H E A D L I N E :
“The Rise of Xi Coincides with
Crackdown on Christian Worship in China”
“Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong,
Christian followers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically,
even as the country undergoes a religious revival.”
(ASSOCIATED PRESS, IN MIAMI HERALD)
There is a documented hunger for (and a burgeoning of) the Christian faith inside China today. And that has become a most inconvenient truth for the country’s “President for Life” Xi Jinping. His actions against the Chinese Church are moving from harassment, to intimidation, and on to persecution, all in the name of collectivist, statist absolutism.
(History tells us the Roman Emperors felt and acted the same way as Xi. Here we are, 2000 years later, and the worship of the God of the Bible has swept around the world. And where are the emperors? They remain with us merely as marble busts in museums. Is Xi doomed to repeat?)
Xi understands quite well that he will not be able to eliminate the worship of God, as he might wish. Christianity has, after all, been in China for over 1400 years now, and his “glorious” Revolution isn’t even 70 years old. From his position of power, therefore, his plan appears to be to force Christianity to incorporate and teach his own set of values — “Christianity with Chinese Characteristics,” it has been called.These dubious values include forcing the Church to embrace and teach abject loyalty to the Communist Party and its leaders. As anyone who has even thumbed through a Bible must realize, this type of overt politicization of Christianity is absurd and heretical. “Rendering unto Caesar” [Matthew 22:21] is one thing, and our command to be “in subjection to the governing authorities” [Romans 13:1] is similar to it. But if Xi were successful in his goals, and the Chinese Church became merely a minor Ministry of Jesus with Chinese Characteristics, the resulting new religion would clearly not be Christianity anymore. Nevertheless, Xi’s elevation to “lifetime power” and his jingoistic chauvinism have deluded him into thinking that he and his comrades can successfully “conspire together against the LORD and His Anointed One” [Psalms 2:2]
ChinaAid is a highly respected international not-for-profit organization, committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China. Their leaders have called the existing and proposed regulations on religious affairs in China “the harshest and most strict policy on controlling religions and religious affairs since the time of Cultural Revolution.” Here are a few of the persecutions currently being inflicted upon Chinese Christians:
- Teachers and soldiers are forbidden to become Christians.
- It is illegal in China to give children a religious education, or in any other way to “indoctrinate minors with superstitious beliefs.”
- Priests are forbidden to pray for the sick and dying in hospitals, and patients are not allowed to pray or read the Bible.
- These are all against the law: “organizing citizens to attend religious trainings, conferences and activities abroad”; “preaching, organizing religious activities, and establishing religious institutions or religious sites at schools”; and “providing religious services through the internet.”
- Christians are banned from traveling abroad for religious purposes, and they are forbidden from taking teaching positions outside the country.
- There are strict bans against the wave of underground churches which are thriving throughout the country. Raids on these churches have brought hundreds of arrests and imprisonments. Witnesses described one female church official being pushed into the back of a patrol car, being slapped across her face, and being grabbed by the scruff of her neck.
- Local governments have been given the authority to close down and demolish places of worship, on the flimsiest of charges, with the result of numerous churches being bulldozed and crosses torn down. (See photo at bottom of this article.)
According to ChinaAid, for Christians in China, there is “no legal room for the existence of the house churches and Bible reading as well as prayer meetings without explicitly being approved by the Chinese Communist Party-controlled patriotic associations and religious affairs bureaus.”
And as if all of the above restrictions on people and their activities weren’t enough, a recent order from the Central Government threatened that “if unregistered churches are not willing to be managed by the government or guided by China Christian Council, the government shall guide and transform their thoughts.” This new trend of taking a hard line on “extreme religious thoughts” and “external influences” conjures images of “thought police” and inquisitions.And it’s being sold to the Chinese people and the world in the (seemingly) harmless name of “Christianity with Chinese Characteristics.” Notice the beautiful modern painting (in an ancient style) of the Madonna and Child, dressed in Qing Dynasty robes — “Chinese characteristics” indeed. After all, in our art galleries we see that Western Renaissance artists painted Biblical characters wearing 16th-century clothing. Really, we nod knowingly, how bad can that be?
But, no, that’s not what Xi has in mind.
We saw something similar to what Xi has in mind four decades ago. In 1978, leader Deng Xiaoping recognized the need to allow markets to inspire and produce strong economic growth, as had happened universally in Free Market, Free Enterprise, Limited Government, Capitalist economies throughout the world. Unwilling to give up the centralized power and control that China’s brand of Communism afforded, Deng labeled his Western-style reforms “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” The markets worked, the Chinese economy took off, but Socialist-style central planning kept its thumb firmly on the process.
The tyrant’s creed: If you cannot defeat it, change how you name it, and fight heresy as you define it.
God will, of course, dispense His grace and implement His plan anywhere He wills (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15). But you must understand that the current leadership in China fears Christianity, which teaches that God deserves His followers’ highest loyalty and most fervent worship — above and beyond any human or humanistic governmental system. The Central Government will fight (with force) any and every effort for God’s truth to be preached and believed in China. We are seeing the beginning of a very hard and systemic tribulation for our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ.
Follow this in the press, discuss it with your pastors, and pray for the Christians’ protection from persecution in China.
Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. (Hebrews 13:3)
Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have affliction for 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
As important in the overall scheme of things as Xi believes himself to be, 3000 years ago a writer of Psalms described people like him and foretold their fate perfectly. Here is Psalm 2, showing on the left side who is speaking in each section.
PSALM 2 (HCSB)
|Psalmist:||Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against Yahweh and His Anointed One [Christ, the Messiah]:|
|Kings & Rulers:||“Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.”|
|Psalmist:||The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then He speaks to them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath:|
|God the Father:||“I have consecrated My King on Zion, My holy mountain.”|
|Messiah:||I will declare Yahweh’s decree: He said to Me,|
|God the Father:||“You are My Son; today I have become Your Father. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; You will shatter them like pottery.”|
|Psalmist:||So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or He will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for His anger may ignite at any moment. All those who take refuge in Him are happy.|
Mansfield, Katie, “Chinese government shuts down underground churches to ‘transform thoughts’ of Christians”, 28 August 2016
Mansfield, Katie, “China launches ‘religious winter’ in bid to destroy Christianity in fierce crackdown”, 30 September 2016
Mansfield, Katie, “Christians fightback as China wages war to destroy Christianity and wipe out religion”, 8 October 2016
Wang Yanan, “Christian heartland opens window into fight for China’s soul”, 7 August, 2018
(PROCESSION) PETER PARKS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
(CROSSES) DAILY AND SUNDAY EXPRESS/GETTY IMAGES
(POLICE RAID) CURRENT NEWS, DAILY CATHOLIC NEWS
(MADONNA AND CHILD) CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR, BEIJING
(CHURCH DESCRUCTION) CHINA-AID
|ARTICLE © 2018, DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED|