Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:42 pm

Coyote wrote:
binocular wrote:Christian theologies face problems as it turns out that they operating out of inferior definitions of God, presenting God as a mere demigod.

In practice I would agree with you that they are the same. Could you explain what you meant by the last sentence?

If God is the Supreme Person, the Creator, Controller and Maintainer of the Universe, the source of all other living beings, always happy and knowledgeable, and if "not a blade of grass moves without God's will (=permission)" (here I'm going with some Hindu understanding of God), then it is not logically possible that parts of God could be destroyed or suffer forever or do anything against His will to begin with. Unless, of course, God is chaotic, neurotic, or crazy, or we're not talking about God to begin with, but just some being who happens to be powerful, but not all-powerful.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:46 pm

The epistles are generally thought older than the gospels. Think late accounts of the buddhas life in the Pali canon vs. records of his teaching. Many scholars debate the influence of legend and myth in the gospels, but this is hard to see with the epistles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible#The_New_Testament
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:51 pm

binocular wrote:
Coyote wrote:
binocular wrote:Christian theologies face problems as it turns out that they operating out of inferior definitions of God, presenting God as a mere demigod.

In practice I would agree with you that they are the same. Could you explain what you meant by the last sentence?

If God is the Supreme Person, the Creator, Controller and Maintainer of the Universe, the source of all other living beings, always happy and knowledgeable, and if "not a blade of grass moves without God's will (=permission)" (here I'm going with some Hindu understanding of God), then it is not logically possible that parts of God could be destroyed or suffer forever or do anything against His will to begin with. Unless, of course, God is chaotic, neurotic, or crazy, or we're not talking about God to begin with, but just some being who happens to be powerful, but not all-powerful.


I'm not sure I follow - "parts of God"?. The universe is not a part of God according to classical Christian doctrine, and man was made seperate from God and with free will. From a Hindu perspective I see your point, but I think it is better to critique Christian conceptions of God with the problem of suffering, or evil, i.e God is perfect and no imperfection (suffering, evil) can come from him. If he allows it, he is not all-powerful ect.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby manas » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:33 pm

binocular wrote:
In light of this, what is your take on the Christian teachings on eternal damnation for all those who don't convert?

Also, how do the numerous competing Christian churches resolve the problem of figuring out which Christian church is the right one? Given that one has to choose the right Christian church, or one will burn in hell for all eternity.


With regards to 'eternal damnation', with a specific fiery place of torture ruled over by a guy who looks suspiciously like the Greek God Pan, except he isn't nearly as friendly - I don't see that in the actual gospels. The 'fire that will not go out' and the 'outer darkness, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth' that Jesus refers to on occasion, probably just refers to the World, ie Samsara. Those who will not even try to elevate themselves by wholesome actions, spiritual practice etc will be condemned to remain in the World which is always burning like fire, and which is essentially a place of misery. But while he said that the fire of the world never goes out, he never specifically said "if you do not believe in ME you will burn and be tortured in Hell forever" - that is found nowhere in the gospels, it is a notion that was added much later (and as a fear tactic, works wonderfully well at controlling those who lack the inner resources to see through it).

:anjali:
Last edited by manas on Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:36 pm

binocular wrote:There is reason to believe...


Sure, that's a flavor of Universal reconciliation. It or something like it may have been popular quite early on, falling into disfavor for a few centuries, and now seeing increased interest. Another response to the problem of Hell is Annihilationism, which in a Xian sense is the idea that instead of eternal torment, those who fail to become reconciled with God simply cease to exist.

So the primary goal of eternal life in heaven (or maybe heaven just for an age?), else either [1] Xian annihilation, [2] eternal suffering, or [3] eventual reconciliation (including such 'halfway house' formulations such as the Mormon heavens). Eternalism/annihilationism any way you slice them, all of which the Bible can support, none of which the Nikayas support.

The fact of sin in Xian soteriology is wholly foreign to Buddhist ideations. The very idea of a God such as a Xian might imagine is lampooned in the Nikayas. Xianity adheres strongly to rites & rituals (communion, baptism) which is a fettered approach to morality, on the Buddhist view.

And so forth.

Sam Vara wrote:... there is a huge range of interpretations...


...that are not equivalently plausible. Let's have a look at Xian Hell as a result of the Last Judgement.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby BlackBird » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:27 am

marc108 wrote:
No offense taken at all. I actually don't have a valid argument that Jesus was a stream enterer. I'm not familiar with the Canonical nuances around stream entry, but only around the destruction of the first 3 fetters: Self-view within the aggregates, Skeptical doubt about the truth, & clinging to rights & rituals... all of which Jesus speaks about often. Granted the NT is extremely course compared to the Suttas and maybe I'm digging here a bit, but these are just my musings... the purpose of this is to keep me interested enough in Christianity to actually do all the reading necessary to do well in this class. :jumping:



Yes I can understand your position quite well :)

I'm interested to hear how you think that Jesus had destroyed self view? Not for the purposes of criticising you, but simply out of curiosity.

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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:10 am

daverupa] The fact of sin in Xian soteriology is wholly foreign to Buddhist ideations. The very idea of a God such as a Xian might imagine is lampooned in the Nikayas. Xianity adheres strongly to rites & rituals (communion, baptism) which is a fettered approach to morality, on the Buddhist view.

And so forth.

[quote="Sam Vara wrote:
... there is a huge range of interpretations...


...that are not equivalently plausible. Let's have a look at Xian Hell as a result of the Last Judgement.[/quote]

It depends on what you mean by "sin", doesn't it? Many Christians are happy with the idea of sin meaning "to miss the mark", or "fall short". Francis Spufford in his 2012 book Unapologetic has it as "The human potential to f*** things up", and gives a very nice account of why it might be a good idea to think of it in that way. A Christian might imagine that particular idea of God, but then again, s/he might not do so. And baptism and communion have a huge variety of interpretations, very few of them having anything whatsoever to do with morality.

As for plausibility, that's not much more than a matter of taste, is it? As the Kalama Sutta has it,
don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability


Or, even, by wiki?
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:10 am

Sam Vara wrote:As for plausibility, that's not much more than a matter of taste, is it? As the Kalama Sutta has it,
don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability


Or, even, by wiki?


This is, frankly, a hyperskeptical position. Those are difficult to converse with.

Ultimately, surveys conclude that more Americans believe in heaven than hell. I think popular religion always looks different than the texts in ways such as that, but the variety here is so broad as to make discussion fruitless - anyone can cite some Xian denomination or other which supports any old reading, but even citing texts has gotten a broad "well, but another reading..." response, as though anything goes with the Gospels.

Eh, I'm withdrawn.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Kare » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:44 am

If we study Buddhism from a Christian perspective, Christianity from a Buddhist perspective, Buddhism from a Hindu perspective .... etc. .... we are bound to get a distorted and lopsided view. We should rather study each religion partly from its own perspective, but mainly from the human perspective.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:02 am

Coyote wrote:I'm not sure I follow - "parts of God"?. The universe is not a part of God according to classical Christian doctrine, and man was made seperate from God and with free will.

Hence such Christian doctrines are about a mere demigod.


From a Hindu perspective I see your point, but I think it is better to critique Christian conceptions of God with the problem of suffering, or evil, i.e God is perfect and no imperfection (suffering, evil) can come from him. If he allows it, he is not all-powerful ect.

Oh, but many Christians effectively consider a measure of bestiality to be acceptable, so for them, there is no problem with people burning in hell for all eternity or babies being raped and so on.

Bottomline, it comes down to what one wishes to accomplish with a critique of a particular Christian doctrine.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:11 am

Sam Vara wrote:Yes, but note that these are not Gospel, are they? More important than the distinction between Buddhavacana and commentary, when talking about God himself.

My favorite verses from the Bible are those where God Himself calls His worshippers "stiff-necked" and how He could destroy them if He'd be too near them. :tongue:


As for intentions in a reading of the Gospel, what would be a better one?

Sure, there's positive things to be said for trying to come up with such an explanation of things according to which everyone is eventually happy.



Kare wrote:If we study Buddhism from a Christian perspective, Christianity from a Buddhist perspective, Buddhism from a Hindu perspective .... etc. .... we are bound to get a distorted and lopsided view. We should rather study each religion partly from its own perspective, but mainly from the human perspective.

And what is that, the "human" perspective?
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:30 am

binocular wrote:Oh, but many Christians effectively consider a measure of bestiality to be acceptable, so for them, there is no problem with people burning in hell for all eternity or babies being raped and so on.


How do many Christians consider bestiality acceptable? I really don't see your point, or the connection between accepting bestiality and believing eternal hell is just.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:56 am

Coyote wrote:
binocular wrote:Oh, but many Christians effectively consider a measure of bestiality to be acceptable, so for them, there is no problem with people burning in hell for all eternity or babies being raped and so on.


How do many Christians consider bestiality acceptable? I really don't see your point, or the connection between accepting bestiality and believing eternal hell is just.

Ask yourself - under what circumstances, in what frame of mind would you have to be in order to be at peace with the idea that many people will suffer in hell for all eternity?
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Coyote » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:05 pm

binocular wrote:
Coyote wrote:
binocular wrote:Oh, but many Christians effectively consider a measure of bestiality to be acceptable, so for them, there is no problem with people burning in hell for all eternity or babies being raped and so on.


How do many Christians consider bestiality acceptable? I really don't see your point, or the connection between accepting bestiality and believing eternal hell is just.

Ask yourself - under what circumstances, in what frame of mind would you have to be in order to be at peace with the idea that many people will suffer in hell for all eternity?



I don't think many are. I know I wasn't. Some make up the idea that those end up in gehenna will be those who have chosen it for themselves, in full knowledge of what they are doing, rejecting God at the last judgement, and will be beyond help. That always appealed to me. Or just shrug their shoulders, believing that the ways of God are mysterious. It's not mentally healthy, I'll give you that. Anyway, what does this have to do with bestiality?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:28 pm

binocular wrote:
Coyote wrote:
binocular wrote:Oh, but many Christians effectively consider a measure of bestiality to be acceptable, so for them, there is no problem with people burning in hell for all eternity or babies being raped and so on.


How do many Christians consider bestiality acceptable? I really don't see your point, or the connection between accepting bestiality and believing eternal hell is just.

Ask yourself - under what circumstances, in what frame of mind would you have to be in order to be at peace with the idea that many people will suffer in hell for all eternity?


Possibly William Blake's frame of mind. He saw hell as the active principle of genius, which was a torment for the "Angels" of rationality and analysis. But the "Devils" love it there. Just know yourself, he thought, and you will be able to keep away from what does not suit you.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby binocular » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:31 pm

Coyote wrote:Anyway, what does this have to do with bestiality?

To me, being at peace with the idea that some people will suffer in hell for all eternity, with no chance of redemption, and that this is good and just, requires a bestial mindset.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:50 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:I think i will just follow the mainstream assertion that Jesus was a noble figure but the bible is corrupted.


Now why does that idea sound familiar? ;)
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Hickersonia » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:50 pm

Kare wrote:If we study Buddhism from a Christian perspective, Christianity from a Buddhist perspective, Buddhism from a Hindu perspective .... etc. .... we are bound to get a distorted and lopsided view. We should rather study each religion partly from its own perspective, but mainly from the human perspective.

:goodpost:

Thank you, Kare. This is precisely what I was thinking to say but couldn't quite find a way to word it eloquently.
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby Aloka » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:02 pm

Hickersonia wrote:
Kare wrote:If we study Buddhism from a Christian perspective, Christianity from a Buddhist perspective, Buddhism from a Hindu perspective .... etc. .... we are bound to get a distorted and lopsided view. We should rather study each religion partly from its own perspective, but mainly from the human perspective.

:goodpost:

Thank you, Kare. This is precisely what I was thinking to say but couldn't quite find a way to word it eloquently.


Indeed _()_
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Re: Christianity, from a Buddhist perspective

Postby PeterB » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:15 pm

Agreed. Each spring has be traced back to its own source...or left alone.
During my involvement with Buddhism it was my contention that the same applied to the Mahayana and Theravada too.They each needed to be subject to their own lights.
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