The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Who's that knocking on the door?

By Ven.S.Dhammika


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Buddhist's Guide to Evangelical Christianity

Ven. Shravasti Dhammika, an Australian monk, is a regular contributor to newspapers and journals with perceptive observations on matters related to Buddhism, Buddhist culture and Buddhist practice. He is a distinguished lecturer who has spoken on Buddhism and Asian religions in universities and on television and radio in Australia and throughout Asia.

He is widely known for his thought provoking analysis on a number of issues. Ven Dhammika is the author of many popular books on Buddhism.

Ven. Dhammika's latest work is entitled ' Who's That Knocking on the Door? A Buddhist's Guide to Evangelical Christianity '

The Buddhist Times ( Vol. 2 No. 8 Unduvap 2546 - December 2003 issue ) has published an extract from the forthcoming book Who's That Knocking on the Door? A Buddhist's Guide to Evangelical Christianity.

We reproduce this extract below via courtesy of Buddhist Times:

" About six months ago there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find two evangelicals Christians there. I knew they were evangelicals because they had that fake friendly smile on their faces, which all evangelicals have when they are trying to convert someone.

This was the third time that month that evangelists had come knocking on my door and disturbing me so I decided to teach them a lesson. 'Good morning' they said. 'Good morning' I replied. 'Have you heard about the Lord Jesus Christ'? They asked. 'I know something about him but I am a Buddhist and I'm not really interested in knowing more' I said. But like all evangelists, they took no notice of my wishes and proceeded to talk about their beliefs.

So I said, 'I don't think you are qualified to speak to me about Jesus'. They looked very astonished and asked, 'Why not'? 'Because', I said, 'you have no faith'. 'Our faith in Jesus is as strong as a rock' they insisted. 'I don't think it is' I said with a smile. 'Please open your Bible and read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 16, 17 and 18' I said and while they flicked through their Bibles I went quickly inside and came out again.

One of them found the passage and I asked him to read it out loud. It said, 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved but he who does not believe shall be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe in my name. They shall cast out devils, they shall speak in tongues, they will handle snakes and if they drink poison it will not hurt them and they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover'.

When he finished I said, 'In that passage Jesus says that if you have real faith you will be able to drink poison and not die'. I took a bottle of Lankem from behind my back, held it up and said, 'Here is some poison. Demonstrate to me the strength of your faith and I will listen to anything you have to say about Jesus'.

You should have seen the looks on their faces! They didn't know what to say. 'What's the problem'? I asked. 'Is your faith not strong enough'? They hesitated for a few moments and then one of them replied, 'The Bible also says that we must not test God'. 'I'm not testing God', I said, 'I'm testing you. You love to witness for Jesus and now is your big opportunity'.

Finally one of them said, 'We will go and speak to our pastor about this matter and come back and see you. 'Ill be waiting for you' I said as they scurried away. Of course they never came back again. Here is a bit of advice.

Keep a copy of this Bible reference and a bottle of Lankem ready and every time the evangelists come to your door to harass you give them this test. You might like to have a polanga ready as well.

Evangelical Christians are often predicting that the world is going to end very soon and Jesus is going to come again. When I was 18, I remember very distinctly that the Jehovah's Witnesses came to our house and told me that the world was going to end in 1975. If you find any old Watch Tower or Awake magazines from that period you will see many articles about the world ending in 1975. Of course they were wrong, just as they were wrong when they predicted that the world was going to end in 1895 and again in 1914. In the 1990's many churches were claiming that the world was going to end in 2000.

Some naive and impressionable people were frightened enough to believe this nonsense and converted to Christianity.

In 1991 I was working in a particular place and every lunchtime, I would go to the restaurant on the ground floor. One day I met three young men who told me that they were doing part time work for a man on the 5th floor. One day as we sat having lunch together the subject got on to religion and they told me that their boss believed that the world was going to end in 2000.

One of them was obviously a little frightened by this possibility and asked me what I thought about it. 'It is complete nonsense' I said. 'I don't believe it and I guarantee that your boss doesn't really believe it either.' 'Oh but he does' the three boys said. They told me that he had books on the subject and he had showed them passages in the Bible proving that the world was going to end in nine years. 'I tell you, your boss doesn't really believe that', I said.

'Do you mind if we tell him that' they said and I told them that I didn't mind. The next day the man together with the three boys came to see me. We had a friendly chat about Christianity and then we got onto the subject of the end of the world. The man insisted that the Bible clearly predicted that the world was going to end and that he had utter faith in the Bible.

I laughed at him. 'You Christians are so confused and lacking in awareness that you don't know what youbelieve' I said. 'You have no right to doubt the depth of my faith'the man said, now a little annoyed. I said, 'I can prove that you don't really believe the end of the world and Jesus' return. 'Proveit then'! he challenged.

The three boys were now listening to our discussion very intently. 'Alright'! I said. 'Do you believe that the world is going to come to a complete end in the year 2000'?

'Absolutely'! said the man. 'The Bible predicts it and I believe it will happen'. 'Okay' I said. 'I have a friend who is a lawyer. I will ask him to come here tomorrow and you and I will draw up a proper legally binding contract in which you will agree to give me all your property - your house, your business and all your assets - in the year 2001. Do you agree to do that'?

The man was flabbergasted. He didn't know what to say. 'Come on', I said. 'If you are right, and you insist you are, in 2001 I will be in hell and you will be in heaven with Jesus where you wont need all your worldly goods'. 'This is just silly' said the man now very flustered.

Now one of the boys joined in. 'Its does not seem silly to me. It seems like a good chance for you to prove you beliefs'. 'I agree' I said. 'Now is your big chance to demonstrate how genuine you and strong your faith is. These boys might be so impressed that they might become Christians. Put your faith where your mouth is'.

The man became very angry, got up and walked away. The three boys were smiling and the one who had been a little frightened about the end of the world was smiling the most.

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