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The Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia (RTF – Australia) welcomes you and your local congregation to join it in a concerted effort to pray for God’s blessing upon the people and the Churches of China. As China grows in influence what happens in that country will have an ever-greater influence upon us all. As the Church in China grows we rejoice that many millions of people are hearing the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. Yet we continue to pray that the emerging Church in China will be solidly grounded upon the Scriptures.

It is the conviction of RTF – Australia that the historic doctrines of grace which were so wonderfully rediscovered in the Churches of Europe during the sixteenth century are vital to the health of Churches in every age and on every continent. That is why RTF has, for over sixty years, translated works of reformed theology into Chinese and distributed them amongst the churches in China. Most of the emerging churches in China know little of Reformed doctrine and have little access to the resources which many of us treasure. We commend this ministry, as well as the Churches of China, to your prayers.

China’s Five-Year Plan for Adapting Christianity to Chinese Socialism

By Jackson Wu, retrieved on 04 June 2018 (https://goo.gl/HJ776j)

Many people have heard about China’s plan to “sinicize” Christianity. What does that mean? The government has published its plans online, both in Chinese and English. Below are some of the highlights.

A Snapshot of Sinicization

To catch the flavour of the government’s plan, you can simply observe its language. The word-cloud below identifies the most frequently used words in the report.



Here is a selective list of keywords that illustrates the plan’s emphases. I note the number of times certain words appear.

80x  Sinicization (73) or “sinicized” (7)
30x  “socialism” (22) or “socialist” (8)
24x “national” or “nation”
18x “patriotic” or “patriotism”
17x “core values of socialism”
17x “society”
14x “social”
8x “Chinese culture”
6x “traditional culture”
5x “Party”
4x “Communist”
4x “government”
9x “Bible”
2x “Christ”
0x “Jesus”

The document notes the importance of “interpretation,” mentioning it 6 times. At first, this sounds great. But you have to see how the term is used. Observe these examples, leaders will…

  • organize “seminars for promoting Sinicized biblical interpretation.”
  • “adopt China’s “elucidation” by conforming interpretations of church doctrines and rules to distinguished Chinese culture and to form a Sinicized way to express Christian faith
  • “Sinicized interpretation of beliefs and teachings”
  • “for reinterpreting the Bible and writing annotations for it.”
  • “Encourage original interpretations of the Bible”
What does “sinicize” mean?

For a culture that often uses indirect communication, the plan clearly states the meaning of “sinicized.” Here are a few excerpts:

To drive forwards the process on the Sinicization of Christianity, the following principles must be observed: Embrace and support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Be guided by the core values of socialism and endorse the system, ways, theories and culture of our country’s development.

“The persistence of Sinicization by the religions in our country is guided by the core values of socialism, promoting the excellent traditions of the Chinese nation, nurturing the concepts of unity, progress, peace and tolerance…. Based on the Bible, the Sinicization of Christianity… practices the core values of socialism, spreads the gospel, witnesses Christ and manages the church well.”

The plan is specific and holistic. It mentions key activities, celebrations, and objectives to be achieved by certain dates.

Accordingly, the Chinese Three-Self church will celebrate various anniversaries, such as the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (2019), the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (2020), the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (2021), etc.

The government will organize various conferences, create journals, and encourage publication. Therefore, it will

“solicit articles on the theme, display, exhibit and propagate through preaching groups and other activities so the majority of believers inherit the excellent traditions of their predecessors’ love of the country and the church and promote the conscious recognition of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party of China and the road of socialism.”

Furthermore, it will use art exhibits and cultural performances. Also, leaders will

“start work on compiling and publishing Sinicized hymn books to further blend Christian and excellent Chinese traditional culture and advanced socialist culture.”

Confused or Passive-Aggressive?

The statement’s directness does not mean it doesn’t dabble in a bit of double-speak, or, should I say, “less clear speech.” One of the plan’s stated goals says,

“Promote prosperity, democracy, civilization, harmony, freedom, equality, and justice, the rule of law, patriotism, industriousness, honesty and friendliness as core values of socialism.”

I’m not sure how “promoting democracy” squares with the propagation of socialism, embracing communism, and the lack of term limits. However, my confusion might simply show my own lack of intelligence or insight.

What is unmistakable is the anti-Western sentiment throughout the document.

“Maintaining the direction of Sinicization requires Protestant churches to take off the “tether” of the West and adopt China’s “elucidation” by conforming interpretations of church doctrines and rules to distinguished Chinese culture and to form a Sinicized way to express Christian faith.”

“Persist in the independence, autonomy and self-administration of the church and defend against foreign infiltration in the new era.”

I’m not sure how that relates to the goal (stated elsewhere) to “persist with the direction of ecumenism.”

What about the Bible?

From the writers’ perspective, an honest answer to that question might be “What about it?” The five-year plan obviously regards the Bible as a tool for political, cultural, and social ends.

“Bible study needs to be strengthened to establish a correct view of the Bible and the biblical hermeneutics in conformity with the situation in China as a foundation for deepening the development of theological thought.”

“Contents of the Bible that are compatible with the core values of socialism should be deeply researched in order to write books that are popular and easy-to-understand. “

If you know anyone working on a theological dictionary, let them know about these statements so they can quote them under the term “eisegesis.” This is not biblical contextualization.

Apparently, the government has no immediate plans to replace the Chinese Union Version. A celebration of its 100th anniversary is planned for 2019.

“Sinicized” Theological Education?

Of course, an important aspect of the 5-year plan involves theological education.

“Curriculums require a higher proportion of teaching on the core values of socialism, patriotism, Chinese history, literature, philosophy and arts along with other traditional culture.”

What materials will the government church use? They will…

“Compile and publish relevant historical materials on patriotism to make patriotism deservedly righteousness for Christians.”

In 2019, the plan has the following aim:

“Conduct patriotic education, stay in line with people’s hopes and be devoted to construction of a great socialist motherland.”

The document speaks for itself. I’ll conclude will a single thought.

If this does not motivate Christians to establish and prioritize theological education in China, nothing will.

RTF Australia Mid Year Report For 2018

In March, during the Banner of Truth Australia Conference, RTF Australia was introduced to the attendees through our long-term supporters, Rev Stuart and Marion Andrews.  Steven, our NSW representative was able to make a brief presentation of the ministries and its vision.  Since then, we have received several generous donations in support for our 2018 translation projects, "All things for Good" by Thomas Watson, and the "Truth Matters" education booklet published by the Christian Education Committee of Presbyterian Church of Australia.  We are happy to report that the initial targeted 10,000 AUD has been reached in early May.

Reformation Translation Fellowship would like to thanks the following people/church for their ongoing support.

  • Rev Stuart and Marion Andrews, NSW
  • Maryborough Church of Christ, VIC
  • Reformed Presbyterian Church, Geelong, VIC
  • Hawthorn Presbyterian Church, VIC
  • Roseville Presbyterian Church, NSW
  • Maroubra Presbyterian Church, NSW

In light of the donation and the progress of the two titles mentioned, the committee has decided to take on two more titles for the year.  We will be seeking 8,000 AUD to support the first two translations of P&R's “The Gospel According to the Old Testament”, a series of study into the Scripture through major Old Testament figures with Christ-focused theology at an accessible level.

  • Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob by Iain M. Duguid
  • Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham by Iain M. Duguid

We think this will bring a good balance with Banner of Truth's "Let's Study" series already published by RTF Press.

If you would like to make a contribution to the translation of this series, you can find our donation detail at the end of the newsletter, or on our website at www.rtfa.org.au.



Cover Art for "Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham"

Where to purchase RTF publications?


Over the years we have received emails in regards to the purchasing of RTF publications here in Australia.  Due to the nature of the works, most of the Australian Christians bookstore would not carry or with a limited number of RTF publications, which means we usually have to direct the enquiries to the RTF Press online store hosted by the China Reformed Theological Seminary in Taipei, Taiwan.

After talking to several booksellers, we are happy to announce that the Wandering Booksellers in Katoomba, NSW will start to carry some of the RTF publications here in Australia.  For more information, please visit the Wandering Booksellers' website at www.wanderingbookseller.com.au or by email at info@wanderingbookseller.com.au.

 

Request for Speaker


If you would like to invite someone to engage your church or group about the necessity for a translation ministry? Committee members of RTF Australia are available as guest speakers for mission events, youth groups, prayer groups, and other ministry events.  Please feel free to contact us at enquiries@rtfa.org.au.

2018 Pray for China Day

It has been our practice in recent years to encourage our supporters and their local congregations to join in a united effort to uphold the work of RTF and the church in China in prayer before the God of heaven. This year we hope that you will set aside the Reformation Sunday (31 October) as the 2018 Pray for China Day.  We hope that this will provide an opportunity to make the work of RTF better known in Australian churches.  Several resources for you to spread the word about RTF.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1: 11).  We have valued your prayerful interest in this ministry in the past and encourage you to continue with us in helping those who hunger for the doctrines of grace in China.

2018 Pray Requests

The Reformation Translation Fellowship welcomes you and your congregation to join in a concerted effort to pray for God’s blessing upon the Church in China. We rejoice that many people are hearing the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. Yet we continue to pray…

  • That the emerging Church in China will be solidly grounded upon the Scriptures and sound doctrine.
  • That ministers and elders would be rooted in the historic Christian faith so that they might train the flock under their care.
  • That RTF would be enabled to translate and distribute sound Reformed literature to all who can read it.
  • That Reformed Churches would be planted and thrive in China.
  • That dangerous cult and false doctrine would be arrested and prevented from spreading.
  • That persecuted Christians and their families would be enabled to stand firm in the faith and speak the gospel boldly.
Thank God that RTF has been able to print and distribute the following titles during 2017:
  • B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation
  • Jonathan Edwards, God at Work
  • G. K. Beale & Mitchell Kim, God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth
  • Douglas Milne, Let’s Study Luke
  • Frederick Leahy, The Victory of the Lamb
  • Loraine Boettner, The Trinity
  • O. Palmer Robertson, God's People in the Wilderness
  • Martha Peace & Stuart Scott, The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family
Pray for those who will be translating, editing, printing and distributing the following titles in 2018:
  • Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King
  • John Newton, Select Letters of John Newton
  • Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism: The Stone Lectures of 1898
  • Iain M. Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality
  • Iain M. Duguid, Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace
  • Richard B. Gaffin Jr., By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation
  • Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Resurrection and Redemption
  • Thomas Watson, All Things for Good
  • Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Whole Christ
  • O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants
  • Mark E. Ross, Let’s Study Mathew
  • Terry Johnson, When Grace Comes Home
  • Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God
  • Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic
  • John Calvin, Commentary on 1 &2 Peter and Jude
  • John Calvin, Commentary on Acts

Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia

 
Chairman: Mr Steven Yu 0401 043 641  
  Maroubra, NSW    
       
Secretary: Rev. Andrew Stewart 03 5229 4697  
  Geelong, VIC    
       
Treasurer: Mr. David Barkley 0417 310 197  
  Geelong, VIC    
       
  Rev. Stuart Bonnington 08 9398 1304 0400 012 865
  Fremantle, WA    
       
  Rev. Julian Bull 0435 245 919  
  Perth, WA    
       
  Rev. Stefan Slucki 07 4123 4784 0428 960 801
  Maryborough, QLD    
       
Website:    www.rtfa.org.au Email: enquiries@rtfa.org.au
       
       
Contact: Rev. Andrew Stewart, 12 Fenwick Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
       
Donation: By Cheque: RTF Australia
12 Fenwick Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
     
  By Electronics Banking: RTF Australia
BSB: 633 000      A/C No.: 120 848 627
     
  By Online Donation: www.rtfa.org.au/donations






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Reformation Translation Fellowship Australia · 12 Fenwick Street · Geelong, VIC 3220 · Australia