Zen Jesus

September 2, 2003

[Jesus Meditating. From www.harmanvisions.com]As I was getting into the hot tub the other night for a good soak before bed, our cat Tigger began to yowl. Tigger is the most talkative cat I’ve ever seen, and is both stupid and lovable.

My mind wandered to an odd statement in the book We Don’t Die: psychic medium George Anderson talks about people being reunited with their pets in the afterlife. Will Tigger be there?

My wondering wandering continued: If indeed animals go to the afterlife, is it simply because they are living creatures? Christians are fond of saying that only humans have souls, but what justification is there for such a statement? C.S. Lewis wrote about how we can write about human nature only because we are humans; we cannot speculate about, say, cabbage nature. Could it be that there is no such thing as a “soul” per se, but rather that everything that lives is eternal because they are imbued with life by Life himself, who is eternal?

Now I’m starting to think like a Buddhist, I told myself. But I have already been stretched by the idea that Jesus is not just for “Christians”. We accept the idea that Christianity may have unique expressions in different cultures. Couldn’t a Buddhist or a pagan become a follower of Jesus and bring with them a different viewpoint, from more of a Buddhist or a pagan point of view? As long as they are trying to live by faith in Jesus and follow the Scriptures, who are we to say they’re wrong? What if the gospel is more like a gem, and by having people from different cultures and worldviews contribute their own facets, we all benefit?

I shared these thoughts with Kay, who shrugged her shoulders and said, “Of course.” Tigger yowled a bit more. What do you suppose he is saying, I asked Kay. She answered, “He’s praising God.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

5 responses to Zen Jesus

  1. M Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) said that he could never have accepted Christianity if he hadn’t first been a Buddhist because Buddhism helped him embrace paradox, which is essential for Christianity.

  2. GREAT THOGUHTS Jon. Much to muse on.

  3. Ahhhhhhhhh, this is MUCH the same pondering that I’m doing right now…not really about animals though. ;^) More along the lines of your idea of the gem concept.
    My former Pastor James Bruce once proposed a theological concept called “inclusive atonement” to me. He said that it makes most people nervous as it sounds to them like universalism. Any how, I tried to do more research into at the time but couldn’t find anything. Then, I simply got sidetracked with life. Hmmmmm, it would be interesting to pick up the trail again and see what I can find.

  4. http://home.hawaii.rr.com/uuchurch/sermons/10895.htm
    i just had the idea ‘zen jesus’ and popped the words into google.. (this blog was one of the hits 😉
    really though i’ve been studying the teachings of jesus outside the scope of christianity (im a former christian) and judaism for some time… ironically Christianity i think misses a lot of the point. esp. with these english bible translations –
    read about saint issa and the supposed scripture relating to jesus’s decades in india studying with buddhist and hindus – cool stuff (true or not, that’s not the point)

  5. Thanks for the link, Ian — interesting stuff. Closer in many ways to my thinking and that of the emergent-types I read than traditional conservative evangelicalism.
    I agree with you that Christianity misses a lot of the point, but I don’t think the English Bible translations are a source of the problem. The problem, I think, is over-familiarity. An NT Wright quote I found here says,

    …we believe the Bible, so we had better discover all the things in it to which our traditions, including our ‘protestant’ or ‘evangelical’ traditions, which have supposed themselves to be ‘biblical’ but are sometimes demonstrably not, have made us blind.

    This is true especially in regards to Jesus. “Evangelicals” are fond of focusing on spiritual doctrine about Jesus. “Liberals” are fond of focusing on humanitarian principles taught by Jesus. …What if both are true, and both miss the point? What if the point is the invitation of Jesus — namely, “Follow me”? How do I respond? How do you?