So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Christ has come to set us free from the law.

Communism: Communism is an ideology of economic equality through the elimination of private property. Throughout my travels and years spent inside China, it became apparent that China was (and is) departing, to a large degree, from their former Communist beliefs. When the new reformation initially began to take place within China in 1978, a major shift began to occur within the Communist stronghold and a new ideology began to occur. Yet, even during this instrumental time of reform within China was birthing, that did not trickle down to the average citizen. Until 1994 people did not, nor could own a car. But in that same year, China reform began to fully be seen among the people, with the Government beginning to not only encourage its citizens to buy a car, but to begin the process of individual economic freedom. China was changing to the betterment of its people and its society. The fact is, nearly Fifteen years ago hardly anyone could afford a car, today everyone can – and a large percentage do.

There are many economic changes taking place within China which proves that the nation is changing from a strict Communist/Socialist country, to a more open (dare I say Capitalist) form of Government. The reason? The past never worked and instead, the people literally starved under Mao’s oppressive regime and ideology. Yet in other ways there are still Communist controlled pillars which have long been put into place, especially when it comes to religion.

China officially permits the three self church, a State run, State monitored religious institution which conforms and subjects itself to the State, including sermons, ideas, beliefs and so on. In China, the State run church impacts the Chinese Christians in such a way that those who attend these State run churches subject themselves to not only a controlled gospel, but a watered down version of the Bible. Yet things are indeed changing in this aspect within China when it comes to Christianity. As I have written about many times in the past month during my second trip into China (and even now preparing for my third and final trip to China where I will stay and live among the Chinese along with my wife) the great restrictions in China are becoming less restrictive and more tolerant, especially in the larger cities. Yet there is an element of religious control which seems to be playing out that not only reflects the Communist mantra, but it is hampering many in their walk. I call it Communist Christianity.

Within many of the travels I took across southern China, near Hong Kong, Thailand, and near Tibet, over 3,000 miles in 30 days, the one thing I noticed within many of the churches, house churches, three self churches and countless home bible studies is the control some are having over the people, very similar to the control the Government has currently over the people of China. There is a great element of influence by not just the Communist ideology within the Chinese church upon the people by men who seek to control the spiritual well being of the people, but there is a segment among the pastors and Seminaries at large who are adopting the western influence of spiritual authority (the Shepherding Movement) in such a way that the people are limited in their scriptural instruction and instead, the gospel is regulated to a “as needed” format. This is the sad aspect of the modern church in China, and while there are other segments within Christianity within China, especially the growing Pentecostal movement within China, the religious reformers are becoming worse than the Communist leaders of the past in that believers are spoon fed the word of God and then spiritually starved until they conform to leaderships demands.

This form of religious control is not just making inroads into the Chinese church, it’s equally made its way into the American church as well, and it has many names it hides behind such as the covering, shepherd, and pastoral authority. In 1974, a meeting took place between four Charismatic leaders that attempted to deal with what they deemed as an answer to moral failure which was occurring within the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement among its members, and the result was called the Shepherding Movement. The men in question, Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Don Basham, and Charles Simpson felt a need for personal accountability among believers to spiritual authority and in the process developed a new movement within the evangelical segment of the Christian faith that would have lasting effects upon those who would find themselves apart of such an unscriptural aspect of the faith. The result? Only a mere decade later, and countless lives torn apart in the process, the Shepherding movement was a spiritual disaster. In the end, the Shepherding movement proved that man made attempts to do what only the Holy Spirit can do will always have the same result – failure.

But unfortunately the church has not seen this error and even today, although by coming in under another label, the modern church is once again finding itself being subjected to spiritual control by some whose entire desire is to control the personal lives of its members. From the error filled teaching which states the pastor is to be followed without question or even examined by what he preaches from the pulpit, to the unscriptural teaching of the “covering” whereby a Bishop or pastor or Apostle is to be the spiritual covering of their members, even to the point of controlling every aspect of the believers life – even personal life decisions (whom to marry, whom to date) are now under scrutiny by others as many are becoming disillusioned by the spiritual abuse taking place in many church leadership.

To be clear, at no time has Jesus ever given spiritual leaders power over another believer – ever. Matthew 20:25 makes it clear that we are to serve one another, not control one another. What one believer does in the privacy of their own home, their own life, even the very decisions that they make are to be just that – personal and not to be subjected to some spiritual dictator who touts himself as a pastor. The truth is, in Christ there are no greater servants over others, we are all the same, but power and influence, especially in the realm of the church has made some drunk on power and pride. The truth is this, anything which seeks to control, dictate, and rule over another person is not Christianity but a spirit of Satan, it is antichrist. This includes manipulation in financial giving (the tithe), the demands to return to the covenants of the old testament and the demand to submit to a spiritual authority such as a pastor. These are counter to the gospel and one which the believer must reject and if the demands do not change, one in which the believer must weigh heavily to reconsider whether that church and that leader is properly operating under the word and instead, operating under the spirit of control, which is witchcraft. If it does not change, then the believer needs to simply pack up and leave that church and go somewhere else.

The church does not need dictators and control freaks, the church is a place, or group of people who love others, who require no allegiance, no submission, no demands of loyalty, a true pastor who is truly called of God will never demand submission by others, but instead will submit himself to others and serve the lesser of the brethren. That is the true mark of a genuine servant of God, not a spiritual Communist thug.

In this hour of continued straying from the word, it is important that the believer continues to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all matters pertaining to their life and seek to do God’s perfect will, not the will of others. If not, the believer will find themselves being subject to the demands of a mere man and not the will of the Father, the result will always be the same – bondage.


  1. Jane says:

    Awesome Christopher. Thank you.

  2. Karen Traa says:

    Really good word, Chris. Thanks.
    If you have time, would you be able to write a post on how those of us on this side of the globe can somehow bless the Chinese believers? Bibles?

  3. Jcele Raiem says:

    I just have a little question. What exactly does Romans 13 say about spiritual authority?

    • Paul is referring to the gospel, the message of the cross, that we adhere to the authority of those whom God has appointed who preach the gospel, we obey the GOSPEL message as it relates to conduct becoming of a Christian. That does not, nor ever did imply that we submit to a man and anything when it comes to extra-biblical teachings. Meaning this, we obey the gospel message and what God is speaking through his servants, but at no time do we ever place ourselves under their complete authority in matters to personal conduct, behavior or lifestyle outside the church. That is the structure of spiritual authority.

      • Jcele Raiem says:

        A follow up question, if you don’t mind. Most people also use discipleship to have authority over men, how then should we do discipleship in a different way (different, meaning not taking control of one’s life)? Thank you!

      • We disciple people to be like Christ, meaning, we teach them the word as it relates to living, the tenants of the faith, salvation, justification, regeneration, baptism, then we simply begin to teach them the word itself through bible study, all of this should be the foundation of true discipleship that the convert become like HIM and less like us. We teach them as well to listen to the guiding words of the Holy Spirit and then to follow that leading, this is true, genuine discipleship which never lifts up a man, but the son of man – Jesus Christ.

  4. Jcele Raiem says:

    Thank you!


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