Faithful Disobedience: Writings on Church and State from a Chinese House Church Movement

IVP Academic. Dec. 2022. 288p. ed. by Hannah Nation & J.D. Tseng. ISBN 9781514004135. pap. $28. REL
This is a tantalizing slice of the conversation in China surrounding freedom of conscience, nationalism, and the state’s role in religion. It is a slice due to the editors, Nation (managing dir., Center for House Church Theology) and Tseng, collecting documents centering on the writings of Wang, a law professor and human rights advocate–turned–pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China. Due to that focus, at times reading this collection is like hearing one side of a telephone call without representative voices from government entities or opposing Christian interlocutors. Readers know from the outset that Wang was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to nine years in prison and his church’s property was confiscated or destroyed, giving an eerie, urgent quality to these documents. However, perhaps surprisingly, this is emphatically not the story of a church in hiding. Wang held public services in an open church building, and his writings are vocal about the importance of doing this, even in the face of government pressure.
VERDICT It is hard to avoid the historical echoes of Anabaptists and English Dissenters as a struggle for religious freedom plays out once again in a different key.
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