It sounds right, but there is one more part of the equation that many leave out. Who exactly is the “Chinese Church”? Who are the people receiving the bibles?
One smuggling bibles is probably likely to tell you that he has a “network” of people who the bibles get passed on to and they distribute them throughout China. Not knowing much about China, the person sitting in the pew easily accepts this answer. But I want to challenge the “network.” Why? Because statistically one-half to two-thirds of China’s house church Christians are somewhat Charismatic (or liberal theology, such as, speaking in tongues, woman as pastors, and belief that one’s salvation can be lost). If you believe in historical Christianity, are theologically conservative, and/or are a fundamentalist that stands on the Word of God, then this is a problem.
Should conservative churches be using their missions money to help build and equip the charismatic churches?
I challenge the network because we know little about it and we are not allowed to know about it. For the purpose of “security reasons” we have allowed the “who” to not matter and have no accountability.
Is the “network” made up of like-minded believers who are in need of Bibles? Is there accountability in the system to deliver the Bibles and make sure they are getting delivered and used? Can the we know about the network and how everything operates?
Think about it this way: If there was a Charismatic church teaching their doctrine in your hometown and where requesting 200 Bibles from your church (to keep teaching their doctrine), would you provided them with bibles? Would you use your missions money to give that Charismatic church bibles?
Conclusion: I am not against bible smuggling “if” the church needing the bibles is of “like faith and practice” can’t afford to buy bibles on their own, don’t have a local place to get them, and need more than what we could get by legally buying them in China. Otherwise, I think there are better places that we could be spending our time and missions’ dollars. For example:
- Bible smugglers would have their time free to help train the local churches in correct doctrine.
- We could have more money available to help legally publish Christian books in China.
- We could support more missionaries to plant churches and train national leadership.
- Money is saved from the short-term teams used to smuggle Bibles in or their efforts could be re-directed toward evangelism.
So three post later, what do you think? To smuggle or not to smuggle, that is the question!?