Tuesday, July 24, 2012
God in Ancient China is a video that was introduced to me by a friend a couple of weeks ago by my friend from college by way of an interesting trivia he showed us. He said that there were certain (ordinary) words when in written in Chinese characters reveal extraordinary origins. Origins that can only be traced to one particular people, place, incident leading to a much older story found in the Bible.
Now the idea of the ancient Chinese being a monotheistic people wasn't new to me, having learned about this episode of Chinese history in the book, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World (which is highly recommended if you're interested in the subject of apologetics). It was there that I first encountered the name ShangDi:
Shangdi, (Chinese: “Lord-on-High”) Wade-Giles romanization Shang-ti, also called Di, ancient Chinese deity, the greatest ancestor and deity who controlled victory in battle, harvest, the fate of the capital, and the weather. He had no cultic following, however, and was probably considered too distant and inscrutable to be influenced by mortals. Shangdi was considered to be the supreme deity during the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 century bce), but during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 bce) he was gradually supplanted by heaven (tian)*. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online)
But what surprised me the most in the video, and what my friend didn't mention, was the fact about the famous Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China:
This is the only temple in China that has no images of popular Buddhist gods nor anything to do with the popular religions in that country, only because it was built specifically to honor ShangDi. You can see a cross-section of the temple here and a map of the grounds here. But if you're interested in hearing more about this temple and how their rituals and sacrifices to ShangDi parallel those of the Jews in the Old Testament then you'll have to watch the entire video. I also have to mention near the end of the exposition, the greatest emperor China has ever known, Kangxi (under whose rule the country flourished like never before or since) was mentioned and is promised to be the topic for the sequel. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the second part so I took it upon myself to look for resources about the emperor. This article, so far, is the best and most detailed, as far as his belief in the true God is concerned and how the machinations of the Roman Catholic church botched their only chance to gain a foothold in China.
- Shangdi (Wikipedia entry)
- Shangdi (New World Encyclopedia entry)
- ShangDi - China's God of Creation
- The Original Unknown God of China