Posts Tagged ‘World Religions’

The Gospel preserves indigenous culture

September 10, 2009

When we take the measure of Christian missionary involvement in translation work, we discover a new frontier of the modern world. More than 1,800 languages have been employed in translating the Scriptures. In many significant cases, these languages received their first breath of life from Christian interest. This is true whether we are speaking of Calvin and the birth of modern French, Luther and German, Tyndale and English, Robert de Nobili or William Carey and the Indian vernaculars, Miles Brunson and Assamese, Johannes Christaller and Akan in Ghana, Moffat and Sichuana in Botswana, Ajayi Crowther and Yoruba in Nigeria, and Krapf and Swahili in East Africa, to take a random list from many examples. A glance at the world map shows that the spread of Christian renewal overlaps significantly with the development of the vernacular. There is scarcely a language or culture of any significance that does not have some portion of Christian materials available in translation.

It is important to spell out what is the particular, specific Christian understanding of culture in the context of other world religions. It is clear that in their different ways Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism have a different status for culture, or at any rate regard the culture of origin as the universal paradigm. In so far as Buddhism conceives an ultimate reality which transcends human words, culture is of transitory value. For Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism, the founding culture becomes itself the sacral mode of encountering ultimate reality. Consequently, Arabic, Hebrew, and Sanskrit have become inseparable from the truth as seen by adherents of these religions. It follows from this that translating scriptures for canonical purposes in these religions is considered invalid, for the tones and sounds cannot be reproduced in other languages. Of these three religions, only Islam has emerged as a major missionary religion, with converts spread across innumerable cultural frontiers. It is, therefore, right to compare Christianity with Islam on this issue of translation. One fact is clear, namely, that the missionary success of Islam has never been fueled, or followed, by the translation of the sacred Qur’an for the purposes of salat, the prescribed five daily prayers. Since approximately 75% of the world’s 850 million Muslims are non-Arabic speaking, this implies a major downgrading of the mother tongues of these Muslims in the decisive acts of faith and devotion. For these non-Arab Muslims, Arabic is also the exclusive mode of religious orthodoxy.

Lamin Sanneh source

The urgency of Mission

September 10, 2009

In his missionary endeavour in China one of Hudson Taylor’s young converts was a young man called Nee Yung Fa. He was a Ningbo cotton dealer, and he was converted under Hudson’s preaching. He was also a leader in a reformed Buddhist sect – now this was a sect that didn’t go in for idolatry at all, but they were searching for truth and for the real true and living God. At the end of one of Hudson Taylor’s sermons, Nee Yung Fa stood up in his place and turned to address the audience and said: ‘I have long searched for the truth as my father did before me. I have travelled far but I haven’t found it. I found no rest in Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, but I do find rest in what I have heard tonight. From now on I will believe in Jesus’. Nee Yung Fa took Hudson Taylor back to his group of Buddhist believers, and he addressed that group and told his own testimony. Then another individual there was converted, and both of them were baptised. The other member of the group asked Hudson Taylor: ‘How long has the gospel been known in England?’. How long has the gospel been known in England? ‘For several hundred years’, he replied with a great tone of embarrassment. ‘What!’, exclaimed Nee, ‘What? Several hundred years, and you have only come to preach to us now? My father sought after the truth for more than 20 years and died not finding it! Why didn’t you come sooner?’.

Roger Steer, Hudson Taylor: A Man in Christ, p.156 – online source

Islam – the mere word of Muhammed

September 1, 2009

Aquinas says Christianity is a rational belief, not Islam, because the latter expects its supernatural revelation to be accepted on the mere word of Muhammed. Whereas Jesus did not expect men to be so credulous and gave signs authenticating his claims.

The Human desire for an incarnate mediator

August 31, 2009

Whereas the doctrine of divine incarnation and of a divine mediator between God and humankind are central to Christian belief, parallel beliefs in other religions develop in opposition to the dominant view of each of their sacred scriptures. Thus there is nothing in the Qur’an to justify the quasi-deification of Muhammad (which occurred in some circles in the 3rd C. Islamic era), and still less for the deification of the Buddha in popular buddhology. “In each case the need for an incarnate God seems to have been so strongly felt that the doctrine of the incarnation made its appearance in surroundings where it had no rightful place…what similarity there is (between the various religions’ incarnations) proves not that there is an inner unity underlying all the great world religions, but there is in man a craving for an incarnate God strong enough to force its way into the most  unpromising religious systems…whereas Muhammad and the Buddha achieved deification in flat contradiction to what they claimed and wished, and whereas the incarnation of Vishnu has no basis in fact, Jesus Christ both lived and died and claimed to be the Son of God.

R.C.Zaehner, in Vinoth Ramachandra, The Recovery of Mission, p.63

The problem of the human heart

August 26, 2009

The problem of the human heart is the heart of the human problem.

Rico Tice

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17.9

Death in Buddhism

August 6, 2009

A grieving woman carried her dead child to the Buddha and asked him to revive her son. The Buddha calmed the woman and told her he would require 3 mustard seeds from a family where so far no one had died, in order to revive the lad.

The woman went from house to house only to be told that at sometime someone had died. Gradually she realised the truth. and going to a cemetery, she laid her child’s body and taking his hand in hers, said, ‘Beloved son, I thought death has overtaken you alone, but it overtakes all of us.’ She went back to the Buddha and became his disciple.

Buddhism accepts death and suffering as inevitable. It offers no removal of it, except to attain to Nirvana (personal non-being through absorption into a greater all) in the after-world and techniques of accepting it in this.

Contrast Jesus’ response to the woman who brought him her dead son: he brought the boy back to life. (LUKE 7:11-17)

And too, his response to hearing of Lazarus’ death: he was troubled and angered at death – an enemy and alien in God’s good creation. In Buddhism death is part of the natural cycle of things. In Christianity death is unnatural.

Hinduism

October 1, 2008

In the myriad postulations by Hinduism there are numerous contradictions, a fact admitted by even some of its leading proponents. If the law of noncontradiction applies to reality and Hinduism is plagued by contradiction, then I concluded that, as a system, Hinduism is false. To this very day, Hinduism lives with a titanic struggle between its two poles of theism (a belief in a personal deity) and monism (a belief in an impersonal, absolute reality). In fact, more and more, Hindus are prone to offer Hinduism not as a religion but as a culture because of its admixture of so many contrary strands.

Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?