China is a Communist Country with atheist beliefs and has always been openly hostile and opposed to True Biblical Christianity. For the last 70 decades or so, till today, Chinese Christians (both Catholics and Protestants) have lived their faith largely in underground churches in fear of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Though the crack down on Christians have been relentless, the Chinese underground churches have survived and flourished solely by the Hand of the Lord. Chinese Catholics amount to nearly 12 million Catholics of which nearly half are underground. This phenomenon of Beijing appointing State-vetted Bishops into office in the Catholic Church is not new and has come up many times in the past but resisted. They anyway went ahead and appointed two illicit bishops in defiance of the Holy See. Even though a senior, retired, outspoken Cardinal – Joseph Zen Ze-Kium (86) personally opposed this recent move, he has been side-lined and labelled as an obstacle.
Why is China pursuing this move so aggressively and why is the Vatican capitulating?
Though the real reasons are not being spelled out publicly, here are a few of the issues at stake:
- The Catholic Church is losing members: Over the years the Catholic Church in China has been steadily losing members. The Catholic to Protestant ratio a decade or more ago was around 3 Catholics for 1 Protestant. Now the ratio has changed to 5 Protestants to every 1 Catholic. Clearly, eyes are being opened to biblical truth causing the exodus. There is no way the Vatican can control this. A political option is to let the State take over thus stemming the exodus.
- The CCP also sees allegiance to the Pope (an outside party) as a threat to its own sovereignty within the country and any other religion other than Buddhism and Atheism is its antithesis. Further, the 240 million strong Buddhist followers run the risk of being converted at some point by true believing Christians in China.
- It is a known fact that sermons in government sanctioned churches are already excluding key scriptures which pose a threat to their faith. The State appointed bishops being planned will be under control of the Chinese Government more than the Vatican and one can only imagine the compromise in biblical teaching, if any.
- The Chinese Catholics who have been holding out for the last 70 decades or so, patiently enduring the suffering and persecution over the years, feel betrayed as the Church is being officially given over to the enemy as it were. The truth is that the CCP could now make things worse for true believers among the Catholics and Protestants. The pseudo-Christian will probably be unaffected by these changes. The general feeling is that Beijing will eventually take over the Catholic Church once all of them relax and get accustomed to the new agreement. The underground churches will no longer need to remain underground and may surface to a nasty surprise awaiting them. This will involve Beijing breaking their promise (agreement) as they are accustomed to doing.
- The current Chinese President Xi Jinping has been on the rampage destroying crosses and churches for quite some time now. This is how much Atheism hates anything to do with God. Freedoms are already being taken away. Xi Jinping has made it clear that the CCP will strengthen its control over religions.
- Far from being a remedy, this agreement between the Vatican and the CCP is more likely to create a schism in the Church in China, for it is morally and spiritually impossible for an atheist government to run a Church that holds to a belief in God. The two are incompatible by nature and therefore mutually exclusive. Hence, traditional Roman Catholics consider it a stab in the back and Cardinal Joseph Zen says it amounts to “selling out the Chinese Church”, who refused to join the State Church but chose persecution instead.
So this begs the question; what “good” deal can the Vatican strike with the CCP?
Finally, we know that Communist China is based on Marxism, initially imported into China between 1900 and 1930. We also know that Pope Francis’ own liberation theology is also based on Marxist philosophy. Could this then be the real ground of agreement? If it is, as it appears to be, then it is a sell-out again. Why do we say this? Because the call of the Church is to preach the gospel and consequently win souls for Christ. But Marxism which gives rise to a socialist form of government will only permit a “social gospel” to be preached which is a false gospel. Could this be the real root of this move by the Vatican to capitulate to China’s demands. China is unable to handle the true believing church which is spreading rapidly based on the preaching of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. But the Vatican, under Francis, is more prone to the “social [justice] gospel” (from Marxist-based-Jesuit-liberation theology) which does not focus on conversions but simply doing good in society. As good as this may sound, it is not the true gospel, but a false one. True Christianity (based on soul-winning and the grace-based-finished-work-of-Christ) and Atheism (based on Marxist-Communism) are opposite in nature and purpose. They cannot adopt each other as they are poles apart. The only ground of compromise will be “another gospel” suited to both sides – The Social Gospel – which is a false gospel.