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Finally, I am going to talk about the third main difference— ideas about life. In the beliefs of many Christians, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict mankind of their sin and unrighteousness, to bring to those who accept God’s free gift of eternal life, to empower the life of the believer. The Christian view is that we live only once in this physical world, and then follows the judgment of God. After death, humans either enter into a close and eternal communion with God, or into a state of total isolation from him, which is called hell. If someone persists in rebellion toward him, manifested through indifference or desire for independence, God does not force him to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Hell is the result of one’s choice to be independent from God and reject his offer. But if one chooses to follow God, God can enable him to live a Godly life in obedience to his Lordship. All believers

3 James Legge, The Works of Mencius, Dover Publications; Reprint edition, June 1, 1990, P317 Part5 Gao Tsze, Chapter2

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will be resurrected to eternal life. That’s why in view of the eternity of afterlife, some even consider regular life as relatively unimportant, except for determining one’s fate in the afterlife. Life is just a provisional situation. Eternal life is not the annihilation of soul and personhood, but an embodied existence of perfect and eternal communion with God. Therefore, the highest experience human beings could have is not merging with an impersonal Ultimate Reality but entering into a perfect communion of reciprocal love with God.

However, in Confucius’s teachings, there is no such a statement about the eternity of life. Instead, he emphasizes on this world, on the presence. In The Analects of Confucius, Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said,” While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Chi Lu added,” I venture to ask about death?” He was answered,” While you do not know life, how can you know about death?” From this quotation, we can see that Confucius’s focus is very practical. He encouraged people to live in harmony and to help other people through government service, teaching, or just being a good family member instead of worshipping. The meaning of life lies in what one can do in his limited life. He has to devote himself to the family, to the emperor. In this way, he can be a real gentleman.

In conclusion, we may to some extent understand why it was quite difficult for the Chinese people to accept the teachings of Jesus Christ in history. The two teaching systems, although of which some of the doctrines are almost the same, have many fundamental differences about beliefs, human nature and life, which finally lead to the ideological differences between western people and Chinese people. But does such a conclusion mean that since people have so many different religious beliefs, people of different religions or races cannot live in harmony? As a matter of fact, as long as we can understand our differences and respect their beliefs, we can make friends with and show our love for anyone in the world. What we need is not a war, not a conflict, not bombs or bullets, but a dialogue, a handshaking and an olive branch.

 

 

Dong Rui/Canadian Social Science Vol.3 No.3, 2007 112-115

115

REFERENCES

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Amity Printing Co.ltd, National TSPM & CCC, 1995. James Freeman Clarke, Ten Great Religions, Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library , December

22, 2005. James Legge, The Analects of Confucius, the Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean, Dover Publications; New Ed

edition, June 1, 1971. Saint, Bishop of Hippo Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine, Revell, February 1, 1997.

James Legge, The Works of Mencius, Dover Publications; Reprint edition, June 1, 1990.

THE AUTHOR Dong Rui, senior student in School of English International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University. P.R. of China

E-mai: [email protected]

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