Hard Questions About the Bible

Archive for January, 2017

Ancient Chinese Kings Believed in the ‘Mandate of Heaven’

My source is the book, ‘Ancient Civilizations’ published in 2006 by McGraw Hill and National Geographic.

One of China’s earliest dynasties, the Shang, ruled from 1750 B.C.  The people worshiped gods, spirits of the earth, and their ancestors.  Shang kings believed they received power and wisdom from the gods and spirits.

The kings would ask for the gods’ help by having priests scratch questions on animal bones, then place hot metal rods inside the bones, causing them to crack.  They believed that the pattern of the cracks formed answers from the gods.  The scratches and cracks were the basis of the first form of Chinese writing.

The next dynasty, the Zhou, ruled from 1045 B.C.  The Zhou rulers claimed to have a ‘Mandate of Heaven’, giving them the right to rule.  This went both ways, though, a good king in prosperous times could claim the Mandate of Heaven, but if things went bad, such as a natural disaster or bad harvest, the people had the right to overthrow the king.

Kings Sometimes Claim Authority from the Gods

The 1966 Disney movie ‘Lt. Robin Crusoe USN’, starring Dick Van Dyke and Nancy Kwan, illustrates how kings sometimes claim authority from the gods.

I found a youtube video clip ‘Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (1996)’ posted by Disney Fan.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8JG7kOaghg

In the movie, King Tanamashu prayed before a huge stone idol on a deserted island and claimed to hear its voice, and therefore was justified in passing judgment over his daughter Wednesday (Nancy Kwan).  Robin Crusoe (Dick Van Dyke) was determined to expose Tanamashu’s deception and save Wednesday by pretending that the idol spoke audibly to her.   He set up a microphone and speakers, a powerful water hose, a flame thrower and fireworks inside the idol to make it appear to come alive.  It’s pretty funny, but it illustrates how rulers claim authority from the gods.

If a ruler claims authority from God, and you want to know the truth of the Bible, I believe it’s best to go to the Bible itself.  If you need help, then try talking to a pastor or someone who knows the Bible well, or look up commentaries in books or on the internet.

The message of Christianity is not one of manipulation, riches and power, but rather of sacrifice and love for God and others.  Not every Christian always follows this, but that doesn’t negate the truth of the Bible.