The Illogic of Ancestor Worship (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday we discussed the first possible fate of the deceased in Hades. Today we continue with the other two possibilities. We have just as many puzzling questions.

reincarnation 10

2. Reincarnation (輪迴) :
• If the salvation rites are successful in reincarnating the deceased, then there is no need for ancestor worship. In fact ancestor worship and reincarnation are contradictory. Think it through logically. If the ancestors reincarnated, regardless of whether they become man or animal, then they are no longer in Hades, but in the world of the living, with their new family, and means of livelihood. Would they still need our burning incense? Which one of you have ever received offerings – paper money, cars, mansions – burned by our previous life’s descendants?
• We use chicken and roast pork in ancestor worship. Aren’t these animals the reincarnation of others’ (perhaps even our own) ancestors? If we use other people’s ancestors to worship our ancestors, isn’t that barbaric?
• We don’t know what race of people or kind of animal our ancestors reincarnated into, yet we serve them Chinese food in our worship, would they like it? If they become Americans, do we have to worship with hamburgers? If they become Africans, do you know where to get African food? If they become animals because of bad karma, shouldn’t we worship them with animal feed instead?

ancestor shrine 3

3. Altar (神主牌) – Those who practice ancestor worship often view the ancestors as dwelling in the altar or shrine. This again is contradictory to reincarnation:
• If the ancestor reincarnated into another human being, then they would have become another person with a different name, and have changed into another family’s ancestor. How then can he still dwell in the altar?
• If you view altars simply as a reminder of your ancestors, then at least there is some basis for them. If however you treat them as the embodiment of your ancestors, who have already reincarnated to become others’ ancestor, then your ancestors are no longer dwelling in the altars. So what’s the point of worshipping altars?

All these questions use reductio ad absurdum to point out the irrationality of ancestor worship. Unfortunately many Chinese care only about tradition but not logic. Pray that God will open their eyes as you dialogue to share the gospel with them.

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