I, Nebuchadnezzar

China’s Paramount Leader, Xi Jinping, is doing a remarkable job emulating not only twentieth-century forerunners such as Stalin and Mao, but ancient forerunners such as Nebuchadnezzar.

Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2016. (Wikipedia)

King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue whose height was sixty cubits and whose width was six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent for the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to assemble and come to the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.  So the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. When they were standing before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up,  the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, you are to fall down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.”  Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. (Dan. 3:1–7, RSVCE)

China’s Paramount Leader, Xi Jinping, is doing a remarkable job emulating not only twentieth-century forerunners such as Stalin and Mao, but ancient forerunners such as Nebuchadnezzar, albeit without any sign of the latter’s repentance. All worship in China, he has declared, is to be State worship first of all. Those who will not fall down before the golden image he is setting up must be hunted down, rounded up, and incarcerated, which means anything from forcible re-education to electric shock treatment to vivisection for the lucrative organ market. Muslim Uyghurs, Chinese Christians, Falun Gong members – it doesn’t matter. All must bow down or pay the price of refusal. The more unfortunate among these doubtless find their way to the fiery furnace.

Daniel 3 continues: “Accordingly, at this time certain Chaldeans came forward and denounced the Jews.” Whatever may be happening to faithful Jews in today’s China – they don’t seem to be safe even in New York City – it seems that the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, has stepped forward to denounce China’s faithful Catholics, who in the wake of the secret September 2018 concordat were instructed to go ahead and join those already eating from the King’s table and prepare themselves to bow down to the king’s image; that is, to submit to the Sinicization of their religion. Thus has he himself all but consigned them to the fiery furnace. For since the concordat in question, and the issuing of the Pastoral guidelines of the Holy See concerning the civil registration of clergy in China, Xi’s government has stepped up its persecution of dissenting Christians.

This has been confirmed by a report to the U.S. Congress. It is in any case no surprise, for as Cardinal Zen has observed, what Christians in China face is “a system in which pastoral freedom will no longer exist but in everything the Party’s orders will be followed, including the prohibition of minors under 18 years of age from participating in any religious activity.” Xi, obviously, has no regard for the instruction of Jesus to his disciples,, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Or rather he makes this “me” refer to himself. Neither the Church nor its families will have any real say in how children are to be raised religiously. Indeed, it is uncertain that the Church will have much say in the appointment of its own bishops or in the conduct of its own liturgies or in the arrangement of its own symbols and teachings. The Catholic News Agency reports that “the new ‘Administrative Measures for Religious Groups’ will control every aspect of religious activity within China, and will mandate that all religions and believers in China comply with regulations issued by the Chinese Communist Party, which must be acknowledged as the higher authority.”

The extent of that authority must not be underestimated. The Party speaks for God himself, communicating the terms and conditions for divine favor – terms and conditions that have changed, apparently, such that even the Ten Commandments must give way to quotations from the Paramount Leader. It was reported last year already that China’s department for religious affairs had published an article stating that “only Sinicized churches can obtain God’s love.” This blatantly self-serving civil religion which cannot claim a Catholic’s allegiance without material heresy of the gravest sort and without an act of schism, is nevertheless endorsed by some Party-approved bishops, to judge from the most recent news. According to Bishop Fang,“ love for the homeland must be greater than the love for the Church and the law of the country is above canon law.”

Cardinal Zen, whose protests to the Vatican have fallen on deaf ears, goes so far as to speak of the “murder” of the Catholic Church in China, a term that applies quite literally to its many martyrs and figuratively to the church as a whole. He speaks also of an agreement that clergy are being asked to sign that would effectively justify apostasy. We may well ask how this differs from the oath of allegiance that saints Thomas More and John Fisher refused to sign for Henry VIII – whether indeed it must compromise the Christian conscience even more deeply, given the blasphemous claims of Xi and his Party.

Or to choose another historical example, one nearer to us in time, we may ask how it differs from the demands made by that other paramount Führer, Adolf Hitler, which Bishop von Galen refused on the Catholic side and the signatories of the Barmen Declaration on the Protestant. Alas for the day! Secretary of State Parolin, a career diplomat acting with the pope’s approval, seems to have cast himself rather in the role of Reichsbishof Ludwig Müller, demanding that church leaders do the work of the Party, in this case the work of Sinicization. He has heard “the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble,” and decided that submission is the best course.

But it is apostasy, not diplomacy, to “comply with regulations issued by the Chinese Communist Party” in any fashion that even hints at acknowledgement of the Party “as the higher authority.” For the Church is bound to the one whom God has set at his right hand as Lord of all. It is bound to Jesus Christ as “the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.” Such are the words of the Barmen Declaration, a document of which it is time we were all reminded. It continues:

We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation…

As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, in the same way and with the same seriousness he is also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life. Through him befalls us a joyful deliverance from the godless fetters of this world for a free, grateful service to his creatures.

We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords – areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him…

We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions…

We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.

Well said! Nothing has changed. Neither the Catholic Church nor the Protestant groups in China can afford to give any other witness than this if they mean to remain Christian. And no Secretary of State, nor any pope, can advise otherwise without forfeiting their own authority in the Lord. Bowing down to Xi is no different from bowing down to Hitler or Stalin or Mao. It is no different from bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image, or Antiochus’s, or Diocletian’s. It is no different from bowing down to those of antichrists yet to come. Christians bow down to no one but the one God and his true Christ, before whom, when all is said and done, every knee will bow willingly or unwillingly.

Let us pray for our persecuted brethren in China, encouraging them and ourselves with the words of Psalm 72: “May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.”


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About Dr. Douglas Farrow 8 Articles
Douglas Farrow is Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at McGill University, and the author, most recently, of Theological Negotiations: Proposals in Soteriology and Anthropology (Baker Academic, 2018).

16 Comments

  1. For over thirty-five years. I have carried a small yellow book, the “Thoughts of Jesus Christ”. It was issued by the Catholic Truth Society London in 1972 to combat Mao’s Little Red Book (Older readers will remember it) it presents no shallow fashionable image of him. It expresses his unique authority his clear ethic and good news of the kingdom, as it reveals Him God-man, the risen Lord, whose message is truly radial because it is supernatural…

    “Jesus Christ thought is the only message for an era in which human beings find themselves alone and purposeless”… The only information given is direction under different headings with Gospel reference. The simplicity of the book with minimal information impels the reader to contemplate the words of Jesus Christ in different life situations, this can be and is illuminating and encourages further study and spiritual growth, the onward transformation of the human heart…

    Quote “It is the most powerful ideological weapon for opposing oppression, misery, and inhumanity. Jesus Christ’s thought is the guiding principle for all of those who would follow him to perfect manhood. Therefore, the most fundamental task in our social political and ideological work is at all times to hold high the sign of the Cross, to arm the minds of the people throughout the world with it and PERSISTLY use it to command every field of activity”…

    The cover has long gone, like much of my old self, the remaining pages are yellowing and torn, some words can no longer be read but it is of no importance as there is no vacuum in my heart, as to some degree His Word now lives.

    To anyone who may consider reading The Little Yellow Book *(if you can obtain one) note it is a tool for contemplation, as it contains the ‘living’, Word of God which is supernatural and radial, it cannot be misunderstood by anyone approaching his Word (Will) with honesty, it’s beauty (Truth) cannot help but inspire integrity, no matter of what religion, race, creed, state of being you are or belong to.

    Whatever happened to the little yellow book?

    But more importantly whatever happened to our God given ideals once propagated by the Church.

    Note * I contacted The Catholic Truth Society, via e-mail about six months ago, asking for the price, for a rerun of the book, (if it was out of print). They said my e-mail would be forwarded to another department, and that they would get back to me, they never did.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ.

      • Thank you Leodlion for your informative comment, the price for the book is quoted as $66.87 for a second hand copy, which is probably more than most people would want to pay. The book is very small 5cmx4cm (Pocket size) which I have with me now. I believe my copy cost less than 2 dollars, nearly forty years ago. My above Post has been posted before, once on this site also on others, while interest had been shown by some in wanting to obtain one. I was aware that the book was very expensive due to its rarity and because of this I had considered paying for a rerun of the book, so that others too could contemplate/embrace His living Word in its simplicity.

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

  2. The only legitimate government of China is the Republic of China, whose government is in Taipei. The People’s Republic of China and the Beijing regime are not a state, they are a band of Bolshevik insurgents. The moral duties owed to the civil authorities are owed to the former only.

  3. Visions of 1966 and Mao’s “Little Red Book” come to mind.Xi and his minions should aquatint themselves with the fiery furnace.They will become the chaff and kindling for that devils furnace.Our Master,Lord,and Friend has said so.

    • Whereas I am reminded of,
      “And on the pedestal these words appear:
      ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
      Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

  4. On the very same day that the First Vatican Council (1870) was convened in Rome, an Anti-Council of Free-Thinkers also was convened in Naples. The program was later summarized in Marseille:

    “Our programme has for its basis the denial of God, the suppression of all authority and over every religious idea. Religion is the chief and most ancient source of all our sufferings, and the instrument by which, in every age, sovereigns have enslaved the people. God is only a chimera, the pedestal of every despotism; and this chimera must be destroyed before we can obtain liberty.” (Cited in Maguire, The Pontificate of Pius the Ninth, 1870).

    Weirdly, and a mere century and a half later, this agenda of the Naples Freethinkers and that of the Beijing Anti-Church in Communist China converge.

    And under enabler Bishop Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, are we still to believe that China is “the best implementer of Catholic Social Teaching”? Under the very miscalculating Cardinal Parolin, Secretariat of State, are we still to believe that retrograde accommodation with China (the first millennium Investiture Crisis all over again!) can be “provisional” (reversible)?

    And, generally, post-2013, are we still to believe in the “virtual” (rather than the real) Second Vatican Council?

    But, surely the staged and cumulative “synodal path” of Amazonia/ Germania/ Etc.—can finally toss the 1870 “prisoner of the Vatican” (rather than Pachamama!) into the Tiber, thusly making room for a less rigid, less bigoted, and weakly survivable chaplaincy more compatible with flat-earth secularism, religious pluralism and tribalized diversity. Kumbaya.

    • “…are we still to believe that China is “the best implementer of Catholic Social Teaching”?” Hardly. The cult of Moloch, one and the same as the cult to the State. That’s China. Ostensibly, judged necessary there, given the centrifugal proclivity of dismemberment to that huge country throughout the centuries. Confucius and Mencius dedicated their lives to the service of the State, formulating the principles requisite to honor and further it, lest it fell apart.

      To the Chinese avatar of Moloch corresponds its Western counterpart in most of the so-called ‘free world’ where God is not much a driving concern nowadays, rather Mammon, forever to Moloch associated. Forever, billions throughout the world to Moloch and Mammon sell their souls away, “a sordid boon.”

      “Only Sinicized churches can obtain God’s love.” This absurdly reduces the deity to the immanent, wherein the dimension of the tribal State, property of Moloch.

      Only absolute transcendence beyond all substance, being, or notion becomes the numen, verily,the’schöpferisches Nichts’ / the creative nothing of apophatic theology, which Saint John Paul II entertains in some poems.

  5. We can know through both our Catholic Faith and reason, and our Salvational History has revealed, that it has always been the same old story. Whenever we have denied that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, and rendered onto Caesar or ourselves what belongs to God, we suffer both individually and as a people.
    “When God Is denied, human Dignity disappears.”- Pope Benedict XVI
    Christ Was Baptized Into His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, and Promised to remain with His Church:
    “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.“
    “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due To The Unity Of The Holy Ghost thus it is not possible for a counterfeit church, that denies that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, to subsist within Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church.
    We can know through both our Catholic Faith and reason, that the most dangerous threat from the “free thinkers”, is the erroneous notion that it is possible for those who are with Christ to converge with those who are anti Christ, making it appear as if it is possible to both be and not be for Christ, simultaneously. That would be a lie from the start.

  6. I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    Percy Bysshe Shelley

  7. To adapt the line from the motion picture Goldfinger:

    “Do you expect me to believe in your Christ?”

    “No, Mr Xi, I expect you to burn in eternal fire for eternity.”

  8. The Pontiff Francis and his anti-evangelists have signed a secret accord with the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, an accord engineered by the Pontiff’s longtime friend, the sociopath homosexual sex abuser McCarrick.

    It should be no surprise that what was spawned by the sinister McCarrick for the Pontiff Francis is an alliance with evil incarnate, monstrously evil men and women who run an empire of the living dead, as disclosed here: https://stream.org/the-vaticans-alliance-with-china-more-evil-than-we-thought/

    Our Catholic Church smells to high heaven…it’s all about money and photo ops with “Bono” for the viceroys of Rome and Berlin and Paris and Manila and Buenos Aries and Washington and LA and New York and Newark and Chicago and San Diego etc etc etc.

    St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle against encroaching evil, seeping everywhere…

  9. When Nebuchadnezzar shocked that Meshach Abednego Shadrach remained alive inside the white hot furnace he shouted praise for the God of Israel. Xi Jinping remorseless hardened by atheistic Communism shows no sign of humanness. When Justice is dismissed in lieu of Marxist atheistic perversion of the principle of common good – the State as Dr Farrow alludes replaces God. Idolatry of an ideology absolute and deadly. Even if the countless murdered rose from the dead would he believe? He will at Judgment.

  10. The betrayal of Chinese Catholics is even worse than the Pope’s recent “Papal slap”, although the intentions that Francis has expressed with both are the same: Pure disregard and contempt for the faithful.

  11. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/the-popes-monthly-intention.cfm
    Hope article such as these help many to esp. include the Papal intentions , saying the Our Father , Hail Mary and Glory be ,esp with the Rosary .
    Those intentions for March , to include prayers for China, month also of St.Joseph , the antithesis of the above O.T . character , trying in his demonic desire to put self in place of God , to make name and fame for self , yet may be not unlike many in our times , who too try to do so , in the injustice / foolishness of seeing God given life and relationships with less worth than that of spittle .
    St.John Paul 11 warned about that danger , in his teachings on the pervasive antilife /user attitudes , through which the dignity and worth of relationships have deteriorated , to less than that of spittle , in turn , making room for the glorification of perverse evils ..and the Holy Father’s hope and trust that , those who have fallen for such tastes that are unto like the swine might still find repentance , to want to come Home , thus those often misquoted words – ‘ who am I to judge ‘ .
    As a Father figure , he too looks expectantly to The Spirit to lead them back Home .

    The beam of ingratitude for life being there in many eyes and hearts in our lands,lands that are esp. chosen to know The Truth , through The Incarnation – would it be that , The Church is asking for penance of humility , in its embracing of these other cultures that have not been gives as much !

    Blessings !

  12. Thanks for this great and very necessary article! “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Xi Jingping already had absolute power in China for years, then he made himself a lifetime dictator, now he claims total, unquestionable rights as the “only god”. Like the Nebuchadnezzar statue, he has grown in power (the “gold” part) but his foundation of total idolatry is also becoming fragile (the “clay feet” part -Book of Daniel 2:31-45).
    In the meantime, the good Chinese Christians and all others suffer enormously. Now we have another Nebuchadnezzar sitting in the Vatican, throwing crumbs to us (“priestly celibacy is not optional”- while actively homosexual clergy go unpunished and uncensored) while asserting his tyranny that “must be obeyed”. Tyrants LOVE other tyrants and help each other as much as possible, therefore the Judas betrayal of the faithful, longsuffering Chinese Church. Why does history keep bringing these recycled tyrants, inside and outside the Church?

    As Erich Fromm said in different ways: the most irrational, cruel, disturbed and criminal on the outside of us reflect our own inner states. These states are dominated by Satan’s subtle but powerful enticements: never really grow up, never really learn, never really search for the Authentic Truth, never really see yourself as a sinner in daily need of repentance, never really accept responsibility for anything, never really believe in God and submit to Him (the direct consequence of the first five). Those who live like this strongly attract tyrants, now American and now so popular here, like putrid filth attracts flies. What’s in your heart?

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  1. Cardinal Zen Letter from the Heart to the College of Cardinals « Catholic Insight
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