China Overlooks Religion in World Development, Says Christian Leaders

Comments on CCTV's large-scale TV production 'The Rise of the Nation'
( [email protected] ) Oct 04, 2007 03:05 PM EDT
A documentary aired on a Chinese state-owned television channel has raised the interest of some oversea Chinese pastors who are trying to compare the Christian worldview with the atheist China’s point of view about the world’s.
The national official broadcaster for China- China Central Television (CCTV) - has recently released a television documentary series. Photo:

The national official broadcaster for China- China Central Television (CCTV) - has recently released a television documentary series named "The Rise of the Nations", which features the historical stories of how the world’s nine greatest countries rise to prominence and investigates the key factors behind a country’s emergence into the world’s spotlights.

The TV program has raised the interest of some oversea Chinese pastors who are trying to compare the Christian worldview with the atheist China’s point of view about the world’s His-tory.

China Ministries International (Canada Branch) and Vancouver Chinese Christian Short-Term Mission Training Center has recently co-organized a research seminar, inviting Rev. Hong Yu-jian, Rev. Chan Yiu-tong and Rev. Dr. Edwin Lee to discuss on the topic.

Based on its background and limitation, Rev. Hong pointed out the work of God in this TV series. One of the reasons why "The Rise of the Nations" was authorized to be broadcasted is because it follows the foundation of China’s one-party dictatorship policy and promotes China as a strong nation under such system, Rev. Hong analyzed. He believes "The Rise of the Nations" will enable Chinese to study the experience of all strong nations so as to avoid making the same mistakes in the history.

Rev. Hong complimented that "The Rise of the Nations" has objectively examined the western civilization with an academic discussion method, so it has laterally exposed the ossifications and distortions made by former official propagandas as well as historic textbooks when introducing western civilization. But as a matter of fact, "The Rise of the Nations" still has many external and internal limitations; especially its content must be consistent with the present policy of the Communist Party.

"For example, it became ambiguous when referring to how certain policies must be improved so as to help the advancement of a country. Religious freedom, national constitution, universal suffrage, the separation of powers and representative democracy… all these policies have barely been mentioned at all," Rev. Hong suggested.

In addition, Rev. Hong criticized that Chinese intellectuals still could not consciously break away from their materialistic view of history. In terms of the contribution of religion and spirituality to western civilization, they have very little knowledge about it. For example, they have overemphasized the effect of economic growth and productivity. Neither did they discuss the religious factors behind the economic and technological prosperity nor did they mention the fundamental reason for the achievement of establishing the advanced policies.

The Work of God Revealed in "The Rise of the Nations"

Rev. Hong went on discussing about the work of God revealed in "The Rise of the Nations". Firstly, he pointed out that the great navigational and geographical discovery of Portugal and Spain carried the purpose of evangelism, but this was not mentioned in the film. For instance, Columbus emphasized in the letter to the king that "Here are many people, we should proclaim the name of Jesus Christ." Also, he wrote in his diaries "I do these under the name of the Lord". Besides, on each ship sail of Columbus, there hung a large cross, which revealed his true motivation.

But later Portugal and Spain have not really grown up, the reason is that Catholics have failed to develop the concept "believers are all priests" though they have the passion for evangelism. Neither did they regard labor as holy orders, nor did they owe their fruit of labor to God.

"That is why these two countries have not seen great development after the great geographical discovery," added Rev. Hong.

Rev. Hong then referred to France, Germany, Japan and the former Soviet Russia, which are ruled by dictatorship and declined due to regime expansion. On the other hand, other countries such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States have grown to be the seedbed of modern democratic republicanism under the influence of religious reformation.

Rev. Hong said although the Netherlands is a country that people seldom pay attention to, it was actually the first country in the world to establish constitutional democratic republic, which is the product of reformed Calvinists trying to defy the authority of Spanish Catholicism. Later, under the influence of Holland, the United Kingdom defeated the Spanish armada on the sea in 1588. Also, due to the puritans’ "glorious revolution", the archons of Holland William and Mary have become the King of England and successfully established the constitutional monarchy.

As for the United States, a Christian-based country, which traces its heritage to more than 100 puritans escaping religious persecution in 1620 and arrived in America on the Mayflower with the hope of establishing a land religion freedom. The foundation of America also changed the history of many powerful countries.

"What kind of road should today’s China take? We should not only dream about the rising of our nation as nationalism is not pleasing in God’s eyes. As it is said in the Lord’s Prayer "May Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," the real kingdom that should rise up is the Kingdom of God," Rev. Hong concluded. He hopes that Chinese Christianity would not be replaced by governmental regime, but only focuses on establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.

For further introduction on "The Rise of the Nations", please refer to the link: