Sinicization of Christianity

What Is "Sinicization of Christianity"?

Sinicization of Christianity

On March 28, 2018, China's Three Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council announced (below*) "Sinicization of Christianity" in a declaration entitled, "Principle for Promoting the Chinese Christianity in China for the Next Five Years."

Sinicization of Christianity

What is "Sinicization of Christianity"?

"Sinicization" means adapting to Chinese culture a non-Chinese entity. Sinicization of Christianity, however, means corrupting Christianity to submit to the will of the Chinese Communist Party. This is evident in the key elements of the declaration (blue below), which, unlike the white paper on the supposed religious freedom in China released by the Chinese Communist Party, was made by two organizations that purport to be Christian.

1.  Sinicization of Christianity will be led by the Chinese Communist Party and guided by "socialism":

"To drive forwards the process on the Sinicization of Christianity, the following principles must be observed: Embrace and support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Be guided by the core values of socialism and endorse the system, ways, theories and culture of our country's development."

2.  Sinicization of Christianity will "adapt" Christian theology:

"The core and soul of Sinicization of Christianity are the Sinicization of theological thought. Only by the realization of Sinicization of theological thought will there be Sinicization in the true sense. Otherwise, the Sinicization of Christianity will be empty slogans like trees without roots, water without a source. Through deepening the development of theological thought, the Chinese Church should be guided to find a development model that adapts to Chinese society and gradually establishes a theological system for the Protestant churches in China that can adapt to the socialist society. Deepening theoretical research on the development of theological thought will promote this transformation."

3.  Sinicization of Christianity will be implemented by personnel who will be trained by "pushing" more "patriotism" and "socialism" at China's "colleges on theology":

"Maintain the right direction for running schools by strengthening the regulation of management and strive to improve the teaching quality of schools and colleges on theology. Sinicization of Christianity needs to be integrated into teaching and research and play an important role in Sinicization of Christianity. Curriculums require a higher proportion of teaching on the core values of socialism, patriotism, Chinese history, literature, philosophy and arts along with other traditional culture. Pushing these subjects on campuses and in classrooms allows for the correct guiding of students."

4.  They and others are to be indoctrinated with "hermeneutics," "books," and Bibles with "annotations" that promote the "core values of socialism":

"Contents of the Bible that are compatible with the core values of socialism should be deeply researched in order to write books that are popular and easy-to-understand. Such books can be provided to grass-roots church members, pastoral workers and believers in general to widely spread information among Protestant churches and expand their influence. Include the core values of socialism as important content for preachers in the development of theological thought... Bible study needs to be strengthened to establish a correct view of the Bible and the biblical hermeneutics in conformity with the situation in China as a foundation for deepening the development of theological thought. Be conscious of fostering research talent on the Bible and lay a solid foundation for reinterpreting the Bible and writing annotations for it."

5.  And rather peculiarly, the declaration bemoaned:

"the lack of a pool of talent with accomplishments in traditional culture and theology has led to a failure to effectively carry out basic work such as translations of Christian works..."

Which "traditional culture" are they referring to?

It isn't the Chinese culture since China abounds with its experts. Neither is it a foreign culture either since the stated aim of the Three Self Patriotic Movement is to keep foreign cultures out of China.

Which "translations of Christian works" are they referring to?

Since "Sinicizing" Christianity includes keeping foreign influences out of China, this phrase does not refer to translating into Chinese foreign writings about Christianity.

In their respective context, the first phrase refers to the culture in which Christianity originated, and the latter phrase to the translation of the Bible. What is being bemoaned is China's lack of experts in Greek and Hebrew who can translate the original texts of the Bible into a new Chinese Bible that twists God's Word to fit the ideologies of the Chinese Communist Party.

Then why not explicitly say that?

That would create an uproar and make it more difficult to slip such a translation to the masses. Veiled and nuanced language such as the one above is common in China.

How should we respond?

A.  Spread the word and invite Christians around the world to both pray for the body of Christ in China and press the Chinese Communist Party to back off its plans. The reader is welcome to share weblinks to this page.

B.  Contact your government leaders and urge them to pressure the Chinese Communist Party via economic sanctions, including tariffs and the removal of China from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

C.  If the Chinese Communist Party still proceeds with its plans and commissions a mistranslation of the Bible, Bible smugglers and underground Bible printers inside China should dust off their warehouses and return to active duty.

D.  Those with "talent" hired by the Chinese Communist Party to "translate" the original texts of the Bible to its liking are advised to start with its final paragraph:

"I For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:18-19)


* The banner, "推进我国基督教中国化五年工作规划纲要启动仪式暨神学思想建设宣讲团工作会议," means, "Promoting the Five-year Work Program Outline of Christianity in China Launching Ceremony and Working Group of Theology Propaganda Mission Building"