Confucianism and ChristianityM. Douglas McKinneyPhilosophy of ReligionThe premise of Confucian teachings are centered around the idea of Jenor the virtue of humanity (Ching 68). To accomplish this divinity, fiverelationships must be honored: ruler and minister, father and son, husband andwife, elder and younger brother, and friend and friend (Hopfe).
Theserelationships led a push for a revolution of the political system to adopt themethods of Jen. Confucius sought to revive the ancient Chinese culture byredefining the importance of society and government. He described a societygoverned by reasonable, humane, and just sensibilities, not by the passions ofindividuals arbitrarily empowered by hereditary status (Clearly).He feltthat this could be achieved through education and the unification of culturalbeliefs.
He believed that a nation would be benefited by citizens that were cultivated people whose intellects and emotions had been developed and maturedby conscious people (Clearly). He felt that those born into the feudal systemwere had a personal duty to excel socially by means of power. Those who were oflesser class should also seek out education to better themselves.
All purposesfor betterment of man and society as one whole is known as Li. Li means therationalized social order (Yutang). Confucius felt that love and respect forauthority was a key to a perfect society; this strict respect was practicedthrough rituals and magic (Smith).The Confucius traditions have caused atradition to set within its institution and is extremely active.
It has,unfortunately, allowed the political institution to manipulate the Confuciussystem. As with Christianity.Christianity also preaches a divine, brotherly love. ModernChristianity seeks to discover a rational understanding of the person as didConfucius (Ess ed. 381); yet, Christianity feels that faith in the Jesus Christas a personal savior is essential to this enlightenment.
It was also under theguise of Christianity that it had to confront totalitarian systems dehumanizeuses of power in its sphere of influence (state and church, and these systemstriumphed under the banner of de-Christianization (Ess ed. 384). UnlikeConfucius reformers of their corrupt state pushed the beliefs of the true idealsof Confucius, Christians believed in an Absolute against all absolving of therelative, can protest in the name of God (Ess ed. 384). Some would argue thatConfucius did support and an Absolute, but he described it as the entirety ofHeaven.
Several scholars believe that his Heaven was analogous to the God untowhich Christians served. Christians feel that in order to also gain a Jen-likestatus one must have a serious relationship with the church and Jesus Christhimself. Confucius differed in that they feel that the body, mind and soul mustbe recognized as one to reach Jen (Smith).Through education or ritual practices one gains wealth.
With wealth oneachieved power. These are the essentials to living a good life (O’Brire).However, relationships between men is the most desirable. These aspects are theembodiment of Li. Li was love for authority and respect for others (Alexander).Christianity also looks at wealth in a slightly different manner. At theheart of the Christian faith and at its source of its traditions in Scripture isthe belief in a covenant (Carmen 17). It is the promise between God and theindividual that ensures (through faith) that one’s kindly actions on Earth willbe divinely awarded.
The five relationships of Jen are also honored inChristianity with references to Honor thy father and mother, for this is thefirst commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:1).It is prevalent that Christianity and Confucius are very similar intheir philosophy. Some would argue that Confucius lack of a strong theology isits failure to comply with the Christian ethics. Others would say it is theredrive to be a virtuous individual compensates for this tedium. They equallyfeel that relationships with neighbors and family is an integral part ofbecoming virtuous. Even the spiritual outlook on the self is equivalent in thesense of purification. Christians rely on the teachings of Jesus while theConfucius look towards those who have wealthy estates. This point conveys thatChristians may be more dependent on their spiritual guidance opposed to theConfucius examination of the worldly infrastructure of trial and error.
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