Buddhism - Lesson 12

Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 1)

Buddhist mudras are hand gestures which have physical and spiritual significance. Family ties in a shame-based culture may often place significant social pressures on a person considering converting from Buddhism to Christianity.

Lesson 12
Watching Now
Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 1)

Penetrating the Buddhist Heart

Part 1

I. Buddhist Mudras

A. Enlightenment

B. Teaching

C. Compassion

D. Prayer

E. Calling earth to witness

II. Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (part 1)

A. Ten Insights from Buddhist converts: an inside view

1. If you meet Christ on the road, you should worship Him:
The historicity of the Christian claims

2. But, what will mom and dad say? Family Ties in a “shame” based culture
Shame Culture: Eastern world has historically been guided by strong corporate, group conformity. If someone does not maintain a good appearance and earn the good opinion of others, then there is a sense of / feeling of shame. It is important to keep one’s duty to family and society.
Guilt Culture: Western world has historically been guided by strong personal standards (internalized through sacred texts) which, if violated by sinful behavior, create a sense of personal guilt.

Terms to know from this lecture:

Shame vs. guilt culture


In this course, you will gain an in-depth understanding of Buddhism, including its historical background, key concepts, and major branches. You will explore the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, and learn about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Additionally, you will examine the differences between the major branches of Buddhism, such as Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, and learn about various Buddhist practices and beliefs, including meditation, karma, rebirth, and the role of the Sangha. Lastly, you will study how Christians can bring hope to Buddhists by sharing the truths of God's character and the salvation of His Son. 



Dr. Timothy Tennent


Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 1)

Lesson Transcript


Okay, let's now slip over to lecture number nine. And what we're going to do is quickly talk about the mood drugs. I did also promise that we would discuss this last time. And what I've done is I have, though, there are dozens of murderers. I have actually highlighted five that you need to know. So if I a picture appears on a final exam or a hand gesture, a picture of it, you will be able to identify the five major hand gestures, symbolic hand gestures in Buddhism, because this is critical to walking into any Buddhist temple anywhere in the world. Again, there are probably about ten major ones. But for the sake of our class, I thought I would give you the top five and then you can, of course, easily learn the others on your own time. If you're interested in studying this more, you'll notice that a Buddhist statue is almost always in the lotus position. This is a bit I was talking about. This is the tops of the feet over the legs. This is a very classic Indian view of the Buddha. Mostly you'll see are kind of the classic postures of Buddhism. And they usually in this case, they're easing, not India, because, see, it's a very austere figure as the Indian Buddhist move west or move east, they take on more weight and they get fatter. You also notice but this is one thing you'll notice the meditative posture in the face. There's a lot of things you can learn by looking at the face of Buddhas and each country and each lineage typically has certain kinds of way. They depict the face of Buddha. And I mentioned, I think in passing before that some of the pictures, for example, only Taba looked very, very Chinese because the Chinese or have really taken the lead in the column of the name of Amitava, the name Boots, the doctrine.


So there's many things to look at. But the most important is actually this. This is the mudra, the mood, the refers to a particular hand gesture that is almost the most identifiable aspect of Buddhist iconography. And anybody who studies Buddhism will learn to recognize these. And so I have all of these for you. The first is this one, which is renunciation. This is actually showing his hand in this position. It's an uplifted palm in a slight angle like this. And this with a actually usually this is like that, the palm down. But this is the mother of renunciation I'm using. The ones that are the most well known in Buddhism. Obviously, renunciation is a key aspect of Buddhist thought, Buddha renouncing the world, renouncing asceticism this middle way. Now, when the Buddha goes into a teaching mode, you'll notice a distinct change in the mood there. And it may seem, you know, small if you're just kind of walking through temples, but you'd be very, very careful to notice the thumb over the first finger, which, by the way, is a Christian mother as well. This is a very important Christian mudra in the eastern world. You have several overlaps because this represents the Trinity. It's a very interesting in Eastern iconography, but we're not looking at that here. But in the eastern iconography, the thumb on the finger like that in the raised the three raised fingers is the teaching mode, the Dharma Cockram, the Democrat mudra. So when the Buddha begins to turn the wheel of Dharma, you'll see that the hand lifts up. This also has the thumb touching the first finger here. And this is teaching going out. This is teaching going out in the Palm is raised towards you. And this represents the teaching of the Dharma going forth from the from the Buddha.


I have several other examples of this. Another one you also notice this is all coming. Some of this is in passing this most important thing. But obviously the lotus position here, the palm underneath the long dated ears. This is another standard feature Buddhist iconography, because a long dated ears are a symbol of wisdom. And so it is very normal to see extremely long earlobes, extremely long earlobes. And so people believe that long hair loves were a sign of wisdom, and they really were very careful looking at whether someone had like connected versus hanging their lobes. Oh, you have a very great future in the Buddhist world. Oh, yeah. Carl, you're a natural. Okay. So yes. No, that's in general. Yeah, You find that in general. Yeah. I'm showing you. The murderers here turned to the state, and only for the particular hand gesture. The others are more general to iconography altogether. I Here you have disciples gathered around. This, of course, is the classic mudra, which would be prayer, which is also, again, a Christian mudra Christian sacred gesture. In this case, this is known as the Namaste Qatar gesture, which is the greeting in India. If you greet somebody saying no mascara, it's a standard Eastern greeting. Technically in India, at least when you do this and greet someone, it is an act of worship because you are acknowledging the ottoman inside someone on the ottoman that represents the person. In Buddhism, this becomes kind come in general, a general concept of prayer. Prayer, of course, in Buddhism is of a problematic sense. There's no deity to pray to, but the general idea of calling out to a God in the will of samsara, this kind of functional deities and that sense prayer. Okay, the next one is another classic, though This one is very difficult to see.


This is a very famous 13th century Buddha statue in Japan. You see much larger figure Japanese features, the long dated ears. Everything is kind of classic lotus position. But the mudra is this right here where your hands are together and they are slid to the point where your thumbs touch just like that. It's just like that one palm over the other. And there's some people who make a mistake. We do this or this, but our point doesn't matter. But essentially you have your upraised palms flat on top of each other with a thumbs touching. And that is the mother of meditation. You'll see this all over the eastern world. So a lot of times when they start you on, I can zoom and they start your meditative techniques. Part of the body posture is learning this particular mudra. So that's something that would be encountered by even Americans learning Zen. Finally, and I'll have the greatest pictures of this, but this is another one that is really famous. So it's important to know about calling on Earth to witness and is this is where the Buddha has his hand extended downward and is touching the earth with his finger. A classic mudra. You'll see this in both of these iconography is here, though this is difficult to see, but it's the same one you can see touching the earth, touching the earth, the long years, the lotus position, kind of everything is very the Beggar's Bowl, a lot of standard kind of Buddhist iconography. But the mudra is unique. This is the point where when he was went through his sixth, Diana's the sixth super knowledge is in the early meditative time that he claims to be enlightened. And at a certain point in the telling the story, he calls on Earth to witness that the Earth witnessed his enlightenment.


And so when he calls on the Earth, the witnesses, he reaches down and touches the earth. And so that's become a very famous part of the iconography. I think if you know those five, you'll be in pretty good shape and be able to hopefully sort those out. Yes, I've found this summer a tiger told me that put his hand up like this. It was telling you what it meant was stop or peace. And that's the family of the Buddhist mom and father have some sort of family feud or war between stuff that I think you know. Well, it's interesting you said, because if you have just a pure upraised hand without any thumb in or whatever, what that actually means in terms of classical Buddhist iconography is warding off evil. All right. Whether that could be interpreted to me to say that's another family, We don't want any evil to come to you. Therefore, by implication, it's peace to you. You know, that's very possible. I don't know. But in classic iconography, that does not mean peace. It's the opposite hand. It means warding off evil. Evil is warded off, but it's not one of the five. Don't worry. As we mentioned here. Yes, we'll come back tomorrow. Sorry. We get Nathan verse. Oh, yeah, yeah. It's like this. Yeah. It's not clear is it. Did you want to give us some mudra. It is one rejecting. Right. Let me just say that hand gestures are important in every culture. Okay. So if you give someone the middle finger in the Western culture, it means something. All right? If you tell somebody in the East, if you say, you know, you know you do this as opposed to this, it has meaning. If you tell us that, like God in Latin America, say, hey, it's okay.


You know, it can create dissonance because it has a different kind of symbol in Latin America. So we're not in any point here discussing cultural hand gestures, which may be part of what they used. I don't know. These are sacred iconography that are used in portraying the Buddha and do not have any reference to what an individual may or may not use toward someone else like, you know, in your face or when you drive and someone cuts in front of you in a car. Because every culture has hand gestures to show insult, to show appreciation, to show I'm okay, whatever. Or come here, leave, Stop. I mean, that's how normal. So don't read too much into this. This is just so manly. So when you walk into a Buddhist temple in the eastern world, you will see either statues or you'll see murals. And in either case, they will invariably have murderers, and it'll give you a little literacy in order to say what this or that mood there is. And that's about as far as I think we should push this point. Okay. This is this one that the next thing was like. It's the. Yeah, actually, if it is, then this is not the enunciation one. Yeah. And physically, I was actually trying to pull it off the internet this time I could show you. And so the Annunciation actually is the full hand up, kind of pointed slightly outward if it shows his finger down. And this is another teaching one. So thank you. So if it helps just to talk about these visions. But I really I try to go on the Internet and pluck these off, but I wasn't able to do this or this last one, actually, the calling Earth to witness.


I didn't do that until last night, about 11:00, because I was down in Atlanta this week. And I said to my father, I said, I need to get online to pull some pics off the Internet. My dad's like, online. What's that? So I heard it was going to happen. He's 80 years old and he's not quite yet into the Internet world, though he does have an email account, but he can't quite seem to get on to it anymore. So I don't know, I. Okay. My mother, bless his heart. Okay, Let's now move to the the next section and those of you who came in late, I am actually delaying the discussion about Korean Buddhism and also Buddhism in America until next week, because I do not want us to miss the whole apologetics section. This course to me would be a big oversight. The other can be picked up. This material you're about to receive today and Tom tomorrow, next week is not found any box. That's the problem. This has not been properly addressed on the popular level or certainly on the scholarly level. This is why I encourage your papers to continue this process, because I think it's very, very valuable material. What I have done, and I guess my own problem in this area myself, is that I do not have a lot of experience knowing Buddhist converts to Christianity because my work is I know a lot. I know dozens and dozens of Hindu converts to Christianity, but just less Buddhist converts to Christianity. So what do you do in this situation? What you do is you talk to those who have and you read the testimonies of people who have actually converted from Buddhism to Christianity. I've had up here to read a number of books.


I think I mentioned these to you last time, at least in passing. I'll mention a few these to you here. Now again, Buddhist priest Choose Christ. Fascinating story I got off Amazon.com of Buddhist priest have come to faith. This one called Buddhist Fine Christ The story of 13 men and women from Burma, China, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, who have come to Christ out of Buddhism. And they tell who they are, why they came to Christ and what their background was. Here's a well-known book by two Sarah We're in Singapore communicating the gospel to Buddhist, the cross and the bow Tree. Again, this is another class example of symbolic use of language because there are certain things you identify with Christianity, the cross, the empty tomb that Incarnate Christ or even Mary, the larger Christian witness from the world in Buddhism, the other body tree, the wheel of the body sat for the Buddhist in lotus position. And so these become some major symbols of Buddhism. And so this person has drawn upon that symbol, some symbolic language to introduce the two religions. You know, when I read Eastern Paths and the Christian Way by Paul Kloster, very insightful book, talking about some of the points of contact and avenues, here is a book by Hendrik Vroom, and I'll have his out down here during the break. You can look at it more closely. No other Gods Christian belief in dialog with Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. It's a similar what I did in my book, but he doesn't have the kind of back and forth dialog, but he does try to engage key thoughts in all religions. And for example, his Buddhism. One is entitled No Self on Atman, Emptiness, Zenyatta and God. So I just, you know, these are things that now you could read quite profitably after having this class, the one I read this week when I was in Atlanta, which I have a number of quotes I never had already, and that is I finally was able to finish this new book by Paul Williams, our author of our textbook on Mahayana The Unexpected Way, which talks about his own journey from Buddhism to Catholicism.


Fascinating book. He's still the professor of Buddhism at the University of Bristol. This is published by T.A. Clark in Edinburgh, a remarkable book. It's actually a kind of a collection of essays on different points of Christian theology and Buddhist theology or Buddhist thought philosophy. Amazing, amazing book. Unfortunately, he doesn't have enough to get this through in the library loan, but this is available at the Boston University Library if you want to get it through the library loan. So what I've done is I've tried to go through my own thinking about Buddhism over many years and looking at theologically, what are some of the issues that I think are important. I've gone through all of these books and some others I'll show you next week that are also fascinating, that are more theological studies, not personal testimonies, and try to figure out, okay, what can Christians say, how do Christians respond to this? And so I've done for today is to highlight ten key issues I think that we need to focus on in the Buddhist apologetic or the Christian apologetic to Buddhism. These ten areas are not meant to be exhaustive. Obviously, they're meant to start the conversation. The order that I give these is not necessarily the way I would rank them in terms of importance. But I think they follow a logical progression of how we develop systematically, perhaps. But I think that in terms of a typical conversation with a typical Buddhist, you may find some of these far more relevant for like talking on the bus with somebody. Others are these are more subtle but are critical to your own understanding about Buddhism in kind of the larger picture. And you have to always operate on both sides of that ledger.


So I have benefited greatly from these books that I've been reflecting on, and I certainly have learned a lot from Buddhist converts. What did they say? I mean, it's always easy if you're if there's a storm outside and you're inside by the fire. Someone who comes in from the storm is the best person to tell you what the storm is really like. And I think in some ways, the Buddhist priest and Buddhist converts who have come to faith and they tell us what struck them about Christianity. It's very, very insightful. I spent years trying to understand how Hindus understand Christianity before they encounter our gospel messengers. And I think some of our kinds of work needs to be done. Again, those of you who may find yourself in the Buddhist world, I would keep I would really it took me ten years to get the idea to do this. And so really, if I could just encourage you when the minute you hit the field, keep a notebook that you can keep somewhere in your stuff. And every time a Buddhist in this case ask you a question about Christianity, make a mental note of it and recorded in your book, Your notebook. And eventually I'll have a collection, as I have with Hindus of hundreds of questions. And you're going to see very soon that these questions are beginning to be very similar. And you will find categories and you'll eventually find there's probably the Buddhist I don't know this for a fact. My prediction would be that you'll find that Buddhist typically ask about ten or 15 questions over and over again. And so if you can develop a cogent response to those ten or 15 questions, then to me you're way ahead of the game.


This is not really quite that. This is more ten issues. Ten major points, I think need to be at the basis of this. And I think it would help you in answering those questions. Okay. The first is a little bit of a play on this Zen statement. If you meet the bird on the road, you should kill him. My response is, if you meet Christ on the road, you should worship him. The historicity of the Christian claims. Why did a Zen say, by the way, is not just the Zen here? The Zen say it, but it's true for the whole of at least all of Mahayana. Why would they say if you meet the bird on the road, you should kill him? They say that because Buddhism exists on the plane of kind of supra historical sages, the multiplication of Buddhist stories in events is so omits that no historiography is truly possible in any way that we would define the word historiography. The only way to resolve, even by their own account, the only way to resolve contradictions in Buddhism is through this so-called darkness skillful means where, oh, well, the Buddha taught this this person, because at that level he thought, this is this person. The more advanced level. And all of these things are not contradictory because they're addressing all the different audiences. That is the only way they can find. I mean, they themselves admit this. There's no way you can look at the Buddhist texts in any coherent way by way of comparison, unless you find some hermeneutic to create an explanation. So the Zen Buddhist come out with this statement and what they mean by this. If you meet the Buddha on the road, you should kill him. Is that all that really matters? Is the Dharma, not the person of the Buddha.


This is like saying what matters is not the life of Jesus. What matters is that we have the Sermon on the Mount. That is essentially what they're saying, that the teachings of Jesus are more important than Jesus. Now, all of this and I again make my stand on this point. All of this is rooted in their own philosophical schools. Just to refresh your memory. Yoga Khara has expanded by a Sangha and Vasu Bandhu. This is their two most esteem teachers stay quite explicitly. There is no reality outside of the mental storehouse of knowledge. This is why it's sometimes called sitar mantra mind only or some is called this na vada the way of consciousness. In my book you go car a person in the dialogs says, and I quote the Dharma Koya as this ultimate reality, whatever that is, helps to focus our minds away from historical or heavenly beings, nor monarchy. Some some might go kayah historical heavenly beings and on to the alternate reality of the mind and human consciousness. That means history as history is expunged in Buddhism, as Williams in history. Mud Gianluca based on teachings teachings, Nagarjuna baldly asserted There is nothing. There is only sure not the nothingness. You'll see so many quotes of this before the day is out. This is why my Jamaica is called the School of Zuni Arvada All is void. My Regina taught and I quote from his own writings All dramas lack inherent existence. There's no permanent reality in the universe. So what I said, what I said was not going to say, what does they say? And in the whole modern world, they say samsara is nirvana. Now, when we say samsara is nirvana, it's the same way as saying that God is Satan.


There's no difference per say, between any kind of categories good, evil, God, Satan. There's no God is Satan. That's the that's the message of Nagarjuna, because everything is reduced to logical impossibilities. That's the whole the whole tetra lemma that he proposes is another way of saying, I think in some ways this is more provocative. This is actually the route behind the Buddhist statement. The Dalai Lama says, Jesus is the Buddha. Now, when we hear the Dalai Lama say that, oh, don't look, don't leave Christianity, Dalai Lama says, because Jesus is the Buddha. Now, wait a minute. We read that. And for years I read that and heard that as pluralism. Just another example of modern day pluralism, the way that that's how a German Protestant would mean when a German Protestant would say to you, Jesus is the Buddha, but that's not what it is for Buddhism. It comes down to that perhaps from a practical level, but it's actually a statement of their philosophy of non distinctions. It isn't because we're in a pluralistic world is because we're in a world where you cannot make any distinctions between God or Satan, Jesus or the Buddha. So philosophy, religious worldview does matter. So this is where the fruits of this finally bubble up onto the street because they have no history. Now this I was amazed at how many people who came to faith in Christ from Buddhism said they were amazed at the historicity of the Bible of the Ring of history that rang through the biblical text in the language of Christians, everything from the sublime moment when you find Jesus, the turn eternal incarnate, one weeping at the tomb of Lazarus to the more kind of mundane, a direction of Paul, to Timothy to bring his cloak before winter.


This whole thing is steeped in history. These are about things that actually happened. Even the Apostles Creed has these remarkable moments in it, which, you know, you know, you have the whole cradle kind of structure, but in the middle of it says he suffered under Pontius Pilot. That's a that's a root edge of the charisma in real history. It's not just that he suffered that. That's something that Buddhism would say, oh, yeah, we all are suffering. All is Duka. But they say he suffered a punch as it roots in a particular man, particular time thinking or history. So from the genealogies to the passion, this is all rooted in history. Again, let me give you a quote from one of these Buddhist priests who came to Christ and I'm sorry, some these are long quotes, but they're they're just so insightful. Look at this. Are you able to read that from back on the back row there? The fact of God's wonderful mercy deeply touched my seeking soul. Although the leaders of Buddhism might speak about mercy, it was not an historical event, but a probability. This is a Buddhist priest who has come to Christ who says this, whereas the cross is a solid certainty when God's dear Son took the punishment for our terrible sins. Buddhism had no real savior or redeemer, only a seeker after truth like ourselves to offer to the weary world. I began to wonder, was it because enlightenment cannot be found at the feet of my blessed Buddha? So here is a Buddhist priest who is amazed at the historicity of the Christian claim. What of the truth of a meet his vow to save mankind? Okay, now you understand, of course, what is talking about this whole thing of Amitava.


The number to call on the name of Amitabh Buddha? It definitely sanely based more on sentiment than unsubstantiated fact. This is the point that you raised last time. Well, you know what we say to somebody who says, you call to Jesus, I call to Christ. What's the difference? Well, here is the difference from your own lips. When Jesus says, come to me all who were in heavy light and Jesus is seen as an historical figure who lived, whose documented the whole thing rings of history. This is about sentiment in Buddhism, the 18th valve. Amida is one of those precious teachings, and we looked at this last week and suppose the means of leading all 70th beings to enlightenment. But a teaching can only be expedient. And he means by that efficacious effective is this is a translation from Japan. Japanese. It can only be expedient if it rests on historical foundations, because how can a gracious savior show mercy if he never actually existed? That's exactly right. Yes. Same argument. Used the exact same arguments to be used to a Christian who doesn't believe that that's Christ. And that's exactly right. I mean, that's why if you ever decide to become a liberal, then don't give up the historic historicity of the Christian gospel, because the moment you jettison the real resurrection of Jesus Christ, you've lost it. You have lost it. There is no there's no defensible faith anymore is another Christian philosophy. This is what we have, both mind and real mind. Try to make this careful thing between classic the in history, you know, Jesus down the cross. That history, the resurrection is classic. The it's the meaning of history, not real history because of Borman do not believe that a modern person could believe in supernatural intervention.


The modern enter into history. So he tries to quote the mythologize the text and give us a new kind of history that is cleansed of all of this. Well, okay, that wave is over. Okay. Forget Rudolph moment postmodern. See, they also don't like history, but for a different reason. The postmodern is reject history not. Because of Boatman's View, because Bowman actually believes in history, he doesn't believe that the supernatural intervention can occur in it. The post moderns are quite okay with history too, but not because they don't believe in the supernatural. Because history is irrelevant. Because history represents meta narrative. Hip history presents something beyond yourself that precedes you and that goes beyond you. And postmodernism wants to collapse everything into your own personal narrative. Your history is the only history there is. So the history of Christ is irrelevant to a postmodern because it's not his history or her history. So what do you do? How do you break into this rootless, vacuous, groundless world of postmodernism but proclaiming the real historicity of the Gospel of Christ? Because if we don't do that, we will definitely lose the claim we can't give on this point. Listen to this. What Paul Williams says in this book, our author of our textbook who makes this marvelous discovery of the gospel. And he says about the resurrection of Christ, No other religion or spiritual teaching has anything so dramatic or convinces the resurrection of the dead. He's referring to Christ Resurrection in this part, says Passage. A resurrection still seems plausible 2000 years later to support its claims. Buddhists sometimes talk about the wonders their spiritual heroes and heroines have done and can do. But nowhere is there a case so clearly and plausibly demonstrated as the resurrection that, it seems to me, is a fact.


Kevin Paul Williams That's a pretty remarkable statement. What he's saying is there's just nothing that can compare to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and therefore we have to press this point very powerfully and proclaim, this is not a matter of explaining this to Buddhists. I don't mean that you don't get up Easter morning, and I've heard this, by the way, on many Easter mornings, I'm always like, I can't believe it. But as a pastor, you don't get up on Easter morning, announce announces your sermon Title seven Reasons Why I Believe in the Resurrection that any fine for a class like this. But on Easter morning you proclaim the resurrection because of all your seven reasons. Fine, but you proclaim it later on In the first class. You can find the seven reasons why you proclaimed it. But there's a point where you must proclaim the Gospel, and with Buddhists, you must proclaim the fact of the historicity of the Christian message. With the Buddhist praise to the temple. You can discuss all your reasonings behind it, but this should be at the core of your proclamation. Listen to the way Paul Williams concludes his whole book. This is a great in the whole post-modern context. This is the conclusion of the whole book. The song of the Gospel is not a case of true for me, okay? The gospel is true for me because it's touch my personal narrative. If the gospel is true, it is true whether I experience it or not. Period. I love that Jesus is Lord, whether you realize it or not. Jesus rose from the dead. Even if you go to your grave denying it. We're talking about historical events that may or may not touch your personal narrative. That I think is a comfort, he says.


It is a comfort to believe, and I hope what he means by that is that whether one can meditate, whether one can pray, whether one sends or not, whether one has a headache or is dying, the teachings of the church are actually true and their truth is fully present and available here and now. They are wonderful to love and forgiveness and all else are true. How wonderful that wonderful things are. Also true. What a great statement from a guy who spent his life propounding Buddhism to suddenly discover, as Lewis said, surprised by joy, to be surprised by the remarkable mercy and grace of God in Christ, and to recognize these are wonderful things so fully embrace and celebrate the historicity of the Christian gospel. I have to quote my mentor, Andrew Walls, who said so many times and in writings, the Incarnation is not just that God became a man. Buddhism can talk about that body self as becoming men, men becoming bodhisattvas and all that. It's about God becoming a particular man, not just kind of generic super cultural logos made flesh, but it's also Jesus of Nazareth. And we can't lose that. And I'm all for logos, theology. I think it's all great. But I think for the Buddhist there be more power in Jesus of Nazareth than the whole logos marks thing. And John, one important is that is in the East. I think we should never, ever forget what that when the eternal God stepped into history, He became Mary's boy. He was Mary's boy. He lived and grew up in Nazareth. And he ran around and he grew in wisdom and stature. And in the mystery of that, God was in Christ and eventually reconciled the world to himself through that incarnation.


So I want to press on you. The first point is this came through so many of the testimonies. The Buddhist were amazed at the historicity of the Christian message. It didn't come across like the supra historical kind of Buddhist saw saga stories of their sages and teachers. Thoughts, comments. Question This is more. What about it? Yes. The question is, what are those the reason why they're unimpressed? You know, that's a matter of some debate. The Tibetan Buddhists are a little more difficult at this point because the Tibetans would counter by saying that they're Buddhas are historical figures who walk among them right now, and they're not somebody in some heavenly realm. And so therefore, this is at this point, not as strong an issue for Tibetans. It would be for the rest. Again, these ten points are kind of in general, important points for Buddhism. They'll be less effective in certain points. And I think of the three major branch of Buddhism. I think you're quite right. The Tibetans will be the least impressed by this point. But this is still a huge point for the great majority of Buddhists that you'll meet. Yes. What was this? This the main reason why we're. Very. Well, yeah, we're going to actually come to some more points that he makes his main point. I think the real point came down to ontology, which is related to history in a way, but I think it came down for Paul that he could not accept the fact that Buddhism had no religion ontology. It was all on this kind of world of nothingness and reaction. See. Well, he says in the book he talked about in the book, and he says that, in fact, he even in the book, he actually prints the email he sent out to his friend that told them the story.


It's quite amazing. In fact, if I can find it really quickly, I'll read it to you, but I'm not sure if I can do it quickly. But he basically says that he got a lot of people back, his Buddhist friends that came back, that they were just like dismayed by it. And a lot of Christians who wrote back with a little triumphalism. And he really comes back against that. And he says, it's not because I think that, you know, all life now found the truth and everybody else is wrong and all that. He just said, you know, this would have my life. And I'm still trying to figure out what God's done in my life. And, you know, it's a very open, honest kind of thing. He doesn't have a sense of triumphalism in the whole thing, but I'll read a few excerpts from it. This is page 23. I hope you'll forgive me. Sin in a rather impersonal circular letter like this. I, I should tell you about. A development to me is very exciting. And which should at the very least, cause you some amusement. I intend to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. This may seem like a sudden development, but for me is not sudden at all. And it kind of goes to a little bit of his journey. Perhaps one or two of you will be delighted with this news. But I would imagine most will at the very least consider that I've completely gone off my head. Foolishness to the Greeks, he quotes some No, not Buddhist. Natalie, My Buddhist friends may well feel dismayed and betrayed. Please don't. I have been enormously influenced by Buddhism and I will still retain my affection and gratitude for the Dharma and those who practice it.


My academic work in Buddhist studies will continue before I'm still the same old Paul. Yeah, you can be sure I'll neither stump a Bible nor join the Inquisition, and I certainly shouldn't lose my sense of humor. I hope that those who think I've gone crazy will allow me that indulgence. At the moment, all I can say is that I am very, very happy for me. Like so many others, it really does feel like coming home. Tara, our daughter, said by way of objection that one has to have faith. To be a Catholic has made me more or less crazy to say that I do. I am told that the honeymoon period soon passes. I do not have any experience of honeymoons. Sharon and I were too busy and too poor to have one. But I do have a wonderful experience of marriage. And this marriage, referring to the Christian will I think lasts forever. But best wishes and all my love. Paul Williams Interesting story. So all this is found in his book and you can have this book for 599 now Friday morning at the Western. Right. He's operating within a total intellectual framework of scholarship, not being embraced at all because they know all of it about their practices. Here we are with these innovative and creative and innovative. So what I see in that division within. I'm waiting. You written pamphlet. The one thing you have a little bit of an impact, but. I think that. Yeah. Let me just be clear about what we're doing here. So we're not sustaining this. We're not talking about here in this part of the lecture, any philosophical comparisons of anything. We're talking about the testimonies of Buddhist and those who have encountered the Christian message.


Now, granted, that's part of the problem. 90% of Buddhists haven't a clue about Jesus and whether he was historic or not. That's part of their shock. That's my part. Our point, when they read or hear about Christ, they're shocked because they didn't expect this. They expected that the New Testament was similar to their own stories of bodhisattvas, which is why I argue in my book and many of your papers, I think successfully, that the kind of body sought for Christ identity is a very, very problematic one because actually it takes away the very thing that's so important about the Christian proclamation. And so this is the testimony of Buddhist. I'm not giving you any there's no overhead quote, by the way, that you'll encounter today or next week that has any quotes from anybody who is not a Buddhist themselves has come to faith. So we're looking at people from within Buddhism. Now. Paul Williams is a Westerner who became a Buddhist and now he's back to Christianity. That's maybe he does operate in a much more scholarly world of Buddhism, but these others are just common Buddhist laypeople, and there's some case priests who have come to faith in Christ and their encounter of the gospels. What I'm interested in the fact that 99% of Buddhist may not have had that encounter is our problem, not theirs. So our whole point is what do we say when we give them this encounter? What is the basis of our proclamation? That's my my point. The second point is I call, But what will Mum and Dad say? The power of family ties in a shame based culture. This came out over and over again in the testimonies from Buddhist, and I've read there. One of their main hesitations was to bring They thought that being a Christian would bring shame on their family.


I want to give you again some quotes from various Buddhist. Here is one. As an only son and a Buddhist. My foremost duty was towards my parents. Now, Carl, this guy's a tie To sound familiar to you? He's a Thai, is a Buddhist from birth. He learns about Buddhism to him. Sorry about Buddhist Buddhism, his mother's name. Even able to speak. He's taught before Y, which is just to respect. He lives and grows an atmosphere, a Buddhist culture, from birth to death. Throughout his entire life, his activities revolve around the Buddhist temple for the name of the child, the treating of aches and pains, of being a house, screaming of the dead. This is the man's name who makes this statement. So what he's saying is that this is warp and woof of his culture. To be a Buddhist is to be a Thai from his perspective at least. And therefore he was. The idea of converting to Buddhism was not strictly a theological problem. It was a family problem. It was a cultural problem. We find this in India. Again, I was surprised to find out that the majority of North Indians do not offer up theological objections to Christianity. It's like the average Muslim does not say, I just can't be convinced of the doctrine of Trinity, even though that's a obviously hugely important issue among Muslims and Christians. But a lot of it is if I become a Christian, you know, my family will disown me. So this becomes a huge issue. This person says I was badly disturbed emotionally by one serious problem. That was how to cut my ties with the Buddhism that I had up to them in my total life. It was not easy to me. What would my mother think about my decision? Well, now I know you're a mirror.


A lot of you are mostly Americans. And you don't care what your mother thinks. Maybe you do. You're good kids. If I were to tell my own father, you know I've become a Buddhist. It would be a little of a shock to them. All right. You can imagine in reverse. What would it mean to come and tell your parents? I can imagine that she would never give her blessing to my becoming a Christian. She'd also try to impress upon me that I was being totally disloyal to all our relatives. This is so important. We're going to look at this more carefully. What does this mean? Who have died as Buddhist believers and who we worship as our ancestors in our home each day. Now we're finding really some of the problems People living around us would feel the disgrace of all of this and suffer extremely from the shame of my selfish decision to bow down to a foreign god which would shock my simple I'm sorry, simple community. Who would take this as a direct affront? Now we need to talk a little bit about shame based cultures. We discussed this and applied anthropology. And I, you know, I always have this vague idea that if you've had one of my class, you had them all. Which, of course, is not true. And so I apologize if you have had a plan, anthropology, where we do discuss this, but I don't know how to get out of it, because at this point in the class, we need to clarify that many cultures there are three general classification, shame based cultures, guilt based cultures and fear based cultures. The Western world is often classically defined as a guilt based culture. The East a shame based culture.


I want to define those for you. And again, if you've had a plan anthropology, this would be a repeat for you. But it is actually critical because at this point, this does lie at the root of this objection to coming to Christ. The fear of family reaction. Why? Because in a shame culture, this is a kind of a classic definition of a shame culture. The Eastern world has historically been guided by strong corporate group conformity. If someone does not maintain a good appearance and earn the good opinion of others, there's a sense of feeling of shame. It is important to keep one's duty to family and society. That's a classic summary of shame based culture. So that means that the pressure is not on the inside, like a guilt based culture, a feeling sense of guilt. The pressure is on the outside. What will others think? And in India, I cannot tell you how many times. I mean, I have had this experience. Dozens and dozens of times talking to Hindus about the faith and them saying to me in some church setting, they came to one of our meetings or whatever and talk to them afterwards and they'll say to me, I what will my family say? This is a very common issue. When I read this in the Buddhist testimonies, I was not surprised at all. This is because of the shame based culture, a guilt by its culture, which is classically found. The Western world has historically been guided by strong personal standards, internalized the sacred text you grew up, you memorized the Ten Commandments or whatever, and you internalized certain standards through which you would judge your activity, which, if violated by sinful behavior, creates a sense of personal guilt. So conversion represents, in the West a classic personal crisis of faith or not faith.


In reading Paul Williams, it comes out classically is a guilt based issue he dealt with he himself. He fought with the problems that he saw in Buddhism, and he saw this being resolve in Christianity. And he had this internal struggle for many years. And in fact, he says at one point, at least two years prior to his conversion, he was a closet Christian. And that created tension for him because here he was talking about Buddhism and in one instance he was a Buddhist and he had lost his faith in Buddhism. And so this is all about a personal journey that Paul Williams went on. It is now he got to the email stage and already decided all that. He informs everybody and has this discussion with the family. But in the shame based culture, that's a much more powerful initial issue that has to be dealt with in a shame culture. The individual is and this is all caricatures now, this is broad stroke. Isn't that so true for every person, the East or person the West is are broad indicators, but the individual is emotionally depending upon the group for belonging, security and ego survival. Group belonging is based on established cult traditions set by the group. It's based on fixed codes of behavior and therefore the individual is largely other directed. Now, if there's any truth in this research, and this has been written on for at least 50 years, these observations in the study by secular and otherwise I think has a lot to it. Then this means that the idea of plucking a Buddhist out of his Buddhism is extremely problematic issue. Now, if you were to see a people movement among, you know, the Shan or whoever come to Christ, that's an entirely different thing.


But the idea of plucking people out of their family context to come to faith, which is typically often the missionary approach. You have a huge issue that would be much less of a problem in the West and the East. So we preach to whole villages, we preach to whole families, we preach to a whole generation. And I had this experience in the ministry that I think that we can learn a lot from this. Even in the West. I was when I came out of Gordon Conwell and I went into the past and I was just so ignorant of these kind of things. And so when I had the privilege one night of leading the Man of the Lord, it never dawned on me that this could have any water implications. So I came home one night rejoicing in my heart that a man in our community who was a drug addict and who was had been in prison in Kent, Britain, had come to faith in Christ. It wasn't the next night when he called me up himself and said, I live here, my parents, I want to share them the same thing you share with me. Would you please come up here and ask them? I asked them like the questions, Where did you go and ask them the question? I go up there and up there and there's this parents all there waiting to receive the gospel. And I said to them, If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven? No. They're over there, like so ready to go to become the Lord. We knelt down. They came to faith. The next night he calls me up and he says, I'm dying. My brother come down here and ask them the question.


I go down there, you know, and the brother comes to the faith and the brother's wife. What really amazed me was to 930, call me up. He was with his grandmother way back in some house, and he said, Is it okay if I ask her the question I hear become an evangelist. But eventually we baptized in one service the grandmother, the mother, the father, the original guy, the Kents brother, Kenneth's brother's wife, all in one big brother will serve as the whole family. And I was thinking to myself, you know, duh, why didn't I think about this? And I every encounter I had evangelistic like when I was from 1984 to that happened and we'll say 86 or 87, I just viewed as an individual deal. I never thought of implications for the family until that experience. It's taught me that even in Georgia, there's in the mountains of north Georgia, there's very strong family ties. And I think this man wanted so much for his whole family to experience this. He couldn't imagine coming alone. So I think in some ways, you know, this is something that can be applied around the world, but certainly in the west, in the east, this is very, very important. In the same culture, the group determines and provides reward and punishment for his behavior. The group has the power to reward, punish, excommunicate, etc., a strong focus on conformity to the group. Interpersonal relationships are conditional, which leads to a mistrust of others for the power they have to expose you and bring about punishment, ridicule, or rejection. I've had contrary times that I've had. Indians say to me, Indian Christians are so preoccupied with others. Think about everything. Just totally preoccupied with everybody else thinks about something.


The idea of saying, this is right, we're going to do it. We don't care. Modi thinks that's an almost impossible conversation to have. Everything is calculated based on how others will think about it. It really this really is a practical issue. And these are just quotes from various studies that have been done on this. By the way, I have on the handout for call kind of a general going, not definition of shame and guilt culture. Right. This is a very, I thought, insightful point on the same cultures. Same cultures are cohesive out of their behavioral level. In other words, they are able to create a lot of group conformity because this this does work of creative kind of organized society where people conform to certain behavioral expectations but can be very divisive in interpersonal level because you are actually cannot trust as easily because you're more vulnerable to someone else's opinion about your decision. And so it's a little bit like kind of the pressure people felt when they announced. I guess in our society, the simple thing would be someone announcing that they're a homosexual or something. It creates a lot of vulnerability because there is such a strong, in this case, group behavioral expectation that of course, today is largely gone, but was certainly there 30, 40 years ago. And so essentially what we saw in kind of the anxiety that people had is what's experienced normally in the east. But any kind of decision like this, it is a very powerful dynamic and can create strong interpersonal problems and issues. I've experienced this a lot in the East. The guilt culture, by contrast, is inherently internalizing. Personal responsibility for behavior is less on the group than on the individual. This is classically seen in kind of the fourth or two laws where you lead someone to Christ in isolation.


No mention of family, culture or anything. It's just bang, this is that. Do you decide? Guilt serves as a kind of internal moral compass, which helps us to monitor our ethics in behavior. We internalize moral criteria from usually sacred text of the Bible that tell us what is right and what is wrong. Today, we're seeing a decline of guilt and shame in the West. And this I thought this just interesting comment One person made. Much of what is disturbing in contemporary Democratic life is the result of the, quote, triumph of the therapeutic culture. That is the idea that the wider culture exists only to minister to our individual needs and wants. This one goes on to say One of the promises of the therapeutic culture is that guilt, shame can and should be banished. This is a mistake. I think that the boundary of shame has an important place in culture. If I, the Western world, loses the category of guilt and you don't have a proper shame based boundary, you are in difficult trouble creating a cohesive society in the same way in the in the East, because they don't have a strong guilt based context. The group conformity is critical to maintain any kind of stability in their society. So therefore, becoming a Christian represents a social destabilization, a cultural threat, not just a personal decision that you make based on your being convinced of the truth of this or that. And that's a huge important issue. Yes. I would I would think of before. Because of. And I thought. Strong. Yeah, it's hard to say how this would or would not apply to the immigrant population in the West. You're not really addressing that. I don't think this quote is talking about.


The broader European culture in the West is dramatically losing any sense of internalized standards. People aren't learning the Bible. They're not being taught any kind of moral standards. The school system has distanced themselves from that. So the result is there's kind of a no is no moral compass. I think it is true to say that the immigrants into the US have been a stabilizing force in our culture in terms of bringing. I mean, did this paper on two days ago. It's actually he makes that point. One of his books. He quotes the book where a guy says how immigrants came to a Christian nation and made it an even more Christian nation. And he points out how the tremendous high percentage of immigrant experience of Christianity in America, whereas the typical approach is assuming that the immigrants are flooding our world with Hinduism, actually that that's happening. The more dramatic story is the the growing edge of Christianity in every major city in the country is the immigrant population growth. So for example, in Boston, he even quotes Cambridge and says in his book that on an 11:00 on Sunday morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, more people worship Christ in a language other than English than in English. So I think your point is fair enough. This may or may not reflect that community or that group of communities, but he is talking about the loss of values and moral standards in traditional European West. Yes. Like the same quote we have to do with the conversion of public hospitals in America. I know it has a lot to do with it because in a shame based culture, people think as a group and so it's normative that a whole family would come to Christ as opposed to an individual within a family.


In the West, it's normative. The individual come apart from their family. So no one in the East was surprised when the fallopian jailor brought his whole family baptized. It makes perfect sense to them. That's less likely to happen in the in the West. Okay. Let's take a break there and then we'll come back in a few minutes and we'll continue on our top ten issues that need to be dealt with in a Buddhist apologetic.