An official with China's Christian Three-Self
Patriotic Movement has refuted the argument made by some
people in the West in their wrongful attack against China's
system and practice of Christianity.
these Westerners regard China's Christian Three-Self
Patriotic Movement as an organization established by the
government to control the development of Christianity.
"This (argument) totally twists the
facts, and is a kind of malicious distortion," the
The movement, which advocates
self-administration, self-support and self-propagation among
the Protestant churches in China, is a patriotic movement
formed spontaneously by Chinese Christians who sought to
defend themselves against the invasion and bullying of
colonialists and imperialists in the early days, according
to the official.
The official cited a series
of facts to show a number of foreign missionaries had made
use of religion to serve the interest of colonialism and
In the 19th century, British
missionary Robert Morrison and German missionary Karl
Friedrich Gutzlaff had, at separate times, worked in the
East-India Company and participated in selling opium to the
John Robert Morrison, the son
of Robert Morrison, and Karl Friedrich Gutzlaff took part in
the Opium War, the invasion of China which was launched by
Britain in 1840, and took part in the drafting and signing
of the unequal "Nanking Treaty," which forced
China to cede Hong Kong.
Peter Parker and Elijah Brielgman were involved in the
drafting and signing of the unequal "Wangxia
Treaty" between China and the United States in 1844.
During the Second Opium War, missionaries
Samuel Wells Williams and William Alexander Parson Martin
were responsible for the "Sino-American Tianjin
Treaty," and they covertly inserted into the treaty a
so-called "leniency" clause which said that
Chinese believers in Christ, like foreign believers, were
not constrained by China's laws.
In 1890, when
the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded China, American
missionary Fredrich Brown collected information and acted as
a guide for the forces, leading the allies to overtake
Beijing. For his efforts, he received a commendation from
the commander of the allied forces.
official said in the 100 years after the Opium War,
colonialists and imperialists used religion as a cover for
their thirst for power.
In that period, before
the founding of New China in 1949, China was the recipient
of the most money and missionaries from the Western Mission
Board. But the number of Christians in the country was only
about 700,000, according to the official.
is because the Chinese people detested the suppression of
colonialists and imperialists, disapproved of unequal
treaties, and viewed Christianity under the protection of
the treaties as a "foreign religion," he said.
Some patriotic and upright Christians long ago
aspired to separate China's Christianity from the control of
the Western Mission Board, launching the independent
Christian movement around the beginning of the 20th century
and advocating the establishment of a church by Chinese
Chinese Christians were greatly
encouraged by the founding of the New China in 1949, which
demonstrated that the Chinese people could stand on their
own, he official said.
Federation of Young Men's Christian Association, backed by
1,577 religious leaders, openly publicized the
"Three-Self Declaration" together with 40 church
leaders, signifying that Chinese Christians were in support
of the new China.
The declaration advocated
self-administration, self-support and self-propagation,
meaning that the Christian organizations were to be run by
Chinese Christians themselves, their funds to be raised by
Chinese Christians independently, and the preaching duties
in China to be undertaken by Chinese Christians on their
In just less than four years, more than
400,000 Christians, or two thirds of the nation's total,
signed the document.
The Three-Self Patriotic
Movement is absolutely a voluntary movement of Chinese
Christians, the official said.
the official in charge of the movement, Christianity has
become a Chinese-run religion because of the 40-year
Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
The movement is
very conducive to the growth of Chinese Christianity, and
first and foremost, it has removed any obstacles on the way
to the development of Christianity in China, he said.
There are currently ten million Christians in
China, more than 14 times the number in 1949. One important
reason for this is that the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
has changed the situation of the churches in China, and they
are no longer "foreign churches" under the control
Secondly, the official said,
the movement has greatly improved Chinese Christians' sense
of responsibility for their own churches, he said.
To date, there are some 12,000 churches and
about 25,000 sites of congregation in China. According to
the statistics of the 1990s, more than 600 churches are
built annually. The period between 1992 and 1996 saw the
publication and circulation of nearly ten million Bibles.
More than eight million copies of the Psalms have been
published by the Chinese Christian Association in 1983.
Thirdly, he said, a united mass is observed in
Chinese Christianity. As they got rid of the shackles of
foreign mission board, Chinese Christians increased their
understanding and respect of each other in the course of the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
This is in line
with the Bible's teaching that all churches should
"unite as one," he said.
Christians are on good terms with the broad masses of
people. Christians are part of the Chinese citizenry, and
their mottos "Love the country, love the church,
glorify the God and benefit the people" and "a
Christian should be a good citizen" have become common
philosophical tenets of the majority of Christians.
During 1992 and 1994, some 20,000 Christians
were selected as advanced individuals and become witnesses
of the Gospel in socialist China, he said.
official said that the Three-Self Patriotic Movement has won
the approval and support of the majority of the Christians
in China, the respect of the people, and the sympathy and
appreciation of many overseas friends.
quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury as saying in 1987 that
the Chinese were working hard for a better future, and the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement was aimed at ensuring that
Christianity will play a positive role in it. the archbishop
expressed his hope that no one shall jeopardize the
In addition, he stressed that each
country's churches should worship Christ in their own
language, and absorb nutrition from their own cultural
The religious reform in Britain in
the 16th century was a fight for the independence and
autonomy of the Church of England, and resulted in the
establishment of Anglicanism, he added, pointing out that
this was Britain's version of a Three-Self Movement.
In 1983, the National Council of the Churches
of the Christ in the United States of America passed a
statement about China, saying that it is based on purpose of
spreading the Gospel that the Chinese Christians wish to
expurgate the label of "foreign religions" from
their belief and organizations.
said that overseas Christians should respect the efforts
made by Chinese Christians among their own people, and
should not try to restore the type of missionary work that
prevailed in the past.
The official pointed
out that some people in the West try to revive colonialism
and imperialism which made use of region to cover their
aggression of China, and still want to use religion as a
political tool against socialist China.
of them, recklessly attack the Chinese Church which sticks
to the Three-Self Principle, distort the facts, tell lies
and even create stories to deceive overseas Christians, the
He said that Chinese Christian
organizations and believers are firmly against such actions.