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Officials in China’s third largest province are trying to persuade pastors to include communist ideology in their weekly sermons. The same officials are also forcing pastors to affirm traditional Chinese beliefs, such as ancestral worship, that conflict with Scripture. At issue is the approval of pastors within the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the government-approved Protestant body that faces severe restrictions. Pastors who failed a test on communist beliefs weren’t approved.

The assessment included a sample sermon and a questionnaire. The Bureau said pastors should write a sample sermon that must include “national policy, traditional culture and the core socialist values” in the text. Christian doctrines such as eternal life, Heaven and Hell were prohibited from being included.

In one major city, Xinzheng, only 58% of pastors passed. In Luolong district, nearly 60% failed the assessment. “The test for a preaching certificate is used to examine participants on their political thinking.  Government officials don’t understand the Bible,” one pastor said. “As long as you flatter the Communist Party and support it, you can pass the assessment.  Otherwise, no matter how well you can talk about the Bible, it would still be useless.”  Another pastor, who is in his 80s, said: “The government’s goal of training young preachers is to indoctrinate them, so that they use the CCP’s methods when giving sermons, and they become more than willing to serve the CCP.”

Sources: ASSIST News, Australian Prayer Network, Bitter Winter, Christian Headlines 

  • Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to the pastors affected. Pray they will be given the leading of the Holy Spirit as they deal with the authorities.
  • Pray this latest tactic will serve only to embolden Chinese pastors to preach the Gospel faithfully.
  • Ask God to help the church in China stay faithful to His Word and to guard against compromise. Praise Him for continued church growth.

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