Jinghao Zhou, assistant professor of Asian languages and cultures, had his book review article “Wang Mingdao's Stand for the Persecuted Church in China” published in “Journal of Asian Mission,” 6:2 (2004).
According to Zhou, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a great and well-known Western theologian whose theology profoundly influenced subsequent generations all over the world, as his resistance to Nazism in the Barmen Declaration of 1934 enlightened Germans. Likewise, Wang Mingdao is a brave minister the communist China, and in many respects is similar to Bonhoeffer, but he remains relatively unknown in the Western world. The author of the book, Thomas Alan Harvey, has accomplished an important task by introducing Wang Mingdao as a man, a theologian, and a martyr to the West.
The Communist Party of China began persecuting Chinese Christians in 1950. Based on the party's regulation, Christian churches are required to register with the government and to join the Three-Self Church, which is sponsored by the Chinese government. However, Wang believed that the Three-Self Church had no biblical basis and refused to register with the government.
Eventually, his popularity among Chinese Christians earned his rare title of the Dean of House Churches. Wang's public resistance obviously threatened both the leadership of the Three-Self Movement and the authority of the party. Therefore, Wang was arrested and sentenced to 15 years.
Wang Mingdao's story raises a serious question: Why the government felt so threatened by a 56-year-old pacifist preacher. Zhou argues that the Chinese communist party should fear not only the old men, but, essentially, religion as whole, especially Christianity. The conflict between Wang Mingdao and the government is not the confrontation between an individual and the government, but rather between Christianity (in this case, the independent church/house church) and the communist government. The party remains the main obstacle to the development of the Chinese Christian movement in present-day China.
Zhou joined the faculty in 2001. He is the author of the book “Remaking China's Public Philosophy for the 21st Century.”