CONFUCIUS SINARUM PHILOSOPHUS AS A CULMINATION OF RICCI'S ACCOMMODATION
Confucius Sinarum philosophus was one of the supreme achievements of Jesuit accommodative scholarship in China. As a translation and commentary of three of the Confucian Four Books, it demonstrated the uniqueness of the Jesuits among religious orders in using worldly knowledge as a mission tool. Founded in the sixteenth century with a presentiment of the secular tendencies of later centuries, the Society of Jesus had not hesitated to embrace the world in order to work within it. The pitfalls of this approach are perhaps only fully appreciated by Christians themselves who were warned by Jesus that rejection of the world was a prerequisite for following him. This viewpoint is aptly expressed in I John 2: 15-17 (New International Version):
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world -- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -- comes not from the Father but from the World. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Christianity has always contained a thread of distrust or even dislike of the world as antithetical to the spiritual life. By embracing the world so fully in order to work within it, the Jesuits laid themselves open to wordly influences and temptations which they sometimes could not resist2. In working closely____________________