Syncretizing Christianity with Confucianism
Berthrong (995) states that Confucianism is a form of religion that was started by Confucius in the 6th- 5th BC and it is a way that was embraced by Chinese people. Confucius was a staunch supporter of the practice which became very important in shaping the history of the Chinese people especially in their social relationships and their moral judgments. Liu (90) affirms that Confucianism has no deities neither does it have any teachings about life after death which makes it very different from other religions most of which it believes that life continues after one is dead. Confucius pointed out that heaven and the life after death were very complicated and were beyond human understanding therefore each and every individual should focus on doing the right thing while still alive. Brook (13) defines syncretism as the attempt of combining disparate and opposing beliefs together. Christianity is one of the oldest forms of religion with the highest number of believers in the world today.
Madsen affirms that Christianity as a religion becomes the hardest to syncretize with Confucianism because Christianity is a religion which has its own doctrines that are all written down and followed by all Christians in the world today. Christians believe in the bible as the only source of the word of God. They believe that the divine God talks to them through the bible (482). Combining the beliefs of Confucianism with those of Christianity will only serve to cause instability in the church since the base of the belief system will be shaken. Christians believe that there is life after death and therefore God will come back during the end of life on earth and bring judgment to the people. Kato points out that according to Christianity good people will go to Heaven while those who were involved in evil deeds will be burnt eternally in hell (10). Syncretism imperils interfaith discourse by trying to detach Christianity from the doctrines and historical core. It will become very difficult in combining the two belief systems because it will be more complicated for Christians to drop their belief system where they strongly belief that God is omnipresent.
In conclusion, Confucianism has greatly influenced the belief system of the Chinese people since other religions like Buddhism have borrowed a lot from this system of belief system. Christianity is the oldest form of religion with a deep rooted form of beliefs that cannot be easily shaken. Over the years, Christianity has faced radical changes which have caused the split of the original church but all the existing denominations have the same belief system. Syncretizing Christianity with Confucianism therefore will serve to threaten the belief base of the Christian family. The doctrines of Christianity does not tally with those of any other religion in the world today therefore combining the beliefs of both religions will only serve to bring wrangles and misunderstanding in the world today.
Berthrong, John. ” Confucianism for the Modern World.” The Journal of Asian Studies 64. 4 (2005): 994-6. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web. 1 May 2012.
Kato, Mariko. ” Christianitys Long History in the Margins.” McClatchy – Tribune Business News: n/a. ABI/INFORM Complete. Feb 24 2009. Web. 1 May 2012 .
Liu, Shu-Hsien. ” The Openness of Confucianism.” Global Dialogue 2. 1 (2000): 89-98. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web. 1 May 2012.
Madsen, Richard. ” Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present.” The Journal of Asian Studies 57. 2 (1998): 481-3. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web. 1 May 2012.
Brook, Timothy. Rethinking Syncretism: The Unity of the Three Teachings and their joint Worship in Late-imperial China. University of Toronto, 2007.