Introduction. Discussing CAW with those who practice it must be tempered with sensitivity because it is a deeply emotional subject. My objective is encourage them to reflect on the points covered below, never to criticize or ridicule the rituals.
Origin of CAW. It is rooted in very ancient Chinese folk religion of Animism. CAW is a continuation of filial piety accorded to ancestors during their lifetime.
My search for truth. When I was a Shenist / Buddhist practicing CAW, some of my questions were:-
(a) How could ancient Chinese, being human beings, have known so much about the netherworld?
(b) How could my ancestors’ spirits eat human food?
(c) Food was offered to ancestors only on certain days of the year. Would they not be starving for most of the time?
(d) How could my ancestors receive the hell money, paper models of personal effects which were burnt to ashes as offerings to them?
(a) Worship only God, the Almighty Creator, and not any other gods (these are created by man), idols, spirits (e.g. ancestor spirits) (Ex 20:1 – 5).
(b) Honour your father and your mother (Ex 20:12).
|God’s Truth||Animism Beliefs|
|The Holy Bible is the true word of God to teach, rebuke and correct us, and train us in living according to God’s teachings
(2 Tim 3:16).
|There is no basis for verifying the
validity of Chinese ancestral worship (CAW).
|God created the universe, physical world, nature, man…(Gen 1:1-27). Being God’s creation, man’s spiritual life is subject to God’s spiritual laws. God and not Ancient Chinese human beings, also created the spiritual realm (Col 1:16). So, only God knows all about the spiritual realm.||Ancient Chinese, being human beings, were themselves subject to God’s
|Each person lives once, die and then face God’s judgement (Heb 9:27).||A deceased’s spirit goes through
judgement in the various courts in hell. An ancestor could gain status as an immortal/deity.
|Upon death, a person’s soul goes to heaven or hell (Luke 16:22-23). Life in the spiritual world does not parallel life on earth (Eccl 9:5-10).||The soul of a deceased lives in a
netherworld which is parallel to our physical world, that is why they need to be supplied with food, personal effects, housing, money etc just as when they were still living.
|Upon death, a person’s spirit returns to God who gave it (Eccl 12:7).||The spirit of a deceased resides in an ancestral tablet.|
|Only Jesus Christ can intercede with God in heaven on man’s behalf (1 Tim 2:5).||An ancestor can intercede with heaven for descendents.|
|Once a person is dead, the soul goes to heaven or hell. It cannot return to earth to deal with living descendants
|The ancestor continues to be involved with the affairs of the living descendants. An ancestor can bless or punish the living descendants, depending on whether the ancestor is happy with the worship given by the living descendants.|
Trust and obey
Brother Richard Chng