2011-01-08

Sun Zi's Art of War and the Bible

What has Sun Zi's Art of War has to do with the believers or the Bible?
As believers, we are in a war. A war against the devils to reach out to the people that know not Jesus Christ as Savor and God yet. It is not about fighting the devils because we have already won through Jesus. (see Christian Warfare and the Devil's Strategies)

Since it is a war, we need to learn about warfare.  Why not we just learn from the Bible and need not bother with writings of man? Yes, that is true. That is why I write Christian Warfare and the Devil's Strategies first. But reading the great writing of man enables me to compare and learn more about the Bible and in this case, warfare. It can be a bridge to lead a discussion of Sun Zi's Art of War to the Bible. It helps me to be a better believer and to reach out to others.

Essence of Sun Zi's Art of War.
For details on Sun Zi's Art of War and its application to business and management, please see Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute and the subsequent posts. The essences are:
  1. Know the 5 key factors and the 7 assessment measures. Make an assessment of one readiness. Plan and develop oneself to be ready at all times. See point 5 to base measurements on real data.
  2. Know your enemy and know yourself then victory is without danger. (Sun Zi 3:6, 10:5 知彼知己,胜乃不殆; 知天知地,胜乃可全 Knowing Heaven and Earth ensure victory is complete). 
  3. Best Warfare is Victory without a war. That is achieved by building yourself up such that no one dares to take you on. (Sun Zi 3:1 是故百战百胜,非善之善也;不战而屈人之兵,善之善者也。)
  4. Warfare is mainly Deception ( Sun Zi 1:6 兵者,诡道也。7:3 故兵以诈立,以利动,以分和为变者也。5v5 凡战者,以正合,以奇胜)
  5. Preparation and Planning on real data. Collect intelligence (Sun Zi 13).
  6. Be wise, agile, flexible, watchful, in Mastering the Variation and exploiting the Advantages.  There is no one rule for all situations. (Sun Zi 8)
Teaching of Jesus
In the earlier post Christian Warfare and the Devil's Strategies, Jesus tells that devil is the liar and killer. Devil's basic method is deception. Sun Zi also gave us a long list of deceptive methods. In Luke 14:31-32 (Count the Costs), Jesus tell us to plan on real data (not on wishes) and decide accordingly. Jesus did not teach us not to plan but just 'not to worry' as quite a few believers are confused (Mat 6:34). We are to be wise as the serpent and harmless as doves as we are being sent into the midst of wolves (Mat 10:16).

Learning from Sun Zi
  1. The five factors are The Way of God (Bible), the Will of God, the Theater of Operations (our family, office, social space), the capability of our leaders (our maturity), and discipline of laws. The measurements are for us to know and increase the value. We must know the Bible in greater depth, to grow in maturity and capability in Christ, to know the will of God for the present time and the positioning in the places of our operations, to be sure that we adhere to the disciplines for development (e.g. quiet time, services etc), the strength of our community, the training for our community, and the encouragements and rewards.
  2. Best is to Win without a War.
    How can we do that? That is by walking in the light, abiding in Christ, yielding to the Holy Spirit! This is basic of Christian relationship - staying close to Jesus. With Jesus close to us, the devil will keep his distance from us.
  3. Know the Enemy and Know Oneself.
    The enemy is a liar and uses deception. I should put on the armor of truth (See 
    Victorious Life - The Armor of God). Read the Bible well and know our identity, inheritance, authority, etc in Christ. We learn to doubt the devil's doubt and overcome the deception with truth and faith in God. (May want to read Bible Study 1 John Chapter 5 Identity & Overcoming Power)
  4. Deception - Overcome it with Truth, Honesty, Communication and Transparency.
    Deception is afraid of light and openness. Devil is good at sowing misunderstanding, gossiping lies about your loved ones and friends. Communicate honestly, openly and transparently are means to resolve the misunderstanding.
  5. Preparation and Planning.
    Face up to the realities of life. Call a sin a sin and not to give excuses. Bring the issues to God to get wisdom to solve them. Use the brain, the creativity that God has given us. Plan well and execute well. Apply the wisdom of the following rule 5 below. 
    1. Planning begins with seeking the Lord first. Asking for guidance and adopting His values and thinking. It is God first then plan and not we plan first and ask God to endorse our plan. (Prov 3:5-6) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths
  6. Be Wise - Apply the Right things for the Right Situations. Be flexible, agile and watchful.
    Don't put God into a mold and expect God to work in the same way as before. Jesus healed in many diverse ways. Be able to see the working of God in your situation. Enrich our lives with the Knowledge of the Bible, God and others that the Holy Spirit may have a large reservoir of knowledge to remind us from(Just a humor. Holy Spirit can give us fresh words John 16:13-15)! To give us the right word for the situation. 
What is Missing in Sun Zi?
There is a strategy that is missed out in Sun Zi's Art of War. Sun Zi did mention to take good care of your men and to pursue the interests of the people and country and not yourself. Sun Zi is not able to know the overcoming power of love. A great way to overcome deception of the devil over people is for us to use love so that the people can see the light - the light of the gospel of Christ. Love is not easy but love is the 'more than conqueror' power - converting the enemy(not the devil, the people who are against us because of deception) into friends. See The Meaning of "More than Conquerors".

Lim Liat (c) updated 30 May 2013

3 comments:

Haydn said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I have worked in campus ministry for 17 years and have been thinking about Art of War and how it relates to the battle "not against flesh and blood...etc" (Ephesians)--for our own spiritual well-being but also in our efforts to call others to follow Jesus. All day today I have been wondering if Art of War has useful applications for Christians as we work to win people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. You have given me some good things to think about.

As insightful as Art of War is in strategies for winning battles, you are right--love is missing. I am still reading Art of War but I think perhaps also missing are the many paradoxes found in Scripture--weakness is strength, foolish shaming the wise, complete joy through embracing suffering, etc. Maybe that fits in the deception section....hmmm. Only problem with that is these strategies are not meant to be deceptive foils....

I want to find a good book which explores Art of War and scripture side by side. Do you know of one?

HJ

Lim Liat said...

Your comment triggered a reflection. Maybe deception is not the same as lie. We need to check the intention of the heart of the doer and the perception of the viewer. The doer has no intention to deceive - it is not a lie but just doing the truthful thing. It was the viewer who deceived himself out of his own experience or character.

The death of Jesus on the cross appeared to the world and to the devil as a defeat. The master of deception of was defeated by deception! Devil thought all he needed to do was to kill Jesus, by deceiving the people to kill Him. Earlier attempts failed but he thought he finally got it through Judas and the religious leaders. But the truth was that Jesus' death paid for our sins and freed us instead. His death enabled Jesus to go into hell and bruised the devil's head, conquered death and be resurrected to live forever more, giving new life to all who receive Him.

Love may appear weak but is actually very strong. Love takes down defenses voluntarily, reaches out to the heart and then transforms the heart, converting enemy into friend. That is indeed a good kind of deception!

The teaching of i-ching and Dao De Jing shows that Yin - softness, yielding, follow-after, could be stronger than the Yang of mere hardness and forcefulness. See my posts in Chinese Classics and the Bible (http://christianity-rediscovered.blogspot.com/2011/01/chinese-classics-bible-table-of-content.html)

Sorry that I can't a book that talk about Arts of war and Bible side by side. Let me know if you find one. For details in Art of War please see my posts in http://mind-value.blogspot.com/2010/12/sun-zi-art-of-war-sun-tzu-in-one-minute.html. I look at Chinese classics with Biblical biased point of view.

mlkyrmyhu said...

Praise God! I have found a new friend! I was always wondering if there were others out there who loved the Art of War and were able to connect it to the Bible.

From my own personal studies I have found that God teaches us about the divide and conquer principle when he separates the heavens from the earth (Genesis 1:1); light from the darkness (v. 4); the evening from the morning (v. 5); waters from the waters (v. 6); the greater light in the day from the lesser light and the stars in the night (vv. 14-19); and the Sabbath day from the other days (2:1-3. Cf. The Art of War 1:15; 6:20-24; 11:8, 15, 49). We are also shown this same principle when God tells the serpent that a seed from the woman will bruise his head (Genesis 3:15). The ancients knew this well: "Cut off the head of the serpent and its body will fall". Or as God stated in the Bible: "[...] smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered [...]" (Zechariah 13:7. Cf. Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27). Now while I can list more examples I believe a blog is much needed in comparing The Art of War with the Bible. I think what would be most helpful is to show how God implemented The Art of War Himself and how men in the Bible implemented it.