My wife and I just came back from Cambodia. When we were there, we went to the first church we were able to find in order to purchase Khmer Bibles (in the hope of distributing them to Khmer Jehovah’s Witnesses at some point.) I asked the assistant pastor some pointed questions and found them to be a Bible believing, Gospel preaching church.
I then asked if he knew where the JWs were in Phnom Penh, and he started going off on some tangent about Ahn Sahng-hong. I never heard of the dude, but apparently the followers of this false-messiah (who teaches that he was the return of Christ and God is “the Mother”) are legalists who follow the Old Testament Law. Apparently, the cult purposely tries to stir up trouble within Christian congregations and sow division.
I did not think much of it and went on my way. That Sunday we went to two church services. One was the church my mother-in-law now infrequently attends. It was extremely western, it had a lot of English, and way too much hugging and feel-goodism that really sticks out in a reserved place like Cambodia. However, they did preach the Gospel and I know they exercise church discipline. It’s just not my cup of tea. For what it is worth, the people there were very friendly.
Then, we went to the church that my brother-in-law’s wife frequents (praise God) every Sunday. It was the same church where we bought the Bibles! They were dressed very conservatively, spoke only in Khmer, and through the benefit of translation via my wife heard a very good sermon which covered the power that death and God’s love have in our lives. Now, as readers of this blog may know, my wife and I hold to the traditional understanding of head coverings and 1 Cor 11.
During the prayer, a woman ran up to my wife and said in Khmer that she should remove her hat and show respect. We were a little flabbergasted, being that the reason she wore that hat was precisely in order to show respect. After the service, we decided to apologize to the woman and explain why my wife was having her head covered.
Apparently, the apology broke out into a full-blown debate in Khmer between my wife and this woman. The woman pointed us to the Pastor, who started asking me pointed questions in English (which is quite fitting considering that’s what I did when I bought the Bibles.) He asked what denomination I belonged to. From memory, I said I belonged to the Conservative Baptist Association, and our church is a Reformed Baptist Church.
The Pastor said skeptically, “I never heard of that denomination, and I preached in Long Beach for ten years.”
I then asked if he ever heard of the PCA. He said no. Afterward, he explained that these Ahn Sahng-hong people are causing all of this trouble and that they wear head coverings. I explained that my wife and I never heard of this group. Incredulously, he stated that they have converts on US college campuses. I suppose it is a complement to still be confused as a college student!
The Pastor then explained to me that head coverings were not a matter pertaining to salvation. My wife’s and I said that this was not the point, that we desire Godly obedience out of gratitude. Further, the Scripture does not admonish us towards minimal obedience, but rather the opposite.
We left on a good note and then before leaving I made sure to check out the fish tank with the oversized gold fish. Anyway, on a more serious note, it is a shame a group of nuts causes established churches to throw the baby out with the bath water. After all, the established practice of orthodox Christians for nearly 2,000 years was to follow the traditional understanding of 1 Cor 11 and head coverings!
Due to feminism and the desire to “fit in,” many churches have now made it a legalism for women not to cover, because after all you take your hat off when entering someone’s house or during the Star Spangled Banner, that must mean we should show respect to God in the same way.
However, the regulative principle compels us to show respect to God with our decorum in such a fashion as He stipulates in the Scripture, not how the culture stipulates what is supposedly respectful. Don’t let the present-day culture or Ahn Sahng-hong to encourage us not to do God’s will!