Thursday, 19 May 2016

A New Constantine?

Is Chinese Premier Xi Jinping Going to Follow The Example of an Ancient Roman Emperor

There have been a series of articles published in Epoch Times over recent months to the effect that the current Chinese Premier, Xi Jinping is going to change the stance of the Chinese Government toward Falun Gong.  Epoch Times is an international media organisation owned and controlled by Falun Gong, an erstwhile religion which has been severely and implacably persecuted by the Chinese regime for over a decade.  

We read:
Through a number of unusual political gestures, Xi Jinping appears to have hinted at a departure from the policy of his predecessor toward the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, a large group that was targeted for elimination in 1999 shortly after they mounted that appeal to the central government.

Xi Jinping’s recent actions—which include moderate remarks on how to treat petitioners, the purge of some particularly rough security officials, demands that the security forces conduct themselves with probity, and what borders on conciliatory remarks about religion in China—while subtle, indicate, in part due to their sequence and timing around such a sensitive anniversary, a potential shift in stance and emphasis to the Party’s status quo policies.
We are unable to comment on the reliability of this report.
 Doubtless Communist Party policy shifts are of Byzantine complexity--subtle and complex, involving interwoven themes and strands, employing deliberate misdirection, and secretiveness.

What, we wonder, are the implications of such a policy shift.  Assuming the reports are true and that Xi Jinping is leading the Communist Party toward a policy of tolerating of  Falun Gong, (including the isolation and expulsion, if not punishment, of the former leadership responsible for this atrocious policy) where might it lead?

For Christians worldwide the question is begged as to whether this will signal greater tolerance by the regime towards Chinese Christians and churches.  If this were so it would represent one of the most dramatic reversals of Chinese Communist government policy since the Communists first came to power in 1949.  Persecution and repression of Christians and churches has been one of the most consistent policies of the Communist regime since its inception.

But it is a volte face that the Chinese government definitely needs to undertake--not just for the sake of Christ's people who have suffered injustice over many years--but for the sake of China itself.  It turns out that Christians are loyal subjects of civil government.  Christians are commanded by our Lord to submit to governing authorities, for Christians believe that the governing authorities have been established by God, and are His ministers (Romans 13: 1-2).  It is only when the authorities lift their hands up against the God who has established them that Christians will resist passively--as indeed the vast majority of Chinese Christians have done for decades.

Does the Chinese Government want loyal subjects and citizens who are honest, hard-working, and God fearing?  Grant Chinese Christians basic human rights and significant positive benefits will result.  China is a country racked with corruption by petty officials.  Christians abhor such behaviour.  China is plagued by conspiracies and criminal gangs.  Christians will have nothing to do with such behaviours.  Christians abhor the bribe, and the corrupt official.  But Christians are also commanded to love their neighbour as themselves.  Therefore, the Chinese regime will see an enormous benefit to China from granting Christians and Christian churches fundamental human rights and human freedoms.

There are reputed to be over 100 million Chinese Christians in China.  Jesus Christ and His Church can no longer be dismissed as a Western imperialist front.  The Christian Church is now a Chinese Church.

If the change of regime policy towards Falun Gong is genuine, let us hope that it will also extend to the Chinese Christian churches.  China would benefit enormously and in unexpected ways were that to be the case.

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