Confucius: His testimony for one God and against Pauline Dogma

As all humans are God’s creation, it stands to reason that God not only guided people in the Middle East through Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Jesus, but, He also guided other people through prophets like Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster. If this be true there should be some common theme between their teachings, a common thread, a clue that these teachings are all emanating from a common source, one and the same glacier feeds all these rivers of wisdom.

Absence of Trinity, Original Sin and Pauline atonement in Confucius’s teachings should serve as an epiphany to every fair and open minded Christian.

This is not just a Muslim paradigm but some Christian missionaries have yielded to this frame of reasoning. Don Richardson is a Canadian Christian missionary, who worked among the tribal people of Western New Guinea, Indonesia. He argues in his writings that, hidden among tribal cultures, there are usually some practices or understandings, which he calls ‘Redemptive Analogies,’ which can be used to illustrate the meaning of the Christian Gospel.

In 1962, he and his wife Carol went to work among the Sawi tribe of what was then Dutch New Guinea. Richardson labored to show the villagers a way that they could comprehend Jesus from the Bible, but the cultural barriers to understanding and accepting this teaching seemed impossible until an unlikely event brought the concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ into immediate relevance for the Sawi.

Missionary historian Ruth A. Tucker writes:

“As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi: ‘In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.’ Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.”

Three tribal villages were in constant battle at this time. The Richardsons were considering leaving the area, so to keep them there, the Sawi people in the embattled villages came together and decided that they would make peace with their hated enemies. Ceremonies commenced that saw young children being exchanged between opposing villages. Observing this, Richardson wrote: “if a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted!” From this rare picture came the analogy of God’s sacrifice of his own Son. The Sawi began to understand the teaching of the incarnation of Christ in the Gospel after Richardson explained God to them in this way.

This time Don Richardson had duped them into a different irrationality. If we apply the principles of ‘redemptive analogy’ to reformers and prophets like Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster we will realize quickly that Unitarianism is the way to go!

As all humans are God’s creation, it stands to reason that God not only guided people in the Middle East through Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Jesus, but, He also guided other people through prophets like Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster. If this be true there should be some common theme between their teachings, a common thread, a clue that these teachings are all emanating from a common source, the same glacier feeds all these rivers of wisdom. The gulf between Pauline Christianity and all the other world religions is an illuminating testimony to the fact that St. Paul changed Christianity from the religion of Jesus to a religion about his death and imagined resurrection.
There is a concept in Buddhism of countless Buddha.  Encyclopedia Britannica states, “According to the various traditions of Buddhism, there have been buddhas in the past and there will be buddhas in the future.”[1]  This resonates with the Islamic teaching that there have been 124,000 prophets in different times and different parts of the world.

The testimony of One God is everywhere and Trinity is no where to be seen in our universe. The universe and all life forms on our planet earth speak of One God and not three.

Historically also other than the Christians we find no testimony of Trinity in other regions of the earth and other religions. Even looking at the local population of the Middle East, Jews are strict monotheists. Even among the Christians we still have a sect named Unitarians.
The word Trinity is not even mentioned in the New Testament. It is stated in 1890 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, “The Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the third century still forming the large majority.”
With a little effort One God can be traced in all religions, but the three persons and one substance of Trinity is nowhere to be seen, except in Pauline dogma.
The concept of there being prophets in all regions of the world, is self evident to the Muslims who grow up with the Quranic teachings, “Indeed, We have sent thee with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and as a Warner; and there is no people on earth in any age who did not receive a Warner from God.”  (Al Quran: 35:25) This is not just a Muslim paradigm but some Christian missionaries have yielded to this frame of reasoning as well, the case in point is a Christian missionary and Islamophobe Don Richardson.  I borrow the description of his concept of ‘Redemptive Analogies’ from wikipedia here.
Richardson studied at the Prairie Bible Institute and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. In 1962, he and his wife Carol went to work among the Sawi tribe of what was then Dutch New Guinea in the service of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. The Sawi were known to be cannibalistic headhunters. In their new home in the jungle, the Richardsons set about learning the native Sawi language which was daunting in its complexity. There are 19 tenses for every verb. Don was soon able to become proficient in the dialect after a schedule of 8-10 hours daily learning sessions.
Richardson labored to show the villagers a way that they could comprehend Jesus from the Bible, but the cultural barriers to understanding and accepting this teaching seemed impossible until an unlikely event brought the concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ into immediate relevance for the Sawi.
Missionary historian Ruth A. Tucker writes:
“As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi: ‘In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.’ Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.”[2]
Three tribal villages were in constant battle at this time. The Richardsons were considering leaving the area, so to keep them there, the Sawi people in the embattled villages came together and decided that they would make peace with their hated enemies. Ceremonies commenced that saw young children being exchanged between opposing villages. One man in particular ran toward his enemy’s camp and literally gave his son to his hated foe. Observing this, Richardson wrote: “if a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted!” From this rare picture came the analogy of God’s sacrifice of his own Son. The Sawi began to understand the teaching of the incarnation of Christ in the Gospel after Richardson explained God to them in this way.
Following this event many villagers converted to Christianity, a translation of the New Testament in Sawi was published, and nearly 2,500 Sawi patients were treated by Carol. The world’s largest circular building made strictly from un-milled poles was constructed in 1972 as a Christian meeting place by the Sawi.
This time Don Richardson following in the footsteps of Judas had duped them into a different irrationality, this was another case of bait and switch, whcih is commonly employed consciously or unconsciously by the Christian apologists to defend all their dogma, they present the proofs and need of One God and then sell to the naive three persons in one being of Trinity, without offering any proof for the Triune God. Here Richardson exploited the Peace Child to sell the Christian dogma of substitution atonement, emphasis being on substitution in atonement as well as in bait and switch.  Peace Child was no out of this world phenomenon like the Christian atonement, there was a common practice of intermarriages in the medieval Indian states to ensure peace, the premise was that if your daughter was in a certain state or province you are not going to attack that state.  This has little if any commonality with God killing his own son for the redemption of mankind.  Analogy would be befitting if God leaves mankind with his living son as insurance or assurance against any plan of punishment on His part so that humans feel safe from any negative intervention from the Almighty!
Was the Sawi conversion due to the powerful reasoning of ‘Redemptive Analogy,’ or the economic considerations of the medicines and the large church building?  In the case of Sawi we will never know, but if we apply the principles of ‘Redemptive Analogy’ to larger well documented religions and reformers and prophets like Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster, we will realize quickly that Unitarianism is the way to go, feel free to choose between Judaism, Unitarian Christianity or Islam!
Richardson has covered his experiences and his scholarship in his books Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World and Peace Child.  However, a more critical reading of the materials that he presents and supplementing information on the topic from other sources actually argues the Muslim position that with a little effort One God can be traced in all religions, but the three persons and one substance of Trinity is no where to be seen, except in Pauline dogma.
This time Richardson had duped them into a different irrationality, which has no basis in any other religious tradition.  It was a false analogy.  No Sawi was sacrificing his son for the sins of anyone else.  Some Sawi fathers had only offered their sons as a collateral or a human shields to avoid war but Richardson in his obesession with the person of Jesus of Nazareth imagined that there was some redemptive analogy here.  Christian atonement is a contradiction that is not found in any other religious tradition.  It is very concisely explained by one of the Founding Fathers of USA, Thomas Paine:

From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea, and acting upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the Christian system, or thought it to be a strange affair; I scarcely knew which it was: but I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee of the church, upon the subject of what is called Redemption by the death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man, that killed his son, when he could not revenge himself any other way; and as I was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. This was not one of those kind of thoughts that had anything in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of doing it. I believe in the same manner to this moment; and I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.  (Thomas Paine)


A statue of Confucius, located in Hunan, China on the shore of the Dongting Lake.

Prof. Mark W Muesse wrote about the teachings of Confucius that negate St. Paul’s unwarranted emphasis on belief alone that in the Protestant theology is termed Sola Gratia: 

Confucius intended his teachings to be implemented and practiced, not merely pondered and evaluated. As we shall do for each of the other figures, we turn now to give consideration to the aspect of his teaching I have categorized as spiritual discipline. Under this rubric, I include those exercises and activities that these teachers promoted as ways of nudging their followers closer to what they considered human fulfillment, however that might be understood. Each of our four figures (Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad) regarded these practical disciplines as essential to their teachings. These practices were not optional activities for those interested in extra credit but the very means by which each teacher sought to share his vision with others. In a very meaningful sense, therefore, we cannot completely appreciate what anyone of them taught until we have actually taken the path he set forth and walked it to the end.
My choice of that metaphor, by the way, is deliberate. Confucius, the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad each referred to his spiritual practice as ‘the way’ or ‘the path.’ Muhammad spoke of Islam as the ‘straight path;’ Jesus called himself ‘the way and the truth and the life,’ and one of early Christianity’s names for itself was simply ‘the Way;’ the Buddha established the ‘Noble Path’ to nibbana; and Confucius urged people to follow the way, or dao, of Heaven. Each teacher believed taking his path required commitment and disciplined action.
Confucius thought that continual practice of mannerly acts could engender sincere feelings in the one who performs them. You may not feel particularly humble, but after several thousand bows and prostrations, feelings of genuine humility begin to surface. Humans are habitual creatures, and so repetitious actions can do amazing things to transform the character. Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.’ John Dryden, the English poet and playwright, also observed the dialectical relationship between behavior and character. He said: ‘We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.’ As character is shaped by behavior, the performance of humane acts becomes natural and spontaneous. It loses the artificial quality that may have attended it at first. For Confucius, this dialectical relationship between the external act and the intemal disposition is the key to understanding how both ritual and decorum can make us more humane.[3]

The testimony of One God is every where and Trinity is no where to be seen in our universe. The universe and all life forms on our planet earth speak of One God and not three.

Historically also other than the Christians we find no testimony of Trinity in other regions of the earth and other religions. Even looking at the local population of the Middle East, Jews are strict monotheists. Even among the Christians we still have a sect named Unitarians.
The word Trinity is not even mentioned in the New Testament. It is stated in 1890 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, “The Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the third century still forming the large majority.”
With a little effort One God can be traced in all religions, but the three persons and one substance of Trinity is no where to be seen except in Pauline dogma.

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad writes about Confucianism in his book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth in the chapter Confucianism:

Mencius said:
‘It is said in the ‘Book of Poetry’:
‘Heaven, in producing mankind,
Gave them their various faculties and relations with their specific laws.
These are the invariable rules of nature for all to hold,
And all love this admirable virtue.’
The term “Heaven”, as understood by Mencius is a Conscious Being and it is interchangeable with our term of God. Heaven may be seen to symbolize the active and conscious creative principles of God. Thus he says:
‘This is illustrated by what is said in the ‘Book of Poetry,’—
“Be always studious to be in harmony with the ordinances of God,
So you will certainly get for yourself much happiness;’
Classical Confucianism, undoubtedly, presents man as a creation of God rather than just a product of unconscious nature. For Confucius, the ultimate goal in attaining knowledge of one’s own nature is to attain harmony with God, and this is the ultimate of man’s vision of heaven. This belief is quite similar to the Quranic teaching in presenting man as having been created according to God’s attributes.
… and follow the nature (attributes) of Allah after which He fashioned all mankind… (Al Quran 30:31)
The book can be read online:
There is plenty of evidence out there to suggest that Confucius believed in one supreme God for which he used the expression Heaven.  Prof. Mark W Muesse wrote:
But hesitancy does not mean silence in this case. Scattered throughout the Analects are references to the principal metaphysical concepts of ancient China. We will discuss these foundational ideas and then examine how they functioned in Confucius’ thought. Although Confucius did not speculate or speak much about the world of gods and spirits, he clearly thought that acknowledging the divine in certain ways was essential to human welfare.
Like all Chinese of his day, Confucius accepted the ancient belief that reality comprised two worlds, the realm of Heaven and the realm of Earth. Heaven, or tiiin, was the domain of gods, spirits, and ancestors; Earth, or di, was the sphere of humans and nature. One of the Chinese terms for the universe or cosmos was tiandi, a simple compound of both words. As this compound suggests, Heaven and Earth could not be thought of apart from one another. They formed a holistic and symbiotic unity. Each one depended on the other. The western conception of the absolute transcendence of god, as exemplified in Soren Kierkegaard’s famous claim that there is an “infinite qualitative difference” between god and humanity, was utterly foreign to the Chinese way of thinking. Heaven and Earth were permeable realms, and there was an intimate connection between them. The many gods and spirits of the universe were thought to be immediately available to human beings, and hence they could be consulted by means of divination and could even enter and possess individuals.
Due to the interdependence of Heaven and Earth, the well-being of everyone and everything in them rested on their harmonious relationship. Preserving this harmony was one of the king’s principal functions. One of the earliest narratives of Chinese history states that the ruler’s primary responsibility was “pacifying the multitude of spirits and putting in harmony the myriad of people,” and if this was not done, “the spirits will be incensed against him and the people will revolt.” Accordingly, the king was charged with performing the appropriate rituals and sacrifices to curry the favor of the divine figures whose good graces were essential to the well-being of the state and its citizens.
The idea of Heaven in Chinese philosophy and religion meant more than just the dwelling place of the divine beings, although it certainly included that. Originally, tian simply meant the “sky,” but over the centuries from the Shang dynasty down to Confucius’ time, the idea of Heaven came to accumulate a rich variety of meanings. During the Shang, tian appears to have been a generic term for the heavenly realm. The people of the Shang imagined this divine world as a heavenly court that paralleled the royal court on earth.
As the earthly king governed through a bureaucracy of nobles, counselors, and various other ministers of state, so the high god ruled heaven with his spiritual minions and assistants. The Shang people called the high god Shang Di, the Supreme Emperor or the Supreme Ancestor. Although he was never depicted by physical representations, Shang Di was imagined to preside over a court that included many lesser divinities, or shen, that controlled, or at least influenced, the powers of the natural and human worlds. These were the gods and spirits the Chinese turned to for help in matters of agriculture, hunting, military campaigns, health, and longevity. The high god would not be bothered for these trivial, mundane concerns. Unlike Shang Di, the lower gods were not universal and did not have broad powers; most were decidedly local, such as the town or village gods whose power extended only as far as the city limits, like the jurisdiction of a municipal magistrate.[4]
I am self appointed ambassador to all Christians in the West and have a collection of 100 knols on different aspects of Christianity.  Why to those only in the West? The short answer is that those in the East are not free to think for themselves, they will follow the lead from the West:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia — My additions are in red color:

Confucius (Chinese: ; pinyin: Kǒng zǐ; Wade–Giles: K’ung-tzu, or Chinese: 孔夫子; pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ; Wade–Giles: K’ung-fu-tzu), literally “Master Kong“,[1] (traditionally September 28, 551 BC – 479 BC)[2] was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period.

His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism (法家) or Taoism (道家) during the Han Dynasty[3][4][5] (206 BC – 220 AD). Confucius’ thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家). It was introduced to Europe by the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as “Confucius”.

His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius (論語), a collection of “brief aphoristic fragments”, which was compiled many years after his death. For nearly 2,000 years he was thought to be the editor or author of all the Five Classics (五經)[6][7] such as the Classic of Rites (禮記) (editor), and the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋) (author).

Kong Qiu (孔丘), as Confucius is commonly known, is a combination of his surname (孔) and his given name (丘), and he was also known as Zhong Ni (仲尼), which is his courtesy name. He was born in 551 BC in the Lu state[8] (This state was in the south of modern-day Shandong Province) in the later days of the Spring and Autumn Period. Confucius was from a warrior family. His father Shulianghe (叔梁紇) was a famous warrior who had military exploits in two battles and owned a fiefdom. Confucius lost his father when he was three years old, and then his mother Yan Zhengzai (顏徵在) took him and left the fiefdom because as a concubine (妾), she wanted to avoid mistreatment from Shulianghe’s formal wife. Thus, Confucius lived in poverty with his mother since childhood. With the support and encouragement of his mother, Confucius was very diligent in his studies. When Confucius was seventeen years old, his mother died as a result of illness and overwork. Three years later, Confucius married a young woman who was from the Qiguan family (亓官氏) of the Song state (宋) . Though he had a mild tempered wife who loved him, he left his family to strive for his ideals. Confucius sought to revive the perfect virtue of Huaxia (Chinese civilization) and the classical properties of the Western Zhou Dynasty to build a great, harmonious and humanistic society.




The Analects of Confucius

In the Analects (論語), Confucius presents himself as a “transmitter who invented nothing”.[6] He puts the greatest emphasis on the importance of study,[9][10] and it is the Chinese character for study (or learning) that opens the text. In this respect, he is seen by Chinese people as the Greatest Master.[11] Far from trying to build a systematic theory of life and society or establish a formalism of rites, he wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world,[12] mostly through the old scriptures and by relating the moral problems of the present to past political events (like the Annals) or past expressions of feelings by common people and reflective members of the elite, preserved in the poems of the Book of Odes (詩經).[13][14]

In times of division, chaos, and endless wars between feudal states, he wanted to restore the Mandate of Heaven (天命) that could unify the “world” (天下, “all under Heaven”) and bestow peace and prosperity on the people.[15] Because his vision of personal and social perfections was framed as a revival of the ordered society of earlier times, Confucius is often considered a great proponent of conservatism, but a closer look at what he proposes often shows that he used (and perhaps twisted) past institutions and rites to push a new political agenda of his own: a revival of a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis of their moral merits instead of lineage;[16][17] these would be rulers devoted to their people, striving for personal and social perfection.[18] Such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules.[19]

One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. His moral teachings emphasized self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules, Confucius’s ethics may be considered a type of virtue ethics. His teachings rarely rely on reasoned argument, and ethical ideals and methods are conveyed more indirectly, through allusions, innuendo, and even tautology. This is why his teachings need to be examined and put into proper context in order to be understood.[20][21] A good example is found in this famous anecdote:

廄焚。子退朝,曰:“傷人乎?” 不問馬。
When the stables were burnt down, on returning from court, Confucius said, ‘Was anyone hurt?’ He did not ask about the horses.

Analects X.11 (Arthur Waley translation) or 10-13 (James Legge translation)

The passage conveys the lesson that by not asking about the horses, Confucius demonstrated that a sage values human beings over property; readers of this lesson are led to reflect on whether their response would follow Confucius’s, and to pursue ethical self-improvement if it would not. Confucius, an exemplar of human excellence, serves as the ultimate model, rather than a deity or a universally true set of abstract principles. For these reasons, according to many Eastern and Western commentators, Confucius’s teaching may be considered a Chinese example of humanism.[22]

Perhaps his most famous teaching was the Golden Rule stated in the negative form, often called the Silver Rule:

Zi gong (a disciple of Confucius) asked: “Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?”

The Master replied: “How about ‘shu’ [reciprocity]: never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?”
Analects XV.24, tr. David Hinton

Confucius’s teachings were later turned into an elaborate set of rules and practices by his numerous disciples and followers who organized his teachings into the Analects. In the centuries after his death, Mencius (孟子)[23] and Xun Zi (荀子)[24] both composed important teachings elaborating in different ways on the fundamental ideas associated with Confucius. In time, their writings, together with the Analects and other core texts came to constitute the philosophical corpus known in the West as Confucianism. After more than a thousand years, the scholar Zhu Xi (朱熹) created a very different interpretation of Confucianism which is now called Neo-Confucianism, to distinguish it from the ideas expressed in the Analects. Neo-Confucianism held sway in China, Korea, and Vietnam[25] until the 19th century.


The tomb of Confucius in Qufu

  • Michele Ruggieri, and other Jesuits after him, while translating Chinese books into Western languages, translated 孔夫子 as Confucius. This Latinised form has since been commonly used in Western countries.
  • In systematic Romanisations:
    • Kǒng Fūzǐ (or Kǒng fū zǐ) in pinyin.
    • K’ung fu-tzu in Wade-Giles(or, less accurately, Kung fu-tze).
      • Fūzǐ means teacher. Since it was disrespectful to call the teacher by name according to Chinese culture, he is known as just “Master Kong”, or Confucius, even in modern days.
      • The character ‘fu’ is optional; in modern Chinese he is more often called Kǒng Zi (孔子).

(In Wade-Giles translation by D. C. Lau, this name appears as Kung Ch’iu.)

  • His courtesy name was 仲尼, Zhòng Ní.
  • In 1 C.E. (first year of the Yuanshi Era of the Han Dynasty), he was given his first posthumous name: 褒成宣尼公, Lord Bāochéngxūanni, which means “Laudably Declarable Lord Ni.”
  • His most popular posthumous names are
    • 至聖先師,Zhìshèngxiānshī, lit. “The Most Sage Venerated Late Teacher” (comes from 1530, the ninth year of the Jianing period of the Ming Dynasty);
    • 至聖, Zhìshèng, “the Greatest Sage”;
    • 先師, Xiānshī, literally meaning “first teacher”. It has been suggested that ‘先師’ can be used, however, to express something like, “the Teacher who assists the wise to their attainment”.[26]
  • He is also commonly known as 萬世師表,Wànshìshībiǎo, “Role Model for Teachers through the Ages”.


Main article: Confucianism

The Dacheng Hall, the main hall of the Temple of Confucius in Qufu

Although Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, arguments continue over whether it is a religion. Confucianism does not lack an afterlife, the texts express simple views concerning Heaven, and is relatively unconcerned with some spiritual matters often considered essential to religious thought, such as the nature of the soul.

Confucius’ principles gained wide acceptance primarily because of their basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children (and, according to later interpreters, of husbands by their wives), and the family as a basis for an ideal government. He expressed the well-known principle, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” (One of the earliest versions of the Golden Rule). He also looked nostalgically upon earlier days, and urged the Chinese, particularly those with political power, to model themselves on earlier examples.

Because no texts survive that are demonstrably authored by Confucius, and the ideas most closely associated with him were elaborated in writings that accumulated over the period between his death and the foundation of the first Chinese empire in 221 BC, many scholars are very cautious about attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself.


The Confucian theory of ethics as exemplified in (禮) is based on three important conceptual aspects of life: ceremonies associated with sacrifice to ancestors and deities of various types, social and political institutions, and the etiquette of daily behavior. It was believed by some that originated from the heavens. Confucius’s view was more nuanced. His approach stressed the development of through the actions of sage leaders in human history, with less emphasis on its connection with heaven. His discussions of seem to redefine the term to refer to all actions committed by a person to build the ideal society, rather than those simply conforming with canonical standards of ceremony. In the early Confucian tradition, , though still linked to traditional forms of action, came to point towards the balance between maintaining these norms so as to perpetuate an ethical social fabric, and violating them in order to accomplish ethical good. These concepts are about doing the proper thing at the proper time, and are connected to the belief that training in the that past sages have devised cultivates in people virtues that include ethical judgment about when must be adapted in light of situational contexts.

In early Confucianism, (義) and are closely linked terms. can be translated as righteousness, though it may simply mean what is ethically best to do in a certain context. The term contrasts with action done out of self-interest. While pursuing one’s own self-interest is not necessarily bad, one would be a better, more righteous person if one based one’s life upon following a path designed to enhance the greater good, an outcome of . This is doing the right thing for the right reason. is based upon reciprocity.

Just as action according to should be adapted to conform to the aspiration of adhering to , so is linked to the core value of rén (仁). Rén is the virtue of perfectly fulfilling one’s responsibilities toward others, most often translated as “benevolence” or “humaneness”; translator Arthur Waley calls it “Goodness” (with a capital G), and other translations that have been put forth include “authoritativeness” and “selflessness.” Confucius’s moral system was based upon empathy and understanding others, rather than divinely ordained rules. To develop one’s spontaneous responses of rén so that these could guide action intuitively was even better than living by the rules of . To cultivate one’s attentiveness to rén one used another Confucian version of the Golden Rule: one must always treat others just as one would want others to treat oneself. Virtue, in this Confucian view, is based upon harmony with other people, produced through this type of ethical practice by a growing identification of the interests of self and other.

In this regard, Confucius articulated an early version of the Golden Rule:

  • “What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognises as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to grant to others.” (Confucius and Confucianism, Richard Wilhelm)


Confucius’ political thought is based upon his ethical thought. He argues that the best government is one that rules through “rites” () and people’s natural morality, rather than by using bribery and coercion. He explained that this is one of the most important analects: 1. “If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of the shame, and moreover will become good.” (Translated by James Legge) in the Great Learning (大學). This “sense of shame” is an internalisation of duty, where the punishment precedes the evil action, instead of following it in the form of laws as in Legalism.

While he supported the idea of government by an all-powerful sage, ruling as an Emperor, probably because of the chaotic state of China at his time, his ideas contained a number of elements to limit the power of rulers. He argued for according language with truth; thus honesty was of paramount importance. Even in facial expression, truth must always be represented. In discussing the relationship between a king and his subject (or a father and his son), he underlined the need to give due respect to superiors. This demanded that the inferior must give advice to his superior if the superior was considered to be taking the wrong course of action. This was built upon a century after Confucius’s death by his latter day disciple Mencius, who argued that if the king was not acting like a king, he would lose the Mandate of Heaven and be overthrown. Therefore, tyrannicide is justified because a tyrant is more a thief than a king. Other Confucian texts, though celebrating absolute rule by ethical sages, recognise the failings of real rulers in maxims such as, “An oppressive government is more feared than a tiger.”

Some well known Confucian quotes:

  • “To know your faults and be able to change is the greatest virtue.”
  • “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”
  • “With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my crooked arm for a pillow—is not joy to be found therein? Riches and honors acquired through unrighteousness are to me as the floating clouds.”
  • “Wisdom is recognizing what you know and what you don’t.”
  • “Reviewing the day’s lessons. Isn’t it joyful? Friends come from far. Isn’t it delightful? One has never been angry at other’s misunderstanding. Isn’t he a respectable man?”

The last quote was chanted by the numerous drummers in the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

Disciples and legacy

Confucius’ disciples and his only grandson, Zisi, continued his philosophical school after his death. These efforts spread Confucian ideals to students who then became officials in many of the royal courts in China, thereby giving Confucianism the first wide-scale test of its dogma. While relying heavily on Confucius’ ethico-political system, two of his most famous later followers emphasized radically different aspects of his teachings. Mencius (4th century BC) articulated the innate goodness in human beings as a source of the ethical intuitions that guide people towards rén, , and , while Xun Zi (3rd century BC) underscored the realistic and materialistic aspects of Confucian thought, stressing that morality was inculcated in society through tradition and in individuals through training.

This realignment in Confucian thought was parallel to the development of Legalism, which saw filial piety as self-interest and not a useful tool for a ruler to create an effective state. A disagreement between these two political philosophies came to a head in 223 BC when the Qin state conquered all of China. Li Ssu, Prime Minister of the Qin Dynasty convinced Qin Shi Huang to abandon the Confucians’ recommendation of awarding fiefs akin to the Zhou Dynasty before them which he saw as counter to the Legalist idea of centralizing the state around the ruler. When the Confucian advisers pressed their point, Li Ssu had many Confucian scholars killed and their books burned—considered a huge blow to the philosophy and Chinese scholarship.

Under the succeeding Han Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, Confucian ideas gained even more widespread prominence. Under Wudi, the works of Confucius were made the official imperial philosophy and required reading for civil service examinations in 140 BC which was continued nearly unbroken until the end of the 19th Century. As Moism lost support by the time of the Han, the main philosophical contenders were Legalism, which Confucian thought somewhat absorbed, the teachings of Lao-tzu, whose focus on more mystic ideas kept it from direct conflict with Confucianism, and the new Buddhist religion, which gained acceptance during the Southern and Northern Dynasties era.

During the Song Dynasty, the scholar Zhu Xi (1130-1200 AD) added ideas from Daoism and Buddhism into Confucianism. In his life, Zhu Xi was largely ignored, but not long after his death his ideas became the new orthodox view of what Confucian texts actually meant. Modern historians view Zhu Xi as having created something rather different, and call his way of thinking Neo-Confucianism. Both Confucian ideas and Confucian-trained officials were relied upon in the Ming Dynasty and even the Yuan Dynasty, although Kublai Khan distrusted handing over provincial control. In the modern era Confucian movements, such as New Confucianism, still exist but during the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism was frequently attacked by leading figures in the Communist Party of China. This was partially a continuation of the condemnations of Confucianism by intellectuals and activists in the early 20th Century as a cause of the ethnocentric close-mindedness and refusal of the Qing Dynasty to modernize that led to the tragedies that befell China in the 19th Century.

In modern times, Asteroid 7853, “Confucius,” was named after the Chinese thinker.

Quote: “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Quote: “Today I have seen Lao-tzu and can only compare him to the dragon.”[27]

Memorial ceremony of Confucius

The Chinese have a tradition of holding spectacular memorial ceremonies of Confucius (祭孔) every year, using ceremonies that supposedly derived from Zhou Li (周禮) as recorded by Confucius, on the date of Confucius’ birth. This tradition was interrupted for several decades in mainland China, where the official stance of the Communist Party and the State was that Confucius and Confucianism represented reactionary feudalist beliefs which held that the subservience of the people to the aristocracy is a part of the natural order. All such ceremonies and rites were therefore banned. Only after the 1990s, did the ceremony resume. As it is now considered a veneration of Chinese history and tradition, even Communist Party members may be found in attendance.

In Taiwan, where the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) strongly promoted Confucian beliefs in ethics and behavior, the tradition of the memorial ceremony of Confucius (祭孔) is supported by the government and has continued without interruption. While not a national holiday, it does appear on all printed calendars, much as Father’s Day does in the West.

Influence in Asia and Europe

“Life and works of Confucius”, by Prospero Intorcetta, 1687.

Confucius’s works are studied by many scholars in many other Asian countries, particularly those in the Sinosphere, such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Many of those countries still hold the traditional memorial ceremony every year.

The works of Confucius were translated into European languages through the agency of Jesuit scholars stationed in China.[28] Matteo Ricci started to report on the thoughts of Confucius, and father Prospero Intorcetta published the life and works of Confucius into Latin in 1687.[29] It is thought that such works had considerable importance on European thinkers of the period, particularly among the Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment who were interested by the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Western civilization.[30][31]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes Confucius was a Divine Prophet of God, as was Lao-Tzu and other eminent Chinese personages.[32]

Visual portraits

No contemporary painting or sculpture of Confucius survives, and it was apparently only during the Han Dynasty that he was portrayed visually. Carvings often depict his legendary meeting with Laozi. In 2007 a Han dynasty fresco depicting this meeting was found in Dongping County. Since that time there have been many portraits of Confucius as the ideal philosopher. In former times it was customary to have a portrait in Confucius Temples; however, during the reign of Emperor Taizu of the Ming dynasty it was decided that the only proper portrait of Confucius should be in the temple in his hometown, Qufu. In other temples Confucius is represented by a memorial tablet. In 2006, the China Confucius Foundation commissioned a standard portrait of Confucius based on the Tang dynasty portrait by Wu Daozi.

Home town

Soon after Confucius’ death, Qufu, his hometown in the state of Lu and now in present-day Shandong Province, became a place of devotion and remembrance. It is still a major destination for cultural tourism, and many people visit his grave and the surrounding temples. In pan-China cultures, there are many temples where representations of the Buddha, Laozi and Confucius are found together. There are also many temples dedicated to him, which have been used for Confucianist ceremonies.


Confucius’ descendants were repeatedly identified and honored by successive imperial governments with titles of nobility and official posts. They were honored with the rank of a marquis thirty-five times since Gaozu of the Han Dynasty, and they were promoted to the rank of duke forty-two times from the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang first bestowed the title of “Duke Wenxuan” on Kong Suizhi of the 35th generation. In 1055, Emperor Renzong of Song first bestowed the title of “Duke Yansheng” on Kong Zongyuan of the 46th generation.

Despite repeated dynastic change in China, the title of Duke Yansheng was bestowed upon successive generations of descendants until it was abolished by the Nationalist Government in 1935. The last holder of the title, Kung Te-cheng of the 77th generation, was appointed Sacrificial Official to Confucius. Kung Te-cheng was offered the position of puppet Emperor of China in 1937 by the Japanese, but Kung declined the offer.[33] Te-cheng died in October 2008, and his son, Kung Wei-yi, the 78th lineal descendant, had died in 1989. Kung Te-cheng’s grandson, Kung Tsui-chang, the 79th lineal descendant, was born in 1975; his great-grandson, Kung Yu-jen, the 80th lineal descendant, was born in Taipei on January 1, 2006. Te-cheng’s sister, Kong Demao, lives in mainland China and has written a book about her experiences growing up at the family estate in Qufu. Another sister, Kong Deqi, died as a young woman.[34]

Confucius’s family, the Kongs, has the longest recorded extant pedigree in the world today. The father-to-son family tree, now in its 83rd generation,[35] has been recorded since the death of Confucius. According to the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee, he has 2 million known and registered descendants, and there are an estimated 3 million in all.[36] Of these, several tens of thousands live outside of China.[36] In the 14th century, a Kong descendant went to Korea, where an estimated 34,000 descendants of Confucius live today.[36] One of the main lineages fled from the Kong ancestral home in Qufu during the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s, and eventually settled in Taiwan.[34]

Because of the huge interest in the Confucius family tree, there was a project in China to test the DNA of known family members.[37] Among other things, this would allow scientists to identify a common Y chromosome in male descendants of Confucius. If the descent were truly unbroken, father-to-son, since Confucius’s lifetime, the males in the family would all have the same Y chromosome as their direct male ancestor, with slight mutations due to the passage of time.[38] However, in 2009, the family authorities decided not to agree to DNA testing.[39] Bryan Sykes, professor of genetics at Oxford University, understands this decision: “The Confucius family tree has an enormous cultural significance,” he said. “It’s not just a scientific question.”[39] The DNA testing was originally proposed to add new members, many of whose family record books were lost during 20th-century upheavals, to the Confucian family tree.[40]

The fifth and most recent edition of the Confucius genealogy was printed by the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC). It was unveiled in a ceremony at Qufu on September 24, 2009.[41][42] Women are now included for the first time.[43]

Note that this only deals with those whose lines of descent are documented historically. Using mathematical models, it is easy to demonstrate that people living today have a much more common ancestry than commonly assumed, so it is likely that many more have Confucius as an ancestor.[44]

See also


  1. ^ More commonly abbreviated to Chinese: 孔子; pinyin: Kǒngzǐ; see Names section
  2. ^ “Confucius (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)”. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  3. ^ Ban 111, vol.56 (Chinese language only)
  4. ^ Gao 2003[citation needed]
  5. ^ Chen 2003[citation needed]
  6. ^ a b The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, VII.1[dead link]
  7. ^ Kang 1958[citation needed]
  8. ^ “china”. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  9. ^ Chien 1978, pp. 117–120
  10. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, I.1[dead link]
  11. ^ Gu 1658, vol. 51, sec. 9
  12. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, III.3[dead link]; VI.13[dead link] and XVII.11[dead link]
  13. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, XIII.5[dead link]; XVII.9[dead link]
  14. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, VI.25[dead link]
  15. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, XVI.2[dead link]
  16. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, XIV.9[dead link]
  17. ^ Zhang 2002, p. 208
  18. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, VI.24 and 30[dead link]; XIV.16 and 17[dead link]
  19. ^ The Analects 479 BC – 221 BC, II.20[dead link]; XII.19[dead link]
  20. ^ Derrida 1983, p. 63
  21. ^ Du 2005
  22. ^ Lee 1995, pp. 1–3
  23. ^ Legge 1895
  24. ^ Xun 325 BC – 238 BC
  25. ^ Li 2005
  26. ^ Zhang 1988, p. 76
  27. ^ This quote has been attributed by some scholars to a later student of Confucius as an attempt to create a meeting between Confucius and Lao-tzu which may never have occurred.
  28. ^ The first was Michele Ruggieri who had returned from China to Italy in 1588, and carried on translating in Latin Chinese classics, while residing in Salerno
  29. ^ “Windows into China”, John Parker, p.25
  30. ^ “Windows into China”, John Parker, p.25, ISBN 0890730504
  31. ^ “The Eastern origins of Western civilization”, John Hobson, p194-195, ISBN 0521547245
  32. ^ “Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth”. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  33. ^ Herbert Roslyn Ekins, Theon Wright (1938). China fights for her life, Volume 2. Whittlesey house. p. 315. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  34. ^ a b Kong Demao, The House of Confucius (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1988).
  35. ^ “Confucius family tree revision ends with 2 mln descendants”. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  36. ^ a b c “Updated Confucius family tree has two million members”. 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  37. ^ “DNA test to clear up Confucius confusion”. 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  38. ^ “DNA Testing Adopted to Identify Confucius Descendants”. 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  39. ^ a b Jane Qiu (2008-08-13). “Inheriting Confucius”. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  40. ^ “Confucius descendents say DNA testing plan lacks wisdom”. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  41. ^ “Confucius’ Family Tree Recorded biggest”. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  42. ^ “New Confucius Genealogy out next year”. China Internet Information Center. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-01. “With a history of over 2,500 years covering more than 80 generations, and the longest family tree in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, the fifth edition of the Confucius Genealogy will be printed in several volumes in 2009, according to an organizer of the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC).”
  43. ^ “Confucius family tree to record female kin”. 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  44. ^ Common Ancestors Article

Further reading

  • Clements, Jonathan (2008). Confucius: A Biography. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-4775-6.
  • Confucius (1997). Lun yu, (in English The Analects of Confucius). Translation and notes by Simon Leys. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04019-4.
  • Confucius (2003). Confucius: Analects—With Selections from Traditional Commentaries. Translated by E. Slingerland. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. (Original work published c. 551–479 BC) ISBN 0-87220-635-1.
  • Creel, Herrlee Glessner (1949). Confucius and the Chinese Way. (Reprinted numerous times by various publishers.)
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). “Confucianism: An Overview”. In Encyclopedia of Religion (Vol. C, pp 1890–1905). Detroit: MacMillan Reference USA.
  • Dollinger, Marc J., “Confucian Ethics and Japanese Management Practices,” in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996), pages 148–157.
  • Mengzi (2006). Mengzi. Translation by B.W. Van Norden. In Philip J. Ivanhoe & B.W. Van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. ISBN 0-87220-780-3.
  • Van Norden, B.W., ed. (2001). Confucius and the Analects: New Essays. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513396-X.
  • Vidal, Gore (1981). Creation. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-50015-6. Confucius appears as one of the main characters in this novel, which gives a very sympathetic and human portrait of him and his times.

External links


  1. “Buddha.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 07 Jan. 2011. <;.
  2. Tucker, Ruth (1983). From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya A Biographical History of Christian Missions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. ISBN 0310239370. Page 477.
  3. Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Pages 103-109.
  4. Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Pages64-66.

Categories: CHRISTIANITY, Islam, Religion

5 replies

  1. Noble character of Confucius revealing his prophethood
    Prof. Mark W Muesse wrote:

    This is precisely the image of Confucius that emerges in the Analects. Piecing together his aphorisms and the impressions of his disciples, Sage emerges as the paragon of wisdom, compassion, and humility. One summary of his personal character describes him as “absolutely free from four things: free from conjecture [or unnecessary speculation], free from arbitrariness, free from obstinacy, free from egoism.” Freedom from egoism-in other words, humility-seems to be the quality that most impressed his contemporaries. They remark upon it in a variety of ways. It was evident even in his physical carriage and demeanor: The Analects report that “On entering the Palace Gate he seemed to contract his body, as though there were not sufficient room to admit him.” He was “was genial and yet strict, imposing and yet not intimidating, courteous and yet at ease.”

    According to one of his closest followers, Zigong, the master was gentle, benevolent, respectful, frugal, and deferential. Other disciples described him as “rather unassuming” and as someone who “seemed as if he were an inarticulate person.” Yet at court he always spoke eloquently, with caution, carefully choosing his words. There seemed to have been not a shred of pretense in him. He never claimed to be a special individual or to possess any great knowledge. “As for sageness and humaneness,” he said, “how dare I claim them?” He did not consider himself to be the ideal person that others took him to be. To the contrary, he appeared to be more focused on correcting his deficiencies than displaying his assets. The Analects quote him as saying, “Virtue uncultivated, learning undiscussed, the inability to move toward righteousness after hearing it, and the inability to correct my imperfections-these are my anxieties.” He advised his followers: “When you come across an inferior person, turn inwards and examine yourself.” They confirmed that “When he made a mistake, he was not afraid to correct it.”

    These images and memories signify the way Confucius appeared to his close followers and to others. I believe these images and personal attributes probably have some basis in the historical Confucius, although I cannot prove it. The details may be debatable and perhaps occasionally altogether wrong; but the early literary images of Confucius cannot have been wholly disconnected from the person he was. Confucius appears in the Analects as wise, compassionate, and modest because he was in fact that kind of person.

    That preference, however, did not mean that Confucius was a pacifist or a proponent of absolute nonviolence. Although there are clear similarities in their teachings on virtue and expediency, Confucius was no Gandhi. In his role as the Minister of Crime, Master Kong was directly responsible for the death of several individuals.

    Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Pages 50-52.

  2. James Legge writes about Confucianism in his article titled, Christianity and Confucianism compared in their teaching of the whole duty of man:

    There is in Confucianism a worship of God Himself. From time immemorial, there has been in China the belief of one Supreme Being, first indicated by the name heaven, and then by the personal designation of God as the Supreme Lord and Ruler. For between three and four thousand years at the least, there has been the worship of this Being ; but as formally approved and organized by the ordinances of the Confined to State, it is confined to the Sovereign for the time being. He renders it in the suburbs of his capital on a few occasions in the course of the year, attended by certain of his nobles and official functionaries; but of the people there are none with him. It was at first, no doubt, a representative worship by the Head of the Family; it continued to be the same when the Family grew into the Tribe; it is still the same when the tribe has multiplied, and become the most populous empire on the earth. It has never been extended through the nation or joined in by the multitudes of the people. A most wonderful fact, and most deplorable! The greatest occasion of the imperial religious celebration is at the earliest dawn on the morning of the winter solstice at ‘the Altar of Heaven.’ Some of the prayers, or psalms rather, with which the various oblations have been occasionally accompanied, have been remarkable, and have risen to a high style of devotion; but, after all, the whole service is but a form of state ceremonial, of which the people have hardly any knowledge, and which does not contribute to maintain in them a real religious life to any great effect. Where it has that effect, the result is due mainly to a sentence of Confucius, in which, as if to guard against its being considered merely a worship of the great forms or forces of nature, he pronounced that ‘The ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth are those by which we serve the Supreme God.’
    Debarred from this direct worship of God, the spiritual sensibilities and susceptibilities of the masses of the Chinese have flowed all the more into the worship of their parents and ancestors, and the way has been all the easier for the dissemination among them of the magical pretensions and psychical fancies of Taoism and the idolatries of Buddhism. There remains for them only the natural and indistinct reverence of Heaven, with groanings and complaining appeals to It, or to God in heaven, when they are suffering under calamity or other cause of distress. I have seen ‘the falling of the tear’ in the bitterness of grief, and ‘the upward glancing of the eye’ to the sky above. Recently I was struck with a passage in the story of a young lady pressed to a certain course which, though not contrary to what was right, did not command her full approval. It was not evil, but might be misinterpreted so as to give to another passage in her life the appearance of being evil, though it had been good and even praiseworthy in itself. She wished to avoid it, and to trust in Heaven to bring about, in a perfectly legitimate way, the object which it was intended to serve. ‘I have heard,’ she says, ”that Heaven is sure to bring to pass the thing of which Heaven has originated the purpose.’ It was an expression it seemed to me of simple and genuine piety. Such a sentiment and such language, however, are rarely met with in Chinese society or writings. And where they do occur, it is as calculations of the understanding more than gushings of the heart. They are argumentative rather than emotional, expressing the fear to offend Heaven and not the wish to please it. They come short, very far short, of that love of God which is the first and great commandment of Christianity. I have been reading Chinese books for more than forty years, and any general requirement to ”love God,’ or the mention of anyone as actually loving ” Him, has yet to come for the first time under my eye.

    Sir William Muir. Prof. Legge LLD. J. Murray Mitchell, LL.D., and H. R. Reynolds, D.D. Non-Christian Religions of the World. Selected from Living Papers series. Fleming H Revell Company.

  3. Universality of Religion among humans

    Reverend George Aaron Barton Ph.D. (1859 – 1942), was a Canadian author, Episcopal clergyman and professor of Semitic languages and the history of religion. He writes in the first chapter of his book titled, the religion of the primitive people, in his well known book, the religions of the world:

    The psychological unity of man is one of the most striking results of modern investigation. There are, of course, details in which the religion of any people differs from that of every other people. Indeed, in some respects the religion of every individual is peculiarly his own; it differs in some details from the religion of everyone else, for the facts of the universe impress each mind differently. Nevertheless the variations are far less than one would expect. The surprising fact is that in all parts of the world the minds of men, as they react to the fundamental facts of existence, work in so nearly the same way. This likeness of the psychological processes of man is one of the most striking discoveries of modern times. One writer declares:

    ‘The laws of human thought are frightfully rigid, are indeed automatic and inflexible. The human mind seems to be a machine; give it the same materials, and it will infallibly grind out the same product. …. Under ordinary conditions of human life there are many more impressions on the senses which are everywhere the same or similar than the reverse. Hence the ideas, both primary and secondary, drawn from them are much more likely to resemble than to differ.’

    While, then, early religions differ in innumerable minor details, in the great fundamental conceptions they are the same. Of many secondary conceptions too it may be said that they are all but universal. It is not the purpose of this book to follow out the details in which the religions of primitive peoples differ, but rather^to glance at the fundamental ideas and institutions which they have in common. Such a survey is necessary because these fundamental ideas form the basis of the religions of civilized peoples, and many of these institutions have persisted for centuries in civilized religions, often producing far-reaching consequences.

    The universality of religion is now generally conceded. Man is a worshiping animal; he is ‘incurably religious.’ Certain Australian tribes, reported on by Spencer and Gillen, appear at first sight to be exceptions to this rule, but a closer study of the facts leads one to believe that religion is not entirely absent. ‘Religion is man’s attitude toward the universe regarded as a social and ethical force,’ and there is no satisfactory historical evidence that since man was man there have been peoples who did not attempt to enter into social relations with the extra human powers of the universe.

    The nature of religion:
    Among primitive peoples the essential part of religion is not belief, but practice. The primary aim is to avert the anger of supernatural beings and to secure their aid in the struggle for existence. As among men anger is aroused by improper conduct, so it is believed to be with the gods. One must be careful to do the things that are pleasing to them. The gods are supposed to be pleased, not with what men think of them, but by the service that is rendered them. Religion is the proper manners to be observed in approaching the gods. Carelessness as to the ritual which embodies the proper etiquette toward them is thought to arouse the anger of deities and spirits. The emphasis in early religions is quite different from that in the so-called positive religions. Nevertheless we can trace in early religions certain beliefs.

    The soul is among all men intimately connected with religion. All tribes, even the lowest, observe that a human being is made up of two parts, the body of flesh and bones, and an impalpable something that lives within. This impalpable something, or soul, is called by various names, but belief in it is universal. Among the lowest Australian tribes it is not as well defined as among more advanced peoples, but the belief is still there, and a man’s Murups or soul may, when he sleeps, go off and talk even with the Murups of the dead. Among savage peoples the soul is thought to have a material form. They cannot otherwise conceive of it.

    Perhaps a man’s shadow, which, in his ignorance of optics, is to the savage inexplicable, contributed originally to this belief. Souls were not, however, always thought of as existing in human form; sometimes they were conceived in animal shapes. Early men generally identified the soul with the breath, since they noticed that a dead man no longer breathed. They seem not to have thought, however, of any one part of the body as the home of the soul.

    Life after death is another of man’s universal beliefs. It is only among a few modern thinkers, in whom the elemental intuitions are ‘sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,’ that it has ever been doubted. The universality of man’s faith in the survival of the soul after death is attested in part by the universality of the belief in ghosts, and in the uniform practice of placing food in the tombs of the departed. Among all peoples, whether in the two Americas, in Central Africa, in Australia, or among the ancient inhabitants of Egypt or Palestine, not only food and drink, but the utensils that the departed had used in life were buried with him. Along with quantities of delicacies Queen Tai, of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, placed in the tomb of her parents splendid easy chairs, a bed, chests of clothing, and even a chariot in which they might ride! Similarly the Indians bury with their brave his bow and arrows for use in the happy hunting-grounds beyond the setting sun.

    Please note that even in all primitive religions emphasis has been on human actions and behavior and not on ‘faith alone,’ as many Christians will have us believe! There is apparently no evidence in primitive religions for Jesus dying for sins of whole of humanity, no trace of vicarious atonement, which is against human rationality, intuitions and sense of fairness, inborn in every child.

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