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I have some friends who are Christian that I can't avoid the subject with. We used to see each other very often for some events. Normally those are friends of friends. Examples of the unpleasant feedback I commonly receive include things like "Buddha is Satan", "Buddha is in hell" and "All Buddhist shall go to hell". There are many other examples and by - for example - searching YouTube, you'll find more than enough examples.

I am looking for some efficient and effective response to avoid this unfruitful conversation and prevent more unpleasant conversation that won't benefit anyone. It's better to have a compassionate discussions instead.

Below are some responses that I came up with:

  1. Oh my God? So far Buddha didn't do me any harm me yet. I will be taking extra precautions for this. Thanks for the concern.

  2. Oh my God? My understanding, based on personally hearing the story from both sides, is that roughly 80% of the teachings of Christianity have a counterpart in Buddhism which has a similar interpretation. How come Satan is teaching the same morals as God?

  3. Oh my God? Where in the Bible is it written so?

  4. I felt hurt that you say Buddha is Satan. In a few cases they will insist to talk on this and ignore my feeling. Not sure they feel righteous to say so on their side?

  5. Oh my God. Can I excuse myself to wash room for some emergency? If talk again and go again.

Post notes: Thanks guys, there is a chat discussion regarding this with another Christian. If you are interested, let me know and I will add you. I do respect Jesus and Buddha a lot and I hope there is no comment that leads to a battlefield. I will keep my sincere prayers for forgiveness from Jesus and others too if there is unpleasant feeling to others too due to this questions. Really sorry folks.

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    You are trying to send binary to a server that is only coded to read hexadecimal. There’s no way that your information is going to be understood. – user19481 Sep 5 at 17:02
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    All of your proposed responses are disingenuous, so I would avoid them. Instead, how about you just ignore these friends and don't engage? (Immediately change the subject to something completely unrelated.) There is little to be gained by arguing or engaging with dogmatic Christians. – ron rothman Sep 6 at 18:04
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    I have known somebody- actually a pastor of the dancing-in-the-aisles variety- who was happy to describe Wiccans he'd met as "basically good people". I'm sure he would have described at least some Buddhists in similar terms, so be assured that not all Christians are like your so-called friends. All I can suggest is that you tolerate their abuse with dignity and set a good example by your behaviour... and that you're somewhat more careful regarding the company you keep. – Mark Morgan Lloyd Sep 6 at 19:50
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    The 'Good Samaritan' was neither Jewish nor Christian, but according to the Christian bible, Jesus held him up as an example of the kind of person who would go to heaven. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 7 at 0:59
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    My response to all of those would be, "Maybe, but Jesus loves him". (Because that's what a Christian must believe). – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 7 at 1:09

16 Answers 16

7

You can say:

Did Jesus teach pride or humility? Buddha too taught humility. Did Jesus teach accumulation of riches or being satisfied with the little you have? Buddha too taught being satisfied with the little you have. Did Jesus teach sin or virtue? Buddha too taught virtue. Did Jesus teach hypocrisy or authentic goodness? Buddha too taught authentic goodness. Did Jesus teach war or peace? Buddha too taught peace. Did Jesus teach hate or love? Buddha too taught love.

Now, what do you think, given that both Jesus and Buddha taught humility, being satisfied with the little, virtue, authentic goodness, peace, and love - could it be that Buddha is Satan?

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    The problem with this response is that they will probably respond with "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:24), and then continue arguing. – ruben2020 Sep 6 at 3:29
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    I'd say "false messiah who appears 500 years before Jesus and teaches kindness, humility, being satisfied with the little, virtue, authentic goodness, peace, and love? :)))" - and stop arguing. – Andrei Volkov Sep 6 at 13:11
  • @AndreiVolkov The problem with this argument is that it misses the point of one of Christianity's fundamental teachings - that humans are all imperfect, and that attaining perfection is impossible. Buddhists believe that you can save yourselves by practicing those things, and Christians believe that saving yourself is impossible (though they are all good things that Christians should strive towards). – nick012000 Sep 6 at 15:37
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    I don't know if that's a problem. Whether saving oneself is possible or not, cultivating love and peace can make difference in our lives. So Buddhists and Christians are allies any way I look. – Andrei Volkov Sep 6 at 20:25
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    For the record, I don't consider Christianity false. I think it's just a different system of upaya. – Andrei Volkov Sep 7 at 19:24
14

Just tell them:

I am not a Christian, and I'm not interested in becoming one.

My interest in Buddhism or any other religion is my own business.

Let's not discuss religion.

This answer would be in line with keeping the precept of abstaining from incorrect speech (including lying and speaking harsh words).

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    I think this is the best answer; to get someone to deviate from what they have believed and been told to believe all their life is very hard. Simply change the subject. – yeah22 Sep 8 at 16:55
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Well, the properly Buddhist response to this kind of assault is to nod somberly and say "I see...". We have to keep in mind that the Christians who make statements like this are acting out of fear and anger. They are frightened by the prospect of eternity, and worried about the salvation of themselves and their friends and family. They see other faiths, beliefs, and practices as mere temptations thrown in their path; temptations that have no use or purpose in themselves, but only exist to give the faithful a chance to ruin themselves. This kind of radical Christian fundamentalism is a deeply wounded worldview — not surprising, perhaps, since it begins with the betrayal and murder of their savior — and no one deserves compassion more than those caught is this intense, fear-ridden craving for eternal salvation.

It might also help to seek out more moderate Christians, who are generally as caring and loving as their faith implies, but tend to be far more reserved and quiet. We cannot evaluate the timbre of the whole if all we hear is the screeching of the few.

If you desire a more active response, I'd suggest going with a gentle, indirect koan, not a direct confrontation of their views. For instance, I might wonder aloud: "If Jesus were to go to hell to save the souls of the damned, should one follow him there?" It's not really a confrontation to their worldview, but it's bound to give them pause and make them think a bit outside their predefined box. Confronting them would only heighten their sense of self-righteous fear and anger, so the better option is to hold their fear and anger gently, not allowing it to affect us, until they recognize we offer nothing for them to fight against.

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6

There was a joke I heard once while I was living in Toronto.

I have some good news, and some bad news. The good news, is that Toronto has been compared favourably with New York. And the bad news, is that Toronto has been compared with New York.

I think the fundamental problem with the scenario you're talking about is that it's a "comparison". Leaving aside specific details of the message (which you didn't even quote) like "Satan" and so on, the basic message is, "Buddhism isn't as good as Christianity" (and, "the Buddha isn't as good as Christ", and so on). No matter how you phrase or reword that comparison, it can be troublesome. To this extent I might agree with Samana Johann's description, that it's "like children in the backyard fighting [about] whose father is better".

So also this answer, which associates "comparisons" with "conceit", and self-identification. The Dhamma warns that conceit is a cause of sectarian disputes.

You say you "feel hurt". I think that SN 7.2 suggests you needn't become "involved" in the discussion, needn't "partake" of what they're offering -- perhaps you needn't "respond" at all.

I was actually taught a form of Christianity when I was young -- and the one bit of that teaching which I found most unlikely, just too unlikely to believe, was the idea that "only the Christian Church's doctrine is true, and all non-Christians are wrong" -- or, using Buddhist vocabulary, "only this is true, any other (view) is false".

It's good to read Ud 6.4 which inludes the famous parable of the blind men and the elephant.

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  • noted. i will find someway to improve my EQ – little star Sep 6 at 15:01
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Good householder, it's always best to follow the Sublime Buddhas advices:

“Monks, if others were to speak in dispraise of me, in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Saṅgha, neither hatred nor antagonism nor displeasure of mind would be proper. If others were to speak in dispraise of me, in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Saṅgha, and at that you would be upset and angered, that would be an obstruction for you yourselves. If others were to speak in dispraise of me, in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Saṅgha, and at that you would be upset and angered, would you know what of those others was well-said or poorly said?”

“No, lord.”

“If others were to speak in dispraise of me, in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Saṅgha, you should unravel and explicate what is unfactual as unfactual: ‘This is unfactual, this is inaccurate, there is nothing of that in us, and that is not to be found in us.’

“If others were to speak in praise of me, in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Saṅgha, neither joy nor gladness nor exhilaration of mind would be proper. If others were to speak in praise of me, in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Saṅgha, and at that you would be joyful, glad, & exhilarated, that would be an obstruction for you yourselves. If others were to speak in praise of me, in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Saṅgha, and at that you would be joyful, glad, & exhilarated, would you know what of those others was well-said or poorly said?”

“No, lord.”

“If others were to speak in praise of me, in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Saṅgha, you should unravel and explicate what is factual as factual: ‘This is factual, this is accurate, there is that in us, and that is to be found in us.’

“It would be of minor matters, lower matters, matters of virtue, that a run-of-the-mill person, when praising the Tathāgata, would speak. And which are the minor matters, lower matters, matters of virtue, of which a run-of-the-mill person, when praising the Tathāgata, would speak?

Brahmajāla Sutta: The Brahmā Net

Of course it's only then really good if one walks like a disciple rather then a "Buddhist", for there isn't any different between a "Buddhist", "Chistian", "Muslim",... householder, villager,... at all, like children in the backyard fighting who's father is better and fear actually that he would approach, see then fight...

So less worth of the praise of a run-a-mill person as well but actually just increase of danger to make use of the Gems for his personal fights for stand and gains.

Children often make many foolish things wishing to become little stars on account of their heritage, seek wrong identification and fast harm with it all around.

Good householders avatar, btw., is much to red, bloody, of anger and attached and it's good to abound the color of extrems, formost inwardly, beginning outwardly to become gentle.

[Note that this isn't given for stackes, exchange, other worldbinding trades but for escape from it]

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3

I think you doing good.

You can say 'Thank you to say the word "Buddha/Buddhist/Buddhism/Dhamma/Sangha"' and making sure you actually feel like that with real smile 😊.

Let them know how you feel happy in Buddhism by practice yourself everytime even in front of him/her.

Don't say any word which they could feel you are offending them. Just let them know by good speaking/action with peace inside, then the peace inside will create the wisdom of right Mettā to you. It's not about talking or not, but it's about how are proper midsets enough for each situation which leading to Nibbāna.

You need right view, smallest relations understanding, to do the best. However, while you still practice the right view, you need to do the right virtue.

The right virtue is about how are proper actions enough for each situation which leading to Nibbāna. For the example in your situation:

  1. Thank you for your caring 😊.
  2. We can exchange together about Satan and Buddhism, this is a book. You can give me your book as well 😚
  3. We can have a lunch to exchange in this topic 🤤
  4. etc.

Christians like loving you can start the topic with loving kindnes. When they feel comfort to be with you, you can talk to them about the other topics.

That is the example of virtue.


Is this wasting of time or not?

It could be both. If you want to enlighten as fast as you can, you need to practice loving kindness and trying to avoid people like him or her because it is wasting time not using time. You have less then 100 years to practice what some 20,000 years old men couldn't done in time, so it's wasting time to analysis of the extreme people too much.

But if you decide to help people, you need to help them to practice together with you until your enlightenment. This is using time, not wasting.

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3

Speaking as a Christian, I find some of these statements that you report your Christian acquaintances to be saying to be theologically problematic. As a result, I would recommend you reply to them with the following:

"Buddha is Satan": "Buddha was a human being, specifically a prince from what is now India. Satan, according to Christian doctrine, is an angel who rebelled against God. Since under Christian doctrine, humans can't become angels and angels can't become human, that means that Buddha is not Satan."

"Buddha is in hell": "Buddha was born before Jesus was, and never had the opportunity to learn Jesus's teachings. If Buddha is in Hell, so is everyone born before Jesus, save for the Israelites. As a result, I believe that this is an issue that is a matter of some debate among Christian theologians, since if God is omni-benevolent, he wouldn't condemn people to Hell without a chance for them to redeem themselves."

"All Buddhist shall go to hell": This one is actually theologically correct (at least for Buddhists who have been exposed to Christian teachings and knowingly rejected them). That said hellfire preaching is not exactly the best method for saving souls unless the person being preached at has some degree of buy-in, or the preacher is capable of pulling a St. Patrick and summoning up the ghost of a major religious figure to tell them how terrible Hell is (and let's be honest, they probably aren't). I would recommend that you simply thank them for their concern for you, and perhaps suggest that they might wish to attend a ministry course to learn more effective means of proselytization.

With that said, if you are going to correct their theology, you should do so in a loving fashion. You probably don't want them to feel like you're mocking them for their ignorance of their own religion - I'm not Buddhist, so I'm not completely familiar with the rules Buddhists are supposed to follow, but I'm pretty sure that deliberately trying to hurt and embarrass people with your speech is against the principles of Buddhism.

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    Thanks for your answer. You might like this little one-page summary of "Right Speech" (it's quotes extracted from the canon), including "The criteria for deciding what is worth saying" and "How to admonish another skillfully". It pretty well agrees with what you wrote, especially that last paragraph. – ChrisW Sep 9 at 6:46
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If anyone abuses you then you should feel grateful that he or she didn’t hit you. Moreover you should bless all beings if such a thing happens. May all beings be happy and joyful.
It is a difficult thing to do but it is the best way to deal with the situation.

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  • Well, I got hitted badly during martial arts sparring .. huh.. that was one inch punch – little star Sep 5 at 15:27
  • Then you should be grateful that you were not stabbed. – SacrificialEquation Sep 5 at 15:31
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    Ironically this is very similar to the christian "Turning the other cheek" Matthew 5:38–42 ( the following verse, although not Buddhist, has some interesting parallels (“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Mathew 6:1) – DarcyThomas Sep 8 at 0:16
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For the Christian, this answer might help:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. --James: 4.7

For the Buddhist suffering, this thought might help:

AN5.162:2.4: you should get rid of resentment for that kind of person.

It helps because the Christian will hear the Bible and the Buddhist will not flee the Christian.

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    Thanks @OyaMist somehow while seek for the answer, i can feel the benefit of meditation and better control of my "Ajna" now without much side effect. I should thank to them too. I will be extra precaution on this with the provided guides/truths too. Relax, Be Water and Be Balanced :) – little star Sep 6 at 11:48
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I think there is no need to defend anything. Jesus in your place would have repeated his famous words, "Forgive them my Lord, for they do not know what they say." That said, you too need to introspect. Why do you feel hurt? Is doubt assailing you subtly as a clever dissimulator? Walk your path with conviction and move on to your goal. Nothing other than Nibbana matters!

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2

The answer to your question can be found in "Brahmajāla Sutta" (DN 1).

"If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should not give way to resentment, displeasure, or animosity against them in your heart. For if you were to become angry or upset in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If you were to become angry or upset when others speak in dispraise of us, would you be able to recognize whether their statements are rightly or wrongly spoken?"

"Certainly not, Lord."

"If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should unravel what is false and point it out as false, saying: 'For such and such a reason this is false, this is untrue, there is no such thing in us, this is not found among us.'

You should unravel what is false for the sake of their own betterment. If they don't accept even after you've pointed out what is false and why it is false. Stop arguing, because argument in this world won't take you anywhere near to the truth. Why? because everyone who are trying to prove their argument as true are bounded by their own net of views.

If you wear blue lens sunglasses you are seeing the outer world as bluish. According to your view you're correct and there's no point of arguing with you as long as you wear the sunglasses. Instead, a wise man would teach you how to remove the glasses and see the world as it is.

Note: This is how I understood. I may be wrong but not Dhamma

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2

Suggestions from an agnostic


Assume these people are sincere

They are concerned that you will go to hell. They truly believe this and they don't want you to suffer that dreadful fate.

They want you to attain heavenly bliss by following Jesus.

Therefore assume good intentions. Assume that these are kind, concerned people who want only the best for you.

Thank them for their good intentions

"I see that you are truly sincere about this and you want me to go to heaven with you. You are true Christians wanting only the best for others."

Tell them of your intentions

"At the moment I intend to continue to be a Buddhist but if I ever change my way of thinking to yours I will let you know personally."

Change the subject

"I shall certainly think about what you have said but for now let's talk about something else."

If they bring it up at a later date

"I haven't forgotten your kind words. I am still a Buddhist but as I promised, I will let you know if I change my mind."

Optional (only say this sort of thing if it is completely true)

I have read some of the Bible and I am impressed by how compassionate Jesus was. He seems a wonderful role model.


Conclusion

Have good intentions and assume good intentions. Acknowledge the beliefs of others as being true for them. Do not require others to reciprocate - they may be unable to.

Note

Don't use my words but say what is true for you. Don't learn a script but think deeply about what you want to convey to them, then forget the words and allow them to flow when they need to. Right thinking will automatically lead to right words.



Final thoughts after walking and before retiring to bed.

To me as someone who takes neither side, you are like people standing on opposite sides of a line drawn in the sand of a desert. Each believes theirs is the right side. Lift your eyes from the line and look around. Do you wish to stay in the desert arguing?


Treat "Buddha is in Hell" as valuable koan. Meditate deeply on what it could mean to you as a Buddhist. You may be surprised.

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They are giving answers out of hate. Christianity does not teach hate, they say to "love thy neighbour." Tell them this, and if they don't understand, then they are not proper Christians. Don't let their opinions (yes it's just their opinions) change your mind or affect you. If they continue and don't learn, they are toxic friends and one will be better without them.

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  • I am working and living in a culture that have plenty of them that I can avoid unless I leave the country. This is justified by the fb comments whenever there is a racial talks. There are not toxic but somehow they could misinterpret the bible. – little star Sep 5 at 16:11
  • My culture Buddhist has made their mistake too by worshipping Tao Statue, Buddha Statue or whatever statue because they know nothing about Buddhism. They will pray for winning gamble, big house, business which many is unethical, then go drink, drunk n hit other race that forbidden the drinking. – little star Sep 5 at 16:14
  • Well, indeed I have plan to leave the place :) – little star Sep 5 at 16:28
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I dont really get angry after found this information below or could it be the anger is triggered from below?

  1. Misconception of Buddhism

Most Chinese follow a combination of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and ancestor-worship but, when pressed to specify their religion, will identify themselves as Buddhists. As a result, 83.6% of all the Chinese self-identifying as Buddhist. Information collected in the census based on respondent's answer and did not refer to any official document. I believe this applicable to many other countries too. Most major religion like Muslim or Christian disallow statue worship.

  1. Worship without guide

Those Chinese Buddhist will worship for money most in common and know nothing about Buddhism. One very common mistake that trigger this anger is they drink, drunk n hit the other race by car that alchohol is forbidden from other races yet become no1 topic on social media for a racist talk. 2ndly, over craving for unnecessary living standard and speculated the basic goods up like shop rental where making everything become expensive. Chinese is mostly dominated the shops rental by the way.

  1. Sharing in Buddhism is limited.

Why there is limited sharing in Buddhism

Some Buddhist will be more ethical if they do read the Sutra but they mostly know 0 meaning out of it. The most common one in south China is Heart Sutra and to find someone to Interprerate is very difficult. Those with IT literate will only find it easy on the internet.

Here what normally I do after few rounds of confrontation

  1. Just be patience with my limited EQ and self talk not to follow the force of bad karma and the bad karma place.

  2. Be forgiven of my finding above. Well, indeed Buddhist made some mistakes too right ?

  3. They might have misinterpreted from the written truth Bible. When I m free will go deep into Bible on this matters.

Thanks all.

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It is surprising to see this question trending with thousand views, and multiple interesting response which i think is more than enough. However, I want to share a rather strange fact from different perspective.

The main language where I live, a language spoken by 100+ million people, the word ‘Buddha’ pronounced almost exactly like the name of the enlightened one, means "an evil one" or a being which cast an evil omen, and the people are predominantly fanatic Christian. So a reaction like the OP's friends is not uncommon. Specially, if they see a Buddha statue or a like, they will sure call the statue an idol of Satan.

So, how do you converse with them? You don't! If you converse at all, you only converse with those who start to question the virtues taught by Jesus himself. Because it is not as @ Andrei put it in his response above, the Buddha taught beyond the virtues, he taught the sublime release beyond humility and simplicity. In short, you have to pass Christianity to be a Buddhist, the path doesn't end in enjoy little and being a humble being.

If you really need to respond, a simple response given by @ ruben2020 above, without being forceful, is I think more appropriate .

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Ask him if he really believes that.

Next ask if he takes it on faith that there is a god-creator and that Buddha is satan.

When he says yes, then you ask him; 'Friend, what is the difference between seeind & knowing (verified confidence) and taking something on faith?'. Try to get him to admit that things taken on faith can turn out to be baseless & false.

If he admits that then ask him; 'Friend, is appropriate for one who takes something on faith to come to a definitive conclusion saying "only this is true and everything else is worthless"?'

Then ask if he thinks it's appropriate for him to be making definitive statements like 'You are wrong, Buddha is satan, only this is true and everything else is worthless' when he doesn't know this to be true, has not come to definitive conclusion and when his faith in these things can turn out to be false & baseless.

Should shut him up.

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