Did the ancient Chinese practice crucifixion?
Researcher finds connection between Chinese culture and the Bible
Chan Kei Thong has traveled all over the world to highlight the reliability of the Bible
June 15, 2017, ANN, Jefferson Paradello
Chan Kei Thong shows his book (left) and a version for children. (Photo: Jefferson Paradello)
The God of the Bible is the same God the ancient Chinese worshiped at the beginning of their culture. This is the conclusion Dr. Chan Kei Thong, a Christian professional in leadership who devoted seven years to researching the ancient historical sources that led him to these results. His book Faith of Our Fathers: Finding God in Ancient China explains how the meaning of the words used in Chinese characters refer to situations and places from the sacred text of Christianity.
The Brazilian Creationist Association (BCS) published the book Descoberta do Gênesis na Língua Chinesa (Discovering Genesis in the Chinese Language) by Pastor C. H. Kang and Dr. Ethel R. Nelson on the subject.
Thong was born in Singapore, co-founder of Leadership Development International (LDI) and its former director. He made LDI one of the most influential international educational institutions, with seven schools in China and one in the Middle East, over 800 employees, and annual sales of more than $ 35 million. Today he is a professor in the Masters program in leadership at Trinity Western University in Canada and spends the rest of his time mentoring leaders from China and the Middle East.
In this interview with the Adventist News Agency in South America on his first visit to Brazil, he shares some of the clues he found and how they support the existence of God and the trustworthiness of the biblical account.
How did you come to be interested in this topic?
I grew up in a traditional Chinese family. When I became a Christian at the age of 19, I felt like I had to give up my Chinese culture because most Chinese people view Christianity as a western religion. That hurt. My family and Chinese friends said I was less Chinese now. But I accepted that as the price for my personal relationship with Jesus. Then I went to China for work and lived there for over 20 years. Little by little, I discovered that the ancient Chinese actually worshiped the one true God, and that's why I dealt with it. I now realize that when I became a Christian, I actually went back to my ancient roots.
How did you come across the connection between the Bible and Chinese culture?
I think I was most impressed by the “Altar of Heaven” in Beijing. He represents the empire's sacrificial system. The official English translation is Temple of Heaven, but it is actually called the Altar of Heaven. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in China. The visit is a must for every tourist. At first I didn't look at it because I don't like temples. As a Christian, I don't like idols. But then friends came to visit and wanted to go there, and I went with them. There I noticed something: "Wait a minute ... There are no idols in this so-called Temple of Heaven." I only saw a plaque for God.
I started researching and found that this God is described as a personal God, that He is love, omnipotent, omniscient. He remains the same, is unchangeable and eternal. The good thing was that all the Chinese classics had already been digitized back then and I could simply search through the PDF files and find all the places where this god is mentioned. I found that it was described exactly as it was in the Bible. I went deeper and deeper into the subject and also dealt with other areas. This is how it all started: at the Temple of Heaven.
How long did your research take?
Seven years. It was a journey. At first I didn't think about writing a book. As I said, it just interested me. I was very depressed that I had turned my back on my Chinese culture. When I made these discoveries, however, I realized that it was absolutely part of Chinese culture. This search took seven years.
What are the main results of your research?
The most important finding is that the ancient Chinese - and by that I mean the very first, not later generations - worshiped the God of the Bible, that they knew Him as a personal God who has a deep interest in us and with whom we can relate , and that the forgiveness of sins is an integral part of Chinese culture.
Are these findings accepted or recognized in China?
No, most of them don't know anything about it. That's why I wrote the book. I didn't just keep it to myself - every Chinese should know. China has a history going back thousands of years. It's like an onion with many layers. If you peel half of it, you come to Confucius. Many see Confucius as the typical representative of Chinese culture, and that's true if you only look at the past 2,500 years. However, if you go back further, you come across 4 - 5,000 years of Chinese history. I am writing about the first beginnings, 2,000 years before Confucius.
Most Chinese today have no idea what I discovered. But when I tell them, they are thrilled.
How do these findings support the reliability of the Bible and a literal account of creation?
This is actually a by-product, but no less important because many today do not believe in the Bible because of evolutionary theories. This is a huge problem because the Bible tells of creation right at the beginning. Imagine what happens to a young person who has been told that the world was created by evolution and then he opens the Bible and reads about creation! If he rejects the first few pages, he will reject the entire Bible. He will not read any further, but will consider everything to be implausible. It turns out that the Chinese accounts are independent of the Bible, but are just as old or even older. This shows that the ancient Chinese knew and recorded the events recorded in the Bible. It is an independent endorsement of the Bible's reliability and authenticity.
What role does Chinese exploration of the stars play here?
Chinese people are very interested in the stars. It is not about astrology - that the stars determine our life and happiness - and in no way about the individual. Rather, the Chinese believed that the God who set the stars into space can also give us essential messages for the whole world (not just one person). This point is very important. I have text showing why they believed and explored the stars. They believed that God could show them important events.
I discovered two astronomical events related to Jesus. We know from the Bible that the wise men were led to Jerusalem by the stars. They came from the east, maybe Babylon or Persia. The time difference between Israel and the Chinese capital is about 4 - 5 hours, between Babylon and China maybe 2 hours. If the wise men saw the star, did the Chinese see it too? That would be the obvious question. I came to the answer: yes. In fact, it is found in their accounts that around 5 BC A large star shone brightly for 70 days.
It is very interesting that there is a report on this. But even more interesting and significant is how they interpreted what happened. All of this can be found in Chinese historiography 2,000 years ago. They say there that the star marks the beginning of a new age and represents a sacrifice. Isn't that a good description for Jesus? He came to bring a new age and he came to sacrifice himself for the people. So much for the star from the east.
The Chinese records speak of another major star 13 months later, and that is the star of Bethlehem. When the wise men didn't know what to do next, they went to King Herod because it was the most sensible thing to do. When they saw the sign to the east, they knew it had to do with a newborn king, so they went to see King Herod. Herod couldn't help them, however, so they said goodbye and the star reappeared. Well, it's only 6 km from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and that's how they found Jesus. The Bible does not tell us when Herod killed boys two years and under, but the Chinese documents help us by pointing out that there were 13 months between the first and second stars. That's how long it took them to travel to Jerusalem.
There was another astronomical event, on the day of the crucifixion. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, it was completely dark in Jerusalem from 3 to 6 o'clock in the afternoon. It was an eclipse. Did the Chinese see this darkness? You were on the same continent. The answer is yes! 33 years after the appearance of the two stars I have just told you about, the Chinese are reporting a major solar eclipse. The emperor was so frightened that he said: "From today on, no one should pronounce the word 'holy' any more."
More important than the mention of this event was its interpretation. Today we no longer know how they came up with it, because we have lost this wisdom; but they said that this solar eclipse means that people have sinned, that sin now rests on a person and there is forgiveness for all. What's more, one commentator said: The God-man died. In addition, the word “die” actually means the death of a king. Therefore, if I had to translate the sentence, I would say: The God-Man-King has died.
One can hardly describe more accurately what happened on the cross back then. Again, these commentaries were written 2,000 years ago when the Bible was unknown.
Where did you find this information? In historical documents?
All sources are given in my book. They are all authentic documents, including the astronomical facts. In the Chinese Empire, each emperor practiced his own historiography. The astronomical events were part of the history of the court, but were recorded separately. You couldn't change it afterwards, because there are several copies of it. And besides, what interest should someone have in forging astronomy?
What is the point today of defending the Bible's creationist standpoint?
It helps people see and trust the Bible's credibility. The Bible is not just a beautiful book of moral teachings. Nor is it just a history book. She guides us and shows us as human beings how we should live. But if the story is wrong with creation, why should we follow the Bible? This is thanks to Chinese history: because Chinese culture is as old as the biblical record, the history of China is an independent source that confirms the Bible. This underscores our obligation to listen to the Bible because it is accurate.
news.adventist.org, "Researcher finds relationship between Chinese characters and Biblical text"
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