern them. For the Bible teaches that God’s authority, by which governments are established, is something to be feared by those do evil, not good. Those who believe in Jesus do not do evil, and they should not fear the power of darkness. Although I am often weak, I believe that this is the promise of the gospel. It is the good news for which I have expended my every effort to spread throughout Chinese society.

I also understand that precisely for this reason, the Chinese Communist regime is full of fear for a church that no longer fears it.

Be the sentence long or short, if I am to be detained so that those in power may relax their fear of my faith and my Savior, I am happy to help them in this way. But I know that I can truly help the souls of those in power and law enforcement only when I say no to all the sinful persecution of the church, and take up peaceful means of resistance. I long for God to use me to tell those who rob me of my personal freedom that there exists an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot detain. That is the teaching of Jesus Christ, who died and was resurrected.

No matter what kind of crime this regime charges me with, no matter what kind of filth is thrown on me, as long as this crime is made to assault my beliefs, writing, speech, and missionary behavior, it is nothing but the devil’s lies and temptations. I will deny it all: I shall serve the sentence without serving the law, and refuse to admit guilt even if I accept the ruling of the law.

And I must point out that the most evil and terrible sin of Chinese society is the persecution of the Lord’s Church and of all Chinese who believe in Jesus Christ. This is not only a crime against Christians, but also a crime against all non-Christians. For through the government’s violence and cruelty, they have been prevented from coming to Jesus, and there is no greater sin than this.

If one day this regime is overthrown by God Himself, it will be for no other reason than His punishment and vengeance for the commission of this sin. On earth, there is a thousand-year-old church, but no regime can last a thousand years. There is only eternal faith, but no eternal power.

Those who hold me will be detained by angels. He who interrogates me will eventually be interrogated by Christ. With this in mind, the Lord has filled me with sympathy and sadness for those who detain and try me. I beg the Lord to use me, to give me the strength and wisdom to bring the gospel to them.

Tear me from my family, my reputation, and my well-being, there is nothing that those in power cannot do. However, no earthly force can compel me to give up my faith, to change my life, or raise me from the dead.

Thus, distinguished officials, I beseech you to stop doing evil, not for my sake, but for the sake of you and your children. I beg you to stop: there is no reason for you to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for so humble a sinner as myself.

Jesus is Christ, the Son of the Living God. He died for sinners and was resurrected for us. Yesterday, today, and for all time, he is my sovereign and Lord of all the world. I am His servant and for this I am detained. With gentleness I resist all those who resist God, and I will gladly disobey any law that does not obey God.

 

September 21, 2018 (first draft)
Revised on October 4, released by the church 48 hours after Wang Yi’s detention.

 

 

Appendix: What Is the Faith of Disobedience?

It is my firm belief that the Bible does not give any government or branch the authority to manage the church or Christianity. Thusly, the Bible requires me to peacefully resist all administrative and judicial forces that persecute the church and interfere with the Christian faith. It is a nonviolent resistance that I embrace with optimism and joy.

I firmly believe that this is an action rooted in faith. In the contemporary totalitarian state that persecutes the church and rejects the gospel, the faith of disobedience is an inevitable component in spreading the Good News.

I firmly believe the faith of disobedience is an act that signifies the end time. It is a testimony to the eternal city of God in the transient city of sin. The disobedient Christian, following the path and manner of the cross, follows the path of Christ, who was nailed to the crucifix. Peaceful resistance is the way we show our love for this world, but also the way in which we avoid being mixed up in it.

I believe that the Bible requires me to rely on the grace of Christ and the power of His resurrection to follow the two non-negotiable bottom lines in practicing this faith of disobedience.

First is the bottom line of the heart. The goal of the faith of disobedience is love for the soul, not hatred of the flesh. This resistance aims to change the soul, not the environment. Should, at any time, my peace and patience be overtaken by persecution from without, and in my heart arise resentment and bitterness towards those who persecute the church and slander Christians, then the goal of the faith of disobedience cannot be reached,

Second is the bottom line of behavior. The gospel requires that the resistance of faithful must be non-violent. The secret of the gospel lies in the enthusiastic endurance of hardship, a willingness to bear unrighteous punishment rather than resort to physical resistance.

Peaceful resistance is born of love and forgiveness. The cross means being willing to suffer when you don’t have to suffer. Because Christ’s ability to resist is unlimited, he was able to endure any humiliation and pain. Christ’s way of resistance, as he hung nailed to the cross, was to extend a olive branch of peace to the world that crucified him.

I believe that Christ calls upon me to use my whole life to practice the faith of disobedience in the face of this regime that rejects the gospel and persecutes the church. This is the way I preach the gospel, and it is the secret of my evangelism.

 

Wang Yi, the Lord’s Servant
September 21, 2018 (first draft)
Revised on October 4, released by the church 48 hours after Wang Yi’s detention.

 


Related:

The Crackdown on Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church: A Backgrounder, China Change, December 21, 2018.

 

 

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56 responses to “My Declaration: The Faith of Disobedience”

  1. […] 當無數人在世界各地聚集慶祝聖誕節的時候,中國也給國家主席習近平領導下的政府無情打擊國內非官方教會的一年畫上了句號。據估計,中國的民間教會有多達3000萬名信徒。習近平顯然擔心獨立的禮拜活動可能會威脅到執政的共產黨在中國日常生活中的主導地位,他尋求黨對基督教更牢固的控制。政府已在今年禁止了網上銷售《聖經》,還焚燒十字架,拆毀教堂,並迫使至少六個禮拜場所關閉。習近平是自毛澤東以來權力最大的中國領導人,他在更積極地控制中國各地的宗教活動,包括在西部新疆地區拘留了數千名穆斯林。打擊基督教的行動就發生在這個時候。 中國當局今年早些時候關閉了中部地區南陽市附近的一座教堂,這是反對獨立教會的廣泛運動的一部分。NG HAN GUAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS 中國人權維護者組織(Chinese Human Rights Defenders)的國際部主任夏雷妮(Renee Xia)說,這次行動打擊的是“地下基督教抵抗運動的核心”。政府的行動主要是針對宣揚社會公正等思想,或批評中共嚴格控制社會的民間基督教會。“傳遞的信息是,不要涉及習近平不喜歡的事情,”夏雷妮說。鎮壓行動在聖誕節前的幾周里已經升級。中國南方城市廣州的警方本月關閉了有40年曆史的榮桂裡教會,這個教會曾吸引了數千名前來做禮拜的人。今年9月,北京當局下令關閉了擁有1500名成員的錫安教會,這是北京最大的民間教會之一。 雖然政府要求宗教團體登記註冊,但許多人仍在非官方的教會做禮拜,這些民間教會有時也被稱為地下教會或家庭教會。據估計,基督教是中國發展最快的宗教。黨內的許多人認為,基督教宣揚的西方價值觀和人權等思想,與中國威權政府的目標有衝突,也與習近平推崇的中國傳統文化和強調服從與秩序的儒家教義相抵觸。但是,政府搗毀幾個知名教會所採用的高壓手段遭到了基督徒們的抵制。平安夜,當局在秋雨聖約會原址貼出告示,稱位於23層的會堂已被改造為地方政府的辦公場地。成都教師李雙德(音)自2011年起就是秋雨聖約會的成員。他說,當局要求教會成員在聲明自己不再信仰基督教的信上簽名。他說,秋雨聖約會除了繼續秘密存在下去,別無選擇。“我們已經轉移到地下,”他說。 今年9月,北京錫安教會的警察。當局下令關閉了這個有1500人的教會,它是首都最大的非官方教會之一。 ANDY WONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS 教會成員們繼續在星期日做禮拜,有時是在市中心一座高層建築附近的河邊,秋雨聖約會的總部以前在那棟大樓裡。他們呼籲政府釋放被拘留的教會領袖,包括秋雨的牧師王怡和他的妻子蔣蓉。王怡在一份事先寫好的文章中談了不服從的重要性,該文是在他被拘留後公佈的。“中共政權對教會的逼迫是極其邪惡的犯罪行為,”他寫道。“作為基督教會的牧師,我必須對這樣的罪惡發出嚴厲和公開的責備。”王怡原定在秋雨聖約會做平安夜佈道,題目是“賜平安的主”。但數百名秋雨聖約會的成員周一隻能分散在成都各地,在親友家中或歡迎他們的教堂裡參加禮拜。在成都溪水旁歸正福音教會,100多人聚集在一棟公寓樓16層的一個禮拜堂裡,該新教教會與秋雨聖約會有密切的關係。一個兒童唱詩班唱了《平安夜》,講台旁邊擺著一棵裝飾著雪花的小聖誕樹。禮拜活動籠罩在最近的逮捕所帶來的焦慮氣氛下。“如果你看到警方、國家安全部門或社區的工作人員,跟他們和藹地打招呼,”溪水旁長老溫洪斌對會眾說。“如果他們試圖搶走麥克風的話,我請坐在前排的弟兄們設法阻止他們。” 錫安教會的入口,自9月以來,警察已將這裡查封。 ANDY WONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS 雖然溫洪斌沒有明確提到秋雨,但他要求在場的人記住“那些遭到刑事拘留的人”。然後,他開始了一場關於聖誕節的意義和耶穌所做犧牲的佈道。 自從習近平2012年上台以來,當局一直在領導一場打擊未註冊教會的持續運動。據倡導組織統計,從2014年到2016年,僅在一個省,就有1500多個十字架從教堂上拆除。今年,中國一些城市已禁止了與聖誕節有關的展示。不過,政府也允許一定程度的慶祝,這部分是為了刺激經濟。在四川省會成都,城裡的街道上可以同時看到聖誕樹和政治宣傳海報,購物中心播放的背景音樂中可以聽到《胡桃夾子》。 美國官員們一直在譴責中國政府限制基督教傳播的努力。“因為他們敢於做禮拜,並敢於以和平的方式踐行自己的信仰,中國的基​​督徒和其他宗教社區正受到圍攻,他們被視為國家的敵人,”佛羅里達州參議員馬爾科·盧比奧( Marco Rubio)和新澤西州眾議員克里斯·史密斯(Chris Smith)在一份聯合聲明中譴責了最近的拘留行動。不過,中國在國際事務中日益增長的影響力使其免遭某些批評。一個值得注意的沉默者是梵蒂岡。今年9月,為結束圍繞著中國主教任命權長達幾十年的權力鬥爭,梵蒂岡與中國政府達成了一項臨時協議。梵蒂岡說,已在本月派了一個由教會領導人組成的代表團前往中國,商討協議的細節,但拒絕就中國打壓基督教會的做法發表評論。儘管習近平努力擴大無神論的共產黨對宗教活動的控制,但中國的宗教生活仍很興旺。 秋雨聖約教會的成員繼續在星期日做禮拜,有時是在市中心的一條河邊,教會以前的總部就在那附近。THE NEW YORK TIMES 雖然官方數據並不准確,但專家們認為,中國約有6000萬名基督徒,其中約有一半在政府許可的教會做禮拜,另一半則在民間教會做禮拜。像秋雨這樣擁有500多名成員的獨立教會,近年來吸引了大批信徒,尤其是白領階層,他們希望擺脫位於中國現代生活中心氾濫的物質主義。雖然在政府許可的教會里布道通常是嚴格的照本宣科,但在獨立教會裡常常能聽到嚴厲指責腐敗官員、呼籲保護窮人權利的響亮聲音。王怡2008年成立的秋雨聖約會是最大膽的民間教會之一。王怡把習近平稱為罪人,他每年都在天安門事件紀念日舉行祈禱會,紀念1989年在北京天安門廣場被殘酷鎮壓的民主示威活動。他還組織了一個支持中國政治犯親屬的基金。 賣大米的顧先生兩年前在網上看到了一個王怡激昂佈道的視頻之後,開始參加秋雨的禮拜活動。他覺得,王怡對窮人的關懷與自己的看法一致,顧先生認為,政府毀壞工人的房屋為給高檔開發項目開路的做法是虐待工人,侵犯人權。顧先生去年接受了洗禮。“我看到了社會的不公,”顧先生說。“我明白了政府宣傳的中國是一個公正、文明的法制國家的說法全是謊言。”由於擔心自己的安全,顧先生最近停止了自己的生意,希望能躲過政府的審查。他說,看到自己的朋友被警察逮捕,已讓他變得越來越害怕。近日來,顧先生經常從聖經裡尋找支持。有時,他會背誦《箴言》中的一段話:“義人的路,好像黎明的光,越照越明,直到日午。” […]

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