Indeed, it is as if the U.S. Congress or president were to decide what constituted Christian doctrine and scripture, and everyone went along at the peril of their lives, according to Bidstrup.
The result of the Bible's origins as selected parts of whole bodies of scripture, written by at least a hundred and fifty different people in dozens of different places at different times, many centuries apart, and for different reasons, colors what its authors wrote. However, that simple fact is widely ignored, both by people who naively follow what they read in it as the inerrant word of God, and by more liberal scholastic theologians, who seek to understand its historical context as well as a body of doctrinal scripture, which they often blindly follow, even though they know full well its messy origins. (Bidstrup, 2001)
As a result, the scripture basis for Christianity is much more varied than one might initially assume with the integration that is the Bible.
Taoism's Sacred Scripture
The greatest Taoist philosopher was Chuang-tzu, who lived in the late fourth and early third centuries B.C. His greatest contribution was to develop and spread the teachings of Laotzu, writing commentaries which Taoists regard as scripture. Now the Taoist canon, known as the Tao Tsang, or Tao-te-Ching, consists of about 1,120 volumes. (Refuge-Outreach, 2005)
Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu taught that the wise man in Taoism should do everything according to the Tao. He should live passively, and completely in tune with the universe. This concept is expressed in the term wu wei, which means something like "not doing" or "actionless activity." In Taoism, one must not - and indeed, cannot -- alter nature. Instead he should lead a life of reflection and quiet passiveness. He must avoid violence of all forms. The wise man will go with Tao and live in complete simplicity and quiet. In these respects Taoism is similar to the Greek Epicureans' philosophy that the Apostle Paul debated (Acts 17:18). (Refuge-Outreach, 2005)
In translation, one of the first lines of the Tao-Te-Ching, the primary text of Taoism, is "The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name." (Legge, 1891, Translation)
This concept addresses the mutability of Taoism, which contrasts starkly with the relative unchanging nature of Christianity.
Comparison of Christianity and Taoism in Scripture and Ritual
Taoism is more a way of life, and Christianity is a way of being pious and connected to God, under the outlines described above. Christianity, in ritual, is corralled mainly to Sundays for modern day observers, whereas Taoism cannot be sequestered to one day or even a set of holidays (holy days) as is Christianity.
This difference sets apart the two religions on one important way: Christianity is a religion allows followers to lead their lives in the context of piousness and belief in Christ; Taoism actually subsumes the lives of its followers, and it itself is the end objective for followers, via the ritual of entirety.
Contrast between Taoism and Christianity in Sacred Scripture
The two religions differ primarily in their scriptures in that the Tao-te-Ching is a mutable text: It changes with the times and it adds different volumes as time goes on. The Bible, on the other hand, is a collection of stories from yesteryear that is not changed today; like the U.S. Constitution, it remains constant, and even though changes in interpretation can take the form of Amendments, the original document remains absolutely unchanged.
The Tao-te-Ching, then, is, in some ways, more adaptable to the modern lifestyle than is Christianity. The Tao molds itself to people's actual lives as their lives change over the decades. However, the drawback is, since the Tao is a way of life, and cannot be sequestered to days of worship, Taoism depends on an amenability of humans to actually live their life subsumed in the context of religion.
Christianity, with its amendments via modern day interpretations may be more suited to the more secular modern day lifestyle, where religion is assigned certain days of the year and secularism and capitalism the remaining days.
Interview Results: Taoism
The Taoist practitioner interviewed is a college student in New Brunswick, NJ. He indicates that he does not so much as pray to a Taoist "God" as he lives his life by the teachings in the Tao-te-Ching. As he is a student, this works well with his schedule as he is limited in the amount of time he can dedicate to his faith.
He does not really observe holidays or special prayer days, but he does get together with his family several times over the year to discuss the Taoist scriptures and belief structures.
Interview with Christian
The Christian interviewed is an editor for a national magazine. She goes to church every Sunday and declined to mention her particular faith within Christianity. She also celebrates Christmas by going to midnight mass, but she does not really celebrate Easter (indicating, of course, that she is probably not Catholic). She believes in the modern day tenets and interpretations of Christianity: She is concerned that religion is becoming obsolete and recognizes the need for religions to adapt to modern times and customs.
Dominguez, J. (2004) Religions in China: Taoism. www.religion-cults.com.
Armstrong, Karen, "A History of God" New York: Ballantine Books, 1993, pp. 10-11.