Early in 1994, the Chinese government sanctioned a conference to be held at the Beijing Convention Center and attended by over 2000 government officials or designees. Christian professionals were asked to address the specific question: "How would opening the door to Christianity benefit China?" I agreed to participate as ICR's representative, not only as a lecturer, but in helping plan the conference lectures and in recruiting speakers. This article consists of brief outlines of the proposed talks.
My proposal was based on several premises. In order for government officials to recognize the benefits of Christianity, they must first know what Christianity is. The ground must be cleared and plowed before the seed can be planted. Next, I assumed that they had only heard an incorrect caricature of Christianity, and that they labored under the misconception that scholarship and Christianity are incompatible. Furthermore, recognizing that such a conference may never be duplicated, precious time could not be wasted on peripherals, with each lecture building on the material covered before, so that an integrated Christian worldview would result. Finally, the conference had to adhere to timeless Biblical principles, applied in a culturally relevant setting.
The conference never occurred as proposed, yet the need still remains for a clear presentation of the Christian worldview and its potential application in Chinese society. Such a conference may or may not ever occur, but other groups and individuals are entering China in less formal venues. The program is presented here as an encouragement to readers to pray for missions and perhaps to clarify their own thinking.
Lecture 1: The Biblical Flow of History
Beginning with Creation, the Biblical flow of history must be laid out. The creation was orderly, with natural laws instituted by God; we can study the results of creation, but not the creation event itself.
As Creator, God has full authority over His creation. He establishes the guidelines for life and fruitful living. His creation was "very good," sinless and deathless, reflecting His absolute holiness. His holiness requires that sin carry the penalty of death. He pronounced the "dominion mandate," giving mankind responsibility over His creation to use it wisely for man's good and God's glory. Soon mankind rebelled against God's authority, resulting in the fall and curse on all creation. Sin is passed to all men, resulting in separation from the holy God. A global flood soon followed as a punishment for sin. The wages of sin is death, but God provided a way of escape for those who believed. After the flood, the dominion mandate was restated, including the mandate for human government.
Lecture 2: The Origin of the Nations (Including China)
All people alive today descended from the created pair, and, more recently, from the few survivors of the flood. To enforce God's desire to fill the world, God separated groups by language. Some migrated into Asia, some to Egypt and Africa, and others northward into Europe. Eventually, even the new world was populated. As migration and genetic separation occurred, ethnic characteristics developed.
All nations carry not only the memory of early events, but also the sin nature. From this comes war, rebellion against authority, etc. Only God could deal adequately with this problem, and thus He selected one nation through whom He would bless all nations. Through prophetic revelation He gave His written word, in which was the definition of sin, especially the Ten Commandments. Only the shedding of blood can pay sin's penalty.
Through this nation came the ultimate sacrifice for sin: God's Son, Jesus Christ, true man, but also fully God. Although He had lived a sinless life, Jesus Christ was slain as a sacrificial substitute for man. He rose from the dead, offering forgiveness for sin, since He had paid sin's penalty, and everlasting life. He has promised one day to judge fully all remaining sin and restore the earth to its created intent, with all sin removed.
Lecture 3: Scientific Support for Creation
The basic laws of science, the laws of thermodynamics, are precisely predicted by creation theory. They show that evolution by strictly natural processes violates natural law, and therefore is impossible. Furthermore, a look at the fossil record provides no evidence that evolution did occur: No basic category of life ever changed into any other basic category. This even includes dinosaurs, mentioned in the Bible as dragons and preserved in legend from every continent, especially China. The fossils show sudden appearance and stasis, just as predicted from the creation model. The incredible design of living things demonstrates the necessity of a Designer behind it all. Neither natural selection and mutation, or any other theory of evolution, provides a credible explanation for this high degree of order. Many scientists throughout the world have recently abandoned evolutionary theory. It has never been supported well by science. In fact, most of the great scientific giants of the past were Christians and creationists. Because of this view of nature, the West has prospered in science and technology in recent centuries. Large groups of creationist scientists exist today in Europe, America, Korea, Russia, Japan, Australia, and throughout the world.
Lecture 4: Ideas Have Consequences
The naturalistic/evolutionary view has brought the world much sorrow from Hitler's racial genocide to Stalin's as well as to many wars. Millions have died in the name of "survival of the fittest." Darwin himself was a racist, feeling that the European was superior to the Blacks, the Turks, and the Asians. Studies have shown that no scientific or social advance has ever come as a result of evolutionary theory.
On the other hand, Christianity long has been a force for good in society. In China, many food relief programs, hospitals, universities, schools, etc., were started in the name of Christ. There have been abuses: This cannot be denied, but these abuses are not justifiable in true Christianity. Sinful individuals and governments have misapplied Biblical principles.
Lecture 5: What is Man?
Man, created in the image of God, has certain abilities and characteristics distinct from the animals. He has the ability to discern right from wrong and knows intuitively that right is better than wrong. Similarly, good is preferred over bad; beauty over ugliness; love over hate. Man alone has the ability to appreciate music and art. The image of God includes, also, the ability to reason and think abstractly. Man possesses certain creativity, not at all like the abilities of animals or machines. As the specially endowed creation of God, man possesses certain inalienable rights, given to him by God--not by society or government. One is life, to be forfeited only when in violation of the law as overseen by God-ordained government. Another is freedom of thought, particularly thought concerning God. All take form in a culturally relevant setting, but they are rights given by God.
Lecture 6: Christian Principles in Human Affairs
The Bible describes guidelines for interpersonal relationships. It teaches the value of family stability; of motherhood; of harmony between individuals. Likewise, hatred, revenge, rebellion, and resentment are condemned. Forgiveness of past wrongs is highly valued, as is the placing of others above one's self. Each human has a free will with the ability to make correct or incorrect choices. Scientific studies have shown that those who abide by Scriptural guidelines lead happier, more productive lives. The societal abandonment of these principles in America has led to an increase in crime, immorality, drug use, etc.
Lecture 7: Christian Principles in the Business World
The individual, having great personal worth, should be treated as a valued employee--not a mindless production unit or machine. Given the responsibility to think and make decisions and to use their God-given creativity, men will be much more productive.
The Bible teaches that as long as one is able to work, he should work. Those who refuse to work should not be encouraged, although those physically unable to work should be cared for. An individual's work should be rewarded by the employer, thereby encouraging more productivity. The Christian workers' mentality should involve service to the employer; a Christian employee's main goal should be to make the employer successful; a business's goal should be to serve the client. The Bible says that service comes before leadership.
Lecture 8: The Impact of Capitalism in China
China has recently opened wide its doors to capitalism and foreign investments. But, if capitalism is free to grow without constraint, it will bring much evil, since man's basic nature is one of greed and dominance. Capitalism may prove productive in the short run, but at what cost? The concept of laissez-faire capitalism, with its creeds of "might makes right," exploitation of the working class, and "survival of the fittest," has come to be known as social Darwinism. In the long run, it will destroy a society and its economy.
The Bible teaches individual enterprise--man living by the works of his hands. Necessary Christian virtues include hard work, respect for fellow man, honesty in business, etc. Large multinational corporations are not specifically condemned, but unless accompanied by Christian virtues, they will yield harmful results, as they have in the West.
Lecture 9: Christian Principles in Health Care
The Bible identifies man as created by an all-knowledgeable God. His body is well-designed for life. Given the chance, the body will maintain and heal itself.
Eastern medicine utilizes great wisdom that the West has to a large degree forgotten. To use the body's own defense mechanisms is a Biblical approach, but makes no sense from a chance-driven evolutionary viewpoint. In fact, evolutionary thinking has done great harm in medicine, for instance, in deeming certain useful organs as vestigial, evolutionary leftovers. This comes from lack of knowledge and wrong thinking. The world awaits the proper combination of eastern and western skills.
Most importantly, human life must be highly valued as the "image of God." It should not be terminated by government without just cause and due process.
Lecture 10: Social Diseases and Their Causes
Medical technology has provided cures for many diseases and injuries, yet certain diseases are at epidemic proportions. Most noticeable among these are degenerative diseases and sexually communicated conditions.
Many degenerative diseases, such as cancer and arthritis, are not totally understood. To some extent, they are genetically controlled, but most, if not all, are brought on by environmental factors and/or personal habits, such as smoking, alcoholism, improper diet, worry, loneliness, fear, stress, bitterness, or grief, each placing an undue burden on the immune system. Likewise, in those countries where sexual freedom is championed, venereal diseases of all sorts rage, and antibiotics are less effective now. Unwed mothers, abused children, dysfunctional families, etc., are the tragic offshoots of these undesirable practices. Homosexual behavior leads to a much reduced life span, even without AIDS.
The Bible gives guidelines for living which reduce instances of disease, if followed. Self-control in these areas, reliance on a local community of believers for support, a focus on eternal things, and the love and care of an extended family all reduce disease and promote overall health, and a society without these influences will degenerate rapidly.
Lecture 11: Educational Philosophies
Brainwashing students in a certain perspective does not produce thinking, mature individuals who are committed to the espoused doctrine and loyal to their superiors. Exposing students to the pros and cons of competing views and allowing them to make intelligent decisions has been shown to produce critical-thinking skills. This produces productive citizens, capable of innovation and invention. Materialistic philosophy teaches that one is merely a product of random processes, and produces a certain meaninglessness in one's life and philosophy. On the other hand, being convinced that one is created in the image of God brings great self-worth and stability. Christianity is not just a series of teachings, it is a way of life involving every area of one's existence and relationships within a society. Virtues such as lawfulness, loyalty, love, honesty, morality, etc., are well worth learning.
Lecture 12: Christian Principles in Civic Leadership
Civic leaders must enact just laws, rewarding law-abiding citizens, and punishing law breakers with appropriate penalties. To exercise power unfairly and illogically will result in disloyalty to leadership. A government should recognize the great worth of its citizens and empower them to use their God-given abilities to their own advancement and in service to their country and fellow man. A just government will raise up patriotic loyal subjects.
A government should allow an individual to think for himself, especially in the area of religious freedom. An individual's mind and spirit should be free to hold any religious view, or to change that view, if so convinced. To force one to give allegiance against his conviction will foster resentment and unproductivity.
Lecture 13: Christian Principles and Personal Implications
Christianity offers each individual the prospect of a new beginning. Our lives and minds are darkened by the presence of sin and sin patterns, which both separates us from God and prohibits us from reaching our potential as human beings. But God has solved the problem. Jesus Christ, God the Son, has died to pay sin's penalty, and thus offers restoration with God. He is holy and sinless, and once our sins are forgiven through Christ we can have fellowship with God; our sins are forgiven, and we are free from sin's condemnation. While in this life we are not released from the consequences of wrong choices, we are free from the bondage to sin. God's Spirit then indwells us, giving us power to live victoriously, joyously, and in harmony with God and man.
* Dr. John D. Morris is President of the Institute for Creation Research.