- True Jesus Church
- The True Jesus Church is a Sabbatarian Pentecostal church founded in China early in the 20th century. Sabbatarianism had been introduced into China in 1847 by missionaries of the Seventh-day Baptists Church (who centered their work on Shanghai) and was given further impetus by Seventh-day Adventists arriving in 1888. Pente-costalism was introduced in 1907, when Alfred A. Garr and his wife, Lillian Garr, arrived in Hong Kong and began preaching among Congregation-alists. The movement quickly became indigenous, and within a few years Mok Lai Chi became its effective leader. A few years later the first Pentecostals reached Shanghai.Among the first people to find their way to the Shanghai Apostolic Faith Church was Lin-Shen Chang (d. 1935), a Presbyterian deacon, who began a quest for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This did not occur during his initial period of study with the congregation, but later in the year at home. At the same time he began to speak in tongues, he received a revelation about observing the Sabbath.Several years later, Paul Wei (d. 1919), associated with the London Missionary Society (Con-gregationalist) in Beijing, became seriously ill; he regained his health through the prayer and laying on of hands at the local Pentecostal fellowship. Subsequently, while praying at his home, he, too, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The experience led him to found a house church. During a subsequent time of fasting, Wei received an additional revelation about water baptism, that it should be in the name of Jesus Christ alone, "head bowed in the living water." At this time, one segment of the larger Pentecostal movement had also come to believe in baptism by the name of Jesus alone, the JesusOnly Pentecostals. The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW) had accepted this idea, which meant abandoning traditional teachings about the Trinity. PAW had begun sending missionaries to China in 1914.Wei began preaching services under the name International Reformed Jesus True Church. In 1917, the name was shortened to True Jesus Church. The next year, Lin-Shen Chang made his way to the True Jesus Church, where he met Paul Wei and convinced him that the church should observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Today, Wei, Chang and another early worker, Barnabas Chang, are seen as the founders of the True Jesus Church. Paul Wei died in 1919, and Lin-Shin Chang later defected from the movement, leaving Barnabus Chang as leader.As the church developed, other unique elements were added to its Sabbatarian "Jesus Only" perspective. It accepted the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, but also the third ordinance of foot washing. It taught that baptism, done in response to God's command, cleanses the believer of sin, a position known as baptismal regeneration. The regenerating power of baptism was confirmed in the accounts of healing miracles that occurred to people as they were baptized. The proper mode of baptism is full immersion while the believer's head is bowed. Only those who have been baptized can receive the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion.Within the True Jesus Church, speaking in tongues usually occurs as a group act, with all engaging in prayer at the same time. Those speaking in tongues often vibrate or move under the influence of the Spirit, though in an orderly manner. The primary function of tongues is self-edification, hence there is no need to limit the number who speak.The True Jesus Church spread quickly in China, and reached Hong Kong, Taiwan (then under Japanese control), Singapore, and Malaysia before the end of the 1920s. in the 1930s, missionaries began work in Japan,Korea,Indonesia, and even Hawaii.Like all Chinese churches, the True Jesus Church was disrupted by the changes in government following the revolution of 1949. Within China, the church was merged into the Church of Christ of China, though keeping a somewhat distinctive presence as its members gathered on Saturday rather than on Sunday. Then the entire church was suppressed in 1966 during the Cultural Revolution. In 1967, church leaders from the other countries met in Taiwan for the first World Delegates Conference, which accepted the task of coordinating the movement outside of China. An international headquarters was established in Taichung, Taiwan, where a seminary was opened. The headquarters was subsequently moved to California in 1985, and four regional evangelical centers were established to coordinate the work in different parts of the world - America, Europe, northeastern Asia, and Southeast Asia.As the 21st century began, the True Jesus Church reported a membership of 1.5 million in 29 countries. The majority of them still reside within the People's Republic of China, where they are part of the single Protestant church under the leadership of the China Christian Council. The True Jesus Church is the third-largest Protestant church in Taiwan.See also China: Taiwan.Further reading:■ F F Chong, One True God (London: TJC Press, 1998)■ Q & A on the Basic Beliefs (Garden Grove, Calif.: True Jesus Church, Department of Literacy Ministry, 2000)■ Murray A. Rubinstein, "Evangelical Spring: The Origin of the True Jesus Church on Taiwan, 1925-1926," Society for Pentecostal Studies Annual Papers (1986)■ John Yang, Essential Biblical Doctrines (Garden Grove, Calif.: Word of Life, 1997).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.