Friday, 10 July 2009

How to Evangelize a Buddhist.

I know this is some material that's been spread around the Evangelical web for sometime, and they do take this seriously, but nevertheless, its some pretty amazingly misinformed stuff. I'm sure a lot of you have been exposed to this before, but I couldn't help myself. If you haven't read it yet, enjoy!

Bridges For Evangelizing Buddhists
Truth about Buddhists

Some brief snip-its:
The gospel can be appealing to Buddhists if witnessing focuses on areas of personal need where the Buddhist belief system is weak.
Riiiiight, a belief system. You are very correct, a belief system is weak.

Suffering: Buddhists are deeply concerned with overcoming suffering but must deny that suffering is real.
If suffering isn't real, then was my first marriage just an illusion?

Meaningful Self: Buddhists must work to convince themselves they have no personal significance, even though they live daily as though they do.... Each person is made in Gods image with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny.
I don't need to work at convincing myself that I'm insignificant, my ex-wife reminds me of this everyday. I'm curious, if God made us in his image, then, as Voltaire said, did we not return the favor?

Future Hope: The hope of nirvana is no hope at all - only death and extinction.
Crap, you're right! If I find 'hope in death', then this is a shitty religion I am following.

Moral Law: Because karma, the Buddhist law of moral cause and effect, is completely rigid and impersonal, life for a Buddhist is very oppressive. Under karma, there can be no appeal, no mercy, and no escape except through unceasing effort at self- refection.
Hell that's not the definition of Karma, that's life in New Jersey. (Sorry all my New Jersey friends, I was born there so I can make a little fun :-)

Merit: Buddhists constantly struggle to earn merit by doing good deeds, hoping to collect enough to break free from the life of suffering. They also believe saints can transfer surplus merit to the undeserving.
Hey guys, I got my merit badge in snoodling and apparently that isn't a good deed. Any saints out there willing to transfer some surplus merit to me, please?

Desire: Buddhists live a contradiction - they seek to overcome suffering by rooting out desire, but at the same time they cultivate desire for self- control, meritorious life, and nirvana.
I'm curious, how does one root out desire? Cause I live next to a Chipolte and I'd really like to know cause those burrito bowls are costing me a fortune and I lack any self control.

When witnessing to Buddhists avoid terms such as "new birth," "rebirth," "regeneration," or "born again." Use alternatives such as "endless freedom from suffering, guilt, and sin," "new power for living a holy life," "promise of eternal good life without suffering," or "gift of unlimited merit."
Ohhhh I like it! "New Power of Eternal Good Life with Unlimited Merit" Christ, is this some kind of game show or a religion?

Understand Buddhist beliefs enough to discern weaknesses that can be used to make the gospel appealing.
Because pointing out peoples flaws is a very Christian thing to do, right?

While using bridge concepts, be careful not to reduce Christian truth to a form of Buddhism. Buddhism has been good at accommodating other religions. Do not say "Buddhism is good, but Christianity is easier."
Yea, and definitely under no circumstances should one say "Buddhism is good, but marijuana is better."

Ok, I'm done, I'm all out of really lame jokes about this.


  1. When I start seeing Buddhists with gigantic gold rings and slicked back hair demanding I cough up money on TV, I will start taking Christianity seriously again.

    In America, "Christianity" isn't so much a religion as a reactionary political movement.

    If I had the time and energy-- or the ideological commitment-- I would write a guide for Buddhists wanting to evangelize Christians.

    But here's a start:

    "Enjoyment life: Christians believe their reward will come in some far off afterlife, delaying the true joys of life until it's too late."

  2. I know they're well-intentioned, but that made me sick.

  3. I had an interesting exchange of letters with an evangelical a few weeks ago concerning a writing the guy did about zen. You can check out my blog to see the letters.

    Christianity, like Buddhism, is a very diverse group. Everything from tv preachers to Amish homesteaders, so I can't condemn an entire tradition simply because it has a fair number of members who are misinformed, and whose motives and actions I don't support.

    The more people call out the mistruths and nonsense being spread by those who are evangelizers, the better. But can we do this in a way that doesn't demonize the people involved? Or in more Buddhist language, in a way that doesn't create a solidified view of "them" as some group separate from "us"?

  4. Wow. Many, many Christians are firm believers in willful ignorance.

  5. I agree Nathan, perhaps my jokes were a bit much.

    As the everyone pointed out though, willful ignorance is on the rise unfortunately.

  6. Being a Christian myself, I find such misinformed pamphlets so disrespectful to other faiths. Fortunately, I cannot associate myself with this kind of Christianity, otherwise I would feel a need to apologize for my fellow believers.

  7. Christians, such as myself, have an obligation to spread the Gospel to everyone as commanded by our Lord, Jesus Christ. Some people might do this in a disrespectful manner, but they are not following God's Word when they do so.

    1 Peter 3:15
    "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

    And please do not feel that Christians are missing out in this life and just hoping for some distant and final pay out. I am a child of God, and I am able to take advantage of this relationship daily through Jesus Christ who set me free. I was miserable before I gave my life to Chirst just one year ago, and I have never been happier. This is true even with all the hardships I am still facing. If life were just about being happy and being set free, then Christ has done this for me. God bless. I will be praying for you.

    -Matt Merchant

  8. Great comment, Matt. Could not agree with you more.

  9. I found the comment about not talking about being "born again" interesting. What it tells me is that the approach is to try to debate, which I believe is fruitless. Jesus spoke with authority because he had first hand knowledge of what he was talking about. If you don't have first hand experience with Christ, please don't try to evangelize with words or formula, be led by the Holy Spirit when you speak and evangelize with your life, your actions, be a living testimony.

    Being "Born from Above" means that you can live filled with the Holy Spirit and then you can speak with authority and not rely on a formula. Jesus came to destroy sin and death, He came 500 years after Siddhartha and I am sure that Siddhartha would recieve Christ.


    Near his death (483 B.C.) Buddha (The Enlightened One) told his followers, "Regardless of how many laws you have kept, or even if you pray 5 times a day, you cannot be free from your sin. Even though you burn yourself, even though I become a hermit, or am reborn another 10 times, I also shall not be saved." (Manuscript, Praising Temple, Chiengmai Thailand).

    Buddha taught that he was not a "god", but only a man, a truth seeker. But on his death bed Buddha taught that there would be a future Messiah, "Lord of Mercies", who would be able to free men of their sins. Buddha said, "...He is the Lord of Mercies, His name shall be called the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. He is all knowing, all wise. He knows all that is in the human heart. He is Lord of all the angels and of all humans. No one is greater than He." (Sutrapridot 3:107).

  10. Sutrapridot 3:107? *facepalm*

    However, I also think that if Siddhartha were to be born in the A.D. he would become one of the Christian saints.

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  12. I am sad that all that American buddhists (or any other seekers) see in Christianity is some crazy religion. In truth, Christianity in USA has long been hijacted by fundamentalist wackos who are willing to go even as far as to break God's commandments (e.g. in this case, you shall not give false testimony, etc.) in order to bolster their ranks...