“Bad Path” Karma Advice to A Young Girl

Sadly, the youngster has never received treatment and is taunted by the other children in her remote village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

Relatives and local monks have lead Bo to believe that her appearance is because of bad karma she is carrying from a past life – one of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism.

Bo said that when she rides her bike the other kids yell ”old folk” at her. While even her siblings call her ”grandmum” instead of sister.

The youngster now dreams of having plastic surgery to ”make her pretty”.

[….]

devout Buddhist, named Voeun, told her that her appearance is down to a ”bad path” from a previous life which is still haunting her to this day.

In the video, Bo appears to agree and says that she ”was shot in a previous life” and has ”not cleared the bad path yet”.

She said: ”My mom had a dream and saw that she took a flower which had already bloomed, then she gave birth to me with the old face.”

Monk Voeun adds: ”I feel pity for her. When we are born, we always studied about the bad path. People were born in this place or that place based on the good or bad path that have taken before….

(NEWSFLARE)

I have noted the depravity of the Eastern Worldviews for years… here is one story I include in my chapter on this:

Another illustration with some personal dialogue between some aid workers will help explain this concept some more:

While speaking in Thailand, Ron Carlson was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their Buddhist brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”

Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994), 28-29.

In a personal conversation in a philosophy class where I “paraphrased” the following to elucidate my point to the professor (who was a Hindu) was this final example of mine (also in the above linked chapter):

Another example, albeit more poignant, is that of a mock conversation between a Buddhist named Zen, and a non-religious person named Atos.

Atos:  What if in my reality, my “island,” it is wrong for people to own things, and so when you’re not looking, I elect to play “Robin Hood” by relieving you of your new two-thousand-dollar-crystal and giving it to someone else?

Zen: Well, uh, I guess I’d have to conclude that my Higher Self wanted me to learn a lesson about material things [as Buddhism teaches and New Age thought teaches].

Atos:  Okay, if stealing is not a sin, lets take it further.  Now let’s pretend I’m a “pedophile” – its part of my reality to “love” children in every way possible.  So, while you’re at work I’m going to invite your children into my home to play a “game” that I’ve made up.  Is that all right with you?

Zen:  It most certainly is not!  It would be part of my reality to report you to the police.

Atos:  Why?  After all, it’s the reality I’ve sovereignly chosen to create for myself.  What gives you the right to interfere in the reality of another god? [Which are what Eastern religions teach, coming to the realization that you are one with the Brahmin.]

Zen:  Simple.  Your reality is infringing on my children’s reality.

Atos:  But according to your belief system, before your child incarnated she chose you [by past actions] as her parent and she also chose whatever happens to them, including my act, and you’ve no right to interfere[They have “chosen” this act and life by a previous life and lifestyle – karma.  An adaptation from Ravi Zacharias makes the point that one doesn’t even know ultimately if it was something in your previous life or something in the parents previous life or the child’s previous life (or others involved) that dictated this karmic outcome![1]]

Zen:  I do tooin this case.

Atos:  Can you see my point now?  You are naturally and rightly outraged at the very suggestion of such an act.  Something within you knows that it is wrong in and of itself!  This reality is in direct contrast to what you should believe if your Buddhist philosophy holds true.

Zen:  You are right.

Atos:  But that can only be so if there are absolute rights and wrongs independent of our personal reality [which Eastern religions don’t teach].  Yet, try as you may, you will not find a ground for such moral absolutes and human value in your worldview.  Your God is impersonal and amoral, “beyond good and evil,” so you can’t appeal to It [as “It” is impersonal].  In addition, since in your view [Buddhism or Hinduism] we are all equally gods, my truth about any subject is as good as your truth.  So you see, Eastern beliefs fail the test of human experience – it cannot be consistently lived out.[2]

I hope, with this graphic example, one can see the problem with karma, reincarnation, and the philosophy that naturally follows.  Believing that if my son were to be raped (sodomized) and very probably killed by the perpetrator (all over the news these days) and then believing that something my son did in a previous lifetime demanded that this happen to him in this lifetime is a religious philosophy that just doesn’t compute with reality.  And to deny this thinking is to insert a Western view of human nature that is foreign to Eastern thought.  In doing this, said person is “Christianizing” Eastern religion to fit their pre-conceived ideals and moral values learned in a culture that pre-supposes the Grecian-Judeo-Christian concept of man and reality – which is at odds with Eastern pre-suppositions of man and reality.


[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2001).

[2] Elliot Miller, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement: Describing and Evaluating a Growing Social Force. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1989), pp. 209-210.

SEE MORE:

Has Jim Carrey Come To Know Jesus Christ As Savior? (No)

Carrey has struggled with depression, and in the past has said (among other things),

  • “I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim, I’m whatever you want me to be. It all comes down to the same thing. You’re in a loving place or you’re in an unloving place, if you’re with me right now you cannot be unhappy, it’s not possible.”

But what about this more recent video? Has he encountered Christ? Or is he speaking from a Buddhist perspective? (I say he is speaking as a Buddhist.) His claim about suffering leading to salvation (grace) is very Biblical (see here). Here is Jim discussing the issue at HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES:

BTW, Father Gregory Boyle could be a fan of THOMAS MERTON… another “taboo” in my mind’s eye.

Here is more of Jim Carry trying to convince one mind through his mind that no mind’s exist”

Jim Carrey explains to the tee the Buddhist philosophy as proposed by ALAN WATTS in this following explanation of the above:

No Religious Or Ethical Leader In History Supported SSM

(I am changing some of my “Pages” to “Posts,” so some of this info is older to my site)

I was challenged after I noted that every religious and moral leader of note never endorsed or supported same-sex marriage. Here is the response to this challenge.

A point Dennis Prager makes is that this is the first time in human history where a “liberal elite” thinks it knows better than all previous religious, political, and moral thinkers before them. I have been challenged on this point and so I enter here a response to some of it. But first the audio portion in which discussion took place over:

Here is the small portion of one of the conversations that emboldened me to post this information:

Initial “Religious” Challenge:

Also, this is not just a matter of discrimination based on sex. It is also a matter of religious persecution. There are religious institutions where gay marriage is condoned and officiated just as heterosexual marriage is. To list a few, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, Paganism, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Old Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Australia and there are even more!!! Just as they would not dare to tell you what to do with your religion, so should you not dare to tell them what to do with theirs. If you believe in freedom of religion, you cannot be against gay marriage. You cannot control what others do with their religion. That is one of the founding principles of this nation. And that is what this really boils down to in the end. It is a matter of control. You seek to control others. You seek to tell others how they are supposed to live their lives. That is the antithesis of freedom. For someone as obviously intelligent as you are it is extremely disheartening that you cannot see something this simple.

After I refuted the world religious challenge of Buddhism (see beneath this conversational example that took place here), I got this response:

…I listed a lot of churches that condone gay marriage. One of them was mistaken and you spend how long arguing against it while ignoring every other one? I made a mistake on buddhism. What of the rest I listed and the many more that I didn’t?

To which I responded:

I wish to clarify something I said. In the historical past, same-sex marriage has never been accepted. While polygamy, concubines, and the like have been accepted in cultural practice. Homosexuality being on equal footing with other forms of marriage has never, never been a practice accepted by any religion or culture. Wiccan, Satanism, and liberal forms of the world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like) have only recently endorsed such a view. Since the “sexual revolution” of the 60’s when radical Marxist ideals were injected into Western thinking, writ large. So even your list is a new phenomenon.

I did mention paganism in the past. What I was saying is that men in historic pagan thinking/actions controlled women so that they were prostitutes at the local temple and a place for men to stop and “give sacrifice” to the gods. Other aspects that paganism and other cultures practiced that were harmful to women that Christianity helped cure were (below — partial list) only made possible by a faith that lifted women up. Something modern day feminism and radical gender equality movements do not do, or cannot do… since Wiccan practices do laud – for instance – the older pagan prostitution practices that subjugated a whole swath of women to serve men in horrible ways:

Paul, who often gets a bad rap for his perceived low view of women, considered at least twelve women coworkers in his ministry.* Paul clearly had a high view of women: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The earliest Christians recited these remarkable, countercultural words as a baptismal confession. Widows, far from being abandoned, were cared for, and older women were given a place of honor. In light of all of this, is it any wonder “the ancient sources and modern historians agree that primary conversion to Christianity was far more prevalent among females than males”?

In recent history, Christians were responsible for the banning of three despicable practices inflicted upon women around the world. Christian missionaries pressured the Chinese government to abolish foot binding in 1912. This practice was done for the sole reason of pleasing men—”it made a woman with her feet bound in an arch walk tiptoe and sway seductively.” In 1829 the English outlawed the Indian practice of suttee, in which widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, because of Christianity’s teaching regarding widows and women. Finally, Western countries influenced by a Christian view of women and sexuality have condemned clitoridectomy (female genital mutilation), a gruesome practice that is still common in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 230-231.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010], 49-50.

My goal is not to refute every example [you give]. Yes, extreme leftism in Christianity is nothing new. In fact, the term “fundementalist” was coined in the 1920’s. In fact, a free book about this movement by one of its founders is here, “Christianity & Liberalism

And of course Paganism is [against treating people with humanity]. At least historical paganism, [modern paganism in the West adopts the Judeo-Christian ethic]. Of course I deal with this in my book as well.

With that example of a conversation, I wish to officially give my readers an insight in how to refute such thinking (that major world religions supported same-sex relationships). A proper understanding of Buddhism regards all marriages as mundane. In fact, even love in Buddhistic understanding is mundane and is rejected as anything based in reality — which is also key to this discussion. Here are some actual historical cases that the Buddha interacted with as well as more recently the Dalai Lama dealing with the issue.

….there was a case of a gay monk who was overcome by sexual desire and could no longer restrain himself. He was seducing his friends and novices to have sex with him. They rejected him so he left the monastery and had sex with men who were elephant keepers and horse keepers. When news spread around the entire Buddhist community that he was homosexual, the Buddha was alerted to the problem and he issued a rule for the community not to give any ordination to a homosexual, and those ordained gays are to be expelled. (Vin.I, 86).

The Buddha was more tolerant of lesbianism than male homosexuality. Nuns who were caught in lesbian practices were not expelled from the order. They must confess to the fellows about their practice, and then the offense will be redeemed. (Vin. IV, 261)

The monastic rules do not guarantee Buddhist monasticism is entirely free from homosexuals. Indeed, they only say that monks and nuns are required to live a celibate life. Often in history, the monastic community has been plagued by homosexual scandals.

In Thailand, the worst such scandal took place in 1819, during the reign of King Rama II, when a high-ranking monk, a Somdet who was also the abbot of Wat Saket who had just been promoted to take the position of the Supreme Patriarch, one day was found guilty of enjoying homosexual activities with some of his good-looking male disciples.

It was a shock to all Buddhists of the time, and the case was considered the scandal of the century of Buddhism in Siam.

Interestingly, the graveness of the mistake was not severe enough to defrock him, although the King had him removed him from his position of honour and ordered him to leave the royal monasteries.

As for the lay homosexual people, the Buddha gave no rule or advice as to whether they should be allowed to marry or not. The Buddha posted himself simply as the one who shows the way. He did not insist that he had any right to enforce on others what they should do. With this principle, the original teachings of the Buddha do not cover social ceremonies or rituals. Weddings and marriages of all kinds are regarded as mundane and have no place in Buddhism.

(The Buddhist Channel)

Another authoritative source mentions that “in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not terribly open to homosexual practice. This has much to do with … the notion of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. From this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past sins or good deeds. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are often seen as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life. Thus far, the gay rights movement has not had great success in Theravada Buddhist countries.” So one would have to reject the core of this religion in order to supplant it with a personal view and new model of sexuality. Obviously, ripping the core of an ancient religious belief out in the name of tolerance is what the Left is all about! The article continues:

In a 1997 interview, the Dalai Lama (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a widely-respected spiritual figure) was asked about homosexuality. He did not offer any strong answer either way, but noted that all monks are expected to refrain from sex. For laypeople, he commented that the purpose of sex in general is for procreation, so homosexual acts do seem a bit unnatural. He said that sexual desires in themselves are natural, perhaps including homosexual desires, but that one should not try to increase those desires or indulge them without self-control.

In a 1993 talk given in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said:

  • nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… Same-sex organs cannot manage well. …

The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.

(Religion Facts)

So we see in Buddhistic history and theology a firm denial of homosexuality being approved of (or endorsed, like the Left wants done with same-sex marriage). Even at its best there is no universal Buddhist position on same-sex marriage. In other words, it was never endorsed (if forgetting the above) by the Buddhistic religion or state — like the Left wants in this case.

In all religious understanding, if the practice wasn’t frowned upon, it was never endorsed. Bottom line. Nor was it even thinkable until about a generation ago.

This is an excerpt from a larger response to a local author, to which the fuller response and more context, see here.

Very bluntly and plainly, Socrates was not “gay,” per se. He was a pedophile, most pedophiles in Grecian days slept with young boys, a homosexual act. Pedophilia became common practice for the well-ta-do, and it took the Judeo-Christian worldview to shake this “habit” from the world in outlawing such actions. “Many men in Ancient Greece had relations with young teens,” however, “being outright gay and having an equal relationship with a same-sex partner was not something that was socially approved of at all.” Plato speaks to the “mean state” that creates the best “by far the safest and most moderate” a society should promote to enhance its quality of life. One should take note that even Plato’s detractor in the end agrees:

Now, what lives are they, and how many in which, having searched out and beheld the objects of will and desire and their opposites, and making of them a law, choosing, I say, the dear and the pleasant and the best and noblest, a man may live in the happiest way possible

[….]

Speaking generally, our glory is to follow the better and improve the inferior, which is susceptible of improvement, as far as this is possible. And of all human possessions, the soul is by nature most inclined to avoid the evil, and track out and find the chief good; which when a man has found, he should take up his abode with it during the remainder of his life…. every one will perceive, comes the honour of the body in natural order. Having determined this, we have next to consider that there is a natural honour of the body, and that of honours some are true and some are counterfeit…. but the mean states of all these habits are by far the safest and most moderate;

[….]

…but they will not wholly extirpate [root out]the unnatural loves which have been the destruction of states; and against this evil what remedy can be devised?…

[….]

Either men may learn to abstain wholly from any loves, natural or unnatural, except of their wedded wives; or, at least, they may give up unnatural loves; or, if detected, they shall be punished with loss of citizenship, as aliens from the state in their morals. ‘I entirely agree with you,’ said Megillus,…

This is excerpted from The Dialogues of Plato, in 5 vols (Jowett ed.) [387 BC]

Another piece to the puzzle comes from an excellent apologetic about this very subject. In it we find this:

Aeschines (390-314? BC), in his work Against Timarchus, acknowledged that there were laws on the books that prohibited sexual harassment or assault of young boys.5

1. He further records that Greek law prohibited male prostitutes from holding office in civic affairs, or participating in religious observances.

2. He recognized that laws that regulate moral conduct are the best means of establishing and maintaining an orderly society.

3. This work indicates that there were laws prohibiting these things, and that the punishment was fine or death, depending on the severity of the offense.

So, even in Greece, you had a behavior that was rejected as unnatural, and never accepted in a moral category as “the norm.” So nothing John cites or references would support Prop 8 or the peoples will in California to keep marriage what it has been, a relation between a man and woman (specifically, one man and one woman).

Buddhism “Hashed Out” To Its Logical Conclusions

Originally Posted May 24th, 2010

A partial portion from my proposed book and an old post elsewhere:

Aren’t All Religions the Same? from Papa Giorgio on Vimeo.

I wish to illustrate with a conversation (unfinished by the way) between myself and a Zen Buddhist.  This conversation can almost happen with any religious Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or the like. The conversation takes place after an interesting post by the person on his blog about self-defense, the Dalai Lama, WWII, and the Buddha. I will post my reply to his original thought, and then he responds, followed again by me.  (Keep in mind I am using our “blog” names, they are almost like “handles” like in the movie Top Gun):[1]

My initial engagement:

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or a moral evil truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.) Curious.

They Call Him James Ure, responds:

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others. Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

I respond:

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

“All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva[2] the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a ‘Bodhi-being.’ And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him.” (Comparative Religions – Buddhism)

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well. One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

My Final Response

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

Here’s another way to see the same thing, Dan Story weighs in again:

It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. We must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist. To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires claiming that the claim itself is unreal—a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?[3]

Another author put it thusly, “if pantheism is true (and my individuality an illusion), it is false, since there is no basis by which to explain the illusion.”[4] The challenge then becomes this: “if reality is an illusion, how do we know then that pantheism isn’t an illusion as well?”[5] You see…

most people assume that something exists. There may be someone, perhaps, who believes that nothing exists, but who would that person be? …. no one ever consciously tries to defend the position that nothing exists. It would be a useless endeavor since there would be no one to convince. Even more significantly, it would be impossible to defend that position since, if it were true, there would be no one to make the defense. So to defend the position that nothing exists seems immediately to be absurd and self-contradictory.[6]

Another problem in pantheism is God’s inability to deal with or solve the problem of evil.[7] Dan Story points out what should be becoming obvious, “He is the cause of it (remember, all is God).” Mr. Story continues:

Pantheism and the New Age may try to ignore this problem by claiming that sin and suffering is merely illusion.  But let’s bring this philosophy down to the real world.  Try to convince a man dying of cancer or a parent who has just lost a child that evil and suffering are illusion.  Even if evil is an illusion, the illusion itself is real.  In either case, evil exists.  As Geisler noted, “If evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion?  Why has it been so persistent and why does it seem so real?…  How can evil arise from a ‘God’ who is absolutely and necessarily good?”[8] The answer must be that if pantheism is true, God cannot be good, and He must be the source of evil.[9]

Between karmic destiny and the god[s] of pantheism and its dealing with pain and suffering (and consequently the promotion of it) by claiming everything is an illusion is not an answer at all.  Must we not live as if this illusion is reality?   In other words, “look both ways:”

As the professor waxed eloquent and expounded on the law of non-contradiction, he eventually drew his conclusion: “This [either/or logic] is a Western way of looking at reality. The real problem is that you are seeing contradictions as a Westerner when you should be approaching it as an Easterner. The both/and is the Eastern way of viewing reality.”

After he belabored these two ideas on either/or and both/and for some time, I finally asked if I could interrupt his unpunctuated train of thought and raise one question.

I said, “Sir, are you telling me that when I am studying Hinduism I either use the both/and system of logic or nothing else?”

There was pin-drop silence for what seemed an eternity. I repeated my question: “Are you telling me that when I am studying Hinduism I either use the both/and logic or nothing else? Have I got that right?”

He threw his head back and said, “The either/or does seem to emerge, doesn’t it?”

“Indeed, it does emerge,” I said.  “And as a matter of fact, even in India we look both ways before we cross the street – it is either the bus or me, not both of us.[10]

Pantheists may pawn this inane philosophy on people, but no one can live it out consistently as Ravi pointed out.  Moreover, when a large population tries to live it – like in India – one can see the fruits it produces, the destruction of the family a case in point.[11] The promulgation of suffering and the inability of the religious Hindu to stop and help a suffering child or the rampant infestation of disease ridden — crop eating — pests, is all a loud refutation of trying to live an unlivable religious proposition.  A lie.


[1] I use quite liberally in this exchange two resources, they are follows: Michael J. Murray, ed., Reason for the Hope Within, 212-214; Ernest Valea, “Possible difficulties in Buddhism,” Many Paths To One Goal? Found at: http://www.comparativereligion.com/Buddhism.html (last accessed 8-11-09), the main site is: http://www.comparativereligion.com/index.html

[2] “One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

[3] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[4] Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997), 210.

[5] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[6] L. Russ Bush, A Handbook for Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 70.

[7] Michael J. Murray critiques quickly the Ramanuja and Madhya philosophies:

Stated in terms of Christian terminology, Ramanuja’s view implies that every soul that has ever existed endured an eternity in “hell” (i.e., the cycle of rebirths) before it could enter “heaven” (i.e., union with God). Now unlike Madhya, Ramanuja claims that God freely, and beginninglessly, created the world, and all existing souls, out of his own being. This latter claim, however, presents Ramanuja with a very severe problem of evil: that of reconciling his belief that God is perfectly good and all-loving with God’s ultimate responsibility for the beginningless existence of souls in a state of sin and suffering. The problem of evil faced by Ramanuja here is much more severe than that faced by Western theists. First, unlike Western theists, Ramanuja cannot say that this evil is a necessary consequence of God’s creating creatures with free will. Although the suffering of a soul in any individual life could be blamed on the bad karma resulting from its free choices in previous lives, the fact that the suffering is beginningless — and hence infinite — cannot be blamed on free choice. The reason for this is that, no matter what free choices souls make in this life, or have made in any previous life, they cannot change the fact that they have beginninglessly endured an infinite amount of suffering; but one cannot be responsible for what one was powerless to change. Followers of Ramanuja, therefore, do not seem to have recourse to the traditional free will theodicy invoked in the West to explain evil. Second, the amount of evil that needs to be explained is infinitely larger than that faced by West­ern versions of theism, since, according to Ramanuja each soul has committed an infinite number of evil acts and endured an infinite period of suffering. Unfortunately, as Julius Lipner points out, neither Ramanuja, nor any other orthodox Hindu theologian, ever attempted to address this particular problem of evil since they took the eternality of the world and souls as an “unquestioned datum for life and thought.” Unlike Ramanuja (and Western theism), however, Madhva’s theol­ogy largely avoids the problem of evil. The reason for this is that in his theology God is neither responsible for the beginningless existence of souls in a state of bondage, nor for the fact that they continue to remain in bondage, this being ultimately the result of their inherent, uncreated na­ture. Nonetheless, his system suffers from two drawbacks when com­pared to Ramanuja’s view. First, Madhva’s system leaves one with a plurality of ultimates — souls, matter, and God — without accounting for their existence. Although this is not a devastating criticism of Madhya, everything else being equal, views that hypothesize a single, unified source of everything (such as God), are in virtue of their simplicity, philosophically more satisfactory. Second, even though Madhya claimed to base his view on scripture, from the perspective of many orthodox Hindus his theology seems to contradict both those passages of Hindu scripture that appear to imply a deep sort of identity between God and souls and those that appear to imply that the world emerges out of God.

Reason for the Hope Within, 200-202.

[8] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 189 (emphasis added).

[9] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 113.

[10] Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God? (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994), 128-129 (emphasis added).

[11] Rabi R. Maharaj, Death of a Guru, 13 and 14:

No matter how fulfilling life becomes, there are always cer­tain regrets when one looks back. My deepest sense of loss involves my father, Chandrabhan Ragbir Sharma Mahabir Maharaj. How I wish he were still alive! Nor does the fact that this extraordinary man died so young and under such mysterious circumstances entirely explain my regret. So much that is even more remarkable has happened since then. I often wonder what it would be like to share it all with him, and what his reaction would be. To share it with him! We never shared anything in our lives. Because of the vows he had taken before I was born, not once did he ever speak to me or pay me the slightest heed. Just two words from him would have made me un­speakably happy. More than anything else in the whole world I wanted to hear him say, “Rabi! Son!” Just once. But he never did.  For eight long years he uttered not a word, not even a whispered confidence to my mother…. “Why is Father that way?” I would ask my mother when I was still too young to understand. “He is someone very special—the greatest man you could have for a father,” she would reply, always patient with my persistent questions and puzzled expression. “He is seeking the true Self that lies within us all, the One Being, of which there is no other. And that’s what you are too, Rabi.”


I want to leave the reader with this thought by Robert Hume. In his book, The World’s Living Religions, he comments that there are three features of Christian faith that “cannot be paralleled anywhere among the religions of the world”  [I can add here, the cults either].  These include the character of God as a loving Heavenly Father, the character of the founder of Christianity as the Son of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Further, he says:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great re­ligious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been wor­shipped, even with multitudinous idols.

All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their prac­tical policies under change of circumstances.

Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a con­sistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the com­prehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.

The Virgin Birth Compared to Other Religions (Det. Wallace)

The mother of Horus was believed to be the goddess Isis. Her husband, the god Osiris, was killed by his enemy Seth, the god of the desert, and later dismembered. Isis managed to retrieve all of Osiris’s body parts except for his phallus, which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by catfish. Isis used her goddess powers to temporarily resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus. She was then impregnated due to sexual activity, and Horus was conceived. However this story may be classified, it is not a virgin birth.

Here detective Wallace deals with comparisons of the Virgin Birth found in Christianity compared to statements of similarities to religion prior to Christianity. I deal with the Buddhism aspect if this here, in more depth.

  • In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace continues his series on the virgin conception of Jesus. Was the virgin conception borrowed from ancient pagan myths? Do these ancient mythologies resemble Jesus or offer a similar birth narrative? Would ancient Jews or Christians borrow such a notion? Were the Gospels written so late that no one would have known about the birth of Jesus? (For more information, visit www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)

 

The Dalai Lama Borrows from Christianity To Support Buddhism

(Jump to comparison of manuscripts)

I want to suggest that the Lama’s use of “love” and “compassion” are not found in Buddhism, but used in the Judeo-Christian sense (borrowed in other words) because Eastern metaphysics lack such thought. The Dalai Lama may do this out of ignorance of his own belief, or out of wanting to pull on Western heart strings of compassion (honed itself by the Judeo-Christian ethic), which is often followed by monetary support. Here is a discussion I had with a Buddhist apologist about such thinking, it is taken from my chapter, Reincarnation vs. Laws of Logic:


My initial engagement:

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or bad truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.)  Curious.

They Call Him James Ure, responds:

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others.  Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

I respond:

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

 “All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him. (Diamond Sutra, Sura 14)

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well.  One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

My Final Response:

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

Here’s another way to see the same thing, Dan Story weighs in again:

 Here’s another way to see the same thing. It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. We must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist. To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires claiming that the claim itself is unreal—a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?[1]

Another author put it thusly, “if pantheism is true (and my individuality an illusion), it is false, since there is no basis by which to explain the illusion.”[2]  The challenge then becomes this: “if reality is an illusion, how do we know then that pantheism isn’t an illusion as well?”[3]


[1] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[2] Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997), 210.

[3] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.


“One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

One of my very favorite quotes deals with the founders of the great religions and the consistency found in these founders:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshiped, even with multitudinous idols. All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances. Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.

An example of a self-refuting/incoherent worldview that deals a bit with Eastern philosophy/religion comes from A Handbook for Christian Philosophy, by L. Russ Bush. After giving a basic definition of what a worldview is,[1] Dr. Bush goes on to explain how differing worldviews can interpret reality and then he applies some first principles to the matter:

…most people assume that something exists. There may be someone, perhaps, who believes that nothing exists, but who would that person be? How could he or she make such an affirmation? Sometimes in studying the history of philosophy, one may come to the conclusion that some of the viewpoints expressed actually lead to that conclusion, but no one ever consciously tries to defend the position that nothing exists. It would be a useless endeavor since there would be no one to convince. Even more significantly, it would be impossible to defend that position since, if it were true, there would be no one to make the defense. So to defend the position that nothing exists seems immediately to be absurd and self-contradictory.[2]


[1] “A worldview is that basic set of assumptions that gives meaning to one’s thoughts. A worldview is the set of assumptions that someone has about the way things are, about what things are, about why things are.” L. Russ Bush, A Handbook for Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 70.

[2] Ibid.

I will say here that Buddhism and Christianity agree that the proper relation in a marriage situation is a male and female. But many “Western “adherants” to Buddhism do not know what they are saying when statements are made about Buddhism being “such-and-such.” Two short videos are perfect for setting up an excerpt from my book:

So here is a portion of my chapter dealing with Eastern Thought:

Pantheism

Now that we have defined what the Law of Noncontradiction is, lets apply it to some basic Eastern thinking.  All Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers (etc), are pantheists.  The term Pantheist “designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine.”  Most pantheists (Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) would hold that physical reality, and all the evils it produces, is merely an illusion.  This holds true for the personality of man as well.  This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only is the material creation absorbed, but human existence are either an illusion, as in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent, as in Buddhism (sunyata), that they are ultimately meaningless.

But is an impersonal “immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:

“When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told [me] was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.”

In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, “Indian Concepts of the Body,” “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual[‘s] personality survive death in either state”

With the above in mind, take note of a major problem that faces the pantheist visa viz, “that there is no reality except the all-encompassing ‘God’.”  Using the Law of Noncontradiction we can see that this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting.  If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions.  There’s a real problem here.  As Norman Geisler pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.”  When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite.  The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition.  It is an untruth – by definition.

Reincarnation

Another belief that is accepted by all Eastern philosophies as well as the New Age movement is that of reincarnation.  I will explain the concept with some examples, after I define the term.  Reincarnation is a “belief in the successive rebirth of souls into new bodies, as the soul progresses toward perfection.”

Some examples of this “karmic law” are warranted: first, lets assume I beat and abused my wife horribly, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, I would be storing up some pretty bad karma.  When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat.  This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all.  In fact, it perpetuates evil.  How so?  It necessitates a beatee,” which mandates a “beater.”  Karma, then, creates a never-ending circle of violence, or, “evil.”  In addition it states (emphatically I might add) that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices.  This is why the holy men in Buddhist and Hindu nations generally walk right by the maimed, injured, starving, and uneducated, and do not care for them.  This next true story drives this point home.

Ron Carlson, while speaking in Thailand, was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their like-minded brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”

Do you get it now?  It takes a “Mother Teresa” with a Christian worldview to go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful religious beliefs of the East.

Another example is a graphic one, but it drives the point home.  While at home on my day off, my work calls me in due to an emergency.  I cannot find a sitter for my youngest son, so I call a family member, say, uncle Steve.  While I am at work, uncle Steve rapes and sodomizes my son.  Should I call the authorities??  If I am a believer in reincarnation, then I must realize that this “evil” is an illusion, number one, and number two, this “evil” was brought on my son most likely because of something my son did in a previous incarnation.  Something my son did in a previous lifetime demands that this happened to him in this lifetime.  (Or something I did, or my wife did, whomever.)  Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities.  These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population.  Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel.  This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people.  The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death….

(…all material referenced in my chapter…)

So to say the Dalia Lama or the Buddha are “Christ like” is to wholly misunderstand the chasm of differences in the two completely different leaders of these religions… and their logical conclusions. Also worth noting is that the date between writings, and so the possibility of corruption of the text is vastly different between the two faiths. For instance, the Buddha is said to have dies around (using the earliest date) 400 B.C.. The earliest portion of a Buddhist writing is dated at about 179 A.D. So let us compare this:

...Compare/Contrast

Buddhist Text Compared Final

References for the above dating of the Buddhist fragments: 

  • Richard Salomon, Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhara: The British Library Kharosthi Fragments (PDF summation, book);
  • Ingo Strauch, The Bajaur collection: A new collection of Kharoṣṭhīmanuscripts:  A preliminary catalogue and survey (PDF).

Diamond Sutra Compared to Book of John

The most complete copy that dates early is the Gospel of John (Bodmer Papyrus II – 150-200 A.D.). That is 127 years after Christ, for the Gospel of John. The earliest fragment is dated to 120 A.D. And Clement of Rome quoted from it about 95 A.D., and Polycarp quoted from it around 110 A.D. [+]. So we KNOW John is older.

The oldest full book key to Buddhist thought is the Diamond Sutra, dated at about 868AD. That is 1,268-to-1,468 years after Buddha’s death. We KNOW the Diamond Sutra is older… but the fragments and quotes of the Gospel of John match up well with earliest text. The earlier quotes of the Diamond Sutra and it’s fragments show drastic change.

Another example. The earliest copy of Isaiah the church had was dated to about 900AD. They found a copy of Isaiah dated to 1,200 years earlier. Because of how the Jewish scribes copied text… there were only a few letters in the entirety of the text that were different. Most were in a word known to be “light” No meaning or concept was changed in those letters being different. (Sources: here, here, and here.)

The change in meaning in the Diamond Sutra from earlier Buddhist teaching as well as fragments is great:

Since at least the fifth century, generations of Buddhists have memorized and chanted the Diamond Sutra, a short Mahayana Buddhist scripture. The work, which offers meditations on illusion and perception, was originally written in Sanskrit and first translated into Chinese in 402 A.D. Despite the text’s longevity, Stanford religious studies professor Paul Harrison’s latest research suggests that previous translations may have incorrectly interpreted certain words in a way that affects the entire meaning of the text.

For the last seven years Prof. Harrison has been working on re-editing and re-translating the Diamond Sutra. Though he is a professor of religious studies his translation work falls squarely in the field of philology. Harrison is often surrounded by a large semicircle of previous translations and dictionaries that he consults as he combs through the sutra one word at a time.

The Diamond Sutra is one of the most historically important texts in the Buddhist faith, in part because a copy of it is the oldest surviving dated printed book in the world (868 A.D.). Also known by its Sanskrit title Vajracchedika, the Diamond Sutra posits that something is what it is only because of what it is not. The text challenges the common belief that inside each and every one of us is an immovable core, or soul—in favor of a more fluid and relational view of existence. Negative, or seemingly paradoxical statements by the Buddha abound in the text, such as “The very Perfection of Insight which the Buddha has preached is itself perfection-less.”

Professor Harrison elaborated, “I think the Diamond Sutra is undermining our perception that there are essential properties in the objects of our experience….

(Sources: here and here)

I write about the early attestation to the New Testament in the first 16-pages of my chapter on Gnosticism and Feminism. But I reworked Kenneth Boa’s graphic on comparing dating of ancient texts with some updated information not only cataloged via the aforementioned chapter from my book, but also from here, and the books:

  • Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999);
  • Carsten Peter Theide and Matthew d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus: The Most Sensational Evidence on the Origins of the Gospels Since the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York, NY: Galilee DoubleDay, 1996).

(I edited the last column under “Date Written” and “Time Span”)

manuscript comparison AGAIN 700

Below is some of the evidence for the early dating of the New Testament.

More on this from Dr. Geisler:

...Earliest Attested Fragments

[DSS stands for Dead Sea Scrolls]

….Light on the New Testament. Some DSS frag­ments have been identified as the earliest known pieces of the New Testament. Further, the mes­sianic expectations reveal that the New Testa­ment view of a personal messiah-God who would rise from the dead is in line with first-century Jewish thought.Geisler 188 CHART

The New Testament fragments? Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and clas­sified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments. The center column in the following chart uses the numbering system established for manuscripts. For example, “7Q5” means fragment 5 from Qumran cave 7.

[RPT’s Note: 7Q5 matches up well with Mark 6:52-53 ~ see below, sources for graphic: here, here, as well as this chapter and the aforementioned books.]

Both friend and critic acknowledged from the beginning that, if valid, O’Callahan’s conclusions would revolutionize current New Testament the­ories. The New York Times reported: “If Father O’Callahan’s theory is accepted, it would prove that at least one of the gospels—that of St. Mark—was written only a few years after the death of Jesus.” United Press International (UPI) noted that his conclusions meant that “the peo­ple closest to the events—Jesus’ original followers—found Mark’s report accurate and trustwor­thy, not myth but true history” (ibid., 137). Time magazine quoted one scholar who claimed that, if correct, “they can make a bonfire of 70 tons of indigestible German scholarship” (Estrada, 136).

7Q5 Dead Sea Scroll FinalOf course, O’Callahan’s critics object to his identification and have tried to find other possi­bilities. The fragmentary nature of the ms. makes it difficult to be dogmatic about identifi­cations. Nonetheless, O’Callahan offers a plausi­ble, albeit revolutionary, possibility. If the iden­tification of even one of these fragments as New Testament is valid, then the implications for Christian apologetics are enormous. It would be shown that the Gospel of Mark was written within the life time of the apostles and contem­poraries of the events.

A date before A.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Fur­ther, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testa­ment was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. It would also reveal the existence of the New Testa­ment canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Tes­tament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and Gen­eral Epistles.

The fragment of 2 Peter would argue for the authenticity of this often disputed epistle. The absence of fragments of John’s writings might in­dicate that they were written later (A.D. 80-90) in accordance with the traditional dates. With all these revolutionary conclusions it is little wonder that their authenticity is being challenged.

First-Century Jewish Messianic Expectations. The DSS have also yielded text that, while not re­ferring to the Christ of the New Testament, have some interesting parallels, as well as some signif­icant differences. The similarities that confirm the New Testament picture accurately describes Jew­ish expectation of a personal, individual Messiah who would die and rise from the dead. A frag­ment called “A Genesis Florilegorium” (4Q252) re­flects belief in an individual Messiah who would be a descendant of David. “Column 5 (1) (the) Government shall not pass from the tribe of Judah. During Israel’s dominion, (2) a Davidic descendant on the throne shall [not cease . . until the Messiah of Righteousness, the Branch of (4) David comes” (see Eisenman, 89).

Even the deity of the Messiah is affirmed in the fragment known as “The Son of God” (4Q246), Plate 4, columns one and two: “Oppression will be upon the earth . . . [until] the King of the people of God arises, . . . and he shall become [gre]at upon the earth. [ . . . All w]ill make [peace,] and all will serve [him.] He will be called [son of the Gr]eat [God;] by His name he shall be desig­nated. . . . He will be called the son of God; they will call him son of the Most High” (ibid., 70).Geisler 189

“The Messiah of Heaven and Earth” fragment (4Q521) even speaks of the Messiah raising the dead: “(12) then He will heal the sick, resurrect :he dead, and to the Meek announce glad tidings” (ibid., 23; cf. 63, 95).

The Dead Sea Scrolls also confirm that Qum­ran was not the source of early Christianity. There are significant differences between their concept of the “Teacher of Righteousness,” ap­parently an Essene messianic hope, and the Jesus revealed in Scripture and early Christianity. The differences are enough to show that early Chris­tianity was not just an offshoot of the Essenes, as has been theorized (see Billington, 8-10). The Essenes emphasized hating one’s enemies; Jesus stressed love. The Essenes were exclusivistic re­garding women, sinners, and outsiders; Jesus was inclusive. The Essenes were legalistic sabbatarians; Jesus was not. The Essenes stressed Jewish purification laws; Jesus attacked them. The Essenes believed two messiahs would come; Christians held that Jesus was the only one (see Charlesworth).

Conclusion. The DSS provide an important apologetic contribution toward establishing the general reliability of the Old Testament Hebrew text, as well as the earliest copies of parts of Old Testament books and even whole books. This is important in showing that the predictive prophe­cies of the Old Testament were indeed made cen­turies before they were literally fulfilled. Further­more, the DSS provide possible support for the New Testament. They may contain the earliest known fragments of the New Testament, and they definitely contain references to messianic beliefs similar to those taught in the New Testament.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999), 188-189.

Take note as well that the earliest Church Fathers quoted Scripture… which would need to be completed and widely used by then:

  • You write “All four gospels are quoted in patristic writings (a technical term which means writings by the early church “fathers.”) before AD 100 in books such as the Epistle of Barnabus, the book of Clement of Rome and the Didache.” There is nothing said about the four Gospels in the “Clement of Rome”. It is really pathetic that you must base supernatural ideas on false evidence and then you show this false evidence to the masses. I’d really like to get a response as to where I can find the gospels mention in the “Clement of Rome”. I’m curious to know what words you rummaged through to come up with this ridiculous accusation.

Answer:

I sense a lot of anger here. The use of words like “pathetic” and “ridiculous” are really not helpful if you want to engage in honest conversations. I want to encourage you to use a more respectful tone, even with those with whom you do not agree. In any case, I just gave a very quick little read of the Letter of Clement to Rome. I found a few quotations from the gospels as well as ones from the letters. Below is a sampling. Besides these, I found a number of allusions to the gospels and other New Testament Books. After each quote, I will have a very short comment.

1Clem 13:1 Let us therefore be lowly minded, brethren, laying aside all arrogance and conceit and folly and anger, and let us do that which is written. For the Holy Ghost saith, Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor the strong in his strength, neither the rich in his riches; but he that boasteth let him boast in the Lord, that he may seek Him out, and do judgment and righteousness most of all remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching forbearance and long-suffering.

This is a quote from 1 Corinthians 1:31

1Clem 13:2 for thus He spake Have mercy, that ye may receive mercy: forgive, that it may be forgiven to you. As ye do, so shall it be done to you. As ye give, so shall it be given unto you. As ye judge, so shall ye be judged. As ye show kindness, so shall kindness be showed unto you. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured withal to you.

This is a quote from Matthew 7:2

1Clem 15:2 For He saith in a certain place This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

This is quoting from either Matthew 15:8 or Mark 7:6

1Clem 16:1 For Christ is with them that are lowly of mind, not with them that exalt themselves over the flock.

This is an allusion to Luke 22:26 or Matthew 23:11

1Clem 34:8 For He saith, Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, and it hath not entered into the heart of man what great things He hath prepared for them that patiently await Him.

This is a quote from 1 Cor 2:9

1Clem 36:2 Through Him let us look steadfastly unto the heights of the heavens; through Him we behold as in a mirror His faultless and most excellent visage; through Him the eyes of our hearts were opened; through Him our foolish and darkened mind springeth up unto the light; through Him the Master willed that we should taste of the immortal knowledge Who being the brightness of His majesty is so much greater than angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name. 1Clem 36:3 For so it is written Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers aflame of fire 1Clem 36:4 but of His Son the Master said thus, Thou art My Son, I this day have begotten thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession. 1Clem 36:5 And again He saith unto Him Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.

These are quoting from Hebrews Chapter one….

(EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY)

Ignatius of Antioch would be another prime example.

Effectively the above information updates this older Josh McDowell graph here. In other words, we know the early history of Christianity because of the wealth of evidence behind certain events. For instance:

“Pharisaic Judaizers come down to Antioch (Acts 15:1, 5) in the late summer of 49 A.D. and teach that circumcision is necessary before a person can be saved. Paul, Barnabas, Titus and certain others (Galatians 2:1-2) are sent to Jerusalem to confer with other apostles, elders and brethren concerning the relationship between circumcision and salvation. This gathering is commonly referred to as the Jerusalem Conference. This conference occurs in the Fall of 49 A.D. around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Acts 15:2).”

We know this because of the evidence… the same evidence to say that two letters describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius are considered history.

SCRIPTURE NEGATIVE

Buddhism lacks this historical attestation and predictive power that the New Testament has in that the original texts are much closer to the events that happened. In fact, the New Testament is superior to ALL ancient documents in this respect.


“…but test all things. Hold on to what is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21);
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1);
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test[a]” (2 Corinthians 13:5 — [a] “unless you are disqualified” or “you are counterfeit”).

Concepts: John Van Huizum`s Achilles Heel ~ “Moral Pronouncements”

Since I have been critiquing John van Huizum’s articles (here-and-there), he came across as someone who took a position to comment on the “right[s] and wrong[s]” done in politics — just one example to make the point. In April of this year, John had an article entitled “About Correcting Mistakes.” In the article he uses words like “disaster,” “correct,” “imbalance,” and the like.

The above is a great example of the Western distortion of Buddhism. Alan Watts speaks about “me,” “SELFish,” “I am desire,” etc. As you will see, this is all anathema to Buddhism. Ethics, morals, etc also are all illusory:

Or John’s “critique” of Sharia Law, and his asking if Christoper Hitchens was right. This makes no sense in light of the following article about Alan Watts, who really teaches that ethics have “no intrinsic value.”

My point being that while I may continue to critique John’s articles, know that whenever he accesses some behavior as wrong, or one that should be corrected — as in the political left and right — he is undermining his own case by a) not having an ontological or epistemological basis for his positions, and b) is proving the superiority of the Judeo-Christtian ethic over other views. In other words, me dealing with bad thinking is in futility, and john’s positions on a way politically, economically, or morally for someone to go is also in futility. Here is the article referencing Alan Watts:

(Click to enlarge)

I will give and example from my book, more specifically from my chapter on Eastern philosophy where I include a debate/discussion I had with a Zen-Buddhist apologist:

I wish to illustrate with a conversation (unfinished by the way) between myself and a Zen Buddhist.  This conversation can almost happen with any religious Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or the like.  The conversation takes place after an interesting post by the person on his blog about self-defense, the Dalai Lama, WWII, and the Buddha. I will post my reply to his original thought, and then he responds, followed again by me.  (Keep in mind I am using our “blog” names, they are almost like “handles” like in the movie Top Gun):[1]

My initial engagement

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or a moral evil truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.)  Curious.

They Call Him James Ure, responds

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others.  Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

I respond

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva[2] loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

“All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him.

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well.  One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

My Final Response

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

[1] I use quite liberally in this exchange two resources, they are as follows: Michael J. Murray, ed., Reason for the Hope Within, 212-214; and, Ernest Valea, “Possible difficulties in Buddhism,” Many Paths To One Goal? Found at: http://www.comparativereligion.com/Buddhism.html (last accessed 8-11-09), the main site is: http://www.comparativereligion.com/index.html

[2] “One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

So, even the act of “loving,” or love itself as expressed in concern, the well-being of others, and the like, are all illusory. Not only that, but these concepts all keep the believer in pantheistic religions captive to this delusion rather than getting out of the cursed “wheel of reincarnation.” The words John used are laden with ideas of a moral wrongs, as if there is a plum line in the universe in which John is accessing and thinks others should hear the Cthulhu siren call of and apply to their thinking as well. C.S. Lewis dealt with this well when he talked about his atheistic days:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too ~ for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist ~ in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice ~ was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1952), 38-39.

You see, John is baking a cake and eating it too. He is espousing atheistic Buddhism in his life, but BORROWING ethical stance made only in the Judeo-Christian worldview (see exchange at Harvard during Q&A with students, to the right).

Put another way, I had a professor of philosophy who was herself Hindu, which has a similar view to Buddhistic ideas of Karma — since Buddhism was birthed from Hinduism. During the class time that dealt with “evil,” she concentrated almost exclusively on Christianity. I pointed out that other worldviews (atheism, pantheism, and the like) all have to deal with this problem. She responded that they do not. Odd. In a paper I wrote in response to this — after eviscerating her position in class — I point the follwing out, and in the below are examples I used in class with this double masters holding professor [actively] trying to get kids to reject Christianity in class. This response went through some “evolutions” to end in my seminary level paper I wrote, “New Age Pop Culture“:

PANTHEISM

Now that we have defined what the Law of Noncontradiction is, lets apply it to some basic Eastern thinking.  All Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers (etc), are pantheists.  The term Pantheist “designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine.”[1]  Most pantheists (Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) would hold that physical reality, and all the evils it produces, is merely an illusion.  This holds true for the personality of man as well.  This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only is the material creation absorbed, but human existence are either an illusion, as in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent, as in Buddhism (sunyata), that they are ultimately meaningless.

But is an impersonal “immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:

“When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told [me] was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.”[2]

In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, “Indian Concepts of the Body,” “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual[‘s] personality survive death in either state”[3]

With the above in mind, take note of a major problem that faces the pantheist visa viz, “that there is no reality except the all-encompassing ‘God’.”  Using the Law of Noncontradiction we can see that this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting.  If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions.  There’s a real problem here.  As Norman Geisler pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.”[4]  When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite.  The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition.  It is an untruth – by definition.

Reincarnation

Another belief that is accepted by all Eastern philosophies as well as the New Age movement is that of reincarnation.  I will explain the concept with some examples, after I define the term.  Reincarnation is a “belief in the successive rebirth of souls into new bodies, as the soul progresses toward perfection.”[5] 

Some examples of this “karmic law” are warranted: first, lets assume I beat and abused my wife horribly, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, I would be storing up some pretty bad karma.  When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat.  This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all.  In fact, it perpetuates evil.  How so?  It necessitates a beatee,” which mandates a “beater.”  Karma, then, creates a never-ending circle of violence, or, “evil.”  In addition it states (emphatically I might add) that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices.  This is why the holy men in Buddhist and Hindu nations generally walk right by the maimed, injured, starving, and uneducated, and do not care for them.  This next true story drives this point home.

Ron Carlson, while speaking in Thailand, was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their like-minded brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”[6]

Do you get it now?  It takes a “Mother Teresa” with a Christian worldview to go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful religious beliefs of the East.

Another example is a graphic one, but it drives the point home.  While at home on my day off, my work calls me in due to an emergency.  I cannot find a sitter for my youngest son, so I call a family member, say, uncle Steve.  While I am at work, uncle Steve rapes and sodomizes my son.  Should I call the authorities??  If I am a believer in reincarnation, then I must realize that this “evil” is an illusion, number one, and number two, this “evil” was brought on my son most likely because of something my son did in a previous incarnation.  Something my son did in a previous lifetime demands that this happened to him in this lifetime.  (Or something I did, or my wife did, whomever.)  Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities.[7]  These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population.  Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel.  This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people.  The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death.

Pain & Suffering

Another problem in pantheism is God’s inability to deal with or solve the problem of evil.  In fact He is the cause of it… remember, pantheists believe all is God.  Pantheism may try to ignore this problem by claiming that sin and suffering is an illusion (maya), but let’s bring this philosophy down to the real world.  Try to convince a man dying of cancer or a mother who just lost a child, that evil and suffering are merely illusions.  Even if evil is an illusion, the illusion itself is real.  In either case, evil exists.  As Geisler asked, “If evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion?  Why has it been so persistent and why does it seem so real?…  How can evil arise from a ‘God’ who is absolutely and necessarily good?”[8]  The answer must be that if pantheism is true, God cannot be good, and He must be the source of evil.

Between karmic destiny and the god[s] of pantheism and its dealing with pain and suffering (and consequently the promotion of it) by claiming everything is an illusion just doesn’t make sense.  Mustn’t we live as if this illusion is reality?  Pantheists may pawn this inane philosophy on people, but no one can live it out consistently.  And when a large population tries, like in India, one can see the fruits it produces.[9]  The promulgation of suffering and the inability of the religious Hindu to stop and help a suffering child or the rampant infestation of disease spreading (crop eating) pests, etc., is all a loud explanation of trying to live an unlivable philosophical proposition.

I have debated many persons over the Internet that are pantheists that will laud the evils done by the Christian church.  In these debates I point out that these persons are in fact using the Judeo-Christian moral absolutes in interpreting history and delineating between “good” and “bad.”  For in Eastern thought, there is no “evil,” or “good.” If these people really believed it, they would come to realize there is no real good or evil!

The inquisitions, for instance, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous lives – incarnations.  The Christian church, then, would merely be an instrument in perfecting these person’s karmic lives.  Therefore, when some here who are defending karmic destiny in other strains speak of the horrible atrocities committed by religion,” they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death.  The victims of the Inquisitions or Crusades then are merely being “paid back” for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the works these people did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people like John (a believer in reincarnation) says that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, I will remind such people that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation teaches.[10]

In addition, monistic philosophies provide no explanation for the diversity within creation. If “God is truly one,” the only reality, then diversity (all creation) is by definition part of the illusion of duality. That includes all morality, all human hopes and aspirations. In the end, despite having an infinite reference point, we are left with only a destructive nihilistic outlook on life.  To think otherwise is to adopt or borrow portions of another worldview. As Charles Manson noted, “If all is one, what is bad?”

The desire of every Buddhist, for example, is to be free from the problems of life – to be free from pain and suffering. As the Buddhist saying goes, “As the water of the sea tastes of salt, so all life tastes of suffering.” Their goal is to develop a detachment from life.  Buddha taught that desire is the root of all evil. To exist is to suffer!  The answer to suffering is Nirvana (annihilation), which is achievable by successive reincarnation. Hence, Buddhism insists, “Those who love a hundred have a hundred woes. Those who love ten have ten woes. Those who love one have one woe. Those who love none have no woes.” The goal of life is to reach the stage of desirelessness. When one ceases to desire we have overcome the burden of life. How one is suppose to be desirelessness without desiring that quality is a problem few have any time (or desire?) to answer.

[1] Ted Honderich (editor), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (Oxford Univ; 1995), p. 641; “[T]he doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God’s personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature,” Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Random House Inc, 1999), CD, see: Pantheist.

[2] Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ, p. 241

[3] Somantics: The Magazine/Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences, Autumn/Winter 1983-1984, p. 33.

[4] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187.

[5] Debra Lardie, Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2000), p. 218.; …“Proponents base their beliefs on the idea of karma, the Hindu concept of the force generated by the sum total of an individual’s actions, especially religious or ritual actions both good and bad.  Hinduism teaches that the lives of people are an accumulation of both good and bad karma.  The imbalance of this accumulation determines the circumstances for the next reincarnation life” (Ibid., pp. 218-219).

[6] Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), pp. 28-29.

[7] From a show seen by the author [me] a few years ago on The Learning Channel.

[8] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187..

[9] Rabi R. Maharaj, Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1977).

[10] From an on-line debate the author had.  You could also include the deaths of innocent civilians in the currant Iraqi war… these innocents that died by a misplaced U. S. bomb deserved so due to a previous life choice.  The critic of this war who is a New Age student of Eastern thought looses all power to criticize such “evil” acts.

To be clear… ethics [moral oughts and ought nots] finds no rest and peace in either atheism or Eastern thought

An Introduction to Apologetics w/ Small Critique of Beth Moore

This will be a very basic introduction to why many — like myself — believe apologetics to be very important in the believers life. A “WHY APOLOGETICS 101,” so-to-speak.

What is the word “apologetic” even mean? How do we defining the word, Biblically. Apologetics is explaining to the non-believing friends, co-workers, family, the soundness of the Christian collection of beliefs about life and the universe in easy to express ways that allows co-operation of our created will and intellect with the Holy Spirit in evangelizing those around us. We are not robots under God’s divine hand (automatons) but individuals whom God works through keeping our personality intact in sharing the Gospel effectively and showing how Christianity stands in stark contrast to competing beliefs around us. The non-believer is not expected to interpret the data of history, psychology, and morality (let alone theology and miracles), as does the Christian. However, he must be given such data as the Christian interprets it… Otherwise he is not being witnessed to by a Christian.

1 Peter 3:15 – “… and always be ready to give a defense [or answer in some translations] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Defense/Answer: is the Greek apologia, from which we get our word “apologetics,” meaning the careful, logical defense of the Christian faith showing its validity as the true saving gospel of God, our Creator and Savior. In effect Peter is admonishing believers to be always prepared to give an apologetic for the faith, especially when confronted by those who deny it and would destroy it if they could.

Jude 3 – “although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Contend: Should be “earnestly contend.” The Greek, epagonizomai, refers to athletes intensely agonizing in the grueling training for a coming contest. Thus Jude graphically stresses the urgency of defending the faith. The defense of the gospel is no indifferent matter to be left to a few specialists, but one to which all believers should be trained and committed.

Philippians 1:7 – “…whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Defending: A legal term referring to a formal defense as in a courtroom. Many modern evangelicals think the gospel does not need to be defended — just preached. Paul and Timothy are saying different here.

For instance, apologetics should stir ones knowledge base about their own faith and understanding towards positions Christianity naturally takes. Or, what are known as “truth statements,” i.e., “Jesus rose from the grave,” “God exists,” “God changed my life,” “Jesus is not like the Buddha,” “God is creator,” and the like. People often times will stop you at one of those points and ask you to elucidate. You should be prepared to.

“I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers that impose upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition”

Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.

Apologetics is one of the steps one takes (should take) in advancing their faith past milk by increases one’s “awareness” about the world in which they live and parts of it we should separate ourselves from. This includes as well aberrant thinking in our own camp.

“Instead of thinking of Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, we should approach our faith as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view…. Raising one’s self-consciousness [awareness] about worldviews is an essential part of intellectual maturity”

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992], 19, 9.

1) Apologetics helps with correct belief (truth) and in this regard is very important:

Believers may not fully comprehend or may have genuine misunderstandings or even limited exposure to and about Christian truth, but there are doctrinal parameters outside of which a person cannot cross without suffering apostasy and divine judgment. Embracing a false Christ and/or a false’ gospel leads to dire consequences. Paul’s warning to the Galatia church concerning a different gospel dramatically underscores the importance of sound (biblical) doctrine: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8)

2) Christianity as a truth position, a worldview, necessitates an apologetic response:

Christian apologists must take the religions of the world seriously. The effective apologist will come to know other religions and their adherents with an insider’s mastery. Only then can he or she graciously expose a given religion’s flaws in light of essential Christian truth. Not an easy task for the apologist for sure, however, a well-done expose can have a powerful effect. This endeavor seems to be what Scripture calls for in terms of the apologetics enterprise. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

3) Apologetics offers People, deservedly, the proper respect:

As creatures of God, all people bear the imago Dei and therefore have inherent dignity and moral worth. Every person consequently deserves respectful treatment regardless of race, sex, social class, political, or religious belief. Christians are called by God to guard the individual right of others to believe what they choose, whether their particular beliefs are wrong, absurd, or contrary to Christian truth. This regard basically amounts to respecting human personhood, volition, and individual moral responsibility. Christians should even tolerate the practices (religious and otherwise) of others, so long as those practices are legal, moral, and prudential. However, respecting another person’s beliefs must not be misconstrued as approving those beliefs. Christians are responsible to use their powers of persuasion to convince others of truth, especially the ultimate truth of, Jesus Christ. While being socially tolerant, Christians must at the same time be intellectually intolerant of conflicting truth claims.

(#s 1-3 are from: Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004], 178-180)

Ravi Zacharias tells a story that is worth repeating, it is called “The Bell Tower”:

There’s a story of a man who used to go to work at a factory and every day would stop outside a clockmaker’s store to synchronize his watch with the clock outside. Seeing this routine, the clockmaker finally asked the gentleman, “Excuse me, sir, I see that every day you stop and adjust your watch with my clock. What kind of work do you do?” The man replied, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but, I keep the time at the factory nearby, and I have to ring the bell at four o clock every afternoon when it is time for the people to go home. My watch doesn’t work very well, so I synchronize it with your clock.” The clockmaker sheepishly responded, “I’ve got bad news for you. My clock doesn’t work very well either, so I synchronize it with the bell that I hear from the factory at 4:00 every afternoon.” …. Even a clock that doesn’t work may show you the right time twice a day…but it’s not because it’s keeping time.

Adapted from Ravi Zacharias, “Address to the United Nations’ Prayer Breakfast.”

Apologetics is analogous to wearing a pair of glasses:

The right eyeglasses can put the world into clearer focus, and the correct worldview can function in much the same way. When someone looks at the world from the perspective of the wrong worldview, the world won’t make much sense to him. Or what he thinks makes sense will, in fact, be wrong in important respects. Putting on the right conceptual scheme, that is, viewing the world through the correct worldview, can have important repercussions for the rest of the person’s understanding of events and ideas.

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 17-18.

Below is a wonderful graphic of what the person seeking to use and learn apologetics properly should look like. It is from the first chapter in a book I am currently reading and it has helped me to understand the delineations  (or sub categories) to a healthy, well-balanced study of apologetics. Gregory Ganssle, in the before-mentioned book (Come Let us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics, by-the-by, this is not a good introductory book on apologetics… it is a bit technical), points out the areas of study one might find him or herself in the “theological theme” (tt) of the pyramid:

… This angle [tt] includes a variety of topics, such as the scope of common grace, the nature of general revelation, and the effects of our sinful condition on our reasoning.

Exploring these topics theologically helps us develop a realistic understanding of what we ought to expect in our encounters with those who are not yet believers. Theological themes, then, are relevant to our thinking well about apologetics.

UntitleTriangle Apologetics

As one enters into studies on topics like these, red flags may appear in your reading general books by Christian authors. Does this mean you shouldn’t read these books or get information from such people. Not necessarily. It really depends how far they twist major doctrines of the Gospel [Bible]. For instance, would I tell a person (like my wife for instance) not to read Beth Moore? Of course not. I would however, as the spiritual leader of my household, explain some of my “red-flags” I encountered in reading her stuff and mention that an author highly recommended by her is a person I WOULD  NOT read. (That being said, as I learn more about what is aberrant, I find my reading of these books has increased for my own personal apologetic studies, not as books that I incorporate into my walk.)

To better explain myself, here is the small portion that sent a red-flag up for me and is found near the end of Beth’s book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (p. 290):


BETH MOORE


So the question is, 1) who is Brennan Manning that so influenced Beth Moore to have evoked her to [highly] recommend his book, Ragamuffin Gospel? and 2) where does he fall on the major doctrines we hold so dear to? This is where a decent study of theology comes in and should make aberrant teaching smoother to spot. I wish to allow Dr. Norman Geisler to lead off a quick summation of some of the doctrines the postmodern movement Mr. Manning finds himself in the thralls of:

Pastor Gary Gilley, after bullet pointing some of the problems in Manning’s book introduced to many people through Moore’s book, says this:

Add all of this up and we have a book that makes some good points, especially about God’s grace, but distorts so much about God and truth as to render it worse than useless—it is downright dangerous.

[…here are the bullet points that preceded the above…]

✦ The sources for his philosophy of life range from Catholic mystics to Paul Tillich to Norman Mailer to Carl Jung.

✦ His use of Scripture is scanty but when he attempts to support his views from the Bible he usually goes astray (e. g. pp. 37, 142, 166-7, 220).

✦ He confuses “loving sinners” with “accepting their sin” (p. 33) and believes that forgiveness precedes repentance (pp. 74, 167, 181). This leads to continuous hints of universalism (pp. 21, 29, 31, 33, 37, 74, 223, 232) although he never directly claims to be a universalist.

✦ He is heavily soaked in pop-psychology which taints all he says: accepting self (pp. 49, 152, 229); self-intimacy (p. 49); loving ourselves (pp. 50, 168); inner child (p. 64); forgiving yourself (p. 115); self-image (pp. 147-148); self-worth (p. 148).

✦ He accepts a postmodern worldview and calls for us to be open-minded about truth, reality and Christ (p. 65).

✦ He consistently presents a lopsided view of God. God is loving and forgiving but never a judge, disciplinarian or punisher (p. 75), contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

✦ God is not man’s enemy, contrary to Romans 5 that says we are the enemy of God if we are not saved (p. 76).

✦ We are told that God does not test us or promote pain (p. 76).

✦ He believes that God speaks today outside of Scripture (pp. 94, 117, 186-187, 229) and that the presence of God is a felt experience that we should seek (pp. 45, 46, 94, 162, 229).

(read more — empahis added)

This short critique (above) by a pastor should send up some warning flares and stir in us an apologetics bent to understand more how these associations can lead a weak Christian astray. For instance, let us “rabbit trail” some positions of this Catholic mystic. Manning recommends highly and even quotes the mystic/New Ager, Beatrice Bruteau in one of his books:

See:

In Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning says that Dr. Beatrice Bruteau is a”trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.” Who is Beatrice Bruteau and what does she believe? She is the founder of The School for Contemplation, and she believes God is within every human being. She wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East,

“We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute I AM” [A Song That Goes On Singing Interview with B.B., one can read the entire section under “Human Choice” to understand just how New Age Beatrice is].

(Source)

“I AM,” of course, is one of the biblical names of God (Exodus 3:14). Why would Manning recommend Bruteau with no warning if he does not agree with this blasphemy?

This isn’t “guilt by association” — so one knows the difference — it is “guilt by proxy.” A much more powerful legal term.

In The Signature of Jesus, Manning gives this quote from the mystic Catholic priest William Shannon and the Catholic Buddhist Thomas Merton:

“During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: ‘How can we best help people to attain union with God?’ His answer was very clear: WE MUST TELL THEM THAT THEY ARE ALREADY UNITED WITH GOD. CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER IS NOTHING OTHER THAN COMING INTO CONSCIOUSNESS OF WHAT IS ALREADY THERE” (p. 218).

Merton was a Trappist monk who promoted the integration of Zen Buddhism and Christianity. The titles of some of his books are “Zen and the Birds of the Appetite” and “Mystics and the Zen Masters.” He is of course famous for saying, “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” I critiqued Merton because of an associate pastor at a local Bible centered church (in Castaic) saying he loved Merton. Mentioning that his professor at Biola was using a book in class that he didn’t find anything wrong with.Very sad and maddening at the same time. Simple care in learning our doctrines in fun ways (evangelism) can be a big help in leading us away from heresy.

As with many such teachers who gain popularity by tickling ears, Manning overemphasizes the love and grace of God while ignoring His attributes of justice, righteousness and holiness. He teaches that Jesus has redeemed all of mankind. His “good news” is that everyone is already saved. Manning quotes David Steindl-Rast approvingly in his book, The Signature of Jesus (pp. 210, 213-214). Steindl-Rast, a contemplative Roman Catholic priest, said:

“Envision the great religious traditions arranged on the circumference of a circle. At their mystical core they all say the same thing, but with different emphasis”

(“Heroic Virtue,” Gnosis, Summer 1992).

Manning quotes Matthew Fox approvingly in two of his books, Lion and Lamb (p. 135) and A Stranger to Self Hatred (pp. 113, 124). Fox says:

“God is a great underground river, and there are many wells into that river. There’s a Taoist well, a Buddhist well, a Jewish well, a Muslim well, a Christian well, a Goddess well, the Native wells-many wells that humans have dug to get into that river, but friends, there’s only one river; the living waters of wisdom”

Quoted from John Caddock, “What Is Contemplative Spirituality,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1997.

Even Manning’s approach to prayer is aberrant. In The Signature of Jesus Manning promotes the dangerous practice of centering prayer, which involves chanting “a sacred word” to empty the mind and allegedly enter into silent experiential communion with God within:

“[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. … enter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard. … Choose a single, sacred word … repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often” (pp. 212, 215, 218).

This is a New Age/Eastern concept of prayer.

Not a Christian concept of it.

So where does this example leave us? It leaves us at a couple of places. Some of the critique I use above comes from a book that I would recommend to a friend/believer, but with a caveat. The author can be very legalistic and I would point out that some aspects of how the author applies their understanding of the Gospel is dealt with in Galatians (maybe mentioning Luther’s commentary on Galatians as a resource to better grasp this concept of the freedom we have in Christ). The book is Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, by David Cloud.

Likewise, I am sure the believer who is well moored in the foundational beliefs and how they work themselves throughout our culture can read Beth Moore and glean from it helpful input into one’s faith. Should it be at the top of a recommend list for one God fearing woman to recommend to another, no. Can it be of benefit as a resource for a woman struggling with issues, of course, as long as the person doing the recommending adds a cautionary note. Like I did with my recommended resource.

Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master. (Jude 3-4, The Message)

As one studies all the facets of apologetics, rabbit trails will appear, but in them all remember a key thing, harkening back to Dr. Ganssle when he mentioned that our sinful condition has even effected our reasoning skills. Building on that take note that even if we have thought through a matter, worked on it, got it to line up with orthodoxy and have sound reasoning… often times our intentions in presenting it as well as the delivery and how the other corrupted person hears it are all at play. Which is why we say the Holy Spirit must be the Prime Mover at the deepest levels for a person to be moved by a truth, by thee Truth. Quoting Dr. Ganssle again:

Each one of the three angles or themes concerning apologetics is legitimate and fruitful. Each is worthy of careful study. Despite this fact, there are two trends I wish to point out First, most of the thinking about apologetics has been on the academic themes. While this weight of attention is not in itself a bad thing, it may allow us to forget the other angles of apologetics. Second most of the criticisms of the usefulness of apologetics find there root in confusing the academic angle of apologetics with the entirety of the apologetic enterprise. Those of us who work in the academic angle bear much of the blame for this confusion. Sometimes we are overzealous about the strength of our arguments or how interesting they ought to be to nonbelievers. [This includes discussions with fellow Christians and topics.] Sometimes we neglect the large distinction between arguments that are technically strong and those that might be persuasive to a given person. Sometimes we neglect the missional themes in the apologetic task and thereby reinforce the notion that coming to believe that Christianity is factually true is the main task in our witness. By articulating the importance of the missional angle, as well as of the theological angle, we can defuse many criticisms of apologetics. (emphasis and addition in box quotes mine.)

I hope this short introduction to apologetics was and is helpful. There are three books I highly recommend as great starter points to both understanding the importance of apologetics as well as seeing the differing models of thinking in the world compared. These three resources are technical enough to invigorate the thinker as well as great introductions to the subject accessible to the layman.

  1. Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith;
  2. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists;
  3. Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Apologetics (Holman Quicksource Guides)

All Religious and Moral Thinkers in History Rejected Same-Sex Marriages

I was challenged after I noted that every religious and moral leader of note never endorsed or supported same-sex marriage. Here is the response to this challenge.

A point Dennis Prager makes is that this is the first time in human history where a “liberal elite” thinks it knows better than all previous religious, political, and moral thinkers before them. I have been challenged on this point and so I enter here a response to some of it. But first the audio portion in which discussion took place over:

(To follow up on Plato and Aeschines’ thoughts, read this.) Here is the small portion of one of the conversations that emboldened me to post this information:

Initial “Religious” Challenge:

Also, this is not just a matter of discrimination based on sex. It is also a matter of religious persecution. There are religious institutions where gay marriage is condoned and officiated just as heterosexual marriage is. To list a few, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, Paganism, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Old Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Australia and there are even more!!! Just as they would not dare to tell you what to do with your religion, so should you not dare to tell them what to do with theirs. If you believe in freedom of religion, you cannot be against gay marriage. You cannot control what others do with their religion. That is one of the founding principles of this nation. And that is what this really boils down to in the end. It is a matter of control. You seek to control others. You seek to tell others how they are supposed to live their lives. That is the antithesis of freedom. For someone as obviously intelligent as you are it is extremely disheartening that you cannot see something this simple.

After I refuted the world religious challenge of Buddhism (see beneath this conversational example that took place here), I got this response:

…I listed a lot of churches that condone gay marriage. One of them was mistaken and you spend how long arguing against it while ignoring every other one? I made a mistake on buddhism. What of the rest I listed and the many more that I didn’t?


To which I responded:

I wish to clarify something I said. In the historical past, same-sex marriage has never been accepted. While polygamy, concubines, and the like have been accepted in cultural practice. Homosexuality being on equal footing with other forms of marriage has never, never been a practice accepted by any religion or culture. Wiccan, Satanism, and liberal forms of the world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like) have only recently endorsed such a view. Since the “sexual revolution” of the 60’s when radical Marxist ideals were injected into Western thinking, writ large. So even your list is a new phenomenon.

I did mention paganism in the past. What I was saying is that men in historic pagan thinking/actions controlled women so that they were prostitutes at the local temple and a place for men to stop and “give sacrifice” to the gods. Other aspects that paganism and other cultures practiced that were harmful to women that Christianity helped cure were (below — partial list) only made possible by a faith that lifted women up. Something modern day feminism and radical gender equality movements do not do, or cannot do… since Wiccan practices do laud – for instance – the older pagan prostitution practices that subjugated a whole swath of women to serve men in horrible ways:

Paul, who often gets a bad rap for his perceived low view of women, considered at least twelve women coworkers in his ministry.* Paul clearly had a high view of women: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The earliest Christians recited these remarkable, countercultural words as a baptismal confession. Widows, far from being abandoned, were cared for, and older women were given a place of honor. In light of all of this, is it any wonder “the ancient sources and modern historians agree that primary conversion to Christianity was far more prevalent among females than males”?

In recent history, Christians were responsible for the banning of three despicable practices inflicted upon women around the world. Christian missionaries pressured the Chinese government to abolish foot binding in 1912. This practice was done for the sole reason of pleasing men—”it made a woman with her feet bound in an arch walk tiptoe and sway seductively.” In 1829 the English outlawed the Indian practice of suttee, in which widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, because of Christianity’s teaching regarding widows and women. Finally, Western countries influenced by a Christian view of women and sexuality have condemned clitoridectomy (female genital mutilation), a gruesome practice that is still common in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 230-231.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010], 49-50.

My goal is not to refute every example [you give]. Yes, extreme leftism in Christianity is nothing new. In fact, the term “fundementalist” was coined in the 1920’s. In fact, a free book about this movement by one of its founders is here, “Christianity & Liberalism

And of course Paganism is [against treating people with humanity]. At least historical paganism, [modern paganism in the West adopts the Judeo-Christian ethic]. Of course I deal with this in my book as well.

With that example of a conversation, I wish to officially give my readers an insight in how to refute such thinking (that major world religions supported same-sex relationships). A proper understanding of Buddhism regards all marriages as mundane. In fact, even love in Buddhistic understanding is mundane and is rejected as anything based in reality — which is also key to this discussion. Here are some actual historical cases that the Buddha interacted with as well as more recently the Dalai Lama dealing with the issue.

….there was a case of a gay monk who was overcome by sexual desire and could no longer restrain himself. He was seducing his friends and novices to have sex with him. They rejected him so he left the monastery and had sex with men who were elephant keepers and horse keepers. When news spread around the entire Buddhist community that he was homosexual, the Buddha was alerted to the problem and he issued a rule for the community not to give any ordination to a homosexual, and those ordained gays are to be expelled. (Vin.I, 86).

The Buddha was more tolerant of lesbianism than male homosexuality. Nuns who were caught in lesbian practices were not expelled from the order. They must confess to the fellows about their practice, and then the offense will be redeemed. (Vin. IV, 261)

The monastic rules do not guarantee Buddhist monasticism is entirely free from homosexuals. Indeed, they only say that monks and nuns are required to live a celibate life. Often in history, the monastic community has been plagued by homosexual scandals.

In Thailand, the worst such scandal took place in 1819, during the reign of King Rama II, when a high-ranking monk, a Somdet who was also the abbot of Wat Saket who had just been promoted to take the position of the Supreme Patriarch, one day was found guilty of enjoying homosexual activities with some of his good-looking male disciples.

It was a shock to all Buddhists of the time, and the case was considered the scandal of the century of Buddhism in Siam.

Interestingly, the graveness of the mistake was not severe enough to defrock him, although the King had him removed him from his position of honour and ordered him to leave the royal monasteries.

As for the lay homosexual people, the Buddha gave no rule or advice as to whether they should be allowed to marry or not. The Buddha posted himself simply as the one who shows the way. He did not insist that he had any right to enforce on others what they should do. With this principle, the original teachings of the Buddha do not cover social ceremonies or rituals. Weddings and marriages of all kinds are regarded as mundane and have no place in Buddhism.

(The Buddhist Channel)

Another authoritative source mentions that “in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not terribly open to homosexual practice. This has much to do with … the notion of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. From this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past sins or good deeds. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are often seen as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life. Thus far, the gay rights movement has not had great success in Theravada Buddhist countries.” So one would have to reject the core of this religion in order to supplant it with a personal view and new model of sexuality. Obviously, ripping the core of an ancient religious belief out in the name of tolerance is what the Left is all about! The article continues:

In a 1997 interview, the Dalai Lama (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a widely-respected spiritual figure) was asked about homosexuality. He did not offer any strong answer either way, but noted that all monks are expected to refrain from sex. For laypeople, he commented that the purpose of sex in general is for procreation, so homosexual acts do seem a bit unnatural. He said that sexual desires in themselves are natural, perhaps including homosexual desires, but that one should not try to increase those desires or indulge them without self-control.

In a 1993 talk given in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said:

  • nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… Same-sex organs cannot manage well. …

The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.

(Religion Facts)

So we see in Buddhistic history and theology a firm denial of homosexuality being approved of (or endorsed, like the Left wants done with same-sex marriage). Even at its best there is no universal Buddhist position on same-sex marriage. In other words, it was never endorsed (if forgetting the above) by the Buddhistic religion or state — like the Left wants in this case.

In all religious understanding, if the practice wasn’t frowned upon, it was never endorsed. Bottom line. Nor was it even thinkable until about a generation ago.