Heavenly Deity religions
|Type||Chinese salvationist religion|
|Distinct fellowships||① Holy Church of the Heavenly Virtue (天德圣教)
② Church of the Heavenly Deity (天帝教)
|Founder||Xiao Changming (1900s)
Li Yujie (1978)
|Members||2005, combined membership in Taiwan: 500.000 (2.2%)|
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Tiandiism[a] is a group of Chinese folk religious sects, namely the Holy Church of the Heavenly Virtue[b] and the Church of the Heavenly Deity,[c] which emerged respectively from the teachings of Xiao Changming and Li Yujie, disseminated in the early 20th century. The Church of the Heavenly Deity is actually a later development of the former, established in the 1980s.
These religions focus on the worship of the "Heavely Deity" or "Heavenly Emperor" (Tiāndì 天帝), on health through the proper cultivation of qi, and teach a style of qigong named Tianren qigong. According to scholars, the doctrines of Li Yujie are traceable to the Taoist tradition of Huashan, where he studied for eight years. The Church of the Heavenly Deity is active both in Taiwan and mainland China, where it has high-level links.
Holy Church of the Heavenly Virtue
The origins of the Holy Church of the Heavenly Virtue (天德圣教 Tiāndé shèngjiào) go back to Sichuan in 1899, with the alleged resurrection of a young boy named Xiao Changming (蕭昌明, 1896-1943) who had apparently died three days earlier. After his revival, he declared that he had received Heaven's mandate (tianming) to save humanity from suffering. He embarked on a successful religious career and attracted a large following.
In 1937 he established his headquarters on Mount Huang in southern Anhui province where he died in 1943. Like other sects, Xiao Changming's movement was suppressed in China after 1949, but survives in Taiwan and Hong Kong. In Taiwan, one of Xiao's disciples, Li Yujie, eventually decided to walk his own path and founded a new group called the Church of the Heavenly Deity in 1978, which diverges doctrinally in several aspects from the mother group, yet also sees itself in the tradition of Xiao Changming's teachings.
Currently, there exist two regional organizations for this religion. Its Hong Kong headquarters is located at Castle Peak in the New Territories. In Taiwan the religion's situation is characterized by disunity, with several separate organizations claiming to continue original Xiao's teachings.
Church of the Heavenly Deity
The Church of the Heavenly Deity, also translated as the Lord of Universe Church (天帝教 Tiāndì jiāo) is based in Taiwan and is devoted to the Tiandist beliefs as proclaimed by Li Yujie. It is an offshoot of the Holy Church of the Heavenly Virtue and it emphasizes chanting, traditional medicine, and a form of meditation which it calls "quiet sitting" in English.
Li Yujie was born in China. He worked in the Guomindang but left in 1958 to ensure political independence for his fledgling newspaper. In 1980 he claimed he was given permission by God to retransmit the message of the Heavenly Deity, which emphasize nuclear disarmament and Chinese unification. His book, The Ultimate Realm, was translated into Japanese and English under his guidance.
- "An introduction to the Lord of Universe Church". eRenlai. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
- D. A. Palmer. Chinese Redemptive Societies and Salvationist Religion: Historical Phenomenon or Sociological Category?. On: Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore, V. 172, 2011, p. 21-72
- Benoit Vermander. Christianity and the Taiwanese Religious Landscape. On: The Way, 39, 1999. London Society of Jesus. pp. 129-139
- Evelyne Micollier. Realignments in Religion and Health Practices: An Approach to the "New Religions" in Taiwanese Society. On: China Perspectives, 16, 1998. pp. 34-40
- Ju Keyi, Lu Xianlong. Tiandi jiao: The Daoist Connection. On: Journal of Daoist Studies. Vol. 7, 2014.
- Religion of the "Heavenly Deity" or "Universal Lord" (Tiāndì 天帝)
- 天德圣教 Tiāndé shèngjiào
- 天帝教 Tiāndì jiāo
- Vermander, 1999.
- Micollier, 1998.
- Ju Keyi, Lu Xianlong. 2014. p. 195
- Palmer, 2011. p. 27
- Tiande Church
- Tiandi Church