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Christian Mission: Matteo Ricci And His Legacy For Christian-Confucian Renewal

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Chapter Summary

In the discussion of the Gospel and inculturation in the missiological field, Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit missionary, has become a central figure of debate and investigation among scholars. He is referred to by some Chinese historians as the "wise man from the West". With integrity, humility, and respect, his missionary goals lay in linking Chinese culture, especially Confucian culture, with Roman Catholicism. To understand Ricci's life in the religious context of the Ming dynasty, it is useful to review the historical development of those religions. In Ricci's understanding of Confucianism Zhu Xi's idea of self-cultivation was not attractive for Ricci's aim of harmonizing Catholic theology of virtue with Confucian moral teaching. Ricci's understanding of Jesus Christ reveals a dysfunctional view of mission, so that his attempt at accommodation centers only on theism in Christian-Confucian relations.

Keywords: Catholic theology; Christian-Confucian relations; Confucianism; inculturation; Matteo Ricci; Ming dynasty; self-cultivation



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