Review: Christianity and Chinese ReligionsEditorial Review - Kirkus Reviews
Ping-ping theology. Ching (Religious Studies/Univ. of Toronto) serves with a series of essays on the history, doctrines, and practices of China's major religions--early folk religion under an emperor-god, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism--and noted theologian Kung returns with a ""Christian response"" that may discuss similarities and differences, examine specific aspects (ancestor worship in Confucianism, Taoism's contribution to science and medicine), or mull over such matters as the problem of good and evil in human nature. When it comes to Buddism, Kung simply wings it with an examination of Christianity's failure in China (too foreign and doctrinaire) and suggests an ecumenical effort by Protestants and Catholics toward nonauthoritarian ""Christianization from below"" via humanistically oriented small communities. Implicit and explicit throughout his responses is Kung's theory that the wisdom-oriented Chinese religions comprise the world's ""third independent religious river system."" The others are Semitic-prophetic (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and Indian-mystic (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism). Ching and Kung agree that, although modern Confucianism has no god as such, it is a true religion. Ching cites its stress on self-transcendence, Kung its call for ""the conformity of heaven and man in virtue."" The format, similar to that of Kung's Christianity and World Religions (1968), works awkwardly here. Kung sometimes ignores Ching's important points and occasionally fails to connect his tangential discussions to what's been said before. Nevertheless, much grist for those of a theological bent.