Excerpts from

When Iron Gates Yield

By Geoffrey T. Bull

Published by Moody Press, Chicago, between 1954 and 1958. 

Skip down to Collective thought control



Geoffrey Bull, British missionary to Tibet, was imprisoned when Chinese Communists conquered and occupied Tibet in 1950.  The brainwashing strategies used to conform his mind to Communist collective thinking is still used in China today. More sophisticated version of this Marxist-Hegelelian process are now used in schools, corporations and churches around the world.  [See note]

I thank God for using Geoffrey Bull to show us how to resist mind-dulling indoctrination and reminds us to stand firm in Christ no matter how great the pressure to compromise. [See also The Triumph of Truth]

The blue italicized comments below have been added to highlight the key parallels with "learning" and control in American schools and churches as well as around the world.  For more background information read  Brainwashing in America and Brainwashing and Education "Reform"

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you,

and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven,

for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12

Chapter XIV: To the People's Court


According to Marxism the standard of morality arises from our political standpoint, which in turn is determined by our economic condition. Thus if I have no money to buy bread, I will take the political stand of siding with the oppressed masses. This means that to steal from the landlord becomes right; I am not guilt of theft. I am only taking back what he has exploited from my class. [The same argument is used to justify the slaughter of whites in Zimbabwe and other neo-communist countries]


"...the Communist revolution was run on principles. ...attracting the finest youth of China... who were being filled with enthusiasm to devote their all that their nation might become strong and free.... They had not yet understood that the idea of tyranny and liberation goes deeper than governments and material progress, or even classes. They had not yet awakened to the new and more sinister spiritual bondage that had begun to engulf them.


I was their prisoner, yet I knew that through God's grace in Christ I was freer than them all. 'For if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.'" [pp.171-173]


Chapter XV: Despairing even of life

[Tormented by mind-dulling interrogations -- see Demoralization]


These primary and nebulous questionings, I realized afterwards, are the "dialectical" approach to interrogation. It is necessary to find out the whole course of development of a person's life from earliest days. The dominant influences and conflicts... his social position and class background.... Only after this ground is fairly clear, can the attitude of the Government be determined in regard to interrogation and "brainwashing."


The first indication I had of the so-called "thought reform" was when Yang said: 'Of course we do not really blame you for anything you have done against the people. Your government and Society must bear most of the guilt, although naturally you must bear some too.... You must gradually change your social outlook. The whole Capitalist structure is based on exploitation... [177-178]


My mind filled with conflicts. I had decided that I had no need to tell them of many things I knew. This meant endless fencing as the questioned me. .... From their standpoint, omission would be considered less than the truth, yet why should I be subjected to their inquisition? The ensuing days were an agony of mind. [Compare this with today's emphasis on "authenticity" and "honesty" in the postmodern church dialogue]


I found that several Chinese civilians were also housed in the same building. They were not prisoners in the usual sense, but having a course of '"earning." [179]


Full interrogation on an ever-increasing scale now began. ... They began to preach to me their policy towards counter-revolutionaries. They had apparently already judged me to be a spy. Now it was a question of confession. The almost daily line of approach began like this:

"If you tell us everything, all will be well, but if you hold anything back, then you will be the enemy of the people by our own choice... Our policy is clemency for the repentant, and unmitigated suppression for the impenitent. One is a road of life, one is a road of death.... They dealt with the spreading of rumors, a crime of which I was found guilty.... [180]

The next day when I was interrogated, I gave a straightforward account to the officials.... They were delighted and said to me: "Now... you will have to begin 'learning.' ... we will send you away to another place for 'education'.... This kind of talking lasted precisely two days. 182


I was no openly threatened with execution by shooting. 'If you do not tell us your British Government connections we shall send you to another place where you will 'suffer bitterness.' If this fails then you will be shot...." [182]


In the spring of 1951 the nationwide campaign for the suppression of counter-revolutionaries began. The masses were mobilized and agitated to frenzy by vast schemes of propaganda up and down the country. Huge accusations and struggle meetings were organized and everywhere the people were encouraged to expose anyone with KMT connections or sympathies.


A date line was given for the voluntary registration of past links with KMT organizations, after which began a witch hunt for agent, spies, bandits, tyrants, secret society personalities and rumor-mongers, and a scale unprecedented in human history.... in the reign of terror, father exposed son and son exposed father, mothers and daughters exposed their husbands and brothers.


"Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Mark 13:10-12


Tens of thousands of allegations poured into the hands of the Government. The counterfeit 'evangel,' the 'gospel' of Mao Tse Tung, offering mercy to penitent but annihilation  to all who resist, was preached in every nook and cranny of China, from the schoolboy to Cabinet Minister. Later on I met many of those caught in this fanatical purge.[184]  [See Mark 13:10-12 and Changing China? Communist Strategies Build Global Solidarity]


I talked to one fellow-prisoner and he told  me personally how the executions followed. He himself attended one mass meeting where sixty-eight people were massacred in cold blood, before a great mob who demanded that such enemies of the people be swept from the earth.... The comments of national leaders showed complete satisfaction. "The reactionary forces have received a death blows," they said, "and the masses have been instructed."[185]  


It was as such a time that the first 'trial' of my case proceeded.... I would think of little of all that they were requiring of me and devoted the time to communion with the Lord. He brought a richness of thought to me and simple poems would flow into my mind.... Never had the Lord proved Himself so strong to me. If I was to die then, I died under His own hand....


I pictured in my mind's eye that last morning as I was led out to die. Should I preach, should I pray or should I sing? I decided I would sing. I went over in my mind some of the songs of Zion and then chose this great chorus, determined that by His grace these would be my last words before I saw Him face to face:

Some golden daybreak Jesus will come
Some golden daybreak, battles all won,
He'll shout the vict'ry, break thro' the blue
Some golden daybreak, for me, for you.

The entire purpose of this written inquisition was to test the person's loyalty to the new regime and their attitude to the Communist viewpoint. I had already answered everything orally many times, except for the last part, which was headed 'Thought Reformation.' Here I was to fill in the changes of thought and outlook I had undergone, since being in contact with the new regime and its teaching. I decided to state truthfully what I thought, giving emphasis to the veils of aggression and tyranny.... [190]


This constant emphasis on the magnanimity of the People's Government became very aggravating at times. I was forever being reminded that I was being given meat every day, or that I had received a hand towel or a bar of soap. For these little comforts I was very thankful.... yet to use them as an endless spur to the confession of some guilt robbed the gift of any good will it might seem to possess. [191]


About six, the doors of the cells were all bolted and padlocked. On retiring for the night I decided, that although in the prison, I would kneel to pray. I had only been on my knees a minute or two, when the guard spotted it. I ignored his protesting voice, which came shouting through the peephole. Minutes passed and then I heard the key being put into t he padlock. Two men entered and insisted that I lie down immediately. [199]


For half an hour every morning, there was organized 'thought reform... [199]


...it was useless to mope on my circumstances, I continued systematically to go over the Scriptures in my mind.... [He has no Bible, but he knew and had memorized much of God's Word]. Beginning at Genesis, I had recalled each incident and story as best I could, first concentrating on content and then musing on certain points, seeking light in prayer.


Gradually I had worked through the Bible until I had covered all I could remember. With the passing of time, whole sections were beginning to fade, but God still brought much to mind, and now I went through the word of God in this way for the second time. The strength received through this ordered [Biblical, not mystical] meditation was, I believe, a vital factor in bringing me through, kept in the faith to the very end.


When the guard was not looking and his footsteps had died away, I put my ear to the floor. I discovered a man was singing softly but clearly in a room below. I knelt listening with great excitement. My heart leapt at the words. "Onward, Christian soldiers..."[200-201]

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.

Note: The testimony in this book (When Iron Gates Yield) corresponds to recent news from China. The Communist government still uses imprisonment, non-stop interrogations and continual demands for "confession" in preparation for "re-learning" and mental transformation. All are signs of willingness to set aside the old "capitalist" or "cultish" ways of thinking and embrace Communist ideology:

  "Chinese Christian leaders... present new documentary evidence of religious persecution in China"

        "The violent persecution of unregistered Protestants and Catholics in China is the subject of a meeting in the context of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights ... in Geneva  (April 2, 2004) ....

       "Documentary evidence will be presented for the first time of the official Chinese policy of harsh measures against religious believers. This includes the sentences: 'Those self-claimed preachers, leaders and core members of secret gathering places who are stubborn and refuse to be transformed shall be detained and dealt with through different means.  Each shall be brainwashed into giving up his wrongdoing.  He who transforms himself well shall write down his confession and sign a pledge of correctionHe who sticks to his wrongdoing [or wrong thinking] shall be seriously punished according to law.”

       "Video testimonies will be given from women tortured and sexually assaulted in order to force them to incriminate Gong Sheng Liang, the founder of the South China Church. ..."

       "Despite efforts to increasingly benefit from international recognition and engagement, China continues to pursue a policy of religious repression. The ongoing and consistent reports of torture, financial extortion, harsh detention and subjection to forced labour in grueling conditions under administrative procedures places China in serious breach of many of the core guarantees of human rights. The use of the classification of cults against harmless religious groups is a decisive downward turn in the respect for religious freedom in China. ...

       "All religious activity must take place within one of the five official religious bodies: the Chinese Buddhist Association, the Catholic Patriotic Association, the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM, the Chinese Islamic Association and the Chinese Taoist Association. Each association is responsible to the government's Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB). All unregistered religious activity is held to be illegal.
        "The registration policy has been particularly rigorously implemented over the last few years, making it the main vehicle for
state control and oppression of religious activities.....
        "The registration campaign is accompanied by destruction and confiscation of property, imposition of fines, arrests, beatings, torture, imprisonment and
're-education through labour'. ...
Teaching on certain topics is prohibited, including the Second Coming and judgment day, the gifts of the Spirit and creation. There are also restrictions on working with certain classes of persons, including those under 18 years of age.

"Service Learning" through Soviet Brainwashing

Soviet Education in the 1930s compared to U.S. Education in 2001

  Persecution Eternity