Witnessing about Jesus to non-believers can be daunting. After all, one must be prepared to handle the barrage of questions that are sure to follow such an attempt. Even though Jesus Himself commanded us to spread the Gospel across the nations, there still exist ethnic, cultural and social boundaries that may appear to be immovable obstacles against obeying Christ’s commission.
I’Ching Chan-Thomas, in her book Jesus: The Path to Human Flourishing, counts the spreading of the message of Christ amongst the Cultural Chinese as one of the more challenging obstacles that would-be evangelists face.
Chan-Thomas, a Chinese Christian apologist, uses her own experiences, anecdotes and knowledge gained through her exhaustive research to explain why proselytising to the Cultural Chinese can be an extremely trying endeavour. She goes deep into the history of Chinese spirituality while also touching on the collective worldview and communal psyche of that ethnic group.
First off, Chan-Thomas identifies the ideologies of the “Three Religions” (San Jiao)—Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism—as the bedrock of the Chinese identity through the centuries and that continues to be so in the modern age. The three philosophies have syncretised and melded into the lifestyles and minds of ethnic Chinese, many of whom continue to live by their principles (knowingly or otherwise).
How Christians can effectively reach out and engage the non-believing Cultural Chinese forms the basis of the book. In Chan-Thomas’ words: “If we are to relevantly share the Christian faith with the over 1.3 billion Cultural Chinese in the world, we need to understand their worldview. The onus is on us to learn and study about the Cultural Chinese worldview and their cultural expressions… [W]e must learn how to articulate the Gospel in terms that are attractive and significant to this quarter of the world’s population.”
Jesus: The Path to Human Flourishing is just 118 pages long, but its insights and impact have the potential to extend beyond its modest page count. It is written in a concise, clear style that makes it a breeze to read. Chan-Thomas efficiently breaks down the often tangled and hard to understand concepts that swirl around Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism—many of whose teachings have long since become mired in Chinese superstition and mysticism.
If ever there was a treatise that could succinctly illustrate the socio-psychology of the cultural Chinese, this is the book to pick off the shelf and dive into.
Jason Woo is Methodist Message’s Editorial Executive. When not working on the latest articles, he enjoys long jogs and cuddling up with his cats along with a good book.
Book cover visual courtesy of Graceworks Publishing