CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Ignorance makes Church its own worst enemy

HONG KONG (SE): Churches must share some of the blame for the widespread anti-religious feeling that many in Chinese society hold against them, a pastor in Xiamen told the Gospel Times, as what he calls an anti-intellectualism is common in some Churches that leaves people thinking that the Church is silly.

In an article published on the China Church Voices website on August 23, the pastor points out that while Churches face an uphill battle, as atheism is actively taught in schools and firmly ingrained in people’s heads, Church people can also contribute to some commonly held preconceived notions about religion by telling their stories in a childish manner, which leaves people thinking they are opposed to science and social progress, as well as any kind of rationality.

The pastor said that even among people who admire the Churches for the social work that they do, the education they have received precludes any belief in creation and too many Christians cannot explain what they believe in the educated terms of culture or science.

This, he believes remains a huge challenge to Churches if they are to play any significant role in Chinese cultural and social life.

He also pointed out that the concentration of media on the revival of what he calls Sinology over the past decade has also made people wary of Christianity, as its presentation has been heavily weighed against foreign influences, which of course includes religion.

He says because of the close relationship between Christianity and western culture, both have become a target for supporters of what is referred to as the new Confucianism. He describes these people as extremists itching to expel anything that smells of the west from China.

He points out that this is also aggravated by Christians themselves, as often they are ignorant of their own culture, so when they share about the gospel, their presentations smell strongly of western cultural idiom, which is read as an attack on what is Chinese.

However, he points out that it is an undeniable fact that China today is heavily influenced by western culture, especially in the area of entertainment, but the Churches have never learned how to use concepts from this industry to promote discussion or express themselves in an attractive manner.

The pastor also points to another influence which is seen as being western; the disintegration of traditional family and sexual values. 

He notes that the opposition of the Churches to this trend towards cohabitation, extramarital affairs and same sex relationships leaves it looking stubborn, old fashioned and unresponsive to people’s development.

He believes that the Churches will continue to suffer from this perception until they can figure out an intelligent way to present the damage that immorality does both to people’s lives and to society in general.

He says that although many people are caricatured as materialistic, in fact they are not, but just carry the common perceptions about human and religious values that are taught in schools.

Nevertheless, with the great advance in general wealth in society, the adoration of money has taken root, but he also believes that Churches can develop a way of speaking to this in a constructive and meaningful way.

However, to respond to these challenges, he believes that an internal conversion towards education and learning to allow messages to be presented in legitimate Chinese cultural images is the only way Churches will ever be able to make a contribution to and consequently have an impact on modern Chinese life in a positive and constructive way.

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