A few weeks ago, China revealed that it would be taking on a 10-year project to rewrite the Bible. It is part of the government’s efforts to make religions more Chinese in nature and more consistent with the goals of the communist Chinese government.
As an example of their efforts, the Chinese government has decided to change the ending to a passage found in John 8:3-11, an ironic passage to rewrite since this is always noted as not having appeared in the best and earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John. Many textual experts state that this passage was not originally written by John but may have been added later.
In this passage, the Pharisees brought Jesus a woman accused of adultery. According to Jewish law, the punishment for adultery was stoning, however, those who make the accusation must be the one to throw the first stone if the person is found guilty. In response, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Let he who is without sin among you, cast the first stone.” One by one, the accusers walked away. Jesus then showed the woman mercy by not condemning her to death, but He did tell her to leave her life of sin.
In the Chinese government’s version though, this account ends with Jesus Himself stoning the woman to death.
The Communist Chinese Party is also attacking the Ten Commandments. In the Henan province, Protestant churches were forced to replace the first of the Ten Commandments with the CCP’s version. Instead of stating, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” the Chinese government wrote, “Resolutely guard against the infiltration of Western ideology.” That sounds like a horrible rewriting, unless you view the Chinese government as “god” and Western ideology as introducing the idea of another god, which is exactly what the Communist government believes.
The project to rewrite the Bible is slated to take 10 years. To be fair though, the Chinese government also plans to rewrite other religious texts in addition to the Bible.
God’s Word is definitely under attack in China as the government wants to insure the people have no allegiances other than the government. In order to do that, China must change the Bible since the Bible states to worship God above all other things.
But China will have to take a number and wait their turn. America has been trying to rewrite the Bible for much longer than China.
For years the progressive church in America has been trying to undermine Paul’s authority in the Scriptures. He makes it clear what things God calls out as sin, and Paul lists those things in nearly every letter he writes to the churches.
But those lists of sins step on our culture’s toes as culture tries to redefine what sin is. Instead of calling those things “sin,” the modern church wants to call it “choice,” or “lifestyle,” or “love.” In order to redefine those things things as no longer sinful, the church in America has to either claim Paul’s writings are not inspired by God or it has to remove those passages from the Bible altogether. And it is trying to do both.
Interestingly, Paul’s authority is affirmed by Peter. In 2 Peter 3:15-17, Peter writes, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
Peter was warning the first century church that there would be people not wanting to listen to Paul’s teachings. He said there were people wanting to “twist Scripture,” and that those people were “ignorant and unstable.” Yet the most telling thing Peter stated is that the twisting of the scriptures will lead to their own destruction. While most people twist Scripture thinking it is to their benefit, it will actually be for their own destruction.
Since Peter affirmed the validity of Paul’s writings, the only way the modern church can get around Paul’s writings is to remove them altogether. The progressive church must rewrite the Bible. And that is exactly what certain people in the church have proposed.
Gary David Comstock, Protestant chaplain at Wesleyan University advised churches, “Not to recognize, critique, and condemn Paul’s equation of godlessness with homosexuality is dangerous. To remain within our respective Christian traditions and not challenge those passages that degrade and destroy us is to contribute to our own oppression…These passages will be brought up and used against us again and again until Christians demand their removal from the biblical canon, or, at the very least, formally discredit their authority to prescribe behavior.”
William M. Kent, a member of the United Methodists Committee to Study Homosexuality, stated “The scriptural texts in the Old and New Testaments condemning homosexual practice are neither inspired by God nor otherwise of enduring Christian value. Considered in the light of the best biblical, theological, scientific, and social knowledge, the biblical condemnation of homosexual practice is better understood as representing time and place bound cultural prejudice.” Kent’s proposed solution then is to abandon the Bible due to our modern “knowledge.”
Luke Timothy Johnson, a Professor of New Testament at Emory’s School of Theology, says that the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is not neutral and not positive to homosexuality, therefore, according to him, the Bible is wrong. He rejects the commands of Scripture and appeals to another authority – our experience.
It may be concerning that the Chinese government wants to rewrite the Bible, but here, it is the American church that is trying to rewrite the Bible.
Clearly, the Bible states things that are offensive to the culture – whether that’s first century Roman culture or 21st century American culture. The Bible has always been counter cultural, therefore, the culture will always hate what is in the Bible. Jesus warned about this. He told His disciples in John 14:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
The world will always hate the things of God. But sadly, this hatred also comes from those who claim to be God’s church. Those churches trying to discredit or remove portions of God’s Word have abandoned God’s truth. They are no different than the Chinese government trying to alter the Ten Commandments.
Unfortunately, this kind of struggle for God’s truth is nothing new. Even in 1526, William Tyndale faced persecution from the church for trying to uphold the truth of Scripture. He had published his first full translation of the Bible in English to make it available to the common man. However, the Catholic church declared this as heresy, as it challenged their own authority. So in 1536 the Catholic church convicted him of heresy, strangled him, and burned him at the stake. Tyndale went to his death to defend the authority and availability of the Word of God to be available to all people in its entirety.
He wasn’t alone in that either. As just a few examples, Jan van Essen and Jendrik Vos were both burned at the stake by the Catholic church in Brussels in 1523 for adhering to the truth of Scripture. Jan de Bakker was burned at the stake in 1525 for standing firm on Scripture. In the mid-1500s, there were 40 different men from England and Wales who were executed for refusing to place the authority of the monarchy of England above the Word of God. Two of them died in prison, one was pressed to death, and the others were hanged, drawn, and quartered. There are hundreds of more men and woman of God who went to their death for the integrity of the Scripture as God’s Word, unbendable to cultural whims or government authority.
Yet now, many people are altering their views of Scripture to not offend other people. People fear being canceled, unfriended, or blocked on social media so they alter what Scripture says or means. They propose removing passages or undermining the Bible’s authority to appeal to culture. Tyndale and many others were willing to be burned at the stake so that these very Scriptures would be available to all who desired to read God’s Word. Now we have God’s Word available in every media platform imaginable – and yet people are trying to change what it says or reinterpret its meaning.
God’s Word is going to go against what the world does and loves, after all to love the world is to be at enmity with God. But God’s Word will always stand opposed to the world because it offers something better than what the world can offer. Sadly, instead of standing firm on God’s Word as the final authority on things, many American churches would rather remove Scripture than risk offending the world. They would rather please men than God. And they will do so to their own destruction.