Religious Scholars And Their Agenda
Dr. Thorsten J. Pattberg (裴德思 Pei Desi) is a German writer, linguist, and cultural critic.\r\n
He attended Edinburgh University, Fudan University, Tokyo University, and Harvard University, and earned his doctorate degree from The Institute of World Literature at Peking University. He studied under the guiding stars of Ji Xianlin, Gu Zhengkun, and Tu Weiming, whom he considers his spiritual masters.
Dr. Pattberg is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo; and a former Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Peking University. He is the author of four monographs 'The East-West dichotomy,' 'Shengren,' 'Holy Confucius,' and 'Inside Peking University,' and some of his representative articles are 'Language hegemony – It’s shengren, stupid!,' 'Long into the West’s dragon business,' 'China: Lost in Translation,' and 'The end of translation.'
THE European missions to Asia consisted of very few highly specialized individuals trained in theology and the sciences. Their destination countries – India, Japan, China, and Indochina – were the size of civilizations.
Wolves in sheep's clothing
Christianity could not be forced upon them, but had to undermine those civilizations from within. The Jesuits, a religious order related to the Catholic Church, traveled to Asia and virtually practiced cultural mimicry. They would wear the robes and garments of the local tradition, looking like Confucian scholars, and participated in local rituals and customs, while teaching Western sciences and The Bible to the community.
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Western “China reports”
It is reported, that the Protestant missions – many prominent German missionaries among them – were less successful in converting the disbelievers. The Chinese were unaware that the missionaries’ “reports” to Europe were useful intelligence that encouraged the Europeans to push further ahead and follow their imperial ambitions to command China’s future: to bring God to the god-less, to dominate the Middle Kingdom culturally, and to transform it into Western colony:
“And the Lord said: Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” [Genesis 1, 25-26].
Chinese naivity and generosity
The Chinese were ignorant for what was coming for them; that Western civilization’s drive for expansion was the necessary outcome of Greek philosophy of endless search for new knowledge and Christianity’s mission to subdue the rest of the world. On the contrary, the Chinese traditional love for learning, and their Confucian sympathy towards all men, made them learn quickly from the Westerners, while they did not (and certainly could not) expect quite the same in return from the Westerners.
Western “China experts”
It was a common belief that the Chinese language was too difficult for Europeans to master, perhaps a cheap stereotype, but a stereotype to which the Westerners certainly contributed their bit. Most of the missionaries being middle-aged or old men, they were venerated (maybe more so, than in Europe), and were not expected to master Chinese. Usually, if they spoke a sentence or two, that was sufficient to go down into the annals of history as “Chinese experts”.
No matter what their actual proficiency of Chinese was, they almost certainly needed Chinese helpers. But those Chinese helpers had never seen the world outside China, and unknowingly surrendered their precious and unique Chinese concepts to Plato and Jesus Christ.
The Evangelization of China
Some German missionaries and orientalists first felt disgusted  that the Chinese had no God, but decided they needed Him; thus Schott (1826), Gützlaff (1833), Grube (1902), Haas (1920), Wilhelm (1925), and Biallas (1928) deliberately used biblical language (e. g. Gott, Heilige, Heilige Geist, Heiligkeit, Gottmenschen, etc.) to report China as a pre-Christian society that could be converted and dominated:
This dismantlement of a culture from within was undertaken all the while the missionaries and orientalists in China enjoyed the hospitality, kindness, and resourcefulness of their naive and trusting host. That the original concept of shengren was already compromised – it never reached Europe and the Chinese now officially had biblical holy men – the Chinese could hardly have anticipated.
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Finally, to add salt into all wounds, and a bitter irony, Western commentators today never stop at accusing China of stealing Western concepts and innovations, tinker them around and change them a little bit, but never contribute anything original to world history. A more accurate picture of world history is that the West systematically collected and cashed hundreds of thousands of foreign concepts already.
 Giles, Herbert A., 1925, p. 260
 Richter, Heinrich, 1833, pp. 13 ff.
Image credit: Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock.com
This is a condensed version of a chapter on ‘Missionarism: A Form of Parasitism' from the manuscript Shengren.