Neo-Confucian Religiousness Vis-à-Vis Neo-Orthodox Protestantism

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 41 (5):609-631 (2014)
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Abstract

Contemporary Neo-Confucianism, as represented by Tang Junyi, Mou Zongsan and Tu Wei-ming, has a definite religiosity. They consciously draw a parallel between the Christian God-human relationship and Confucian Heaven-human relationship, and argue for the superiority of the latter. They characterize the Christian God as “pure transcendence”; in contrast, they embrace immanentism of the Heaven and assert the divinity of human nature. This article argues that these Confucian thinkers have a very distorted understanding of classical Christian theology. They cherry-pick some statements from the Neo-Orthodox theologians, charge this God for its remoteness from us, and happily ascribe divinity to human nature. They are totally unaware that their immanentism is déjà vu to the Neo- Orthodox theological movement. The religious thoughts of Tang, Mou, and Tu, though in different degrees, resemble German liberal theology in many crucial ways, against which Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann have successfully revolted. Instead of using Neo-Orthodox theologians as a foil, the future development of Neo-Confucian religiousness has much to learn from this theological movement.

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