Buddhism - Lesson 14

Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 3)

The doctrines of transmigration and reincarnation are central to Buddhism and provide no assurance for Buddhists of their ultimate spiritual destination.

Lesson 14
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Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (Part 3)

Penetrating the Buddhist Heart

Part 3

II. Explorations in Buddhist Apologetics (part 3)

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

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?


8. A “second look” at the doctrine of transmigration / reincarnation

9. Has Buddhism “cast out all fear”?

10. Contextualization without Compromise

  • 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  • In Buddhism, actual objects of worship and adoration are ultimately illusory and superseded by true enlightenment.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 3)

Lesson Transcript


Okay. If I recall, we had actually completed the first seven of the questions. I hope that you have know where we are. We're in lecture number nine. First part, we have not yet to do the second part of lecture nine, but we're reviewing issues which have arisen out of a number of books and articles written by Buddhist convert to Christianity. So we're trying to understand what is it that compelled them to become Christians, what troubled them about Buddhism from an insider view. Later on, we're going to be switching and looking at this from a more of a from my point of view, more of an apologetic point of view. There'll be some overlap of us between the two, but that's what we are. We're now at number eight where I raise questions about reincarnation. I have a quote here from Dr. Qiang, Sue Wen, who is a Chinese surgeon practicing in Taiwan. He was a Buddhist whose faith was shaken by the Sino-Japanese War, and eventually he came to Christ. He makes it. They come to the doctrine of medicine. Psychosis cannot be proved from the scientific, historical or theoretical point of view. This is the scientific term for the whole possibility of reincarnation come out of psychosis. You'll see a palpable lot in the literature, especially in the Western world, talking about it. People who believe that they've been head of their lives or whatever. So it raises questions from the point of view of science and observation. Can we authenticate the idea that we have had thousands and thousands of lifetimes prior to the one we've had? Now, one of the problems in both Hinduism and Buddhism is that there is not traditionally any sense of proof or recollection, even of your previous lifetime.


I know Shirley MacLaine has all kinds of memories of her past lifetimes, but we often joke, at least in Hinduism class, that is an estimate. Shirley MacLaine, never a numbers herself, is like a maid somewhere cleaning someone's toilet. She's always like she was Caesar, you know, marching on the battlefield. She was always this great king conquering kings. So kind of laughed about in the eastern world, actually. So in my book on not the one that's in your textbook, but the the other book on building Christian Indian foundations, though I allude to it some in this book, is I have several issues I raise about the whole karmic conception and how it ties into Transmigration of Souls. I won't repeat that here, but I want to do this brand cause I'm trying to highlight converts how Paul Williams dealt with this. I'm going to share with you Paul's thoughts on this and just, you know, you can take it for what it's worth. I think it's it's Paul Williams, you know, it has his own ring to it. Paul Williams approaches the whole thing very differently than I did. Again, not because one was different the other, but he approaches it from a much more of a, I would say, issue of logic than an issue of justice, which is how I approached it. He asks the question, and this is as a Buddhist, he was reflecting on this. What if somebody says to you, I love you, and the person responds, says, I don't love you, I hate you, please go away. He just raises this in mind and your mission is to change that person's mind. All right. So this is kind of the thing he sets up. He said, what would it take for a person to change his view from someone who says, I hate you, Please go away to someone who says, you know, I love you or care about you.


So he creates various scenarios and he says, We'll say you have an infinite number of lifetimes to change your point of view. And he's using that an example just to metaphorically, the whole Buddhist mentality. How do you change someone's view from believing that life has substance, that you are an eyes self and have desires to when you don't? He says. Suppose that the number of lifetimes is finite, whatever that may mean and may mean 100,000, 10,000, 100,000 lifetimes. But in some way the number of lifetimes is finite. If it's finite. And he represents this by the letter n just mathematically so he puts the whole thing very logically. He says, What if the number of lifetimes we'll say, You have ten lifetimes, easy on our math, you have ten lifetimes. That represents n. But actually the change that all of these lifetimes are seeking to produce would be represented what would actually occur on the 11th lifetime. But you're only given ten lifetimes to come to this change. So I'm trying to get Carl to change his attitude about himself. He has ten chances to do it, ten lifetimes to do it. He doesn't do on the 10th, but it would have happened on his 11th if he had it. So he only got in, but he needed n plus one. Is it too early to be doing this? Oh, okay. We're flying high. Okay. Yeah. Okay. That's what I was listening to. So n equals ten lifetimes. All right. You need in plus one. Okay. So what he basically says is you need this was 100% of your lifetime length and what you needed was an extra 10% bonus, basically. You didn't get it. Is that just are there he's now let's just take it down out a little further let's just say because nobody's believes you only have ten lifetimes.


It's much, much bigger than that. So we'll just say you move this to a hundred lifetimes and equals 109 equals 100%. You actually need in plus one to have the change that the desired change of the Buddhist change. So that represents only a 1% additional need that you have and you're denied it. So it gets down to the point. Okay. For example, what say you in this class? You need a a 70 to pass this class and get a satisfactory grade and get it on your mark. Now, if you got a 60 and you needed a 70, then no one's going to be too upset. If you say I'm sorry, you know, you made a 60. I can't give you 10% or ten points. Now, what if you made a 69 and you needed a 70, then the issue becomes a little closer. Becomes then you come visit me. So I only need 1%. I said, Well, I'm sorry you didn't earn it other than that. Okay, but what if it gets to be 69.5? 69.6. 69.9. Okay. We'll say you needed a 70 and you had 69.9999. Okay. You know, this gets into hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of a percentage of a point. At what point do you say to me you like justice, You're heartless because we're talking about as the number of lifetimes increase, if you need any plus one and you're denied the one, the more lifetimes that you're given, actually, the greater the injustice. Paul Williams arguing. Because if you anybody doesn't achieve the lifetimes then or doesn't achieve the Enlightenment after so many lifetimes, then you think, well, gosh, if they could just be given one more, if they had 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 lifetimes, he actually argues that it's more just if everyone is given one lifetime, then if you're given thousands of lifetimes, that's the first scenario he presents.


Understand that because. There is no like. And you just keep getting referred. I don't even understand the whole setup. Know you're thinking about an infinite number of lifetimes. He's saying if there is a finite number of lifetimes. So one of the problems in Buddhism is that you don't have a self who migrates like you do in Hinduism. So Hinduism can posit the kind of idea of eternal migrations. But in Buddhism, there is no self that migrates to all that you have at the end of your life based on your last thought or your last whatever. You release some karmic energy, which then migrates. And that energy can become embodied. All right. So even the continuity between the self in lifetime one in the self and lifetime too, is extremely problematic in Buddhism, which is why one of our issues here is what about the self? So the idea of, quote, God giving one more is obviously not a Buddhist idea altogether. So Paul Waves is raising the idea mathematically from the point of view of justice. Why do we think in talking with Buddhists, between Christians and Buddhists, that 100 lifetimes or a thousand lifetimes is more just than in one lifetime? Because they'll say, okay, in your in your faith is appointed, wants everyone to die. After that comes judgment. So then you have one lifetime to get it right. We have hundreds of lifetimes to get it right. We're in a better situation. In your end. This is this is kind of what he's trying to charge, which actually leads to the second point that Paul Williams is making. And that is, he argues, one of the things that is a value if you have one lifetime, is that it gives extreme importance to your lifetime, your life.


Your life has meaning, because if in fact your only significance in your life is to achieve this enlightenment, and it takes a thousand lifetimes to learn this lesson, and we'll say it takes you a thousand lifetimes to learn the Buddhist lesson. What is the significance of the other 999 lifetimes that you've had? Some people say, Well, this is because you're incrementally learning lessons along the way. So is there not some value to life number 812? Because even though you didn't get enlightened, it pushed you a little further on to the way of attainment. But it also means that the person who attains the final goal is actually different from the person that was in this other lifetime. So you're having this idea of this constant changing of the person throughout the lifetimes. So Buddhism denies that. By that definition, Buddhism denies any continuity of self in your migrations. So the idea of this person in continuity, this person in life 812 and life 815 is a problematic thing for their own theology, their own doctrine. So it raises questions about the significance of one's life prior to the lifetime when you achieve enlightenment. So those are some thoughts offered freely by Paul Williams and some of his thinking about this. I think the arguments that I make in my book about this maybe are more persuasive in some ways, but this is something that I think will help some people in their conversations. And therefore, I want to bring it out to you. Comments or questions? Yes. So it would seem that a Buddhist or anything, you really can prove the doctrine of the resurrection scientifically, theoretically. So you don't have to think about migration, I say. I don't agree with that, because if you argue that the Christian faith is somehow untethered from historical normal historiography, that does put us in a pretty dangerous situation because we're saying this is faith that somehow disconnected from history.


So the New Testament, in my view, does take a lot of pains to demonstrate the historical accuracy of the resurrection providing eyewitnesses to the event. I'm speaking to more of the scientific like a doctor wouldn't necessarily believe. That's what I'm saying. That is at. So what have you got? Right. Well, the any kind of science is based on the ability to recreate an event and test it. Right. So you have a some kind of hypothesis which you can either prove or disprove, but history by definition, cannot be lumped in with science, because history, by definition, refers to a unique event. So if you were to say, how do we know that Washington was the first president of the United States, let's take something much simpler than the resurrection. Actually, it's not in the purview of science to answer that question. Science cannot prove unless you could find some kind of physical evidence in some way that would prove genetically. I don't know whether that he sat in the White House. I mean, very difficult for science to prove that. So it's a matter of history. How do we know that Washington was the first president on stage because of historical witness? We have data evidence, people who saw him, who witness documents and so forth. So it's very, very you can't ask science to do what it cannot do. And so science can no more prove or disprove that Christ rose from the dead as they can prove that Washington was the first president or that Buddha lived. So therefore, to say that is a weakness of Christianity is, to me, an invalid argument, because that's a problem with science, not with history, because science and history are two different things. And science is about repeatable events that can be tested.


History is about unique events which can be attested to but cannot be recreated. In that sense, it's like the creation the world. How can you determine scientifically that the world was created? These are all matters of history. So how the. Do you think that by that time it would be. It can't be. It can't be. You cannot. This is a quote from a from a Buddhist convert who's a scientist who says there is no scientific evidence for reincarnation. And you could say what you could argue. And maybe the parallel would be there's no scientific proof that someone who dies has gone to heaven or gone to hell. There's no solid proof of that, nor will they ever be. So in that sense, this quote on the board is not meant to say more than that. I mean, in that sense, I think we'll be vulnerable. But I'll make a big distinction in this statement, which could be equally said about the future of life for Christians and confusing the historicity of the resurrection. That to me, that's a different matter altogether. Other thoughts, comments about this. Okay, let's bus to number nine has, quote perfect Buddhism cast out all fear. Of course, this is a play on the scriptures which tell us that perfect love has cast out all fear. And if you look at popular Buddhist beliefs now, we're moving now to more people who are Buddhist on the ground. If you're in Southeast Asia and you employ or you try to understand Buddhism empirically, it's tied into a lot of beliefs such as sickness is caused by demons who possess poison or humans who utilize black magic, evil eye and so forth, very widely held among Buddhist tribal peoples. That calamity is due to contact with some ritually impure object.


High belief in horoscopes and planetary alignments can cause sickness, business failure, miscarriages, all kinds of things. So there's no end to popular Buddhist fear that comes out on the ground. So the question I have is can Christianity address any of these fears? What do you do when you walk into a society in Southeast Asia that is full of this fall of this? I know our Buddhist friends in North India, they are frequently I mean, I don't know about the planetary alignments thing. I haven't discussed this with them, but in terms of if someone is sick or if they because they have a what you have days where we'll take it, we'll ask them to come play volleyball or come play soccer or whatever. And there's certain days they won't do it because they say if we do this on that particular day, because it's an auspicious day in our calendar, it'll create, you know, we'll have some calamity. So we can't we can't do it that day. Very, very common. This kind of thing said, I don't know, Carl, you or others have experienced this in Thailand, this kind of fear that kind of pervades the Buddhist worldview. But the Christian Proclamation addresses all of this. The Bible gives us certain knowledge of the future. The Bible gives us about explain why things happen. These are all from their testimonies. People who came to faith in Christ from Buddhism are these are things that drew them to Christ. They found that the Gospel did give them light for the future. The assurance and certainty of the Word of God was a great comfort to many of the Buddhist seekers. After truth, the power to exorcize demons pray for the sick. This is a very powerful doctrine.


If you go into if you don't believe in deliverance from demonic oppression, then just stay in America. Don't go over to the non-Western world because you can. We ask regularly, people come to you and say, Would you please help me cast out demons? If you say, Well, Jesus no longer does that? That was in essence, that's back in the New Testament. That's not today. Then you get you don't have a problem. Secessionism doesn't work well in the non-Western world. You can kind of pull it off here. But with the greatest respect, I cannot accept a doctrine of cessation ism that the gifts of the spirit are somehow another have passed from the purview of the church. And the church needs to go out not only with the assurance of truth encounter, but also power encounter, the power to directly address demonic spirits, cast them out, be filled with the Spirit, the presence of Christ, given the certainly the Word of God. Now, you can't live only on this. It has to be done in balance. You have to give people the word of God. But part of the word of God, as we know from testimony of Christ, is the wonderful power of Christ who goes about delivering people. And if you listen to the the summary statements of the gospels, the synoptic on what Christ did, several times you have that he went about preaching the kingdom, teaching in their synagogues, casting out demons or healing the sick. Sometimes it's three or four things listed, but it's always a kind of a marvelous summary of preaching the word of God, exercising the power of God in the lives of people. And through that promoting. The kingdom establishing the Kingdom of God. Also, people were struck by the power of prayer in Christian theology to protect people, to guide people, to bless people.


I found this a lot, not so much in the Buddhist context, but I found this a lot In Africa. People were always feeling the need for protection. It's very interesting that Tommy this morning prayed for our protection. You know, it's an interesting thing. What is our position when we go into a contact with a Buddhist? Do we go into it offensively? Defensively? Are we needing protection? Do they need protection from from us? Unless they're demonic stronghold fall down. How do you feel about it when you encounter contacts where you have strong presence of demonology or presence of evil spirits? When I go up to the Buddhist temple next to the school where I teach in India, I'll go up there sometimes during their morning puja when they go through the all the morning chants and all this. There are a number of people, Christians, who refuse to go up there at that time because I say we feel unprotected and we feel like we might be infected by demonic power if we go there. I've had several groups say this to me, which is fine. I respect that. And I do think I do think we should be very careful. I mean, I think it's important not to You should be prayed up. You should be prayed up and stay close to the Lord, but greater as he did than you that he did in the world. So I walk into a Buddhist temple. I don't walk in with any fear at all. I walk in with a sense of solemnity. But I found that the time, the morning time, is the best time to talk to the Buddhist monks. And that's the time they're in a mood to talk that I want to talk.


And that's when the teachers are there. And that's the best time to have some interaction dialog with them, therefore go up or they tend to do everything early in the morning. They had a practice. They still do. I mean, every morning at five between five and 530 based on what time of year it is. But they have some bell that goes off. Now I say bell. It's like a gong is do go bong. All right. So you're lying about something else in your resume, out of your sleep. And so for some years early on, we used to complain about this. And here we are, sound asleep in the dream mode, you know, rapid eye movements. And suddenly this bon bon comes. Well, the Buddhist were up doing their so-called prayer, which we'll look at later on today. All right. Here we are trying to sleep. So we decided that we would get up and pray at that time. And so we have. So now that all the students are required to get out with the Buddhist bong. So when the Buddhist say, doing their time, they don't realize they're calling us to prayers, like the the Muslims call it a prayer, but the Buddhist are calling the Christians to pray. So they ring the bell and we all get up and the men are all required to go to the cafeteria where they go now. And then the women go downstairs to this kind of general area and they try and they pray from four or 532, six, 630 based on what kind of what the time of year it is, they have some slight change. And so they they pray. And it's been a great, powerful blessing. And I do think that there is created a sense of protection for our community, I think would be very careful about interacting with that.


There's a lot of demonic stuff involved in that, but I don't believe that Christians should approach Buddhism or any other religious worldview with fear, but with confidence is good to pray for protection. It's good to pray for guidance. But we also should go with confidence and remind ourselves that great is needed to new things in the world. And if Christ is with you, who can be against you? So you walk into the temple. I've actually shared the gospel. I had the wonderful privilege of sharing the gospel with a young lady who came to faith right in the main hallway of a Buddhist temple standing before this gigantic, huge body, that large stomach, and discussing the resurrection of Christ and the presence of the Buddha or the Buddha statue, and to say, I want to come to faith in Christ and the presence of a statue. It's a great thing. It's a great thing. Yes, Mother really comes to Christ. All right. You know, they treat enemies. Right. Well, if it's somebody you never met before, then all that spare parts, these people I know, you know, and have had extended contact with before and after, and the fruits of this particular person referring to life has exhibited every evidence of ongoing faith and exuberant witness and love for the Lord. So it's not just somebody trying to please. I mean, that can happen, of course, but I'll talk about relationships that we have with people, not just kind of passing through, talking to people. So what is the danger of post-Enlightenment, a domesticated Jesus of popular evangelicalism arriving in the Buddhist world? What would I say is the biggest danger of sending kind of a post-Enlightenment, typical evangelical into the Buddhist world, who I think this may not apply to you, but oftentimes, at least in caricature, has a very domesticated Jesus that is kind of very confined in what he does.


I love what Andrew Wall says. The biggest difference between the Christian Western view of Christ and the African view of Christ is that the African view of Christ is so much bigger. What's the biggest danger? Failing to present the whole Christ to the whole world. Jesus in a three piece suit who does not heal, does not speak, does not empower or deliver, and who has delegated to natural causes. Whether or not the monsoon rains will come this year and end the new OBGYN clergy, whether or not your pregnancy will be successful. That's where we often are today. We have so divided our faith from the natural world, from the, you know, the medical community that we don't know how to speak to the Buddhist world and therefore we know how to address their fears, except with a doctor or some metal, some kind of, you know, rain report. So I think we have to, you know, go beyond just emphasizing Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. The typical western, urbane, inner directed. That may be a lot of make a lot of sense, but I think we have to go beyond that and talk about what it means for Christ to truly touch and speak to the needs of a folk Buddhist who are much larger concern than just the future of their salvation when they die in the West. Typical evangelistic approach in preaching the Gospel has been to emphasize Jesus Christ as savior of the world. So as a typical Westerner was an inner directed person. The emphasis of being a sinner who needed a savior to forgive and was relevant to his feeling of guilt. Well, the same evangelistic approach be meaningful, appropriate for folk Buddhist. I'm just asking the question.


This is a this is a by the way, a quote from Tiso. We're a singer from the book The Cross and the Bow Tree. Quote, An evangelistic approach with the initial emphasis on the Person of Jesus Christ, which is then linked to the work of Jesus Christ. Be more significant. Wow, what a great question. Linking together the person of Christ to the work of Christ is not often done in the West. This is adapted from the cross in the bow tree. By the way, all these slides I put on reserve last week like a promised land. So if you want to look at any of these slides, then they're there. So in talking to Buddhist about these, and I think you have to ask several questions, am I speaking to a priest or to an animistic lay Buddhist? You, you know, it'll make a big difference in your conversation. We've talked with us all throughout the course. Some Buddhist are much more articulate about Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist worldview, doctrine on Atman, the patriotism of Potter, and that kind of informs their basic worldview. A lot of lay Buddhist are not there at all, and they're much more involved in kind of the animistic worldview. I would emphasize the power of God over all of life, not just the afterlife. Avoid evangelical lingo or terminology, which may be confusing. For example, a phrase as simple as Son of God is very confusing. It doesn't mean you can't use it at the right time, but it involves explanation and clarification. So Lord Jesus Christ has a lot more meaning than Son of God. But there are hundreds of examples like that. So just be careful about talking to people. I've said this a lot in my book, the importance of clarifying language, clarifying language and talking to Buddhists, because if you just use kind of evangelical lingo, it can create more confusion than than clarity.


Yes. I mean, using synagogue to explain what you mean by something. I know it's you explain it. It's fine. But to use a phrase like son of God with a muslim or a Buddhist, for that matter. Or a Hindu is going to imply physical cohabitation, and therefore it just creates huge problems in understanding that this is a relational word, not a biological word. So it's important. Yeah, the whole I mean, obviously Jesus as son of God is critical in Christian theology. But, you know, like everything else, when you're talking to Buddhist, you have to know kind of where to start, you know, and where to kind of progress the conversation. And I found that it's much better to early on, especially to speak in very, very basic, clear language that could not possibly well, at least likely would not be confused. And then it increases the potential for clarity and you can move forward from there. I really encourage the use of narrative or stories as much as propositions. Again, this is not against propositional truth. I make a very strong case for this in my book and I hope we've read it by now. So there's no concern about that. I hope we have. I don't believe it's possible to preach Christianity apart from propositional truths. But the way those propositions are communicated can be done more effectively with some examples metaphors, stories, narratives, whatever. And therefore, it's very, very helpful. Buddhist love stories. They love stories. And if you tell somebody, I want to tell you a story that you automatically have an audience. They love to hear stories. So tell stories. Tell good, solid biblical stories, if you like. Whatever. It's just most of their theologies communicate their stories. And so the story can be used as a springboard to your proposition, you know? Therefore, da da da da da da da.


That's fine. But before that, therefore, a nice story is very helpful. You should or I would recommend and this is a kind of a general advice cross-culturally. And when I did this with India, I oh, this was very, very helpful to me. After I've been in India for some years, I, I went on to ask a lot of Indian friends just over the guy over dinner one night or whatever, kind of informally, but you could do it more systematically before you leave. If you had the insight, I'd ask them, What are some of your proverbs? What are your proverbs? Every culture has proverbs, so you make a note of the Proverbs. Many are hilarious, they're funny, they're insightful, whatever else. Okay. A lot of them can be tied as an opening line to some Christian story. You know, it's a bridge thing. So you go into Thailand or you go into, you know, Myanmar or wherever, and you begin to learn the proverbs, because proverbs reflect what a society values. So a stitch in time saves nine. All right. That's classic Western proverb. It tells a lot about our whole view of time, the value of time in the West. A stitch in time saves nine. The whole ability of the West, the desert west to be time saving, be efficient. All of that comes out of these simple things. So you could start out with a parable or a proverb or whatever, and then that can go into some of the story, maybe from the Bible. And it's a great way to engage in a conversation then, because you're starting at their starting point. This is a negative example. But in India, for example, they have a saying about multiples or multiples of the people who live in extreme southwest India.


And the power goes like this Ramarley alley falls to the ground, he comes up with coins in his hand and what the what that means. And in the end, if you tell that to him, unless they're Mullah Ali, will burst out laughing. They love that story because I'm not sure if this strikes you in northeast India is very funny because you're not, you know, part of the. But you know what I'm talking about. So the idea was that a multi, Ali, they're known for being extremely energetic and they're out there. You know, they're very economizing. They're out there starting businesses everywhere. They're out there to make money. So if you're talking about people making money or you're talking, you know, maybe Jesus thoughts on wealth or whatever, this little proverb, oh, definitely get their attention. They love it. There's thousands of like this. So you going to make a little bridge like that and you can open up? Dr. Wilson, who used to it has the lesson that I had, the one that I have now here, Gordon Conwell, he had tons of Afghan proverbs. He had learned I learned from him years ago. And whenever he would meet someone the second time on a bus or wherever, you would meet him once. And he was very good about knowing people's names and all that. There's a little proverb that an Afghan proverb goes like this Meet a man once. He's your friend. Meet a man twice. He's your brother. All right. So when he ever met somebody a second time on a street, whatever, he would come out with this a man once he's your friend, not twice your brother. And they would give each other a big hug. Now, this. Go. I was saying, okay, he's my brother.


We're friends. Because that was a friendship that became a basis for a conversation. And so knowing Proverbs kind of their cultural stories, when I was in China the first week or so, I was there, I bought a little book called Out of the Marsh. Not sure if you've heard of this book. It's a little book of the kind of the classic Chinese stories. And just like we have stories like like Paul Bunyan, you know, kind of like the classic cultural stories, the Paul Bunyan who does this and the Blue Ox and all that. This is the Chinese equivalent of that. This famous strong man, this king who does this, he does that. All these stories about him. Well, you make reference to those kind of cultural stories. Boy, it's amazing that the inroad you have and there's that take a lot of creativity to work that into a gospel kind of message or a gospel comment. So anyway, I just put that before you. I think also just continue this. We should by the way, these are encouragements from the Buddhist converts directly calling to turn from idols. Don't shy away from being direct and blunt about what it means to follow Christ. You're worshiping idols worth of the true and living God. This is a matter of some concern. I think the person who says this may need to be the indigenous person. I mean, it depends on where you are in the world. There's some places where this could be a dangerous thing to say for your safety. But you have to weigh this out in your context. But this there's no question the Christian message does say this to Buddhist. Emphasize the words of the living God. These are not just the words in some kind of bad book, but the words of the living God.


The love of Christ is very powerful for a Buddhist, the love of Christ. Christ loves you. Christ died for you. Boy, it's a powerful thing for anybody, but certainly and always direct everything towards church planning, not kind of untethered evangelism. I don't believe in untethered evangelism, but it's difficult. Evangelism must be tied in to church planting. That is to say, where people are not just brought to faith in some disembodied sense, but they're brought to faith into a community. You're baptized not just into Christ, but into the body of Christ, into the community of believers. And that means as quickly as possible, not always possible, but certainly as quickly as possible, to finding ways to gather believers together into the church. It's difficult for someone to live out Christianity untethered, especially in the Buddhist world, in Muslim world, Hindu world, where there's so much cultural pressure to conform back to kind of the default. And so we need to the encouragement of the brethren, the sisters. Okay. Those are just some admonitions from the Buddhist convert. This is drawn mostly from the cross in the bow tree, this convert from Thailand. Other comments, questions, thoughts about this. Yes, it's. I guess this is. You know, middle class, lots of good. Outside of the framework of Gaza. The power is there, like if you pray for someone. Let him die anyway. I definitely believe that God knows. But in that situation that has become more of a stumbling block or, you know, is that something that is experienced when you just God give of, you know, not a greater grace, but in areas like you be on something that way maybe more often than. That QUEST. My thought on that is to, again, to be clear on your message, when you pray for anyone to be healed.


Number one, you make it clear that you have no power to heal anybody, that this is the power of Christ to heal and in calls to pray for the right for healing. Number two, we have the assurance in the gospel that there will be no sick in heaven. Every tear is wiped away. I mean, this is the way of saying there's no what goes on. Say never pain and sorrow and no more suffering. So therefore, we know that in Christ there is no sickness or illness, which means that everyone is in everybody. This in Christ is in one of three positions. Either God will heal you instantaneously, which does happen in some cases. He heals you gradually through some process or three you will be healed in the resurrection. So therefore, we can pray on one hand with confidence that if we pray for the sick who trust in Christ, that Christ will heal that person. The real issue is timing. We don't know whether it will happen instantaneously, gradually or in the resurrection, and we need to make that clear to people. There may be purposes that God has for someone's illness that in his sovereignty beyond our own understanding. So certainly people that I mean, I can't say why have prayed for instantaneously healed. One of my real problems with the secessionist movement, which is strong and Gordon Conwell, that's why I just bring this up very, very bluntly. And you're so free to disagree with me, by the way. I welcome disagreement. I embrace disagreement. I love disagreement. They disagreeable. It's okay. But allow me my perspective on this. I don't know of a single person, any secessionist who believes the gifts are not for today. Here is not for today tongues not for today.


Whatever is not for today to all first century. I don't know of anybody, even who believes all that. That believes that if you cut yourself with a knife, that there's any way a doctor can actually heal this cut. I mean, or some whatever the, you know, kind of secular answer is, no one believes that a doctrine that C.S. Lewis makes this point, by the way, in the original May, C.S. Lewis makes the point that if a doctor can dress it, you can put, you know, I don't know, like Neosporin on there or whatever. You can put a little bandage on there and then you wait. You wait you wait for the process to take place. And the the healing takes place, the skin, and they're back together. And that's a long process. So anybody who's worth their weight as a Christian in general would say that's the work of God. God use the position to help arrange things, provide the right environment for healing. But ultimately, the doctor has to wait, too. I mean, you could do it all the way down to heart surgery. You could take someone's heart out, a new heart in. But ultimately, the doctors do a lot of waiting to see what God's going to do. He didn't realize it's God, but it's part of the process that God has put in. So let's see us. Lewis makes the point that a miracle is nothing more than doing quickly what God does all the time in slow motion. So he said, for example, theme the 5000 use example, that thing. The 5000 is simply the multiplication of bread, which God does all the time in every field, every wheat field in the world. He takes a little bit of wheat and makes into a lot of wheat.


You plant a seed, you get all kinds of wheat. It takes a whole season for it to happen. But over a period of time, a little a little wheat becomes a lot of wheat. But we don't world we couldn't call it a miracle. We call that oh that's the natural for natural become of natural process. When it happens quickly, we call it a miracle. So Louis says, wait a minute, that's inconsistent. That's enlightenment thinking. Because if we believe, as I think every sensation is, does that the wheat grown in the wheat field is because of the grace of God and the created order God to get the glory for that. Then the final 5000 is simply the speeding up of that process. So we're really debating about time or drought time. So the secessionists are basically saying from our point of view that we don't mind God doing miracles things as long as He does it slowly. If God acts too fast, we'll get upset. We don't like God to act quickly, like God slowly. I don't understand it. Miracles are simply the speeding up of what God does all the time. And so if we pray for something to be healed, God may choose to speed the process up. In a sense, the whole already. Not yet. The the not yet of the kingdom breaks in someone's life. Christ comes in and they're healed instantaneously. All that is, is the visitation of the kingdom on that person right now. But we have no lack of assurance that if God choose not to heal right now, that the already I mean, the not yet is still coming in some day. The already the not yet will meet in the Eschaton. So that's how I take approach that theologically.


And I've had many people who are not healed, but we also seen God. Miraculously, powerfully heal people as a great testimony to his power and breaking the lives with it happens more in the East and the West. I don't know. Okay. Finally, contextualize without compromise. I think the key throughout all of this is to find ways to build bridges without compromising the gospel. I use this an example here, the famous threefold refuge. I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the sun. That's the famous entranceway in the Buddhism that Paul Williams recounts in his testimony the day he stood up and made this three fold refuge statement when he became a Buddhist Buddha, the teacher Lord, the Dharma, the teaching, the sun, how the community essentially, when you come to Christ, you take some refugees, you take away the Buddha, you put in the Lord Jesus Christ. I take refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ. Take away the Dharma and put in the Word of God. I take refuge in the Word of God. I take refuge in the Sangha, replaced by I take refuge in the body of Christ. Again, church planting the community, the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Essentially Christian doctrine. Christian theology is embodied in the three refuges that we find in Buddhism is just that they are misplaced it. And Buddha, the Dharma in the sun, there is no salvation, the Buddha or the Dharma or the sun. There is salvation in Lord Jesus Christ, which is vouchsafed to us of the Word of God and lived out in the community of faith. So I think that these these are appropriate refuges for Christians who come out of the Buddhist world because it not only does it clearly is as clearly biblical, but it clearly shows the displacement of Buddhism.


And so I think this is an example of the kind of thing that we do rather than some kind of superficial saying, well, you know, we. Paul says no longer I who live a Christ who lives in me kind of superficial mixing of things like the word I, but actually trying to show the distinctiveness and yet being sensitive to kind of the language in the way in which they approach things. That's just one example. But there are many more could be given to show how we approach the Christian message and the Buddhist context. So these are some insights from Buddhist converts to Christianity. I think it's instructive to hear what they're saying and to learn from what they have done. Any questions or comments about this in terms of how they are rethinking every week at. No, wait. Couple of years. I found that said, you know what? Because they know that fact. And so. I found that and again, that knowledge of my clients that you find himself being a positive role model of quality, really. Yeah. Yeah. Think we're going to see that very dramatically today when we get to the Buddhism, America, the contextualization, if you want to call it that they have made with Christianity and trying to present Buddhism is unbelievable. I mean, the biggest group in America is the the BCA, the Buddhist churches of America. They use the word church they've said before and it. Okay. You should not use the word church. Words like church, prayer, all that are used regularly. Well, see that I have actually some websites and stuff to show you. I know. It's like Buddhism. Americans. I want to show you some really interesting things about this and just a little bit.