Ancient China and the Old Testament?

By Lawson Lau

Long before the concept of freedom of speech made its way into the consciousness of the Western world, China practiced it during the Golden Age of Chinese Thought (770-221 B.C.). In the centuries-long ferment of contrasting viewpoints, Chinese philosophers or thinkers maintained that humans are born good and are perfectible (Confucius & Mencius); humans are born evil, wicked, greedy, lustful (Hsun Tzu & Han Fei Tzu); and humans are spiritual beings (Lao Tzu). Mo Tzu taught the doctrine of universal love. Intriguingly, these thoughts are all presented in the Bible. Mere coincidence?

Lao Tzu’s enigmatic Tao Te-Ching, written by a learned curator of the Chinese archives in his old age after decades of learning and teaching, is interpreted in a multitude of ways by Chinese and Western scholars. It is my viewpoint that Lao Tzu, if his Tao Te-Ching is properly interpreted, is the greatest Chinese scholar. (Confucius’ disciples said their master visited and consulted with Lao Tzu.) Written in the sixth century B.C., and therefore much later than the Book of Genesis, it contains a significant number of thoughts that are similar to those in the first book of the Pentateuch. Again, is this mere coincidence? Or are his thoughts distilled from and therefore a brilliant crystallization of the ancient Chinese Classics that drew upon the events in Genesis, including Genesis chapters 1-3?

To be educated is to understand the mysterious East. To be better educated is to behold God’s miraculous work in China. It had four million Christians in 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party won the civil war and took over control of the country. Now there are 100-150 million Christians. A Chinese professor from Xi’an who became a Christian has sent me an email to say that sometimes her church baptizes more than a hundred people on a Sunday. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

This spring, Urbana Seminary will be offering a class by Dr. Lawson Lau exploring these connections.  contact the office for more information.