Confucianism and Christianity
Sometimes life provides us with a challenge of either conforming to two ideologies or forgoing one and upholding the other. Being able to be both a Confucian and a Christian depends on how one weighs the similarities and differences of either part. The paper is aimed at addressing whether or not a person can be Confucian and Christian at the same time. Information will be obtained from various sources before concluding that one can or cannot handle both worlds.
Confucianism is always distinguished as a system of ethical and social philosophies and less of religion. Christianity, on the other hand, is regarded as a religion based on Jesus Christ teachings as documented in the Bible. According to Cambridge Dictionary, Confucianism is a religion that was started by a philosopher from China called Confucius based on his ideas. According to Rui (2007), some of the similarities between the two include their beliefs concerning love. Christianity teaches people to love others as they like themselves. One is also shown to love and pray for their enemies to be children of God. On the other hand, Confucianism has one of its primary theme called ren, which when translated focuses on the aspect of goodness and love. Confucius taught people to respect others, love and be courteous towards them in their daily endeavors (Rui, 2007). From both teachings, we can see that the love proclaimed by Jesus Christ is the same as that in the Confucian doctrine called ren.
Other doctrines of both parties are also common. Rui 2007 pointed out that the Chinese have a rule where one should desire not to do to others what they would not want them not to do to them. Christ teaching tells us to treat others as we would like to be served. There are also similarities in their lessons about humanity: Christianity holds family sacred, reveres the past and respects order. Hence it embraces the truth and goodness of Confucius doctrines. Rishmawy (2015) states that he has learned a different way of viewing Jesus teachings with the help of Confucius. Before he read Confucius, he had a mentality that loving your enemy involves treating them precisely as you would entertain your friends. After going through it, he understood that this was unwise in some situations that required one to protect themselves from such kind of people. Consequently, through such incidences of both ideologies complementing each other, one can be both a Confucian and a Christian at the same time.
Despite the similarities between the two, differences that may prevent one from being both a Christian and a Confucian exist. According to Huang (2009), differences between them are seen in their ways of thinking. One of the apparent striking difference is in their beliefs. Christian have faith in a single God who created everything in the universe. God is considered to be distinct from human beings. God is purely spiritual, unlike human being who has a physical and spiritual segment. Nevertheless, Confucians have no particular person as their god (Doyle and Chang, 2014). Confucius never addressed anything about ghosts, gods or afterlife (Ruiz, 2009). He mainly dealt with the social part of life and principles governing their daily activities.
Another difference is in their perception of human nature. To Christians, everyone is a sinful being. The act of Adam and Eve disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit brought about sin. Since then we have carried the disobedience nature in our character. Some of the teachings of the Bible explains that humans cannot save themselves from sin. They need to accept God in their life who can save them (Rui, 2009). On the contrary, man is considered to be naturally good according to Confucians. They go ahead to state that people are born with wisdom, righteousness, benevolence, and propriety (Doyle and Chang, 2014). Mencius who spent his life in promulgating Confucius teaching believed that you could capture your original goodness again. Therefore, it is right to say that both systems have different attitudes concerning the nature of humanity.
The final difference is in their ideas about life. According to Christianity, in the physical world, we only live once which is then accompanied by God’s judgment. After death, human beings either go to heaven or hell. Hell comes about as a result of one’s rejection of God’s offer, and them deciding to be independent of Him. All people who believe in God will enjoy eternal life upon resurrection. However, everlasting life is not mentioned in Confucius’s teachings. They mainly emphasize on the present world we are living in. According to Rui (2007), Confucianism is more about doing as much as you can in the limited life. Instead of worshipping, people are encouraged to live in peace while helping each other. The differences seen make it hard for one to be both a Confucian and a Christian since one is an exact opposite of the other.
From the article, we can understand why Chinese find it hard to appreciate Christ’s teachings. Differences in human nature, ideas about life, and beliefs make it hard for people to be both a Confucian and a Christian at the same time. On the contrary, similarities in doctrines regarding love and humanity treatment make it easy for one to be both at the same time. Therefore, we can conclude that the ability of one being or not being able to be both at the same time depends on how they weigh the pros and cons of the other system.
Doyle, G. W., & Chang, L.-s. (2014, March 13). A Chinese Christian Critique of Confucianism. Retrieved November 1, 2017, from CHINASOURCE: https://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/articles/a-chinese-christian-critique-of-confucianism
Huang, P. Z. (2009). Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation. Boston: Brill.
Rishmawy, D. (2015, September 21). Christian, Meet Confucius. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from CHRISTIANITY TODAY: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/september/christian-meet-confucius.html
Rui, D. (2007). A Comparison between the Christian and Confucian Major Doctrines:. Canadian Social Science, 3(6), 1-4.