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Three-Self church clergy are being forced to interpret the Bible through the prism of traditional Chinese culture as part of CCP’s campaign to make religions “more Chinese”.

On 18 July, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Yuzhou city in the central province of Henan distributed to all local Three-Self preachers, a copy of the book entitled The Analects Encounter the Bible and demanded they prepare their sermons based on it. The book was written by Shi Hengtan, who is a member of the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and claims to be a Christian. Published in 2014, the book is dedicated to biblical interpretations of the Analects – a collection of the teachings and ideas attributed to Confucius (551-479 BC), the most influential Chinese philosopher and teacher.

The Analects Encounter the Bible is reportedly aimed at building bridges between Christianity and Confucianism – a system of moral and ethical philosophy that is the basis of values and social conduct of the Chinese – and helping Christians learn more about their traditional culture.

However, the book has caused controversy in the religious community, and many Christians view the arguments in the book as misrepresenting the pure Christian doctrine. Some have even described the book as heretical, cautioning Christians to be wary of such CCP-orchestrated doctrinal erosion.

As a preacher from Yuzhou area explained, the arguments in The Analects Encounter the Bible distort the teachings of the Bible entirely and are misleading Christians. For example; the Confucian saying, “All men within the four seas are brothers” is meant to be the equivalent of “Whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). The preacher calls such comparison absurd. The Confucius’ message means that if a person treats others with respect, according to a set of morals, then everybody else will treat that person the same way, like a brother, which has nothing to do with “doing the will of my Father.”

Similar activities advocating comparative readings of the Analects and the Bible have been promoted at Three-Self churches in other regions. Some state-run churches have even set up classes to study the Analects and mandated to integrate Confucian teachings into their sermons.

“An Analects study class takes all day long. The participants even had to take photos holding the Bible in one hand and the Analects in the other, and post the images online,” said a house church Christian from Jinan city’s Lixia district in eastern China’s Shandong Province.

Some Christian preachers have pointed out that the government’s requirement for the clergy to engage in mandatory comparative readings of the Analects and the Bible is a way for the CCP to sinicise Christianity and is part of a campaign to contaminate Christian beliefs in China.

Source: Bitter Winter

  • Pray the church will be strengthened. Ask the Lord to use this ongoing attempt to water down the Gospel as a way of sharpening the faith of believers and guarding against heresy.
  • Pray this development may encourage people outside the church and also those in authority to examine the Scriptures for themselves.
  • Pray God will meet the tremendous need for Bibles in China.

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