Mission Frontiers — a respected magazine published by the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, CA — created a stir when they wrote that biblical truth found in Buddhism is a means of leading Bhuddists to Jesus. A portion of the Mission Frontiers article is below:
Do we actually believe what Paul wrote that God’s “eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen” (Rom 1:20, NIV)? How does this apply to Buddhism? Can we find eternal and divine fingerprints in Buddhism? Instead of dismissing everything Buddhist as untruth, let us try the opposite, finding some truth within Buddhism. Such a new approach might actually hold the key to breakthroughs among Buddhists.
Many Buddhist concepts are so biblical that it is possible to think they are straight from the Bible.
Once we understand Buddhism better, how it highlights the truth, we see God at work everywhere. He prepared a path to walk on. We don’t need to fight Buddhists for “wrong beliefs,” engaging in defensive apologetics because we feel threatened by their beliefs. We can explore new ways of engaging with our Buddhists friends, because God’s fingerprints do exist in Buddhism.
The full article can be found here: The Fingerprints of God in Buddhism: Could a New Approach to the Way We Look at Buddhism be a Key to Breakthrough?
OMF leaders in Thailand spoke out very strongly in opposition to the ideas presented by Mission Frontiers. A section from the OMF leaders response includes the assertion that the ideas presented in the Mission Frontiers article are syncretistic:
OMF Thailand would like to commend Mission Frontiers for dedicating an issue to address the challenges of missions in the context of folk Theravada Buddhism. The various writers in this issue attempted to find an answer to the question, “What is it going to take to see large number of Buddhists turn to Christ?” The missionaries of OMF Thailand affirm this longing. We also appreciate the contributors who stimulated critical reflection, discussion and prayer for the Buddhist world. We agree that various mistakes were made by both Western and non-Western missions. There is still a great need to discover ways to communicate the gospel meaningfully to the Buddhist mindset. What then are the problems with some suggestions presented in this issue? While there are some good proposals by a few writers, there are also serious concerns regarding a naïve and unbiblical approach towards Buddhism, a disconnection with on-the-ground reality, a distancing from the growing national church, and a dangerous promotion of syncretism.
The full article can be found here: A Response to Mission Frontiers: The Fingerprints of God in Buddhism (Nov/Dec 2014) from OMF Thailand
Do you think there is merit in the approach that Mission Frontiers advocates? If not, why not? (Please don’t respond to this question unless you take the time to read the original Mission Frontiers post and the OMF response to it).