One of our China team members wrote these words to me recently: “I am really astonished at seeing these words.” She referred to text taken directly from a Mainland Chinese textbook entitled “Ethics And The Law”, issued to high school students. This book, sanctioned by at least a provincial education authority in China if not by a central authority, referred to John’s Gospel chapter 8. This passage of Scripture describes what happened when the Jewish religious authorities brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They wanted her to be stoned to death and were testing Jesus. After Jesus had challenged them by inviting those who were without sin in their lives to pick up the first stone, one by one they left. Then the Scriptural record says: “And Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
However the Chinese textbook, claiming to be using the words of the Bible, writes these words as if they came from John chapter 8: ”When the others had departed, Jesus stoned the woman to death and said: I am also a sinner. If the law can only be executed by a man who has no sin in his life, then the law itself will die.”
The Chinese authorities have discussed the last few years a plan to "sinicize the Bible", “a process intended to shape religious traditions and doctrine to better conform with Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party objectives”. We do not know if this is part of that approach or a separate perversion of the truth.
We should pray in four ways:
- Pray for those responsible for these blasphemous words. Such actions leave the writers in a very dangerous place before the Lord, and thus our attitude should be to cry out to Him for mercy on them. Revelation 22:18-19 says: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Mark 9:42 is also relevant, given that the text book is written for young people: “And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on Me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”
- Pray also for teachers and students who are Christians, that if they are involved in classes where these words are taught they might have courage and wisdom. Pray that they might be able to say that these are not the words of the Christian Bible.
- Pray also for students hearing these words, that they might be provoked into finding out what the Bible actually says rather than being deceived by these false words.
- Pray also that there should not be more examples of this kind of writing in Chinese textbooks.