Thursday, August 5, 2010

Willow Creek Leadership Summit -- Dr. Peter Zhao Xiao

Dr. Peter Xiao is a prominent Chinese economist who was commissioned by his government to study the success of the American economy. He concluded that a moral foundation based in Christianity allowed the American economy to flourish and he argued that China's economic growth would benefit from the spread of the Christian faith in China. He has embraced Christianity himself.

As a friend of China myself and student of Chinese culture I greatly admired Dr. Xiao's teaching and was
very aware that his remarks were no doubt being scrutinized by his own government who granted him permission for his lecture in a large church in America. Some of his remarks regarding past Chinese leaders and current government policy were clearly shaped by the political reality he faces.

(Dr. Xiao spoke through a translator who was introduced as a fellow Christian with little formal training as a translator. The translator chosen did not speak great English. Although the translator seemed very sincere and inspired by the moment I felt like he hurt the overall impact of this presentation.)

“I am here today to share the findings of my research which led me to the conclusion that the success of American society has resulted from its Christian foundation. When I began to study American society I read the Bible, saw the power and potential of the Christian faith and personally converted to Christianity. I have since gone back to
China to report to the leadership that I believe China will be blessed if the country openly embraces the Christian faith.

There are four great platforms of the interaction with the larger world:
Economics / Politics / Sports / Faith. China has excelled in each of these except this arena of Faith.
The greatest events of the past 2000 years include: The coming of Jesus 2000 years ago, the Protestant Reformation and evangelization of the Western World 700 years ago, the Rise of America 300 years ago, and now what is commonly being called the rise of China.

This notion that
China is rising is not completely accurate. What is really happening is that China is returning to its role as a world leader. She is coming back!
If world history is compared to a 5000 meter race - China was in the lead for all but the last 2 laps. Until as recently as 1820 China held one third of the world’s economy – which no one nation can match to this day. China is making a come back.

fell far behind in many ways during recent centuries until the last 30 years. Now she is catching up economically. By the end of 2010 China will surpass Japan and become the second largest economy in the world. By 2020 it may surpass America. However although China may catch up economically there is more to real success than just economics. China still has many unresolved problems: major pollution of large parts of the country, injustice and slavery, corruption in business etc.
China can export TVs but not the kind of things people want to watch on TV -- ethical standards and moral authority are still weak.

In Asia there are no countries who want to follow
China. But around the world more people want to follow America. America has something China does not -- America has a Dream. The
American Dream is more than nice cars and big houses and healthy systems – it also means American values -- which are largely Christian: Truthfulness, Honesty, Freedom, Love. China does not have a dream beyond gaining more wealth.
China should not only grow as an economy – she should also embrace the advanced cultures of the world and nurture herself on the values of the world as found in the teachings of the Christian Faith.

has already been influenced by Christianity for several centuries but early on most of that influence came from missionaries that the west sent to China. Though significant this Christian witness was often received with skepticism and resistance especially by our leaders. But still I want to thank you – Christians in the West -- for sending great Christians to teach us about your faith: Robert Morrison, James Hudson Taylor and Eric Liddell, the famous Olympian, to name a few. They helped to established a foundation of Christian faith for many Chinese.

When all the Christian missionaries were asked to leave
China in 1949 there were about 1 million Christians in China and many felt this would spell the end of their faith. But God worked in ways we could not have foreseen. God even used people who did not believe in Him to open up the way for the Christian message to flourish. Chairman Mao cleaned house of all religions including the false cults. Deng Xiao Ping opened up the window to the possibility of returning to religious faith. Since all this came to pass we now know that over the past 30 years there has been a
100 fold increase in Christianity in China. We now have 80 million Christians (conservatively) – to 130 million Christians in China. If it is not already -- then soon China will be the nation with the most protestant Christians in the world and will begin to send Christians to reach other parts of the world.

The biggest challenge facing
China is not economic – it is spiritual. We in China will either have "Transformation WITH the cross" or "Transformation WITHOUT the cross." For us to truly succeed we need transformation WITH the cross.

I have also reminded our people that the concept of becoming more open to Christianity is consistent with the Chinese way of thinking.
Chinese culture is not stubborn and static – it is willing to adapt and learn and change. In the past some dynasties turned to Taoism and Confucianism for a spiritual foundation. Later still other dynasties added elements of Buddhism to stabilize the nation. Now as China enters a third great era of renewal as a nation I recommend that we should allow Christianity to form the basis for this renewed society.

One reason it would be a good idea to embrace Christianity i
s that our government has a stated goal of building a more harmonious society. Surely Jesus and his teachings of unconditional love can make this harmonious society possible. Christianity is know to help people become more loving. Another reason to embrace Christianity is that o
ur government has asked everyone to conduct business honestly -- using only one set of books instead of two. Christianity values honesty. We already see the it is the Christian business people in China who are the first to respond positively to our government's call to not bribe – not to be sexually immoral – not to abuse employees – not to keep dishonest books.

So I strongly encourage that in the coming decade
China should become transformed WITH the cross. We should embrace the Christian faith more openly. If we do this China will become a
City on a Hill - A Nation of Integrity and A Blessing to the World.

In closing O have a word for you Christians in the West. Pl
ease pray for us and continue to show us how you can be economically great and still be honest and moral and kind and loving. Set a good example for us as a nation and as individual Christians so that we can learn more about how to follow Jesus every day in every aspect of life.
Thank you.”

Amazing insight into the Chinese mind from a Christian perspective...


  1. Everyone had a hard time understand what he was saying but I was so encouraged! Who would have even imagined that he would be allowed to share at the Summit! Just finally found your new blogspot!

  2. Unfortunately the choice of translator didn't help at all. He needed to speak perfect English which he didn't. Not a great response at our site either. BUT God is up to something big.