80 years after the notorious Nanjing Massacre, Chris Magee, grandson of Missionary John Magee, who secretly recorded the brutal slaughters of Japanese troops, came to China to capture the new Nanjing with his camera.
Having been a Christian for almost ten years, I have been in contact with many believers and learned many beneficial spiritual lessons from them. However, I have also heard a lot of absurd arguments that leave me speechless.
In a Bible study, a sister shared that a preacher in her hometown church asked the congregation to make their house doors smaller so that they could enter through "narrow gates" and be saved. Another sister even really hired a worker to make her home door smaller. As a matter of fact, "entering through the narrow gate" was mentioned in Jesus' parable of how to enter the kingdom of heaven. He wanted to demonstrate that it was a hard road to heaven and only a few could go to heaven, so Christians need to deny themselves on the pilgrimage.
A pastor said in a WeChat group that he was to be the speaker at a retreat in another place and a local church leader gave him a kind reception. He expressed gratitude to the host, but was puzzled why he ate the same meal for three days. He asked the church's chef and got a shocking answer.
The church leader told the chef to "practice hospitality" (Romans 12:13). "Practicing hospitality" literally means "treating guests with the same meal" in Chinese, but refers to "constantly giving hospitality" in context.
A brother remained unemployed after graduation from college. His mother felt so anxious that she took him to seek help from a "powerful old sister". The old sister asked the young brother, "Why can't you find a job?" He replied, "I don't have a relationship network to get a job by the back door." She said, "No worries. It doesn't matter that there is no backdoor for you; I will open a heavenly door for you." She then led him to pray.
Once a sister asked me where I come from. I answered, XXX. Hearing it, she immediately said excitedly to me, "Wow! You are very blessed!" I asked why and she replied, "I know a 'godly woman' who is also from your hometown. Since you grew up there, you must have received many spiritual blessings from her."
Similarly, an elderly sister's grandson got into a famous university. She was told that her grandson was smart because he lived with her and she was devout. Do Christians believe in fairyism? Does one get spirituality as long as he or she stays with an "immortal"? This is a reflection of folk traditions on Christianity.
Some old sisters command believers not to wear long hair at Christmas because long hair is the adornment of gangsters and prostitutes. A believer asked one of the sisters to turn around to see some paintings. She saw paintings like "Jesus, the Good Shepherd", "The Last Supper", and "The Ascension of Christ".It was obvious that the appearances of Jesus and his disciples in the paintings were not "spiritual."
A church elder preached the gospel to an intellectual, but he, an atheist, refused to accept the good news because he believed that there was a contradiction between science and religion. The elder said, "The fathers of those atheists you believe in had faith in God, so you should also trust in God."Hearing this, he sneered and went away. It was ridiculous logic that because a father is a Christian, his son must be a Christian.
Most importantly, it could not prove that the gospel is the truth but showed that the atheists held different beliefs from their fathers.
A brother said that Catholicism was a cult because their pastors name themselves "shenfu" (神父，priests) that literally means "fathers of the Lord" in Chinese and that it was an organization of the devil. In fact, "shen (神)" doesn't refer to the Lord but "spirit" in Protestantism. "Shenfu" is the shepherd of spirits. Catholics call God "tianzhu (天主)" or "shangzhu (上主)" rather than "shen" in Chinese. His argument was explicitly ignorant.
These are absurd comments I have heard in the past decade, and many more other extreme statements have been made. In fact, these comments reveal crises the church faces: misinterpretation of the Bible, folk religion, and blindness and ignorance are invading the church.
If Chinese pastors and preachers don't study or focus on nurturing quality, there will be more odd beliefs and they will result in deviations from truth in believers who are prone to be captured by cults and heresies and damage to the church's image. If non-Christians hear these nonsensical arguments, do they dare to enter the church?
(The author is a Christian from Fujian.)
- Translated by Karen Luo
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