China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has chosen to follow more closely in the paths of Chairman Mao. Hopefully he will no go to those same extremes – genocidal extremes – but now a political policy of retribution against foes and a collateral cleaning up of nationwide bribes and corruption. I keep up with Gordon Chang for my news.
The purge includes religion. China is trying to invent a new “Christianity.” They have tried this before with poor results. Religions that are invented generally collapse. Recently there has been destruction of church buildings and imprisonment of Christian leaders.
But as usual the church under pressure goes underground. There is a 3-Self Church which tries to endorse communist policy. Believers have their ways of handling this: (1) Ignoring it while practicing privately the true faith (2) Actually following it with meager attendance, or attendance that makes a public show for public purposes and (3) Disappearing completely underground. I made no attempt to visit underground churches while living in China lest I bring the wrath of the state down upon them.
Bibles have been confiscated in greater numbers than just a few years ago. However, both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches have increased their membership and attendance. And some leaders of the latter have openly endorsed the new Pope Francis which is also “illegal.”
Since religion is always personal it is almost impossible to make it anything else. Considering that government pressure against private disagreement has always backfired, one wonders why they continue it? Communist leaders have long recognized that Christian Chinese families are better citizens, pay their taxes and cause fewer ills. So it may actually be harder to make a public spectacle of them on a local level.
When I was in China and followed day and night for 5 weeks, it got to the point of being amusing. I was living a clean life. Eventually I received something of a public “apology” right before I left town. Anything like an apology is difficult for the Chinese because their government tells them they know everything and due to the communist system, they can’t possibly make a mistake.
It is true. Your life may be the only Bible some people can ever read. Meanwhile, Chinese Christians throughout the land are the real Bible of that country and there are millions of them, perhaps as many as 100 million. Pray for them.