Across the Pastor’s Desk: It’s a question focused on loyalty

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, June 7, 2018

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Kenneth Jensen

Kenneth Jensen


It was not a front-page news story.  Nevertheless, it caught my eye. Communist China recently banned the online sale of Bibles.  “Holy books” of other religions were not affected.  Why was Christianity singled out?

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Chinese President Xi Jinping indicated the decision is intended to preserve Chinese culture which, historically, has embraced the indigenized religions of Taoism and Buddhism. 

However, we forget China was the economic dynamo of the world for centuries, a status they are likely to reclaim by 2050.  The exception was the 19th century which China defines as “the century of humiliation.” It was the era when Europe, the Christian West, held sway.  Nor dare we overlook the promotion of atheism as the official religion of Communism. 

Over the past two decades, a burgeoning religious scene has taken place. The Roman Catholic population has increased from four million to six million; the Protestant community, from 10 million to 38 million. (It may be double that.) Could it be that Chinese leaders see Christianity as the greatest threat to their way of life?     

Christianity teaches us to place our trust in God rather than in princes. It emphasizes all people, created in the image of God, deserve dignity and are therefore worthy of our love, respect and compassion. And politically speaking, when given a choice, Christians are to serve God rather than man.

Not only the Roman Empire, but other nations have declined or been transformed for the worse when loyalty to Christ is over-shadowed by loyalty to the state. It is something to be acknowledged in an era when political tribalism has caused some Christian leaders to compromise the moral values they espouse in order to remain close to power. 

The author of the Book of Hebrews reminds us:

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

Kenneth Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.