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An Examination of
Chinese Christianity (1989-2001)
in the Light of
Francis Schaeffer’s “True Spirituality”
MH 500 Global Evangelical Movement
School of World Mission
Fuller Theological Seminary
FTS # 882
Laura Li-Hua Sun
March 22, 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. Purpose of the Paper............................................................................................3
C. Scope/ Methodology ...........................................................................................4
D. Time Line of “Human Rights & Mission to China”............................................4
II. 21st Century-- China’s Dragon or Eagle Century?............................................................4
A. Human Right & China Mission 1989-2008........................................................5
1. 1989 Massacre verse My First Trip to Shanghai in 1990as nowhere near peace. .................5
2. Mission 92’ verse 1997 Hong Kong Take Over......................................................................7
3. 1999 Religion Crack Down verse My Vision of “ Mission to China” ...................................7
4. Living on Earth as in Heaven?................................................................................................8
B. Facing Changes, a Dragon or an Eagle?..............................................................8
1. 2002 China and Taiwan join World Trade Organization (WTO) .........................................9
2. 2008 Olympic in Beijing .......................................................................................................9
3. Cultural Changes and Christian Faith ..................................................................................10
4. Christianity in the Communist China from 1989-2001........................................................10
4a. Roman Catholics, Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and House Church ...............11
4b. Cultural Christians (CCs)....................................................................................................11
5. Critical Phenomenon in the Christianity of China Today...................................................12
III. EXPLORATION OF Dr. Franscis Schaeffer’s ..............................................................13
insights in the Chinese Context ...........................................................................................13
A. Healing and Deliverance from a Chinese Eastern Approach............................14
1. The Chinese Way of Belief ..................................................................................................15
2. False Spirituality --New Religious Movements (NRMs)......................................................16
3. Transcendental Mysticism ....................................................................................................17
B. Schaffer’s “True Spirituality”............................................................................18
1. The Practice of Community and Freedom ...........................................................................19
2. Persecution, Suffering and Revival—as Heaven on the Earth ............................................20
C. Real Spirituality--Worship in the “Kingdom of God”......................................21
VI. Reference Cited .............................................................................................................29
IV. Conclusion and Missional Application ..........................................................................22
China’s worldwide influence in the 21st century is indisputable; its importance in eco-
nomics, politic and international relations is inescapable. However, I would like to envision a
“True-Spirituality” of Christianity in China, which is so called—“Middle Kingdom”. And it
would be a celebration of praise and worship to the Almighty God along with the opening cere-
mony of the Olympics 2008 in Tiananmen Square twenty years after the infamous massacre.
Twenty years in contemporary time maybe is a long time because of the extremely fast changes,
which may occur daily. Twenty years is also the time for an infant to grow into as an indepen-
dent adult. At the beginning of my faith journey, (which is also about twenty years) in Taipei,
Taiwan, Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was the most significant figure influencing my Christian
worldview. Schaeffer had been called by Time magazine “the missionary to the Intellectuals in
the 20th Century.”
A. Purpose of the Paper
Through this paper, I would like to survey and discover what culture; political, economical
and spiritual phenomena undergirded and influenced the Communism in China, which evolved
eventually from 1989 to 2001. Then I will reflect on the necessity the vision of “True Spirituali-
ty” to be realized. Then, as a result, a Christian China may be birthed and nurtured. After the
healing and deliverance and turn toward to the “Kingdom of God”,”True Spirituality” of Chris-
tianity China would be able to carry “Father’s heart of healing” for the nations.
The thesis of this paper is that a re-examination of Chinese Christianity (1989-2001) in the
light of Francis Schaeffer’s “True-Spirituality” should be able to apply to the Christianity China
in the Global Evangelical Mission of the 21st Century.
C. Scope/ Methodology
From archival and current research and reading, for the time frame of 1989-2008, I also in-
clude some Internet research. This study will also reflect on two reports of field trips. One visit
was to Shanghai in 1990. The second resource was from a mission trip report from a friend,
Mary. In January of 1989, the Lord told Mary that He wanted her to go to China one day. Mary
did not want to do it because she thought she would not be able to survive. After the trip1, she
was glad she went and she had “more than” survived. This was the in the spring of 2001.
D. Time Line of “Human Rights & Mission to China”
1989 1997 1999 2008
1990 1992 2001 2002
1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre/ 1990 My First Trip to Shanghai
1992 Mission 92’ / 1997 Hong Kong Take Over
1999 Religion Crack down vs. My Vision of Mission to China
2001 Mary’s Mission Trip to China
2002 China, Taiwan Join WTO/ 2008 Olympics to be held in China
II. 21ST CENTURY-- CHINA’S DRAGON OR EAGLE CENTURY?
As the 21st century began, it was called China’s Dragon Century2. Many believed that Chi-
na would emerge as the most influential of nations, dominating the world’s economy and poli-
tics, and would take its place as a “superpower.” However, with a burgeoning population of over
1.3 billion, a fifth of the world’s total, China’s people need feeding. Economic experts have pre-
dicted that China will cease to be self-sufficient by the next century and will begin to absorb in
the world’s resources. Basically, China cannot be ignored.
However, what role do Christians have in all this? The Chinese Church has grown tremen-
dously, but this vast country is still barely 6% Christian. If Peoples Republic China aspires to
worldwide influence, what leaven will God’s people provide? How will their influence permeate
society for God’s glory? Instead of clinging to that fearful, and horrible image of the dragon—
that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan (Rev. 12:9), will China be waiting on the Lord and
soar on wings like eagle ( Isa. 40:31), or fire bird (火鳳凰—Chinese eagle) ?
A. Human Right & China Mission 1989-2008
The humiliation faced by Western imperialism on a proud and resourceful suffered by a
proud Chinese people erupted into violence in 1900. This involved the forced exportation of opi-
um and the resulting Boxer Rebellion. This imperialistic oppression was never forgotten. Suspi-
cion of the West has strongly influenced China's history up to the 20th century, even to the
1. 1989 Massacre verse My First Trip to Shanghai in 1990as nowhere near peace.
Beginning with the Cultural Revolution3 (1966-1976), the youth under the age of 18 had
not been allowed to attend an official church, to read the Bible, or to be baptized. The combina-
tion of a lack of spiritual values, discontent with the tenets and ideas of the Communist Party,
and increasing openness to Western ideas, finally drove youth and adult workers alike to the
streets of the Capital, Beijing, to demonstrate for democracy (Waley-Cohen 1999: 275-278).
The Gate of Heaven Peace4 or Tiananmen Square which is in front of the former Imperial
Palace. It was a paradox. Here that the massacre of students took place in June 4, 1989. The vi-
olence and blood shed in Tiananmen Square have come to symbolize the triumph of the spirit
over brute force. The Leaders of China failed to realize that the main casualty of the massacre
was the communist system, which was rejected by humankind in other countries of the world.
However, ten years after the bloody end to the Tiananmen Square protests, the Chinese govern-
ment has still refused to acknowledge5 any wrongdoing. In the days before the ten-year anniver-
sary, China prevented CNN from broadcasting into Beijing and arrested several dissidents who
had not escaped.
In 1990 I took my first trip to Shanghai6. As a journalist for a secular newspaper, I was
supposed to report and witness the open door of the China-Taiwan relationship from the perform-
ing Arts, culture events to focus on the music. However, due to some “ bureaucracy” legal pro-
cedure, which stated, “You are not allowed to report” prohibited my covering story for reading. I
did privately continue to interview a 70-year-old Christian hymn composer, Ga-shun, Ma (馬革
順) who was then a music professor at Shanghai Music College. As an intellectual, Ma during
the Cultural Revolution in the1960s was able to survive. There was a Chinese calligraphy—“馬
革裹屍”-- hanging on the wall of his living room. This evidenced that Ma’s commitment to the
Lordship of Jesus Christ as “remain faithful to even when facing death” which was recorded in
the Book of Revelation 2:10.
I also had interviewed Ma when he visited my homeland in Taipei as the first Mainland
musician invited to Taipei, Taiwan to do a master class. This occurred one month before my trip
to Shanghai. In the meantime, I was also using “ Schaeffer”( 薛華) as my pseudonym for the
Christian Tribune7 in Taipei as a freelance correspondent as well.
2. Mission 92’ verse 1997 Hong Kong Take Over
After arriving the Unites States fro graduate study, I attended the “Mission 92” Conference
in Washington D.C. sponsored by a parachurch organization--Ambassadors for Christ, Inc8. At
the end of Conference, I knew that the Lord wanted me to continue to stay in the United States
not knowing “why” at that moment. As I reflected, I realize that God was preparing my heart for
mission in China through association with many intellectuals9 from Mainland China I was to
meet later. The Lord spoke to my heart when I read Ezekiel 3:5 “You are not being sent to a peo-
ple of obscure speech and difficult language but to the house of Israel.”
China has benefited greatly by the shift in economic prowess from the West to Asia; her re-
acquisition of Hong Kong has further enhanced her progress. Since 1997, Hong Kong has been
also an important step in the restoration of national pride and self- assertion. In the hand–over
ceremony in July of 1997 it was stated that 150 years of humiliation under foreign powers were
now finally ended.
3. 1999 Religion Crack Down verse My Vision of “ Mission to China”
Whether patriotic, religious, spiritual, or intellectual—these continue to cause much anxiety
for Chinese political leaders. Any religious movements may be viewed as counter to government
policies. For instance, the Fa-lun Gong a religious movement, which became public in 1999. It
blends exercise, meditation in a mystical philosophy from the elements of Buddhism, Taoism,
and traditional Chinese morality. With an estimated 70 million members in the Mainland China,
the Communist government wants them silenced10.
On December of 1999, in my spirit, I saw a vision of "Mission to China" during a memorial
service11 at the Boulder Presbyterian Church in Colorado. My vision included a wedding, in
which the couple stood at that church altar. To the right of the bride were the four Chinese char-
acters of “Mission to China” –宣教中國. I did not have a very clear idea of what " Mission to
China” meant until I read a confidential report from a friend of mine, Mary who had made a mis-
sion trip to China in spring, 2001.
4. Living on Earth as in Heaven?
This question “Living on Earth as in Heaven?” as asked by my friend, as she reflected on
her report of the experiences that touched her most deeply. A prayer by Sarah, whom she met be-
fore lunch one day, was “Thank you Lord for giving us lives ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.” How
could Sarah pray like that?
Mary realized that many of the students she met during this trip had been persecuted be-
cause of their faith during these years. Many were in prison for years. Many of them could not
go home because the police were looking for them. They were prepared to escape any time.
They were living in very poor conditions – only some basic needs could be met. They did not
have good food. They ate little meat, just salty vegetables with porridge and brown man-tou
(Chinese bread). Their living conditions were very bad12. Yet Sarah had prayed that they were
living on earth as it is in heaven! Mary thought that truly, “In Christ, the poor can be rich and the
weak can be strong.” After all, “They are richer and stronger than most of the Christians in the
B. Facing Changes, a Dragon or an Eagle?
The answer to the question of “Facing Changes, China will be a Dragon or an Eagle?” in-
volves discussion of following five issues.
1. 2002 China and Taiwan join World Trade Organization (WTO)
The global connection of the world is in no small part of economic issues. Thus, the Asian
economic connection was firmly cemented by World Trade Organization and the membership of
both China and Taiwan. Although these immense economic exchanges are developing, the
poverty situation in China, which Mary experienced, is still prevalent. The urban areas are de-
veloping; but the vast rural population does not seem to benefit. Despite the poverty situation
which Mary recently experienced in the rural area of China.
In early 2002, Mainland China and Taiwan both are become WTO members. As a result,
people predict for instance13 that the China's banking, securities, insurance, automobile, oil prod-
ucts and communications industries will greatly benefit from the expansion of markets. Also
economic analysts predicted that international investment groups would allow the management
capability of the Taiwan businessmen to invest in the mainland. This provides opportunity for
the Taiwan businessmen to expand their market influence.
2. 2008 Olympic in Beijing
The second issue in answering the question of “ Dragon” or “ Eagle” is the World
Olympics is to be held in Beijing. As the modern Olympics Movement has entered the new mil-
lennium, China, the largest developing country in the world-- and after twenty years of Tianan-
man Square Massacre--Beijing will be the Host City for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in
2008. With the motto "New Beijing, Great Olympics" and the goal to host a "Green Olympics",
a "Hi-tech Olympics" and the "People's Olympics", Beijing is attempting to be ready to be an in-
ternational city, a mix of modernization and historical legacy including the Massacre in 1989. As
one sips a cappuccino at Starbucks Cafe nestled under the golden roofs of the Imperial Palace in
Beijing or takes a rickshaw trip through the high-rise buildings in the central business center, one
might find the seamless union of the city's past and present14.
3. Cultural Changes and Christian Faith
Another issue in the Dragon–Eagle question must involve the cultural changes and Chris-
tian faith. Before 1949, Christianity in China remained deeply influenced by European theologi-
cal and cultural presuppositions. The Tianmen Square Massacre in June 4th 1989 was a response
to the Communism since 1949 and its devastating societal problems was a watershed. The
doubts, the uncertainties of so many intellectuals in China concerning the Communist ideology,
were sadly confirmed by the subsequent brutal suppression of all dissent.
There can be no doubt that contemporary Chinese society is in series crisis. The search for
all forms of cultural expression through music, art, writing, media, and performance are some
kind of ungodly and related to the best in Chinese tradition. Although Christianity was intro-
duced to China many centuries ago, it still remains marginal to the Chinese culture. In fact it is
more marginal than some other religions. It seems to be the nature of the Chinese culture to hold
all religions at arm’s length sometimes more favorable to one but it appears essentially too pro-
foundly humanistic to be closely united with any (Alan 1985:125). Today’s China in its cultural
climate seems to be similar to the western world in that one questions and even rejects the En-
lightenment spawned its categories of reason and rationality, to and welcome intuition via a spiri-
4. Christianity in the Communist China from 1989-2001
To continue the discussion of the issue in Dragon–Eagle, whenever Christianity made con-
tact with many Chinese cultures, the inculturation of Christianity did happen. Christianity in
China needs to be observed as an outcome of social and cultural conditions, and thus to be under-
stood historically and contextually. Especially during 1989-2001, Christianity Churches are
growing in the Mainland China.
4a. Roman Catholics, Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and House Church
According to the Chinese Patriotic Association in 1992 the number of Roman Catholics
was about four million15. The Protestants as represented by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
(TSPM) continue to experience vital growth during the 1990s16. The indigenous Christian
movements such as the True Jesus Church, the Jesus Family, the Little Flock and the Born Again
all claim several million of Christians17. This tremendous Christward movement is almost en-
tirely a peasant phenomenon. It has barely touched the cities, much less the educated Chinese.
There is a strong emphasis on evangelists in distant villages and among ethnic minority groups.
One common vision is that the China Christians will be ones who will finish the mission to the
unleash peoples and to bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem till the Second Coming (Lundstrom
4b. Cultural Christians (CCs)
A new phenomenon during the last decade or so is the appearance of what Bishop K. H.
Ting calls “Cultural Christians.” The term refers not to active Christians but rather to a section
of Chinese intelligentsia. These bring a positive approach and connection to the Bible, Christian-
ity Christian music and art. Many call themselves ‘Christians’ even if they are not baptized or
active churchgoers (Lundstrom 2000: 39)18.
The CCs phenomenon, according to Liu Xiaofeng who introduced the term CCs, is a reac-
tion to the gap between the Chinese Church, modern society and modern life. The CCs have a
subjective and individual relationship to the Bible. It would be possible to assume that the CCs
rejection of the Church--the organized Church--partly depended on different and more positive
views of the Kingdom of God and the Second Coming of Christ. Compared to the unregistered
House Churches, which want to control “the faith of the believers”, the CCs do not. House
Churches read the Bible with a fundamentalist interpretation, but CCs appear more free and lib-
eral (Lundstrom 2000: 191).
5. Critical Phenomenon in the Christianity of China Today
One can observed that during the last fifty years a new picture of Chinese Christianity has
appeared. The Catholic Patriotic Association and the Protestant Three Self Movement (PTSM)
have proved very loyal to the communist Party and thus the government has given them a certain
degree of acceptance.
The unregistered Church also known as the underground Churches or House Churches has
grown even faster and has been able to contextualize the Christian faith in a very authentic way.
Most of the House churches, (as Mary mentioned in her report19), meet at home to avoid the un-
godly governmental control. Even though the Catholic and the Protestant Church may be polar-
ized into “registered” and “underground”, both groups continue to experience vital growth and
an acceptance on a “folk level.” Also among the intellectuals, Christianity is attracting many
people on a cultural level even few join the existing registered churches (Lundstrom 2000: 40).
With the growth of Christianity, the diversity of ethnicity, and the doctrinal differences,
however, there are some critical questions facing Chinese Christians today. These are issues of
the integrity of Church, attitudes toward a critical theology, church unity, church organization
(such as the of China Christian Council (CCC) and PTSM), leadership and finances (Andeney
In retrospection, the Tiananmen Massacre and its aftermath have exacerbated many of the
pre-existing and devastating problems. These have been a long-standing issue between the rela-
tionships of Christianity to Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese culture has been molded by
Confucianism with its secular and ethical emphasis. Philosophical Taoism has also provided a
counterpoint to the main theme of Confucianism, usually expressed within art and poetry and of-
ten representing the private face of the official who in public life was Confucian (Adeney
III. EXPLORATION OF DR. FRANSCIS SCHAEFFER’S
INSIGHTS IN THE CHINESE CONTEXT
Dr. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was an influential apologist for Christianity in
the1960s. As a theologian cum-critic of the arts, he wrote prolifically and was a noted speaker,
along with his wife Edith20. L'Abri (Shelter/Refuge) Fellowship developed in various countries.
These still exist and models for some. As noted previousy, my early Christianity life was greatly
influenced by the Schaeffers. Therefore, I would like to re-discover Dr. Schaeffer’s apologetics
in the Chinese context. It is not that I endorse the Western intellectual approach. However, I ap-
preciate Dr. Schaeffer’s biblical insights in terms of the spirituality issues and the arts. The era
of Schaeffer and the Chinese Culture Revolution is the1960s.
Many of the generation from the Cultural Revolution are considered in China to have “fall-
en spiritually” beyond redemption. After the original collapse of faith many of them could find
no new inner strength support, nor did they seek any—not even from Confucianism. As a result,
common denomination is cynicism.
Members of the “playful generation” which followed the Cultural Revolution, on the other
hand, tend toward true nihilism. If they believe in anything, it is nothing. They have developed
to its extreme the cynic who characterizes that part of the generation of the Cultural Revolution.
They are contemptuous of old forms of fame, achievement, morality, status, and authority, but
they also scorn the unscrupulous maneuvering and enslavement to cash and vulgarity that, in
their view, characterizes Chinese society now. In other words, life is very boring and uninterest-
In short, members of the generation of the Cultural Revolution and most members of the
playful generation have adopted an attitude of indifference toward the important issues of morali-
ty and belief. The cynicism and despair of the youth are centered on “ three crisis of belief”: cri-
sis of faith, crisis of confidence, and crisis of trust. Their retreats into egoism are facts that can-
not and should not be disregarded.
The “sickness21” that infects the spirit of Chinese youth today is the reflection of a general
“sickness” in Chinese society as a whole. Its roots lie in the system of Mao’s communistic rule,
the inability of China’s ruling group to point a way out for the country, and the rampant spread of
commodity capitalism. Throughout the economy and the whole society these circumstances in
the “commodity economy” is a Pandora’s box of egoism, greed, sycophancy, deceit, violence,
crime, graft, gambling and prostitution. These evils infest Chinese society today. Therefore, a
nervous anxiety has become China’s overriding national characteristic. And, of course, it is
young people who are the most nervous and the most anxious (Hunter 1992: 85-89).
A. Healing and Deliverance from a Chinese Eastern Approach
Although the issues of political, economic and cultural and spiritual deficits that lead to the
bankruptcy of morality and belief, I believe that the deepest issues is finding a true spirituality.
Besides the atheism of Communism, Mary’s report indicated that there is a tremendous need for
healing and deliverance22 from a Chinese Eastern approach. A very popular way for Chinese
people, including Christians before their conversion, is to desire a spiritual “enlargement” or “en-
lightenment” to spirituality. There are hundreds of versions of the spirituality exist in Chinese
1. The Chinese Way of Belief
The Chinese culture is very pragmatic and values all aspects of life by their usefulness for
everyday living. This is deeply influenced by the Confucians philosophy. It is a concrete-rela-
tional style of thinking, a pragmatic approach to life, and ancestral worship as a major cultural
value. The traditional philosophy is passed on to each new generation by ancient literal classics
such as I-Ching and Lao Zi-Ching. A central value is to preserve and not to disturb the balance
in all aspects of life24.
In general the Confucian way of life shares one common, central belief: that all reality —
people animals, insects, and the material cosmos —are ultimately and spiritually all one. Within
an Eastern belief system, then, all humans reach true enlightened spirituality by a change of per-
spective and consciousness that penetrates the illusion of particular, personal forms of existence
in order to realize the oneness of all things.
Emersion in a culture of Pantheism, as noted above, would lead a long time converted Chi-
nese Christian to have the following: “I must confess, when I think about death. I want there to
be a personal God. But when I think about living a changed life in this world, I tend to want to
continue to follow the Confucian teachings.” This monologue is a poignant example of the spiri-
tual need and the “Eastern” quest for fulfillment. It clearly points to the desperately autonomous
and rebellious tendencies currently existing in the developing People’s Republic of China.
On the one hand, the Chinese want a personal God to be there, to care for them, and to take
them to heaven when they die. On the other, they just want happiness and an escape from the
troubles and threats of this world, while avoiding any accountability to moral goodness and the
God who requires it of them. They want spiritual solutions to mend personal psychological bro-
kenness and pain, but they do not want to see the connection between the pain and tragedy in this
world and their own moral corruption and impotence. However, the desire to be “big” like God
— to escape the limitations of finite human nature and its condition — lies at the center of false
2. False Spirituality --New Religious Movements (NRMs)
As one can observe, the Chinese churches have come under severe testing. Countless num-
ber of people comes to the Lord but many are simply lost to the cults or so called New Religious
Movements such as Fa-lun Gong and Eastern Lightning25.
Now, to refer to Schaeffer and his Christian apologetics26, the Christianity Trinitarian God
is in the nature, but also outside of the nature. God created and cares for the creation. God made
human creatures of both matter and spirit. Human beings are inescapably creatures of both the
material and immaterial--bone, blood, flesh along with mind, ideas, and beliefs. Thus, as God is
metaphysically non-material, so He has created humanity to have a metaphysically non-material
Secondly, God is not just "non-material"; He is also a moral Being. He created our spiritual
(metaphysical) being to have a moral nature, just as He does. In biblical terms, our spiritual be-
ing and our moral nature are so intertwined that one cannot be altered or affected without conse-
quences to the other. Thus, humanity’s moral decision to rebel against God leads to a metaphysi-
cal consequence: humanity’s spiritual existence was condemned to alienation from God. The
Bible calls this death.
Third, humanity’s lust to be “like” God was a desire to possess a "big" metaphysical nature
— self-determining, powerful, and worthy of awe — through the knowledge available by eating
the fruit. Then as a consequence of the moral-spiritual rebellion against God, humans are now
trapped in a condition of moral ignorance and impotence.
Fourth, humans remain conscious, however, of something at the very core of their being
that cries out for healing and fulfillment. The Chinese people are aware that humans are small,
finite creatures, unable to control the powers of nature and the momentum of cultural and histori-
cal forces around. As a result, even in the rebellion against God, the Chinese people continue to
need and to seek the healing of their spiritual condition. As long as they recognize that some-
thing is missing, they feel that they are spiritually incomplete.
By transcending or adding to the present metaphysical dimensions, the Chinese people be-
lieve that they will find the spiritual fulfillment they sense they need. They attribute to this meta-
physical transcendence liberation to a new level of being and freedom from the constraints,
boundaries, and disappointing limitations of the present condition. As a result, on this soil of
false spirituality, the transcendental mysticism-- new religious movements spring up27.
3. Transcendental Mysticism
In the West, the death of “drug optimism” and the decline of the New Left at the end of the
1960s had given rise to another crucial factor: transcendental mysticism. It also took many
forms – New Religious Movements came to the foreground and attracted many. As the wind of
this trend has now blown to China, Fan-lung Gong and Eastern Lightning has taken the form as
transcendental mysticisms also.
Basically, what unites the various forms of transcendental mysticism, as noted by Schaef-
fer, is a downplaying or denial of reason. It is an attempt to find a different kind of “trip”, a
“trip” produced by something other than drugs. Some of it is straight Eastern thinking, some an
amazing mixture of mysticism and the occult, and some is demonic. In one way, it really
amounts to a religion. However, with the rejection of reason, without rational categories, the
word “Christ” may mean nothing instead of being a personal Savoir and Lord.
B. Schaffer’s “True Spirituality”
What is the difference between Schaeffer’s True-Spirituality and the Chinese Eastern ap-
proach, such as bowing down before the “living dead”, which is known as ancestor worship,
what is the Symbolism involved?
For the Christina and the Christian message to the world, Jesus is the only “living dead”,
the resurrected One overcoming, conquering death. That is why the Christian faith turns on “the
reality of God’s existence, His being there.” And, it also turns on an acceptance of the fact that
humanity’s dilemma is moral and not metaphysical. Each must face these two issues on his/her
own level as a matter of truth.
As a person is faced with God’s word in the Bible, the Christian faith means bowing twice:
first to bow in the realm of Being (metaphysically) or to acknowledge that one is a creature be-
fore the infinite-person Creator who is there. Second, one needs to bow in the realm of morals—
that is, to acknowledge sin and that there is true moral guilt before the God who is there. If one
has true moral guilt before an infinite God, one has the problem that as a finite being, one has no
way to remove the guilt. Thus, what is needed is a “non-humanist solution.” There must be con-
frontation with God’s propositional promise, believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved
(Schaeffer 1968: 133, 134).
Ultimately, true spirituality, “is about knowing and loving the God who is there. He is a
very particular Creator God who is very specific in His nature as our Creator, our Judge, and our
Redeemer.” Therefore, true spirituality, is about learning to love what this God loves and to hate
what He hates28.
1. The Practice of Community and Freedom
When facing the issue of the “dying” of the Western culture and the Western church at the
end of the twentieth century, Schaeffer tried to provide some tough-minded answers. Also, with
the issues of the institutional church, Schaffer presented a classic analysis of form and freedom,
setting forth a solid basis for genuinely biblical Christian communities, thus to produce “ a revo-
lutionary Christianity.” He strongly affirmed that one needs to teach a Christianity of content
and purity of doctrine; also that truth must be practiced in the ecclesiastical affairs and in reli-
gious cooperation if humanity -- young and old-- is to take the claim of truth seriously
The true Christian life, true spirituality, is not merely a negative not – not feeding a list of
rules and regulations. It is more than refraining from certain religious taboos in a mechanical
way. Desire becomes sin when it fails to include love of God or humanity (Schaffer 1971: 9).
With the “Fall” all became abnormal. It is not just that the individual is separated from God by
true moral guilt, but each is not what God made him/her to be. Beyond each of us as individuals,
there are human relationships, which are not what God meant them to be. And beyond that, all
creation is abnormal -- the whole cause-and-effect on humanity and nature is now abnormal. In
another words, there is much in history now, which should not be. The five thousand years of
Chinese history validates this truth, as does the history of the world’s culture and societies.
The practice of community and faith, which Schaeffer advocates and which should be a
unique phenomenon in the world, is not really fully practice or lived out in the current Chinese
Christina Communities such as PTSM/ CCC, Indigenous House Church movements and Culture
Christians. Though each has a witness to Jesus Christ and faith, each group has distinctive tents
of belief and the interpretations of the Bible. In Schaeffer’s point of view, therefore it is a spiri-
tual problem and of/in community, changes under the direction of the Holy Spirit need to be
made. It is a spiritual problem, not an intellectual problem. The community and polity stand to-
gether, but within this double form, there must be freedom in which the Holy Spirit may lead dif-
ferent people at different times, different congregations meeting different congregational needs.
Christians must make themselves available to the existential leading of the Holy Spirit.
Chinese Christians should be thankful there is a given form in the Bible, especially from
the Luke-Acts section in the New Testament. One must be careful to ensure that one is not
bound by unbiblical forms, by forms which have become tradition to and which have no “abso-
lute” place in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Schaeffer affirmed that the polity and practice
in the church of the clearly given biblical norms should be open to negotiation among God’s peo-
ple under the leadership of the Holy Spirit (1970: 75-77).
2. Persecution, Suffering and Revival—as Heaven on the Earth
Many serious problems are facing Chinese Christians and these are growing more urgent
as time goes on. The Christianity through centuries in China has been accused as being a foreign
religion29. Anti-foreign sentiments and the fact that the Christian “way” has been culturally asso-
ciated with the Western imperialistic powers have often caused the reactions against Christiani-
ty30. However, the ten devastating years of the Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976, have result-
ed in an unusual depth of faith. These suffering Christians have embraced the promise of “as
heaven on the earth” (as discussed on page 6), is obvious to those from the “outside” such as my
friend, Mary, who visited with these Christians.
An unofficial survey in 1999 indicated that in fifty years under the Communist government
and rule, the Christian population grew to more than 30,000,000. Chinese Christianity has con-
tinuing to indeed been both suffering and growing. Revival is expanding in China. According to
Revival Chinese Ministries International (RCMI31), the worship service during the fire of revival
rekindled in Shangdong, this past winter of 2001 was “filled with the presence of God like gush-
es of fresh air ventilating the warm room. It was like wind in spring and rain in autumn32.”
At the turn of the last century, Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California in America recorded
a 20th Century wave of the Holy Ghost revival. In China, a similar revival took place in Shan-
dong Province--the home place of Confucianism, during the early 1920s and 1930s. Though
Shandong may have lost the “fire of its glorious past”, there are signs that the Spirit of revival is
returning to Shandong. This is the province from which my father came. Before fleeing to Tai-
wan at the Communist take over in 1949. I have told that one of the relatives who became Chris-
tian during the Shandong Revival was an ardent evangelist. According to RCMI, the past revival
never completely left Shandong. The flame of revival is still buried under the yellow soil and the
time is “looking ripe for a rekindling of revival fires. A second wave of revival may be forth-
C. Real Spirituality--Worship in the “Kingdom of God”
I believe that God is neither in the theory nor the theology, but His presence is in everyday
life. Christian lives are incomplete until one learns solidarity with others who suffer, who are
pressed down, who are desolate, but who also rejoice. Only in this way can one cease from be-
ing alienated from one’s own experience of these things. I affirm that true Christian spirituality
begins a deeper perception of the “Tragic sense of life,” but always as part of the journey toward
God. I firmly believe that it is time for the People of the Republic China—the Middle
Kingdom--to turn from herself, neither to the West, nor the East, but toward to the “Kingdom of
In the book “Whatever Happened to Worship?” A. W. Tozer affirmed that “ Yes, worship
of the Loving God is [man’s] whole reason for existence.” He writes that is “why we are born
and born again from above. That is why we are created and recreated.” He further writes “that is
why there was a genesis at the beginning, and why there is a re-genesis, called regeneration.
That is also the reason of the existence of church. The Christian church exists to worship God
first of all.” Tozer concludes that everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth,
because “Christians are saved to worship God” (1985: 56). In John 4:24 Jesus said that His dis-
ciples must worship God in spirit and in truth.
Francis Schaeffer pointed out further that spirituality is not a state of consciousness that be-
lievers enter into in order to feel closer to God. But from a biblical perspective34, spirituality is
the process whereby the Spirit of God enlightens us (gives us eyes to see) by revealing the truth
about God, the truth about ourselves, and the truth about the world. Spirituality is not some tran-
scendent place in never-never land. It is the pursuit of righteousness in the context of a fallen
world with other fallen people like us. And they also include Chinese brothers and sisters who
are suffering because of their faith.
IV. CONCLUSION AND MISSIONAL APPLICATION
Will China be transformed to an eagle (as in Isa. 40:31) in the 21st Century or remain a
Confucian-based Dragon or serpent? Since “the heart of China is beyond analysis: as complex
as a computer's components, as variegated as the colors of a kaleidoscope, as beautiful as an in-
tricate butterfly's wings35.” As referred to in my vision “ Mission to China” at the memorial ser-
vice (page 5), I believe that China needs to have a “funeral” of the sinful nature of the “dragon”
before she can become the “Bride of Christ.” The old must pass away, and the new must be
born. The image I see is of the fire bird (火鳳凰--Chinese eagle) would be able to be birthed af-
ter the baptism of the FIRE—Holy Spirit.
The Cultural Revolution established the fact that nothing is impossible! Above all, only the
truth can set this Middle Kingdom free. What are the conceivable dimensions of Christian re-
sponsibility for Christian witness in China now? When facing China and the church worldwide,
David Adeney36 wrote in China: the Church's Long March, “Christians need a Spirit of thanks-
giving, a Spirit of confession, humility and an understanding of history” (1985: 205-208). James
Hudson Taylor III wrote in the foreword, “For 50 years David Adeney had lives and breathed
China and wrote from a heart of love for China and for our Christian brothers and sisters there.
Surely we can give no greater or more meaningful response than to stand with Christians in Chi-
na in prevailing prayer (p. 9).”
Also Saliers wrote that there could be no true prayer without radical identification without
literally sharing their sorrows, grief, burdens, and joys. In some mysterious sense, we cannot
hold that, or even know what it is we suffer with them, until we remember them before God
The church is always composed of both saints and sinners, holy and human, and fellowship
and institution. Chinese churches need to step toward the kingdom of God, and be the instru-
ment of God in mission. As long as Chinese churches include Roman Catholics, PSTM, House
Churches can be healed and delivered from the Eastern way of belief, then to become a “believ-
able” church to proclaim: “ . . . I believe in the Holy Spirit, The holy catholic church, The com-
munion of saints, The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting,”
as proclaimed in the Apostle’s Creed. Then a “True Spirituality” of Christianity China would be
able to carry the “Father’s heart of healing” for the nations37 in the Global Evangelical Move-
ment of the 21st Century, and to receive the crown of life—unending glorious future from Father
God (Rev. 2:10).
1 An underground seminary invited Mary. The purpose of this seminary is training leaders to plant house churches. They
met at different places because they had been arrested during the class. Twenty-four students came from seven provinces
and belonged to four different people groups--Han, Meng, Hui and Miao. Some of them are pastoring several churches.
The students were hungry for the word of God. They treasured Mary’s teaching of Healing and Deliverance in Mandarin,
because most of their teachers were Koreans with side-by-side interpretation. And the founder is a Korean brother.
3 Time is the best writer of history, and a photograph is the best illustrator. An interesting website is “Old & new pictures of
China Culture Revolution” taken by Herbert Chang from 1968 to 1999 at http://www.geocities.com/hqchang/newpics.html.
6 A group photo: “Open Door Shanghai 120190” was taken by me at the campus of Shanghai Music College. http://photo-
One of those scholars from Mainland is Brother Chi-Ming, Yun. He is one of the writers of He Shang( see endnote 21). As
a student leader of Beijing University he also involved in 1989 Tiananmen Square event, then exiled to France and became
a Christian later when he came to the US. Once He was the keynote speaker of the Memorial day long-weekend annual re-
treat of All Chinese Churches in Colorado, 1999. His photo was taken right after his talk about “ Chinese Culture and
Christianity” at http://photos.yahoo.com/bc/sunl01/vwp?.dir=/Boulder+Chinese+Fellowship+Jan+1997-1999&.dnm=017a+
10 Abuse of Human right – Members claim that over the last two years, Beijing has killed more than 100 followers and sent
thousands to prison camps or psychiatric hospitals. When Secretary of State Colin Powell called for the release of Fa-lun
Gong members held in prisons, the Chinese ambassador warned, "Any U.S. criticism of China's handling of the group
would have dire bilateral consequences." http://hoover.nara.gov/gallery/China/Political%20Evolution/1979-01/Human-
11 The Memorial service was for Carol. She was an English teacher at “Doorway English school” of that church. Before
she died of brain cancer, she always opened her home for Monday morning Bible study for International Students. It was
about one year before that vision; she helped me proofread my “Spiritual Autobiography” for applying Fuller theological Se
minary. “Why did the vision (Mission to China) came to me during her memorial service? ” It started to make sense to me
while I was pondering and writing this paper about China. Her photo was shown at
12 In the report, Mary described it this way: Using the primitive toilet was a struggle for her. The toilet was two rectangular
holes in one doorless room. Two people could use it at the same time. No water. No shower to wash our body or hair ei-
ther. Their bedrooms were very smelly. They gave us the best. We had two plastic basins in our room. However, the
wooden bed was too hard and too bumpy for my spoiled body. There were mice in our bedroom. Our classroom was also
the males’ bedroom. They sat on short stools all day for class…”
15 In the same year the “China News and Church Report” inform that the State Statistic Bureau had put the number to 12
million. Though the official Church leaders insist on the lower figure, many outside observers think that the Catholics are at
least ten million.
16 In 1999 the official number way estimated around 13 million with 13 000 Churches open for public worship and approx-
imately 25000 chapels and meeting Churches open for public worship and approximately 25,000 chapels and meeting point
s. 18 seminaries and Bible schools were in use, and by July 1998, more than 3,100 seminaries had completed their training.
In March 1999 the Nanjing Amity Printing Press celebrated the printing of 20 million Bibles and 10 million hymnals.
17 These Movements are organized into several networks, the biggest one being called the minim Fellowship. Most of
these movements oppose ordination as a practice for their Churches and are usually run by ordinary lay leaders and “ Bible-
18 Cultural Christians (CCs) is an important phenomenon in the Chinese context since the beginning of the eighties, which
refers to intellectuals and scholars who are positive towards Christianity and /or have come to faith in Christ, but remain
aloof from the Three-self Movement and the Registered Churches. They are neither comfortable with the house-churches as
their fervor is not often matched with academic or intellectual attainment (Lundstrom 2000: 191).
19 The person in charge of the seminary, which invited Mary to teach, is a Chinese sister, Sarah, from Her-nan. Because of
osteomyelitis, Sarah had lay in bed for seven years since a teenager. In 1980, she accepted Christ and dedicated her life to
the Lord. Before her doctor amputated her legs, she experienced divine healing over night. Since then, she started preach-
ing the gospel. Her testimony attracted many people to the Lord. Shortly thereafter, a Three-self Church was built in her
village. She became a minister and served the Lord in that church. In 1995, to avoid the ungodly control, she left the
Three-self church and started a small group meeting at home. Her house-church grew rapidly. She then started a training
program to cultivate the church co-workers. On December 3, 1995, unexpected persecution came. During the training
class, policemen came and arrested all sixty students. Some of them were sentenced as criminals and put into prison for two
years. Fortunately, Sarah escaped, but was put on the black list. She could not return home and went into exile with a few
coworkers, leaving her husband and two young children behind. They preached the gospel wherever they went.
20 Edith Schaeffer, with her late husband, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, co-founded the well-known Christian community in
Switzerland, L'Abri Fellowship. The work of L'Abri began in the midst of their own young family in 1955 in the village of
Huemoz, Switzerland. Today L'Abri has six branches around the world -one each in Switzerland, England, Holland and
Sweden and two in the United States. http://www.francis.schaeffer.net/fog.html/. http://www.francis.schaeffer.net/bio.html.
21 In terms of culture and nation, in 1988 a successful six-part TV documentary-- He shang (“River Elegy”) singled out the
Chinese felt about the relative merits of Chinese and Western culture. He shang presented the national symbols: the Yellow
River and the Great Wall as the sources of poverty, backwardness and isolation: “The stubborn disease of the old society are
like silt carried in the Yellow River--accumulating day after day, it slowly elevates the river channel in the lower reaches and
eventually precipitates a crisis". By the end of 1988 He shang had been banned, and a few months later its author was in po-
litical disgrace. Also with that, the foreign successful movies, Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Latern, To Live and Chen
Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine, were seen as due to a culture sellout by the China authority (Waley-Cohen 1999:
22 After about 40 hours teaching of healing and deliverance, Mary gave them time to share their testimony. John’s testimo-
ny touched Mary the most. He said that though he accepted Christ and experienced God’s grace for more than two years, it
was the first time he realized he was such a sinner. As a tough guy, he had never cried since he was little. Now he could not
stop the tears even for offending his cousin. He apologized to those whom he had offended and asked their forgiveness in
public. Another brother said he has more compassion for sinners now, for he realized that we are all victims. The enemy is
Satan. It helped him to forgive and to love. A sister who had been sexually abused by her father also gave her consent.
Others shared how God delivered them during the small group ministry.
23 Such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Household Gods, Ancestor Worship, Taoism, Symbolisms, Martial Arts, Tai-Chi, Chi-
Gong, Fa-lun Gong, Eastern Lightning religion and so forth.
24 This is explained with the vocabulary of Yin & Yang. The philosophical framework is deeply connected to Daoism and
gives a Deistic worldview: their [man] is placed on earth and in relation to “ Heaven” and all creation. Tai Chi and Qigong
share the same traditional worldview and also contains a cosmological as traditional Chinese medicine (e.g. Acupuncture).
It also contains a cosmological thinking connected to Daoism and Alchemy (Lundstrom 2000: 208).
25 This cult sprang up in 1990 in Zhengzhou of Henan province. The founder is an unmarried woman surnamed Deng,
who calls herself Lady Christ and Almighty God. She distorts Genesis 1:27 to imply that God has both the male and female
form. She explains that Jesus is the Word who became flesh in the form of a male but during the second time, the Word has
come as a female, hence Lady Christ. Deng also uses Isaiah 41:2 (Who stirred up one from the east) to teach that in the
Second Coming, Christ is not a Jew, but an Oriental. Based on Matthew 24:27 (For as lightning that comes from the east),
she calls her group the Eastern Lightning. http://rcmi0.tripod.com/rcmi/id36.html.
27 NRMs was discussed in both “ the Religious Encounter in the New Millennium : Gospel and Culture facing Globaliza-
tion” by Charles Van Engen SMT (vol.88 No.4 2220) and The Future of New Religious Movements ed. by David G.
Bromley and Phillip E. Hammond, 1987; also TOP SECRET DOCUMENT LISTS 14 CULTS FOR SUPPRESSION;
a top-secret Chinese government document, dated April 30, 2000, lists 14 cults targeted for suppression gives a unique in-
sight into Beijing's view of the seriousness of the growth of unauthorized religions. The document gives statistics of sect
members and the relationships between different sects, which are particularly useful since the groups often have several dif-
ferent names. Seven of the cults listed (mainly the Christian ones) are indigenous, and seven have come into China from
overseas. The total number involved in these 14 cults is probably less than one million. Twelve of the sects proscribed are
Christian or pseudo-Christian, only two are Buddhist. Local authorities are likely to continue to crack down on all unregis-
tered Christian activities - both "heretical" and "orthodox." From China-News at http://www.us.omf.org/content.asp?
29 The early missionaries during the Tang and the Yuan Dynasties lacked the spirit of suffering. The missionaries in the 19th
century, not only did not win the hearts of the people; their participation in politics turned the Chinese away from their
Gospel. During 120 years of preaching (from 1800 to 1920), there were only about 366,500 conversions in China. In 1980,
China reopened its doors to the Western world after 30 years of self-imposed isolation. However, religious cults have grown
in recent years. To curb the cultist activities, the Chinese authorities have also included the house churches as a target for
clampdown. Consequently, a number of preachers and believers have come under persecution in the forms of detention,
beating and imprisonment. http://www.yutopian.com/religion/Adverse.html; http://www.themandate.com/.
30 in 1995 some 100 people were arrested, in 1997 some 1000 people, and in 1998 about 200 people. Many were sentenced
to one to three years of imprisonment while others had to pay heavy fines. The authorities have also tried to persuade the
house Churches to register themselves. Some parts of the Little Flock movement have recently registered without joining
the PTSM (Lundstrom 2000: 37-39).
31 RCMI is a government-approved, non-profit charitable organization, Hong Kong-based ministry serving the house
churches in China. RCMI is the China Ministry arm of Revival Christian Church.
A Heart for China & East Asia PARTNERSHIP FOR ASIA CONFERENCE
APRIL 26-27, 2002, http://www.us.omf.org/content.asp?idx=9177&cachefixer=cf18423788069526.
Archive of “Interview with David Howard-- - Collection 393” at http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/guides/393.htm#3.
On Feb. 06 02 Wed. Fuller all Seminary Chapel, a worship song “Here I Am, Lord” by Daniel L. Schultte, 1981 brought
tears to my eyes as I sang “I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry. All who dwell in deepest sin my hand will
save. I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I
send? Chorus: Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold
your people in my heart.”
VI. REFERENCE CITED
Adeney, David H.
1985 China: the Church's Long March. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books; Singapore: OMF
Bays, Daniel H.
1996 Christianity in China: from the eighteenth century to the present.
Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Hunter, Alan and Rimmington Don, Ed.
1992 All Under Heaven: Chinese tradition and Christian life in the People's Republic of
China. Kampen : J.H. Kok.
Lundstrom, Klas Ingvar, Breimert, Daniel.
2000 The Foreign Religion: transformation of Christianity in China: a report from
A field study in China 1999. Uppsala, Sweden: Swedish Institute of
Saliers, Don E.
1984 Worship and Spirituality. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
Schaeffer, Francis A.
1968 The God Who is There: speaking historic Christianity into the twentieth century.
Chicago: Inter-varsity Press.
1968 Escape from Reason: [a penetrating analysis of trends in modern thought.]
Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press.
1970 The Church at the End of the 20th Century. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity
1976 How Should We Then Live? : The rise and decline of Western thought and
culture. Old Tappan, N.J. : F. H. Revell Co.
1984 The Great Evangelical Disaster. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.
2000 Christianity in Today's China: taking root downward, bearing fruit upward.
Bloomington, Ind.: 1st Books Library.
Tozer, A. W.
1985 Whatever Happened to Worship? Camp Hill, Pa.: Christian Publications.
1999 The Sextants of Beijing: global currents in Chinese history. New York : W.W. Norton
1998 Christianity and Imperial Culture: Chinese Christian apologetics in the
Seventeenth Century and Their Latin Patristic Equivalent. Leiden ; Boston :Brill.
Mary’s Report of Mission Trip to (Confidential) China, Spring 2001.
(Name of people and places had been changed)
Revival Chinese Ministries International (RCMI).
1998 “China’s Open Door and Revival” – a documentary film.
The Challenge of China –Ministry Report of Revival Christian Church (Online Newsletters January 1