The recent visit to the US, apparently a positive one, by future Chinese President Xi Jinping, reminded me of some recent reading about the situation of Christians in China that had me thinking. First, there was an article by George Conger here that described how China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) plans on ‘bringing all Protestants into the fold of the China Christian Council/Three Self Patriotic Movement’, saying that this ‘would help the activities of Protestant churches proceed in a normal and orderly way’.

Second, a letter to The Living Church (February 13th 2011 issue) asserted that the Roman Catholic Church in China, which functions under the CCC/TSPM, is ‘more Catholic than the Pope’. Assuming that this means not only that it hasn’t departed from historic Catholicism, but believes it has  preserved it more effectively than Rome has, living under the CCC would not appear to be as bad a thing as Americans naturally assume. A thesis written by an evangelical Chinese student at Liberty University, available here, suggests that Evangelical Churches in China have also had a positive experience under the watchful eye of the TSPM.

Given that the Protestant Episcopal Church is still about as far from proceeding in a normal and orderly way as can be imagined, perhaps Episcopalians who are still tempted to believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Primates, or the Global South Primates will restore order in our church, should keep an eye on the CCC/TSPM instead.

Historic Anglicanism is, after all, thoroughly Erastian, and since Episcopalians in the US cannot look to their own government to keep order in their church, perhaps they could consider ‘outsourcing’ the job to those who appear to be better at it than any international Anglican body. Not time to propose a General Convention resolution yet, but keep your eyes on Chinese religious policy for a decade or two.

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