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China: Christian pastor with government affiliations lectures on ‘Sinicization of the Bible’ at Catholic monastery

For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“The Sinicization of the Bible,” China Aid, January 11, 2024

A Christian pastor with government affiliations in Shanghai conducted a lecture on the “Sinicization of the Biblical Translation” at a Catholic monastery.

According to a report from China Christian Today, Rev. Geng Weizhong, Deputy Secretary-General of the China Christian Council and President of the Shanghai Christian Council, was invited by the Sheshan Catholic Seminary in Shanghai to give a lecture on the “Sinicization of the Bible” to the faculty and students of the monastery….

The current attempt to “localize” the translation of the Christian Bible under pressure from the Chinese government raises suspicions. The consequences of this pressure are likely to endanger the traditional heritage of Christianity in China within the broader Christian faith and distort the true meaning of the Bible. Since the modern introduction of Christianity to China, local churches have already achieved independence from Western denominations, embodying distinct features of “localization” and local churches. The Chinese government insists on continuing the separation of Chinese Christianity from the global church but requires marriage with the Chinese government. In essence, this transforms Christianity into a tool in service to the political regime and subjects it to the political demands of the regime.

The Sinicization of biblical translation has been brought to the forefront in this context. The interaction between “higher-level” Christian pastors who are affiliated with the government and the discussions on this topic at a Catholic seminary can be seen as signals of scouting. Due to long-standing restrictions by the Chinese government within the framework of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement on the training of theological professionals in Christianity, China lacks top-notch expertise in translating the original biblical texts. Even if a Bible that aligns with the official ideology of the Chinese government is translated, it is likely to face disastrous criticism and become a subject of historical ridicule.

In recent years, the Chinese government has vigorously promoted various efforts towards sinicization. Efforts include the sinicization of Christian theological thought, the establishment of preaching teams for sinicization, the sinicization of hymns, liturgical items, and Bible translation. However, these efforts fail to conceal the underlying attempt to alienate Christianity and transform it into an ideological tool to uphold its rule.

The Chinese Communist Party’s official religious policy document indicates that in February 2018, the Party initiated the implementation of the “Five-Year Plan for the Sinicization of Christianity in China (2018-2022).” This plan includes the objective of promoting the Sinicization of the Bible.

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