Author: LIN Hong Hsin, Professor, Taiwan Theological College and Seminary
While reading the Bible, a Confucian might feel that it is too religious and otherworldly, at the same time as a Christian, while reading the Confucian classics, might think that they are too moral and this-worldly; as if they make no connection between religion and morality. Continuing with this stereotypical idea, it is said that Christianity approaches transcendence in an outer way, while Confucianism approaches transcendence in an inner way, because morality is defined as inside and God as outside the human being. This article explores the interwoven relationship between morality and religion, and the mutual relationship between the so-called inner and outer ways, by probing the heaven-human relationship of Confucianism from the perspective of Christianity.
First of all, the biblical concept of heaven is examined, followed by the concept of heaven in the theology of three theologians - Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Jürgen Moltmann (1926-). Finally the development of the concept of heaven in the history of Chinese culture is surveyed. For Christianity, heaven is holy and related to the Creator. Earth is home for the human, but heaven is the ideal for the human. Neither heaven nor earth should be dominant over the other, but rather, should complement each other. The goal is to pursue the will of the Creator on earth as it is in heaven. For Confucianism, whenever the human is sincere, there is a road that leads to heaven with the unity of heaven and the human as its end. We hold that there must be a circle from the human to heaven and from heaven to the human. Such a circle can be a basis of dialogue between Confucianism and Christianity from the perspective of scriptural reasoning.
Christianity; Confucianism; Humanism; Heaven; Human
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