Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Can a Buddhist be a Christian Bishop?

I do wonder. If someone devoutly engages in Buddhist worship practices, even encourages others to do so as well, does that make one a Buddhist? If someone devoutly participates in the celebration of the weekly Holy Eucharist, and invites others to come as well, does that make one a Christian? I wonder. Perhaps engaging in Buddhist worship does not make one a Buddhist and celebrating the Holy Eucharist does not make one a Christian. Is this our take-away? After all, quacking does not make one a duck.

Greg Griffith has a very helpful post up now on other questions surrounding the election of a practicing Episcopal "Buddhist" Bishop for Northern Michigan. Check it out here here.


Floridian said...

Sure! In the non-Christian organization that TEC is fast becoming, anyone can be a bishop.

See I Kings 12:31-33.

Anam Cara said...

All of this reminded me of Blessed Seraphim Rose and what he had written about Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future:

“…Of all today’s Eastern religious currents, ” he wrote, “Zen is probably the most sophisticated intellectually, and the most sober spiritually. With its teaching of compassion and a loving ‘Cosmic Buddha,’ it is perhaps as high a religious ideal as the human mind can attain — without Christ. Its tragedy is precisely that it has no Christ in it, and thus no salvation, and its very sophistication and sobriety effectively prevent its followers from seeking salvation in Christ. In its quiet, compassionate way it is perhaps the saddest of all the reminders of the ‘post-Christian’ times in which we live. Non-Christian ’spirituality’ is no longer a foreign importation in the West; it has become a native American religion putting down deep roots into the consciousness of the West. Let us be warned of this: the religion of the future will not be a mere cult or sect, but a powerful and profound religious orientation which will be absolutely convincing to the mind and heart of modern man.”

This quote is from Father Seraphim Rose: His life and Works by Hieromonk Damascene

Anam Cara said...

Ya know, it isn't just that he practices Zen meditation (and I'd wonder about that all by itself - but I tend to be picky that way) but it is the "lay ordination" that he accepted. Now, he says that's no big deal.

Greg compared it to Baptist deacon ordination - a good comparison, I thought. For someone to be ordained, even at the lay level, it means two things: 1) the entity doing the ordaining thinks you intend to follow devoutly and 2) you believe what the entity professes.

From the Buddhist news channel:

IRD (Institute for Religion and Democracy)President James Tonkowich commented,

"The issue is not whether meditation is good, it is what is being meditated on. Attempts by Christians to be syncretistic devalue other religions, as well as their own.

"If this kind of meditation is truly in the Christian monastic tradition, why do you need to go to Buddhism to find it? The reality is that this particular meditative practice is not in step with Christian doctrine.

"Buddhism is not merely a series of practices, saying so devalues it. Buddhism is an entire worldview.

"These interfaith innovations go far beyond witnessing and respecting other faith traditions. They seek to blend Christianity with other belief systems in a way that ultimately compromises the message of the Gospel.

"While church leaders may respect other faiths, their vow of Christian ordination has always meant an exclusive commitment to Jesus Christ and the Christian faith."

Grandpa Dino said...

Q1. "Can a Buddhist be a Christian Bishop?"

A1. "No"

Q2. "Can a Buddhist be am episcopal Bishop?"

A2. "Why, yes!"

Anonymous said...

I'd take a Christian Bishop who practices meditation as part of his life, ANY DAY over a Bishop (Archbishop) who advocates for the jailing of homosexuals in Nigeria - in addition to jailing people who might witness any gay commitment ceremonies. It's not surprising that those who follow Akinola are anxious to point the spotlight away from his horrific and incendiary public comments.

BabyBlue said...

Anon, have you actually met Archbishop Akinola? Do you know him? Have you talked to him? Have you been to Nigeria? Tell us about your trip to Nigeria and your understanding of the Nigerian culture. What is Northern Nigeria like? Do you know who rules the country? Do you believe that it's an ideal place for Christians to live? Do you understand what it's like for Christians to live there? What courage does it take to live openly as a Christian believer in Nigeria? Do we have that courage? I wonder.

Anonymous said...


Yes, thanks for asking! I have indeed been to Nigeria. It was far more beautiful than I expected it to be, and it was my first visit to the continent. I wasn't expecting an African safari by any means, but I was really taken with the beauty of so many of these innocent children who wanted nothing more than to be loved. And, as with most outreach endeavors, I felt like I was the one who was really ministered to. I went in the summer of 2006 to the ABIYE orphanage (Osagbe) where I worked with a group from our church for two weeks in taking care of children, and repainting the upper nursery. A group of construction folks went along too and built part of the south wing. It was a great experience. No, I haven't met Archbishop Akinola, though we did ask to meet with him. He wasn't available (may well have been doing missionary work in Northern Virginia perhaps?). That trip made me aware of just how ridiculous so many of Akinola's ramblings are because the people we encountered didn't give a flip about a gay bishop in the US, or about the teachings of our Presiding Bishop, or about much of anything that goes on in the Episcopal Church. They were just delightful Christians that were so thankful that we had come over to spend time with them. If you get the opportunity, I strongly encourage you to visit as well.

Anyway, apparently you're not aware of his latest communique released this week stating Akinola's support of anti-gay marriage laws in Nigeria (which of course, are already illegal there) - but even more shocking to read of his support for imprisoning anyone who "witnesses" gay unions. He's YOUR Archbishop, remember? You might want to keep tabs on all that he's doing, and more importantly, saying. Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that members of CANA would prefer to stick their hands in the sand and try to focus attention elsewhere.

This all confirms to me that the whole relationship with "angry" former Episcopalians and Conservative Anglicans in other parts of the world is more about a relationship of convenience, and not one based on true respect and admiration - which is a shame.

BabyBlue said...

I suggest you talk to Peter Akinola directly, If you are serious about making a difference in Nigeria, a good place to start is to talk to the Christian leaders in Nigeria directly. I'm glad you do care about the people of that country, especially since so many are under Islamic law and do not know the freedom we have in Jesus Christ. "It is for freedom Christ came to set us free," Paul wrote. Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin and death - that goes for all of us who are broken. All of us.


Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me how to contact with Akinola directly? I'd be happy to do so.

BabyBlue said...

His contact info is on his provincial website. If I can talk to him, anyone can, if that's indeed what you really want to do - that you really want to make a difference in his country and for his people. God knows what they must deal with day by day - I certainly have heard the stories close up and personal. I've sat with his mission director on AIDS outreach and listened to his story and it's a heartbreaking one - one that God has made a profound difference. I know who reached out to this man when he was at his deepest low in heartbreak - and now this man is reaching out to others who are walking similar journeys as his, sharing with them the hope that was shared with him. The needs are great, but the workers are few.