Explaining Jesus to a Buddhist
(from JocR 3/01) Discuss their concerns of bad karma in explaining salvation. One could bring up that Christ has taken away the bad karma (sin) of all people because of Jesus’ substitution for bad karma, so that all can be saved rather than just monks. Jesus fulfills our desires, so they are no longer cause for suffering.
Theravadan Buddhists don’t believe in the existence of God; they believe in an “abstract void” (WRI) or “an unknown quantity which defies explanation” (Eerdman 228). This is known as nirvana, which literally means, “to extinguish”. Buddha himself was only a man, not god. He wasn’t concerned with the question of God (WRI). The focus is on entering nirvana by one’s own work to dispel all desire according to the Four Noble Truths by way of the Noble Eightfold Path. One doesn’t feel guilt, but strives harder to do more good than bad to escape the cycle of rebirth known as samsara (Eerdman 232).
They want to earn karmic merit by having more good karma than bad karma (Halverson 61). (JocR 3/01)We can testify that we cannot work hard enough to obtain release from the bad we have done, but the point of Jesus dying on the cross was to pay that penalty for us.