How Would You Answer Jason?

A comment came in recently with questions that I’ve wrestled with before from an Asian perspective. Of course, the question does have its biases, although you can’t really blame him since Christian fundamentalists get so much play in the media in the worst ways. But how would you answer Jason’s questions?

I have many questions on why Asians believe in Western religions.

1) Why do Asians believe in a faith that is primarily spread by Westerners. Some of the paintings depict Jesus as a white person, and is believed by some Asians.

2) Yes, the bible can be interpreted however ways by the believer, but unfortunately, in America, the believers are fundamentalists who do deny Homosexuals, immigrants, etc. of things that a non-believer wouldn’t.

3) Why must evangelical tactics be used to convert others? I visited http://www.buddhabook.org and found it to be a bit sickening. Buddhism is one of the most understanding form of spirituality and this Cioccolanti person wrote a book on how to convert a person from that.

All my findings and understanding of Christianity/Catholicism/etc. points to prejudice, discrimination, and narrow-mindedness. I would like to have some clarifications.

Thanks,
Jason

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Comments

  1. DYdaktix says:

    1) Christianity started out as a faith that was always multiethnic: There was a strong Western (Greek) and also a strong Eastern (Jewish) community from the very beginning (And if you don’t think Jewish people are Eastern, work within a Jewish community for 2 years like I did and you’ll realize likewise). Some paintings also depict Jesus as Asian, with some really great Asian Christian artists like Watanabe Sadao (not the jazz musician) and He Qi being quite prolific and famous in the international Christian community.

    Christianity has been in East Asia since the at least 781, where the Nestorian Stele commemorating Christianity can still be seen in Xian, the ancient capital of China. This was even before Christianity had been spread to all of Europe!

    2) I am not a fundamentalist. I see myself as a moderate Christian, and I wrestle with having the proper understandings of hot button issues and ethical situations that face our time. I haven’t figured it all out, and I’m willing to hold things in tension and willing to hear why people believe what they do.

    3) What do you mean by evangelical tactics? I think that the story of the spread of Christianity and Buddhism are quite similar: People told other people. Sometimes People forced others to believe (both in Christianity and in Buddhism) through war and political agenda. I worked as a volunteer (before I was Christian) for a while at a Buddhist “Evangelism” office (I’m still friends with those who work there, as well as friends with the people at the Zen Temple I grew up at).

    Try googling: How I became Buddhist. A lot of people also have shared their stories of how they became Buddhist, as well. I quickly perused buddhabook.org, and while I’m sure the authors hope that it will help people share their faith to others, it seems to me that the author is equally valuing Christians understanding what Buddhist is all about.

    Personal Rant: When people seek power and authority, they seem to get corrupted. One thing that Jesus taught that I try to follow: the key to power is letting go of it. If one believes Jesus and sees how Jesus chose to give his life up as an example to the people he created, what better way is there for a Christian to follow God?

    I was just in Japan for about a month, and something that really struck me was that many of the famous Universities (Tokyo U, Hokkaido U, Jyochi, Meiji Gakuin), Hospitals, and schools ( were founded by Christians. Was part of it because they wanted people to become Christian? Sure, because many (but not all) Christians have a joy and freedom found in following Christ and we want other people to have the same transformation! Was there a requirement that you had to be Christian to get aid from Christian organizations? NO! They also do things with excellence. St. Luke’s Hospital in Japan (聖路加病院)is often seen like the mayo clinic of Japan, and my mother, who is on the board of her Zen temple remembers fondly how they took care of me when I was having a seizure in Japan. I am not Catholic, and disagree with many of their positions, but the Catholic church is the world’s largest charity.

    Whoa. Too long. email me if you want to continue a dialogue. I’m a Christian who was raised Buddhist, and still love my Buddhist community, and help out at the Zen temple every so often.

  2. mezuzah says:

    Great response above. My 2cents/and trying not to be redundant:

    1) Why do Asians believe in a faith that is primarily spread by Westerners. Some of the paintings depict Jesus as a white person, and is believed by some Asians.

    Jesus was born into a Jewish family…Scripture says that he was not good looking (Isaiah 53.2)

    2) Yes, the bible can be interpreted however ways by the believer, but unfortunately, in America, the believers are fundamentalists who do deny Homosexuals, immigrants, etc. of things that a non-believer wouldn’t.

    These practices go against Christian teaching, if you really think about it…there is injustice as there is still sin in the world.

    3) Why must evangelical tactics be used to convert others?

    I agree, time to give up tactics and simply live the life, talk the talk/walk the walk. We witness Christ with words and testimony. And at the same time though, we still must do apologetics (defense of the faith).

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