Samvega wrote:A friend of mine, and a true scholar of the Pali Canon, has put together an essay of excepts from the Pali Canon which poses an explanation of the fundamental Christian claims from a Buddhist ontology. It's very interesting stuff. He claims that the ontology outlined in the Pali Canon can in fact explain:
As someone else pointed out, it was a bit condescending, but it seems to come from a good place: "Christianity appears like small child: with very good intentions and a pure heart (the gospel) but without the knowledge of the bigger picture." I was mildly offended, if not amused. And there are plenty of well meaning christians who treat buddhism the same, as the child, and the Gospels as the bigger picture. The 2nd Vatican council uses the label "anonymous christians" for good buddhist, atheist, jews etc...who in this view are christians but just not in name.
I'm sure many buddhist might be slightly offended by Catholics referring to them as "anonymous christians", even though the theologian Karl Rahner who came up with the name, was coming from a good place, to say that even those who don't profess the christian faith, can still be a part of God's community of believers.
There are some problems in comparing Christianity and Buddhism, because the first question comes from what version of Christianity are you referring to? The Christianity of Jurgen Moltmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rene Girard, Karl Barth, Herbert Mccabe, Dostoevsky, or that of Pat Robertson and John Hagee? The christianity of Catholics, or that or Dispensationalist?
I do think it's natural tendency for individuals outside of the christian tradition, to attempt to grasp it from the perspective of naive forms of christianity, because it comes off as the easiest to grasp, just like many individuals outside of buddhism will attempt to grasp it from the perspective of hollywood types.
If you really want to seriously reflect on Christianity from the Buddhist perspective, you should do so on the actual text, the Bible, those original communities, the problems and dilemmas they were dealing with, and what sort of questions the person of Christ answered for the writers of the Gospel.
These text were written from the perspective of oppressed people, constantly on the verge of despair and violence. And this sort of bottom up perspective, makes the judeo-christian perspective unique to other religious traditions. Christianity is a paradoxical religion, that centers itself around the poor and suffering, proclaiming that "God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something (1 Cor 1).
Its emblem, is what the radical marxist atheist philosopher Slavoj Žižek refers to as "The Monstrosity of Christ". The Gospels are a narrative of a heinous and violent tragedy, of a death of a innocent man, made into scape goat.
It's audience is those like the Psalmist who look on that image and writes of his Babylonian captors: "Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.", if you don't relate and have never known such feelings of violent resent, than you are not that audience, and are alien to the perspective here.
The Gospels take this sense of violence and resent and transforms it into a radical sense of love, that proclaims forgiveness and compassion to the tyrants and murders of human history. It proclaims to the oppressed it's not a violent revolt that liberates us, but Love is the only true liberator. In the new testament view, the real light of the world are those oppressed communities that can transform their resentment into a radical form of Love, a love found in a relation with a God, embodied by a mutilated innocent, a God, Jesus calls Father.
I only have a naive understanding of Buddhism, but if you are going to compare these two great religions, you would have to do so from here.