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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Well that's the sinner's prayer in Chinese

Look at this fun little item that came in the mail:
A flier with a lot of Chinese text on it. Click image to view large version.
No idea where it came from, there's no contact information or anything, and my address isn't on here either so it must have been someone who just came around and stuffed them into everyone's mailboxes. (Hendrix was looking through the mail and said, "oh this is for you" because it's about Christianity. Lol.)

It's a "gospel presentation", and I actually find it very disturbing because it presents the exact same "gospel" that I learned in American evangelical churches. About how we sin, and so God sent Jesus to die for us, so we need to pray this prayer and accept him as Lord of our life. And I'll translate the last bit for y'all:
Dear Lord Jesus,

I thank you for being crucified for my sins. I repent of my sin (acknowledge sin and ask God to forgive). I now ask you to come into my heart and be my savior and lord of my life, and lead my steps for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name, amen.
Yeah.

You guys. The sinner's prayer is a very Protestant thing, a very American-evangelical thing. Here's what wikipedia says:
The Sinner's Prayer, as popularly known today, has roots in Protestant Christianity. Some affirm that it evolved, in some form or another, during the early days of the Protestant Reformation, as a reaction against the Roman Catholic dogma of justification by means of meritorious works and sacraments. Others believe it originated as late as the eighteenth century revival movement. However, Paul Harrison Chitwood, in his doctoral dissertation on the history of the Sinner's Prayer, provides strong evidence that the Sinner's Prayer originated in the early twentieth century.

Evangelists such as Billy Graham and evangelistic organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ brought the concept to prominence in the 20th century.
So it probably was first written in Europe or the US within the past 300 years, then made popular by Billy Graham. It is NOT essential to the core of what Christianity is- though yes, it is essential to the core of American evangelical Christianity. (The sinner's prayer appears nowhere in the bible- though Romans 10:9 is used to lend support to the idea that such a thing as a sinner's prayer might exist.) I'm very much not okay with how the exact words of this magical Western Protestant prayer ended up in my mailbox in freakin' simplified Chinese characters.

This isn't Chinese. Chinese Christianity should be Chinese. It shouldn't be a translation of what Western evangelicals think Christianity is.

Though actually, the beginning of this flier talks about, "We are in a new year now, 2016. Do you know why we count years from 'the common year' [year 1 or year 0 I guess, not sure how to translate this]?" And then about how that's when Jesus was born, so that's what we base our calendar on, and how back in the day, the years were based on Chinese emperors, and their era ended when they died, but Jesus' era seems to be going on forever- do you wonder why that is? [insert gospel presentation] That part is VERY Chinese. You're not going to see any evangelistic material in the US that starts by teaching its audience what "AD" means. Hendrix says maybe the average Chinese person doesn't know that our calendar system counts years based on when Jesus was supposedly born.

So it's not like the entire thing is just western Christian material translated into Chinese. But the actual "gospel" part is- it even has the phrase "Jesus' blood covers our sin" which is NOWHERE in the bible but is a very normal thing for American Christians to say. And "if you prayed this prayer, you are now part of God's family." Yeah.

So yeah. This is a thing that exists in China. All you US evangelicals can calm down, "the gospel" isn't being "watered down" or whatever.

I'm sure there must be other varieties of Chinese Christianity which are more Chinese and less "here is a translation of something Billy Graham said." My experience with Chinese churches and Christian groups is very limited, but I'm sure there must be a lot of diversity.

But seeing the sinner's prayer written in Chinese? A little creepy.

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