The Chinese dragon and its influence on Christianity in China - Essay Example

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This paper espouses on how the dragon has influenced Christianity in China and explores two contrasting representations of the dragon; the biblical representation of the dragon that considers the dragon as the devil-an ancient serpent meant to lead the world astray…
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The Chinese dragon and its influence on Christianity in China
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Download file to see previous pages Generally, dragons have held positive connotations in culture of the Chinese since the time of the Song dynasty, in AD 960-1279. The Chinese made prayers to the dragon for rain. In Chinese culture, the dragon has been used as a symbol of imperial power; in fact, the emperor wore a dragon robe, reigned from a dragon throne and was thought to be a dragon incarnation (Yang 28-29). After several centuries, the dragon was chosen by the then Chinese Emperor Qing, to represent the Chinese nation. The dragon is apparently, today the most favourable of zodiac animals in china; the dragons perform dances often clad in red, during the Chinese New Year.
Since the time that Christianity made its way into China, most Christian believers have held the view that the Biblical and the Chinese dragons are very distinct creatures and have ultimately accepted them; however, there are other shunned Chinese dragons, arguing that they are demonic, just as the biblical one. This paper shows that the dragon-Chinese dragon has become an important but yet controversial symbol in China, greatly influencing the interpretations of Christianity by Chinese people. A closer look at the dragon throughout the history of Chinese Christianity shows greater influence and a process of both enculturation and indigenization with regards to how the dragon is conceived in both traditional Chinese and Christian Chinese (Yang and An 48).
The difference and or equivalence between the biblical dragon and the Chinese dragon drawn in the mid-19th century by Chinese individuals as well as by religious figure from the west that brought Christianity. The leader of the Taiping Rebellion between 1814 and 1864, Hong Xiuquan, considered himself as having being commissioned by God to slay the serpent of Revelation; the red big dragon; he also referred to the Manchu rulers as demons/serpents. This consideration of the Chinese dragon as equivalent to the biblical/Revelation’s dragon is evident in his condemnation of the popular rain dragon from the Eastern Sea, considered by the Chinese to traditionally bring rain (Michael 39).The second in command to Hong Xiuquan, Hong Ren’gan is also seen to understand the existence of the controversy concerning the dragon. He decreed that, “…all public notices and memorials had political significance and that the use of demon-like expression such as the dragon must not be used (Giddens and Giddens 78). Many scholars have argued that the negative connotations on the Chinese dragon during the reign of Hong Ren’gan were a clear indication of the influence that the advent of Christianity had on the Chinese culture. In fact, it-the dragon is not used anywhere in Liang Fa’s book, Good Words Admonish Age (Yang 101). In fact Hong argued that his attitude and vies of the dragon was largely influenced by Christianity. This condemnation however was not a universal one, but was more pragmatic and selective. Accordingly, he argued that the Taiping’s used precious dragon to adorn their utensils their imperial seal and vestments; this was apparently acceptable when compared to visions of heavenly golden dragons. In so doing, Hong certainly retained the imperial dragon that could his imperial authority; he discarded to dragon deity, which served as a source of devotion for the Chinese. The Taiping’s thus went ahead and propagated Hong’s vie of dragons being devils; this resulted in subsequent transfer of individual religious affiliations between the Taipings and Christians, which offered the opportunity of diffusion of the beliefs. It is clearly, however, that Hong’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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