Chinese pastors discuss church revival

The pastors suggest super-long sermons
( [email protected] ) Mar 04, 2004 12:58 PM EST

A meeting launching exchange between Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and churches in China was held on 16 Feb of 2004.

Five pastors from China traveled to the seminary and attended as the representatives of China Christian Council, which provides education, Bibles and other services to Chinese churches.

The meeting hit a cultural rift as they discussed on what the people expect from a sermon. The Chinese pastors had their focus on the length and the variety of a sermon.

"The sermon should be 2 hours long. It is reasonable. Many people in rural areas walk a long, long way to get to church. They prefer a long, long sermon for a long, long walk," said the Rev. Shan Wei Xiang, one of the five pastors.

"All the sermons should be different when there are more then one held within the day. Otherwise, the people will say the pastor is lazy, he didn't prepare," said the Rev. Deng Fucun, executive vice president of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a state-approved Christian organization

The meeting indicated that the concerns of Chinese pastors are different. Some concerns were revolving around bizarre sects, such as one that teaches that Jesus has returned as a Chinese woman. But all of them concerned about educating leaders for the church. One of the liveliest discussions is the discussion on the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.

Andrew Purves, professor from the Theology, spoke on spiritual union with Christ. He quoted John Calvin and talked about how God's love allows Christians to encounter him as a "gracious father" rather than a judge.

Several of the Chinese pastors, however, responded that they did not know what Calvin taught is about grace. They said that the Calvinist belief that some people are predestined to damnation was a burning issue in their churches.

Purves replied that such a rigid view of predestination was not Calvin’s teaching. It is a distortion.

"This sort of exchange is needed, because the Chinese often have been left with a caricature of the theology brought by long-ago missionaries. Sunquist continued. “Americans can also learn from the Chinese, with their great devotion to scripture,"he added.