The Most Dangerous Doctrine in Christianity Today
What Christian doctrine that has been ignored by American churches has been outlawed by the Chinese?
Awhile back I was watching the ABC evening news with Peter Jennings when I heard a report that truly amazed me.
The topic was the Chinese government’s persecution of Christians. Mr. Jennings pointed out that many Evangelical leaders in America are applying pressure to the then Clinton Administration, trying to persuade the President not to renew most-favored-nation trade status for China because of the government’s cruel persecution of Christians.
The ABC reporters on the scene in China explained that there are two kinds of churches in the land — official churches and unofficial ones, called underground churches. The official churches operate under severe restrictions, but as long as they abide by those restrictions, they are tolerated by the government. The underground churches are the ones who have refused to agree to the restrictions, and their leaders are persecuted unmercifully.
The restrictions are the ones that have always been typical of Communist regimes all over the world. They usually consist of such things as a prohibition of educational programs (Sunday Schools) for children and a ban on baptisms of people below the age of 21. Additionally, the state controls the number of students who can attend seminary (making sure the supply remains significantly below the demand). The state also controls the ordination process and the assignment of pastors. Thus, if the pastor of a large urban church steps out of line in any way, he will find himself suddenly reassigned to a small rural church located in the middle of nowhere.
Up to this point in the program, no new information had been supplied. But just as Peter Jennings was ready to move on to a new topic, he added a startling observation. Almost off-handedly he said, “There is only one doctrine the Chinese government will not allow the official churches to preach, and that is the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ.”
Isn’t that amazing? The Chinese Communist leaders know enough about Christian doctrine to figure out what aspect of it is most dangerous to them! They don’t want anyone in China hearing about the promise of Jesus to return. Why? Because this promise provides hope, and with it comes the corollary promise of Scripture that when Jesus returns, He will overthrow all the political systems of the world and will replace them with His own government that will flood the earth with peace, righteousness and justice.
The really sad thing about all this is that here in America where churches have the freedom to preach what they please, there is no doctrine more ignored than the Second Coming of Jesus. Our government could proclaim a prohibition on this doctrine tomorrow, and the vast majority of American churches would not even be affected! What a tragedy.