Thursday, May 18, 2006

Backfiring evangelism?

Some dear friends have recently been horrified by an event that seemed to 'backfire'. A conversation between a Christian and a Buddhist, hosted by and in a church, at which the 'result' was two people signing up for Buddhist meditation (and another one started coming to church). Neither of them were churchgoers prior to the night. So here's my question: from a Christian point of view, is a move from average Australian materialist to commencing Buddhist meditation a backwards, forwards, or sideways step spiritually?
Eight points for naming the country in which this image was taken.


michael jensen said...

Well von Balthasar would say that the non-Christian religions often contain the anthropological truth. I think this is interesting... Christ contains and sums up the fragmentary truths available in the world in this way.

Well, I guess this is the trouble with dialogical evangelism!!

BTW, could you reflect on your mission experience and TIm FOster>

byron smith said...

I think I just was... (perhaps more to come on MTC mission and Tim. Hi Tim!)

Just read Rahner on 'Anonymous Christians' yesterday, who says something quite similar to von B. They're all exegeting Lewis' The Last Battle in any case (155-56):
'Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me'
'Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?'
'It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swar by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it now, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?'
'Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.'
'Beloved, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.'

Drew said...

the non-Christian religions often contain the anthropological truth.

I think Tolkien says this of myth & 'faerie' as well... perhaps CSL is influenced by Tolkien here too?

michael jensen said...

Von B wanted to distinguish himself from Rahner as much as possible especially over the anonymous Christian stuff though. Rahner is saying something much stronger than Von B.
In his book on martyrdom, Von B has a mock dialogue between a liberal Rahnerian Christian and an interrogator. In the end, the Rahnerian says to the interrogator: hey you might be an anonynous Christian! To which the interogator says, well, I don't need to kill you certainly. What is the point of killing someone for such a belief?

byron smith said...

Yes, as I thought further about the parallel with Lewis on the way to college this morning, I realised that Lewis is saying something quite different. For Rahner, God has scattered his grace throughout all creation, including aspects of all non-Christian religions; for Lewis, God accepts true service as his own. I'm not familiar enough with von B to comment further.

Anonymous said...


byron smith said...

Yes indeed - Hong Kong. Eight points. Well done, you've reclaimed second place.