Editor's Choice

Chi serves as the mysterious bridge between God and humanity


A New Day: Essays on World Christianity in Honor of Lamin Sanneh
"Chi and the Christian understanding of the Holy Spirit share many commonalities. The Old Testament ruach and the New Testament pneuma carry the same ambiguity of multiple meanings, as does Chi, such as 'breath, air, wind or soul.' The word ruach has its etymological origin in air, which manifests itself in two distinctive forms; that of wind in nature and that of breath in living things. Because God as Spirit manifests herself as wind, or ruach, she is also Chi...

The cosmic dimension of Spirit is expressed in the idea of Chi, the vital energy which is the animating power and essence of the material body. The Spirit is also breath in living things. Breath is none other than wind, the movement of air or ether in the living, which is also Chi. While wind brings nature to life, breath makes the living alive. In the Hebrew Scriptures, God's breath is identified with life-giving power (Genesis 6:17, Num. 16:22, Ps. 104:29; Eccles. 3:1, Isaiah 37:6 etc.) and the Spirit becomes a life-giving power in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-20; Luke 1:15, 35, 37). In these passages, we notice that Chi, the vital energy, which has her origin in God, is the life force of living creatures. Human beings live and die because of the breath of life, Spirit or Chi, which penetrates our entire bodies. If healing is associated with the circulation of Chi, it is certainly true that the Spirit as breath is not only the power that sustains and restores life but also the power that changes and transforms all living things. Therefore, it is important to allow Chi not only to heal our physical bodies, but also our mental and spiritual entities as well. All these concepts emanate the life giving Spirit which is in all things and is the Spirit God has provided us. It is the spiritual energy which inhabits all of us as it is an utterly dynamic living and vital force. Chi serves as the mysterious bridge between God and humanity.

Chi, like pneuma, is translated as 'breath,' 'energy,' 'ether' or 'material force,' but is better rendered as 'matter-energy.' Chi is pervasive in the universe, giving rise to all things, endowing them with life and energy. It is a substrative psycho-physical reality underlying the world as it appears to our consciousness and corresponding in a way to the pneuma of the ancient Greeks. The Great Ultimate is full of Chi. Chi is not only all-pervasive reality but also undifferentiated singleness. According to this concept of Chi, the distinction between wind and breath is simply one of modes of manifestation. Chi is the essence of all life and all existence. Without Chi, life does not exist and if there is no Spirit, nothing living can exist. God as the life-giving spirit is the proper source of life and strength. In a derivative sense, ruach also denotes the life-force of the individual (Judges 15:19) and of the group (Num. 16:22).

Chi is the ultimate reality and is immanent in all things. Because all things in the universe consists of Chi, no being can exist apart from Chi. There is no place where there is no Chi; the sky, the sun and the moon are accumulated Chi. This notion of the Spirit as Chi assists us in reaffirming the idea of divine immanence or Immanuel, God is with us. Due to interchangeability of Chi and Spirit, the concept can be captured in the combined term of Spirit/Chi. This means that God is in all things, which allows one to realize that everything exists in God and that everything exists because of God.

Andrew F. Walls, Akintunde E. Akinade, A New Day
Peter Lang Pub Inc (Jun 15 2010) pp. 293-95


"The qi must have something to do with the pneuma mentioned by Jesus"

Spirit and Qi

"In Christianity the Spirit is God permeating God's own creation. According to the creation study in the Hebrew Scriptures, 'a wind [spirit] from God swept over the face of the waters' in the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:2).. Hence, the primary mission of the Spirit has to do with life, creating it, sustaining it and directing it towards its future destiny. The Spirit is the source of life, not only of the present life but of eternal life as well. The Spirit is within creation, but is not conditioned by creation.

Chinese theologians Chang Chun-shen and C. S. Song suggest that this Sprit is what the Chinese would call qi—air, breath and spirit. According to the teachings of Confucianism and Taoism, qi is the material origin of all things; it is at the same time the origin of the life-force and energy moving into action. Or rather it is in itself equipped with life-giving properties and energy for action. The following is a standard expression of qi:

Ch'i [qi] fills the space between heaven and earth. Heaven and earth themselves, all things between heaven and earth, are all constituted by ch'i. Because of ch'i everything between heaven and earth moves, changes, and functions. It itself moves and moves all things. It is the subject of changes and movements and the origin that causes them. Human beings and animal-plant life also consist of ch'i. The human body is filled with ch'i which comes and goes. The ch'i within the human body and the ch'i outside it are the same ch'i and interpenetrate one another.

The qi must have something to do with the pneuma mentioned by Jesus. 'The pneuma [air, wind or spirit] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes' (Jn 3:8). This is the mystery of pneuma and qi. It is wind as well as spirit. It moves and works like wind, blowing where it wills. This actually is similar to the Old testament concepts of 'soul' and 'breath' and 'soul'."

Zhihua Yao, In the Power of the Spirit
Tripod 91 (Jan.-Feb. 1996), pp. 29-30




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