CONFUCIANISM AND CHRISTIANITY Essay, Research Paper
The premise of Confucian teachings are centered around the idea of Jen or the ?virtue of humanity (Ching 68).? To accomplish this divinity, five relationships must be honored: ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger brother, and friend and friend (Hopfe). These relationships led a push for a revolution of the political system to adopt the methods of Jen. Confucius sought to revive the ancient Chinese culture by redefining the importance of society and government. He described a society governed by ?reasonable, humane, and just sensibilities, not by the passions of individuals arbitrarily empowered by hereditary status? (Clearly). He felt that this could be achieved through education and the unification of cultural beliefs. He believed that a nation would be benefited by citizens that were ?cultivated people whose intellects and emotions had been developed and matured by conscious people? (Clearly). He felt that those born into the feudal system were had a personal duty to excel socially by means of power. Those who were of lesser class should also seek out education to better themselves. All purposes for betterment of man and society as one whole is known as Li. Li means ?the rationalized social order? (Yutang). Confucius felt that love and respect for authority was a key to a perfect society; this strict respect was practiced through rituals and magic (Smith). The Confucius traditions have caused a tradition to set within its institution and is extremely active. It has, unfortunately, allowed the political institution to manipulate the Confucius system. As with Christianity.
Christianity also preaches a divine, brotherly love. Modern Christianity seeks to discover a ?rational understanding of the person? as did Confucius (Ess ed. 381); yet, Christianity feels that faith in the Jesus Christ as a personal savior is essential to this enlightenment. It was also under the guise of Christianity that it had to confront totalitarian systems ?[dehumanize] uses of power in its sphere of influence (state and church, and [these] systems triumphed under the banner of de-Christianization (Ess ed. 384). Unlike Confucius reformers of their corrupt state pushed the beliefs of the true ideals of Confucius, Christians believed in an ?Absolute against all absolving of the relative, can protest in the name of God (Ess ed. 384).? Some would argue that Confucius did support and an Absolute, but he described it as the entirety of Heaven. Several scholars believe that his Heaven was analogous to the God unto which Christians served. Christians feel that in order to also gain a Jen-like status one must have a serious relationship with the church and Jesus Christ himself. Confucius differed in that they feel that the body, mind and soul must be recognized as one to reach Jen (Smith).
Through education or ritual practices one gains wealth. With wealth one achieved power. These are the essentials to living a good life (O?Bri?re). However, relationships between men is the most desirable. These aspects are the embodiment of Li. Li was love for authority and respect for others (Alexander). Christianity also looks at wealth in a slightly different manner. ?At the heart of the Christian faith and at its source of its traditions in Scripture is the belief in a covenant (Carmen 17).? It is the promise between God and the individual that ensures (through faith) that one?s kindly actions on Earth will be divinely awarded. The five relationships of Jen are also honored in Christianity with references to ?Honor thy father and mother, for this is the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:1).?
It is prevalent that Christianity and Confucius are very similar in their philosophy. Some would argue that Confucius lack of a strong theology is its failure to comply with the Christian ethics. Others would say it is there drive to be a virtuous individual compensates for this tedium. They equally feel that relationships with neighbors and family is an integral part of becoming virtuous. Even the spiritual outlook on the self is equivalent in the sense of purification. Christians rely on the teachings of Jesus while the Confucius look towards those who have wealthy estates. This point conveys that Christians may be more dependent on their spiritual guidance opposed to the Confucius examination of the worldly infrastructure of trial and error. Thus it is not surprising that when faced with a choice of both religions, an individuals merit may be the deciding factor on which is more ideal for them.