Buddhism - Lesson 13
Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 2)
The incarnation means that Jesus is both fully God and fully man and came to earth as God in the flesh.
Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 2)
Penetrating the Buddhist Heart
II. Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (part 2)
A. Ten Insights from Buddhist converts: an inside view
1. If you meet Christ on the road, you should worship Him:
2. But, what will mom and dad say? Family Ties in a “shame” based culture
LECTURE BEGINS HERE:
3. God of mercy, God of grace!! Amazing love, how can it be that thou My God shouldst die for me!
4. Jesus is “fully God, fully man” – God in the flesh
5. Where’s the Eschaton: The ‘telos’ of the Christian faith!
6. What about the “Self”? Is Self and/or selflessness the same in Christianity and Buddhism?
7. What is inherently wrong with desires?
Definition of Buddhism and a description of how it began and its present status as a world religion.
Experiences in Siddhartha Gautama's life, and how they led the teachings that resulted in the formation of Buddhism.
The First Sermon of Buddha
Description of the five aggregates and the foundational doctrine of Buddhism.
Therevada emerged as the preserver of the Way of the Elders. The three jewels of the Therevada are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
The three insights of Mahayana Buddhism are that Buddha taught secret truths, the Buddha was a divine being and a dharmic concept, not just an earthly figure, and Gautama was not the only Buddha.
The Mahayana Sutras include the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, Lotus Sutra, Heart Sutra, Vimalakirti Sutra and the Lankavatara Sutra.
A bodhisattva is an enlightened one who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.
In Buddhism, actual objects of worship and adoration are ultimately illusory and superseded by true enlightenment. (This lecture begins in the outline, point IX. The Rise of Buddhist Philosophy, point D, #2. The lecture covering IX, points A, B, C and D #1 is not available, but Dr. Tennent is planning to record it.)
Two invocational Mahayana Buddhist Schools are Chinese “Pure Land” Buddhism and Japanese “Pure Land” Buddhism.
Chinese and Japanese Meditative Buddhism includes Zen Buddhism.
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.
The incarnation means that Jesus is both fully God and fully man and came to earth as God in the flesh.
The doctrines of transmigration and reincarnation are central to Buddhism and provide no assurance for Buddhists of their ultimate spiritual destination.
Buddhism and Christianity have fundamental theological differences.
Guest lecturer, Todd Johnson, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, founder of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.
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 2)
Okay. Number three, God of mercy. God of grace. God of mercy. God of Grace. I have this quote from This was amazing love. How can it be that they are all like, God sets die for me? That's something you wouldn't hear from a Buddhist. This whole same culture is now had this logically following. The other is because if there is a God, it's just hypothetically. If you are if you grew up a Buddhist and if you're contemplating there might be a God, if that God exists, he would be the ultimate charmer. You follow him saying. In other words, that's the ultimate external source of shame, and therefore God, by default, in the mind of an eastern person, must be retributive, must be a God of wrath. He has his list. He's checking it twice to find out who's naughty and nice. You don't know that little Ponda of Samuel about Santa Claus. There's a little poem that kids in the West are taught. It goes like this Santa Claus is coming to town. He's checking. He's making his list. He's checking it twice to find out who's naughty and nice. So, little boys, you better be good because Santa Claus is coming to town. And it was used in our culture to promote good behavior because at Christmas you wouldn't get any presents, supposedly. What's the rest of the year? How's it go? You better watch out. Yeah, you better watch out. Better not cry. He knows when. He knows when you've been bad and good. So be good for goodness sake. Not for God's sake. But he knows when you've been sleeping. He knows and you know he knows. And you and better goods of a good for goodness sake. So we all agree.
Everybody here knows the song. So that's the closest thing that the Western culture comes to creating a shame based figure, Santa Claus. He comes in and shakes his finger at you, and then he goes, Ho, ho, ho. And he goes up the chimney. All right. When they grow, they know nothing. And forget if they knew that guys, because of ego and they always have both hands, right? I mean, yeah, Santa Claus is not going to help us with the gospel. If there is a God, he would be a retributive god. This Buddhist priest, Tillman, who, you know, says, we Chinese are most interested to find out if the Christian God is a retributive God. He wants to know we have our compassionate bodhisattvas. What is God like? The realization that the God of Scriptures of God abounding in mercy and grace, slow to anger and quick to say mercy is a marvelous truth. This is partly what Paul Williams says and others, the God of Scripture, may render judgment for several generations, but he remember his kindness for a thousand generations. I come from a long line of preachers in the Great Awakening and other well-known people in the Puritan period who were faithful to God. And I often think about my life that God has shown me so much mercy and grace. I think, Wow, maybe it's because somebody in the 1700s said yes to God. My life has been blessed by God. It's amazing to think about it that God blessed us to a thousand generations. That could be 70 generations from now. A God says, mercifully, because somebody back here obeyed him and loved him. This is something that a Buddhist doesn't know. This Buddhist convert makes this statement. This is after he became a priest.
Okay. The first weeks in the life of the Buddhist priesthood convinced me that I would never attain Nirvana. After a few weeks, he's already getting the wakeup call that this is impossible. No matter what I did, it was sinful. It would have been better for me to remain as a layman, for then I would not have committed so many sins. The longer I stayed in the priesthood, the more sins I was piling up, and none of them were forgivable. When you read this, it sounds like it's like Luther's Dark Night of the Soul when he before he experienced this, doors opened. We read that text in Romans or Paul proclaims that you are justified by faith. He kept saying, I go into the confessional, but I confess and confess and confess that I can't even remember all my sins. This is sounds like the same kind of angst that that he had. Even as a layman with only five rules to Hall. Remember how the distinction of laymen and the clergy I realize. I could not keep a count of the number of lives I destroyed each day, even in microbe life. Each day I added an untold amount of punishment for myself and for my spirit. After death, there was no salvation for me. And with this loss of hope, I lost faith in Buddhism. Now there's got to be some insight from this for us. Here's a man who realized that he could not could not do it on his own. This is the monastic kind of cry. This is the terra Varden cry that comes out of this, that somehow in Mahayana world, monastic life is highly revered. And for someone to to engage in, in the monastic life and realize I cannot do it.
I need a savior. You see, Buddha gave us a path. We don't need a path, do we? We need a savior. You need a savior. You don't need a path. We all know the path of suffering we're on. We're on the path of lawlessness, sinfulness. We need a savior. Buddhism does not provide a savior. And because the Bodhisattvas represent a historical kind of figures, there is no trust in them. Because, as the other guy said, Well, how can you put your trust in a figure that never actually lived? Or even if he did live, because history itself has a question mark over it and the whole Buddhist framework, then nothing ever has any substantial existence because the doctor of any car, a doctor, impermanence, everything is impermanent. If everything is impermanent, then there's no rootedness to anything and therefore you can't trust anything. So it creates a sense of angst. This person here says We Chinese haven't really studied Christianity deeply or so well. This is the point that Samuel was making. We often regard Jesus simply as one of the sages or saint or sage ancient Judea, and we say it's better for us to worship Buddha or Confucius more well to us, as we don't wish to worship religious man from ruling country of the Middle East. So we're seeing in many ways, this fourth point comes out of the fact that if Christ is historical, if he really did live, then we find out the Jesus of Christian proclamation is much more than we thought we expected all along. We're seeing this in the Buddhist testimonies that when they actually encounter Christianity, they're surprised it isn't what they expected. And this fourth point is another cross example, because in Eastern cultures as a default, let's just talk about kind of general default categories.
If you hear about a great spiritual leader, they can either be in one of two categories. Either they are in a category you might call spiritual teacher category. Oh yeah, he's a great spiritual teacher. Or they could be and maybe even to be fair or not, just spirit, maybe even mega spiritual teacher, maybe some great spiritual teacher. But then they might have another category of kind of ultimate being a God category. So in India they have gurus and they have gods. And so if you talk about Jesus, they're figuring out, is this a God or is this a guru? Basically, those are the two choices. Now, you can of Buddhism, Buddhism doesn't have a guide category, so the only category they have is spiritual teacher category or mega speed spiritual teacher category. So when they hear about Jesus, the only category they have to put him in is spiritual teacher, great spiritual teacher, perhaps mega spiritual teacher, the greatest prophet who ever prophesied the greatest teacher ever taught. Perhaps whatever you can crank up the language all you want, but it's still a variation of a category to which Jesus transcends. Because Jesus more than a prophet. If you want to. You quote the book by Josh McDowell, the famous book that's probably been out of print too many years for you to remember it. But. Josh McDowell You know. Josh McDowell Yeah. He wrote a book back in the seventies called More Than a Prophet, to kind of counter the idea of Jesus being just a great teacher or moral leader. And that mentality which at that time was prevalent in the West and I guess in some ways still is is is prevalent in the East. A lot a lot of my Hindu friends will say to me things along this line, basically, you know, you know, we have this teacher, you have Jesus, what's the deal? You know, what's the difference? So the idea that Jesus Christ is greater than that misses them.
So if all you have is, you know, great teacher category. Why wouldn't you worship your own sages who are part of a great civilization? Why do you worship a religious man from a ruined country? The Middle East? Why would we do that? So you're saying that Jesus was from Israel doesn't exactly bolster confidence in the greatness of Jesus and a lot of mine. And so that's because the category is too restricted. So we kind of assume by the fall people have a God category and they don't. And so you have to push through that. Jesus is fully God and fully man more than a prophet. Yes, sir. Along this line of seeing Christianity and Easter Fox, it's something that I've run into. Is that because Buddhism is seen as the essence of Buddhism, is seen as the teachings of Dharma? So the essence of any religion has to be the teachings. So people are comparing the dharma of Buddhism with the teaching of Christ. That's right. The top people would be good. So that's essentially it. They're not comparing the Dharma to the person of Christ. That's right. What you're getting at is resentment. They're comparing the teachings. So I've talked with with with Buddha, anything like, yeah, you know, the word good and people are good. That's great. Jesus did. That's great. But, you know, but I'm coming to Thailand to talk about God because I'm not bringing some sort of teaching. It's about a God, really. A new person, a people person. All right, let's get beyond this idea. I'm trying to teach people in religion some sort of teaching. That's exactly right. That's exactly well-put. Yes. What do you look like? I really don't like the one way model. Right. Well, let me just clarify again.
My in the east in general, I said you do have two categories. One is a god. Category one is this guru category and the Indian tradition. That is right. A guru can be viewed as the incarnation of God in some cases like Vishnu. That's true. But in Buddhism, you don't actually have a God category. Now you may have God language like the head of the Thai state can be worshiped as God in a functional capacity only. And so in that sense, you may have someone who says to you, Oh, yes, Jesus is a God. But when they say God, they don't mean God the way we mean God. They mean God as a functional ontology, not an actual ontology. And therefore, it is God as He may reside in a chamber of the will of samsara. And that is unacceptable. So in that sense, I'm insisting that there is no truly God category Buddhism, even though I met. You're right, you may have the language of it and certain Hinduism you do. That's another discussion. Okay. Yes. How do you come up with the proof? Whereas in the East, there is no truth. How do you respond to that? Here is the overall differences and thinking. Well, the thing is to distinguish between two things you said, because you shouldn't confuse the apathetic methodology, which is speaking by way of negation with the inability to speak truth. Because first of all, the Eastern world does accept factual truths. And it's a it's a myth to say that Easterners do not accept the category of facts. The problem they have is when we try to speak about the facts of God exhaustively, as if it's a set, you know, it's a closed, bounded set. And I think so we have to be able to talk about facts within a larger context of mystery.
And the Eastern Church, through apathetic theology, has beautifully demonstrated how this can be done within a Christian context. So the Eastern church does not rely, as you said, as much on the affirmations of what God is but what God is not. Now, you can say a lot about what God is by saying what he is not. And it can be done very effectively. Paul Hiebert is done again in the part of the apology. We discuss this a lot, but Paul Hiebert has talked a lot in his book Anthropological Issues for Missionaries on the idea of what he calls the bounded sets, fuzzy set, different kinds of set. And the Westerners do think in terms of bounded sets. So we like to have everything kind of closed off, neat packaged. Here it is. And you're right, that is a problematic thing. But this proclamation of Christ is a good example of this. On one hand, we have certain facts that we know Jesus is fully God. Jesus became fully a man. Those are the facts of. Incarnation. Now, the mystery of how the God man walks among us is a great mystery, and we should allow for that mystery, which is somewhat that mystery. We should be able to say this is something we can't fully comprehend. But that's different from saying we can say nothing about God and we're in this kind of void zone. I don't think that's fair to say, because they're quite happy to discuss facts evidences, as long as they're in the context of a larger sense of mystery, then it's perfectly acceptable. Okay. The fifth one actually raises another issue that we often hear discussed east and west, and that is the the whole idea of the future. Where is the Eschaton? Where are we going? You often hear people say that Western world has linear history.
The Eastern world has circular history. There's been a lot of people have challenged that. A difficult thing, I think I've always said the wheel of samsara is so big it takes billions of years for the will of some sort of turn one time. So it's a little bit like saying that the earth is round, but our experience of it is flat because the world is so big. You have a hard time actually existentially experiencing its curvature because it's just so big. In the same way, history can be so, so massive that even though it's circular in Eastern cosmology, which is true, your experience is a small piece of it is quite linear. Well, people I mean, the Hindus have a who are the most all, for example, circular thinkers historically still have a clear conception of you're born, you have your student stage, you have your householder stage, you have your meditative stage in the in the woods and in your sentence and Yasin. Well, that's linear. I had my professor at Edinburgh who used to say, you know, it's just amazing how many people think that Hindus can't think with linear history because their whole culture, etc., with linear discussions about historical events. So it's something you have to talk about because the entire corpus of Christian faith, life and experience is in the context of history, as we've noted. But in addition to that, we have to emphasize the history has a destiny to which we're all traveling. And even the path, the idea of the eightfold path is in itself a linear conception of a journey that you're on. The idea of a path involves a starting point. You're going through eight fetters, eight fold path, and you get to a destination that is very clearly in the Buddhist language.
You can have a sense of history, but not be set within a larger framework of goal and destination. Hindus have such a weak view of eschatology that in India, talking to Hindus, I've often said I've seen this trickle down to people in the street because if you don't have an eschatology, you have no real sort of history, even know rules of the history. You cannot understand how consequences or decisions today affect things tomorrow, and therefore it impedes you and your ability to act, to make decisions because you kind of live in this timeless void. So Buddhism, as in the East in general, is very often called event oriented rather than time oriented. Now, there's been all kinds of jokes made about this, but let's just say for our purposes that saying that the West is time oriented does not automatically mean it does not automatically mean that we have purpose. I think that traditional Christian culture in the West has a strong sense of purpose, but you could take all purpose of people's lives. They could still be very time oriented. You can be very, very busy indeed. And you have no clear purpose to what you're driving. Christianity, in my view, brings together marvelously and uniquely time and event. So the whole dichotomy of West is time oriented, East is event oriented. Easterners are not so much worried about when things start or stop as the experience we're having along the way. It's about being, not about doing another way of putting it. Westerners are focused on doing Easters, on being. And there's no question when I go to India, you do feel like you enter into a timeless zone. You go to India, you know, this is you get there and everything is moving so slowly.
Nobody is in a rush to do anything. Every proposal can. I've actually gotten so worked up at times because the classic Western at this point, I love my Indian friends. I get so worked up, I'll say, you know, we could discuss this as well as a certain proposal. We have to do this or that. I can see us discussing this proposal for my entire career. In India. Every time I go to India, we'll discuss it more. We'll check with other people how they think about it. I had a little track I wrote this past summer. It's now been published. Well, there's four versions of the track in my office door, but they're collectively a million of these have been produced. 250,000 of each track. And they're on smoking, drinking aids and are smoking, drinking drugs and worrying or anxiety. And there are little simple tracks which talk about a social problem in India. And it gradually transitions to a Christian message. Okay. And by the way, Neal and our students here in campus did the front cover beautiful artwork? You did. So you would not believe the hashing that this track went through. Everyone had to read it and want to criticize it. Oh, you're Hindus. Too advanced, too broad, too big words. It will be understood by the common person. Oh, this is too common. Needs to be said. More so. Oh, everybody had input back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. All right. So this track, one page, track front and back. I mean, this is a little small piece of paper. Just so small was read on more people than my dissertation was. And this was the most proofread track in the history of humanity. I've been trying to bruce this track for several years, and it always had to be.
There's there's a guy down South India. His name is Titus. And they said, Me brother Titus is famous for putting producing tracks. We have to get him to read it. Now, why would Brother Titus? I mean, he didn't even know Hindi. He's down in South India, but he has produced some tracks and malleable into the language. We ought to consult him. As I realize, this will never end. This will never end. So we'll cross campus one night. And I had a revelation from God. I really believe it. I was walking and right as I came into the the kind of the academic block there. Walking across the floor was the the school electrician and a school electrician doesn't know any English. He's uneducated in an informal sense. He's like your typical Hindu. He's the guy we're trying to give the track to guys like him and all these scholars and stays reading this track, criticizing it. So finally I said, I us to come here, come. And I said, he's going to predictably organize the Americanized Indian OC. So I called organized over to Ganesh. I want you to read this track and tell it to think about it. So he put down his tools. He has a Milsom job, and of course he has no, there's no rush. You know, there's probably somebody with no electricity, but, you know, it can wait. He sits down and he very carefully reads the whole thing and it comes up once he laughs because it was a little of humorous. Here is the whole thing. And he loved it. He loved it, and he wanted to keep it. I said, You keep it, keep it. All right. So I go to the committee and I said, Listen, this thing has passed the ultimate test as you talk to Brother Titus.
And now I talked to the Titus. I haven't gone to it. I gave it to Ganesh. Ganesh loved it. Oh, well, he's the target audience. So I got through and they got printed. But I could have gone on forever. It could have gone on forever. And so I think about that. I think here in the West we are busier and busier and busier, but have no place to go. They have a place to go. They never do get there. So you have this ultimate crisis of time, orientation and a purposefulness apart from Christ, and you have this event orientation where the event never actually can move because it's just you're just being nothing gets done. And in the gospel, the whole tension is brought to God. This is the already not yet tension that happens in the gospel, the eschatological event, the future. Eschaton is already present, has already invaded our present existence in the person of Christ. Our lives are now in form with an eye to the future, an eye to our destiny as heirs of God join hands with the Son. We are already seated with Him in heavenly places we are already being, even though we're moving toward that great scatological celebration of Revelation seven nine. So I think that the Christianity is the ultimate answer to the Buddhist wanderings, which is the when the classic metaphors of Buddhism, because there is a goal that Christ fulfills and brings purpose to the urgency to the current moment, this is Tillman, you know, this Buddhist convert who makes this point when the Christian is born again, his trip to heaven has been purchased and he is heaven bound. In Buddhism, only the deliverance from being born again will end. One suffering. And having is nothingness or going out of existence.
He's trying to describe Sonata or to put it another way. Buddhism seeks eternal death going out of existence, whereas Christianity teaches eternal life and a wonderful future for eternity in heaven. What can be more different? One offering eternal death. One offering eternal life all because of destiny. How about this quote from this actually a Thai guy. 33 Chandra. I'd love to know what this means, because in Sanskrit this means Lord of the Moon. Is that have any meaning to you? This is a Thai guy. Yeah, I know. The prefix C is like royal or divine. Yeah. Yeah. Prefix. That's how we in the mean very or extremely used with like gold or jewels or something divine. The other word, Chandra. Yeah. As I said, Moon in Sanskrit. Chandra's moon. Lord of the moon. Anyway, I love the only a Buddhist convert would have the the insight of this metaphors, power of metaphor. He says life was never for me than a candle to be consumed by the fly and then by this whole flame imagery of the desire. Tannhauser When the wax was totally consumed, there was no more candle, no more life. It was the end. Now this is a man who's who's acknowledging the angst of life without an eschaton going into nothingness. In Christianity, the Eschaton is completely rooted in the person of God. That's why the already not yet tension is found in the person of Christ. His incarnation of invasions the human race. Now listen carefully. We don't live forever as I understand Christian theology. We do not live forever because God miraculously changes our ontology. Because He is ontologically infinite. We are finite. That can never really change in that sense, because we are and always will be created beings.
So how is it that we live eternally is because our nature is somehow transformed that Eschaton I don't think so. We live eternally because we are in relationship with an eternal God. We are forever and eternally bound to His person. And because we are in Christ, we are sustained everlastingly eternally. This is why my view it is absolutely ludicrous from a Christian point of view, for the pluralist to speak about Buddhist enjoying eternal bliss in heaven because they don't even understand the Christian basis of eternal turn out in heaven. The Christian basis for being in heaven eternally is never that you as a separate individual, will be given some kind of externality so that your ontology is changed. Because if God ceases to exist, you cease to exist in Christian ontology are eternal. It is only because we're bound up with his person and because he is eternal by nature. He communicates an eternal city to us because we're in Christ. Therefore, there is no possible conception. Christian, speaking of Heaven or eternal city apart from God, is impossible. In fact, Sean McDonnell made the point to me one day discussing this I thought was quite helpful. He said. It is not because our earth is somehow a lower order of creation. Heaven is a higher order of creation, and that we're going to be dying and going from lower order to higher order. That's a pagan idea. His argument, which I think is quite persuasive, is that the reason that Earth gets transformed is because God shows up. Christ is the beginning of this whole cosmic transformation. And in the eschaton, the eternal Jerusalem descends upon the earth and the earth is transformed because God's presence is there. We don't need sun and moon because God is there.
That's the whole point of all that. Everything is falling away because it is fully made its fulfillment. It manifested in God, the Buddhist doctrine of any car. In contrast, you remember, that means impermanence is totally incompatible with biblical theism. The first noble truth of Buddhism is life is suffering, and that, if you remember, is supported by the three characteristics, one of which was impermanent, impermanence, angst, no self, but that impermanence Chanukah and Buddhism is the explanation for Duka. The reason that we are suffering is because nothing is permanent. If nothing is permanent, you cannot have theism by definition, because God by definition is permanent. He is a reality, Paul Williams has stated. Quote. Paul Williams I'm sorry, This is another writer here. The assumption that a God is the cause of the world rests on a false belief in the eternal self. But that belief has to be abandoned. If one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and therefore subject to suffering. So this is showing that in the Buddhist conception, if you don't believe in an eternal self or an ottoman, then you have to abandon any belief of Eschaton because everything is impermanent and everything that is suffering. This is from Terra near Monica. This is a long quote from Paul Williams from this book. There is a two way I know a many years ago, my friend and former colleague, the Catholic philosopher Dennis Turner, expressed his view of what heaven might be. It would be where we would all sit down in harmony and eat together. He evoked the image of the great banquet. So Paul Williams says, even there and that was when he was still a Buddhist. I felt that image wonderful because it was about community. But surely it must be just a metaphor for popular consumption.
Surely there is no great table in the sky. It is far from what the Buddhists mean by Nirvana. Okay, so he is playing with this idea of what is this? What is this, Eschaton? What is the meaning of this heavenly banquet? The marriage supper of the lamb And all this stuff goes on in India, where the structures of caste dominated community are so strong. Those who seek for final enlightenment tend to see it as the end of all rebirth, precisely in the last analysis, the end of all communal involvement, and thereby all suffering. The Seeker after Enlightenment is one who renounced society and wanders forth from home to homelessness. This is very powerful stuff from Paul Williams. What he is saying is in essence, is that in India and in Buddhist lands, there is no sense, true sense of community in any discussion about the future, because in not in emptiness, there is the loss of our community. Because you're going in the nothingness, emptiness. The journey one is here that really struck him, and he is actually quite strong on this. And his book is This Journey of the Eightfold Path, ultimately is a quite a selfish journey. You're looking for your selfish release from the Wheel of Samsara. There is an abandonment of true conception of God. So therefore, we are in a situation where we have no sense of true community. We are isolating each other in India because the caste dominates everything the Brahmins, the Qataris, vices, etc. that liberation is breaking free from that and therefore you are suffering yourselves from all of this bondage when you've been put into communal involvement and therefore the greatest liberation is actually going to homelessness. Again, quoting Paul Williams. Yes, well, I'll read this.
It seems to me that part of the reason why I experience this time there, there's so many family problems, horrible marriages is in the country, in a country of religion that says all this is bad. It doesn't have any theology of marriage, theology of family, which does speak to any of these things. As a result, it is just a total mess. That's true. I mean, you have to have a theology of community. And again, that's why I think ultimately, by the way, Islam fails because by rejecting the Trinity and Buddhism even more, by rejecting God altogether, then you have no possibility of community because in Islamic and even Jewish thought, apart from enlightened Jewish thought through the gospel, if you don't have the Trinity, then you have to say that relationships were only possible through the creative order. So God created us and he's a relation with us that can be in the community, but that's not ontological community. That's again, a functional community based on something happened in time because creation is not eternal. The Christian Proclamation is that God is in an eternal society in Himself. God is the pure and divine, said God in himself as a sweet society. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. So God is in a community. God represents relationships, community. All that's already present and creation is the overflow of it. Buddhism doesn't have that. So the Eschaton is void of any communal aspect. You only go into nothingness. Emptiness. That to me. It is problematic. Go ahead and finish this. As I've argued, this is Paul Williams complete concluding. Buddhist enlightenment is portrayed as involving finally not community, but self contained isolation. Final perfection lies in no dependance on others, no relationships, because the it is the breaking through of this chain of dependency.
The party, this whole pada which represents the problem of Buddhism. So Buddhism is acknowledging the interconnectedness of everything as a problem. That's the matrix of evil, that this causes this and this causes that, and we're trying to break free from that causality. Christianity ultimately celebrates relationships with one another and with God. This is another part of Paul Williams quote. And by the way, if you would like and there's a lot of quotes here, I have all the overheads printed out on a day like this, and I can place some conferences on reserve in the library if you'd like to pluck it off and you can copy these quotes if you'd like to have them, because I want you to have these a few. But we don't have time for us to stop and copy all of them. Though some of you are very quick. Paul Williams, as a Buddhist, was lecturing explaining the infinite series of rebirths and wanderings in Samsara, a theme that we've discussed in this class. Tina This is a personally discussed in the book, and so we already know who she is. She's a Christian. Ask him, Where are you going? What a great question to ask a Buddhist. Okay. Infinite wanderings. Okay, fair enough. Where where are all these wanderings headed to? Where are you going? Okay. She said the Christians knew where they were going. He says her assurance impressed me. I invite her. After more than 20 years as a Buddhist, I had no idea where I was going, or even if it makes any sense to talk of going at all. It says, You know, when you get to Nirvana, you realize that it is samsara. It's like living on a difficult journey, and when you finally arrive, you realize you never left.
That's a bit troubling. This is Matrix, my friends. All right. You did a splendid job on analyzing the Matrix from right. From the point of view this class talk to Matthew. He'll give you all the inside scoop on the matrix. Matrix one metric I did see matrix one. I sense a matrix two and said it was no good. Don't go and see it. So I never go it, but I should have. It seems I was going nowhere. I could hope, but I really had no grounds for assurance. Boy, this is such an important quote, no grounds for assurance. This ultimately is the problem. No relationships, no assurance of destination. This can be really brought out well in the proclamation in Buddhism. Number six. What about the self? What do I. How do I put this in? The handout I tried to use Is self or selflessness the same in Christianity? In Buddhism? The third knowable truth states the importance of distinguishing all desire. And this leads to the essentially the annihilation of the self, the ego, the I. There have been gallons of ink spilled over the years on the great parallels supposedly between the annihilation of the self and Buddhism and Christianity. This has been thought to be one of the great convergences of Buddhism, Christianity, the idea of this, self says, where Paul says it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. The ego, the eye, the ego is being denied. Paul says. It's no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And I'm sure at a certain level maybe be helpful in witnessing in some ways to discuss this. But I think on a more thoughtful level, it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Buddhist use of the word I and the Christian use of the word I, because the metaphysical use of the word self is contemplated in Buddhism from the third knowable truth onward.
And that metaphysical conception of the self is simply not present in the biblical text. That is not the way the biblical text talk about the self we do at times here, language of the soul and kind of Christian discourse, you know, even like hymns. It is well with my soul. And I was just the other day, I was I was I was down in Atlanta in this conference, and I met a colleague of mine from another school. And he is opening line to me is how is your soul? Are things well with your soul. He said to me because I had just lost my mind. I almost said, I have no soul. That's well. But my embodied person in the image of God is quite well. Thank you. This is kind of a hangover of Hellenism, you know, This is the kind of the Greek idea of the soul that has kind of filter down in a Christian language. So I know we all have that in our language. We say I'm a soul winner. Well, when someone said that to me, I know what they mean. They mean if someone comes to me and says, I want to be a soul winner. I say, Well, praise God, brother. I want to be a sweater too, because I know what he means by that, or she means by that. But we all know that theologically it's inaccurate. We're not out winning souls. We're not winning people or Christ is calling people. Perhaps the best way to say it, After all, where Gordon Conwell very careful, they are not man on to consider. Buddhism is a negation of the self or ortman. That was what they call self in Buddhism is merely a combination of physical and mental aggregates working interdependent in this kind of flux of momentary change.
This operates within the law of cause and effect, which is protected from Potter, and there is nothing permanent in the whole of our existence that we would call self. That's the whole problem on Atman. No Ottman does not mean in Buddhism or in Hinduism. Those who discuss the Ottoman there does not mean the denial of the existence of the empirical self. That is to say, the self that you can pinch and look at and talk to is denial of the existence of the personality in an ultimate sense. The fluctuating causal clump of aggregates that you are is not denied as an empirical reality. I walk in the room, I have the empirical experience of observing 25 people here before me. You are looking at me and so forth. That's all. No one denies that we are. There's a certain empirical little ah, reality to life as we know it. Buddhism, when it says on Ottoman there is no ottoman, is talking about the illusion that the self has ultimate significance, which of course the very base of the Christian claim that the self does have ultimate significance. In Buddhism, the eye is the flux of contingent continuity bound together temporarily by the laws of karma. There is not actually an ottoman that trans migrate as we have seen in, but in Hinduism at least you have an ottoman that transmogrified. But in in Buddhism you just have this release of karmic energy at your death. And that release of karmic energy can well up into other lifetimes, other lives come in body through ignorance. The I in the Christian experience and existence has meaning in empirical and ultimate sense. When Paul says, I have been crucified with Christ, it's a reference, of course, to the central nature which must die.
But it does not die for the purpose of destroying the self, but for truly fulfilling the self the sin has. What has marred your self that God created? It has kept you from the wholeness of the eye, not its extinction, not its annihilation, but its full realization. So as I understand it, Christian theology is not committed to any position on the existence or otherwise of the self as negated by Buddhism because the self or soul is never isolated in a metaphysical sense. Christian theology is committed to the supreme importance of the person you and me, as embodied living beings created by God in his own image. Even death cannot negate that. This is one of the great insights of the Christian faith. We are not saved as souls being plucked out of a kind of gnostic embodied shell, which we discard in disgust. But God actually has determined to resurrect our bodies, and we are saved in the wholeness of who we are. That's a mystery. I realized that the bodies that we have dramatically different from our resurrection body, Paul said. It's like comparing a seed of corn to the full stalk. But the point is, there's continuity there. There is not a denial or destruction of the self, but a fulfillment in a way that like a seed to a false stalk, the great fulfillment of the self. So the you is more than just some atman and the source of your sinfulness is not just realizing the absence of Atman. We are embodied creations fashioned by God. He breathed his life into us. He will resurrect the body. And he bestows great honor and dignity on the human body. So the self is not the comparable problem in Christianity as it is in Buddhism.
So we don't address that concept. Yes, I think I get the impression that difficult people. But the church is not a part of not being a body, but. I would say that it means two things, eh? The average church person has bad theology and b therefore they're ill equipped to talk to a Buddhist about the concept of self or soul. And we're trying to eliminate both those problems here today because it is bad theology to talk about my soul, the immortality of the soul. That is not a Christian doctrine. The Christian doctrine is the immortality of the resurrected body, which includes the body, soul and spirit. So you're right. Of course, that's a huge problem in the church, because the church has not been properly taught by pastors who neglect these great truths and they kind of fall into this poor language. So yeah, that would be a problem. But Buddhists, as much as Christians, need to understand this point and therefore the kind of language that Buddhism employs, it's easy for us to fall into that and to think that somehow now that the Bible is capitulating to that kind of theology and it's not, in my view, that's the marvelous thing, because that brings dignity not only to the I as I, but if they did it to you as you, because now we have a soul cannot my soul cannot be an apostle with your soul. But I can share with you because when the soul is embodied, it makes the capacity of relationships possible. So all of these things tend to these bad theologies tend to rob Christianity of its relational dimensions. If you capitulate to this kind of soul language, you also bring like identity to the earth. The created order that even the earth itself is not ultimately destroy, but is transformed in the same way that your body is old and sick and wrinkles may end up being will somehow be transformed by the gospel.
And that's a very powerful theology that frankly is not present in Buddhism or Hinduism. Other comments or thoughts on this point? Yes. Or a follow up? Yes. Question About the last point. Yes, sure. Why not? I like to recommend people about five people at the very least. Well, I think judgment would need to be understood as personal, not impersonal, because judgment in Buddhist context is always impersonal. You know, I didn't perform these rituals and karma is the ultimate mediator of judgment in the East. And so karma is representing inextricable forces that are set in motion because of what you did in this life. Christianity rejects that. We are judged as persons by the ultimate person, and therefore that personalizes the whole thing. Secondly, the concept of hell or the category of hell needs be clearly laid out as an ontological category, not a functional category, because Buddhist also believe in hell, but they don't believe in hell when we believe in hell. So it has to be seen as a place where we are severed from God, which is again the ultimate savage of a relationship. So essentially hell is that we were created to be an eternal commune with God in hell as eternal separation from God. What it means beyond that, we don't know much about it. We only have as metaphors. So therefore it's difficult to say a lot about, except for it is the crushing of this relationship. And that's a problem at the heart. Buddhism is actually in pursuit of hell, but don't know it because Buddhism is about ultimately the sacrifice of all relationships and that's what hell is. And even they themselves will say at the end of their journey, they realize that samsara is nirvana in the same way as saying they realize in the journey there's no journey in heaven or hell.
And so therefore they have no way to talk about categories of heaven and hell. Because in Nagarjuna, especially all categories. Okay. Yes. Oh yeah, it's a good point. One of the things about karma that's interesting is that karma is highly individualized in the sense that I can't bestow grace on you and all that, that kind of lack of our carelessness. So what happens is the laws of karma are enforced corporately, but the implication of them are always crushed down on to the individual in isolation. So you have this tension between the fact that the group reinforces the laws of karma through what they expect group of family to be. But ultimately the success or failure of it is always brought in the individual. So which I think is increasingly isolated. And when Paul Williams makes that quote, I think he is using it rather loosely when he says, whereas the quote, he doesn't further back. Yeah, here it is. I think he's speaking as a Western scholar when he says but self contained isolation, I think might easily be said as a denial of the self to the point that the category of self becomes so isolated because you cannot engage in relationships. It has to be I in the vow. So if you keep denying I and thou I and thou don't exist, you end up actually in isolation. So this kind of presupposes that there really is a self, but it wouldn't be precise language in a Buddhist from Buddhist lips. Okay. Christian theology is not committed to any position. This is just repeat what we said on the existence or otherwise of the self as it's understood and specifically negated in Buddhism. The New Testament does not isolate the self or soul in a metaphysical sense.
Christian theology is committed to the supreme importance of the person you and me, as embodied living beings created by God in His own image. The implicit importance is such that even death cannot negate it. Okay, number seven What is wrong with desires? Again, we're really getting to the root of all the four noble truths in this discussion because four noble truths. As you know, obviously this point focus strongly on extinguishing the flame of desire. Paul Williams points out the example of the pope. I can think of better examples, but he makes the point. He says the pope desires the Catholic Church to flourish. The Catholic Church flourishes in the 21st century. Is that desire bad? Walt Kaiser wishes Gordon Kahnwald two to prosper in the 21st century. Is that a bad desire? Okay, well, it depends. I guess if Walt Kizer were to manipulate or use his presidential power in order to achieve ends like the growth of the school or whatever, I don't know whatever the barometers of prosperity would look like. Then of course, we would say that desire has become twisted and thwarted and tainted by sin. If another hand, the desire for the school to prosper encourages us to pray more about the school, to reflect upon the school's life, how we might be learned from God, to be better equipped to train people for ministry. Then, of course, the desire is a good desire. So I think that Williams's point and my point as well, is that desire in and of itself cannot be regarded as inherently evil. There are desires that can be massively tainted by sin and desires that can be perfectly beautiful and wonderful. And again, in relationships, if you are outside of marriage and you have sexual desires that you act on, for example, especially then of course it's condemned, the Bible is evil.
But if you have the same desires that are fulfilled and celebrated in the context of marriage, it's wonderful. It's what God created you for. So the desire for sexual intercourse, for example, is in itself not inherently evil or or not. It is based on how is it fulfilled, How is it lived out? How is it operative operative in your in your life, in your experience? There are multiple examples they can be get if you look at desire from various angles. So Buddhism is in actually a difficult situation when they actually challenge the cause of desire as being inherently evil, inherently wrong. Why are all strong desires wrong? All it does again is destroy relationships. This is a ongoing problem because desires bring us into relationship with others to cut out all desire. What do they do? They go into monastic life to extinguish desires to. They disengage from the world. That's how you, according to Theravada, their original travel and vision, The way you extinguish desires is to separate from the world. The Gospel is about going into the world, engaging the world, living out your life in the world. God created the world, The world. The good thing. Your life in the world is a good thing. Marriage is a good thing. Work is a good thing. Work is sacred. Marriage is sacred. Life is sacred or is sanctified by God's presence in it. Whereas in the Buddhism context, all action is potential evil. And by the way, this actually it would be helpful if we have time, if we helpful to actually insert at this point in the lectures at least a couple of days discussing Jainism, because if you remember back in the early part of the course, the first day we talked about there were two major rebukes to Hinduism, two major dissent movements is actually three, but the third is materialism, which is what we know well, but the two in the East is Buddhism.
In Jainism and Jainism basically just follows this point a little farther and just a wait a minute, okay? If by action I can produce bad karma, then if we can see action all actions, then we can see the burning of karma and therefore we can be delivered. And so rather than trying to do good things and avoid bad, we just do nothing. We try to avoid all actions they accept. The non-injury of life is the people walk around, mask on their face because they're afraid they might breathe in mosquito and then swallow it. They walk around India. They and they walk around in a bug bath nude, which is a. But shocking. They have a mask on and they sweep the front of their path with a big brush. They're walking like with a broom. And so every step and they step on a bug or something, because if you crush a life, it creates bad karma. They're trying to not interfere with anything, just kind of make their way through the world. You know, you can't go out and buy clothes because that involves interaction and you might say something that might create bad karma. So I was in the van one day in India with three girls. In the meantime, the story and one of our students, young lady, screamed out, There's six naked men walking in the street. These are like, you know, 50 year old men marching in the street with with these post and in the buff from the streets of India. She screamed. I said, Welcome to India. Welcome to Jainism. There are six chains marching in the street. Okay. Now, in Buddhism and in Jainism, all of this is because they're trying to find deliverance through isolation. If we can just disconnect ourselves in the world, be it monasticism, be it that kind of bizarre Jain kind of activities, we don't we can't really even breathe freely.
And in Jainism took a deep breath in this world because you might take in a mosquito, and that can cause innumerable lifetimes of rebirth. So, you know, even breath is restricted in Jainism, in the Buddhist meditations, O breath is always considered holding your breath for so many minutes to prove you're more spiritual. The next guy, and they'll boast in their writing about how long they held their breath. The Gospel about taking nice, deep breaths and walking in the world. Hiking mountains. Taking in the fresh air because he created it. It belongs to us. I mean, all this Buddhism stuff is about extinguishing the very things that God gave us. So, yes, they're right. There are many evil desires in the world. Yes. But in his right, desire does crush us and can cause us to be thrown right into the caverns of hell. They're right about that. But they're not right about condemning the category of desire. The problem is not desire. It's evil desires. It's corrupted desires. It's the desires have been thwarted by the fall. There are many wonderful, beautiful desires that God has given us as part of his created order in the Imago day. And that's to be celebrated. The most important desire is really what Buddhism is out to squelch. That's the desire to know God. Because linked to the first noble truth, the extinguished of the Flame of desire is of course on Atman. There is no self, no Brahman, no Eichmann, everything, all things are only impermanent. So ultimately this whole thing is about desiring God. If you desire a God, you will, from the point of view, go to hell and you'll stay there. You'll be born in innumerable hells. In Christianity, the greatest fulfillment of the Gospel is desiring God.
And that ultimately is what thereafter, what Satan is after. We don't have time for the others. So we just say if we have any thoughts or comments. We have three more to go, which we'll do next week. I didn't want this to be pushed to the last week because as you can see, we didn't get through. But I want to make sure we get through these and some more things I want to say and then we'll take time. And also, if we have if I can try to bring Todd Johnson in next week, talk to you a few minutes about global Buddhism. I've also asked three of you if you should look on the back of your papers. Okay, back to you. Three of you like I did last time. They just a few minutes to show us about your paper. And if you're willing to do that, would you let me know? And I would appreciate it because there's three of you that I ask if you would be open to doing that and showing our class. So we'll have some special things next week, but we want to wrap it up all next week in our last class. Any final comments or questions about what we're doing and where we're headed? There is an eschaton to this class.