False Prophets and Messiahs Hung Hsiu-Ch'uan

About the false prophet or messiah Hung Hsiu-Ch'uan, biography and history of the man.


HUNG HSIU-CH'UAN (1812-1864)

Born in Fu-yuan-shui village, Kwantung Province, China, Hung repeatedly failed the national civil service examinations and grew so frustrated over his inability to land a government job that he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1837. Shortly after Hung had once again failed the exams in 1843, his cousin gave him a Christian pamphlet entitled "Good Words for Exhorting the Age." After reading the pamphlet, Hung believed he finally understood the meaning of the hallucinations he had suffered during his breakdown six years earlier. It became clear to him that he was Jesus Christ's younger brother, sent by his father, God, to save China. He became further acquainted with Christianity through study with an American missionary in China and soon began to promulgate a doctrine that relied mainly on the Old Testament with its emphasis on a vengefui God. Together with his disciple Feng Yun-shan, he engineered the T'ai P'ing Rebellion (1850-1865), a revolt against the ruling Ch'ing (of the Manchu) dynasty. The extreme poverty, crowded conditions, widespread xenophobia, and general discontent under the alien Manchus attracted legions of followers to Hung, who promoted a kind of primitive egalitarianism. His armies captured hundreds of cities, most notably Nanking in 1853, which became their capital. Hung ordered the destruction of non-Christian temples and promoted women's rights while clamping down on such traditional vices as adultery, drug abuse, drinking, smoking, and gambling. However, as time passed, the movement was weakened by corruption, political infighting, and moral decadence among the leaders, who maintained enormous harems. The disaffected left in hordes. With the tide of the war clearly turning against him and his support crumbling, Hung swallowed poison in June, 1864, six weeks before the fall of Nanking to Manchu forces, Some rebels continued the struggle for a few more years. Hung's T'ai P'ing Rebellion cost millions of lives but contributed to the ultimate overthrow of the Manchus in 1911.

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