My sister’s journey in the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni, Nichiren Daishonin, and the SGI-USA Buddhism movement are well-known to many of my friends. Being a Christ follower and someone that absolutely adores my sister, the conversation between us often comes up about the similarities of our spiritual journeys. She began her journey in the SGI-USA Buddhism movement at about the same time that I began my walk as a Christ follower. Over the years she has continually said that our spiritual journeys – her journey with SGI-USA Buddhism that has its roots in the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni’s philosophy of life from about 2500 years ago that began in Nepal, which subsequently influenced Nichiren Daishonin, a 13th century monk in Japan. The culmination of these two men’s teachings led to the formation of the SGI-USA Buddhism movement in the United States. Today, her belief system remains in Buddha Shakyamuni, Nichiren Daishonin, and the SGI-USA Buddhism Movement.
She had continually spoken to me in great sencerity that she feels that our spiritual viewpoints have more similarities than differences. I have always said that the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni, Nichiren Daishonin, and the SGI-USA Buddhism Movement are not at all similar in nature outside of the fact that they both bring some hope for peace on earth and good will to mankind. It was not until just recently after receiving another similar statement through a FaceBook message on the subject that the SGI-USA Buddhism Movement was like Christianity that I felt compelled to take the time to write her concerning the reality of our differences and the reality of their consequences on the eternal destinies of those who followed both.
It seems fitting to share my letter in this blog because the nature of this Ruined for the Ordinary community is to share what we are most passionate about. Of the few hundred other bloggers that have their own blogs under this domain (as subdomains), I believe this post may provide some clarity on the subject of how to respectfully debate diametrically opposed religious views, i.e. in this instance an Americanized form of Buddhism and that of Christianity. I will not use my sister’s name out of my great and heart-felt love and respect for her as my sister, so I will only refer to her as “my beloved sister that I love deeply.” My letter begins….
“My beloved sister that I love deeply, I know we have discussed this in detail once before, but truly, I must tell you that we do NOT have anything in common concerning our choices in spiritual journey other than we are both are on one. The God focused and surrender life of a Christ follower is in direct conflict with the self-awareness and self-directed life found in Nichiren Buddhism since its beginnings in Nepal 2500 years ago.
While I would never discount the evolution of your religion that had its roots in the teachings and human wisdom of Buddha Shakyamuni or the reality that such were rooted in Gnostic traditions that preceded his day, it must be said that a closer look at the roots of it is realistic if we are to have civil discourse on the comparisons between our two spiritual journeys. Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings and philosophy of life was in large part what affected Nichiren Daishonin in the 13th century (in Japan) to continue the evolutionary ideologies of self-awareness and self-enlightenment that are without a question the better of many world religions that teach intolerance of others. I am in full agreement that peace over violence, love over hate, and tolerance over intolerance is by far the best and most suitable life to live and to teach others. Yet, this alone is not significant enough to address the eternal nature of every human soul.
Still, just the same my beloved sister that I love deeply, respectfully, I must tell you that Nichiren Daishonin’s understanding of the Creator, of the fallen nature of man’s rebelliousness, self-willed and self-determination that refuses to acknowledge God or the need of a Savior is severely flawed. It will ultimately send millions into eternity – an eternity that will not be the eternity that they had hoped for or were made to believe existed for them. It will not be an eternity of bliss, happiness, comfort or peace.
I appreciate the efforts of the SGI-USA Buddhism movement to positively affect our culture and in its attempt to bring order and peace to the world, but even in the best of its intentions, it remains in opposition to the source of true Peace, true brotherly love and what sacrificial Love is all about which is needed in order to have lasting peace. Most critical of all, the need of every human to be saved from a certain and coming eternal judgment for their self-indulgence, self-willed, and self-exalted lives who deny Truth by the very nature of the fallen human state is paramount.
In contrast to Nichiren Daishonin, the reality of the one true God still exists – the Creator of heaven and earth, who for the last almost 6000 years has sought to reveal Himself to man. He has with relentless and unbridled love sought to call the hearts of a rebellious human race back to Himself and to His eternal peace, joy, and happiness. From the very beginnings of many in the middle east, our Creator has never stopped pursuing us and has gone as far as to even sacrifice His own life in human form so that man would not have to pay the penalty of their sin and rebellion.
Can you find any similarity in our faiths when the loving Savior that I know as Jesus Christ would say,
“I am the Way the Truth and the Life, and no man comes to the Father but by me.’
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’
“He who has the Son, has life, but He who has not the Son does not have life.’
“All have rebelled and sinned against God and fall short of His glory.”
‘The consequences of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”
“It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that, the judgment.”
I would respectfully ask you to consider the source of my personal faith for a moment if you will. The texts and teaching of my faith are rooted in a journey of over 6000 years of a loving Creator in pursuit of a rebellious self-willed mankind. The Bible that I use in part for my main reference to this love story is a compilation of 66 books written by over 40 authors over 3000 years from remote and unconnected avenues of communication. Every text from beginning to the end that is recorded in this book we call the Bible all carry the same central theme and inerrancy of history, and of law and revelation of what is to come.
The Bible is made up of history that corresponds with every other historical, archaeological and paleontological resource that is considered reputable by modern historians. It is songs, poetry and proverbs that life, guide, encourage, and direct a prudent, humble, peaceful, and loving lifestyle. It is law – what every civilized and even uncivilized cultures acknowledge as foundational truths for living, and which every modern world law has been based on for thousands of years not.
It is prophesy (the prewritten history of what is to come). What most intellects far to my superior find most amazing about the prophetic aspects of Scriptures is that to date every single prophecy of ancient Scriptures has come to pass in the time and the place and the way it was pre-recorded to happen. This prewritten history has clearly shown the event of modern civilization to be in unison with what was written thousands of years ago by the prophets of Israel. Aside from modern day fulfillments which are overwhelming clear to see, Jesus alone fulfilled over 300 prophesies starting prior to his birth and leading all the way until his death and resurrection from the dead (an event witnessed by over 5000 people).
Mathematicians have placed the mathematical probabilities of Jesus fulfilling even eight of the over 300 prophesies that were fulfilled by him in the time and in the order they were to have occurred beyond calculation. In taking just eight of the most improbable prophecies alone that relate to major events in his life, mathematicians say the probability of all eight taking place in the time and in the order they were prophesied to have taken place that the mathematical probability would be something like 10 to the 17th power to one that they could actually happen. Ask someone who is good at math how many 10 to the 17th power is because I can’t figure out just how many zeros that is. I think it is something like, 100,000,000,000,000,000 to 1. This is not a very likely possibility if I were the one trying to pull some big scam or conspiracy off to make me look like someone that I was not.
One mathematician gave this illustration of it – “If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 10 to the 17th power of silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.”
In the most arguably aggressive attack by the most ardent of foes of Christianity (the American Atheists Association for instance), none has been able to disprove the validity of anything written within the pages of Holy Scriptures, to overturn any rock of Biblical history through archaeological discovery, scientifically disprove or find any legal precedent that could overturn even a single statement found in Scriptures. Movements as this one and their predecessors have spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 150 years to do just that. Is Jesus who He said he was? He allows us to decide our own fate. We will either see Him as a liar, a lunatic, or we will see Him as who He really is, “Lord” (Creator, King of all Kings, Lord of all Lords, the Savior, Redeemer, the Prince of Peace).
My beloved sister that I love deeply, what I have shared in these moments is not in any way an indictment against what you believe as being a peaceful way of life. What I am sharing is the foundational Truth of what I Christianity is based on. You and I were created in God’s likeness and image. We are spirit (the nature of God Himself), we live in a body (temporary vessel to experience our Creator’s creation for us to enjoy and relate to Him in while we are here), we have emotions that allow us to relate and to experience the joys and sorrows of God and of one another, and we have been given HIS divine free and volitional will to choose either to acknowledge Him or to reject Him (as it has been from the beginning).
He does not force His love upon us. He is a perfect gentleman, and does not force us to do anything. It is up to us by an act of our free will, to accept His love and His forgiveness for our willful rebellion and willful acts of selfishness and self-determination to achieve godhead and the divine (which of course are both not attainable by man in any way) or to reject it.
In the words of the Master that I follow and serve, there is only one way to experience eternal life in the peace and presence of our Creator and that is in and through a personal relationship with a resurrected Savior who took all of our sin, rebellion, and self-willed life on Himself so that we would not suffer judgment for turning our backs on the very One who created us. The Master that I serve is the one and only Prince of Peace.
Conclusion: In whatever we believe and are willing to die for, we must be willing to defend and to live for. There is nothing wrong in discussing the differences of our chosen spiritual journeys, and if we are to be peacemakers and bridge builders, the we must be willing to be open to civil discourse about what we believe and why, whether we are Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Gnostic, or Jewish. The issues and conflicts of life can find peaceful ends IF we are willing to communicate. Resorting to name calling and innuendo that casts a shadow of doubt on one’s intentions does not build bridges. To accuse others of hatefulness does not build bridges. To resist civil discourse when so much in our world is now at stake, does not build bridges.
As a Christian, I actively use apologetics in my effort to reveal Truth. I actively defend my faith and in doing so, seek to build bridges and advance the Kingdom of God. My encouragement to readers and those who seek to be bridge builders is that in every instance, in every debate, in every disagreement, there is one thing that cannot be debated or argued, and that is the merits of my unconditional love that I show everyone regardless of our differences.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Samuel David “SD” Ward is a writer, author, speaker, personal development coach, and Christian apologetics enthusiast. His involvement in life and coaching, as well as business and online marketing has allowed him many opportunities to successfully share his Christian faith with those who do not share his Judeo-Christian beliefs. He is the father of four teenaged and twenty-something boys and loves to serve in whatever capacity he is able to help others rise above mediocrity and experience their very best and highest level of success in life.