China Blessed by the Puritans?

We’ve written earlier about Chinese scholars attributing America’s success to its Christianity. Here’s another Oriental surprise: Who would have guessed that China owes a debt to some Christians who landed in North America 280 years ago?

That’s part of the premise of a new book, The Puritan Gift, by brothers Kenneth Hopper and William Hopper. The Hoppers show the link from the ideas and practices of  the Puritans to economic success, not only in America, but far beyond.

After World War II, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur returned to Japan as its “effective ruler” to oversee that nation’s rebuilding. MacArthur introduced superior managerial practices rooted in “the Puritan gift,” which Hoopers define as the “rare ability to create organizations that serve a useful purpose and to manage them well.”

MacArthur believed that Americans had an obligation to share this gift with other nations. In the case of Japan, such knowledge would be necessary to enable that nation to survive in the  twentieth century. One result: “Made in Japan” morphed from meaning “junk” to indicating “superior quality.”

MacArthur believed that the bringing of democracy and capitalism to Asia was the noblest event in American history. It changed the nature of the world we live in. Eventually, the ideas spread to other Asian nations as far as China. Yes, the Hoppers believe that the principles and worldview of 17th century Puritans are influential in the current economic phenomenon in China.

What were those beliefs?

  • God made man a free moral agent, a steward of His creation.
  • He endowed man with an intellect and directed him to use it to bring fruit from the garden in which God placed the resources necessary for man’s benefit.

According to the Hoppers, earlier immigrations such as Jamestown ended in death and disaster, a fate avoided by the Puritans because of the meticulous planning of their leader, John Winthrop.

Winthrop became governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the evident success of that settlement helped to spread these biblical ideas. They would become part of American culture and would increasingly typify American business development. This graphic by Darrow Miller depicts how such ideas often spread through a culture.

Hopper notes that

between 1870 and 1970 the economic extremes in America closed as the poorer got richer at a faster rate than the rich. The working classes got drawn into the factories and had to be paid a market wage. The benefits of capitalism were spread across the community. This directly opposes the Marxist view that the gap widened under capitalism.

This book demonstrates a core DNA belief: ideas have consequences. Christians can create culture as we spread biblical ideas and worldview. DNA exists to spread such ideas because we believe the glory of the nations belongs to Jesus Christ. Kudos to the Hopper brothers for this contribution.

Go here to view a fascinating presentation by William Hopper at a recent Family Research Council forum. You can view a two-minute summary of the book here.

– Gary Brumbelow


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Equipping the Church to transform the world
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