Book of Daniel has not outlived its usefulness

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Part One:

Communists consider Book of Daniel “dangerous”

 

“The Lord heard [Susanna’s] prayer. As she was being led to execution,

God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud:

‘I am innocent of this woman’s blood’.”

 Daniel 13:44-46

 

The prophet Daniel’s bold defiance of King Nebuchadnezzar and his corrupt régime finds its modern parallel in the courage and resoluteness of Christians today in communist China.

The communists consider the Book of Daniel to be most dangerous:

 

“In Liushi church a closed circuit television camera hangs from the ceiling, directly in front of the lectern.

“They want the pastor to preach in a Communist way. They want to train people to practice in a Communist way,” said the house-church preacher, who said state churches often shunned potentially subversive sections of the Bible. The Old Testament book in which the exiled Daniel refuses to obey orders to worship the king rather than his own god is seen as “very dangerous”, the preacher added”.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10776023/China-on-course-to-become-worlds-most-Christian-nation-within-15-years.html

 

According to this same article:

 

China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years

 

The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America

….

By Tom Phillips, Liushi, Zhejiang province

2:00PM BST 19 Apr 2014

 

It is said to be China’s biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross.

The 5,000-capacity Liushi church, which boasts more than twice as many seats as Westminster Abbey and a 206ft crucifix that can be seen for miles around, opened last year with one theologian declaring it a “miracle that such a small town was able to build such a grand church”.

 

The £8 million building is also one of the most visible symbols of Communist China’s breakneck conversion as it evolves into one of the largest Christian congregations on earth.

 

“It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence,” beamed Jin Hongxin, a 40-year-old visitor who was admiring the golden cross above Liushi’s altar in the lead up to Holy Week.

 

“If everyone in China believed in Jesus then we would have no more need for police stations. There would be no more bad people and therefore no more crime,” she added.

 

….

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

 

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

 

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.

 

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

 

“It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”

 

China’s Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.

 

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025.

That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

 

By 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

 

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this,” Prof Yang said. “It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”

 

Like many Chinese churches, the church in the town of Liushi, 200 miles south of Shanghai in Zhejiang province, has had a turbulent history.

 

It was founded in 1886 after William Edward Soothill, a Yorkshire-born missionary and future Oxford University professor, began evangelising local communities.

 

But by the late 1950s, as the region was engulfed by Mao’s violent anti-Christian campaigns, it was forced to close.

 

Liushi remained shut throughout the decade of the Cultural Revolution that began in 1966, as places of worship were destroyed across the country.

 

Since it reopened in 1978 its congregation has gone from strength to strength as part of China’s officially sanctioned Christian church – along with thousands of others that have accepted Communist Party oversight in return for being allowed to worship.

Today it has 2,600 regular churchgoers and holds up to 70 baptisms each year, according to Shi Xiaoli, its 27-year-old preacher. The parish’s revival reached a crescendo last year with the opening of its new 1,500ft mega-church, reputedly the biggest in mainland China.

 

“Our old church was small and hard to find,” said Ms Shi. “There wasn’t room in the old building for all the followers, especially at Christmas and at Easter. The new one is big and eye-catching.”

 

The Liushi church is not alone. From Yunnan province in China’s balmy southwest to Liaoning in its industrial northeast, congregations are booming and more Chinese are thought to attend Sunday services each week than do Christians across the whole of Europe.

 

A recent study found that online searches for the words “Christian Congregation” and “Jesus” far outnumbered those for “The Communist Party” and “Xi Jinping”, China’s president.

 

Among China’s Protestants are also many millions who worship at illegal underground “house churches”, which hold unsupervised services – often in people’s homes – in an attempt to evade the prying eyes of the Communist Party.

 

Such churches are mostly behind China’s embryonic missionary movement – a reversal of roles after the country was for centuries the target of foreign missionaries. Now it is starting to send its own missionaries abroad, notably into North Korea, in search of souls.

 

“We want to help and it is easier for us than for British, South Korean or American missionaries,” said one underground church leader in north China who asked not to be named.

 

The new spread of Christianity has the Communist Party scratching its head.

“The child suddenly grew up and the parents don’t know how to deal with the adult,” the preacher, who is from China’s illegal house-church movement, said.

 

Some officials argue that religious groups can provide social services the government cannot, while simultaneously helping reverse a growing moral crisis in a land where cash, not Communism, has now become king.

 

They appear to agree with David Cameron, the British prime minister, who said last week that Christianity could help boost Britain’s “spiritual, physical and moral” state.

 

Ms Shi, Liushi’s preacher, who is careful to describe her church as “patriotic”, said: “We have two motivations: one is our gospel mission and the other is serving society. Christianity can also play a role in maintaining peace and stability in society. Without God, people can do as they please.”

 

Yet others within China’s leadership worry about how the religious landscape might shape its political future, and its possible impact on the Communist Party’s grip on power, despite the clause in the country’s 1982 constitution that guarantees citizens the right to engage in “normal religious activities”.

 

As a result, a close watch is still kept on churchgoers, and preachers are routinely monitored to ensure their sermons do not diverge from what the Party considers acceptable.

….

Such fears may not be entirely unwarranted. Christians’ growing power was on show earlier this month when thousands flocked to defend a church in Wenzhou, a city known as the “Jerusalem of the East”, after government threats to demolish it. Faced with the congregation’s very public show of resistance, officials appear to have backed away from their plans, negotiating a compromise with church leaders.

“They do not trust the church, but they have to tolerate or accept it because the growth is there,” said the church leader. “The number of Christians is growing – they cannot fight it. They do not want the 70 million Christians to be their enemy.”

 

The underground leader church leader said many government officials viewed religion as “a sickness” that needed curing, and Prof Yang agreed there was a potential threat.

The Communist Party was “still not sure if Christianity would become an opposition political force” and feared it could be used by “Western forces to overthrow the Communist political system”, he said.

 

Churches were likely to face an increasingly “intense” struggle over coming decade as the Communist Party sought to stifle Christianity’s rise, he predicted.

“There are people in the government who are trying to control the church. I think they are making the last attempt to do that.” ….

 

Part Two:

Andrew Bolt’s defence of Cardinal Pell is Daniel-like

 

“Not one witness, nothing.” Bolt said the judge listed “an astonishing number of reasons to doubt Pell’s accuser” including assault dates changing from 1997 to 1996 and the two boys drinking stolen bottles of “a sweet red” wine when Pell actually “used white wine for health reasons” that had been locked away.

 

Last night (21st August 2019) I watched on Sky News TV Andrew Bolt’s seismic reaction to the Melbourne Supreme Court’s rejection of George Cardinal Pell’s appeal of his guilty sentence to child sex offences, and then read about it again this morning (22nd August) in Bolt’s article, “‘Absurdly high hurdle’ was set for Pell”, in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph.

Bolt’s recounting of certain discrepancies in the details of the case, most notably those concerning year dates and the colour of the wine that the choir boys drank, reminded me of young Daniel’s pointing to glaring contradictions in the case of the convicted Susanna.

 

Daniel, prefacing his defence with: ‘I am innocent of this woman’s blood’ (13:46) – compare Bolt’s being “shocked, just shocked” that someone could be sent to jail if it was remotely possible they had abused someone on “unsupported word” – then proceeded to re-open the case (v. 49): ‘Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her’.

Daniel’s methodology was to have the pair of accusing elders separated in order to show up the contradictions (vv. 51-62):

 

…. ‘Separate these two far from one another, and I will examine them’.

After they were separated from each other, he called one of them and said: ‘How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, ‘The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’ Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together’. ‘Under a mastic tree’, he answered. ‘Your fine lie has cost you your head’, said Daniel; ‘for the angel of God has already received the sentence from God and shall split you in two’. Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. ‘Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah’, Daniel said to him, ‘beauty has seduced you, lust has perverted your heart. This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your lawlessness. Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together’. ‘Under an oak’, he said. ‘Your fine lie has cost you also your head’, said Daniel; ‘for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to destroy you both’.

The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those who hope in him. They rose up against the two old men, for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of bearing false witness. They condemned them to the fate they had planned for their neighbor: in accordance with the law of Moses they put them to death. Thus was innocent blood spared that day. ….

 

Here is more from Andrew Bolt: https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/he-looks-grim-andrew-bolt-says-the-outvoted-judge-in-george-pells-appeal-focused-on-evidence/news-story/05622a6ae8056a816af7a93f072764cb

 

‘He looks grim’: Andrew Bolt says the ‘outvoted’ judge in George Pell’s appeal ‘focused on evidence’

 

Columnist Andrew Bolt has again aired his shock that George Pell has returned to jail based on child abuse claims with “not one witness”.

 

Sarah McPhee

news.com.auAugust 21, 20198:47pm

 

‘Absurdly high hurdle’ was set for Pell: Andrew Bolt

 

Sky News host Andrew Bolt notes ‘there were no tears for Pell’ after he lost his appeal against his conviction for abusing two 13-year-old choir boys two decades ago. On Wednesday the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld George Pell’s conviction of child sex offences. ….

 

Andrew Bolt is ‘shocked, just shocked’ that George Pell will remain behind bars after his convictions were upheld by a 2-1 majority judgment in Victoria’s Court of Appeal.….

 

Controversial columnist Andrew Bolt said he was shocked and astonished that George Pell will remain behind bars “on someone’s unsupported word”.

 

Opening Wednesday night’s episode of The Bolt Report, the Sky News broadcaster delivered an impassioned response to the earlier day’s events.

 

Victoria’s Court of Appeal upheld Pell’s convictions for child sexual abuse by a 2-1 majority.

 

Bolt asked viewers to turn their eyes to Justice Mark Weinberg, who was captured on a live stream from the courtroom as the disgraced cardinal’s appeal was dismissed.

 

“Take a look at the judge on the right, sitting there looking grim,” Bolt said.

“If you think he looks grim, maybe that’s because he was outvoted.

“He does think Pell was jailed unfairly.”

 

Pell was convicted in December and later jailed for five charges relating to the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.

 

One of Pell’s victims died in 2014 but the other gave evidence at trial.

 

“Having reviewed the whole of the evidence, two of the judges of the Court of Appeal — Justice (Chris) Maxwell, President of the Court of Appeal and I — have decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offences charged,” Chief Justice Ann Ferguson said, reading from a summary of the judgment.

“Justice Maxwell and I accepted the prosecution submission that the complainant was a very compelling witness, was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”

 

Justice Weinberg’s dissenting judgment, however, comprised more than 200 of the 325 pages.

Bolt said the judge “instead focused on the evidence” and listed “improbabilities” within the victim’s testimony at length.

“One thing that struck Justice Weinberg very strongly is, he said, that this is a case that depends entirely on the claim of Pell’s accuser being accepted beyond reasonable doubt,” Bolt said.

“Even though this is without there being any independent support for it. Not one witness, nothing.”

 

Bolt said the judge listed “an astonishing number of reasons to doubt Pell’s accuser” including assault dates changing from 1997 to 1996 and the two boys drinking stolen bottles of “a sweet red” wine when Pell actually “used white wine for health reasons” that had been locked away.

“(Justice) Weinberg repeated there was no independent support for the complainant’s account,” Bolt said. “So, how could you convict a man of that? How?” ….

 

Whilst George Cardinal Pell is who he is, Susanna and her husband, Joakim, may have biblical alter egos. See e.g. my series:

 

Well-respected Mordecai. Part One: As ‘Marduka’?

“And Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus. He was a man held in respect among the Jews, esteemed by thousands of his brothers, a man who sought the good of his people and cared for the welfare of his entire race”. Esther… more

Well-Respected Mordecai. Part Four: Similarities between Susanna and Esther

Commentators have picked up some striking likenesses between the story of Susanna (in the Book of Daniel) and the drama surrounding Queen Esther.

Well-Respected Mordecai. Part Five (b): Continuing Susanna and Esther identification

Susanna, living as she did during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, would seem to have been far too early for her – according to conventional estimations – to be identifiable as Queen Esther, supposedly living deeply into Persian… more

Well-Respected Mordecai. Part Five (c): The Names, Susanna, Hadassah and Esther

My conclusion in this series has been that the Susanna in Daniel became Queen Esther. But this conclusion now presents us with three names: Susanna, Hadassah and Esther, since, as we are informed (Esther 2:7): “… Hadassah … was also… more

 

 

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