Emperor Kangxi: Young Earth.

As I have written in my previous post, Emperor Kangxi of China wrote several poems concerning his Christian faith. But did you know that he was also a Young Earth Creationist?

The following quotes are from Kangxi’s writings:

From his poem on Truth:

Everything as seen by the eye,
is His creation.

He who has no beginning and no end,
is three persons in one.

The heaven’s gate was closed to the first man’s sin,
     and reopens through the Son.

Rid of all false religions,
we should become real disciples admired by everyone

From the first three lines, we can already establish a couple of things about Kangxi’s doctrine of creation:

  1. He believes that the universe was created by God.
  2. This creator is eternal/everlasting. He has no beginning or end.
  3. He understands that because there was a fall through a literal first man’s sin (Adam), there is a need for the effects of the fall to be reversed through the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

 

From his poem: The Treasures of life (last two lines)

Long has heaven’s doors been shut by the first man
The blessed way is opened by the sacred Son

I am willing to receive the Sacred Son of God
To have the birthright of a son to eternal life

In the last two lines of his poem, the Treasures of line, Kangxi once again links the sin of Adam to the redemptive work of the second Adam, Jesus.

 From the book, Emperor Of China, Self Portrait of Kang-Hsi by Jonathan D. Spence, and quoted in this article by Israel Lim, we read the following statement by Emperor Kangxi:

Addressing the need for foreign missionaries to understand the Chinese culture, Kangxi wrote:

If de Tournon didn’t reply, the Catholic bishop Maigrot did, coming to Jehol and telling me that Heaven is a material thing, and should not be worshipped, and that one should invoke only the name “Lord of Heaven” to show the proper reverence. Maigrot wasn’t merely ignorant of Chinese literature, he couldn’t even recognize the simplest Chinese characters; yet he chose to discuss the falsity of the Chinese moral system. Sometimes, as I pointed out, the emperor is addressed honorifically as “under the steps of the throne”; would Maigrot say this was reverence to a set of steps made by some artisan? I am addressed as “Wan sui, Ten Thousand Years”; obviously that too is not literal since from the beginnings of history to the present day only 7,600 years have passed.

In his words above, Emperor Kangxi points out that it should be obvious that when someone addresses calls him “Ten Thousand Years” old, as an honorary title, it should be obvious that they meant it figuratively, because the universe itself since its very beginning is less than 7,600 year old. From this quotation of Kangxi, it becomes plain that Kangzi believed in a young Earth ~7,600 year old. While this is slightly longer than the biblical timeline, it is certainly not far from it: mostly certainly less than 10,000 year old.

In summary:

  1. He believes that the universe was created by God.
  2. This creator is eternal/everlasting. He has no beginning or end.
  3. He understands that because there was a fall through a literal first man’s sin (Adam), there is a need for the effects of the fall to be reversed through the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
  4. Kangxi held to a young earth view of creation. 

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Emperor Kangxi’s Poems. A devoted Christian.

Under the rule of Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722: Qing Dynasty), China prospered and grew to become a very wealthy and powerful nation. He was made king at a tender age of 8, and ruled under a regent. He started to rule the nation himself at the age of 15. He reigned for 61 years and is known to be one of the top Emperors of China.

Kangxi favored a Laissez-faire attitude towards trade, industry and commerce — he even avoid taxing the nation on certain years when there was enough money in the treasury. Through his policies, China became one of the wealthiest nations under his rule, and at the time of his death, Kangxi was known for its huge treasury he left behind.

But what were Kangxi’s religious beliefs?

Here’s a clue:
(Translated into English)

Emperor Kangxi’s (China’s Qing dynasty) Poem:

When the work of the cross is done, blood flowed like a river,
Grace from the west flowed a thousand yards deep,
On the midnight road he was subjected to four trials,
Before the rooster crowed twice,
three times betrayed by a disciple.

Five hundred lashes tore every inch of skin,
Two thieves hung on either side, six feet high,
Sadness greater than any had ever known,
Seven words, one completed task,
ten thousand spirits weep.

This poem by Xangxi was written using just chinese 7 characters in each line.

There are 56 characters in total, to describe the events of Jesus’ last night leading to his crucifixion: Jesus’ 4 trials starting after midnight, his betrayal by Peter, the lashes he received, his crucifixion alongside two thieves on the cross, the utterance of his 7 last words/statements, and the subsequent mourning of the people.

基督死 (In Chinese)

功成十字血成溪 ,千丈恩流分自西。
身列四衙半夜路,徒方三背兩番鸡。
五百鞭达寸肌裂,六尺悬垂二盜齐。
慘恸八垓惊九品,七言一毕万灵啼。

Interestingly, in chinese, this poem includes every number from one to ten. When he speaks of the number 7, he states that Jesus had 7 last words/statements.

What 7 statements of Jesus was Emperor Kangxi being referred to? Could this be a reference to the seven statements from Jesus that are recorded in the Bible as he hung from the cross?

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34 (Textual issues aside, he was probably familiar with this verse in the Vulgate and other manuscripts of his day)

2. “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” c.f. Luke 23:43

3. “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” c.f. John 11:26-27

4. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) c.f. Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34

5. “I am thirsty.”c.f. John 19:28

6. “It is finished;” c.f. John 19:30

7. “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit!” c.f. Luke 23:46

Kangxi’s poem not only showed his literary genius in the way this poem was written, but more importantly, it tells us that Kangxi was likely well read in the Bible. Kangxi’s mention of the seven statements of Christ is a summation of all of Christ’s recorded statements from the cross. Emperor Kangxi knew enough to quote from all four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Not many Christians today are even aware that there are 7 recorded statements by Jesus as he hung from the cross!

This statement by Kangxi tell us that Kangxi was unlikely just a nominal Christian. Rather, it appears that he displayed a profound understanding and familiarity with the Bible.

This is not the only poem written by Kangxi:

Consider this one:

The Poem on Truth

Everything as seen by the eye,
is His creation.

He who has no beginning and no end,
     is three persons in one.

The heaven’s gate was closed to the first man’s sin,
     and reopens through the Son.

Rid of all false religions,
we should become real disciples admired by everyone

and this:

The treasure of life:

Heaven’s treasures are the sun, moon and stars,
     Earth’s treasures are grain, gold and silver

A kingdom’s treasures are righteous officials,
     A family’s treasures are filial off-springs

Gold and jade are not real treasures,
     Only a life of tranquility is

To live to a hundred is only 36,000 days,
     Without purpose life is abject misery

We come confused and we leave dying
     An empty life is meaningless as a dream

I have tasted the best of a hundred flavours
     I have worn only the finest court clothes

The most esteemed in all the world are my guest
     How is it that I am born as an emperor?

The greatest event in the world is life and death
     Gold and jade are meaningless then

Even plain rice and porridge can satisfy
     But the finest clothes can’t last a thousand years

Long has heaven’s doors been shut by the first man
     The blessed way is opened by the sacred Son

I am willing to receive the Sacred Son of God
     To have the birthright of a son to eternal life

For further reading:
1. Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K’ang-Hsi by Jonathan D. Spence
2. http://www.patriarchywebsite.com/bib-patriarchy/kangxi.htm
3. http://seekthykingdom.blogspot.com/2008/12/kangxi-his-poems.html

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Jesus’ reply to the Samaritan Woman in John 4: You do not have A HUSBAND (You have 5!). Greek word order.

The importance of word order in Greek.

In this excellent article on the encounter between Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well, Kris Lyle explains how the Greek word order was changed by Jesus in his conversation with the Samaritan woman to great effect. This subtle change in word order is lost in many English translations, but when read in the Greek, it conveys the importance of word order in the Greek. If you are familiar with Greek, I encourage you to visit Kris’ page and read what he has written on this subject. I will attempt to explain what is written to non-Greek readers here.

Samaritan womanΟὐκ ἔχω ἄνδρα (I do not have a husband) — John 4:17

Jesus: Καλῶς εἶπας ὅτι Ἄνδρα οὐκ ἔχω “You have said rightly, ‘I do not have a husband,’ — John 4:17

Here, in the Greek, while the same three words are used (the underlined words), Jesus’ reply is phrased with a different word order from the woman’s original statement. The word “husband” in Jesus’ reply is placed in an emphatic position, so that Jesus’ statement emphasizes the fact that she did not ONLY have one husband.

The Samaritan woman said, “I do not have a husband”. The emphasis in her statement is on the “I”.

When Jesus quoted her, he replied with a slightly different word order. You have said rightly, “I do not have a husband“. Jesus’ reply emphasizes the fact that she does not merely have “A husband” (she did not have only one husband) As Jesus’ next statement clarifies, “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you have now is not your husband”.

 

 

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Gordon Clark’s view of knowledge: True Belief, or Justified True Belief?

 

What constitutes knowledge? Did Gordon H. Clark hold to the view that knowledge is “Justified True Belief”, or simply “True Belief”?

In the last few months, there has been a number of discussions on whether Gordon Clark understood knowledge to be “Justified True Belief”, or simply, “True Belief”. Much of these arose due to a poll I posted on facebook in a Clarkian forum asking whether Gordon Clark understood knowledge to be Justified True Belief, or simply True Belief. Clarkians appeared to be divided on the issue. Much thanks to Jason Petersen and Doug Douma, who provided useful quotes from Clark’s writings, I believe we can come to a conclusion Clark’s view of knowledge.

Gary Crampton, in his excellent book, The Scripturalism of Gordon H. Clark, wrote that according to Gordon Clark, knowledge is Justified True Belief. And Justification, according to Crampton, does not refer to an a priori proof that precedes the axiom that The Bible is the Word of God. Rather, a claim to knowledge is said to be justified if it is a proposition that is deduced from the Scripture. According to Crampton, unless a correct opinion is justified by scriptural deduction, it cannot be called knowledge.

In addition to what he wrote in his book, Gary Crampton once again repeats this in his article published by Trinity Foundation:

In the Scripturalist worldview, knowledge is not only possessing ideas or thoughts; it is possessing true ideas or thoughts. Knowledge is knowledge of the truth. It is justified true belief. Only the Word of God (that which, as the Westminster Confession [1:6] says, “is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture”) gives us such knowledge.

Opinions, on the other hand, may be true or false. Natural science is opinion; archaeology is opinion; history (with the exception of Biblical history) is opinion. In these disciplines we are not dealing with “facts.” In them there is no justified true belief. To “opine” something is not to “know” it. Justified truth is found only in the Word of God.

 

It appears that in Crampton’s understanding, there is a distinction between true belief (even if it is a correct opinion); and justified true belief, which he calls knowledge.

I disagree that this is the way Gordon Clark understood knowledge.

There seems to be a confusion of categories. If we are asking the question, “What is knowledge”, the correct way to answer this, is that knowledge is True Belief. But if we are asking the question, “How do you know a proposition is indeed true”, one must appeal to deductions obtained from Scripture. A person can have knowledge even if he is unable to defend his view from scripture — all that is needed, is for him to believe in a true proposition.

For example, if I believe that 2+2=4, it is knowledge because it is a true belief and can be found in God’s mind. This is true regardless of whether Scripture provides the proposition for its truth. But if we ask, “how can you know that 2+2=4 is a reliable means of obtaining truth”, we have to appeal to deductions from Scripture.

The first question deals with the nature of truth while the second deals with a demonstration of why a claim of knowledge is indeed true.

Here’s another example: A person listens to a sermon and puts his faith in the gospel. He believes the gospel and he is saved. He might have believed the gospel for the wrong reasons. Perhaps, a preacher used a faulty empirical argument as proof of the resurrection of Christ, and this new believer found this preacher’s arguments to be convincing, and puts his trust in Christ. He believes in the gospel and has a True Belief, but his reasoning for doing so is faulty. Yet, even in this case, we must admit that this individual has knowledge of the gospel if he truly believes it (Otherwise, we must conclude that a person can be saved without knowledge of the gospel). This new believer has knowledge because he has a True Belief — even if he is unable to defend his view by appealing to deductive verses in scripture due to his lack of knowledge. If knowledge is justified true belief, then one must say that this new believer does not have knowledge of the gospel even if he believes the gospel. Such a statement would be self contradictory.

Clark’s view is better summarized this way:

Nature of knowledge: True Belief
How do you know a claim of knowledge is true knowlege: Propositions deduced from Scripture.

This seems to be a better summary of Clark’s view of knowledge.

Here is Clark in his own words concerning the nature of knowledge:

Knowledge means the possession of truth. It is not necessary to work out a philosophical system and to demonstrate truths before having them. On the contrary, even in geometry, one usually has come into the possession of a truth before one attempts to demonstrate it; in fact, this will be seen always to be true if we do not restrict our vision to a narrow field. Demonstration and the arrangement of truths into a logical system is undeniably a desideratum; it is precisely the progress in such systematization that distinguishes the philosophical student from the intellectually dull; but philosophers are not the only people who can know the truth. Disjointed truths possessed are still truths possessed and are therefore knowledge. The man who has the truth that God exists, though his reasons for so believing are philosophically scandalous, is better off – he knows more truth – than the man who with the most erudite of arguments attempts to justify the false statement that God does not exist.

— Gordon Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, p. 217

————————————————————-

As Jason Petersen explains:

As is shown above, in his most explicit statements concerning the nature of knowledge, Clark never held to the notion of justified-true belief. While some assert that Clark did hold to knowledge as justified-true belief, they are simply wrong.

 

In conclusion, as far as Gordon Clark is concerned, a person is said to have knowledge if he has True Belief.

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Why Study Logic?

 

To return to our first question, Why study logic? Our first answer must be that we are commanded to by Scripture.

Without learning how to think properly, we shall misunderstand Scripture. Peter warns against those who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. A study of logic will help us avoid twisting the Scriptures and trying to make them imply something they do not imply. The Westminster Confession, written in England in the 1640s, says that all things necessary for our faith and life are either expressly set down in Scripture or may be deduced by good and necessary consequences from Scripture. It is only through a study of logic that we can distinguish a “good and necessary” deduction from an invalid eduction. … Therefore as God said through the prophet Isaiah, Come let us reason together.
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— Foreword by John Robbins
Gordon H. Clark , Logic, Trinity Foundation, TN, 2004, p. xiii
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Logic is God

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In any case, the subject of logic can be more clearly introduced by one more Scriptural reference. The well-known prologue to John’s Gospel may be paraphrased, “In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God. . . . In Logic was life and the life was the light of men.”

This paraphrase, in fact, this translation, may not only sound strange to devout ears, it may even sound obnoxious and offensive. But the shock only measures the devout person’s distance from the language and thought of the Greek New Testament. Why is it offensive to call Christ Logic, when it does not offend to call him a Word, is hard to explain. But such is often the case. Even Augustine, because he insisted God is truth, has been subjected to the anti-intellectualistic accusation of ‘reducing’ God to a proposition. At any rate, the strong intellectualism of the word Logos is seen in its several possible translations: to wit, computation, (financial) accounts, esteem, propositin, and (mathematical) ratio, explanation, theory or argument, principle or law, reason, formula, debate, narrative, speech, deliberation, discussion, oracle, sentence, and wisdom.

Any translation of John 1:1 that obscures this emphasis on mind or reason is a bad translation. And if anyone complains that the idea of ‘ratio’ or debate obscures the personality of the second person of the Trinity, he should alter his concept of personality. In the beginning, then, was Logic.

That Logic is the light of men is a proposition that could well introduce the section after next on the relation of logic to man. But the thought that Logic is God will bring us to the conclusion of the present section. Not only do the followers of Bernard entertain suspicion about logic, but even more systematic theologians are wary of any proposal that would make an abstract principle superior to God. The present argument, in consonance with both Philo ad Charnock, does not do so. The law of contradiction is not to be taken as an axiom prior to or independent of God. The law is God thinking.

For this reason also the law of contradiction is not subsequent to God. If one should say that logic is dependent on God’s thinking, it is dependent only in the sense that it is the characteristic of God’s thinking. It is not subsequent temporally, for God is eternal and there was never a time when God existed without thinking logically. One must not suppose that God’s will existed as an inert substance before he willed to think.

As there is no temporal priority, so also there is no logical or analytical priority, Not only was Logic the beginning, But Logic was God. If this unusual translation of John’s Prologue still disturbs anyone, he might yet allow that God is His thinking. God is not a passive or potential substratum he is actuality or activity. This is the philosophical terminology to express the Biblical idea that God is a living God. Hence logic is to be considered as the activity of God’s willing.

Although Aristotle’s theology is no better, and perhaps worse, than his epistemology, he used a phrase to describe God, which with a slight change, may prove helpful. He defined God as ‘thought-thinking-thought’. Aristotle developed the meaning of his phrase so as to deny divine omniscience. But if we are clear that the thought which thought thinks includes thought about a world to be created — in Aristotle God has no knowledge of things inferior to him — the Aristotelian definition of God as ‘thought-thinking-thought’ may help us understand that logic, the law of contradiction, is neither prior to nor subsequent to God’s activity.

This conclusion may disturb some analytical thinkers. They may wish to separate logic and God. Doing so, they would complain that the present consturction merges two axioms into one. And if two, one of them must be prior; in which case we would have to accept God without logic, or logic without God; and the other one afterward. But this is not the presuppositions here proposed. God and logic are one and the same first principle, for John wrote that Logic was God.

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— Gordon H. Clark, Logic, Trinity Foundation, TN, 2004, p.115-117

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Logic and Morality

Logic and Morality
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What do this law (of contradiction) and the rest of logic have to do with morality? Simply this: When the Bible says, “You shall not covet,” each word has a specific meaning.
Attacking logic means attacking morality. If logic is disdained, then the distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil, just and unjust, merciful and ruthless also disappear. Without logic, God’s words, “You shall do no murder”, really mean: “You shall murder daily” or “Stalin was Prince of Wales”, or any of an infinite number of other things. That means, without logic, words are meaningless. The rejection of logic means the end of morality, for morality and ethics depend on understanding. Without understanding, there can be no morality. One must understand the Ten Commandments before one can obey them. If logic is irrelevant or irreligious, moral behaviour is impossible, and the “practical” religion of those who belittle logic cannot be practiced at all.
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Foreword by John Robbins
— Gordon H. Clark, Logic, Trinity Foundation, TN, 2004, p.x-xi
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