Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal, by Keith Yandell and Harold Netland
There are many books published, both Christian and Buddhist that are largely descriptive and comparative. For some reasons there is resistance among religious scholars to engage in, or to even consider a rational assessment of religious doctrines and their supporting framework. The result is a type of pseudo-friendly syncretism that fails to respectfully delineate differences and clarify the goals of each world view respectively. To me, that is a superficial type of engagement and to the extent that it is superficial, it is also disrespectful. Not so with these authors.
Both Buddhism and Christianity say that something is wrong with the human condition. The “problem” for both is different, as is the “solution” as is the “path” to the solution as is the “goal” of the path. It was surprising to see how very different these world views are, and also , how they are not in direct competition
Whereas Buddhism is attempting to achieve detachment from conditioned reality via self-effort and knowledge, in order to reach the unconditioned state of Nirvana, Christianity is showing a way to be forgiven of sin before God, so that one can, in their life reflect more on the character of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit, preparing folks to be in line with the character of God and thus fit to live in God’s presence. You can have experience of the one without making the other go away. Some folks have the experience of both.
Please note that this book, (Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal ), includes the philosophy side of the equation. Readers new to philosophy may find portions of the book–chapters four and five, in particular–to be challenging, but the benefit is well worth the effort, for not only will you understand what Buddhist doctrines might mean, but also get a sense of what it is to offer a careful and respectful assessment of Buddhist doctrine.
There is plenty of room to see additional texts, following a similar model, that engage other world faiths and religions in a similarly brave and direct way.
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This book comes with a CD to guide you through meditations, an art long practiced by Buddhism.