Are They Burning the Bible in China?

[Photo by Jerry Newcombe of the Museum of the Bible in D.C. of Bibles-burned] At the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, they have a display of many burned Bibles. This is the book that, down through the centuries, has been burned more than any other. Ironically, that even happened sometimes at the hand of church officials.

Now there are reports out of China of Bibles being burned.

Writing for the AP (9/10/18), Christopher Bodeen notes, “China’s government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations in Beijing and several provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China.”

Bob Fu of China Aid, a group in the U.S. that works to help the church in China, said, “The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief.”

Bodeen writes that the Chinese government is reportedly “demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any challenge to its power over people’s lives.”

And he adds that the President Xi Jinping is like a new Mao Zedong: “Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.”

The unregulated “house churches” are particular targets of Chinese Communist persecution. The ultimate issue is one of control.

Despite the crackdown by the Communist government in China, the church appears to be growing. If the present trends continue, China is projected to be the country with the greatest number of Christians worldwide.

How ironic. The elites in China are pulling out all the stops to “strangle the baby while it is still in the manger,” to quote a Chinese Communist official from the 1990s. But despite all attempts to eradicate the church, including burning copies of the Bible, they find the church growing.

D. James Kennedy Ministries once interviewed Bob Fu on Christian evangelism efforts in China—and the risk such efforts entail. He told us, “China has [1.4] billion people, and they were thirsty for the Gospel while they were suppressed by the Chinese Communist party….And sharing the Gospel actually is a joyful thing. And although…this is going to take a lot of risk including even being martyred…how can [we] keep this good news from [our] native Chinese people who are yearning and hungry and thirsty for it?”

China is so big and varied, observes Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs, that many different things happen there simultaneously. Persecuton and the thriving of the church can happen simultaneously. He once told me in a television interview: “Whatever you’ve heard about China, it’s true, somewhere. China is a huge country and there are places where the church is functioning with very minimal interference and functioning very well. There are also places where Christians are in prison because of their Christian ministry.”

But despite the scenario where some Christians work unimpeded, there is always the threat of persecution hanging over them, notes Nettleton:  “One of my coworkers who is very familiar with China says, ‘You may have a Sunday where no pastors are arrested. But every one of those pastors knows they could have been arrested.’ So that pressure is there.”

Wendy Wright, president of Christian Freedom International, notes that in addition to Bible-burning in China, there is suppression through internet censorship. In a recent interview, she told our viewers at D. James Kennedy Ministries, “Bibles online [are] being censored. Now if you’re in China, you’re not able to access a Bible online.”

There is an irony to China burning the Bible these days. In 2011 an article appeared in the Iona Institute for Religion and Society by Tom O’Gorman. He wrote:  “In the West we are doing our best to destroy our Christian heritage; but in China, Chinese intellectuals are coming around to the view that it is precisely this heritage that has made the West so successful.”

Noted author and speaker Bill Federer put it this way, “Did equality come from atheistic Communist China, where they’re still arresting illegal house church leaders?” No, of course not, equality ultimately came from the book that some Chinese officials are burning. The book that teaches the golden rule and that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and that God made us in His image and that He will hold us all accountable one day.

I hope the day will come that neither China nor the West will continue to burn or to ban the Bible, but instead, to open it up and to learn of its rich legacy available to all.

As President Ronald Reagan once declared, “Inside the Bible’s pages lie all of the answers to all of the problems man has ever known.”

Note: The author (Jerry Newcombe) has one of a book translated into Mandarin and published in China. It is on how the Bible helped form the United States. The book is available here.

1 thought on “Are They Burning the Bible in China?

  1. I wrote this reply on
    The entire world is fighting desperately to control their respective borders. EVERYWHERE there are various people who seem to think invading another country is their God given right. God HIMSELF ordained the various countries around the world. Borders exist for a very reasonable purpose in the eyes of the countries government.
    Then along comes various organizations that don’t have the patience or ability to negotiate an agreement in order to present the Holy Word to their citizens. Those groups resolve to “get the Gospel in” even if they have to use ILLEGAL actions such as SMUGGLING. Just because we live in the USA doesn’t mean anyone has the same freedom of movement or actions that we, here, enjoy.
    Here in the USA we know full well about smuggling! When SMUGGLERS are caught they have all their smuggled goods seized.
    MANY “so called Christian” groups have chosen the route of engaging in smuggling. Now the Chinese government is cracking down, rooting out “ILLEGAL” home churches and attempting to bring their citizens into compliance.
    At the same time the Chinese government is setting up many hundreds of State churches, suppling them with Bibles printed in the USA. (exact copies of those that millions of people all around the world read every day.) SO? WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
    The problem is following the teachings in our Bible. Be totally open with any country that you would like to evangelize. DON’T BREAK THEIR LAWS!! Millions of Bibles can be shipped to China, distributed by the Government to thousands of State approved churches. That procedure is going on right now as I am writing this sentence. The secret? DON’T BREAK THE LAW. The network completing this task negotiated for more than five years, gained the trust and proved that they would OBEY THE LAWS OF CHINA! Now they are escorted throughout the land at the expense of the government in order to supply Bibles to government approved entities.(churches where the Gosple is preached on a daily basis.
    the real secret? OBEY THE LAW OF THE LAND!!

    ——-Jerry Newcombe responds: I reached out to Wendy Wright of Christian Freedom International. She said this comment is “Biblically and Factually Inaccurate.”
    She posted this article from her group:

    Have you seen the headlines from China?
    “China Shuts Down Prominent Christian Church” Agence France-Presse
    “Replace Pictures of Jesus with Xi Jinping, Christian Villagers Urged” South China Morning Post
    “Chinese House Church Leaders and Toddler Arrested After Singing in Park” Christianity Today
    In the last year, China banned Bibles from online stores, and forbid children from attending church. It blew up a megachurch – built by its 50,000 worshippers in one of China’s poorest regions – with dynamite. Preachers have been arrested, sometimes half-way through church services. Christians lost their jobs, or were kicked out of their apartments.
    If you think the Internet can get around this crack-down, well, China’s rulers thought of that, too.
    This month the government proposed new rules that “forbid the streaming of religious ceremonies (live on the internet), including prayer, preaching and even burning incense,” reports AsiaNews. It will ban sending online – even forwarding or linking – any text, photo, audio or video of prayer, baptisms, communion, reciting Scripture, or any religious doctrine, culture or activity, without getting prior government approval.
    If anyone doubts the motivation behind the crack-down, one official made it clear when Christians in an impoverished region were told to replace pictures of Jesus with posters of President Xi Jinping.
    “Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior . . . After our cadres’ work, they’ll realize their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help,” said Qi Yan, the region’s communist party chairman and head of the poverty-relief efforts, to the South China Morning Post.
    Those who did not remove images of Jesus or crosses would not “be given their quota of the poverty-relief fund,” Qi said.
    “They still have the freedom to believe in religion, but in their minds they should trust the party,” he said.
    After church this past Sunday, about 70 officials swarmed Zion, the largest house church in Beijing, and shut it down. Officials have harassed Zion since April when the church declined the government’s request to install 24-hour closed-circuit cameras in their auditorium. Police contacted churchgoers at their workplaces to get them to promise not to attend church.
    Will Chinese Christians bow to pressure from the government?
    Zion announced the church will keep meeting by holding services outdoors. “Churches will continue to develop,” said Zion’s Pastor Jin Mingri told the Associated Press.
    More than 270 Chinese church leaders have declared that they respect authority, but their allegiance is to Jesus Christ. They signed this Statement – for China and the world to know:

    A Joint Statement by Pastors:
    A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith
    We are a group of Chinese Christians, chosen by the Most High God to be His humble servants, serving as pastors for Christian churches throughout various towns and cities.
    We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the one true and living Triune God is the Creator of the universe, of the world, and of all people. All men should worship God and not any man or thing. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that all men, from national leaders to beggars and prisoners, have sinned. They will die once and then be judged in righteousness. Apart from the grace and redemption of God, all men would eternally perish. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the crucified and risen Jesus is the only Head of the global church, the sole Savior of all mankind, and the everlasting Ruler and supreme Judge of the universe. To all who repent and believe in Him, God will give eternal life and an eternal Kingdom.
    In September, 2017, the State Council issued the new “Regulations on the Administration of Religious Affairs”and began implementing these regulations in February, 2018. Ever since then, Christian churches across China have suffered varying degrees of persecution, contempt, and misunderstanding from government departments during public worship and religious practices, including various administrative measures that attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith. Some of these violent actions are unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution. These include demolishing crosses on church buildings, violently removing expressions of faith like crosses and couplets hanging on Christians’ homes, forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations controlled by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or to sing secular songs praising the State and political parties, banning the children of Christians from entering churches and receiving religious education, and depriving churches and believers of the right to gather freely.
    We believe that these unjust actions are an abuse of government power and have led to serious conflicts between political and religious parties in Chinese society. These actions infringe on the human freedoms of religion and conscience and violate the universal rule of law. We are obligated to announce bad news to the authorities and to all of society: God hates all attempts to suppress human souls and all acts of persecution against the Christian church, and he will condemn and judge them with righteous judgment.
    But we are even more obligated to proclaim good news to the authorities and to all of society: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Savior and King of mankind, in order to save us sinners was killed, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God, destroying the power of sin and death. In His love and compassion God has prepared forgiveness and salvation for all who are willing to believe in Jesus, including Chinese people. At any time, anyone can repent from any sin, turn to Christ, fear God, obtain eternal life, and bring great blessing from God upon his family and country.
    For the sake of faith and conscience, for the spiritual benefits of the authorities in China and of society as a whole, and ultimately for the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God, we make the following declaration to the Chinese government and to all of society:
    1. Christian churches in China believe unconditionally that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God. It is the source and final authority of all righteousness, ethics, and salvation. If the will of any political party, the laws of any government, or the commands of any man directly violate the teachings of the Bible, harming men’s souls and opposing the gospel proclaimed by the church, we are obligated to obey God rather than men, and we are obligated to teach all members of the church to do the same.
    2. Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith. We are willing and obligated under any circumstance to face all government persecution, misunderstanding, and violence with peace, patience, and compassion. For when churches refuse to obey evil laws, it does not stem from any political agenda; it does not stem from resentment or hostility; it stems only from the demands of the gospel and from a love for Chinese society.
    3. Christian churches in China are willing to obey authorities in China whom God has appointed and to respect the government’s authority to govern society and human conduct. We believe and are obligated to teach all believers in the church that the authority of the government is from God and that as long as the government does not overstep the boundaries of secular power laid out in the Bible and does not interfere with or violate anything related to faith or the soul, Christians are obligated to respect the authorities, to pray fervently for their benefit, and to pray earnestly for Chinese society. For the sake of the gospel, we are willing to suffer all external losses brought about by unfair law enforcement. Out of a love for our fellow citizens, we are willing to give up all of our earthly rights.
    4. For this reason, we believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any “ban” or “fine” imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives.
    “CFI thanks The St. Charles Institute for the English translation of the Chinese Christian Leaders’ Statement.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.