25 March 2011

Archaeology, The Bible and The Post-Flood Origins of Chinese History

During the past century many theories of a western origin for Chinese civilization have been proposed. One of the best documented attempts was based on the similarity of neolithic pottery in eastern Europe and China. It was discarded because archaeologists believed that any such large scale migration should leave abundant evidences in the intervening lands and that evidence was not available. On Biblical presuppositions, of course, we might expect no intervening link because the migration to distant lands occurred rapidly after the Tower of Babel episode. An examination of Chinese tradition, and the legends of the equally ancient Far Eastern Miao tribes, suggests that China was colonised after a flood like that described in the Bible.

The flood was as important in the ancient mythologies of the peoples of China, as it is to Scripture. Many primitive peoples described it as a catastrophe of Biblical dimensions. The Miao Legend states that a single human couple escaped the deluge in a wooden drum, and then gave birth to the first members of post flood humanity.1 The Shu King, China's first "history", states:
destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the hills and overtop the great heights, threatening the heavens with their floods.2
Yu, the Chinese "Noah", overcame the flood waters, but he and his immediate predecessors are of a lineage well known to world mythology. The Bible, the ancient Sumerians and the Chinese all cite a chronology of ten rulers whose last member was the hero of a Great Flood epoch. Similar legends are known from Greece and India. Some modern scholars have recognised the unity of these genealogies and suggested they may have originated in ancient Sumeria. In our Biblical framework, the great flood was an actual event and each of these traditions indigenous to the lands where they are found. Such a currency of like traditions is to be expected on the basis of Scripture, and on that basis Miao are quite correct in ascribing the whole of post flood humanity to a single family.

A Biblical interpretation of China's village culture must necessarily cut 3,000 years off the current reconstruction of that nation's Neolithic era. The vast bulk of early cultures, the Yang Shao and Lung Shan among them, would be incorporated as components of Hsia dynasty times (2205 B.C. to 1766 B.C.). The earliest villages would not have been more than a few hundred years earlier.
Genesis 11:2 states that after the flood mankind found a plain in the land of Sinar (Sumeria) and settled there. There are evidences in China's culture that indicate a Sumerian origin. The term "black-headed people" for their own race, and an emphasis on astronomy and mathematics in early times are common to both cultures.

Furthermore, the identity of a great body of astronomical lores and astrological superstitions, the use of methods of measurement, the cycle of sixty and decimal system, the belief in interrelation and correspondence of five elements, of five colors and the harmony of numbers, together with a multitude of other customs on the part of both the Chinese and Chaldeans cannot be explained as merely co-incidences.3

From Sumeria, mankind spread out across the earth and it seems quite probable that the ancestors of the Chinese accompanied the Japhetic migration into Europe. The Caucasian and Mongolian races have long been recognized as close genetic relatives.4 When Sir William Dawson broke the early Chinese language into its monosyllable roots, in the late nineteenth century, he found them traceable to all stocks of European speech.5 Then, too, the painted urns of one of China's earliest neolithic cultures (the Yang Shao) have no other correspondents in China, but are strikingly like "similar painted wares" from Turkestan, the Caucasus, the Ukraine and the Balkans.

Hugo Bernatzek found traditions of another homeland and an ancient migration from among the Miao tribes who now live in Thailand. The first two human beings, a brother and sister, supposedly appeared after "the earth was flooded by the ocean".7 The Miao also talk of a "golden age" before weeds grew in the field and of how ripe grain flew through the air into men's houses.

This age came to an end when one lazy woman disobeyed her husband and didn't sweep the house clean to receive the ripe grain. There are stories, too, of an original homeland many years journey to the north where the days and nights are six months long and it is very cold.8

A missionary named F.M.l. Savina had earlier collected the stories of the Miao who lived in southern China. These people also spoke of the "golden age", indicating that it had ended when a woman picked some forbidden strawberries. They told of how a brother and sister had escaped the flood waters in a wooden drum and how all post flood humanity was descended from them. Then there came a time when mankind grew numerous and tried to reach heaven with a ladder. The "Lord of Heaven" struck these few dead with lightning. Before this time all people had spoken one language: now they were given many languages and, not being able to understand one another, separated. The Miao went to a land where the days and nights were six months long. They eventually migrated into Honan province, in China, and were in possession of that land when the Hia or "Chinese" arrived.9
Both Miao and Chinese traditions assume several Biblical sounding aspects. Miao legends mention an original "golden age" lost to mankind through disobedience, a great flood and the subsequent dispersal of the human family throughout the world. Chinese tradition possesses no fall Story, and no migration epic, but lists a number of pre-flood characters who are very similar to those found in the Bible.

Stories of the first ten emperors of China follow a chronology much like that of the first ten generations of Genesis. Like Adam, the first emperor was specially created, ruled "over the earth" (Genesis 1 :28) and wore the skins of animals. Shen-nung, the second emperor, was like Adam's son Cain in that he was the first farmer, who invented the plow and instigated the first markets. During another emperor's reign cattle were first herded, pitch pipes were invented and the first instruments of bronze and iron fashioned: Genesis 4:19-22 attributes these innovations to the sons of Lamech. The seventh man of each list was a bigamist. Noah and Yu, the tenth members of their lists, were flood heroes who developed a limp during the course of their labours and who were associated with the discovery of wine.10 The comparisons between Chinese and Biblical chronology are so many that many mythologists have admitted that they must have been inspired by the same source. These modern scholars suggest that both traditions evolved from Sumerian legends, but there are far more resemblances between Chinese and Biblical tradition than exist between the myths of Sumeria and China

Numerous pre-Imperial personalities would appear to refute the thesis that the Imperial/Biblical generations are historical, but these myths in many ways actually strengthen the Scriptural link. Many of the stories can be dismissed as late inventions. Others, of an obvious antiquity, often demonstrate claims contemporary to the Imperial line and Scripture. For instance, Suei Jen taught men how to make fires and set up markets: innovations also claimed by pre-flood emperors and, at least in regard to markets, Cain. The flood waters followed and when they had covered seven-tenths of the earth Kung Kung took advantage of mankind's Compressed situation to make himself king.

Alternate versions relate that Kung Kung was an inept official who failed to halt the rising flood waters and that he was the father of Yu (Noah, in the present thesis). The similarities between these mythical fragments and the Imperial chronologies are such that they may have descended from alternate traditions of the same era.11

The Miao claim to have migrated into China prior to the Chinese and there are many evidences that support such a claim. Ch'ih Yu, the third emperor, was the chieftan of the Li tribes who are part of the Miao race. Some, admittedly late, traditions state that Huang Ti led the Chinese out of the northwest and into China at this time. Huang Ti 's overthrow of Ch'ih Yu, which must be regarded as a Miao/Chinese struggle, is the first war of Chinese history. Whatever historical basis these legends may have, however, they appear to be chronologically misplaced. The entire sequence of preflood Imperial history appears to be like that of the Bible, and Huang Ti is in the middle of this sequence. Furthermore, both Miao and Biblical chronologies cite these events as occurring after the flood. A far more logical candidate for leading the post flood migration to China is Yu, who established the Hsia dynasty (2205 B.C. 1766 B.C.) after the flood.12

Within the legends of Yu are hints of two personalities: a flood hero and a migration leader. During the course of his labours, Yu paced the length of the earth. He then established the Hsia dynasty and cast nine caldrons which became symbolic of his dynasty. The origin of the metal for these caldrons which represent the nine provinces of China is problematic: one authority insists this material came from the nine regions (of the empire)", another states that the metal was "brought from far off countries by the nine shepherds".13 The second interpretation supports a colonization hypothesis, especially when we consider the strong sheepherding traditions of Sumeria and the Balkan regions of eastern Europe. Further hints as to Yu's migration are gained through his father, Kung Kung. One Chinese tradition asserts that when flood waters covered seven-tenths of the earth Kung Kung took advantage of this fact to extend his rule over all of them. Miao tradition states that mankind grew numerous after the flood, but then dispersed after the "confusion of the tongues". Scripture mentions that mankind settled in the land of Shinar (Sumeria) after the flood and that a certain Nimrod established his kingdom there: then came the confusion of tongues and dispersal. Yu's claim to be the son of Kung Kung (Nimrod, in this thesis) may or may not be true, but he probably took the idea of "empire" with him to China. Numerous archaeological remains and retained customs testify to the Sumerian and Japhetic origins of Chinese civilization.

In time, egocentric ideas of Chinese superiority and of the emperor as the "Son of Heaven" came to distort the traditional chronologies of beginnings. The flood was remembered, but China is the only culture which claims to have conquered its flood and the conqueror was, of course, an emperor. That this "emperor" led the Chinese into their future homeland is most probable. His recasting as "Noah" seems quite natural in a culture which came to disregard anything not Chinese. Omitting the foreign episodes, there was nothing before Yu except the flood.
Despite these distortions, Chinese tradition remains one of the most essential evidences in any attempt to build a creationist framework of world history. The Chinese were one of the earliest literate civilizations and, with the Greeks and Hebrews, perhaps the first historically minded people. Most of eastern Asia derived cultural roots from China.

Within a creationist framework of history, both Chinese and Miao traditions derive a historicity which was formerly denied them. The Miao Stories of the flood, of a confusion of tongues and a subsequent migration to China appear as historical events. Many of the first Chinese emperors appear to have been historical characters, which makes it quite possible that the others are as well. Eight people survived the flood, with six different family backgrounds behind them. Any number of details, which are not in the Biblical record but nevertheless true, could have passed into folklore. The framework for any such reconstruction, however, lies in Genesis, chapters 1 to 11. It is within the idea of a post-flood colonization like that described in the Bible that the traditions of China's most ancient peoples the Miao and "Chinese" are reconciled.

1 Hugo Bernatzek; Akha and Miao (1970), p.302 citing F.M.I. Savina Histoire de Miao (Société des Missions étrangères de Paris. Hong Kong, (7930), p. 245.
2 James Legge (trans) "The Canon of Yao" (Shoo Kingi).
3 Kiang Kang Hsi.' Chinese Civilization (Chung Hwa Book Co., Shanghai 1935), p.5.
4 Franz Boas; The Mind of Primitive Man (Free Press paperback, 1965), p. 110.
5 Arthur Custance; Time and Eternity (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1977), pp. 184-185.
6 Stuart Piggot (ed); The Dawn of Civilization (1968), p.268.
7 Bernatzek, p.301.
8 Ibid, p.305.
9 Savina, pp. 180 & 254 as cited in Bernatzek, pp. 302-306.
10 Bernhard Karlgren "Legends and Cults in Ancient China" (Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, #18,1946) and other sources cited by Joseph Campbell; The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology (Viking/Compass, N.Y., 1974), pp.382-391.
Kiang Kung Ilsi, pp. 8-15.
James MacGowan; The Imperial History of China (Curzion Press London: N.Y.: Harper & Row; N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 1973), pp. 4-20.
Josephus; Antiquities of the Jews 1.2.1.
11 Campbell, pp. 381-382; Kiang Kung Hsi p.8; MacGowan, pp. 2 & 3.
12 The Shan Hai Ching cited Kiang Kung Hsi p4; Kiang Kung Hsi pp. 4 & 8; MacGowan, pp. 6-8; Campbell, p.383 & 391,392.
13 K.C. Wu; The Chinese Heritage (Crown Publishers, N.Y., 1982), p.112; and also Anthony Christie; Chinese Mythology (Hamlynn, London, N.Y., Sydney, Toronto, 1968), pp. 89, 90.

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21 March 2011

Origin of the Chinese & Miao Memory of Origins

After the Flood Noah's his descendants migrated to the plains of Shinar. On this plain, today known as Iraq, (Summer c. 3500 BC to 2000 BC) became the first civilization on earth. The religio/political upheaval which followed "Tower of Babel" induced people to migrate to other parts of the world.

There is increasing evidence of the connection between Biblical Genesis (Ch. 1-11) and the origin of Chinese Civilization. In Genesis 10 we have the Table of Nations, that is, the descendants of Noah's three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet. Ham is regarded as the father of the Mongoloid and Negroid races because he generated Canaan whose two sons Heth (Hittites/Cathey) and Sin (Sinite/China) who are presumed to be the progenitors of the Mongoloid stock.

"The name Sin appears frequently in the Chinese language, and the city of Xian, a provincial capital in western China, was known as Sianfu in the nineteenth century, meaning "Father Sin." Some scholars have suggested that the Sin referred to here may have been Fu Xi, the legendary first king of China, who began his reign in 2852 B.C. Later, when the first Chinese kingdom broke up in the first millennium B.C., a state named Qin (also spelled Tsin or Ch'in), arose near Xian; the Qin rulers reunited the land in the third century B.C., and the whole land became known as China, named after Qin. Thus the name "Sin" came to us in a roundabout fashion, altered over the ages to become "China." The ancient name also appeared in its original form in the 1960s and 70s when news reports told about the "Sino-Soviet" border dispute." (A Biblical Interpretation of World History)

Most likely the Chinese Civilization began in the area of the former Chinese capital Shensi or Siang-fu (Father Sin) also called Hang'an and today called Xi'an meaning city of "Everlasting Peace". This is the place where the Silk Road began and served as the first capital of the unified empire. "One ancient Chinese classic called the "Hihking" tells the story of Fuhi, whom the Chinese consider to be the father of their civilization. This history records that Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters escaped the great flood. He and his family were the only people left alive on earth. After the great flood they repopulated the world. An ancient temple in China has a wall painting that shows Fuhi's boat in the raging waters. Dolphins are swimming around the boat and a dove with an olive branch in its beak is flying toward it."

There are also cultural similarities between the Chinese and Chaldeans which suggest their origin. Like the Chaldeans, the Chinese had astronomical knowledge and belief in astrology, used same of methods of measurement, the cycle of sixty and decimal system. They believed in interrelation and correspondence of five elements, the five colors, the harmony of numbers and a multitude of other customs that the Chaldeans had. All of this cannot be mere coincidence."

Another indication of the origin of the Chinese was their monotheism. They believed in Shang-Di, the Supreme Heavenly Ruler of whom they never made an image.

At the Border Sacrifice, a single calf, male or female, was sacrificed. "Why a calf? Because of its guileless simplicity,' says Kâu Hsü of our eleventh century; earlier than Kû Hsî, who adopted his explanation. The calf, whether male or female, has not yet felt the appetency of sex, and is unconscious of any 'dissipation.' This is a refinement on the Hebrew idea of the victim lamb, 'without blemish.'"  The oldest Chinese historical source tells us that in the year 2230 BC at the "Border Sacrifice", the Emperor Shun sacrifice to Shang-Di offering the following prayer:
"Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five elements [planets] had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine. You, O Spiritual Sovereign, first divided the grosser parts from the purer. You made heaven. You made earth. You made man. All things with their reproducing power got their being".
"Thou hast vouchsafed, O Di, to hear us for, Thou regardest us as a Father. I, Thy child, dull and unenlightened, am unable so show forth the dutiful feelings".
"Thy sovereign goodness is infinite. As a potter, Thou hast made all living thing. Thy sovereign goodness is infinite. Great and small are sheltered [by Thee]. As engraven on the heart of Thy poor servant is the sense of Thy goodness, so that my feelings cannot be fully displayed. With great kindness Thou dost bear us, and not withstanding our shortcomings, dost grant us life and prosperity."
From: Shu Ching, Book of History/Documents

Hieromonk Damascene reflecting on the above prayer states: "In general, reading the text of the Border Sacrifice reminds us strongly of the prayers of the Ancient Hebrews as found in the Old Testament: the same reverent awe before God, the same self abasement, humility and gratitude before his greatness. ... It seems that the most ancient Chinese religion and the ancient Hebrew religion are drawn from the same source." From the above it is most likely that the Chinese brought with them the religion of Noah as they migrated from the plains of Shinar.

The Miao people claim to have descended from Japhet, one of the sons of Noah, whose descendants migrated to India and Europe. In this case some found their way into China prior to the ethnic Chinese which today constitute 92% of the population. In any event, all people of the earth presumably migrated from Sumeria due to some religio/historical event "Tower of Babel" of which the book of Genesis speaks. They had no written language till 1957, so oral history and tradition was passed on by song and dance. We find in their tradition the story of Creation, Man's Revolt, the Flood, Babel and Biblical genealogy. The "Fall" is not mentioned in this account. Here is how it begins:
On the day God created the heavens and earth.
On that day He opened the gateway of light.
In the earth then He made heaps of earth and of stone.
In the sky He made bodies, the sun and the moon.
In the earth He created the hawk and the kite.
In the water created the lobster and fish.
In the wilderness made He the tiger and bear,
Made verdure to cover the mountains,
Made forest extend with the ranges,
Made the light green cane,
Made the rank bamboo.
On earth He created a man from the dirt.
Of the man thus created, a woman He formed ....
These [mankind] did not God's will nor return His affection.
But fought with each other defying the Godhead. ....
Here is the beginning of the one of the Miao's People Creation Songs.
Song of Creation of heaven and earth.
Sung by Yang Zhi.
When the sky began,
The sky above, who made it?
The sky above, the Glorious King Shi-tru, the Man Dlang-hnu, he made it.
When the earth began,
Earth's people, who made them?
Earth's people, the Glorious King Chi-TRW, the Man Clang-Hun, he made them.
The Glorious King Shi-tru, the man Dlang-hnu
Made the sky above extremely smooth, even as the bottom of a great round basket;
Made the sky above extremely smooth where Sun-mai and Moon-youth might play together. .... 
You can see from the above that the Creation by God as a fact is the same as in the Bible but is elaborated differently. This indicates that the source of the Creation story was not the Bible but a more ancient traditional source. Further, at Miao funerals and weddings they recite the names of their ancestors clear back to Adam whom they name Dirt. Originally the Miao worshipped One God but under the influence of the Han Chinese, they now worship different gods. There are about seven million Miao's but only 300,000 are now Christians.

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19 March 2011

Metropolitan Hilarion: Orthodox China suffers from a lack of priests

After the publishing of the book "Orthodoxy in China," chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, told the Vesti.ru website about the history and development of the Orthodox Church in this country.

- Vladyka, today Catholics and Protestants who live in China, are saying that there is an increase in their parishioners from the local community. What is the status of believers of the Orthodox Church?

- In 2010, Orthodoxy in China celebrated its 325th anniverary. It was brought to Beijing by Russian Cossacks captured from Albazin prison. By that date, was released the unique book "Orthodoxy in China" which describes the emergence and formation of the Orthodox culture on Chinese soil.

Since the beginning of the XVIII century up to 1917 the Russian Orthodox Church has sent to China 20 religious missions. Their concerns primarily focused on preaching the gospel of Christ and spiritual guidance to Orthodox believers. But at the same time the activities of these missions included the study of language and translation of liturgical texts, and studying the culture, history and contemporary life of Chinese people. Proceedings of the Russian missionaries have made a significant contribution to the development of domestic knowledge of China.

By the XX century, the Chinese Orthodox Church included not only numerous Chinese flock, but also its national clergy and even bishops. At the end of 1956 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has decided to grant her autonomy, and in 1957 the Episcopal consecration of first primate of Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church - Bishop Basil (Shuang) of Beijing took place. However, after the death of Bishop Basil in 1962 and then Bishop Simeon of Shanghai in 1965, we specifically emphasize - consecrated in Moscow by bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the consent of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of China - Chinese Orthodox Church was deprived of pastoral leadership, and in the "Cultural Revolution" her life went into decline.

Currently in China there are several Orthodox communities in the north-east China, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. Many communities are deprived of pastoral care and temples. Temples exist only in Harbin, Labdarin, Urumqi, Gulja, Chugachuk. Orthodoxy is recognized as a religion of the Russian national minorities in the special autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, and Heilongjiang Province.

Today the Orthodox Christians of China suffer from a lack of priests and regular worship. The Russian Orthodox Church as the Mother Church is interested in the restoration of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. At this stage, our church is ready to provide comprehensive assistance to the Chinese faithful, and above all, the availability of Chinese priests.

On the background of the increasing number of Catholics and Protestants in China today, the Orthodox faithful of this country who have more than 300 years of tradition, unfortunately, are prevented from normal church life. And it does not help their numbers to increase.

- How are developing the relations between the leadership of the PRC and the Moscow Patriarchate on the issue of normalizing the situation of the Russian Orthodox Church in China?

- Russian-Chinese bilateral agreement that includes a paragraph on promoting dialogue and cooperation between the leading religions of Russia and China is under implementation. For example, in November 2009 I headed the delegation of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the Russian President, which included representatives of the Department for External Church Relations of Moscow Patriarchate, and visited China at the invitation of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs. We held talks on Russian-Chinese cooperation in the religious sphere, in accordance with the Plan of Action to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of China for 2009-2012. As a result of the visit the Memoranda of Understanding were signed and the order of interaction, as well as training opportunities in the theological schools of the Russian Orthodox Church, for students from China.

In September 2010, a delegation from China's State Administration for Religious Affairs visited Russia as guests of the Russian Orthodox Church and visited Moscow and St. Petersburg theological schools to determine where students from China will study. We hope that this year, Chinese students will come to Russia to study.

The Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the Russian President, a working group was formed for relations with China in the religious sphere. The activities of this group, we hope, will assist, in particular, in the normalization of the situation of Orthodoxy in China. Already available are the first results of such cooperation. The Chinese side has allowed the priest from Russia to celebrate a Pascha service for the compatriots in the Protection church in Harbin. I hope that the practice of pastoral visits of priests from the Russian Orthodox Church to Orthodox communities in China, who have no priests of their own, on particularly revered days - Pascha and the Nativity of Christ - will be maintained and expanded to other cities. On the feast day of Holy Protection Church in Harbin, Russian and Chinese believers prayed worshiped together, served by the senior priest Michael Wang of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church.

At the present time, Orthodox priests from Russia are conducting services also for Russian citizens in the diplomatic missions of the Russian Federation in Beijing, in the restored Embassy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, and in Shanghai. Activity was also restored in SS. Peter and Paul parish in Hong Kong. There are house churches in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macau, where the divine services are held for foreigners.

- Do you plan to open the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Taiwan. And if so, how soon?

- In 1949, Russian immigrants came to Taiwan from Shanghai and Xinjiang. At their invitation in 1957, Archbishop Irenaeus of Tokyo visited Taipei, which held the service in a private home. In 1958 in the same house was appointed a temporary church, dedicated to John the Baptist. Vladyka Irenaeus, and eventually priests under his omophorion have regularly visited Taiwan. Once Archbishop John (Shakhovskoi) has visited Taipei.

Today there are around 300 Russian citizens in the consular register in Taipei. Russian-speaking Orthodox Diaspora currently attends the parish of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but the Greek priest does not speak Russian and can not fully meet the pastoral needs of our believers.

Official documents regulating the relations of Russia and China, stressed that Russia and China are pursuing a policy of "one China", but while maintaining a unified political position the parties do not interfere with each other in the development of economic, cultural and other relations with Taiwan. The Taiwanese side expresses its readiness to assist the Russian Orthodox Church in the opening of the parish. But talks about specific dates are still premature.

- What is the fate of Chinese seminarians who have studied in our theological schools?

- For several years, the Russian Orthodox Church provided opportunities for citizens of China who were seeking a spiritual education, to study in religious schools in Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, until recently, the citizens of China who have received religious education in Russia, could not continue their ministry in the existing Orthodox churches in China due to lack of All-Chinese Orthodox organization. I hope that now, after the signing of agreements on theological education in Russia, there will be opening up new prospects for Chinese students.

- Are there in the PRC, "Chinese" parishes, where the service is held in Chinese language? Is there a need for this?

- To date, China has up to 15,000 Orthodox believers. They mostly live in Beijing, Shanghai, Heilongjiang Province, autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church has only two Chinese clergy, an 87-year-old priest, Michael Wang Quansheng and 83-year-old Archdeacon Evangel Lu Yafu. They only occasionally, given their advanced age, may conduct worship services, including in the Chinese language, and the need for such worship is obvious: these rare services collect a significant number of Chinese believers.

- Tell me about the program of translation of the doctrinal literature into Chinese. What has already been translated and what is planned to be translated in the near future?

- By the effort of Brotherhood of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Hong Kong in recent years they have translated into Chinese Orthodox prayer books, patristic heritage and the modern theological, ascetical, and moral literature. Among them - the work of St. Nicholas Cabasilas "Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, books by Archimandrite John (Krestyankin)", The experience of proper confession" by Archimandrite Sophronij (Sakharov), "Elder Siluan", a monumental work of Archpriest George Florovsky "Ways of Russian Theology," work of the famous theologian Jaroslav Pelikan "The Christian Tradition", an essay by Metropolitan John of Pergamon (Zizioulas), "Truth and Communion" and "Personality and Genesis", two collections of lectures by Professor Sergei Khoruzhej about spiritual tradition, and others. Fu Jen University of Taiwan published in the Chinese language my book "On Prayer." The translation of prayers and succession of church services (part of the daily liturgical prayers, a service of Pascha and the Nativity Christ). But much remains to be done.

- How is progress of the development of the interaction with Constantinople in relation to parishes in China?

- The Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople in 2008, announced China as her Hong Kong metropolis territory, including in its membership a number of countries in South-East Asia. The Russian Orthodox Church regarded this decision with regret, first because it was taken unilaterally, without the knowledge of Orthodox believers living in China, and, second because it ignores the rights of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church.

The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2008 declared the inviolability of the borders of canonical Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church and approved a position on this issue, previously formulated by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church.

-In order to normalize the situation, in your opinion, how many churches, priests and parishes are required in the PRC?

- To determine the number of churches in China is an internal affair of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. Their number must meet the demands of its flock, which now exists of China, not only from citizens of the PRC, but also from a significant number of foreigners of the Orthodox faith from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries. However, it is known that by 1956 China had about a hundred churches, houses of worship and missionary houses.

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14 March 2011

Sunday Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy

The Feast of Orthodoxy (also knowns as the Sunday of Orthodoxy or the Triumph of Orthodoxy) is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent (six Sundays before Pascha) in the liturgical calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Greek-Catholics (Eastern Catholics of Byzantine rite). The Feast is kept in memory of the final defeat of Iconoclasm and the restoration of the icons to the churches.

Despite the teaching about icons defined at the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787, the Iconoclasts began to trouble the Church again. After the death of the last Iconoclast emperor, Theophilos, his young son Michael III, with his mother the regent Theodora, and Patriarch Methodios, summoned the Synod of Constantinople in 842 to bring peace to the Church. At the end of the first session, all made a triumphal procession from the Church of Blachernae to Hagia Sophia, restoring the icons to the church. This occurred on 19 February, 842 (which that year was the first Sunday of Lent). The Synod decreed that a perpetual feast on the anniversary of that day should be observed each year on the First Sunday of Great Lent, and named the day, "the Sunday of Orthodoxy" (ἡ Κυριακὴ τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας).
The name "Orthodoxy" has gradually affected the character of the feast. Originally commemorating only the defeat of Iconoclasm, the commemoration has gradually come to be understood in a more general sense as opposition to all heterodoxy. In this way, though its first occasion is not forgotten, the feast has become one in honour of the true Faith in general. This is shown by its special service.

After Orthros and before the Divine Liturgy, a procession is made with icons to some destined spot (often merely around the church). Meanwhile a Canon, attributed to St. Theodore of Studium, is sung.
Once the procession arrives at the place, the Synodicon (decree of the Synod of Constantinople) is proclaimed aloud by the deacon. This Synodicon begins with the memory of certain saints, confessors and heroes of the faith, to each of whose names the people cry out: "Eternal Memory!" three times. Then follows a long list of heretics of all kinds, to each of which the answer is: "Anathema" once or thrice. These heresies comprise all the major opponents of the Orthodox Faith: Arians, Nestorians, Monophysites, Monothelites, Iconoclasts and so on. Then comes again "Eternal Memory" to certain pious emperors, from Constantine the Great on.

There are inevitably differences between the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic lists, as well as minor differences between the Synodika of individual national churches. The Orthodox acclaim Photius, Michael Cerularius, other saintly patriarchs and many emperors. They curse Pope Honorius among the Monothelites, the opponents of Hesychasm. The Synodicon used by Greek-Catholics tends to omit a large number of these names per the whims of the Roman Catholic Pope.

The format used by the Russian Orthodox Church differs slightly from that used among the Greek Orthodox: during the monarchy, the Emperor and his family were acclaimed, and "Eternal Memory!" was proclaimed for each member of the Romanov Dynasty; all are cursed who deny the divine right of kings and all who "dare to stir up insurrection and rebellion against it". In the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia anathemas were added against modernism and ecumenism.

The liturgical texts for the Canon, Synodicon etc., and the rubrics will be found in either Triodion, Orthodox or Greek-Catholic. The theme of the day is the victory of the True Faith over heresy. "This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith" (1 John 5:4). Also, the icons of the saints bear witness that man, "created in the image and likeness of God" (Genesis 1:26), becomes holy and godlike through the purification of himself as God's living image.

The First Sunday of Great Lent originally commemorated the Prophets such as Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. The Liturgy's Prokeimenon and alleluia verses as well as the Epistle and Gospel readings appointed for the day continue to reflect this older usage.

The name of this Sunday reflects the great significance which icons possess for the Orthodox Church. They are not optional devotional extras, but an integral part of Orthodox faith and devotion. The debate involved important issues: the character of Christ's human nature, the Christian attitude towards matter, and the true meaning of Christian redemption. Icons are held by the Orthodox to be a necessary consequence of Christian faith in the Incarnation of the Word (John 1:14), Jesus Christ. Icons are considered by Orthodox Christians to have a sacramental character, making present to the believer the person or event depicted on them. However, the Orthodox always make a clear doctrinal distinction between the veneration (proskynesis) paid to icons and the worship (latria) which is due to God alone.

Since Iconoclasm was the last of the great Christological controversies to trouble the Church, its defeat is considered to be the final triumph of the Church over heresy. All subsequent heresies tend to be merely offshoots of the earlier great heresies.

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