Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God in China, Part 2

I was reading today in my book, "Finding God in Ancient China", and was struck by a couple of things. Ancient China had a belief in what is known as the "mandate of heaven". If an emperor had the "mandate of heaven", then things would go well in their country. The people felt that their safety, and prosperity were all directed by God (Shang Di). If something went wrong, then they assumed that their emperor had lost the mandate of heaven through some kind of unrighteousness on his part. What struck me about this is that these orginal beliefs, which go back thousands of years, are more in line with my own beliefs about how we are saved. So many people today believe that all you have to do to be saved is believe in Jesus Christ. Our religion teaches that you must also obey the commandments, and repent of wrong doings. This is more in line with what Ancient China believed. It wasn't enough to be emperor and believe in God, the emperor must live righteously so that God would continue to bless him in his reign, and so that the nation would be blessed as a whole.

Another interesting thing is that the ancient Chinese believed in God "Shang Di", but never made any sort of replica of Him. It was part of their belief that God did not want them to have any sort of idols. So although they believed in a supreme creator, they did not make idols to worship him. There were some chinese through time who worshipped other gods, "shen", and did make idols of them. But the supreme creator, they did not make icons for.

It has been very interesting to read about the chinese characters and how they contain a record of the story of Adam and Eve. For example, one character is made up of the symbols for two trees, and the symbol for woman. This character means to forbid. This is consistent with the story of Eve being forbidden to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If there were just one or two characters like this, we could say that it was a coincidence. But it so happens that there are many characters that have references to the Garden of Eden. Clearly the Chinese had a knowledge of this story thousands of years ago.

So this is what is most interesting to me. All these years, these characters have been preserved. But during the cultural revolution, Chairman Mao decided to do away with the characters all together, and rely totally on pinyin (romanization using the alphabet). Luckily, that did not take, and the people continued to use characters, thereby preserving this ancient record of Adam and Eve. But in recent years, under communism, mainland China has pushed the use of "simplified" characters. These characters do eliminate much of the pictorial aspect of the characters, and do in fact eliminate those garden of Eden references. Fortunately, the country of Taiwan has preserved the traditional characters, and still uses them instead of the simplified today. I can't help but think that the forces of evil combined to try to eliminate chinese characters so that they could also eliminate this ancient record of Biblical influences.

I"m still reading....I'll write more thoughts as they come. :)


Nene said...

This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing. :0)

Marla said...

Really fascinating. I am going to have to find a copy.

Looney said...

Does the author give any references to any early Chinese writings?

Delirious said...

@ Looney,
I'm not sure to what writings you are referring, but he does discuss the oracle bones, and does reference some early writings. This book mainly focuses on the actual characters. But I'm still only about a third of the way through it, so there may be more later on in the book. I started this book once, and then decided I wanted to re-read a good portion of it, so this is taking me awhile. lol
I did mention in a previous post a passage from "The collected Statutes of the Ming Dynasty". Was there some particular writings you were thinking of?