Is it all right to burn paper money to the dead?

Is it all right to kneel and burn paper money to the dead in Chinese culture? What is the teaching of not doing it from the Bible?


An interesting question. I am glad you asked. Let’s focus first on the basic principle in situations like this. God of the Bible begins his commandments by insisting we must honor him as the only God. Anything other that is said to be God is a figment of human imagination; it is anothing, according to a key Hebrew word (elil) for a false god (Leviticus 19:4, 1 Chronicles 16:26). Of course, because we know how graciously forgiving God is in Jesus, we Christians do not want to do anything that will diminish his good name or take glory from him.

这是一个有趣的问题,我很高兴有人提出来。 我们首先来看一下有关这种情形的基本原则。 神在圣经中向人颁布他的诫命时,第一条就是:我们必须以他为独一的真神来敬拜。除他以外的任何神氏都只是人们头脑中虚构的假象。它什么也不是,正如希伯来语圣经对它的称呼(elil)(利未记19:4;历代志上16:26),意即“虚无”。基督徒因为认识了神在耶稣基督里浩大的赦罪之恩,当然不愿意做任何有损他圣名或荣耀的事情。

But even as we consider the First Commandment, we must also ask how God’s command about honoring parents (Fourth Commandment) fits in this situation. This commandment is given in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) and clearly repeated in the New (Ephesians 6:2,3). Blessed is the family and culture where parents are respected as long as they live and where their memory is treasured for the gift of God they were (Proverbs 23:22, Leviticus 19:32).

然而,在思想第一条诫命时,我们也必须问,神在第四条诫命中提到要孝敬父母,怎样才能让这一条诫命符合第一条呢?孝敬父母的诫命是旧约里颁布的(出20:12;申5:16),又在新约里重申(弗6:2,3)。在有生之年孝敬父母,纪念父母身上从神而来的恩赐,这样的家庭和文化要受到祝福。(箴23:22;利19:23)。 Normally,

keeping the First Commandment will not conflict with keeping the commandment about respecting parents. But, if there is ever a time when we must make a decision about who comes first in our lives, the God who sent his Son as our Savior receives those top honors. For example, if parents wanttheir believing children to lie for them, those children will choose to tell the truth in spite of reaping their parents’ disapproval and, even, punishment. Jesus warns, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).


Which leads us to the first principle to consider: Christians, grateful for God’s grace in Jesus, want their God to have the top priority in their lives.


But is it possible for a Christian to show that God has top priority in his life and still show respect for his parents while attending a money burning ceremony?


In 2 Kings 5, Naaman, who had just been healed of leprosy by Elisha, pledges, “Your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD.” Then he explains that he does have certain duties that go along with his role in the Syrian government. “May the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple ofRimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.” Under the Fourth Commandment Naaman’s role was to accompany his king to worship their national god, Rimmon. He explained that he would not go to Rimmon’s temple to worship, only to carry out his duties as an aide to the king. Elisha allowed that this would be acceptable by simply telling him, “Go in peace” (verses 17-19).


It could be possible, then, fora Christian to accompany his family to a money burning ceremony as a sign of support and respect for them and their departed parents. But the Christian will want to make it clear that his being there is not to participate in the worship, rather he is attending the ceremony to show respect for family. With that in mind, a Christian could find these situations to be rich opportunities to explain what he believes about the God of grace and why he approaches these ceremonies as he does.


However, if a Christian’s family interprets the Christian’s attendance at these ceremonies as a statement of faith in a non-Christian religion, the Christian is forced to decline to attend. That is not the faith in his heart and he would not want his family to think it is. Once again, the Christian would have a wonderful opportunity to talk about his faith in the only God there is.


There are two other considerations. One is the way non-Christians in general will view a Christian’s attending these services. Does the culture assume that whoever goes to these services must believe in that faith? Does the culture assume that a Christian at a money burning ceremony is denying her relationship with Jesus? If that is the case, the Christian will respectfully refuse to join in these ceremonies.


The other consideration is the Christian community. Will other Christians be given the impression that attending money burning ceremonies is an act of denying faith in Jesus? Will other Christians be led to believe that having faith in Jesus alongside faith in Buddha, for example, is acceptable? If that is the case, the Christian will respectfully refuse to join in these ceremonies. See Paul’s discussion of how eating meat from sacrifices at the local pagan temple is acceptable for Christians, unless it leads other Christians to false assumptions or to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8).

另一种情况是基督徒团体。 其他基督徒会认为,只要参与烧纸仪式,就是在否认基督信仰吗?会不会让其他基督徒认为,信仰基督的同时,也可以信仰佛教?如果是这样,他就要恭敬地拒绝参与这些仪式。我们看看保罗在讨论基督徒是否可以吃当地异教庙里的祭肉时说的话。他说,如果那样做会导致其他基督徒产生错误的认识,或让他们觉得有违自己的良心,那就不该做,(林前8)

Here is another area of our lives where our Father calls upon us Christians to learn to apply several spiritual principles at once. In certain situations making the right applications will be challenging. But there are blessings here. The gain is inour wrestling with how best to honor– inevery way possible – the God who loved us so much he sacrificed his Son for us. May the Spirit bless you as you grow in spiritual strength through that wrestling with his Word and his grace.