Luis Palau’s Chinese church registration comments correct, or misguided?

By November 23, 2005

China (MNN) — While Christians continue to be arrested in China, a renowned evangelist is urging unregistered house churches to register with the government.

Evangelist Luis Palau has preached in 70 nations, speaking to millions of people. He says, “I’d like to encourage them to be registered to have more freedom and opportunities to enjoy the protection and blessing of the government.” Palau likens it to clergy registering in the United States.

Werner Burklin, founder of China Partner Ministries, agrees with Palau’s comments. “All Christians can worship freely if they just abide by the law of the land. People are not being persecuted for their faith in China, they’re prosecuted for not abiding by the law of the land in many instances.”

Burklin says if these Christians were persecuted for the faith in Christ, “if that would be the case, millions of people in China, who are Christians now would be in jail.”

However, Voice of the Martyrs doesn’t see it that way. VOM’s Todd Nettleton says, “We have obviously a lot of admiration, a lot of respect for Mr. Palau and for the work that he’s done around the world. However, in think in this case his comments are misguided.”

Nettleton says when you ask a church to register with the government they’re doing much more than that. “A registered church in China means that the communist party controlled government approves who’s going to lead the services. The communist party controlled government approves when and where you can meet. Government approved pastors are strongly discouraged from preaching on the second coming of Christ, which they call the dooms day theory. And, nobody under 18 is allowed to attend one of these registered churches.”

Many claim that registering with the government means they will have less problems, but that’s not all it means. “The reality is to register with the Chinese government in most cases means greatly compromising your beliefs and saying, ‘the communist party comes first, my faith in Christ comes second and obviously as Christians that’s not a compromise we should be willing to make.”

China Partner works with the registered church, while Voice of the Martyrs works with the unregistered church. Pray that this issue won’t be a divisive issue within the church as a whole, but that God would use these unique ministries to accomplish the Great Commission.

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