In A Friendly Dialogue between an Atheist and a Christian, Luis Palau, representing the Christian faith, and Zhao Qizheng, representing atheism, present a composite of recorded dialogues held in China in 2005 between them.
Through these dialogues, readers are provided insight into the current struggles atheists have regarding the truth claims of the Christian faith.
Topics discussed include philosophy, history, religion, the Bible, creation, atheism, Confucianism, politics, ethics, Chinese and Western cultures, and the relevance of Jesus Christ to society.
Through the engaging dialogue between Luis Palau and Zhao Qizheng, many of the stereotypes and misinformation concerning the Chinese culture are exposed, revealing a nation in which the Bible is published and new churches are being built. By avoiding the use of complicated theological language, these discussions express the concerns of both Christians and atheists in a clear, meaningful, and respectful way.
A Friendly Dialogue between an Atheist and a Christian is a must read for anyone interested in gaining a greater appreciation of the oriental world of China and how the Christian faith is being received within that context.
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About the Author
Zhao Qizheng is the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China. He previously served as Vice Mayor of Shanghai, Director General of the Management Committee of Shanghai Pudong New Area, and Minister of the State Council Information Office of China.
Read an Excerpt
A Friendly Conversation between an Atheist and a Christian
By Zhao Qizheng Luis Palau Zondervan Copyright © 2008 Zhao Qizheng and Luis Palau
All right reserved.
Chapter One PART ONE
On the Bible and God
Palau: What got you interested in the Bible, since you have a secularist, atheistic background? What made you want to read what the Bible said?
Zhao: When I traveled abroad I found that there is a Bible almost in all the hotel rooms. So out of curiosity I read the Bible. I know, in terms of printing, the Bible ranks number one in the world. That explains its importance. In China, 40 million copies of the Chinese edition of the Bible have been printed. Even for a populous country like ours, this figure is still very high. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of religious works translated and published in China, numbering in their hundreds. You will find them in any larger bookstores in China. In the city of Nanjing, there is a special press solely devoted to printing the Bible.
Palau: I did see many religious books in the bookstores I visited, including those by Mr. Crouch. I also went to the Amity Publishing Company in Nanjing and was impressed by the quantity, the quality, and the distribution across China of the Bible. So I'm very grateful.
You have read the Bible. I would like to know what impressed you most.
Zhao: I started my career as a researcher in nuclear physics. In physics there are only three Newtonian laws, very clear and simple. Compared with them, the Bible is much more complicated. Perhaps we could reduce the Bible to a few basic points, like the Newtonian laws. I suppose these would be enough. One, God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. God is perfectly good. Two, because of his original sin, man has difficulty communicating with God. Three, God therefore sends Jesus to communicate with man. Four, man must not try to design his own fate but should follow the guidance of Jesus and the Bible.
Palau: That is quite a perfect summary of the main points of the Bible. Even I as an evangelist have not said it with such perfection and accuracy. Of course, there are many other points of the Christian faith, but you have mentioned the more important components. It seems to me you could make an evangelist and that I should not try to convince you. (laughter)
Zhao: Simple is beautiful. The Newtonian laws are noted for their preciseness and beauty. So is Einstein's famous formula. Simple in form, but meaningful and rich in deduction.
Even from a non-theological point of view, the Bible is an important book and may be understood from many perspectives.
Palau: So would you give your perspective on the Bible? It will educate me.
Zhao: In the first place, the Bible is a classic for Christians, the basis of their creed. It is also a history book since it records the life, the thoughts and wishes of the various peoples who lived in the Middle East during ancient times. The Bible covers the history of not only the Hebrews but also of other peoples like the Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians and others who lived in that region of the world. The Bible is not authored by any individual. It is the crystallization of the wisdom of many peoples for it was passed down from generation to generation as oral history until some 1,300 years later when it was finalized. The Bible represents a very truthful record of life during ancient times. For example, in the Bible there was no mention of tea as it had not been introduced from the East. Nor did the Bible mention smoking because that bad habit didn't exist then.
Palau: That's true. It didn't mention tea, but I am glad you Chinese brought it to the world.
Zhao: The Bible also records the philosophical thinking of those ancient people who tried to answer some fundamental questions, for example, about the origin of humankind and of the universe. One could see that their philosophy, especially religious philosophy, had reached a certain high level. These people tried to use their wisdom to answer those questions of ultimate concern.
Then the Bible is good literature. Integrating Hebrew, Greek and Roman culture, it abounds in beautiful prose, proverbs and poems. What is more, it has formulated many ethical standards for people, then and now. The Bible is well-worth reading from all these perspectives.
Palau: Well, I think you've got a good grasp of what the Bible teaches in an amazing way. You've accurately expressed the essential meaning of the Bible from the writers' perspective. And there is another dimension that I'm sure you've noticed that comes through when you read it all.
From our point of view, the Bible is part of God's total revelation to man. God reveals himself through creation, the beauty of the world. The whole creation speaks of the glory of God and the power of God. So when one looks at creation, you get a picture that God is almighty, that he loves beauty, that he is creative, that he also enjoys himself because of all the birds and the fish and the amazing things in creation. So everything you said about the Bible is absolutely correct. There's that other spiritual dimension that comes through also.
Excerpted from A Friendly Conversation between an Atheist and a Christian by Zhao Qizheng Luis Palau Copyright © 2008 by Zhao Qizheng and Luis Palau. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of ContentsContents Part one On the Bible and God....................7
Part two On the Creation....................19
Part three On Religion and the Spirit....................27
Part four On Religious Beliefs in China....................49
Part five On Chinese and Western Cultures and Philosophy....................61
Part six On Religion and Science....................79
Part seven On Religion and Social Harmony....................111