What Confucianism and Pentecostalism Have in Common

by Susan Leem, associate producer

The 72 Disciples of ConfuciusA visitor looks at the statues of the 72 Disciples of Confucius in the courtyard at the Koshi-byo, or Confucius Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan. (photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Dogma, well at least its noted absence, has made its way into two of our recent shows. And it is non-dogma itself that binds two very disparate belief systems. Astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees avoids it, “I am not a person who adheres to any religious dogma.” And so did flamboyant preacher Aimee Semple McPherson as she embraced Pentecostalism, a non-dogmatic and fast-growing denomination of Christianity.

Though himself atheist, Martin Rees notes, “I can see a closer affinity with Confucianism and systems of thought like that.”

Confucianism is seeing a cultural revival in China with schools opening up to full capacity. A 31-foot statue of the ancient philosopher was unveiled a few months ago near Tiananmen Square in China’s capital, and then mysteriously disappeared. Confucian teachings were banned by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

Pentecostals, attracting new followers in huge numbers globally, have also met resistance. At least one theological seminary has banned their own from “speaking in tongues” which demonstrates a direct experience of God as a gift of the Spirit.

These are two differing systems of belief from the other sides of the world. Both without dogma, but still with their own doctrine and staying power.

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