Bishop Ding Steps Up Attacks on the Gospel in China

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Campaign Aims to Subordinate Christianity to Chinese Socialism
by Xu Mei

NANJING, China (Compass) -- Bishop Ding, the most influential leader of the state-controlled Chinese “Three Self” Protestant church, has significantly stepped up his anti-Christian “theological construction” campaign in recent months.

Earlier in the year, Ding gave a lecture at the East China Theological Seminary in Shanghai entitled “Theological Construction Enters a New Stage” (published in the official Three Self Tianfeng magazine in September 2003). The lecture reveals his long-term intentions and clearly shows that “theological construction” is a smoke screen for an all-out attack on the beliefs of Bible-believing Chinese evangelicals, said a respected China watcher.

In his lecture, Ding celebrates the progress made since his campaign was first unveiled five years ago at a state church conference in Jinan, northern China.

His opening statement reveals the true intentions of the theological construction campaign. “Discussions have until now centered on the question of ‘belief and unbelief.’ We Chinese Christians must unite with all the people of China and not be disunited with other people because they do not believe.” With these words, Ding re-asserted his claim that belief or unbelief in Christ is secondary to the loyalty required by the Chinese Communist Party.

Ding also attacks 19th century foreign missionaries for “linking the question of belief and unbelief with ‘heaven and hell.’” The missionaries came to China claiming that “all who believed went to heaven and all who did not went to hell. This intimidated ordinary people. Even today many pastors still use heaven and hell to persuade people to believe in Jesus and threaten people.”

Here Ding maligns the beliefs of millions of orthodox Christians worldwide and ignores the fact that it was Christ himself who most often spoke of the realities of heaven and hell in the New Testament.

Some Christian leaders in North America and Singapore believe Ding’s campaign has ground to a halt due to immense opposition from both Chinese believers and Christians in other countries. However, the reverse is true. The centerpiece in Ding’s lecture is his revelation that the campaign will now be intensified by attacking the Bible itself -- the very foundation of Christian belief.

“Today we can state that our theological construction has entered a new stage,” Ding said. “We need to turn our attention to a new theme, that is, our ‘view of the Bible.’ For example, some people confuse the Bible with God’s Word in the same breath.”

With these words, the hidden agenda of theological construction is unveiled, the China watcher said. Evangelical Christians worldwide hold that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Christ Himself held this view. But Ding openly sneers at this foundational belief, attacking both the authority and inspiration of Scripture.

Realizing that the vast majority of Chinese Christians oppose his liberal theology, Ding continues, “When some people hear this way of speaking, perhaps they feel deeply shocked. We hope they will not feel shocked. To confuse the Bible with the Word of God ... is a misunderstanding of the Bible.

“Because they have these misunderstandings, many believers consider that every paragraph, every word and every letter of the Bible are the words of God and absolutely correct,” says Ding. “The Bible is thus placed in the highest position and becomes the fourth person in the Trinity ... but we Christians have never said that there is a fourth person in the Trinity.”

Ding’s approach puts him on a collision course with millions of faithful Chinese Christians.

What is Ding’s ultimate aim? He declares, “Chinese Christianity needs a great transformation. We must help the believers to ‘love country and love religion.’ They should feel that to be Chinese is glorious. We must remold Chinese Christianity to become a Christianity which answers to the tide of history and to the needs of the broad masses. I believe this kind of Christianity will be welcomed by the Chinese Communist Party and is compatible with socialism.”

Ding’s agenda is now out in the open -- it is unashamedly political and nationalistic. He demands that every doctrine of Christianity and even the Bible itself be reshaped and made subservient to the atheistic policies of the Chinese Communist Party.