Prayer; the Internet and radio broadcasting; the Christians of Taiwan – all these play a vital role in reaching Chinese around the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.Now let us consider the role of Christian literature in building God’s church among the Chinese. For thousands of years, the Chinese have excelled in the written word. With a rich tradition of writings in philosophy, ethics, religion, essays, the novel, drama, and poetry, they have a literary heritage second to none. Recent decades have witnessed an explosion in the number of Chinese who are literate. Once the property of the educated elite, printed materials can now reach hundreds of millions of eager readers. Christians have always prized the role of the written word. After all, we are “people of the Book,” who believe that God has revealed his unchanging truth in the words of inspired men who have given us his inerrant Word in the Bible. Since the beginning of the Church, Christians have augmented the spoken ministry with writings aimed at both believers and pre-Christians. Seeking either to edify Christians or evangelize unbelievers, they have put their thoughts into on paper, and influenced entire civilizations. Books and other Christian literature have some advantages over preachers and evangelists. They can penetrate places people could never reach. They allow for quiet reflection, careful thought, and considered response. Available at any time, they can be read repeatedly, pondered, and passed on to others. They are also relatively cheap! Mailing a book costs much less than sending a speaker. Books don’t have to be fed and lodged; they charge no transportation fees; they expect no honorarium. Equally important in today’s tense climate, they can be read in private, so they don’t draw the attention of nosy authorities anxious lest a crowd gather to hear “dangerous” teachings. Printed – as distinct from electronic – materials can make a huge difference for both Chinese Christians and seekers all over the world. Thankfully, Chinese Christians know this, and have worked hard to produce wealth of resources in Chinese, a written language known by more people than any other except English. Publishers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, North America, and even now in China have issued a steady stream of excellent books, booklets, tracts, pamphlets, magazines and newspapers presenting the Biblical world-and-life view. Many of the books are translated from English, German, and other languages. Increasingly, however, Chinese authors are coming to the forefront. For example, one of my former students has written a massive commentary on the letters of John, which is part of a series of commentaries by Chinese scholars. Before long, Chinese may replace English as the leading language for theology! Meanwhile, non-Chinese can continue to share what we have learned with our Chinese brothers and sisters around the world, without ever leaving home.
So far, ten volumes edited or composed by me have been published in Taiwan. They include: A Greek-Chinese lexicon of the New Testament; a short book on how to use New Testament reference works; a devotional commentary on Ephesians; a booklet on the Bible as the Word of God; an abridgment of the first four volumes of Carl Henry’s God, Revelation, & Authority; a study of Christianity and American society; and a comparison of Christ and Confucius’ views on the ideal man. Four more books are being translated by Chinese Christians: The Lord’s Healing Words – a study of what the Bible says about physical, mental, and spiritual health; the last two volumes of the abridgment of God, Revelation, & Authority; and my autobiography. They should all come out in either 2006 or 2007. As you know, I am working on the revision of the Greek-Chinese lexicon. In addition, I hope that other works will be published in Chinese, including Worship and Wisdom (meditations upon the Psalms and Proverbs) and Following Jesus the King (meditations on Matthew’s Gospel).
Books in English
Millions of Chinese can read English. For them, and also for others around the world like them, I am hoping to publish several of my books in English. We sent off The Lord’s Healing Words to a publisher yesterday, and hope it will be followed by The Complete Man according to Christ and Confucius within a day or two.Publication costs of both of those books were subsidized by one of our supporting churches. Perhaps you know someone who would like to make publication of other books possible.
Please pray that God will use these writings to bless many people around the world. Ask for wide distribution, thoughtful readers, and lasting impact. All proceeds go to China Institute. During February, I shall be in Taiwan. One of my major goals is to let people know about books available in Chinese, for sales have been slow. On the 11th, I shall be signing my books at the Taipei International Book Exhibition. While I’m gone, Rachel will be preparing other books for publication in English. I plan also to do some writing in the mornings. Pray also pray for God to prosper Chinese publishers and distributors, several of which are listed on our Web site. If you have a Chinese friend who would appreciate a Bible or a good Christian book, call Ambassadors for Christ to find out what’s available (1-800-624-3504). Our common goal is to see the “word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to [us],” spread to the entire world and bring forth fruit (Colossians 1:5-6), to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.