The burgeoning growth of the church in China is one of the startling trends in Christendom in the 21st century. Now comes the even more startling revelation that these Chinese believers are not embracing a religion that Western missionaries have attempted for hundreds of years to plant on Chinese soil. Rather, the Chinese are rediscovering a God who has been a constant presence in their history and culture for more than four millennia.

Chan Kei Thong in his extensively researched and compellingly well-written Faith of Our Fathers presents many historical gems to validate this astonishing perspective. From his study of the most ancient Chinese historical texts, Thong establishes that the earliest Chinese form of worship was of a monotheistic God recognizable by His attributes as the same God Yahweh of the Old Testament worshipped by Jews and Christians. This God, known as Shang Di, is the one for Whom the famed Temple of Heaven in Beijing was built. It was here that Chinese emperors through the centuries offered the annual sacrifices that confirmed their right to rule in ceremonies that parallel in amazing ways similar rituals related to blood covenants in the Old Testament. These imperial ceremonies suggest an understanding of the problem of sin, of the need for salvation and even of the inability of any sacrifice to fulfill God’s judgment.

Through engaging and gripping retelling of some of the most significant stories in China’s history, Faith of Our Fathers reveals God’s guiding hand upon the Chinese people from the very beginning of their existence. The Chinese language reflects knowledge of the first events of human history as told in the Bible. Even the early name the Chinese people used for their country is revealing: Shen Zhou, which means God’s Country. Over the millennia, the dynastic cycles that have been the hallmark of China’s long history reflect God’s principles at work: leaders as well as dynasties were raised up or brought down, depending on their attitude and behavior towards God, based on the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. Emperors were called the “Son of Heaven” and were seen as the intermediary between Shang Di and the Chinese people, required to reflect Shang Di’s loving care for His people in their rule of the land. Quite remarkably, Thong even takes up the controversial subject of the Chinese dragon, proud symbol of China's heritage but reviled by most Christians, and presents a thoughtfully argued thesis of its historic role and its impact on Chinese cultural development.

Faith of Our Fathers reaches a broad audience with these surprising new insights. For the China novice or student of Chinese culture, Thong gives painless access to an understanding of the world’s oldest living civilization along with valuable new perspectives on the long history of China. For the world Christian, Faith of Our Fathers provides compelling new material to use in bringing the saving message of the Gospel to the world’s most populous nation and an encouraging new perspective of God’s relationship to all the peoples of the world. Perhaps most significantly, to all who are of Chinese descent, whether on mainland China or overseas, Faith of Our Fathers reveals that God did not turn His back on the world’s largest people group. He was present and active at the genesis of their culture and has left His “fingerprints” throughout the history of this great civilization, always and ever calling its people to Himself.

Faith of Our Fathers
is most compelling because it follows Thong’s own personal journey of discovery of these truths. Readers share in his journey from the painful charges by his relatives and friends that he had betrayed his cultural heritage when he converted to Christianity to the joyful realization that by accepting Shang Di as Lord he was, in fact, worshipping alongside China’s most venerated ancients!

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Copyright ©2006 by Chan Kei Thong