Young, Restless, and Reformed in China

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra | March 27, 2017

In August 2015, a Reformed pastor in China nailed 95 theses to his website.

The pastor was Wang Yi, a former human-rights attorney and now leader of China’s arguably most prominent Reformed congregation. About 700 attend the Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China.

The theses, which Wang signed along with another pastor and five elders, laid out the gospel using a covenantal framework. They drew on documents such as Calvin’s Institutes and the Westminster Confession, and from theologians such as Augustine, Samuel Rutherford, and Karl Barth.

And they drew a clear bright line around God as the church’s only authority, in a direct rebuke to China’s government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches.

“[I]t is difficult to read the document as anything other than a call to a new Reformation,” Yale Divinity School professor Chloë Starr wrote about the theses.

It was also a significant public step taken on the wobbly legs of the small but growing Reformed movement in China.

In a country where religious practice outside of official TSPM churches is technically illegal, Reformed theology “is clearly a rapidly growing influential movement,” said Bruce Baugus, a Reformed Theological Seminary professor who wrote…

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