A Religious Defense: They Compare the True God with False Gods

Editor’s note: This pastor recently spent two weeks in a detention center after he was arrested for preaching the gospel. His firsthand account of his experiences in prison can be found here.

Here we publish his impassioned defense of Christianity as a true and good religion. This religious defense stands in opposition to the strategy currently pursued throughout much of China to delegitimize Christianity by equating orthodox Christian faith with a cult or destructive religion.

Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking and writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.

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A few months ago, I was sent to the detention center with my hands cuffed behind my back on the charge of “illegal missionary organization.” It is too late to mention the brutal law enforcement that I encountered during the process—these words alone are enough to choke my conscience to death.

More than two weeks later, the morning I came out from the inside, brothers and sisters presented me with flowers and smiles. They poured out pure tears. Their red, swollen eyes spoke silently of how the big prison of the world outside was mercilessly crushing their hearts—more so than the small prison inside the detention center, even after my face was slapped and my dignity cursed! Not only was our worship space ransacked on the day of the incident, but its water and electricity was cut off and the locks were forcibly changed before I got out of the detention center. This seemed to represent the treatment of ordinary citizens by their masters in their own country. It also represents the life of God’s people as alien strangers in a foreign land. The face of the city became instantly hideous. Each building seems a towering, jagged monstrosity, pouring out all the power of the world in its teeth and claws!

Just as I came out of prison, I received a call from home that my father’s health had taken a sharp turn for the worse. The doctors have told us that he has terminal cancer, which has invariably been accompanied by many graces for over a year. Yesterday morning he was not able to take in any water, yet his eyes still gushed many tears of gratitude. My father whispered in my ear that the day had come for him to go home, and his heart wanted to praise the Lord, but unfortunately he could no longer sing. During the fifteen days I was detained, he had been waiting patiently, using his last breath in his terminal illness to fight in the Lord alongside me, his own child! As for my dear wife, she has had a low fever for many days in a row. Other than placing her in the hands of God’s mercy, she was always the last in line to be mentioned.

Throughout this experience, I have pleaded our case with police officers, officials, and even my fellow inmates. To them, our words do not count; our voices are not important enough to be heard; and even our proclamation of God’s word is nothing but a lie. Christ, on the cross, was long ago presumed guilty by the world. All those who do not believe in Christ participated in this crime with their prejudices. Who can understand that the innocent was condemned in order that we, the guilty, might be forgiven and justified by faith?

Our so-called “illegal evangelism” or “illegal religious organization” has been quickly elevated to the level of a “cult.” Although this word was not written in formal documents, it was hinted everywhere in the words of the officials. At every turn they compare Christ, the Son of God, with Falun Gong. In their dull and hardened conscience, the bull, the ghost, the snake, and God are placed in the same hierarchy. [牛鬼蛇神 The bull, the ghost, the snake, and God were derogatory terms people used to describe capitalists and anti-revolutionary forces in the Cultural Revolution.] Fallen and lost souls, they are unable to distinguish between the basic directions of up and down, left and right, and the philosophical concept of the absolute and the relative. Although truth and lies are black and white, they naturally compare the true God with false gods.

For those who say “cult,” please tell me what the standard for “true religion” is? For those who accuse us of “illegal evangelism” or being an “illegal religious organization,” please tell me, what laws have been violated? Is the standard of our law legal? 

The legal standard for judging a called and sent preacher is: “Is he biblical? Has he been called and sent by God? Does he preach from the Word of God? Is his testimony the way, the truth, and the life that Jesus Christ proclaimed?” A legitimate church is a church in accordance with God’s Scriptures and in accordance with God’s will. God’s pastoral care is personally known among this church. God’s grace is personally experienced in their midst. They acknowledge that Christ is their Savior who has redeemed them, even when they encounter persecution. Their Lord will likewise acknowledge them before the Father and the angels.

From the perspective of society at large, the law is a fundamental border. The irreligious does not understand religion; all he understands is the fruit that religion brings. Are people more law-abiding because of their religion? Or are they more criminal and evil? The law defines the fruits of religion, not the root of religion. The law defines the actions of religion, not its teachings.

The police officer I spoke with mentioned this point, saying that many demon-worshiping religions bring all kinds of evil—we distinguish between positive and evil religions based on this. Religion that worships the true God is orthodox, and this God is righteous, loving, faithful, and merciful. The true God does not only judge the sins of the world, but gave his life to save the souls of those who are dead in sin. Those who worship false gods and demons are so-called cults. Why is there so much evil in this world? Because the whole world has fallen under the power of false gods and idols!

To judge a religion is to make a judgment about God. This is extremely significant. This judgment cannot be wrong. If we make a false judgment about people or matters, it will cause great turmoil. How much more so when we falsely judge God and nail him to the cross?  What kind of judgment and punishment will we receive? We are human, not God. Our judgment of God is only a retrospective recognition, not a decision!

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Further Reading

Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.


  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church



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