China, Socialism, and Christianity

Re-looking the Socialist’s take on Nation-Building through the lens of the Scriptures.

Note: I write this post without any political agenda. My intent of writing this is merely to share the work that the Chinese government is doing and how closely related it is to the doctrines of Christendom. Through the drawing of parallels between the Socialist Institution and the doctrines of the Christian faith, I aim to open the hearts and minds of my readers and to help them take a step back to re-examine China and her policies holistically before jumping into any conclusions about the Socialist State.

China is under attack by the world for many things. These includes the one-party system [1], its apparent denial of basic human rights [2], and its control over religious freedom [3]. But in my humble opinion, as Christians, we should take a step back and re-examine China and her Socialist Establishment.

Back in 2012, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China laid down the 12 Core Socialist Values (also known as the “Spirit of China”) that guided China’s growth till today. These Values are 1) Prosperity 富强, 2) Democracy 民主, 3) Civility 文明, 4) Harmony 和谐, 5) Freedom 自由, 6) Equality 平等, 7) Justice 公正, 8) Rule of law 法治, 9) Patriotism 爱国, 10) Dedication 敬业, 11) Integrity 诚信, and 12) Friendship 友善 [4].

From the surface, it sounded like an authoritarian guideline to national domination. However, digging deeper beneath the surface, one will see that these guidelines, with a little bit of aligning, seem to be closely related with Biblical values.

When we put aside the core tenet of Socialism—the principle that argues that the government should be in control over all means of production and the distribution of goods [5] (which China outwardly seem to be working towards [6])—and place God in the place of the Socialist government, we see similarities beginning to take shape. Rising from the very core of the Socialist values, we see Christian principles at work behind the apparent Communist regime.

(1) Prosperity 富强.

When the regime speaks of prosperity, it refers to the common accumulated wealth that the nation collectively acquired through technological innovations and breakthrough. It speaks of the immense wealth that encompass the technological capital, cultural capital, and the overall health of her people. Doesn’t this resemble Jesus’ teaching when He said, Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.” (John 4:36-37, NIV)?

Of course, the focus between China and Christianity is different. China, unlike Christendom, pursued material growth and wealth whereas the core task of the Christian is to bring people to Christ. However, the central driving force is the same. It preaches that people who worked hard for the common goal should and will share the fruit of prosperity and success together.

(2) Democracy 民主,

Democracy speaks of the opportunity for the people to voice their opinions to leaders. This is represented in the closely knitted unity of the Early Christian Churches where people are able to think through critical issues and make their opinions heard before a decision is made.

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables… This proposal pleased the whole group. — Acts 6:2-5, NIV.

Democracy, therefore, isn’t a Socialist concept. Rather, it is a concept that rises from antiquity and is aligned with Biblical doctrines and principles.

(3) Civility 文明

Civility is the result of revolution and change. It is the result of the reshaping of material and spiritual paradigms within the people that will lead to the maturing of civility. In Christianity, we were taught to put away our former way of life and our old self so as to have it made new in the attitude of our minds. We are called to put on our new self and to be created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness [7]. Indeed, just as how the renewal of the mind is the mark of a reborn life, the civility of the modern Chinese Civilisation is the mark of the Socialist dogma.

(4) Harmony 和谐

To the Socialist Leadership, Harmony is the positive interdependence between people, the society, and our surrounding. In all things, the leadership aims to create a harmonious balance through moral and history education. Likewise, Jesus prayed for all believers to be united as how He is One with the Father [8]. In both the Socialist and the Christian doctrine, harmony requires us to love one another as ourselves [9] so as to maintain a positive relationship with the people around us.

(5) Freedom 自由

Freedom is state whereby one has the freedom to choose how one can develop oneself and to set goals as what one desires — this is what the Socialist Leadership aims to achieve. However, contrary to Socialist values, freedom in the Christian faith takes on a very different light. Freedom in Christianity is to be free from the bondage of sin [10]. It is the freedom to choose what is right.

In contrast with earthly material values, decisions that bring about success may not necessarily be good from an eternal perspective. Hence, in Christianity, freedom to do what is right may appear to contradict earthly values. However, the central principle of freedom—the right to choose—remains the same.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”. — John 8:31-32, NIV.

(6) Equality 平等

Equality is a core tenet of the Socialist Leadership. This guiding principle states that all citizens should have the equal right to live, equal right to be respected, and equal opportunity to succeed in life. Finally, this guiding principle ensures that everyone have the right to enjoy the fruit of the success of the State. This principle is aligned with the Bible. Human, regardless of gender, race, and cultural backgrounds, were created in God’s own image [11]. And for this very matter, all human should be equally respected with Godly admiration and respect. Sure, there are geographical and physical constraints that doesn’t allow all people throughout China to have equal opportunities to improve. However, the government is working hard to provide the levelled ground to create equal opportunities for all people.

(7) Justice 公正

Justice is mark of true civilisation in the Socialist leadership. This led the state to establish and continue to improve its insurance’ systems that give relief and aid to needy and troubled families. On top of this, the Socialist leadership is also working to be as transparent as they can be so that the people will be kept in the know of what the institutions are doing. Likewise, in the Christian faith, we worship a God who is Just. God is a God who will pay back trouble to those who trouble us and give relief to us who are troubled (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7, NIV).

(8) Rule of law 法治

The rule of law is the backbone of the Socialist Leadership in China. The rule of law guides all guiding principles of the State to ensure smooth operations of the State. The law is constantly reviewed and changed to keep up with the changing of the times and to protect the people from all harm. Likewise, the commands and the laws from God are written for the common good. But unlike earthly laws and legislation, Biblical laws do not need to be updated. Its promises will always hold true.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. — Matthew 24:35, ESV

(9) Patriotism 爱国 and (10) Dedication 敬业

To the Socialist Leadership, patriotism is the beginning of every good work. For the love of the country, the people of the State will see that it is their shared responsibility to do their best for the common good of the country. The love of the country is a deep-seated emotion for the country that is manifested in a shared responsibility to do ones’ best.

However, contrary to the Chinese State, Christendom is centered upon Christ and not on the State. The work we do, hence, should be centered around the expansion of God’s Kingdom. Just like how the love of the Chinese State propelled people to do their best for the common prosperity of the state, the love of the Kingdom of God will propel us to do everything that we do with all our hearts [12].

(11) Integrity 诚信

The Socialist State urges the people to maintain a pure heart and to work with integrity. The Socialist State goes to the extent of praising people with integrity publicly and condemning people whom they thought aren’t living up to her standards, publicly. Sure, to the outside world, such a move may appear rash and unreasonable. But on the leadership level, it seem to be aimed at creating a society of trustworthy people through the enforcement of law.

Likewise, Christ gave us His commands and called us to be faithful. He has given us each a task as well as spiritual gifts to fulfil these tasks. We are called to be faithful with the little that we are given for when we are faithful with little, we will likewise be faithful with much [13].

To the Socialist Leadership, a society with integrity is a society that is filled with warmth. For Christians, this integrity is rooted in our love for God that manifests itself in our love and respect for others.

(12) Friendship 友善

Finally, friendship is the basic of interpersonal relationships for the Socialist Leadership. It is treating others with warmth and love, providing the care and strength that others need. The Socialist government inculcate this value through moral education and public praises to encourage acts of love.

Likewise, the Christian faith calls us to treat each other with love. Christ Himself gave us an example when He called us friends and when He laid down His life for our common good. His example of friendship sets the benchmark for all Christians to follow. This love towards one another surpasses the love of the current age but goes beyond the reaches of time.

Unlike the Chinese State, Christianity doesn’t need a billboard to praise our good acts because we have all fallen short of God’s glory. But by fixing our eyes on the the promises of God, we are able to hold steadfast to the commands of God and to love each other as how Christ loved us.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends. — John 15:13-14a, NIV.

Surely, all of these comes at a great cost. Such cost includes the need to abide to the common rule of law and the need to abide to the party’s guiding principles. In order that the State may maintain pure to its guiding principles, it requires the State impose strict guidelines so as to not let external ideologies infiltrate and contaminate its work.

Are these restrictions worth it?

I do not know. But one thing I do know; that is the love of God towards China is real. Indeed, God loves China so much that He has placed some of the core principles of Christianity in the hearts and minds of these Chinese leaders, leading and shaping them to build a God-pleasing State that shines like a beacon in the East. Of course, if only the Socialist Leadership were to shift the central focus of the State away from the common good of the country to encapsulate the worship of the One True God, just imagine how much more of a blessing will China be to the world!

Footnotes:

[1] – http://fortune.com/2019/05/18/how-chinas-top-down-political-system-holds-it-back/

[2] – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-18/china-social-credit-a-model-citizen-in-a-digital-dictatorship/10200278

[3] – https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/06/asia/china-us-xinjiang-concentration-camps-intl/index.html

[4] – http://theory.people.com.cn/n/2014/0212/c40531-24330538.html

[5] – https://money.howstuffworks.com/socialism1.htm

[6] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_market_economy

[7] – You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. — Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV.

[8] – I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one. — John 17:20-21, NIV.

[9] – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:34-35, NIV.

[10] – Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. — Romans 6:7, NIV.

[11] – So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. — Genesis 1:27, NIV.

[12] – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24, NIV.

[13] – “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. — Luke 16:10, ESV.

Find out more about the Core Socialist Values of China.

《国魂》社会主义核心价值观(上篇)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyuxdOOc-7A

《国魂》社会主义核心价值观(中篇)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep97m6xpzTY

《国魂》社会主义核心价值观(下篇)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY9rfks0SJ4

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

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