A good friend and i had a conversation a few days ago that I think is worth sharing. We had spoke about a few things already and then he read on of my posts, let’s start with his question after he read the blog entry…
10:11 AM Christian: so would you call yourself a deist?
10:13 AM Buddhist: I completely believe in God. I even believe in Jesus – i just don’t buy that God would create everything and then send one guy to a tiny tribe in the desert and say “this way or hell”…
and from what i have learned of Buddhism, it is beautiful. So full of love and compassion. Very little intolerance. Zero judgment, which Christianity is rife with for some reason…
10:22 AM Christian: Is telling someone “this way or that consequence” not loving or compassionate?
10:28 AM Buddhist: is telling someone who’s family has been pure and compassionate for 20 centuries as a Buddhist, or Jain or whatever; that they are all hell bound because God changed his mind sane?
10:28 Christian: did God change is mind? And who’s definition of pure are we using?
10:31 AM Buddhist: for instance, I have a friend named Priya, she is a Jain and all of her family are Jains as well… in their village they had never heard of Jesus until the late 1800s when the British moved in and set up shop (by force mind you). So suddenly people tell her that all of her family before them are in hell and unless they give up their culture and accept this foreign god they are bad and hell-bound too. That is not compassion. That is not even sane.
She asked me one night if that was my belief and i started wondering what I did think
10:41 AM Christian: I do agree that the church can and does present the message of Christ’s love in a very unloving manner. And when you’re presented with basically amounts to an ultimatum by a conquering force, doesn’t exactly say “I love you”
10:43 AM But that being said, if you believe God is who he says he is, if you believe Jesus was who he said he was. If you understand the reason behind Jesus coming and his message, its all about God’s love for us, his desire for our (human) reconciliation to him, and turning from the things that keep us separated from him
10:44 AM Buddhist: but set that aside for now, can you accept that all sentient beings on earth, and in the universe for that matter, have to know Christ to enter heaven?
10:45 AM wouldn’t a truly loving God send his message to all peoples in all times? not just Israel 2000 years ago? what about the natives of the Amazon 10000 years ago or whatever?
10:47 AM Christian: read Romans 1:18-20 and Hebrews 1:1-4
10:48 AM Buddhist: but how does this relate to people who are not within earshot of Christianity?
10:48 AM Christian: so to answer you question, God has been made known to those who have never even heard of him
10:49 AM Buddhist: still, even Hebrews only is in reference to the Jews
Christian: no its not – Judaism doesn’t believe in Jesus, in fact they won’t even say his name
10:50 AM Buddhist: don’t you think that someone who cries out to God, no matter in what language, he hears them? if you are a Hindu and you are suffering and you cry out to God but you call him Ram, don’t you think the God you and I have known since birth hears that call?
Christian: Hebrews was written to the Jewish sect to use their own arguments and laws to show who Jesus was
But sure, as long as they’re calling to God, not an imagined, or man-made god or goddess
Buddhist: and who defines imagined and man made?
10:53 AM Christian: interesting question, with so many gods, over a million in the Hindu religion alone, how can anyone be sure they’re crying out to the right one?
10:54 AM Buddhist: by the way, Hindus believe that every ‘god’ is a manifestation of Brahman, the One True God in Hindu cosmology
Christian: right, but not only that but God is also “in” everything as well, deism
but Brahman isn’t considered a true entity you can approach or even one that concerns itself with the human condition
Buddhist: you don’t think God is in your children?
10:56 AM Christian: do you think your children are part God?
10:57 AM there is a difference between the way Christians believe God manifests himself in our lives and the way deists believe God manifests himself
Buddhist: i agree. I don’t think that the sum = the whole.
i do think that the whole equals the sum though
and yeah, i know that my children are divine, as are yours
10:58 AM i don’t think that God is with in a rock. but i think that God is absolutely in each and every person and animal and to that extent plant on the earth
10:59 AM Christian: if God is in everything, and God is pure and righteous, can God be in the air, the fabric, the walls of the room while a porn is being filmed?
Buddhist: Do you think God is not there?
11:00 AM How can God not be there?
1:25 PM Christian: well, the last question you asked was, “do i think God is not there?”
i would ask, why would you think God would be there?
Buddhist: ah yes, in the porno room, nice thoughts there Pee-Wee
1:26 PM Christian: extreme example yes
1:27 PM Buddhist: i do not believe there is a place, time or event where God was not present. Be that a child being raped or the holocaust. I think God was there.
How can there be any place where God does not exist in the moment?
1:30 PM Christian: Is God all powerful?
Buddhist: I think so – yes. Which in it self poses problems…
1:32 PM Christian: If God is all powerful, then does that mean he can contradict his own rules/standards more appropriately called righteousness, whenever he chooses?
1:37 PM Buddhist: no – there would be no justice then
1:38 PM Christian: then if God can’t violate his own righteousness, why would be part of something that does?
1:39 PM Buddhist: what violates it?
Christian: going back to our porn room illustration
1:40 PM Buddhist: so you are telling me that if you break a commandment, God isn’t there? As in you have found a way to create a space and time where God does not exist? You are powerful.
1:41 PM Christian: How could God be there? If he himself can’t violate his own righteousness, how could he be somewhere or be a part of something that violates those same standards?
1:42 PM Buddhist: i see your point, but I refuse to believe there is any place or time where God is not. He, and I personally don’t care whether or not we call God a He, a She or an It, MUST be in all places and all times, because if He is not there then how can that moment exist.
1:44 PM Christian: i agree with you on the gender aspect, and I also agree that God has the ability to be everywhere, but i also believe he chooses not to be someplace because either he’s not welcome, or his presence would violate his own righteousness
Why didn’t God stay in the garden after Adam and Eve sinned?
1:45 PM Buddhist: okay, but back to the point i was trying to ask you about. Do you think that if a Native American woman falls in the wheat field and cries out to the Great Spirit for help… don’t you think the Christian God hears and answers. What would God care about the name we have given him?
1:48 PM Christian: It’s not necessary just a name thing, its also about the characteristics that are attached to the “god” they are calling out to, its nature. It its nature conflicts with God, then even calling him God is not enough
1:51 PM And in reality, we can only come to God through Jesus, so there is a direct, distinct and intentional path one takes to God, aside from that, there is no way to come to be reconciled to God. John 14:6, Jesus lays out this out to his disciples at the last supper
1:59 PM Buddhist: Why must we only come to God via Jesus? How can that make any sense at all? Can you imagine the creator of all saying, “and oh yeah, i am not taking calls any more, talk to Jr?” I don’t mean to be flippant, but it just seems like a thing contrived by the church…
2:00 PM Christian: Why did God create man at all?
Buddhist: fantastic question. Do we really buy the reason that the Church gives as dogma? That he was in effect lonely?
I don’t think God could be lonely ever…
Christian: no I don’t believe that’s why he created man at all
2:02 PM Buddhist: but rather i think that he would create man as he would create all things, because we sprang forth from his imagination.
You know something; that leads to another question, if God imagines something does it therefore exist?
Christian: Does imagination = action?
2:03 PM Buddhist: if you are all powerful – maybe
Christian: maybe, but you notice a process in the Bible’s creation event right?
2:04 PM for me the best analogy is to think of how any craftsman goes about creating a masterpiece, sure it begins as a thought, and maybe even starts to take some shape in his mind
2:06 PM Buddhist: do you think we are alone in the universe; the only creation in all of creation?
Christian: but he certainly has a good idea of the final product before he begins the actual work
would it take away from God’s glory or power if we weren’t alone?
Buddhist: how could he not know the outcome? Why would he need to think it out?
2:07 PM Christian: isn’t that part of the joy of being a craftsman, sure God could’ve seen exactly how it was going to turn out
Buddhist: i think there MUST be other sentient people out there, i don’t care if they resemble us at all either.
2:08 PM Christian: but maybe he just wanted to enjoy the creation process
Buddhist: if God has a day dream are entire universes created and destroyed in that process?
2:09 PM Christian: i think God’s creation work is done, day dreams and thoughts represent a continuation of that process, and the bible states he has finished creating
Buddhist: would God had to have sent his Son to other peoples in other worlds?
2:10 PM for God to have finished creating is ludicrous. Who are we, the created, to think that anyway?
Christian: i guess that would depend on their spiritual condition. Let’s say, that God created another Garden of Eden with an Adam and Eve and presented them with the same choice ours had. Say they chose to obey, and then maybe God wouldn’t have to find a way to redeem those people
Buddhist: so there COULD be other peoples out there who are with out sin?
2:12 PM Christian: possibly (even though I personally don’t believe so), but how does that help us here?
2:14 PM Buddhist: (listen, i don’t see any reason why God would create this universe for us alone, i feel there have to be other peoples, or else it is a waste)
But what is wrong with the idea that there is more than one way to talk to God, to be godly, to worship? Buddha says there are 84000 ways to Enlightenment. That doesn’t mean there are exactly 84000 ways, just a huge number, too many to think of in your head…
and i am convinced that a kind and loving God, what ever the name, would not send you to hell because you chose to follow the religion of your people. if I was born to the Hopi people i would never accept Jesus… some guy from across the ocean who has followers that think it is okay to kill my ancestors because they don’t follow him… crazy.
2:18 PM Christian: Let’s start with your creation statement. Lets assume we are alone for a second, and God did in fact create this unimaginably huge and diverse universe just for us, why is it a waste?
2:19 PM Buddhist: are you kidding me? So for the last (insert large number here) years the universe was here waiting for us?
2:21 PM Christian: 2 things – i find interesting about why God would create this vast expanse and have only us occupy it. First, God was the creator, it’s his nature to create, and he created the universe for his pleasure and joy. So who are we to decide whether it’s a waste or not
2:23 PM Buddhist: keep going
Christian: Second, God created us in his image, to be his most beloved creation. Don’t you think that a loving God would want us to enjoy, explore, ponder, and certainly appreciate the beauty, complexity and hugeness of his creation?
So what does that ultimately do? it makes you wonder, what kind of God would does this for us?
2:24 PM Buddhist: but why would this God also not allow us to call out to him in what ever language we use? Be it Ram or Great Spirit or whatever?
2:25 PM Christian: its not just about using the right language or name, it’s about calling out to the right God
2:26 PM Buddhist: so unless they call out to a God that identically resembles your God they are wrong?
Christian: Most if not all ancient cultures have a creation story, a flood story and some other very similar “old” stories that sound an awful lot like what you would hear in the bible
Buddhist: i agree, noticed how close Zoroastrianism is to Christianity?
Christian: So doesn’t that make wonder that maybe there was a common lineage that these cultures progressed from, that?
Buddhist: i think there obviously was, yes. or maybe not lineage though, perhaps just a common world we all live in
2:29 PM Christian: And the fact that most of these cultures (and religions that sprang from these cultures) differ on the issues of sin, heaven, hell, salvation, and even the concept God
2:31 PM Buddhist: do they really though? don’t most cultures view a supreme being as the ‘father’ figure? don’t many religions have ‘sons of god’? don’t many have the concept of a hell? Yes to all of those by the way
2:34 PM take it so far as the Mayans… a supreme father like god with many children (saints) and then there was a war of these children, the devil and his angels rebel, doesn’t that get close enough to make you wonder?
2:37 PM Christian: sure it does, but is the god(s) they currently worship the one and only true God, the maker of the heavens and earth? The point of this is to say, maybe, just maybe God realized the need to do something. His most beloved creation was moving further away from him, even replacing him with other gods, what can be done to 1. set the record straight, and 2. reconcile his creation (man) back to him?
2:38 PM Buddhist: by sending one lonely guy to a tiny people in the desert? and damn the rest?
isn’t that sorta like saying “I love these people and they are messing up. So I will hide the truth in a tree in the desert and if they are lucky enough to find it, awesome” ?
2:41 PM Christian: not at all. I don’t know all the reasons God chose the method he chose, but there are some things about God we can learn when we look at why he sent Jesus, instead of some other way.
1. Jesus was God in the flesh. So what does that tell us about God? First, he’s a personal God. He wanted to experience our condition within our context
2. He wanted to set the record straight. You only need to see how he dealt with the Pharisees and seduces to see that he wanted to show the world (starting with that tiny village in the desert) who God really was, what it meant to have a relationship with him, and that above all else, he wants all of his creation to come back to him
and by “his creation” i mean Man
Buddhist: but I don’t think that sending his son to a backwater people in the desert makes any sense to people in Fiji… it would take almost 2000 years for them to hear. So how is that just?
2:49 PM God had made a promise to the nation of Israel
Buddhist: so the rest are just out in the cold until Israel is square?
Christian: for him to not send Jesus there first would have broken that promise thus compromising his righteousness. Well if you read the old testament, the Hebrews where God’s chosen people, because of all the nations of the world at that time, they were the only ones who worshiped God (the one true God)
Starting with Abraham, the Hebrew nation were his decedents
2:52 PM Buddhist: whoa there. they are also the only nation on Earth that God selected to speak to if you believe the bible. Did he send prophets to the Native Americans or the Vikings? Not according to the bible… which makes zero sense.
Christian: why not?
2:55 PM Buddhist: oh i think he did… and i think in those cultures they listened too – just in their own way. Native American peoples have for a very long time worshiped the Great Spirit and its’ creation. Vikings worshiped Odin, the all-father and his creation… aboriginal natives in Australia worshiped a lone god with many godly delegates on earth and in heaven, Hindus worship the one god in many incarnations.
3:07 PM Christian: right, i attribute that to a common heritage
3:08 PM Buddhist: so you don’t think he ever sent any prophets to any other people other than the Jews?
Christian: Sure, Jonah was sent to Nineveh
They weren’t Jews
3:09 PM Buddhist: but other than people from that region in that time, no?
Christian: there’s no mention if it in the bible
3:10 PM Buddhist: and so because it isn’t in the bible it just didn’t happen?
Christian: i should say there was no evangelistic movement until after Jesus
knowing what i know of not only the Jewish culture of that time, and the surrounding cultures in Mesopotamia (which isn’t a whole lot) there wasn’t a whole lot inter-cultural interaction, so I think its highly unlikely that the Jews would have gone out of their way to share God with other cultures. In fact, if you read the Old Testament, God instructed the Jews not to have much to do with those other cultures
3:16 PM Buddhist: there was already a tremendous amount of trade on the Silk Road and the Spice Highway, in China and into India, respectively… but why would a loving God of ALL mankind not want the whole world to know yet? Why just the Jews? Why not send prophets or angels to every tribe of man?
3:17 PM Christian: it goes back to the promise God made to Abraham.
Buddhist: again, why would a kind, compassionate loving God of all mankind do that though?
3:19 PM Christian: make a promise only to Abraham or make the promise itself?
Christian: one sec, looking for something
3:21 PM Buddhist: btw, you don’t really think that the bible can still be considered a testament of truth do you? We know it was changed by the Council of Nicea and it was changed at various other times as well, by accident or not.
Christian: while I’m looking, does it make God less compassionate that he would even take the time to make the promise to one man or make no promise of hope for salvation at all?
3:22 PM you need to define what you mean by changed
Buddhist: if God appeared to me tonight and gave me a revelation would you follow me? Would you think me mad? Would you leave your current religion to follow this new one?
Christian: so it’s less compassionate for God to give man hope through one man, than no hope at all?
3:25 PM Buddhist: why would he not send something tangible to all? Why would he leave it virtually up to chance on whether or not you accepted these people from Isreal? Would you expect people who had lead good lives, had families and cultures built around some idea of spirituality to leave all of that behind and follow this Jesus? Why would a Jain or a Buddhist or a Taoist do that? Why would a pagan from Ireland do that without being tortured… which they were… to conversion?
3:27 PM Christian: right, the church, historically, has had some pretty disturbing episodes.
3:28 PM Buddhist: still does
Buddhist: but again, stay with the thought, WHY would you convert when your religion has served you and your family for an eon?
3:31 PM Christian: The basic problem is this: Whose righteous should determine whether or not I’m good enough
3:32 PM Buddhist: why is that the issue? if you follow any religion based on love and compassion and you are good and kind… do you think you will be damned to hell if you don’t follow Jesus?
3:33 PM Christian: the one central difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world is this: all other religions say that you have the ability to determine your eternal destiny, what ever that may be, and how ever it is you obtain it. the power lies within your hands. Christianity says, we can never do anything to rebuild the bridge that was burned all those years ago in the garden. Only God can provide a way, and that way is Jesus Christ
3:34 PM Buddhist: did you burn that bridge? If you did i accept that. if you didn’t, why are you held to that? Is that righteous?
and no, i am not trying to take you away from Christianity.
Christian: I don’t think you are. Sin burned the bridge for all of us. Sin in my life burned my bridge, sin in your life burned yours.
3:38 PM Buddhist: honestly, how is that so? i once heard this story and i will paraphrase now: for God to allow one unjust man into heaven would be to ruin everything his Son did for us.
But if you didn’t commit that sin, then why are you and I held captive to it? So much for the whole ‘sins of the father’ idea… they bible says we are not held accountable for the sins of our fathers… a child is not born blind to repay a sin his father commits – but you can not attain heaven because of the sins that some fictional Adam and Eve did?
By the way, by your definition Gandhi is in hell, Buddha is in hell – any one before Jesus was in hell and all today who chose to honor the religion of their culture are doomed to hell as well. Not very compassionate in my book.
Christian: no, through Adam, sin entered the world, better, the ability to sin entered the world. Prior to Adam sinning, the world (and Adam) were perfect in their nature and righteousness which allowed Adam and even direct, face-to-face contact with God. You’re right, the world itself, not man, bares the burden of Adam’s sin, we bare the burden of our own sin. Sin we’ve committed ourselves
you’re trying to compare compassion to righteousness
3:42 PM Buddhist: so if a child was born and lived in a sinless state his whole life he would not need Jesus to enter heaven and he might even talk to God face to face?
Christian: The bible tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to go without hearing about him
3:43 PM Sin is simply disobedience. We have all, every single one of us sinned in our lives (with the exception of Jesus). Its that sin that separates us from God
Buddhist: but that is just it. they do. Indians on the Amazon delta have never heard of ANY religion other that the one they had since time began… what about these people? Should we go to them and tell them that all of their forefathers are damned to hell and they have a chance to get it right?
3:44 PM Christian: No we should tell them they have hope in Jesus Christ
Buddhist: but that means that every one they ever knew, their mothers and fathers and all who died before then, they are all doomed to hell… and why do they need your hope? And we would be sick to tell them they even need hope. Why? They already know they will see their forefathers in the hereafter, or whatever they believe in.
3:47 PM Christian: To be honest, i to have asked myself these same questions, “what about these people in this area?” I got all kinds of answers. But I know God is a God of grace and love and compassion, so while i may not fully understand his methods or his timing, and i may never while I’m here on this earth, I believe God has a plan, a reason, a purpose behind why he does the things he does
3:49 PM Buddhist: okay, so you can accept that he might have reached out to them in a way that they can accept?
Christian: Put simply, my children can’t comprehend at this time in their lives, with their capacity for understanding (which i think is vast for their age) why lights come on. I’ve tried to explain, but they just don’t get it. It’s not because they’re stupid, they just don’t have the capacity to understand
3:50 PM Buddhist: okay
Christian: They just know that when they flick the switch, the light is supposed to come on. When it doesn’t they know the bulb is burned out and it needs to be replaced
3:51 PM Buddhist: so back to this then: can you accept that he might have reached out to them in a way that they can accept?
to those people that is
Christian: As Christians we don’t always understand why things work the way they do, we just know when we do what God asks us to do, he does what he says he’ll do
3:52 PM Buddhist: so you can accept that there may be other paths to that same God entity?
perhaps God spoke to the native tribe in the jungle eons ago and they still follow those ideas today? They would not be damned to hell…
3:53 PM Christian: according to john 14:6, there isn’t. And throughout the New Testament, the authors explicitly acknowledge Jesus as the only way to God
Buddhist: again we get back to the point then that unless you follow Jesus you are doomed to a hell as we know it.
3:54 PM Christian: yes
3:55 PM Buddhist: ouch. You just damned over half the world to hell because they don’t follow your Western, Rome-centric, white-male religion that was almost single handedly responsible for destroying countless native cultures to find gold and torture people into conversion.
3:59 PM Christian: once again, I’m not condemning anyone. I believe what the bible says to be true, accurate and fully God-breathed. While the bible does say that the only was to God is through Jesus, saying that I’ve condemned the rest of the non-believing world to hell, and then basing that on acts of people who misrepresented God’s love is an unfair statement. That’s like asking “How long has your mother known you were stupid?”
4:00 PM Buddhist: lol
I can accept your standpoint; I just can no longer follow it faithfully… I no longer believe that God would allow someone to be damned because they didn’t know or accept Jesus. And there really are humans alive today who have never heard of Jesus.
Christian: I would encourage you to read the book of Romans. That whole book addresses what I feel is really the central issue of what we’ve been discussing today.
Buddhist: I would encourage you to read the Heart Sutra