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Chinese-state Protestants plan 'socialist' Christianity

Secular version of Bible is planned under five-year blueprint unveiled by church's two main bodies

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong

Published: April 16, 2018 09:56 AM GMT

Updated: April 18, 2018 07:35 AM GMT

Chinese-state Protestants plan 'socialist' Christianity

A file image of a member of an underground church holding a Bible during a Christmas Eve service at an apartment in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2014. China's two Protestant national committees are looking to alter the Bible to make it more in line with socialist values. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP)

China's two main Protestant organizations have launched a five-year blueprint that includes writing a secular version of the Bible.

The government-sanctioned China Christian Council and Three-Self Patriotic Movement unveiled their plan to promote Chinese Christianity from 2018-22.

They agreed to cooperate with the principle of Sinicization; to insist on self-government; to reflect the core values of socialism; and to espouse the leadership of the Communist Party.

However, no reference to the spirit of Christ was revealed apart from a mention of charitable services.

China's two Protestant national committees held a launch ceremony and propaganda team meeting in Nanjing on March 27-28 to announce the plan.

The 7,000-word blueprint was divided into four chapters: general remarks, main tasks, annual key tasks and organizations.

The principle for Sinicizing Christianity is to change "Christianity in China" into "Chinese Christianity," guided by the core values of socialism, autonomy and supporting the leadership of the Communist Party.

The first chapter says the Sinicization of Chinese Christianity has not yet been achieved.

The second chapter outlines plans to dig deeper into the contents of the Bible to find content compatible with the core values of socialism; to organize a working team to write a secular and understandable version of the Bible; to use socialist values as the main preaching principles for the next stage of theological development; and to organize teaching and exchange programs about socialism in theological seminaries and schools.

Sinicizing theological thinking will be done by cultivating Bible study talents to lay a solid foundation for retranslating the Bible or compiling a Bible commentary.

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The Protestant catechism will be revised and spiritual material compiled.

The blueprint calls for accelerating talents' training by standardizing theological education; integrating Chinese Christianity into teaching and research; and increasing the proportion of teaching socialist core values, patriotism, Chinese history and Chinese philosophy as well as compiling Chinese Christianity teaching materials.

Other parts deal with cultural aspects and charitable and social services.

Chinese elements should be integrated into all etiquette, hymns, costumes and church architecture. Chinese paintings, calligraphy, engraving and paper cutting should be used as ways of expressing the Christian faith.

In addition, charitable and social services should follow the Biblical teaching of "love others as yourself."

The two Protestant national committees will be responsible for organizing all levels of administrations, including provincial, autonomous regions, municipalities, seminaries and churches, to enforce the plan.

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