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Copyright Oct. 2002
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Nations: China

The Origins of Faith: China

Nations China

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By Pastor Richard Beobide

We are in the search of  the doctrine eternal life!

China What should you expect to learn from this article?
A brief history of China
The Shang Dynasty
The Chou Dynasty
The Warring States Taoism Buddhism


When talking about China the historians figure it safe to say that she began around 1700 BC (give or take a century). When we discuss the history of China the difficulty is that other historical accounts of ancient societies provide threads that are traced throughout its history. China on the other hand, does not. To date scholars (according to JM Roberts "The Penguin History of the World") have not yet provided such a thread to follow in the case of China's history. However, Mr. Roberts provides us with a good idea of the pace, the agricultural and spiritual tracks that this great society has managed to grow and develop into.

In our research here in the Mystery and Logic series our main interest is in the spiritual world of China's ancient beliefs. Remember our mission: to find out where the doctrine of Eternal life originated.   

The Shang Dynasty:
From 1700 BC to 1027 BC and lasted 673 years

If we were to find a thread that we could follow it would probably begin with the tribe known as the Shang. The Shang were more militarily developed than all other organized peoples (if you can use that term) of the region with military weaponry platform known as the chariot not to mention the fighting skill that go along with this new technology. This tribe imposed their will in the Yellow River Valley region and spoke a form of the Chinese language and are regarded as the first literate culture east of Mesopotamia. The reign of the Shang lasted until about 1027 BC. The conqueror of the Shang were known as the Chou.   

The Chou Dynasty:
From 1027 BC to 256 BC and lasted 771 years
The Chou tribe moved into the Shang region from the west. The Chou were able to utilize the infrastructure from Shang China, building and refining the institutions of the Shang, forging out a future for a great society. Contained in the Chou history is the blueprint and infrastructure of Imperial China that would slowly move her into the twentieth Century. The Chou dynasty would start its decay around 700 BC when barbarians drove them to a new home east of the Yellow River known as Honan. The Chou dynasty is considered to fully ended approximately 256 BC. During the Chou dynasty a period of time known as the Warring States emerged where kingdoms battled for supremacy and China's greatest thinker would emerge. His name was K'ung fu tzu.   

Confucius Born Approximately 600 BC 

Confucius name was given him through the course of history over two thousand years after his death. He actually went by the name of K'ung fu tzu. Confucius as he is known, was a man born of modest means, and as he grew he would become a minister of the state in China. Experienced as a state minister, Confucius pondered the ideas of "Just Government," and "Civic Organization." His ideas would start China on a course that would make her government more efficient, and responsive. This man's ideas would organize this great land and it's people. Confucius is a tremendous source of pride to China's people still today, but did his writings plot a course to eternity? Confucius's writings were often treated with religious like respect, and his concepts and thinking revolutionized China's governing and social thinking. His contributions helped develop the underpinnings of this great land even to this modern day, but his writings as a civic thinker did not include a course to Eternal life. In his writing that would later be compiled into a collection known as the Thirteen Classics, Confucius had little to say about God, gods or the supernatural. In fact the Chinese philosophers were more interest in the here and now, rather than theology. Finally we would have to continue our search since Confucius never considered the possibility of Eternal Life. 

The Warring States:
From 403 to 221 BC and lasted 182 years

For the next one hundred and eighty two years China would experience terrific disputes from kingdom to kingdom. One kingdom would swallow another until only one great kingdom remained. Finally, China would be ruled by one great empire known as the Ch'in and would obtain its empirical name: China. During this period other philosophies would emerge. 

Between the Forth & Fifth Century BC.

Lao-Tse who there is very little known about is considered to be the author of Taoism. Tao or "The Way" taught a cosmic principle of simplicity and poverty which is believed to run through the universe. It was thought that Tao sustained and kept the universe in order and harmony. This teaching along with Confucius were two of what would be called the "Three Teachings." It was these "Three Teachings" that would become the foundation of Chinese culture. As time passed the third teaching would rise into the main stream shortly after the period of the Warring States. Buddhism would emerge and take it place as one of the teachings that the people of China would respectfully call "The Three Teachings." It is theses teachings that would help shape the foundation of the Chinese culture.   

Buddhism From India to China

As we learned in the article of India, Siddhartha Gautama was a warrior prince in India's caste system. He set out on a journey to find nirvana or inner peace. Siddhartha Gautama would become Buddha teaching yoga or "method" to as many as would receive it. His students would take this method through time as it would finally make its way to China and become one of the "The Three teachings." 

The Three Teachings 

As we search for the Eternal Life we find that the doctrines of China do not offer the doctrine of Eternal Life. Furthermore, we find that the Chinese philosophers were more interested in the here and now then theology. Therefore our search for eternal life would have to continue.

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