Some brief news items on events in the GKv (RCN) and in China:
Mary on Palm Sunday
André van Aarle, a Roman Catholic deacon, will be in Groningen on Palm Sunday to lead a combined PKN / GKv church service! [That our GKv (RCN) sister churches should have a combined church service with the PKN is bad enough, but to have a Roman Catholic clergyman lead the church service leaves you shaking your head in amazement.]
Remarkably, Palm Sunday this year falls on the day the worldwide Roman Catholic church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation. But Palm Sunday prevailed as the date for the combined church service and Rome would therefore celebrate the Annunciation Feast two Sundays later.
Hence Van Aarle, after already having conducted three Palm Sunday services in his own Roman parish, will now be reading of the announcement that Mary will become the mother of Christ (Luke 1) in the combined PKN / GKv service. The deacon will not sprinkle the sermon with (sweet) Mary devotions, but focus on ‘her important position as an example of the believer who loves God unconditionally’. As he remarked: “In short, a biblical sermon about Mary. I want to keep it pure, but also try to remove its sensitive sting. If we take our faith and the ecumenical mission of Christ seriously, we cannot ignore Mary.”
Van Aarle regards it as exceptional that he is allowed to preach in a Reformed ‘liberated’ church for the first time. He thinks that this is the first time that a Roman Catholic clergyman is leading in the GKv church federation.
An offensive, suggestive column
Rikko Voorberg, GKv minister of the ‘pop-up’ church in Amsterdam, titled his column of March 31: The disagreeable feast of Easter. This has understandably raised Michiel Dronkers’ indignation. To his dismay he read about the meaning of Easter and Good Friday that according to the ‘saving systems [doctrines]’ of the church the message of Good Friday is “that God so loved the world that He gave His Son, but it so often seems that God hated the world that much that He let His Son be killed.”
How dare he? says Dronkers. Is this a caricature, or is this Rikko’s understanding of the biblical doctrine? Anyway, it is blasphemous and an insult to the Holy Spirit, because it suggests that God, by way of the atoning death of His Son on the cross, had to be ‘adjusted’ from being angry with us to loving us: “God’s was so infuriated with us that He became infuriated with Jesus and thereby turned loving again towards us.”
How dare he write that? The apostle Paul says: God so loved us that while we were still sinners He gave His Son for us in death.
Dronkers warns: “Rikko, watch your words and be careful that you do not insult the Spirit of God!”
The situation in China worse for Christians now than under Mao Zedong
House churches in the People’s Republic of China are now ‘completely forbidden’ and other church services are closely watched by Communist guards. This is a consequence of the new Chinese law on religion, says the German human rights organization IGFM.
It reports that President Xi Jinping wants to organize all areas of life according to the ideology of the Communist Party. Nothing stops him, for since March he has become China’s ruler for life. The new law seeks to prevent interference from abroad and therefore also restricts, for example, internet traffic, import of religious literature, and travelling abroad for religious purposes.
Christians as well as Buddhists Tibetans, Islamic Uyghurs and other minorities are going to face a tough time.
It is ‘a new spiritual storm that has reached the Chinese churches’, says Bob Fu of the American organization ChinaAid. The situation could even become worse than during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. He sees similarities in the elimination of all non-communist influences. That reign of terror cost 2 to 8 million people their lives.
Fu is an exile living in Texas. This month he visits the Netherlands at the invitation of the ChristenUnie / SGP eurofractie [a Christian political party] and the SDOK [Underground Church Foundation] to speak about the situation in his native country.
In the East Chinese province of Henan, with its 100 million inhabitants, prayer meetings in the home are no longer allowed. In March, for example, more than 100 house churches had been traced and closed in the city of Nanyang. Zealous officials are conducting house-to-house visits.
Social contacts also suffer under the new law. You are not allowed to engage in conversation with minors on religious topics. And students, youths and members of the Communist Party are not allowed to enter churches.
Xi wants to Sinicize China
The government wants to Sinicize China, i.e. all Chinese must be united under communist ideology. Bob Fu reports that in this way the growth of the church must be pushed back. Especially the Protestant churches are growing vigorously; they are not organized and are seen as a threat. Sociologists expect that by 2030 some 225 million Christians will be living in China.
translated from www.eeninwaarheid.info – “Signals 65” by R. Sollie-Sleijster 14-04-18
 combined service of the Protestantse Kerk Nederland and Gereformeerde Kerk vrijgemaakt