Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Reflections from Buddhist Temples

December 7, 2008

Yesterday we went to two different Buddhist temples on an INSIGHT field trip. Since INSIGHT is a one-year global studies program, we really like to get the students interacting with different places of worship as well as real people who hold those beliefs.  Of the 10,000 or so Unreached People Groups in the world, about 1,000 of those are Buddhists, making up roughly 225 million people.  For more research and details, go to the Joshua Project.

We went to a Thai Buddhist temple in N. Hollywood (Theravada Buddhism) and a Chinese Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights (Mahayana Buddhism).

Both temples were very ornate and beautiful to see.  They were located in neighborhoods just like churches would be, but looked like you were in Asia when you stepped on the campuses.  The first temple we were able to talk directly to a monk there.  They set up a mic for him that drowned him out more than amplified him, we really didn’t hear what he said.  The second temple we were taken on a tour by a volunteer.  This guy was just a volunteer and was Caucasian as well.  It was very interesting hearing from the official monk at one temple and a lay member at the other.

The thing running through my head the most while interacting with these people is the conversation of Grace based religion and Works based religion, as my pastor, JD Greear says, “there are two basic types of religion one is spelled D-O.  Christianity is the only religion spelled D-O-N-E.”  The basic belief system of Buddhism is that this world we live in is full of suffering and the possibility of escaping it (nirvana) is only on us (through enlightenment).  I wondered, at what point does one feel tired of the constant striving only to hope to be reincarnated in a better life next time.  At what point does hopelessness settle in and the felt need of a Saviour become embraced.

Buddhist people are difficult for Westerners to share the gospel because of the stark difference in worldviews.  Westerners (in general) run off logic, which Easterners flip on their heads with their cyclical thinking.  People working in that world must strip themselves of their cultural background and adapt to the host culture’s way of understanding things to have a chance at explaining the gospel in a relevant way.  Christianity has a sustainable answer to the problem of suffering and evil.  Most Buddhists realize they are not good enough to enter into heaven (reach nirvana), they just feel that the responsibility is their own and eventually they will get there.

Let us remember in prayer our brothers and sisters from Buddhist backgrounds.  Let us pray for their ability to sense the hopelessness of doing it on their own.  Pray for missionaries working in those places to show the love of Christ that will draw men and women into a knowledge that He alone can cover their sins.