Every Language

09 Jan

The following title of a well-written article leads one to think that there is something special about the Chinese language and its characters

The Original ‘Unknown’ God of China: An Ancient pictogram script points to the Bible by Ethel Nelson First published in: Creation Ex Nihilo 20(3):50-53June – August 1998 (Answers In Genesis)

It needs to be noted that the author of the above work i snot alone in this thinking. There was a book published some time ago on this topic as well. Unfortunately it was in my library which was lost last year and I do not remember the complete title. Like the above article, that book dealt with the idea that Noah, Creation and other biblical events were supported simply because the ancient Chinese language contained symbols for those subjects.

Mystery concerns the 450-year-old Temple of Heaven complex in Beijing, China. Why did the emperors sacrifice a bull on the great white marble Altar of Heaven at an annual ceremony, the year’s most important and colourful celebration, the so-called ‘Border Sacrifice?’ This rite ended in 1911 when the last emperor was deposed. However, the sacrifice did not begin a mere 450 years ago. The ceremony goes back 4,000 years. One of the earliest accounts of the Border Sacrifice is found in the Shu Jing (Book of History), compiled by Confucius, where it is recorded of Emperor Shun (who ruled from about 2256 BC to 2205 BC when the first recorded dynasty began) that ‘he sacrificed to ShangDi’.

There are many reasons why the ancient Chinese sacrificed bulls and those reasons have nothing to do with the Old Testament. The bull has been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years

Bulls were sacred to Egyptians more than 5,000 years ago, being associated with Taurus, a god with both animal and human features. For the Egyptians, then, the sacrifice of a bull was the gift of a demigod to the gods. In the years immediately preceding the emergence of Christianity some mystery cults switched from bull to human sacrifices, using the same ceremonies in which the victim was first honored as a god, then put to bloody death. Read more:

Bull worship was not invented by the Israelites.  Could those ancient Chinese Emperors believe in and worship God? It is possible but we would have to be able to prove that they were converted to Judaism, had access to the Israelites and so on. it is not out of the question that people could convert from their pagan ways to the OT faith. But to suggest that the existence of certain words and symbols is proof that the Bible is true is stretching the limits of credibility.

Every language that we know of has certain words in it that would refer to the flood, creation and other events recorded in the Bible. The Sumarian language talks about a flood and inserts one in their King’s list but this inclusion does not provide evidence that the flood actually happened. it just proves that they were aware of a flood or talked about one.

Who is ShangDi? This name literally means ‘the Heavenly Ruler’. By reviewing recitations used at the Border Sacrifice, recorded in the Statutes of the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368), one may begin to understand the ancient Chinese reverence for ShangDi. Participating in this rite, the emperor first meditated at the Temple of Heaven (the Imperial Vault), while costumed singers, accompanied by musicians, intone

‘To Thee, O mysteriously-working Maker, I look up in thought. …With the great ceremonies I reverently honor Thee.

This is not evidence that the ancient Chinese worshiped God of the Bible. As you recall, the Greeks of Paul’s day had an alter to ‘the unknown God’ which tells us that the Greeks were aware of a supernatural presence but they did not know him, know anything about him and needed a believer to explain that unknown God to them. The same for the ancient Chinese. They may have been aware that there was a superior god who reigned above all things but they did not know them and their ‘worship’ may have simply been an attempt to cover their bases like the ancient Greeks did.

ShangDi, the Creator-God of the Chinese, surely appears to be one and the same as the Creator-God of the Hebrews. In fact, on of the Hebrew names for God is El Shaddai, which is phonetically similar to ShangDi

Believers should not get desperate to link ancient civilizations behaviors to their beliefs because we cannot be sure if those ancients actually had God in mind when they enlisted their unknown God in their pantheon of gods. If they kept other gods, then we know that they really did not know of God’s instructions in the 10 commandments and other passages of OT scripture.

The presence of biblical words in ancient languages basically do not bring much support to the veracity and truthfulness of the Bible. Languages today include words for Harry Potter, warlocks and other characters and issues in that movie series but that fact does not make Harry Potter a true person.

Should a Chinese person tell you that Christianity is a ‘foreigner’s religion’, you can explain that the Chinese in antiquity worshipped the same God as Christians do today. Like the Hebrews often did, the ancestors of today’s Chinese wandered off after false gods; the memory of who their original God was dimmed with time. The ancient Chinese script gives powerful evidence for the historical truth of Genesis.

We have no idea if that worship was the original religious practice of the ancient Chinese or not. It may have been simply one part of their religious beliefs and we do not know if they worshiped the same God as Christians do today. The ancient Chinese version may have been vastly different from the God of the Bible just like the Muslim god, Allah, is vastly different from the God of the OT. It is presumptuous to make such statements in that quote immediately above.

Believers do not need to go to such lengths to support their faith in the God or Jesus. We do not need to stretch the actions of ancient people to fit our beliefs and make it sound like the ancients knew God as we know him or as the ancient Israelites knew him. Nor do we need to leap to conclusions about certain words contained in ancient languages and claim that their existence proves the Bible true.

I am sure we can find similar words for different religions in the ancient languages but again, that would not mean that those religions were true and simply gave another path to God. We need to be careful in our analyzing ancient vocabulary and guide our investigations with the fact that all ancient societies would have some form of biblical events recorded in their native tongues because they all started out from the original one world civilization who all spoke the same language and had the same ancestor–Noah.

This means that because Noah was real, all the different ancient languages would contain some reference to creation, the flood, the almighty God in some form.Because languages are for communication it really cannot be used as evidence to say the Bible is true. The Bible is true because God does not lie and it records actual events. Genesis is true because that is the way origins took place.

One final word, given the logic of that author, then the absence of words for creation, the flood, and other biblical events in ancient languages would mean that those events were not true. We need to be careful in where we look for evidence and how we use the evidence at our disposal. If anything, the actions and language of the ancient Chinese provide proof for Babel and their desire to know that unknown God, just like the ancient Greeks.

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Posted by on January 9, 2016 in academics, archaeology, Bible, comparative religions, controversial issues, faith, history, leadership


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