Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Confucianism and Korea - Part IV: Confucianism in Modern Korea

[Series Index]

So after three preceding parts, here we are now -- the most fun part of the series where we will look at Confucianism in contemporary Korean society and compare/contrast with what we know already. In fact, the Korean could have jumped straight to this post, but he opted to take a slower, more prodding route for exactly one reason -- to give context. And the reason for giving more context is because people who are unfamiliar with Korea overuse Confucianism to explain everything about Korean culture. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is misleading, and sometimes it is laughably ignorant.

An excellent example of such ignorance comes from back in 2008, regarding the earthquake in China. (Hopefully people still remember this.) In a Q&A with a New York Times reporter stationed in China, one of the questions was this:
Have there been any mentions of the earthquake as an example of the Chinese leadership’s ‘mandate of heaven’ being withdrawn?
This is freakin' hilarious. "Mandate of heaven" is a Confucian concept under which the ruler may proclaim his legitimacy, and natural disasters in the past were considered to be signs of the presence and departure of the mandate of heaven. While he is no expert on China, the Korean would daresay that few in modern China have thought about natural disasters in those terms in the last few decades. Accordingly, the Times reporter's response was a barely suppressed chuckle:
To tell you the truth, no one I’ve spoken to in the past week has mentioned the mandate of heaven. The survivors seem more concerned with getting by on a day-to-day basis and looking after the welfare of family and friends.
So in order to avoid this kind of situation, allow the Korean to give a couple of big caveats about how Confucianism operates in Korea.

1.  In modern Korea, Confucianism is a mode of thought, not a set of commands. Put differently, Korean people make Confucian-style thoughts, but that does not mean Korean people consciously try to follow Confucian laws. In fact, Koreans think without thinking about whether their thinking style is Confucian. It is very, very rare to find a Korean person who explicitly connects her code of conduct to Confucianism.

A similar example is America's libertarianism and Christianity. A lot of American libertarians expressly disavow Christianity. But they still generally subscribe to individualism, which is a Christianity-styled thought. This does not mean that all Christians are individualistic, nor does it mean that individualistic people think they are Christian. (In fact, often the opposite is true for both propositions.) But it does mean that major tenets of Christianity, if followed to their logical conclusion, lend themselves to individualism. (Yes, the Korean is aware that this is a broad example, but this is a broad discussion about a broad topic.)

This is how Confucianism works in Korean minds. Very few Koreans "obey" Confucianism. In fact, if you tried to justify something you did by quoting Confucius in modern Korea, you are more likely to be laughed at than seriously listened to. But Korean people's world view is often Confucian-styled, often themselves without realizing that it is Confucian-styled.

2.  In modern Korea, Confucianism is not the only mode of thought available. There is a tendency among non-Korean observers of Korea to attribute to Confucianism every mode of thought/action that appears remotely different from theirs. This is a big mistake. Influences of other major Eastern philosophies -- i.e. Buddhism and Taoism -- as well as Korea's traditional Shamanistic philosophy play a large role in guiding Korean minds. Christianity has been around Korea for 200 years also. In addition, much of Korean mode of thought is based on Hobbesian individualism, which is an outgrowth of Korea's recent historical experience of war and extreme deprivation. Do NOT try to explain everything about Korea with Confucianism. And please, no stupid questions like, "If Confucianism tells people to respect elders, why do I see so many Koreans not giving up seats to elders in a subway?"

Having said that, let's dive straight in. Here is a non-exhaustive list of how Confucianism operates in Korea today, after the jump.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at

Relational Understanding of Humans

Relational understanding of humans is absolutely the most important aspect of Confucianism that operates in Korea today. Recall that the highest ideal of Confucianism is to achieve 仁 (in), which could be translated as "virtue." And also remember this -- in is always, always, always about relationship among people. In fact, the value of an individual's life is secondary to the achievement of in. For example, when a person in Korea gives up her life to save another, she is praised for committing an act of 殺身成仁 (살신성인) -- "kill [one's] body to achieve in."

The relational nature of in leads to the relational understanding of humans. Here is a great example of how this works. A few months before getting engaged, the Korean moved in with the Korean Girlfriend (currently the Korean Wife.) The Korean accidentally slipped this fact to the Korean Mother -- a big mistake. A firestorm of phone calls ensued, featuring ridiculous screaming matches worthy of the most hysterical Korean drama. The Korean tried to persuade the Korean Mother that she had already met the Korean Girlfriend, that she liked her, and that she knew that the Korean was planning to propose within a few months. The Korean Mother's retort was:

"Suppose I visit your house, and [the Korean Girlfriend] was there. What should I call her? Who is she to me?"

This may not seem like much, but that last question is the most crucial concern for someone who has a relational understanding of humans. For a Confucian-minded person, it is not enough to ask, "Who are you?" The most relevant inquiry is: "Who are you to me?"

The Korean considers this aspect to be the most significant not only because it is the strongest influence of Confucianism that can be observed in modern Korean society, but also because it is the most different from the Western mode of thought. With a greater emphasis on relationships, individuals take a back seat. (BUT, it is important to note, the individual is not out of the Confucian car.) In Confucianism, a person does not exist autonomously. To exist alone is not enough. It is the link -- not only the presence, but the type and quality of it -- to another person that makes that person a human.

There is a great deal of truth in this, and an excellent illustration of this truth is actually a Hollywood movie -- Cast Away. The movie famously depicts a FedEx employee Chuck Noland who was swept onto a deserted island by himself. At that point, the movie had a potential to become an Ayn Rand-type story in which an individual triumphs through self-reliance. But no -- Noland draws a face on a volleyball, names it Wilson, and talks with it constantly throughout the movie. In other words, facing utter isolation, Noland sought to create a human-like relationship somehow, even if the counterpart to the relationship is an inanimate object.

Fittingly, the movie's most poignant moment is when Noland loses Wilson in the process of escaping from the island. What tugs our heart strings is not the fact that a volleyball disappeared into the sea. That would be stupid. What is sad is that Noland lost his only connection to humanity, his quasi-human relationship with another.

Of course, Tom Hanks deserves an Oscar
for making us empathize with a volleyball

This relational understanding of humans thoroughly pervades Korean society, affecting behaviors as well as thought process. When two Koreans meet for the first time, they spent the first few minutes asking each other how old they are, what they do, where they are from, etc. A lot of Westerners are put off by this -- what business of his to know my age? I gave my name -- isn't that enough? No, a Korean would reply -- you might say who you are, but you didn't tell me who you are to me. Are you an elder? An alumnus? What should I call you?

That last point about nomenclature is also pervasive in Korean culture. Except for close friends (and sometimes, even between close friends,) it is rare for Korean adults to call each other by name only. In fact, even the word "you" is rarely used. Various "relationship words" are used instead. Just to give a few examples, with a person named Jisu (relationship words in italics):  Jisu hyung (older brother), Jisu nuna (older sister), Jisu sunbae (elder classman). If there is no direct relationship to be found, then one's social position is a decent substitute. Koreans would use words like "doctor", "manager", "professor", "lawyer", etc. in such case. Failing at those, Koreans use catch-all terms like "elder" (어르신) or "teacher" (선생님).

In addition to the nomenclature, social interactions of Koreans also tend to be a constant recognition and reaffirmation of relationships. Koreans bow to elders and seniors. Polite Koreans give things with two hands so as to signal respect. Korean manners require that you never show up empty-handed to visit another person's house -- you must always bring a gift, even as trivial as a box of fruits. A family newly moved to a neighborhood gifts rice cakes to their neighbors, in recognition that they are new to the neighborhood. Almost all functions -- sometimes as routine as the new semester in school -- have an opening and closing ceremony, usually accompanied by a speech given by the leader of the group.

(To remind everyone of the caveats once again -- Confucianism does not cause any of this to happen. At no time did Confucius say that there will be a ritual for a new semester. But Confucianism does make it easy for Koreans to engage in this type of social interaction.)

Maintaining a relational understanding of humans leads to a constant assessment of everyone's "place." If you want to know your relationship to another, you need to understand your position relative to another. And your position always comes with a certain set of "what you are supposed to do." If you are a student, you must be "student-like" -- diligent in learning and respectful to teachers. If you are a teacher, you must be "teacher-like" -- educated and dignified. If, say, there was a gambling ring involving doctors, professors and lawyers, they are heavily criticized for being a "leadership class" that sets a poor example.

The natural outgrowth is that Koreans end up caring a great deal about social status. Remember, it is not just the individual that makes a person; it is also the type of social links that the individual creates with other individuals and the larger society. This necessarily involves a constant survey of one's place in relation to the world, which in turn fuels one's desire to have a higher social status whenever possible.

Confucian Educational Philosophy

Korea's educational zeal is notorious, and the results are undeniable -- Korea usually tops the chart when it comes to student achievements. But the funny thing is Korea's educational system has all the factors that Americans generally think as hindrances to education. The teachers' unions in Korea are very, very strong. Teachers are only required to have bachelor's degree, and not master's degree like the U.S. The teachers are not evaluated by performance at all, and it is damn near impossible to fire a bad teacher. The class sizes in Korea are not small. Then what accounts for the success of Korea's educational system?

Many plausible explanations are available -- the Korean personally thinks that teachers' unions are very important in recruiting quality teachers, and class sizes really don't matter. (This will be discussed in a later post about education, so no need to elaborate further here.) But it seems plain that Confucianism plays a role (how big a role, no one knows) in Korea's educational zeal.

Western philosophy (broadly defined) also emphasizes education, but its emphasis is geared more toward discovering the truth that is external and eternal. Issac Newton and the contemporary physicists, for example, explicitly linked physics to Christianity. Studying and discovering the order of the universe is to become closer to God, as they are an attempt to understand the truth that God set in motion. In contrast, the educational focus of Confucianism is inward-looking. Recall that the ultimate goal of a Confucian is to achieve in. Education -- studying, really -- is one of the way in which a person gets closer to in. Studying the ways of the world is an act of shaping oneself into a proper vessel of in 

Confucianism's emphasis on education is also far more intense. The Korean cannot think of any Western philosopher, comparable to Confucius in stature, who spoke of similar dedication to studying. In the very first line of the Analects, Confucius says: "學而時習之 不亦說乎" -- "Studying and at times learning, how is this not a source of joy!" Confucius then spends easily half of the most important book of Confucianism talking about what he studied, how he studied them, and just how much he loved studying them. According to an ancient biography of Confucius written by Sima Zhen, Confucius would read a book under the leather strings that bound the bamboo pieces wore out and broke three times. (This is known as 韋編三絶.) 

All this is because in a way, studying is an act of humanly self-creation. As we saw in the previous series, achieving in is no more than following the truest human nature. And education gets one closer to in. In this sense, Confucian education is about making a human out of a beast. Because of that, the complaints like "Why do I have to learn calculus? I will never use it in my life!" make no sense in Confucianism. Under Confucianism, education is not a series of skill acquisition, as if adding options to a car. It is about making you a person. And the more educated person is almost literally a better person, a person closer to the ideal human.

These aspects of Confucian educational philosophy are evident in Korea's educational philosophy today. Studying and effort are revered for their own sake. While many Koreans worry about the excessive intensity of their educational system, no one -- really, no one -- dare talks about dumbing down the curriculum. While childlike taunts of "teachers' pet" also exist in Korea, students generally hold a deep-seated respect for their fellow students who get good grades. Also, because teachers are fundamentally more respected because they are not seen as mechanics adding skills upon students (like adding an optional X-ray vision to Robocop,) but a personhood-shaper.

Lastly, Koreans are more inclined to publicly discuss other people's educational level, and are more inclined to listen to people who are more educated. This leads to a type of meritocracy, as discussed further below.

Confucian Democracy

To continue the discussion of meritocracy -- as discussed earlier, educated person is the better person under Confucianism. And it is the obligation of the better person to make other people better and more educated. Ultimately, the better person becomes the ruler of people, because that is the nature of in -- people are naturally inclined to follow a person who has achieved in. Mencius' story about Emperor Shun is worth retelling here:  Shun became the emperor even though he was not the heir of the preceding emperor, because the people naturally came to him to resolve disputes and voluntarily sang of Shun's virtue.

In modern era, this Confucian vision has been absorbed into a form of Confucian democracy in Korea. The most important devices of Western democracy -- for example, periodic elections -- are undoubtedly present. But much of governance in Korea is driven by Confucian consideration. The president is not someone who is there to do a job. He is also expected to be a Confucian-style leader: the paragon of moral authority, the best of all humans. A phrase in 大學 (Book of Great Learning) succinctly describes this requirement: 修身齊家治國平天下. "Polish oneself, then put the family in order, then rule a country, then give peace to the whole world." Each of the preceding is a requirement for the subsequent. You cannot, for example, rule a country without getting your own house in order first. This type of understanding about leadership and governance means that anyone who fails to be a shining example for the people immediately loses legitimacy as a leader. (Suffice to say that the Clinton Impeachment would likely have ended very differently in Korea.)

Another characteristic of a Confucian democracy is that people end up placing a huge amount of faith in the government. This is a massive contrast to American democracy, which is constantly suspicious of its own government. In Confucian democracy, the relationship between the government and the people is not contractual, in a strict Lockean sense. A Confucian government is literally made up of people who are better than you, which means you would do well to listen to them.

This is consistent with the way Koreans approach governmental authority. The smartest Koreans generally aspire to join the government, and government hiring is generally merit-based. This engenders respect from Korean public, who in turn is perfectly content to let the government regulate such minute things in a way that would horrify average Americans. For example, Koreans generally have no problem with the government telling corporations exactly what to produce and how much. Koreans also have no problem with the government leading the charge of regulating morality by, literally, telling people what is the right thing to do. (For example, official curriculum in Korean public schools must include a class called "Ethics." Imagine the howl of American parents if the government forced their children to learn "Ethics" from school!)

High school ethics textbook

But remember that in is always a two-way street. In is about human relationships, which always flow both ways. This necessarily means that the ruler has certain obligations to his subjects. And if these requirements are not met, the people may justifiably rebel and replace their rulers. This contributed to the relentless character of Korea's democratization movements: the activists understood that if the ruler failed to meet his obligations to the people, the ruler does not deserve to rule. Recall that such obligations include maintaining a morally upright life. With that consideration, it is not a surprise that Kim Jae-Gyu, former head of KCIA and assassin who killed the dictator-president Park Chung-Hee, began turning on Park when Park's womanizing reached an obnoxious level. Fittingly, when Kim assassinated Park, the president was drinking with two women in a safe house, well on his way to bedding them.

Confucian Civil Society

Finally, Confucianism contributes to distinctive characteristics of Korea's civil society, and how people relate to one another in a modern society made up of strangers. This list can be endless, but the Korean will quickly discuss three examples.

First, the private-public divide is either muddled or nonexistent in Korea. Under Confucianism, a person's public self -- how the person is represented to the world -- is an outgrowth of the person's private self. A Confucian teacher's quality does not only depend on her knowledge of the material; it also depends on who she is as a person. A teacher cannot build the students' character if the character of the teacher is not up to par. This means a person's private life is constantly under scrutiny, and more so if the person belongs to the "leadership class" -- political leaders, academics and professionals, whose virtues should be greater than ordinary people's.

Second, Koreans are suspicious of people who insist on doing everything "by the law." Recall the admonition by Jo Gwang-Jo: "The royal court's discipline cannot be established by punishment. Once the court gets right first, the lower people naturally obey with their heart. Punishments and the laws cannot be abolished, but they are but the means to assist governance. They cannot be the foundation of governance." Koreans have a keen sense that the law is subordinate to morality. The law can be manipulated, especially by the rich and powerful -- but not the sense of right and wrong. Law is a final resort for dispute resolution, when the moral code arising out of human relationship fails. In this sense, it is somewhat disgraceful to rely on the law, because it signifies that you were unable to resolve a dispute in a humanly, civilized manner. An example of this appears often in Korean dramas in the form of a selfish heir -- while the family is still grieving the death, the selfish heir demands his inheritance "by the law." ("법대로.")

(A funny episode related to this tendency: in 2009, the city of Sokcho renamed the street in front of the courthouse as "Law Boulevard" -- "법대로", which can also mean "by the law." Some citizens did not appreciate the double entendre, and petitioned the city council to the change it. The city council refused.)

Third, although Korea has a number of different very active and vibrant religions, including Christianity and Buddhism, strife between religions is rare in Korea compared to other countries. Because Confucianism has no deity, its philosophy withstood the onslaught of modern liberalism better than other deity-based philosophy. Instead, religions in Korea co-opted significant portions of Confucian philosophy. For example, Korean Christianity puts a heavy emphasis on God the "father," which coincides neatly with Confucian reverence for parents. Because every Korean implicitly acts based on Confucian rules, religion is not a big part of public life, and expression of religion is not usually seen as a threat to non-believers. (Many Korean pop stars profusely thank God at every opportunity, and practically no one in Korea pays any mind.)

Thank you for bearing with this long, long post. The next and final part of the series will discuss the Korean's own opinions of how Confucianism in Korea could be better applied, and what America can learn from Confucian social order.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. This is a very good post. I wrote a related post a while ago about the influence of Confcianism in the modern Korean education system, as most people I heard making comments about Confucianism in Korea clearly didn't know what they were talking about, and had certainly not actually read the Analects or Mencius. That post can be found here:

    One quick point: Confucius didn't write the Analects. They were written by his followers, who recount what they heard him say and were taught by him.

    Apart from that, I'm with you on everything in this post really. I would also second that you would be very hard pushed to find a Korean who would identify themself as a Confucianist. In fact, if you were to discuss Confucianism with Koreans, most Koreans (under 30 at least) seem to think Confucianism is pretty much gone from Korea. I've met many Koreans who were particularly surpirised at the assertion that modern Korean society bears a greater hallmark of Confucianism than Chinese society does.

  2. I enjoyed this post. Thank you for taking the time to write it all out! :)

  3. Another instant classic.

    Things began to get wobbly in the section on governance though - specifically:

    The president is not someone who is there to do a job. He is also expected to be a Confucian-style leader: the paragon of moral authority, the best of all humans.

    Well expectations may indeed be high, but many would argue you'd be closer to the mark describing Korea's post-occupation leaders (right up to the sixth republic and recent administrations) as a gang of corrupt thugs than "the best of all humans".

    Surely cultural Confucianism goes double for the 북한, and even without the common characterization of a womanizing hypocritical despot, Kim Jong-il's deplorable record of government speaks for itself.

    Find me an honest politician in any country in the world though, and I'll eat my hat.

  4. Hi. Love your blog.

    Just a minor observation.

    You wrote: "The Korean cannot think of any Western philosopher, comparable to Confucius in stature, who spoke of similar dedication to studying. The very first line of the Analects by Confucius is "學而時習之 不亦悅乎" -- "Studying and at times learning, how is this not a source of joy!"

    As a matter of fact, in traditional Western ethics, the sort of philosophical attitude you're talking about is central. In particular, Aristotle's conception of "eudaimonia" (commonly translated as "happiness") is precisely the life of contemplation, the life of learning and thinking.

    Just FYI. Keep up the good work!

  5. Awesome post.

    I am more into Chinese people's relationship than Korean nowadays, esp. since they provide a bigger contrast in the way they do things vs. US, than Korea vs. US. But this post is really helpful regardless.

    Understanding the Confucian background as written by TK is really helpful to understanding some of what the Chinese say, even if you dont agree with them completely. Like how they see their Party as a father figure in an extended family. Or how they see the US as a country that emphasizes "process" (like the supremacy of laws) where theirs emphasizes relationships (inc. to the government) and how being a Party Cadre is so damn prestigious there is more competition for those positions than for universities.

    Hmm now that I think about it, Korean culture sometimes feel like a massive copy-paste job from China....

  6. @Ryan: Of course, no politician is like this. Just because Confucianism demands this of its leaders, doesn't mean it is necessarily so. As TK said, Confucianism isn't the only thing in modern Korea that determines what happens in society. As you correctly point out, post-occupation presidents up to the mid-80s (and arguably even now) did not live up to these lofty expectations, but it is important to remember that these people were not necessarily elected into office by popular vote. For instance, Syngman Rhee was "elected" president largely by the support of an anti-Communist America. Successive leaders are the result of power struggles within the elite ruling class/military, such as the case of Chun Doo-hwan who took office by a coup or his successor Roh Tae-woo who was practically handed the office by Chun. But rather than that being a counter-argument against Confucian influence on Korean democracy, it shows merely that Korea was still a politically corrupt nation, much like most other newly budding democracies. The more telling stories of Confucianism acting in Korean politics could be the multiple democratic demonstrations staged in protest to the actions of these dictators at those times: the 4-19 movement, the Gwangju 5-18 movement, etc.

    @cornflakes: That last statement might not be the smartest thing to say on a blog written by a Korean about Korean culture. Especially considering how protective Koreans are about their culture. I myself am biting my tongue.

  7. very educational, thank you.

  8. @cornflakes

    "Hmm now that I think about it, Korean culture sometimes feel like a massive copy-paste job from China...."

    HMMM..really?!! What is it really that you know so much about Korean culture? I'm Korean and most of the time, even I cannot grasp the full extent of Korean culture and what it is to be Korean..and you...have the audacity to say its entirely is a copy-paste job from China? What a poor observation and a foolish thing to say..especially on this blog...

  9. Well I can't say I am surprised some of you guys are reacting in such a sensitive manner. It's not like I made an assertive statement, just an observation.

    A very valid one, at that.

  10. seamus,

    Good post from your part as well! "Not a reflection, but a refraction" is particularly excellent.

    Agreed that Confucius did not write the Analects. The post was slightly modified to avoid the incorrect impression.


    Glad you enjoyed the post. One could make a convincing argument that Korea democratized away from the corrupt thugs because people had high expectations for their leaders.


    The Korean admits that he needs to brush up on ancient Western philosophy. He will happily take any suggestions.


    Glad you enjoyed the post. The validity of your observation would depend on precisely what you meant by "massive copy-paste job," the Korean would think.

  11. @cornflakes

    Well, sorry to say, but your harmless little "observation" is written very poorly, and overly broad. It's fine to try and make a point, but when you use terms like "copy-paste" which implies an imitation with virtually no thought or meaning -- instead a simple and immediate replication of all things in Korean culture... YES you're bound to have a number of "sensitive" comments.

    And if you're going to go about with that sort of "a very valid one at that" pompous attitude, you just might want to elaborate on what makes it so very valid. Thanks.

  12. "valid" =! "correct", necessarily. Rather "valid" = "legitimate", ie. it is totally fair to make the observation I made.

    And really, when u look at dominant social influences, language, mindless obsession with quantity of education (never mind quality), even their history "Three Kingdoms", "Century of Humillation"* "Warring States", then I do think it valid, yes. Although, doesnt mean you cant disagree, of course.

    *Speaking of, One of the most amusing tendencies among Chinese, Korean, and Japanese when it comes to historical legacies is the sheer ubiquity of "victimization." All that emphasis on how "they" victimized "us", and the emphasis on historical "shame"'s all so fascinating to me.

  13. One could also make a very valid observation that having similar "dominant social influences, language, mindless obsession with quantity of education (never mind quality), even their history "Three Kingdoms", "Century of Humiliation"* "Warring States"" does not equate to "massive copy-paste job."

  14. Yes of course.

    But at the end of the day, a huge chunk of those incredible sameness in culture, language, architecture, cuisine, and historical namings came from China. A lot of people like to belittle the Chinese for calling themselves the Center of the World, but as far as Korea was concerned, that was really true. And I dont see why some people should feel upset, heck, I could say the same about Japan or Vietnam (although to lesser extent, historically speaking).

  15. @cornflakes

    Saying that Korea is a copy-paste job of China is like saying every nation in continental Europe is a copy-paste job of Greece and Italy. There are common intellectual threads since those respective cultures established much of the philosophical framework that those other nations' traditions evolved from, but your sweeping statement is equivalent to arguing that Englishmen, Germans and Armenians are "massive copy-paste jobs" of Greece.

    @The Korean

    Thank you for this well written explanation on the topic. I remember my poor parents trying to explain this concept to me as a little kid when I would ask them about what exactly Confucianism is (It's not a religion... more like a school of thought with rituals and worship).

  16. Dear Korean,

    Try Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. It was written for his son (or adopted son, I forget) Nichomachus, and it's literally a how-to-lead-a-good-life self-help book. Given your (some of your very varied) interests, it should be right up your alley.


  17. Not to be picky, it's not "學而時習之 不亦悅乎". It is "學而時習之 不亦說乎", where 說 is not read as 설, but as 열(悅也).

  18. @SJ:

    Greek/Roman influence on any particular Western country is in no way comparable to China's influence on Korea. Not even close.

    You know, my tingling spider senses seem to be telling me that people's issue is more with my wording than anything else I said. So lets clear this up a bit: here, "copy paste" does not mean "plagiarize", as in "ripping off." In fact, it's arguably not even a "negative" thing (unless you are one of those nationalist Koreans who insist that alot of things are completely indigenous to Korea and are offended by any suggestion otherwise). Chinese influence on Korea is long, is deep, is somewhat all-encompassing, etc. It's a good thing we are commenting under a Confucian blog post because it's relevant here: Korea saw China as a wiser, older brother. You know how little boys copy everything their dad or big brother does? Well, its kinda like that! I am not making an anti-Korea statement or belittling its culture, I am just making an observation. Almost immediately since the Sui/Triple* Kingdoms period, Korean elites began to look at one role model, and one only: China. To say "China influenced Korea alot" is not even totally accurate; Korean elites deliberately, consciously, and extensively saw Chinese culture as superior. If it was Chinese, it was worth copying** (I am not sure "emulating" is the right word). Heck, in those pre-rabidly-nationalist-Korea days, even indigenous Korean stuff was deemed inferior (hangul is a well known example). This sameness between China and Korea goes well into the 20th century: around the late 1800s, many influential Chinese began to curse Confucian's name (and Traditional China in general), a self-hate that continued well into Mao's period. Korea however, tried to hold on to China/Chinese way of seeing the world - just like they tried to hold on to Ming China when "Ming" was already long history - but in the end, Korea yet again "copied" the Chinese and began to throw off China.

    Now, I am not saying all Korean stuff is from China, but I am trying to put "copy paste" in context. And you know what? If it weren't for the rise of European colonialism and the Empire of Japan, Korea would have indefinitely held on to a "we want to be like China" mentality.

    *yea i called it that. haha.
    **again, this is a generalization, but you know what I mean.

  19. In fact, if you were to discuss Confucianism with Koreans, most Koreans (under 30 at least) seem to think Confucianism is pretty much gone from Korea.

    I have to agree with seamuswalsh... it'll take a while for the old guard to die out, but when they do, Korea's pretty well poised to be a lot more like Singapore (socially speaking).

    The influence of Confucianism will never completely disappear but its strength is eroded by every new batch of popstar wannabes that are unleashed on society. ;)

  20. I also noticed "修身濟家治國平天下" has a typo. 濟 should be 齊.

  21. Thanks, kuiwon, corrections are made.

  22. cornflakes,

    You would surely agree that while "copy/paste" does not match up completely with "plagiarize" (with a negative connotation,) a fair-minded reader could easily get that impression.

    Now, you seem to be making an uncontroversial point that Korea was heavily influenced by China and the two cultures bear significant similarities. Then why not just say that? In fact, in your first comment, everything but the last portion was making that exact observation. Why was the last portion necessary then?

    There seems to be two possible reasons:
    (1) It was a part that you could have given more thought.
    (2) You are trying to get a rise out of people.

    (1) happens to everyone all the time, so the Korean has no grief with that. But if you are doing (2), well, that's considered trolling which is not appreciated on this blog.

  23. Great post. When you talked about how political leaders and educators are held up to a high moral standard, I think this would also include celebrities. For example, I recently watched the Korean film "여배우들" ("The Actresses"), a kind of fiction-meets-reality quasi-docudrama in which six actresses appear as themselves and basically talk about their lives; in particular Go Hyun-Jung and Yoon Yeo-Jung talk about how their divorces negatively affected their careers.

    The "법대로" reference is pretty funny as well.

    On a side note, several of my Korean students and friends have actually referenced Confucianism when explaining aspects of Korean culture. But I agree that it does seem to be a mostly subconscious thing.

  24. I'd like to note another (self-imposed) old name for Korea is "little China" or "sohwa" (小華, 소화).

  25. "Hmm now that I think about it, Korean culture sometimes feel like a massive copy-paste job from China...."

    This is my original statement. It is a one-sentence summary of that long ass post I just wrote. The same damn thing. It is nationalist-minded Koreans overreacted (again).

    But since you seem to make a subtle threat of ban, I guess I should play the more humble role and withdraw from this topic....sir.

  26. @cornflakes You know how little boys copy everything their dad or big brother does? Well, its kinda like that!

    This comparison is... not a very good one, lol.

    One nation being influenced by the culture of another has very, very little in common with the dynamics involved between fathers and sons or between brothers. It's almost an entirely different set of motivations and expectations we're talking about. The relationship between fathers and sons, older brothers and younger brothers is mostly about love and acceptance working with a certain level of trust. One nation emulating another is mostly about competition and survival working with a certain level of suspicion. I mean, this is pretty basic, World Affairs 101 kinda stuff.

  27. I thought this series was fantastic. I always learn so much more than I anticipate when reading your articles. You always go beyond the obvious to teach us a little bit about ourselves.

    1. So true. Thanks from me. A 74 year old Aussie (yes, Sydney Australia) who has been teaching ESL to Korean families for almost 20 years.
      Luv ya work!

  28. really interesting article, although a minor comment is that Christianity isn't individualistic. The idea of individuality actually is connected with the Enlightenment, which is scientific and not religious...

  29. I have to say though that the European way of thinking and European philosophy do encourage self development, expanding your intellectual horizon, constantly improving yourself as a person.It's extremely typical of it. So much so that there are EU programs and funds dedicated especially to that.
    Also, he is not a philosopher but an extremely influential person: Lenin who said: Learn, learn and once again learn. It might not seem like much but when it is repeated to you every day of your life (like it was in my country in communist times) it certainly influences your development.
    Maybe America is different.

  30. You know, I'd usually look at a post like this and be like TL;DR, but I read it and this is really interesting. You explained things very well. It reminds me of my Theory of Knowledge class that I loved so much. It makes me want to study more and learn to stretch my mind, not for just the sake of being part of some social elite, but for myself to be more human-like.

  31. Excellent post, I m a mainland Chinese and most of people in china have not interpreted the concept of the mandate of haven as a motivation for democratic campaign like your guys did in Korea . It is quite intriguing to see Confucism can be adjusted into a modern value like that

  32. What makes you think Christianity is the only way to God?
    The truth of Christianity rests completely in the person of Jesus. The Gospels are the written accounts by eyewitnesses of Jesus' life and deeds. Jesus said that He alone was the way to the Father (John 14:6) and that He alone revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27, Luke 10:22). Jesus claimed to be God (John 8:58, Exodus 3:14), who forgave sins (Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, 7:48) and who rose from the dead (Luke 24:24-29, John 2:19-21). Jesus said that He was the only way. Jesus is unique. He was either telling the truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a good man, how then could He be both good and crazy or good and a liar? He had to be telling the truth in order to be good. He is the only way.
    Furthermore, Christianity is not just a religion. It is a relationship with God. It is trusting in Jesus and what He did on the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-4) and not on what you can do for yourself (Eph. 2:8-9). It is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and dependence upon the One who died and rose from the dead (John 2:19-21).
    Buddha didn't rise from the dead nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed prophecy or rise from the dead either, and though there is far less reliable information written, people believe in them.
    The Scripture is right when it says in 1 Pet. 2:7-8, "This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, 'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,' and, 'A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed," (NASB).
    It is Jesus to whom we look for the validity of Christianity. If Jesus is false, then Christianity is false. If Jesus is who He claimed to be, then Christianity is the only correct religion.
    The Mathematical Odds of Jesus Fulfilling Prophecy
    "The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner1 to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, ‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that "we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man."
    Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, or 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

    The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident. He was who He said He was: the only way (John 14:6).
    • 1.Science Speaks, Moody Press, 1963.
    • 2.McDowell, Josh, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.


    William Albright (1891 – 1971). Once a director of the School of Oriental Research at Johns Hopkins University, William Albright wrote more than 800 books and articles, mostly on the validity of biblical manuscripts. He is best known for his work in confirming the authenticity of the Old Testament, and especially the authentication of the Dead Sea scrolls.

    Albright also researched and confirmed the dating of the writings of the New Testament. His conclusion was that there was “no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80.” Early in his professional life, Albright had some doubts about the validity of biblical claims about Jesus. These, however, were answered conclusively in favor of the authenticity of the Bible as he conducted his research.

    Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916). Sir William Ramsay was, arguably the greatest archaeologist of his day. He had rejected much of the written New Testament account and was determined to prove it false based on other writings of the day that contradicted the Bible. Ramsay believed that the books of Luke and Acts were actually written in about A.D. 150 and therefore did not bear the authenticity that first-century document would. His archaeological journeys took him to 32 countries, 44 cities, and 9 islands. Throughout some 15 years of intensive study, he concluded that “Luke is a historian of the first rank, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

    What Critics Thought
    • There was no Roman census (as indicated in Luke 2:1).

    What Ramsay Discovered: There was a Roman census every 14 years, beginning with Emperor Augustus.

    • Quirinius was not governor of Syria at the time of Jesus’ birth (as indicated in Luke 2:2).
    What Ramsay Discovered: Quirinius was governor of Syria in about 7 B.C.

  34. • People did not have to return to their ancestral home (as indicated in Luke 2:3).
    What Ramsay Discovered: People did have to return to their home city, verified by an ancient Egyptian papyrus giving directions for conducting a census.

    • The existence of the treasurer of the city of Corinth, Erastus (Romans 16:23), was incorrect.
    What Ramsay Discovered: A city pavement in Corinth bearing the inscription “Erastus, curator of public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense.”

    • Luke’s reference to Gallio as proconsul of Achaia was wrong (Acts 18:12).
    What Ramsay Discovered: The Delphi inscription that reads, “As Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend and proconsul of Achaia.”

    Time and time again Ramsay’s search to find evidence that Luke’s writing was in error turned up evidence that it was, in fact, accurate. As a result, Sir William Ramsay eventually converted to Christianity proclaimed Luke as “one of the greatest historians” of all time.

    Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) Greenleaf, (former Atheist), one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, and a world-renowned expert on evidence, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen. Being a man of conviction and reason, and in accordance with his conclusions, Greenleaf converted from Agnosticism to Christianity.

  35. Ralph Muncaster, (former atheist) in his book: Examine the Evidence, presents extensive evidence to validate the truth-claims of Christianity. He provides compelling arguments from science, biblical prophecy, history, and archaeology. This former skeptic points out that of all religions and philosophies on earth, only one, Christianity is verifiable and testable.

    1,456 hours of Sunday school and church turned Ralph Muncaster into a hard-core atheist. Then he was challenged to honestly investigate the Bible and the facts of modern science. He was stunned. Fact after fact, from biology, history, archaeology, physics, lined up with the Bible’s account!

    The Bible Itself Argues Against the Possibility of Its Corruption

    The charge that the Bible has been corrupted, contradicts what the Bible itself teaches. After all, in Isaiah 40:8 we read, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands for ever.” In the New Testament Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

    The Almighty God who had the power and sovereign control to inspire the Scriptures in the first place is surely going to continue to exercise His power and sovereign control in the preservation of Scripture.

  36. 7. The Gospel and Acts were recognized as inspired books almost immediately after being written (see J.B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers).
    a. 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 and refers to it as “Scripture.”
    b. Clement of Rome (about AD 95) speaks of the “Gospel” and quotes portions found in all three synoptic Gospels, referring to them as the words of Jesus (Corinthians 13,46).
    c. Ignatius (Smyrnaeans 3) and Polycarp (Philippians 2, 7), both writing about AD 115, refer to verses in the synoptic Gospels as the words of Christ.
    8. Paul’s epistles were also recognized as inspired Scripture almost immediately after being written.
    a. 2 Peter 3:15-16 calls Paul’s epistles “Scripture.”
    b. Clement of Roman (Corinthians 47), Ignatius (Ephesians 10; to Polycarp 5), and Polycarp (Philippians 1,3-4, 6) all refer to Paul’s writings as inspired.

    B. The Historicity of Jesus

    1. The trustworthy Gospels (A above) exhibit much interest in the historical Jesus and give accurate accounts of his life, death, and resurrection.
    2. Numerous pre- and extrabiblical sources record much ancient testimony concerning Jesus within 125 years after his death.
    a. Early Christian creeds that pre-date the New Testament, as well as the historical facts that virtually all critical scholars admit, provide an extremely strong case for the death and resurrection of Jesus.
    b. Archaeology contributes a few finds that illuminate and provide background for Jesus’ career, such as the crucifixion victims investigated by archaeologist Vasilius Tzaferis, “Jewish Tombs At and Near Giv’at ha- Mivtar,” Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1970), pp. 38-59.

    Also the Shroud of Turin (Historically proclaimed to be the actual burial garment of Jesus). See Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin (New York: Doubleday, 1978, also see John Heller, Report on the Shroud of Turin (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983), especially chapters 12-14.

    d. Secular historians (e.g. Cornelius Tacitus, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas), government officials (e.g. Piny the Younger, Emperor Trajan), religious works (e.g. The Talmud, Toledoth Jesu, and other sources report many details about Jesus from non-Christian viewpoints.
    e. Ancient Christian sources preserve a number of historical statements about Jesus (e.g. Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin Martyr).
    4. To reject Jesus’ miracles a priori is to ignore correct inductive procedure where all the facts are investigated before a decision is made.
    5. To reject Jesus’ doctrinal teachings a priori as valid for today is to pick and choose portions of the Gospels. Further, If Jesus was raised from the dead, there is, at a minimum, some implied significance for Jesus’ teachings, as well.
    6. Without a significant historical basis in the life of Jesus, Christianity would have had no impetus for its origins.

  37. 7. Jesus died on the cross, as indicated by several facts.
    a. The nature of crucifixion, including the discovery of Yohanan’s skeleton, reveals both the nature and assurance of death by this method.
    b. The explanation of Jesus’ heart wound indicates that it would have killed him even if he had been alive.
    c. The death of Jesus is the most recorded event in ancient, non-Christian history.
    d. The trustworthy Gospels give accurate accounts of Jesus’ death.
    8. After his death, Jesus was raised bodily and appeared to his followers.
    a. Naturalistic hypothesis that have sought to explain in normal terms the supernatural element of Jesus’ resurrection have failed to do so, chiefly because they are refuted by the known historical data. Several other reasons also indicate this failure.
    b. There are numerous positive evidences for the resurrection that indicate that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to many of those who followed him.
    c. A case for the resurrection can be built by using only those minimal facts that are clearly established by the historical method. On a smaller scale, these facts can refute the alternative hypotheses and provide the best evidences for the resurrection.
    d. The Shroud of Turin may supply some additional scientific evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.
    9. Jesus’ message was not changed by Paul or by other followers.
    a. In both the synoptics, as well as in John, Jesus claimed to be deity. Often this was done by his words, such as his claims to be Son of God and Son of Man (c.f. Mark 2:10-11; 10:45; 13:32; 14:36). At other times he showed his deity by his actions, such as forgiven sin, fulfilling Old Testament messianic prophecy and by claiming authority much greater than that of the Jewish leaders (see Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 5;20-48; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).
    b. Numerous pre-Pauline creeds such as Philippians 2:6-11, Romans 1:3-4, 1 Corinthians 11:23, and many from the book of Acts designate Jesus by the loftiest titles, thereby indicating the early teaching of his deity. These show further that this doctrine definitely did not originate with Paul.
    c. Neither Jesus nor Paul taught that Christianity was a new religion. Both held that Christianity was a fulfillment of Judaism (see Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:16-17; Romans 10:4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17).

  38. d. Jesus’ central teaching of the Kingdom of God and its entrance requirements of faith in his person and teachings in found in all four Gospels (c.f. Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 18:3-6; Luke 18:28-30; John 1:10-13) and in Paul’s epistles (c.f. Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
    f. Paul was known as the apostle to the Gentiles (see Acts 9:15;16; 22:21; Romans 11:13-14). Not only did Jesus command his disciples to take the gospel to the Gentiles (see Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; John 10:16; Acts 1:8), but this was actually a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, not a new doctrine (see Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 19:18-25 for two examples).
    g. Since Jesus literally rose from the dead, any verification of the truthfulness of his teachings would even extend to Paul’s message and writings, since they are in agreement with the Gospels at these points.
    10. Jesus was not an international traveler during his “silent years” or after his death.
    a. There is no viable historical evidence for such international ventures.
    b. The swoon theory fails and is rejected by critical scholars.
    c. These endeavors almost always involved a long trail of illogic and incredibly mysterious connections.

    C. Miracle-claims

    1. Although many would place miracle-claims completely in the realm of faith, such is to ignore their possibly objective theistic and historical nature.
    a. If it is taught that miraculous events have occurred in history, as in the case with New Testament miracle-claims, then at least the objective, historical side of such a claim can be investigated. In other words, if it actually happened, at least the portion of the event that touched the space-time world can potentially be examined.
    b. In the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus is not only the central tenet Christianity, but it is asserted that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then faith in actually in vain (1 Corinthians 15:1-20). Paul even supports his point that Jesus was raised by citing eyewitnesses, historical testimony to this fact (vv. 5-8). Under these circumstances, one could hardly claim that objective, factual interests in the resurrection are foreign to the New Testament.
    c. This objection also commits errors that are associated with the “leap of faith.” If carried to its logical conclusion, it provides no objective basis for faith, including any reasons why faith should be exercised at all. As such, it is difficult to distinguish between belief and credulity.
    2. Alternative theories that have been proposed to account for Jesus’ resurrection on naturalistic grounds have failed to account for the known historical facts.

  39. 3. There are many strong historical reasons to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.
    a. The disciples’ experiences
    b. The transformation of the disciples into bold witnesses
    c. The empty tomb
    d. The resurrection of Jesus was the very center of the apostolic message.
    e. The Jewish leaders could not disprove their message.
    f. The very existence and growth of the church.
    g. In this resurrected physical body Jesus appeared to more than five hundred of his disciples on twelve different occasions over a forty-day period and conversed with them (see Luke 24:13-49, 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, Acts 1:4-8, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:24-31).
    This was the greatest of all miracles since the creation itself, and could have been accomplished only if Jesus indeed is God, as He had claimed to be.

    D. Predictive Prophecies

    Consider the following predictions made centuries in advanced that Jesus would be:
    1. born of a woman (Genesis 3:15; cf. Galatians 4:4);
    2. born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; cf. Matthew 1:21);

    3. “cut off” (die) 483 years after the declaration to reconstruct the city of Jerusalem in 444 B.C. (Daniel 9:24);

    4. of the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3 and 22:18; cf. Mathew 1:1);

    5. of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10, cf. Luke 3:23);

    6. of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12; cf. Matthew 1:1);

    7. born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; cf. Matthew 2:1);

    8. anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; cf. Mattthew 3:16-17);

    9. that Jesus would performed miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; cf. Matthew 9:35);

    10. would cleanse the temple (Malachi 3:1; cf. Matthew 21:12);

    11. would be rejected by Jews (Psalms 118:22; cf. 1 Peter 2:7);

    12. die a humiliating death (Psalms 22; cf. Matthew 9:35);

    13. that he would rise from the dead (Psalm 2:7 and 16:10; cf. Acts 2:31)

    14. ascended into heaven (Psalm 68:8; cf. Acts 1:9);

    15. and sit at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; cf. Hebrew 1:3).

    It is important to understand that these prophecies were written hundreds of years before Christ was born. No one could have been reading the trends of the times or just making intelligent guesses, like the “prophecies” we see in the checkout line at the supermarket.

  40. Why believe in Christianity over all other religions?

    Critics often ask why Christianity is any better than any other religion in the world. After all, of all the religions that exist, how can it be that only Christianity is true? If God exists, why can't God use different religions? Don't all paths lead to God? Skeptics ask these kinds of questions all the time; and, unfortunately, few Christians have the answers. Therefore, in an attempt to demonstrate why Christianity is true and all other religious systems are false, I've prepared the follow list of reasons for Christianity's superiority.

    There are such things as absolute truths

    If truth is relative, then the statement that truth is relative is an absolute truth and would be a self-defeating statement by proving that truth is not relative. But, if truth is absolute, then the statement "truth is absolute" is true and not self-defeating. It is true that truth exists. It is true that truth will not contradict itself as we have just seen. In fact, it is absolutely true that you are reading this paper.

    If we can see that there is such a thing as truth in the world, then we could also see that there can be spiritual truth as well. It is not absurd to believe in spiritual absolutes anymore than physical or logical absolutes. Even the statement that all religions lead to God is a statement held to be a spiritual absolute by many people. This simply demonstrates that people do believe in spiritual truth. Why? Because truth exists. However, not all that is believed to be true actually is true. Furthermore, all belief systems cannot be true since they often contradict each other in profound ways--and truth is not self-contradictory.

    Religions contradict each other; therefore, they cannot all be true.

    Mormonism teaches that there are many gods in existence and that you can become a god. Christianity teaches that there is only one God and that you cannot become a god. Islam teaches that Jesus is not God in flesh where Christianity does. Jesus cannot be both God and not God at the same time. Some religions teach that we reincarnate while others do not. Some teach there is a hell, and others do not. They cannot all be true. If they cannot all be true, it cannot be true that all religions lead to God. Furthermore, it means that some religions are, at the very least, false in their claims to reveal the true God (or gods). Remember, truth does not contradict itself. If God exists, He will not institute mutually exclusive and contradictory belief systems in an attempt to get people to believe in Him. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that there can be an absolute spiritual truth and that not all systems can be true regardless of whether or not they claim to be true. There must be more than a mere claim.

  41. Fulfilled Prophecy concerning Jesus

    Though there are other religions that have prophecies in them, none are 100% accurate as is the Bible; and none of them point to someone like Jesus who made incredible claims and performed incredible deeds. The Old Testament was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Yet, the Old Testament prophesied many things about Jesus. This is undoubtedly evidence of divine influence upon the Bible.

    Please consider some of the many prophecies of Jesus in the following chart.

    Prophecy Old Testament Prophecy New Testament Fulfillment
    Born of a virgin Isaiah 7:14
    Matt. 1:18, 25

    Born at Bethlehem Micah 5:2
    Matt. 2:1

    He would be preceded by a Messenger Isaiah 40:3
    Matt. 3:1-2

    Rejected by His own people Isaiah 53:3
    John 7:5; 7:48

    Betrayed by a close friend Isaiah 41:9
    John 13:26-30

    His side pierced Zech. 12:10
    John 19:34

    Crucifixion Psalm 22:1
    Psalm 22:11-18
    Luke 23:33;
    John 19:23-24

    Resurrection of Christ Psalm 16:10
    Acts 13:34-37

    Fulfillment of prophecy can have different explanations. Some state that the NT was written and altered to make it look like Jesus fulfilled OT prophecy (but there is no evidence of that). Others state that the prophecies are so vague that they don't count (but many of the prophecies are not vague at all). Of course, it is possible that God inspired the writers and Jesus, who is God in flesh, fulfilled these prophecies as a further demonstration of the validity of Christianity.

  42. The Claims and Deeds of Christ

    Christianity claims to be authored by God. Of course, merely making such a claim does not make it true. Anyone can make claims; but, backing up those claims is entirely different. Jesus used the Divine Name for Himself (John 8:58)--the same Divine Name used by God when Moses asked God what His name was in (Exodus 3:14). Jesus said that He could do whatever He saw God the Father do (John 5:19), and He claimed to be one with the God the Father (John 10:30; 10:38). Likewise, the disciples also called Him God (John 1:1, 14; John 10:27; Col. 2:9). By default, if Jesus is God in flesh, then whatever He said and did would be true. Since Jesus said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life and that no one can find God without Him (John 14:6), His words become incredibly important.

    Again, making a claim is one thing. Backing it up is another. Did Jesus also back up His fantastic words with miraculous deeds? Yes, He did.

    • Jesus changed water into wine (John 2:6-10).
    • Jesus cast out demons (Matt. 8:28-32; 15:22-28).
    • Jesus healed lepers (Matt. 8:3; Luke 17:14).
    • Jesus healed diseases (Matt. 4:23, 24; Luke 6:17-19)
    • Jesus healed the paralytic (Mark 2:3-12).
    • Jesus raised the dead (Matt. 9:25; John 11:43-44).
    • Jesus restored sight to the blind (Matt. 9:27-30; John 9:1-7).
    • Jesus restored cured deafness (Mark 7:32-35).
    • Jesus fed the multitude (Matt. 14:15-21; Matt. 15:32-38).
    • Jesus walked on water (Matt. 14:25-27).
    • Jesus calmed a storm with a command (Matt. 8:22-27; Mark 4:39).
    • Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:39; John 20:27).
    • Jesus appeared to disciples after resurrection (John 20:19).

    The eyewitnesses recorded the miracles of Jesus, and the gospels have been reliably transmitted to us. Therefore, we can believe what Jesus said about Himself for two reasons: One, because what He said and did agrees with the Old Testament; and two, because Jesus performed many convincing miracles in front of people who testified and wrote about what they saw Him do.

  43. Christ's resurrection

    Within Christianity, the resurrection is vitally important. Without the resurrection our faith is useless (1 Cor. 15:14). It was Jesus' resurrection that changed the lives of the disciples. After Jesus was crucified, the disciples ran and hid. But when they saw the risen Lord, they knew that all that Jesus had said and done proved that He was indeed God in flesh, the Savior.

    No other religious leader has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb, and then risen three days later to appear to many many people. This resurrection is proof of who Jesus is and that He did accomplish what He set out to do: provide the only means of redemption for mankind.

    Buddha did not rise from the dead. Muhammad did not rise from the dead. Confucius did not rise from the dead. Krishna did not rise from the dead, etc. Only Jesus has physically risen from the dead, walked on water, claimed to be God, and raised others from the dead. He has conquered death. Why trust anyone else? Why trust anyone who can be held by physical death when we have a Messiah who is greater than death itself?


    Why should anyone trust in Christianity over Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, or anything else? It is because there are absolute truths--because only in Christianity is there accurate fulfilled prophecies of a coming Messiah. Only in Christianity do we have the extremely accurate transmission of the eyewitness' documents (gospels), so we can trust what was originally written. Only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ who claimed to be God, performed many miracles to prove His claim of divinity, who died and rose from the dead, and who said that He alone was the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). All this adds to the legitimacy and credibility of Christianity above all other religions--all based on the person of Jesus. If follows that if it is all true about what Jesus said and did, then all other religions are false because Jesus said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). It could not be that Jesus is the only way and truth and other religions also be the truth.

    Either Jesus is true and all other religions are false, or other religions are true and Jesus is false. There are no other options. I choose to follow the risen Lord Jesus.

  44. Nice interpretation about Confucianism in modern day life. Our local middle school has Confucianism Classroom for Chinese language class as second language. Your blog should be help the kids understand Confucianism better.


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