Janie B. Cheaney – Twisting God’s Word

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, February 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Commentary now from WORLD’s Janie B. Cheaney.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTARY: We’ve been hearing how the Chinese Communist Party has stepped up its crackdown on all types of religious expression that don’t conform to the state religion—that is, communism. No one can be a member of the party who is not an avowed Marxist atheist.

But Secretary General Xi Jinping is pushing further: No one can be a citizen in good standing without professing the general doctrines of the party. To that end, the government is working on a—wait for it—five year plan to “Sinicize” all traditional religions practiced by significant numbers in China. 

This includes relatively harmless measures like redesigning church buildings to reflect traditional Chinese architecture and replacing Western music in church services with Chinese musical forms. But it also means removing crosses from public display, a program begun three years ago. It means approving state-certified churches and closing independent ones. And it means re-shaping sacred texts, including the Bible, to bring them into conformity with the supposed requirements of the new era: the gospel according to Karl Marx. 

Communism is actually the old-era relic of a 19th-century Christian heresy. I wonder if Xi Jinping understands how much Communist ideology stole from a Christian understanding of caring for the poor and valuing each individual as made in God’s image. At any rate, those values were long ago pressed into the service of the collective, the state, and the man on top.

This truth from Psalm 119 he almost certainly does not understand: “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.”

But before we get too judgy, we should look to ourselves. Professing Christians on the left have been trying to make the Bible conform to the requirements of a new era for years. To take just one example from the Democratic presidential candidate lineup, Pete Buttigeig has carved out a spot for himself as a selective student of the Scriptures. His exegetical sleight-of-hand makes Jesus approve of same-sex marriage, and even abortion. 

On the right are those who wrap the Bible in the Stars and Stripes and make America’s interests the same as the Lord’s. Creative interpreters in the past, and even today, imagine Scriptural support for so-called racial purity. But “all things are your servants,” down to the last word of Scripture. 

His Word formed the ground we stand on and the thoughts we think. All things serve the Lord, even our imperfect exegesis and our halting prayers. Even our attempts to bend, moderate, or twist the parts of Scripture we don’t like. But no one permanently rewrites or adapts the Word of God. It’s the other way around.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

(Naohiko Hatta/Pool Photo via AP) Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Janie B. Cheaney – Twisting God’s Word

  1. Kevin LaVergne says:

    Can you explain what you mean by the statement, “Communism is actually the old-era relic of a 19th-century Christian heresy.”? I don’t get it, and I am unable to find anything specific regarding how Communism is a Christian heresy. Thanks.

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