We’ve been looking at the difference between Christianity and other major religions – particularly their teaching about how to get to heaven. Today we will end our series by looking at Confucianism.
Confucius (552-479BC) was born into a poor Chinese family. He taught and edited Chinese classical writings and his disciples collected his sayings together into Four Books of Confucianism. It was during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) that Confucianism became the established religion of the Chinese state. Today Confucianism is particularly influential in China, Korea and Japan.
Like most religions, Confucianism has an emphasis on doing good works. Confucius even gave a negative version of the Golden Rule: ‘Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire’. Moses and Jesus gave the positive version: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39). But one of the fundamental differences between Confucianism and Christianity is their teaching on the subject of sin. Confucius himself was actually rather hesitant about declaring whether humans are inherently good or evil. But Mencius (372-289BC), the most influential Confucian after Confucius, taught that human nature is inherently good and you are only corrupted by external factors. And it was this teaching that became a part of the Confucian religion.
In comparison to Christianity, this is a serious error. Humans are not inherently good. Rather, the Bible teaches that you are inherently evil: ‘The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead’ (Ecclesiastes 9:3). In fact, you are so evil that Jeremiah suggests that you’re pretty much beyond being saved from your depravity: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure’ (Jeremiah 17:9). But thankfully with God all things are possible and he is able to save you from your sin through Jesus Christ: ‘For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’ (Colossians 1:13-14). Your evil debt can be removed through repentance of your sin and by trusting in Jesus’ death as payment for your sin.
Do you think you are inherently good? Or have you repented of your evil and trusted in Christ to take it away?