Top Chinese reverend: Mutual respect key to church exchanges
( 2003-10-23 16:10) (Xinhua)
Chinese Church is willing to establish cooperation and friendship with churches in other countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect, but will not allow overseas churches to interfere with China's religious affairs, a top Chinese church minister said in Washington Wednesday.
"We have many exchanges with churches in other countries," said Reverend Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council, at a news conference held in the Chinese Embassy.
Asked to elaborate on "guarding against harmful foreign influences", one of the three challenges the Chinese Church says it is facing, Rev. Cao said some overseas churches are attempting to interfere with internal religious affairs in China.
"When Christianity was first introduced into China, it was widely regarded as a religion controlled by foreign churches," she said.
Now Chinese churches have well developed in China on the principles of "Three Self," namely, self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation, said the reverend.
"But some overseas churches, out of obsolete concepts, are still trying to impose their own values on Chinese churches through exchange activities," Cao said.
"While offering economic assistance, they attach a lot of conditions in order to have a say in China's religious affairs," she said.
Rev. Cao, who is leading a delegation of the Chinese churches on a visit to churches in Canada and the United States, said she and other delegates were warmly welcomed by the Canadian and American churches.
Presbyter Ji Jianhong, chairperson of the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China, the top institution of Protestant Christians in China, told the conference that the "harmful foreign influences" could refer to " some churches," but could also refer to "some outdated conventions. "
"The churches in China have now entered a post-denominational period. Institutional Protestant denominations no longer exist and believers worship together," he said. "But some overseas churches are still trying to impose the concept and practice of denominations in China."
"We hope that through communication and exchange on an equal footing, more and more overseas churches will get a better understanding of the religious situation in China," Presbyter Ji said.
According to Ji and Cao, after years of development, the number of Protestant Christians has surpassed 16 million in China and nearly 30 million Bibles have been published and distributed.
Statistics show there are presently 18 theological seminaries and Bible
schools throughout China.
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