Buddhism

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Generally, two centuries of evangelical Christianity’s engagement with the Buddhist world have resulted in less than five percent of Buddhist heartlands (Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Taiwan, Cambodia, Tibet, and Sri Lanka) coming to Christ. There is also a resurgence of Buddhism in former communist countries such as China, Vietnam, and Laos. Nevertheless, we are encouraged that a significant minority of Christian churches are now established in these Buddhist countries who are witnessing among Buddhist peoples.

We respond to our high calling as disciples of Jesus Christ to see people of other faiths as our neighbours in the biblical sense. They are human beings created in God’s image, whom God loves and for whose sins Christ died. We strive not only to see them as neighbours, but to obey Christ’s teaching by being neighbours to them. The Cape Town Commitment II-C-1

Compared to Latin America and Africa, what are some of the theological, social, and strategic factors contributing toward such dismal results of evangelical efforts among Buddhist peoples? Should there be a rethinking of evangelical presuppositions and approaches toward Buddhist peoples? What kind of training and resourcing would be needed to better equip a new generation of missionaries among Buddhists? What is the role of the Lausanne Movement with regard to resourcing good materials for equipping Christian workers and churches in their mission work among the Buddhist world?

Asian Christian resources for engaging Buddhism in the West and globally

Since the 1970s, Buddhism has also been gaining popularity in the West. There is a need to understand Western Buddhism globally (as well as in the continents of Africa and Latin America). Despite the growth of Buddhist studies in the West, there are few seminaries or evangelical centres which are well known internationally as key centres for engaging with the diversities, dynamism, and deep structures of the Buddhist worlds. With global migration, specialised studies on Asian migrants which engage deeply with underlying Buddhist worldviews could be helpful resources for the church globally. With maturing Asian theological institutions, we need to identify and connect with regional centres which have produced good materials for evangelising and discipling former Buddhists. These centres could be facilitated as international centres for the study of Buddhism. How can we encourage the use of locally produced resources and make these materials widely available for the global church? Can a network of Christian theologians contribute toward equipping Christians in the West to better understand and engage apologetically with new challenges of Western Buddhism?

Possible plans

  • Lausanne study group on the lack of evangelism success among Buddhist peoples
  • Identify and build a database of evangelical scholars and evangelical centres for Buddhist studies
  • Specialised apologetic materials on Mahayana, Theravada, Tibetan, and Western Buddhism
  • Internet based resources for engaging with specific streams of Buddhism
  • Consultation on resources for Buddhist studies and witness
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