The Chinese Bible

There was a report in the National Review back in October about the Chinese government creating its own translation of the Christian Bible. Cameron Hilditch reported, “Earlier this year, we learned of the Chinese Communist Party’s intention to undertake its own, state-approved “translation” of the Bible. Evidently, the Christian Scriptures are not as amenable to CCP orthodoxy as the Politburo would like.
According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, the Party assembled a group of obedient and pliable “scholars” late last year and charged them with “making accurate and authoritative interpretations of classical doctrines to keep pace with the times.” In other words, the CCP plans to turn the Scriptures into another piece of regime propaganda by rewriting them beyond all recognition.”

The full bible has not been released as of yet. But some of its passages have been seen. There were verses put into a high school textbook on professional ethics and law (remember that). The passage was the popular one from John where the adulterous woman is brought to Jesus to be stoned (John 8:1-11). Cameron reports, “The CCP “translation” reproduces the story more or less word for word — up until the point at which Jesus is left alone with the woman whom the Pharisees had dragged before him.” Now I will show you the passages from the ESV and the new CCP translation to compare. It will not be hard to notice the differences. 

John 8:10–11
“Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” [11] She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]] (ESV)

“When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, ‘I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.’” (CCP)

Big difference, wouldn’t you say? Now the obvious comes to the Christian about how we must not change the word of God. Which is true, the Bible has much to say about not changing God’s Word (see Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6 & Revelation 22:18-19). Instead, I want you to focus on what passage the Chinese government chose to change and why they changed it the way they did. 

Now what is the message the Chinese government wants to deliver? Remember this was given to students studying professional ethics and law. The CCP is teaching its students something about the law and ethics pertaining to it. Notice the changes; 1. Jesus Himself is a sinner, 2. The woman is still punished for her disobedience, 3. Jesus says that if perfection is what is demanded then what is the point of the law? The law would be dead. Why change it to this narrative? The article states, “This story is used by the authors of the textbook as a Party-approved moral example of how obedience to the law at all costs is absolutely necessary — an important principle to instill in schoolchildren for a government that brooks no disobedience to its own laws.” See that? The Chinese government wants there to be no forgiveness. While there is no one that is perfect (not even Jesus Himself according to them), there must be complicit, strict obedience. No love. No grace. No mercy and certainly no forgiveness. 

But what is the Bible really teaching? First, that everyone is a sinner. Remember earlier in this passage Jesus tells the woman’s accusers, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)  Yet, it is more than just everyone is a sinner. It is about our heart. The Pharisees and scribes did not have pure and holy motives for their indictment. But that is not the end of the story! After everyone leaves feeling convicted, Jesus forgives the woman ! This teaches us that there is hope for us sinners. That no one is perfect BUT Jesus and He is willing to give grace and forgiveness for those willing to receive Him. The CCP thinks Jesus ignored the law. He didn’t! He said He came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Yet He has the authority to grant grace on her behalf because He paid for the woman’s just punishment on the cross .

The devil is trying to eradicate any notion of the gospel in China. He is doing it by attacking the word of God. The word of God is vital to every Christian and its truth must be guarded and protected. But no matter what the devil or China is set on doing we can have hope because Jesus told us, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)

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