To better control the growth and influence of Christianity, the Chinese government plans to incorporate Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings into the Bible and edit worship songs to include Chinese characteristics, the head of a persecution watchdog has revealed.
The Rev. Bob Fu, founder of the persecution watchdog organization China Aid, told Congress that the Three Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Christian Council (China's state-sanctioned Protestant bodies) have developed a five-year plan on "promoting the Sinicization of Christianity," The Christian Post reports.
The plan, finalized at a meeting this March, proposes "cultivating and implementing the socialist core values" and will be supervised by the national religious affairs bureau. "Every province, autonomous region and municipality's TSPM and CCC seminaries and churches will cooperate with it," according to Fu.
To "sinicize" (bring under Chinese control) Christianity, the government plans to "retranslate" the Old Testament and provide new commentary to the New Testament, Fu revealed.
"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.'"
A retranslation would be a summary of the Old Testament with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings and new commentary for the New Testament, Fu said.
"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 CP. "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 revealed that already, state officials have urged 20,000 underground house churches to close and join the state-sanctioned church. Leaders of these churches, he said, must pledge their loyalty to the Communist party.
"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."
Since the official "Regulations on Religious Affairs" came into effect on February 1, 2018, Christians have experienced increased persecution at the hands of the Communist government. Authorities have demolished hundreds of Protestant churches, knocked crosses off steeples, evicted congregations, and imprisoned pastors.
As earlier reported, hundreds of Chinese pastors recently signed a statement denouncing the government's efforts to restrict Christianity.
"[U]nder no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation," the pastors say. "We also will not accept any 'ban' or 'fine' imposed on our churches due to our faith."
The statement also makes four points addressing the Chinese government's continued crackdown on Christian churches.
Christian churches in China believe unconditionally that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God.
Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith.
Christian churches in China are willing to obey authorities in China whom God has appointed and to respect the government's authority to govern society and human conduct.
For this reason, we believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church.
In the statement, the pastors say they are prepared to bear all losses - "even the loss of our freedom and our lives," for the sake of the Gospel.