God Worshipping Society

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hong Xiuquan, the self-proclaimed younger brother of Jesus Christ who started the God Worshipping movement

The God Worshipping Society (拜上帝教) was a religious movement founded and led by Hong Xiuquan which drew on his own unique interpretation of Christianity and combined it with Chinese folk religion, faith in Shangdi, and other religious traditions.[1] According to historical evidence, his first contact with Christian pamphlets occurred in 1836 when he directly received American Congregationalist missionary Edwin Stevens' personal copy of the Good Words to Admonish the Age (by Liang Fa, 1832). He only briefly looked over and did not carefully examine it. Subsequently, Hong had supposedly experienced mystical visions in the wake of his third failure[a] of the imperial examinations in 1837 and after failing for a fourth time in 1843, he sat down to carefully examine the tracts with his distant cousin Feng Yunshan, believing that they were "the key to interpreting his visions" coming to the conclusion that he was "the son of God the Father and the younger brother of Jesus Christ who had been directed to rid the world of demon worship."[3][4][5][6][7][8][8][9]

Formation[edit]

In 1843, Hong Xiuquan, a Hakka school teacher and failed imperial examinee, became convinced that he was the son of God the Father and the younger brother of Jesus Christ.[10] The next year, Hong and Feng Yunshan, Hong's distant cousin[11] and one of the earliest converts to Hong's faith,[12] traveled to Sigu, Guiping county, Guangxi to preach their version of Christianity.[13] In November 1844, Hong returned home without Feng, who remained in the area and continued to preach.[14] After Hong's departure, Feng traveled deeper and deeper into the heart of the Thistle Mountain region, preaching and baptizing new converts.[15] Feng christened this group of believers the "God Worshipping Society."[16] Hakkas from this area, generally poor and beset by both bandits and local Chinese families angry at the presence of the Hakka in their ancestral lands, found refuge in the group with its promise of solidarity.[17]

While the God Worshipping Society shared some similar characteristics with traditional Chinese secret societies, it differed in that the participants adopted a new religious faith that firmly rejected Chinese tradition.[18] The Society was militant from its inception, due to the prevalence of both intervillage fighting and conflicts between Hakka and non-Hakka villagers.[19] Generally, individuals did not convert alone, but rather entire families, clans, occupational groups, or even villages would convert en masse.[20] On August 27, 1847, when Hong Xiuquan returned to Thistle Mountain, the God Worshipers numbered over 2,000.[21][22] At this time, most God Worshippers were peasants and miners.[23]

Growth[edit]

With Hong's return, the God Worshipping Society took on a more rebellious character.[24] Hong began to describe himself as a king and explicitly identified the ruling Manchus and their supporters as demons which must be destroyed.[25] The God Worshippers treated their entire community as a family, leading to establishment of a common treasury and a requirement of chastity.[26]

In January 1848, Feng Yunshan was arrested and banished to Guangdong.[27] Hong Xiuquan left for Guangdong shortly thereafter to reunite with Feng.[28] In the absence of both Feng and Hong, two new leaders emerged to fill the void: Yang Xiuqing and Xiao Chaogui.[29] Both claimed to enter trances which allowed them to speak as a member of the Trinity; God the Father in the case of Yang and Jesus Christ in the case of Xiao.[30] While speaking as Jesus or God the Father, Xiao and Yang would necessarily have more authority than even Hong Xiuquan.[31] Upon their return in the summer of 1849, Hong and Feng investigated Yang and Xiao's claims and declared them to be genuine.[32]

Jintian Uprising[edit]

In February 1850, local corps passed through a number of God Worshipping villages and threatened to kill the converts.[33] In response, Feng Yunshan began to call for open revolt by the God Worshippers.[34] In July 1850, the God Worshipper's leaders directed their followers to converge in Jintian and quickly amassed a force of 10,000-30,000 people.[35] While the majority of the group were Hakka, some followers were Punti, Miao, or members of other local tribal groups.[36] Membership in the God Worshippers was eclectic; they counted businessmen, refugees, farmers, mercenaries, and members of secret societies and mutual-protection alliances among their ranks.[37] The God Worshippers were also joined by a number of bandit groups, including several thousand pirates lead by Luo Dagang.[38]

The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom[edit]

On the 11th day of the first lunar month of 1851, which was also Hong Xiuquan's birthday, the God Worshipping Society proclaimed the Jintian Uprising against the ruling Qing dynasty, and declared the formation of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, thus beginning the Taiping Rebellion, which has been described as the "most gigantic man-made disaster" of the nineteenth century.[39]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The imperial examinations had a pass rate of less than one percent.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gao, James Z. (2009). Historical Dictionary of Modern China (1800-1949). Scarecrow Press. p. 136. ISBN 0810863081. 
  2. ^ Gray (1990), p. 55
  3. ^ Jen Yu-wen, The Taiping Revolutionary Movement 15-18 (1973)
  4. ^ Jen Yu-wen, The Taiping Revolutionary Movement 20 (1973)
  5. ^ De Bary, Wm. Theodore; Lufrano, Richard (2000). Sources of Chinese Tradition. 2. Columbia University Press. pp. 213–215. ISBN 978-0-231-11271-0. 
  6. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 64 (1996)
  7. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 65 (1996)
  8. ^ a b BDCC (2014).
  9. ^ Jen Yu-wen, The Taiping Revolutionary Movement 19 (1973)
  10. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 25, 64-65, 67 (1996)
  11. ^ Jen Yu-wen, The Taiping Revolutionary Movement 22-23 (1973)
  12. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 67, 69, 80 (1996)
  13. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 71 (1996)
  14. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 78-79 (1996)
  15. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 79-80 (1996)
  16. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 80 (1996)
  17. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 81, 88 (1996)
  18. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 29 (1966)
  19. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 30 (1966)
  20. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 30 (1966)
  21. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 95 (1996)
  22. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 31 (1966)
  23. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 31 (1966)
  24. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 31 (1966)
  25. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 31-32 (1966)
  26. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 33 (1966)
  27. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 34-35 (1966)
  28. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 35-37 (1966)
  29. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 35 (1966)
  30. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 35 (1966)
  31. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 36 (1966)
  32. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 37 (1966)
  33. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 37 (1966)
  34. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 37 (1966)
  35. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 39 (1966)
  36. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 40-41 (1966)
  37. ^ Pamela Kyle Crossley, The Wobbling Pivot: China Since 1800 104 (2010)
  38. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 40 (1966)
  39. ^ Kuhn (1977).

References[edit]