We have blogged about how still-communist China is seeking to co-opt and control the Christian churches that, despite persecution, are growing like wildfire. The plan is to cultivate and require a distinctly “Chinese” form of Christianity. We now have details about what that will look like.
According to the Chinese Christian dissident Rev. Bob Fu, the 5-year plan will include new editions and translations of the Bible that will incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings; a requirement that crosses be accompanied with portraits of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi; a requirement that choirs begin each service by singing communist propaganda songs; and a repudiation of justification by faith, replacing it with “justification by love,” which includes the “good works” of the Communist party.
The communist government recognizes a single state-controlled church. Two-thirds of those congregations will be closed and their clergy re-interrogated for their fidelity to communism. Those who participate in the illegal house churches–which comprise most of the Christians in China–will face increased persecution.
This is on top of the government takeover of Catholic churches. The Vatican, with the approval of Pope Francis, has inexplicably given the communist party the authority to appoint bishops, though they must then be approved by the Pope. The agreement brings underground Catholic groups into the state-supervised organization, which many conservative Catholics see as a betrayal.
Predictably, Chinese Christians in the underground church are denouncing the plans to “Sinicize” Christianity. They will be facing ever-increasing persecution for their faithfulness. Pray for them.
One way in which they plan to Sinicize Christianity, Fu said, is by “retranslating” the Old Testament and providing new commentary to the New Testament to make socialist ideals and Chinese culture seem more divine.
“The plan made it clear that ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ means to change ‘Christianity in China’ into ‘Chinese Christianity,'” he explained. [The plan] emphasized that ‘the heart and soul of Christianity’s Sinicization is to Sincize the Christian theology,’ and even proposing to ‘re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries.'”
According to its latest outline, Fu said, a retranslation would be a summary of the Old Testament with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings and new commentary for the New Testament.
“There are outlines that the new Bible should not look westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism,” Fu told The Christian Post after the hearing. “The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it.”Fu added that the five-year plan advocates for “incorporating the Chinese elements into church worship services, hymns and songs, clergy attire, and the architectural style of church buildings.”
“This includes ‘editing and publishing worship songs with Chinese characteristics and promoting the Sinicization of worship music,’ using uniquely Chinese art forms, such as Chinese painting, calligraphy, inscription, and paper-cutting to express the Christian faith,'” he said. “[It’s also] encouraging churches to blend in style with Chinese architecture to local architectural style.”
Fu said that while over 4,000 to 6,000 crosses of state-sanctioned churches have been torn down, churches that have crucifixes on the inside must “put up pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi [Jinping] on both sides of the cross.”
“In the beginning of every church worship service, the choir of the church has to sing a few communist revolutionary songs praising the communist party before they can sing the worship songs,” he detailed. . . .
Fu said there is also a plan to shut down about two-thirds of the state-sanctioned churches in China in an effort to merge them. State officials have also urged 20,000 house churches to close and join state-sanctioned churches, according to Fu.
Although leaders at these state-sanctioned churches and denominations have already been approved by the government, Fu said clergy have been forced to go through another round of examination to ensure their loyalty is to party before God.
“The first criteria they have to pass is whether they can publicly pledge they will [uphold] the party’s words and the party’s path. These slogans are being hanged around the church, even in many Catholic churches, on the walls and on the doors. On the entrance door, it says, ‘Listen to the words of the party, follow the path of the party.’ How can you have a real independent faith as believers? As Christian believers, we are taught to obey the command of the Lord and listen to the command of the Lord. Essentially, the communist party wants to impose themselves as the Lord over the church.”
Fu told CP that according to the former chairman of the TSPM, they believe the “doctrine of justification of faith by Jesus Christ is too narrow.”
“He is promoting justification by love in doing good deeds. He essentially said that God is very inclusive so these communist party heroes he listed are doing so many good deeds and they should be accepted into Heaven by our God,” he explained. “It is kind of a universalist doctrine.”
Hundreds of Christian leaders in China signed onto a statement this month condemning the new regulations, the increased persecution and control the party is taking over the churches.
Photo: Rev. Bob Fu via 由VOA – http://www.voachinese.com/content/activitist-called-on-taiwan-20150909/2953546.html，公有领域，https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43225659