1st Edition

Confucian Timely Mean and Christian Discernment Confucian-Christian Dialogue for Spirituality of Discernment and Applied Ethics

By Sung-Hae Kim Copyright 2024

    This book explores the notion of the timely mean, a virtue established in the Confucian tradition, in dialogue with the Christian understanding of discernment, especially as used in spirituality studies. It considers the historical development of these concepts, addressing the early encounter between Confucianism and Christianity as demonstrated in China and Korea and the fusion of the two perspectives in the nineteenth century. The chapters examine some of the major scholars and texts that have influenced both theory and practice, providing insight through a comparison of representative figures from each tradition. The author contends that bringing the Confucian ‘timely mean’ into conversation with Christian ‘discernment’ reveals that the immense riches accumulated within each tradition can mutually enhance one another. The book reflects on the possibility of a viable process for ethical and spiritual discernment that is highly relevant for our global age. It is valuable reading for scholars and students of both Confucianism and Christian theology as well as of applied ethics, particularly those interested in comparative spirituality and interreligious relations.


    1 Spirituality of Discernment

    2 Balancing the Scale in the Analects and Discernment of the Spirits in the Prophets of the Hebrew Bible 

    3 Time in Mencius and Kairos in the New Testament

    4 Xunzi's Deliberation and Encounter of Two Horizons

    5 Christian Understanding of the Book of Changes

    6 Timely Action in the Book of Changes and Cassian's Discretion

    7 The Confucian Timely Mean in the Doctrine of the Mean

    8 Dong Zhongshu's Yinyang and Benedict's Discretion 

    9 Zhu Xi's Timely Mean and Thomas Aquinas' Prudence

    10 Wang Yangming's Innate Knowledge and the Contemplative Prudence in the Cloud of Unknowing

    11 T'oegye Yi Hwang’s Holdinging Fast the Mean and Ignatius Loyola’s Discernment of Spirits

    12 Yulgok Yi I's Timely Governance and Vincent de Paul's Social Discernment

    13 Tasan Chǒng Yagyong's Timely Mean : Fusion of Confucian and Christian Traditions of Discernment

    14 Contemporary Vision: Discernment and Dialogue




    Sung-Hae Kim, S.C., is a professor emerita in the Department of Religious Studies at Sogang University, Seoul, Korea. She holds an M.A. in theology from Marquette University and a Th.D. in comparative study of religions from Harvard University and is a member of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.