Is China Rewriting the Bible? - Radical

Is China Rewriting the Bible?

Is China rewriting the Bible? In this episode of Neighborhoods and Nations, Steven Morales explores how China is trying to rewrite Christianity. In this video, we learn about how the Chinese government is not only poorly translating the Bible, but aiming to change the entire story of the Bible itself.

If you’ve been a Christian for a minute, you probably have a go-to Bible. Not just like your favorite physical one—although there’s a bunch: goatskin, multiple bookmarks, sheesh.

We also have Study Bibles. Reference Bibles. Spanish Bibles. Children’s Bibles. And even so, at the end of the day I usually just end up using our phones.

The point is: we have a lot of Bibles—and not just with different types of covers or for different audiences—we have a lot of translations of the Bible.

Just a generation ago, this wasn’t really a thing— King James ruled the day.

Yes, the Bible that sounds Shakespearean to us today, but was written in the language of the people at that time.

But this story is not about all the translations of the Bible. It’s about where all these Bibles are printed

If you look inside the cover of your Bible, you will most likely find that it was printed halfway around the world, in China.

And that’s significant because the Chinese Communist Party is known for persecuting Christians—the same country that prints the Bible for the entire world doesn’t want it to reach the hands of its own people. 

Can you even  imagine what it would be like to be a Christian without a Bible? 

But even then, that’s not necessarily what’s happening in China today.

This story is about how persecution in China is heading in a new direction. They’re not trying to destroy Christianity—they’re trying to rewrite it.

Printing in China

Today, China accounts for about 15% of all economic activity in the world, most of which is manufacturing, which explains why a lot of my toys growing up have this little sticker somewhere that said: “Made in China”.

But a big part of manufacturing is printing. Of all kinds, books, apparel, signage, and yes, Bibles.

A lot of Bibles are printed in China. Amity Printing Company, the largest Bible production base in the world, produces an average of 70 Bibles per minute. To date, they have printed more than 250 million Bibles.

Printing a Bible isn’t easy. And Bible publishers rely heavily on China’s expertise. 

But the question remains: why would a country so set against Christianity be willing to print the very book they don’t want their citizens reading?

We could say that it’s a matter of trade. Dollars. The bottom line. After all, 3 out of 4 Bibles printed in China are produced for export. If you’re the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, why not make a buck?

But the answer is not that simple. The biggest thing the Chinese Communist Party is after is not just money, but control.

Christianity in China

Protestant Christianity in China is on the rise. It’s estimated that there are more Protestants today in China than in Germany or France

Generally speaking, there are two very distinct churches in China. 

There’s the grassroots movement of churches, usually called underground or house churches. Christians who attend these churches do so in secrecy, even changing locations and being very careful about who they meet with. 

But there is also the State Sanctioned Church, mostly represented through the China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. You can guess which one the Chinese government is cool with you being a part of. China is okay with you being a Christian… as long as it’s on their terms.

They don’t mind if you have a Bible, as long as it’s their Bible.

In 2019, the CCP announced that they’d be publishing a new translation of the Bible, adapting it to be more in line with their beliefs and systems. They “no longer want simply to repress religion but… transform it” into “a new version of Christianity.”

China’s take on Jesus and the Adulterous Woman

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In 2020, Chinese Catholics found a government-published textbook on professional ethics and law quoting a known passage, John 8:3–11. You’ve heard this story before when Jesus stops the crowd from stoning the adulterous woman. Let’s read their translation:

The crowd wanted to stone the woman to death as per their law. But Jesus said, ‘Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.’ Hearing this, they slipped away one by one.”

Okay, so far not so bad. 

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.’”

I don’t have enough time to get into this passage and explain why this it’s obviously insane, but what’s important for you to know is that this is not a bad translation. This is a rewrite. This new ending changes the whole story. So much so that the Jesus we know is no longer recognizable.

So the point is: ask yourself, what would the church look like if the only Bible they had was one where Jesus stoned the adulterous woman, instead of forgiving her?

This is the danger facing the Chinese Church. If they get the wrong Bible, then they get the wrong gospel, and they get the wrong Jesus.

Can You Trust Your Bible?

The Chinese Communist Party knows what they’re doing. They know the power that religious texts have power over the people, the Bible most of all

They know that a Church without the Bible is no Church at all. And if you take away the Church, you take away the strength of the Christians, which then hinders the ability of Christians to multiply. 

If you go after the Bible, you go after the lifeblood of Christianity. 

We can give thanks for the freedom that many of us enjoy in our countries. With all the things we can say, most of us are not worried about losing access to our copies of the Scriptures.

And so we can be thankful that we have all of these Bibles. Not only because we got them in all the colors we like and the translation we prefer… but because in them we got the very words of eternal life.

And the Bible is so precious, that it’s worth doing everything we can to ensure it’s accessible to everyone. 

And that includes our brothers and sisters in China who are in danger of receiving a Bible that is no Bible at all.

Steven Morales

Steven Morales is the Content Director at Radical and hosts Neighborhood & Nations. He is based out of Guatemala City, Guatemala.


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