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Editor’s note: In October 2018, Jemar Tisby gave the Covenant College (PCA) Reformation Day chapel lectures. In response, on November 7, 2018, PCA pastor Andy Wilson published an online article titled, “Dear Covenant College Students: Jesus Can Set You Free from the Yoke of Being Woke.” In it, Wilson disagrees strongly with Tisby’s lectures, accusing him of presenting an unbiblical view of a justice-oriented Church that promotes a works-based legalism that is beyond the Gospel forged in the Reformation.

On December 7, 2018, in response to Wilson’s article, Covenant College students Aaron Anand, Sarah Lane Cochrane, Abby Gienapp, Will Payne, Ryan Rhodes, and Mark Roos published in their student newspaper, The Bagpipe, an online article (below) titled “Freedom in Christ to Obey His Word: A Response to Rev. Andy Wilson.”

Article summary: In this article, the students present a biblical case against what they consider to be Wilson’s narrow view of justice as merely “equal treatment under the law,” drawn from Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert’s position in their book “What is the Mission of the Church?” The students present biblical and social evidence for the necessity of a justice-oriented Church from within their PCA college’s Reformed doctrinal standards and confessional commitment. And they argue that biblical justice includes not only “equal treatment under the law” but also obeying Jesus’ command to “love our neighbors as ourselves” so believers are the “sweet aroma of Christ” in all places and to all people–especially the poor and marginalized.


Freedom in Christ to Obey His Word: A Response to Rev. Andy Wilson

Aaron Anand, Sarah Lane Cochrane, Abby Gienapp, Will Payne, Ryan Rhodes, and Mark Roos

Dear Rev. Wilson,

As students of Covenant College, we wish to offer a humble response to your recent article, “Dear Covenant College Students: Jesus Can Set You Free from the Yoke of Being Woke.” We present our own views in this letter, not the views of the College, nor of all our peers. We hope that this reply helps inform your perspective on the condition of academic and theological debate at Covenant. We further hope that our response will be a productive contribution to the broader dialogue that has surrounded Jemar Tisby’s recent Reformation Day lectures on our campus.

For the record, we do not agree with all of Mr. Tisby’s assertions. Students at Covenant are critical consumers of information—we are more than willing to question controversial or debatable assertions made by chapel speakers. His lectures sparked lively discussions on campus regarding several of the issues which you address in your article, including his creative rephrasing of Scripture, his stance on the centrality of activism, and his views on universal healthcare. However, we aren’t threatened by Mr. Tisby rightly pushing us to recognize weaknesses within our own Reformed tradition. As spiritual heirs of the Protestant Reformers, we do not assume that our theology has arrived at its terminus. In light of our cultural blind spots, we need to keep reforming our tradition in light of Scripture (sola scriptura!). Thankfully, God has given us the Body of Christ with many members from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is vitally important for our tradition to listen to those voices when they tell us we are falling short in significant ways.

In 1973, O. Palmer Robertson delivered an address to the first General Assembly of the PCA. In that address, he affirmed that, “The Continuing [Presbyterian] Church commits itself to ‘the faith’ as it affects the totality of man’s existence … it searches out the implications of Scripture for the totality of human life.” We believe that this commitment, drawn from the genesis of the PCA’s doctrinal foundations, has significant implications for the modern discussion of race and ethnicity within the church, and we call for interpretation of Mr. Tisby’s lectures in this light.

Biblical Justice and Collective Repentance

Justice, as you have defined it from Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert’s What is the Mission of the Church?, is “equal treatment under the law.” While this is a component of justice as laid out in the Scriptures, Christ takes us a step further. His explicit call to love our neighbor as ourselves, through our actions, thoughts, attitudes, and judgments, is a call to live justly (Matt 22:39). In Deuteronomy 10:18, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” Doing justice, then, entails action that goes beyond creating a fair legal playing field. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministering to the sick, and welcoming strangers are acts of mercy that must be involved in the administration of justice (Matt 25:35-39). By failing to welcome in and pray alongside our black brothers and sisters in Christ, the North American church—and more specifically, the PCA—failed to enact justice. We committed corporate sin by failing to love our neighbors as ourselves.

In some evangelical circles, talk of “corporate sin” is controversial. Properly understood, we don’t think it should be. The Reformed theological tradition contains robust support for the notions of corporate sin and repentance, beginning from the earliest pages of Scripture. The Fall affected the totality of human existence. With the sin of Adam and Eve, all subsequent generations sinned as well; individual sin impacted and continues to impact the body of Christ as a whole (WSC Q.16). While the doctrines of the fall and original sin are clearly a special case, they suggest that a corporate understanding of sin is woven into the biblical way of thinking. In the questions regarding the Lord’s Prayer, the Westminster Larger Catechism notes that “we pray for ourselves and others” for the remission of sin—such prayers would include the sins of people and their institutions from earlier generations (WLC Q.194). Thus, there is strong evidence throughout all our doctrinal heritage for collective, corporate sin and repentance (along these lines, see Sean Michael Lucas, For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America [P&R, 2015]).

The 30th General Assembly in 2002 addressed the need for the PCA to repent of racist elements of its past: “We therefore confess our involvement in these sins. As a people, both we and our fathers, have failed to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the laws God has commanded. We therefore publically repent of our pride, our complacency, and our complicity.” This was followed in 2004 by an extensive Pastoral Letter, “The Gospel and Race,” adopted by the 32nd General Assembly. The 44th General Assembly’s 2016 lament for the collective sin of racism “does recognize, confess, and condemn these past and continuing racial sins and failure to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires; and be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the Gospel task of racial reconciliation.” We gather that this 2016 denominational decision was contested at the time; nevertheless, through these formal actions, the PCA has affirmed collective responsibility for racist sin, and for the PCA’s past role in perpetuating injustice.

Individual repentance for individual transgression is called for throughout the Bible, but this is not the only sort of repentance with biblical grounding. Throughout the Bible, the entire people of God are treated as an entity that can be called to corporate repentance. All of Israel, in Amos 5, is condemned for their oppression of the poor and for turning their backs on the responsibility to carry out justice. Ezra prayed as an individual for the collective and historical sins of Israel (see Ezra 9 and 10). The prophet Jeremiah exhorts the Israelites to repent of their own individual sins and the sins of their ancestors (Jer 3:25; 14:20); in Isaiah, the Lord chastises the people for “both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together” (Isa 65:7). In a similar vein, we should not forget Daniel’s heartfelt prayer in Dan 9:1-19. In the New Testament, as Stephen is condemned in Acts 7, he traces the sins of the Jewish leaders all the way back to the sins of Israelites who went before them—the effects of collective sin can span millennia. The body of Christ today should confess its collective failure to bring justice to those oppressed through the sin of racism.

An individualistic view of salvation is devoid of the important contributions of kingdom and resurrection theology—cornerstones of the Reformed tradition. The resurrected King Jesus, the righteous king who renders justice to the oppressed (Psalm 72), is reconciling all things to himself (Col 1:19-20). This redemption is cosmic. Christ will stand as preeminent Lord over all creation, with the Church as the primary instrument for the advancement of his Kingdom. The Gospel’s power is far broader than individual salvation—it’s about renewing creation to be the temple of God’s dwelling that it was always meant to be. Many lay believers forget that much of the goodness we take for granted in our governmental structures, marriage, education, medicine, business, scholarship, and the like, is directly related to past Christians proclaiming God’s kingdom far and wide. Hospitals, for instance, are the legacy of gospel-centered Christian stewardship (e.g., see Charles Rosenberg, The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America’s Hospital System; and for earlier Christian influence, see Gary Ferngren, Medicine and Healthcare in Early Christianity). Wilberforce and other evangelical abolitionists labored tirelessly to make the English slave trade illegal. American checks-and-balances style government had its inspiration from the Presbyterian understanding of total depravity. Literacy and liberal democracies grow in a more robust fashion in countries around the world which received proselytizing Protestant missionaries (e.g., see the Christianity Today article by Andrea Palpant Dilley, “The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries”). The renewal of the gospel is not limited to personal salvation, but extends into all creational structures.

Equal Treatment in Modern America

We have noted already that much of the discussion within the PCA turns on how we define justice. In your understanding, justice is “not about equality of outcome, but about equal treatment under the law,” and you assert that in America today, “people of all races do receive equal treatment under the law.” Even accepting this definition of justice, modern “equality under the law” is not a factually supportable claim. The racist attitudes of the past, which you are right to decry, have cast a long shadow. In his 1978 book Micromotives and Macrobehavior, Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling found that if a population has been segregated, segregation will continue unabated even in the absence of discriminatory laws. Accomplished justice requires a new behavioral impetus, not mere deletion of the old.

Discriminatory structures are still present in America today. A brief perusal of national headlines provides ample evidence, as does widespread academic documentation and research. As one example, in May of 2018 the Vera Justice Institute published an evidence brief titled “An Unjust Burden,” which found statistical evidence to support the conclusion that past structural racism has placed minorities at a present disadvantage in America. Even beyond this source, we have little reason to believe that implicitly racist attitudes have disappeared from our country. Substantial research has shown that mild biases of individuals are capable of producing a broadly unjust system—systems are products of the sinful people who inhabit them, not creations of neutral written codes.

Your article assumes an individualistic, meritocratic interpretation of modern American social structures. This attitude has never been broadly accepted outside of Western cultural contexts. Research indicates that white Americans have always been more likely to believe in general social fairness than members of any minority. This difference in perception should alert us that we may be missing important information which is obvious to our nonwhite brothers and sisters. Indeed this is precisely what some of our nonwhite brothers and sisters are presently trying to tell us.

In America today, mortgage loan research indicates that people with “black” sounding names typically need to have a credit score that is 71 points higher just to receive the same response rate as identically situated whites. In emergency situations, whites call for help if the victim is white 75% of time and only 38% of the time if the victim is black. White-sounding names get job interviews at a 50% higher rate than ethnic-sounding names even when the resumes are comparable. Black people are far more likely to be incarcerated than white people charged with the same crimes. Juries are more likely to find blacks guilty, compared to similar white offenders. These are but a very, very few undisputed facts, and they are not representative of a fundamentally fair, fundamentally post-racial system.

The Yoke of the World and the Yoke of Christ

You object to the notion that Christians ought to do penance for social ills they haven’t directly caused, or for implicit racism. Since we are free from guilt and sin in Christ, we shouldn’t feel obligated to work out our repentance through acts of social justice. Calling such an obligation a manmade yoke, you call us to cast aside this burden and instead take up the easy yoke of Christ. We wholeheartedly agree with the picture of grace presented by your argument and join you in gratefulness for Christ’s lifting of every heavy burden.

Nonetheless, we believe that the notion of “Christ’s yoke” doesimply action. To assume that there are not difficult tasks involved in the Christian life verges on cheap grace. While it is true that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Eph 2:8-9), the apostle Paul goes on to say in the very next verse, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Jesus Himself specifically says that he will commend us or condemn us at the Judgment based on our works (Matt 25:31-46). As you said at the end of your article, “living under Christ’s yoke includes the call to strive, as best as you can, to extend comfort to those who are distressed, to defend those who are vulnerable, and to further the outward estate of others.” Our motivation is not penance; it’s to follow God’s call to be doers and not merely hearers of the Word (James 1:27).

Although your article claims that Mr. Tisby wants to make Christians feel guilty, at the end of his final lecture, Tisby also affirmed the danger of guilt. He distinguished a self-centered guilt from what he calls “Godly grief.” The former seeks resolution so that the sufferer may feel better about his or her own character; instead Godly grief appropriately recognizes injustice against our brothers and sisters and seeks resolution, not out of a desire for catharsis, but out of a desire to comfort the hurting. To ignore such feelings of sorrow would be a sin of omission (James 4:17). You also rightly condemn a wide range of racist attitudes, but fail to acknowledge that not actively opposing racial injustice allows an unjust system to persist. If we are to comfort the hurting and champion the vulnerable, then we are necessarily at odds with any systemic problems that put them in that position.

Conclusion

We write to you neither as apologists for Jemar Tisby, nor as enemies of your view. Instead, we wish to encourage you to consider the broad doctrinal and social evidence for the necessity of a justice-oriented Church. We proclaim this stance from within the doctrinal standards and confessional commitments of the PCA itself. We share your conviction that Jesus frees us from the burden of guilt and every burden imposed upon us by the world. At the same time, we are excited to be the sweet aroma of Christ in all places and to all people. Jesus frees us from paralyzing guilt to something far better, something that is much closer to what Reformation Day is all about: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

For our sources, see Jillian Olinger and Kelly Capatosto, “Chipping Away at Implicit Bias,” Aug 23, 2017, available at: http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/chipping-away-at-implicit-bias/; Jonathan Kunstman and Ashby Plant, “Racing to Help: Racial Bias in High Emergency Helping Situations,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 96.6 (2008): 1499-1510; Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” American Economic Review 94 (2004): 991-1113.

Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China (2018)

Editor’s note: In the 2010s, Early Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province became a pioneer in house church movement. The congregation moved into a sanctuary it purchased; established a seminary, a day school, and a college; and developed the West China Presbytery with other house churches in the city of Chengdu. The church’s ministries included a campaign to oppose forced abortion and a show of support for families of political prisoners.

In December 2018, authorities closed down the church and detained Pastor Wang Yi, and other leaders, accusing him of inciting subversion. After being held in secret detention for one year, Wang received a nine-year sentence for “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations,” the longest prison term issued against a house a church pastor in a decade. Wang Yi was also fined and had his personal assets seized. (Adapted from Christianity Today article by Dr. Fenggang Yang, Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Perdue University.)


Declaration by Christians in Hong Kong in support of Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu

We are a group of Christians based in Hong Kong who care about the well-being of churches in China. We are gravely concerned about the prosecution and sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church for 9 years by the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu on 30 December 2019, under the charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and “unlawful business operation”. The following is our statement in this regard:

(1) Since his arrest on 9 December 2018, Pastor Wang Yi has been denied access to his family-appointed attorney, Mr Zhang Peihong. Subsequently, the government denied the application of Mr Zhang to be the defending attorney of Pastor Wang. This act is an outright violation of the provisions specified in the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China regarding the rights to assign a defending attorney, and hence a deprivation of the defendant’s right to fair trial. The trial and announcement of verdict on 30 December was not proceeded in public as ordained by Criminal Procedure Law and such arrangement of secrecy was a violation of Chinese constitution and laws as well as international law; the fairness of the trial was seriously undermined. As such, we express tremendous concerns and regrets.

(2) As a result of the lack of due process as articulated above, the legality of the prosecution to Pastor Wang Yi in terms of the charges and sentence is questionable. Wang Yi, being the Pastor-in-Charge of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, has displayed anything but seditious and anti-socialist motives and behaviors. On the contrary, his teachings and writings are embodiment of his faith and mission, which are rights endowed by the Constitution to citizens. In no part do they lead to falsehood and defamation, or seduction, sedition and incitement. Books printed by the Early Rain Covenant Church are published for the purposes of nurturing believers and spreading the gospel, which are in no shape or form profit-seeking. The prosecution and verdict against Pastor Wang of “inciting subversion of state power” and “unlawful business operation” are clear violations of civil rights as well as the principle of open and fair trial. We are deeply concerned and hereby express our solemn protest, and demand that the Chinese government should grant a fair trial to the case.

(3) Since 2014, religious freedom in China has been on serious decline. In particular, house churches in various cities have been suppressed by the authorities in various ways and have been put on charges. The Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, the Beijing Shouwang Church and the Zion Church have been banned by the authorities in recent years. Now the authorities escalate by prosecuting and adjudicating pastors for “inciting subversion of state power”. Such actions further illustrate the Chinese government’s severe crackdown on house churches. The legitimate rights and interests of religious Chinese citizens have not only gone unprotected but are even under unprecedented threat. It cannot be over emphasized that religious freedom is a fundamental right granted to citizens by the Constitution and cannot be trampled upon. Undeniably, the Chinese government had not only failed to protect citizens’ right to religious freedom but had controlled and even suppressed such freedom with a variety of reasons. The Chinese church has suffered political repression and prosecution in its practice of faith and its defense of rights and interests. In face of this, we can no longer remain silent; we cannot help uttering a painful cry for our suffering fellow believers. Once again, we urge the People’s Republic of China to to implement constitutional government which respects the rights and interests of citizens who engage in religious practices.

(4) We are thankful for Pastor Wang Yi’s life testimony amidst hardship. Theological differences should not be obstacles to unity and communion in Christ. We pray for church ministers and Christians in China who are in difficult situations, living in fear, being persecuted both physically and spiritually. May faith, courage, and strength from the Lord be with you. We confess that we have been silent onlookers out of various reasons and considerations. At this moment, we pray in particular for our fellow believers and coworkers in the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Elder Qin Defu who has been sentenced to 4 years in prison, and the family of Pastor Wang (his wife Jiang Rong, his son Shuya and his parents). “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13: 20-21)

The undersigned, a group of Christians in Hong Kong

31 December 2019

發起人(Initiators)

團體:

Flow Church

使命公民運動

基督教中國宗教文化研究社

教牧關懷團

香港基督徒學會

香港基督教教牧聯署籌委會

個人:

Gideon Yung

王少勇

王礽福

王家輝

王震廷

任志強

余健誠

李駿康

李耀坤

車耀業

邢福增

林家賢

洪國謙

胡志偉

胡露茜

孫寶玲

袁天佑

馬保羅

梁國全

陳玉蘭

陳建榮

陳恩明

陳淑儀

陳德晶

黃國維

雷競業

蒲錦昌

趙崇明

劉進圖

蔡揚眉

盧智榮

繆熾宏

羅秉祥

譚啟見

關浩然

龔立人


香港基督徒聲援成都秋雨聖約教會王怡牧師聯署聲明

我們是一群關心中國教會的香港基督徒,就成都中級人民法院於2019年12月30日,以「煽動顛覆國家政權罪」及「非法經營罪」,判處成都秋雨聖約教會王怡牧師有期徒刑9年一案, 表達高度關注,並作以下聲明:

(一)王怡牧師自2018年12月9日被捕後,其家屬委托的辯護律師張培鴻一直無法與他接觸,後來當局更拒絕張氏擔任王牧師的辯護人。此舉嚴重違反了《中華人民共和國刑事訴訟法》關於委托辯護律師的安排,剝奪了被告獲公平審訊的權利。12月30日的的審判及宣告判決,並未按《刑事訴訟法》要求公開進行,這種「秘密審訊」的安排,違反了中國憲法、法律及國際法,嚴重損害庭審的公正性。對此,我們表達關注及強烈遺憾。

(二)當局指控王怡牧師的控罪及判刑,在缺乏公平審訊及辯護權利的情況下,其合法性備受質疑。作為成都秋雨聖約教會的主任牧師,王怡完全沒有顛覆國家政權及推翻社會主義制度的動機及行為,其教導與寫作,乃實踐其信仰使命,屬憲法賦予公民的言論自由權利,並未構成造謠、誹謗,或誘惑、鼓動及煽動行為。而秋雨聖約教會印刷書籍,旨在牧養信徒,廣傳福音,也不構成牟利行為。有關「煽動顛覆國家政權罪」及「非法經營罪」的控罪及判決,既犯侵公民基本權利,也有違公平公開審訊,我們深感憂慮,並表達嚴正抗議,促請中國政府公正審理案件。

(三)自2014年以來,中國的宗教自由出現嚴重倒退,特別是各地家庭教會以不同方式及罪名,遭當局打壓。成都秋雨聖約教會,北京守望教會及錫安教會近年先後被當局取締,現在更以「煽動顛覆國家政權罪」來向牧者進行起訴及判決,此舉進一步說明中國政府嚴厲打壓家庭教會的政策。中國信教公民的合法權益,不僅未有獲得保障,反倒處於前所未有嚴峻處境。我們重申,宗教自由乃憲法賦予公民的基本權利,不容踐踏。中國政府不僅未有保障公民宗教自由權益,反倒以不同理由作管控,甚至打壓,已是不容否認的事實。中國教會為了實踐信仰,捍衛權益,而遭受政治打壓及檢控,叫我們不能沉默,無法不為受苦的主內同道發出沉痛的吶喊,也再次呼籲中國政府落實憲政,尊重信教公民的權益。

(四)我們為王怡牧師在艱難環境作出的生命見證獻上感恩,任何神學傳統的差異,不應妨礙主內的合一及連結。為一眾身處艱難境況,活在恐懼之中,身心靈受逼迫及傷害的中國牧者及信徒禱告,求上主的信心、勇氣、力量與盼望,與你們同在。我們或因著不同原因與考慮,曾經成為沉默旁觀者,對此我們深感懺悔。在此,我們特別為成都秋雨聖約教會的眾同工信徒、被判囚4年的覃德富長老、王牧師的家人(師母蔣蓉姊妹,兒子王書亞及王牧師的父母)禱告:「但願賜平安的上帝,就是那憑永約之血,把群羊的大牧人──我們主耶穌從死人中領出來的上帝,在各樣善事上裝備你們,使你們遵行他的旨意;又藉著耶穌基督在我們裏面行他所喜悅的事。願榮耀歸給他,直到永永遠遠。阿們!」(希伯來書十三20-21)

一群香港基督徒

2019年12月31日

發起人

團體:

使命公民運動

基督教中國宗教文化研究社

教牧關懷團

香港基督徒學會

香港基督教教牧聯署籌委會

個人:

王少勇

王礽福

王家輝

王震廷

任志強

余健誠

李駿康

李耀坤

車耀業

邢福增

林家賢

洪國謙

胡志偉

胡露茜

孫寶玲

袁天佑

馬保羅

梁國全

陳玉蘭

陳建榮

陳恩明

陳淑儀

陳德晶

黃國維

雷競業

蒲錦昌

趙崇明

劉進圖

蔡揚眉

盧智榮

繆熾宏

羅秉祥

譚啟見

關浩然

龔立人


 What can you do?

1) Pray

2) Stay Informed

3) Protest this gross injustice by letting your voice be known to everyone you think could help stop it, especially your elected leaders.

Important: One of the most realistic and helpful things you can do is call (not email) your elected representatives in the House and Senate and share your concern regarding the Chinese governments human rights violations against its own people. Learn how to call your elected officials here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

4) Remember “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Wang Yi, second from right, met President George W. Bush in 2006 at the White House with other prominent Christian activists. Credit: Eric Draper/The White House, via Reuters

Members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, gather and pray in 2018.


We help underserved church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.

Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China (2018)

Editor’s note: This Early Rain Covenant Church Bulletin (English and Chinese) is directly from the church leaders in Chengdu, China seeking to communicate with their church members in the underground movement and seeking prayer and help from the watching world, especially followers of Christ. Special thanks to Brent Pinkall for translating these bulletins and helping make them available to the public. Please pray and share.


A Statement from Early Rain Covenant Church Regarding the Severe Sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi

Since December 9th, 2018, our church’s senior pastor Wang Yi has been imprisoned on charges of “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations.” On December 26th, 2019, he was secretly tried at the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court. On December 30th, the court announced that Pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 50,000 RMB. Our church issues the following statement to clarify our position:

  1. As the senior pastor of this church, Pastor Wang Yi is a faithful servant who has been chosen by God and by the Lord Jesus Christ. His teachings on the truth of the gospel are consistent with the entirety of biblical revelation; they are consistent with the creeds, confessions, and relevant catechisms inherited by the universal church; and they are consistent with the constitution of Western China Reformed Presbytery. The influence that God has given Pastor Wang Yi within the universal church and especially within Chinese churches throughout the world is a result of his being called by God and courageously preaching the gospel amidst the unique cultural and political circumstances in China.
  2. Pastor Wang Yi’s sermons, lectures, books, and articles are produced for the pastoring of believers and for the spreading of the gospel. From the perspective of the church, he produces these things as a way of fulfilling his call to the ministry and responding to the gifts and grace he has received. By producing these things, he is fulfilling his duties as a pastor and a missionary. From the perspective of society, he is exercising his freedoms of religion and of speech, rights granted to Chinese citizens by the Constitution and laws of China. The books printed by the church have never been printed for profit but only for the pastoring of believers and for the spreading of the gospel. He has never conducted so-called “illegal business operations.”
  3. Ever since Pastor Wang Yi received his calling from God, he has always held to the biblical principle of “separation of church and state” regarding the relationship between church and state. He has spent much time researching, preaching, and writing about this. It is widely known in the Chinese church that he has always taught that Christians should submit to authorities in power in accordance with Scripture. He has taught that even when the church is being persecuted, Christians should be willing to submit to the government’s physical restrictions of them as well as to the depravation of their property. He has never said or done anything that amounts to “inciting to subvert state power.”
  4. Pastor Wang Yi’s arrest, imprisonment, and trial are persecutions he has suffered for the sake of the Christian faith, and they testify to the sufferings of Christ for the glory of God (1 Pet. 5:1). He is a gift and joy whom God has given to this church (Eph. 4:11, Phil. 4:1).
  5. Pastor Wang Yi did not commit any crime. The authorities’ charges of “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations” are part of the unjust persecutions against the Chinese house church. Regardless of the sentence the authorities pronounce against him, Pastor Wang Yi is the senior pastor of this church and a faithful messenger of the kingdom of heaven whom we stand with and follow and whom the Lord Jesus Christ has chosen and approved.

Pastor Wang Yi’s arrest, imprisonment, and trial are persecutions he has suffered for the sake of the Christian faith, and they testify to the sufferings of Christ for the glory of God (1 Pet. 5:1).

In Christ, we issue the following exhortation and protest against Pastor Wang Yi’s severe sentence. Do you government officials not know that this is a sin against God? Do you not know that this is an abuse of your authority (Rom. 13:3)? Even so, we do not hate you. On the contrary, our merciful and righteous God wants us to love you and to pray for you.

We desire that those public officials and law enforcement officers who are involved in this case would quickly repent and believe in the Lord, that you would know the atonement and forgiveness of sins which the Lord Jesus extends to all through his suffering on the cross, and that you would obtain eternal life and hope.

We invite all sojourners throughout the world who belong to the universal church to pray fervently for Pastor Wang Yi and Elder Qin Defu, who are being imprisoned for the sake of Christ and of the gospel, as well as for their families. Pray for all of us. We will also pray for you.

We invite all sojourners throughout the world who belong to the universal church to pray fervently for Pastor Wang Yi and Elder Qin Defu, who are being imprisoned for the sake of Christ and of the gospel, as well as for their families. Pray for all of us. We will also pray for you.

In this eschaton, which Jesus Christ brought about through his incarnation, through his perfect life, through his betrayal and trial, through his substitutionary death, through his resurrection and ascension, through his gift of the Holy Spirit—in this eschaton, may we testify, through our suffering, that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6) and that he is the light of the world. We also invite churches who are currently being persecuted to fix their eyes together with us upon the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

Through the Holy Spirit, may we be united to the King of Kings who ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high, who is our eternal high priest and prophet of the last days. May we be strong in his grace as we keep on fighting despite repeated setbacks. We do this to fulfill the Great Commission and to spread the gospel, that the glorious name of the triune God might be praised.

May we be strong in his grace as we keep on fighting despite repeated setbacks. We do this to fulfill the Great Commission and to spread the gospel, that the glorious name of the triune God might be praised.

May God help us and allow us to experience together the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of God until the day we see him face-to-face. May blessing and honor and wisdom and wealth and glory and power and authority be to our holy Father who is in heaven, to the Lord Jesus Christ who obtained our salvation, and to the Holy Spirit our Helper who continually helps us. Amen!

Early Rain Covenant Church
December 30, 2019


秋雨圣约教会关于王怡牧师被判重刑的声明

自2018年12月9日以来,本教会主任牧师王怡被当局以“煽动颠覆国家政权罪”和“非法经营罪”之名羁押,2019年12月26日在成都市中级人民法院被秘密开庭审理。12月30日,王怡牧师被宣布判刑9年,并处罚金5万元。本教会特作如下五点声明,表明教会的立场:

1,作为本教会的主任牧师,王怡牧师是上帝和主基督所拣选的忠心的仆人,他在福音真理的教导上符合整本圣经的启示,符合大公教会所传承的信经、信条及相关要理问答,符合改革宗长老会华西区会的宪章规定;上帝使王怡牧师在普世教会尤其是在全世界华人教会中拥有的影响力,是因为他蒙主呼召,按主所赐,大有勇气地在中国特有的文化与政治处境中宣讲福音;

2,王怡牧师的证道、讲座、书籍和文章,是他牧养信徒、传布福音的信息。从教会范围来看,这既是他对所蒙圣职呼召的践行,也是他对所领受恩赐、恩典的回应,是他履行牧师和宣教士职分的本分;从社会层面来看,这是他对中国宪法和法律所赋予中国公民的信仰自由和言论自由权利的践行。教会印制的书籍,从未有任何牟利行为,其目的都在牧养信徒和传福音,从未有过所谓的“非法经营”之行为;

3,王怡牧师自蒙呼召以来,在教会与政府关系上持守基于圣经的“政教分立”立场,在这方面有多年的研究、讲道和写作,在中国教会中广为人知,他在教会中从来都是教导基督徒要按照圣经顺服在上掌权者,即使在教会受逼迫的时候也愿意顺服政府对基督徒身体的限制、财产的剥夺,从未有过“煽动颠覆国家政权”的言论和行为;

4,王怡牧师被拘捕、被囚禁、被审判,是为基督信仰遭受逼迫,为上帝的荣耀作基督受苦的见证(彼前5:1),他是上帝赐给我们这间教会的礼物和喜乐(弗4.11;腓4:1);

5,王怡牧师并没有违法犯罪,当局对他“涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权罪”和“非法经营罪”的指控,是中国家庭教会遭受不公义逼迫的一部分。无论当局如何判决,王怡牧师都是本教会的主任牧师,是我们所认同和跟随的主耶稣基督所拣选和设立的忠心牧者。

我们对王怡牧师被判重刑发出在基督里的劝告和抗议。岂不知政府人员这样做是得罪上帝的吗?岂不知这是对上帝授予政府权柄的滥用吗(罗13:3)? 即便如此,我们对你们没有仇恨,怜悯与公义的上帝反而要我们爱你们、为你们祷告,深愿参与这场教案的公务人员,秉公执法,能早日悔改归信主基督,认识主耶稣在十字架上受难对世人一切罪的代赎和赦免,并得到永远生命与盼望。

我们邀请寄居全地的普世教会,为因基督和福音缘故被囚禁的王怡牧师、覃德富长老和他们的家人继续切切代祷。为我们众人祷告,我们也会为你们祷告,愿我们在这末世 — 耶稣基督以他降世为人、完美一生、被卖受审、代罪受死、复活升天和赐下圣灵带来的末世中 — 以我们的受苦见证基督是道路、真理、生命(约14.6),是这黑暗世界的光。我们也邀请正在遭受逼迫的教会,一起定睛死而复活的耶稣基督,依靠圣灵与已经升到高天之大者右边的王万之王、永远的大祭司和末后的先知紧密联合,在祂的恩典上刚强起来,屡败屡战,屡战屡败,为的是践行大使命,让福音广传,使三一上帝荣耀的名得着称赞。求上帝帮助我们,让我们在逼迫中,同享上帝长阔高深的慈爱,直到与祂面对面的时刻。愿颂赞、尊贵、智慧、丰富、荣耀、能力和权柄,都归给我们在天上的圣父,为我们赢得拯救的主耶稣基督,不断向我们施恩帮助的圣灵保惠师。阿们!

秋雨圣约归正长老教会
2019年12月30日


 What can you do?

1) Pray

2) Stay Informed

3) Protest this gross injustice by letting your voice be known to everyone you think could help stop it, especially your elected leaders.

Important: One of the most realistic and helpful things you can do is call (not email) your elected representatives in the House and Senate and share your concern regarding the Chinese governments human rights violations against its own people. Learn how to call your elected officials here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

4) Remember “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Wang Yi, second from right, met President George W. Bush in 2006 at the White House with other prominent Christian activists. Credit: Eric Draper/The White House, via Reuters

Members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, gather and pray in 2018.


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