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Perspectives & Analysis On China


Heresies and Cults in China Today by Tony Lambert. Source: The Connection, Summer 1998.

On 29 December 1995, Wu Yangming, a peasant from Anhui, was executed for founding a counter-revolutionary sect known as the “Established King”. Wu, who only had primary school education, became a Christian at the age of 29 in 1979 but shortly after was drawn into cultist activities. He was arrested twice and imprisoned but, by the late eighties, was actively spreading his own bizarre teachings proclaiming himself to be the Messiah. Cult members zealously evangelized, attacking the Communist Party and the State-controlled Protestant Three Self Patriotic Movement and declaring that the end of the world was imminent. Claiming to be ‘God Incarnate’, Wu gathered a number of young girls around him and reportedly raped more than one hundred women. Finally, one of them escaped and alerted the police who hunted him down, arrested him and had him executed. The ‘Established King’ cult is just one of many cults and heresies which have arisen in China over the last two decades on the fringes of the orthodox Christian church. These cults are a reminder that it is not only evangelical Christianity which is enjoying growth in modern China – heretical and syncretistic sects are also flourishing, spawned in the weird twilight zone between authentic Christian faith and traditional Chinese folk religion. (Whole article)

Beware! The Lightning Has Struck! by Cecilia Yau.

"Let all people know that I have come. I have already brought the glory of Israel to the East...My work is going to impact the whole universe, and the lightning has come from the east to the west" (Words 190).

"Jesus Christ...has already returned, but nobody seems to know it. People just wait for him listlessly. He has already come in white clouds (referring to his spirit, his words, and all that he is). He has descended to be with the over-comers" (Words 436).

The above horrendous statements are made by the head of a cult from China. Eastern Lightning, the cult's leader, proclaims herself as "Christ re-incarnated at the present end times." The group was named after the cult's twisted interpretation of Mathew 24:27: "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (NIV, 1973 & 78). The group and its teachings appeared in the early '90s in the province of Henan, China. In 10 years, they have spread over 17 provinces. (Whole article)

The “Lightning” Has Struck, Protect Your Fold by Cecilia Yau

EL is not just targeting the Chinese Church. Their website is in both Chinese and English. It states that they want to "spread the gospel of the kingdom era all over the world quickly." In March and April, the cult members visited at least 15 Chinese churches in San Francisco Bay Area. Some attended church meetings and introduced themselves as coming from the House Church in China. As people warmed toward them, they started to pass out books and CDs. A brother who went to two consecutive meetings in two churches saw the same cult member introducing herself with different names. (Whole article)

Jesus Is Back, and She's Chinese: A bizarre religious sect is preying on China's rural Christian congregations by Matthew Forney. Source: Time Asia, November 2001.

Sister Hong's brainwashing session began when her Bible class ended. Five peasant women had led the Catholic nun to a house in a distant village in Henan province two years ago so that she could teach the life of Jesus. Suddenly, the women vanished and a man entered. For the next five days he refused to let her leave and forced her to debate the Bible. He said the day of judgment is nigh. Jesus has returned. China—the Great Red Dragon from the Book of Revelations—faces destruction. By the end, "I was dizzy. I was confused. He knew the Bible so well," says Sister Hong. Her pleading, plus promises to return, finally won her release. Lightning had struck again. (Whole article)

Millennial Movements Gain Momentum In China. Source: The Amity News Service, September 1999.

As the year 2000 approaches, certain doomsday sects and cults within the church throughout the world believe that the change in millennium will herald the end of the world and the return of Jesus Christ. The church in China also has to contend with such sects rapidly spreading their message in certain parts of the country, bringing chaos and confusion to church congregations wherever these millennial groups operate. In China, the best known example of this at the moment is the Eastern Lightning sect. In September's issue of Tian Feng, the magazine of the China Christian Council, several writers address the issue of millennial prophecies, the return of Jesus Christ and the methods of the Eastern Lightning sect. They warn believers not to fall under the influence of such teachings. (Whole article)

“Eastern Lightning” Sect Continues To Do Damage. Source: The Amity News Service, May 1999.

Due to the relatively low educational level and low understanding of faith among many rural believers, sects and heresies are able to spread fairly quickly in some areas of China. In the past couple of years, the "Eastern Lightning" sect has spread like a scar across the whole of China (for an account of the beliefs of this sect, see ANS 97.12.3). In May's issue of Tian Feng, the magazine of the Chinese church, Hong Wen describes the damage this sect brought to her small rural community in Shandong Province after it arrived there in Winter 1997.

After arriving in Hong Wen's home town, the sect managed to claim 300 believers and completely take over four churches within the space of only one year. The sect is unique in that it only tries to recruit members among already established Christian congregations, converting people who are already believers. The group does not try to evangelize among unbelievers, saying that "Heaven's doors are already closed", and so only those who already believe in God can be saved by re-aligning their beliefs toward those of the sect and believing in the "right" way. In order to win over new converts, the sect infiltrates church groups and tries to locate those whose faith is particularly weak and not grounded in solid teaching. Group members often lie about their names and addresses while evangelizing, and even send single women to young single males' homes to seduce them into embracing the sect. Sect members only operate at night or behind closed doors during the day. (Whole article)

The "Eastern Lightning" Sect: A Recent Threat To The Church In China. Source: The Amity News Service, December 1997.

In recent years many heretical sect have appeared all over China, such as the "Spirit Spirit" sect, the "Yellers", and the "Established King" sect, among others. Because many believers in rural areas have a low educational level and a limited understanding of the faith, these sects have at times been able to attract a limited following in certain rural areas. However, up until now, none of these sects have really managed to thrive or develop in any extensive way. November's issue of Tian Feng, the magazine of the Chinese church, reports that recently a new sect has been spreading rapidly, especially in the North of China. This sect differs from others in that it has a fully-developed theory and system of beliefs and also various tools necessary for propagation purposes, such as literature and evangelists. The sect has thus managed to spread more rapidly than other sects in recent times and continues to operate on a wide scale. As a warning to believers, November's Tian Feng gives details of the sect and also some personal accounts of encounters with sect members. (Whole article)


People Groups:

The Hidden China
by Paul Hattaway. Source: ChinaSource Journal

For centuries the outside world has yearned to understand the mysterious land of China. Since the late 1970s--when China again opened her doors to foreign tourists and businessmen-millions of visitors have flocked into the "Middle Kingdom," sampling her sumptuous food, photographing her scenic beauties, and experiencing her bustling marketplaces.

Few, however, have been fortunate enough to experience the "hidden" China. Woven into the mosaic of the largest population on earth is a rich thread. China's ethnic minorities, though numbering more than 100 million people, are largely lost amid the vast ocean of 1.2 billion Han Chinese. Although numerically the minorities of China account for only 6.7 percent of China's population, they live in 62.5 percent of China's territory. (Whole article)



Striving Toward the Chinese Century
by Dr. John K. Chang. Source: ChinaSource Journal

World famous historian Arnold Toynbee said that the 21st century would be the Chinese century. That was not a prophecy, but a conclusion based on his life-long research of world history and cultural changes. At the time he said this, there seemed to be no supporting evidence, but recent developments indicate that these words of Toynbee will indeed become reality. (Whole article)

Chinese Intellectuals and the Search for Modern China
by Dr. Samuel Ling. Source: ChinaSource Journal

A new millennium is dawning and everything in China seems to be new. A new generation of young people, comparable in mindset to Generations X and Y in the West, searches for material riches and temporal pleasure. New skyscrapers grace the skylines of Shanghai and other cities. Promising to weather the financial crisis in Asia, China's leaders continue to push for economic growth and modernization. As state enterprises are dismantled, the private sector is becoming dominant.

Will the twenty-first century be China's century in the world? If China does become a world leader, will Christian ideas influence her direction? Her goals?

What ideas will truly guide the "search for modern China?" Will China be an anti-foreign, militant, and nationalistic people in the 21st century? Will nihilism, materialism, and atheism be the governing ideas for the worldview of the Chinese people? Will Buddhism and folk religions rise again to dominate their thinking? Will a new version of Confucianism find a hearing among China's students and teachers? What is the place of the Christian gospel, a worldview based on the Old and New Testaments, in China's search for an all-comprehensive national ideology? (Whole article)



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