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Confucianism is a form of religion that does not acknowledge the existence of God. Moreover, its followers do not belief in life after death. It is considered as a way of life that was taught in the 6th and 5th century BC. It entails a lot of philosophies concerning the way of life. The religion does not agree or disagree with heaven. Thus, it is considered humanistic. This form of religion is common among the Chinese. They have practiced this religion for two millennia. As a result, it has influenced both spiritual and political life of the Chinese (Juergensmeyer, 2006). Its dominance has also been felt in some East Asian countries, such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
Just like any other religion, Confucianism has its own beliefs. Firstly, its believers have high optimism in relation to the existence of human beings and nature. The pioneer of this religion, Confucius, lived an ordinary life. He insisted that human beings should be teachable, perfectible and improvable (Yamamoto, 1998). This new knowledge could impact people’s lives through a personal choice and communication. Confucius had personal positive force over the Universe. However, he did not express his skepticism over it.
On the contrary, this type of religion does not prescribe any type of spiritual rituals or practices. Some Confucians observe other practices of the Chinese religion, Buddhism and Taoism, as well as other forms of religions that they follow. Confucius was a Chinese social philosopher. His teachings greatly influenced Eastern Asia. He was deeply convinced that he had the ability to restore the world order. He lived in times when feudal states were fighting with each other. His ambition to restore the world order was not successful. He traveled throughout China with an endeavor to promote his teachings among the rulers of that time (Lan, 2005). Eventually, he was involved in teaching his disciples. His teachings mainly concentrated on morality, correctness, social relations, sincerity and justice among individuals and governments (Yamamoto, 1998). Hitherto, the teachings were developed and adopted by many people. This philosophical system came to be known as Confucianism
Similar to other religions that have reference materials, such as the Christians who have the Bible, the Confucians have the Analects. This is a collection of various discussions with the disciples compiled together. The book contains an overview of his teachings. On the basis of these teachings, Confucius portrayed himself as a transmitter, who did not invent anything. He stated that his greatest emphasis was laid on the teachings. Chinese people see him as the greatest master. He built a systematic theory about the doctrines describing the society and life. His main desire was to ensure that his disciples thought deeply and had a wide understanding of the world. Indeed, the Analects have been a course of study for any Chinese scholar (Lan, 2005). No man is considered upright if he has not read the Analects. His philosophies have been used for two thousand years. They mainly address issues of moral uprightness and political stories. For centuries, Confucianism has been a major religious cultural influence. Initially, the teachings of Confucianism were not intended to be religious. Indeed, they did not address anything related with sacred writings, priesthood or even doctrines describing the afterlife (Yamamoto, 1998). Later, Confucius became an emperor, and he could access the deities in Heaven and Earth. After his death, official sacrifices had been made at his tomb for many years.
Just like other religious prophets, Confucius had disciples. They called him Kung, the master. The history about his birth is also given similar to other deities or gods in different religions. Confucius was born in an aristocratic family, which had earlier lost their wealth and leadership position. Unfortunately, his father died when he was three. As a result, Confucius grew in poverty, although he was able to receive education (Xinzhong 2000). He married and fathered a son. Later, his marriage ended in a divorce. He started teaching at a tender age together with his six disciples. His great confidence to re-order the society earned him a public office, where he mitigated his teachings on the government, history, ethics and divination.
At fifty, he had formed an ideal government. However, his enemies conspired against him forcing out of office at fifty-five. His integrity and ability to rule made other rulers to fear him, since they considered him a wise man (Juergensmeyer, 2006). The Confucian cult was re-ordered in 1503. At this time, images of Confucius were removed from places of worship. They were replaced with wooden tablets that had his teaching inscribed on them. Moreover, he was only referred to as Master Kung (Lan, 2005). He was referred to as a perfect teacher of antiquity.
Differences between Confucianism and Protestantism
The following are differences and similarities between Confucianism and Protestantism. The major difference is their origin. Protestantism originated from the denomination of Christianity in Europe. Christianity is centered on worshipping one God, who inspired writing the Bible as the Word of God. The Christians believe that God loved men and sent his only son Jesus Christ to die for people’s sins (Yamamoto, 1998). Jesus Christ is a mediator between God and human beings. God is the sole creator of the world.
On the other hand, Confucianism was not initially a true religion. It was actually a philosophy, which contained the Code of Ethics, which was based on the teachings of Confucius. The teachings stated that the main goal of an individual is to live in accordance with the virtue of uprightness, such as love, humanity, kindness and charity (Juergensmeyer, 2005). For instance, Jesus taught, “Do to your neighbor what you would like them to do to you”. Confucius taught the same thing concerning fairness and love. He set forth various forms of relations, such as those between an emperor and his subject, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger persons as well as an elder person and a friend. In comparison with Christianity, such relations are not highly stressed, although they still exist (Juergensmeyer, 2006). A subordinate member has a duty to respect his ruler.
Another major difference is that Confucius wrote various books, such as “The Great Learning”, “The Doctrine of the Mean” and “The Confucian Analects”. On the contrary, Jesus Christ did not write the Bible or any other Christian book. Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God and received tribute from men. On the other hand, Confucius did not claim any association with the deities. However, people tried to make him a form of deity but their efforts failed. Indeed, his teachings were used by the government as a form of exams based on personal merits and qualification (Yamamoto, 1998). Confucianism was also used as a system of exams and was later integrated into the Chinese law in 210 BC.
As it is the case with earlier Roman Catholic reforms, Confucianism also went through several reforms. They took place during the ruling of the dynasty of Sung. Protestants breed various denominations. Confucianism reforms resulted in the creation of various schools (Juergensmeyer, 2006). These schools emphasized the study of nature and the human way of life. One of the major schools, the Lu-Wang School, had a major influence in China during the Ming dynasty. As a result of these teachings, the Chinese culture and thought have been transformed in a great way. Differences between Confucianism and Protestantism are unlimited (Xinzhong 2000). This is in terms of their origin, places where events happened and the time when they took place. Nevertheless, the major difference between the two religions is in their final destination. Whereas the Protestants truly have the belief that there is a way to Heaven through the grace of Jesus Christ who saves them, the Confucians do no have any true way to their God. They do not believe in eternal life, because they depend on the nature and the order as per the teaching of their founder.