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Book Review – China’s Reforming Churches

Posted On July 21, 2014

The importance of missions cannot be understated. As born-again believers, our supreme desire is to glorify God in everything we say, think, and do, and when we realize there are myriads of people in this world who are currently not doing either of those things then that should motivate us to carry forth the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world. Now, I don’t want to insinuate that all of us are called to the foreign mission field. However, like Paul Washer says, even if we aren’t called to personally go down into the well (the foreign mission field), then we are most definitely called to hold the rope for those that God is calling down into the well. In order to be a faithful servant of God who is “holding the rope” in a way that is honoring to God, we need to be as grounded as possible in the Word of God, and as educated as we can be on the various people groups we plan to have a part in reaching. In China’s Reforming Churches, Bruce P. Baugus, Christians everywhere are going to reap innumerable benefits from a historically accurate and Bible-centered account of evangelical Christianity in China. The world, but most especially the Western hemisphere, has been in desperate need of a book just like this one to properly educate us on exactly what is going on in China, and how we can better serve our brothers and sisters in Christ there.

The book is laid out into four easy-to-read parts, with each part usually broken down into 3 (sometimes 4) separate chapters dealing with the overarching theme of that specific part. The four parts are as follows:

(1) The History of Presbyterianism in China

(2) Presbyterianism in China Today

(3) Challenges and Opportunities for Presbyterianism in China

(4) Appropriating a Tradition

As someone who grew up loving history, I was extremely intrigued by Part 1, The History of Presbyterianism in China. I loved learning about the first Catholic and Protestant missionaries, when they first began preaching the gospel to the Chinese, what was going on (historically speaking) in China at the same time these missionaries were trying to operate, etc. With that said, I thought this first section would be much more effective if it was 30-0 pages short. Having said that, I believe this section of the book gives an outstanding historical account of the rise of Presbyterianism in China, and I am much better off for having read it.

The rest of the book is similarly detailed in its description of the Chinese Church as a whole; why Presbyterianism is being strongly promoted by the author as the most Christ-honoring, and biblically grounded, ecclesiastical method out there (though I would disagree with the author on this being a Reformed Baptist myself); what the current struggles are in the church and how they can be combated against with a Presbyterian ecclesiology, what role the Chinese government is playing in either hindering the gospel, or actually helping it to expand, and what the future of the church in China looks like if they do, or don’t, accept a Presbyterian ecclesiology (and not just a reformed sotierology that picks and chooses what you want to practice and what you don’t want to practice).

After reading China’s Reforming Churches, I think I am actually erring on the side of caution when I say that 85% of western Christians will have their eyes radically opened to what our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing in China. Thanks in large part to mass media’s desire to make things worse than they really are, most western Christians believe that the only way to hear and preach the gospel is to be a part of an underground church. The next vision that plagues our thoughts is the fact that these Chinese Christians are severely persecuted for their faith (on an almost relentless basis) and that is just not entirely accurate. China’s Reforming Churches is a must-read for any Christian who desires to know more about the Chinese Church and how we can accurately pray for them and serve them. My prayer is that God would use this book to burden more believers to either go down the well, or hold the rope faithfully for those that God is calling to go down the well and serve the Chinese people.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews.

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