Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm No Buddhist But Truth is Truth

The Dalai Lama has some interesting things to say. Should we ignore him because we don't consider him to be "saved"? Truth, no matter where it is found, is still truth.

To be honest, I am becoming way more political than I ever thought I would. Sorry for that, I'll cut it out.

Why is Dolly Parton's picture next to the Dalai Lama's? Steph
To make you smile...he he...well to make me smile at least.
Are we so sure the Lama isn't saved? I know, I know, "no one comes to the father except through me (Jesus)." But by assuming our guy the Lama is not saved are we not placing less emphasis on the grace of Jesus and more on the choices (work) of man?
hmmmm...good question Mi-atch...I shall have to ponder that one.
Mi-atch: You're kidding here, right? I mean, honestly, you've got to be joking by asking, "are we so sure that Lama isn't saved?" I have a fairly good sense of surety that he isn't "saved."
Actually Matt...I'm not kidding so much. Declaring one "in" or "out" is not my business, it's God's, and I'm not so sure that I want to say that God's grace (through Jesus) is good for me because I've given voice to it, but not enough to cover our man DL. A lot depends on our definition of "saved". For you does saved mean being "rescued from" something or is it being saved "to become" something?
Don't get me wrong Matt, I've looked at Buddhism closely and think it is misses the point, but I also consider our exclusive Christian usage of "saved" is a little skewed and doesn't show much confidence in God.
I like that because I put "saved" in quotes everybody else does too. I'm a genious.
Mitch: It appears to me that you are subscribing to the current issues of postmodern thought, especially when it comes to doctrines of the Bible.

Yes, it's not your "business" to declare whether one is "in" or "out" with God - it's His business since He is Judge, and I believe He explains what His business is and how it works in the Bible. Even though we all have a sin nature and even though our thinking has been affected by sin, I believe that God gave us a book (the Bible) that we would be able to comprehend, even with our mind clouded by a sin nature. We our able to comprehend the Bible because of the work of the Holy Spirit, without which we would not be able to understand the Bible.

Yes, of course it matters upon the definition of "saved." I believe that for the Christian, salvation is a 3-part process. When I first believe in Christ, I am saved from the penalty of sin - that means, I do not have to suffer the eternal damnation that I richly deserve because I have sinned against a holy God. Second: in this life as a Christian, I am being saved from the power of sin. Yes, I still have a sin nature and I will still have temptation (and I will still succumb to temptation from time to time), but since I have the Holy Spirit abiding in me, I have the power to resist temptation. Third: when I die and go to be with Christ (which I am quite confident will happen), I will be saved from the very presence of sin. My sin nature will be gone, and I will always "choose" to do the right thing.

You said: "I'm not so sure that I want to say that God's grace (through Jesus) is good for me because I've given voice to it, but not enough to cover our man DL." Do you place any kind of confidence in the Bible? If so, where is it placed?

Buddhism doesn't just miss the point - it's off the mark completely. A major tenet of Buddhism is reincarnation, which flies in the face of Hebrews 9:27.

I suggest that you read John 20 and Acts 16.

Adam: if you're going to claim to be a genius, at least learn how to spell the word "genius" correctly. Maybe they'll teach you that at Asbury.... ;)
Be ye not so quick to judge my fine, fine uncle. Before you point out the speck in my eye, please consider the plank in your own.

I seem to remember something to do about a google search that brought your site up as number one only because YOU had mispelled something. Does that ring a bell?
Yes, but I've never claimed to be a genius.
This is a good conversation to have I think. In response, I place a great deal of emphasis on the Bible and consider it to be (guided by the Holy Spirit) the primary source I use for theological reflection. When I read the entire witness of the Bible I find it to evidence an extraordinarily generous God, one that is less interested in our beliefs or our going through the steps of religion just so, but one who shows more interest in what we do (think Matthew 25:37-45, Romans 2:12-24). My concern is that as Christians we become so self assured that we have it all figured out and that folks like the Lama are so off track that we neglect to put our money where our mouth is (love, non-judgement, charity). The religious establishment in Jesus’ day made judgments about people and who was in/out; Jesus rejected that. They thought they had all the steps down just so and could interpret God’s will just right, but the Christ witnessed that “There is a way that seems right to a man…” (Proverbs 14:12).

I believe that accepting Jesus as our savior is essential for assurance. However, it does not necessarily exclude others who have different life experiences and worldviews. As Adam’s comment that started this debate stated, “truth... is truth.” God witnesses himself in many ways, nature, love, people, culture…that witness is received and acted upon by the Dali Lama himself…differently than you and I do, granted, but maybe not so far off from God’s ultimate concern for his life.

Maybe the real debate here is how we experience the gift of Christ, what is our responsibility for salvation. I’d be interested in your thoughts. For me, salvation is not a very individualistic matter, (I get pardoned from sin, I am freed from the power of temptation, I get to go to heaven…) it’s much broader than that. It includes all of time and creation…even the physical earth. I see it to be more about what God is doing for God’s good creation and less about what we understand. Our response is important, yes, but not ultimately so. Glad to have a civil conversation about this important concept of our faith.
I once asked a class of twenty-five seminarians to write down their definition of salvation without consulting one another. I then collected them and compiled them onto one list. No two definitions were alike.
The central doctrine of the Christian faith is far, far too powerful and holy to be boiled down to a simple "if...then" statement. In other words, salvation has got to be more than just "If I say I love Jesus then I will get to heaven." In my opinion, that is way to simple and way to easy.
Good conversation,
Andy B.
Mitch: There's so much to response to that I've got to get my head and thoughts together. My response will be coming...

Until then, let me ask something of my nephew. If "truth, no matter where it is found, is still truth," on what basis do you determine whether something is true or not?

My brother-in-law is strangely silent on this whole matter. Perhaps he's not aware of this thread. Hmmm.....
Yeah, "response" should be "respond." Darn typos.... they're everywhere!!
The ultimate truth is found in Christ. Rather, Christ is the embodiment of truth.

My statement was specifically refering to the warning that the Dalai Lama was giving in the article.(i.e., consummeristic lifestyle, not being communal, so on and so forth.) In no way was I implying that the teachings of Buddhism are ALL true. I am willing to bet that within the teachings, though I haven't studied them, there is some semblance of truth, but I can't at this time state that as fact.

Admittedly, it is difficult to define truth when truth is, a person/deity, Jesus. I suppose that this is where discernment, study and prayer comes in.
I think we should all convert to Gnosticism. Clearly there is some "secret knowledge" we all need to know.

(Don't get your panties in a wad...it was a joke.)
Well I tried to put my spin on this topic, and after typing a lengthy argument, and going through the word verification and publish process, it disappeared into cyberspace.
Oh well.

Mr. C
Mitch and Matt
I think both of you are missing the point. I cant say whether the Dalai Lama is "saved" or not, and neither can either of you, because no person on earth can know what is in another's heart! It's like Adam was telling me some time earlier, A person can be "saved" yet not act in a way which "Christian Society" thinks saved persons act, or they can go through the motions, and do the outward things that people often associate with a saved person, but without knowing what is in the person's heart, we cant know if the person is saved or not, so why debate about if the Dalai Lama is saved or not, because we have no way of knowing. Granted, he is a Buddist and not a Christian, but in his heart, he may be right with God, and may be saved. Bottom line, we dont know, and wont know. The point which could resonably be argued or debated is weather or not a particular teaching of the Dalai Lama, for instance the one the original post links to about consumerism, is true, and how and if the teaching relates to ourselves, our culture, our lifes, such like that. That's the point, does the teaching work.
Mr. C.: I'm very sorry to hear that. I would have loved to have read what you had written.

Adam: Yes, I know that you were referring to the Dalai's statements about Osama bin Ladin. I just wanted to get a clearer picture of where you were coming from, and to set a framework for my statments here.

Mitch: My response is still coming. Don't worry...

Stephanie: No, I don't think I've missed the point at all. Yes, it's true that only God can look into and understand someone's heart, but I believe that the Bible clearly points out (a) what it means to be a Christian and to be "saved" and (b) how to tell if other people are Christians. There are several criteria for examining whether or not someone is a Christian: (1) Have they made a confession of faith in Christ? (John 6:40; Acts 4:10-12; Acts 16:27-33; Romans 10:13) (2) Do they have a desire to obey God? (1 John 2:3,4) (3) Do they express love for others? (1 John 4:8) (4) Are they bearing fruit? (Gal. 5) (5) Do they repent of their sins? (1 John 1:9)

Consider Romans 10:8-10. If the Dalai can say to those verses, "I whole-heartedly agree," then we can safely say that he is saved. If he can not say that he agrees, then we can safely say that he is not a Christian, and therefore not saved.

It seems to me that you are arguing for some sort of pragmatism. Is that what you are saying?
To the criteria I would add: (6) Do they regularly attend a local church? (Heb. 10:25)
Steph, we are in agreement here. I have never claimed thje DL was saved...as you said, it is not up to me to judge or to know. The only criteria I really care about is this: Is he living out a life that fits with God's plan for humanity?...maybe or maybe not, we have different ideas about what that means. I'd encourage us all to make our peace with Romans, chapters 9-11 before we go on. -Mitch
Mitch - I am in agreement with your previous comments, but I feel that entering into a debate, which it appears you have done, with Matt is relatively pointless. A constructive conversation would be is what the DL saying true, does it go along with what you believe? And Matt, I have a hypothetical situation for ya, hope you enjoy it. If person A shoots person B 1) in self defense or 2)when his life wasnt in danger, yet A goes to church, repents of his sins, and tries to obey God, yet for whatever reason didnt, be it human failure or what, if A says that mission work is important, or interactions with christians are important, does his one action of killing B negate all that he says and does, even though your pastor/minister says the same thing and it is true when he says it. How about the unwed teenage mother, if she says having a relationship with God is important, does her past and mistakes negate what she says, or if your next door neighbor (under the circumstance of not knowing your neighbor), whom you have know idea about their past or their spiritual life, says that the focus of holidays such as Easter or Christmas have become very comercial, do you agree with your neighbor without knowing about their past and if they follow exactly the same doctrine as you? How about the Jew who says that knowledge of the scripture is important, do you not believe him because he is a Jew. Can you discredit what someone says just because they dont have the same background as you (I realize I am getting a bit general with that question, but it was intentional, because it allows for several differences in backgrounds, such as the person who has became a christian differently than you, or the person who confesses their sins differently than you, or the person who attends a different type of church, or the person who God tells to do something He doesnt tell you to do, or think something, a different denomination, or whatever you will). What I want to know is what you think about what the DL is saying, or are you refusing to even consider and hear what he has to say about society because he is bhuddist? Steph
Steph: Entering a debate with me is "pointless"? I'm hurt...

For the record, I never said anything remotely close to something like, "The Dalai Lama is a silly heathen and all good Christians should not listen to anything he has to say because it is false on its face." My argument was concerning the Dalai's salvation, and whether he has any hope that he will see and be with Christ upon his death - it seems clear to me that he - at this time - can not place any hope in Christ. Of course, he still lives and breathes, and so might still turn to God - it would be certainly wonderful if he did.

We need to look to the Bible as our basis for understanding both God (His nature, what He wants/expects, what He does/has done/will do) and humanity (what people are like). The Bible is our lens so that we can see the world clearly. It's easy to say "truth is truth, no matter where it is found," but how does one decide what truth is?

For the record, the DL is correct about Osama specifically and terrorists in general.
Mr. C.: Just type "My brother-in-law is correct in everything he says." That will be good enough for me! :)
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