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Confucius Essay, Research Paper

M. Douglas McKinney

Philosophy of Religion


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?Briere). 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.


Ahern, Emily M. The Cult of the Dead in a Chinese Village. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California; 1973.

Alitto, S. Guy. The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of

Modernity. University of California Press, Berkeley; 1979.

Alexander, G. G. Confucius, the Great Teacher. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co.,

London; 1980.

Beversluis, Joel. A Source Book for Earth?s Community of Religion. New York; 1995.

Carmen, John B. and Donald G. Dawe. Christianity Faith In a Religiously Plural World.

Orbis Books, New York; 1978.

Chan, W. T. Religious Trends in Modern China. Columbia University Press, New York;


Ching, Julia and Hans Kung. Christianity and Chinese Religious. Doubleday, London; 1988.

Clearly, Thomas. The Essential Confucius. Harper, San Fransico; 1992.

Cochrane, Norris Charles. Christianity and Classical Culture. Oxford University Press,

London; 1972.

Conzlemann, Hans. The History of Primitive Christianity. Abingdon Press, New York;


de Groot, J. J. L. The Religious System. 6 vols., Leiden; 1892.

Do-Dinh, Pierre. Confucius and Chinese Humanism. Funk and Wagnalls, New York;


Goguel, Maurice. The Birth of Christianity. London; 1953.

Hopfe, Lewis M. Religions of the World. Macmillian College Publishing Company, New

York; 1994.

Hughes, E. R. and K. Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times. J. M. Dent and Sons,

London; 1942.

Hughes, E. R. and K. Religion in China. Hutchinson?s University Library, London;


Kelen, Betty. Confucius: In Life and Legend. Thomas Nelson INC., New York; 1971.

Kung. Hans and ed. Christianity and the World Religions. Doubleday, New York; 1986

McCuen., Gary E. The Religious Right. Hudson, Wisconsin; 1989.

O?Briere, S. J. Fifty Years of Chinese Garment. Lutterworth Press, London; 1951.

Siu, R. G. H. The Man of Many Qualities: A Legacy of the I Ching.

Smith, Huston. The Religions of Man. Harper & Row, New York; 1958

Smith, Howard. Confucius. Charles Scribner?s Sons, New York; 1973

Soper, Edmund Davison. The Religions of Mankind. Abingdon Press, New York; 1966.

Toynbee, Arnold. Christianity Among the Religions of the World. Charles Scribner?s

Sons, New York; 1957

Weber, Max. The Religion of China. The Free Press, New York; 1951.

Wieger, L. History of Religious Belief and Philosophical Opinions in China. Catholic

Mission, Hsein-sein, China; 1927.

Yang, C. K. Religion in Chinese Society. University of California Press, Berkeley and

Los Angeles; 1961.

Yutang, Lin. The Wisdom of Confucius. The Modern library, New York; 1938.


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