Suicide of Chinese Intellectual Sparks Debates in Christians

Jiang Xulin
Jiang Xulin (photo: the department of politics of ECNU)
By Ruth WangFebruary 26th, 2016

On February 19, Jiang Xulin, a young scholar of East China Normal University (ECNU), committed suicide. His suicide has attracted public concerns and also aroused debates in China.

Born in 1976, Jiang Xulin, who studied in several top Chinese universities like Peking University and Hong Kong Baptist University owned a PhD degree of religions and philosophy. Since 2009, he was a lecturer in the Department of Politics of ECNU.

In his suicide note, Jiang wrote about the confession of his faith, "Lord, forgive me. I thought there should be something curious, but it seems apparent that the curiosity is repressed. Lord, I broke the toy, please don't punish me. However, if you punish me, please give me courage to face the unknown scene...What can I do except praying for forgiveness? Please do not look at my sins and fault...Lord, may You open the gate of hope."

Some claims it is Jiang, who had the Christian faith, speaking to Lord. His colleague wrote, "May his Lord give him warmth and love in the heaven." A Christian comments that he is also a Christian according to his open faith. In an article of a Christian whose pen name is "Ren Aodong", Ren discovers that Jiang should have become a Christian long ago when checking his profile.

Is there any hope in Christianity?

Jiang once wrote that he was changing his religion because he found that Christians were almost hypocrites in his article online. For this, Ren writes, "yes, to some extent there is no essential difference between Christians and people in the world. Although we claim ourselves as Christians, the ways of our thinking and actions differ nothing fundamental from those of non-Christians. We don't follow the teachings of the Bible to change ourselves... "

Yet, Ren adds that it is our existence and Christians don't become saints immediately after converting but are a holy seed that will experience the darkness under soils and meet the hardship of growing is rooted inside them. Therefore, in the process of growing, Christianity emphasizes sanctification meanwhile when stressing on "righteousness through faith".

If a Christian commits suicide, is he/she still saved?  

On the suicide incident, "Gift of the Magi", a Christian WeChat public platform, published an article discussing about the question "if a Christian commits suicide, is he/she still saved?"

The author "Magi" answers the question with citing the content about suicide in LXIX. He thinks that we can't judge whether Jiang Xulin is indeed a Christian or not because we don't have the authority to judge one's soul.

In his eyes, those who take their own lives out of their weak faith or other reasons, we should respond to them with the greatest mercy and sympathy, meanwhile praying a lot, asking God to strengthen our faith.

A preacher born in 1980s who serves in a local church in eastern China says she shows grief about the suicide. She recalls that she really experienced the salvation of Jesus when her adult life couldn't move on although she was a Christian since young. She remembers a word she said many times in sermons, "It's pitiful for those who don't believe in Jesus, but more pitiful for those who believe yet don't get Jesus!”

Rev. Ren Bumei thinks it makes sense to discuss suicide on the ground of the Bible and theology in his blog. Ren, who serves in Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) talks about his views in three aspects: Jiang's belief; the suicide events in the Bible; how churches respond to suicides.

Firstly, the pastor thinks that Jiang who lacks the religious recognition in his eyes is not a Christian or even a cultural Christian (referring to those who identify themselves with Christian culture while not being religious Christians) at all.

Back to the Bible, the suicide of Ahithophel the Gilonite tells that Ahithophel whose political ideal was broken, who hanged himself represents intellectuals. Those who commit suicide are self-righteous. Without the conviction of Jesus’ resurrection, knowledge and religious complex will bind one to suicide, the peak of self-righteousness.

While the real tragedy for Judas, who felt shame after selling Jesus for money and hanged himself, is that he didn't want Christ's salvation. A sinner who chooses to confess his sin by suicide instead of wanting Christ's salvation is impossible to be saved.

He admits that it is a controversial issue of Christians and churches treating suicides. It hasn't formed a common recognition that suicide is believed sin and Christians who commit suicides are absolutely not saved. We can't know if people who commit suicide meet Christ in their final moment, he adds.

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