Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Asian Face of Christ?

by Dr Tan Kang San

Excerpt: "I will explore Chinese perceptions of Jesus and illustrate how traditional Christian mission approaches need to engage with these portraits of Jesus. For a start, Chinese Buddhists universally view Jesus as a moral teacher, someone as great as Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tze. Traditionally, this has been bad news for Christians who impatiently pointed out that Jesus is Lord and God of the universe.

While Jesus as a moral teacher may be a bad place to end, it is not a bad place to start! The moral teachings of Jesus in the Bible can be studied and discussed with Buddhists, just as Christians need to study the moral teachings of Buddha and Confucius. The Sermons on the Mount, Parables and the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, stories of Jesus’ interaction with the poor and marginalized are powerful stories for presenting Jesus as a moral teacher. Superficially, Christians have been doing this but they did it in the spirit of evangelism rather than a genuine acceptance of Jesus as a moral teacher. ...

Last but not least, these Asian perspectives of Jesus need to be subjected to the test of the scriptures, and found not in contradiction with historical images of Jesus accepted in other Christian communities. The Asian Jesus cannot be inculturated to Asian soil to the extent that he is unrecognizable from the Jesus found in the Bible or apostolic Christology. Therefore, efforts to present Christ as an incarnation of Buddha will cause more confusion than clarity for Buddhists... "

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