A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 11.09.2005

    A Fourth Look at Buddhism

    Through the lens of Buddhism, one sees life as having three major characteristics: Impermanence, Suffering, and Not-Self. These issues will make up the next three posts (if inspiration doesn’t interrupt). Today’s post deals with impermanence.

    Just for the record--again--I am not an expert on Buddhism and am open for clarification. I am simply responding as a Christian to my first real voyage through this land.

    The idea of impermanence states that everything is in a state of change. Nothing is static. From the smallest level of life to the largest, change dominates the essence of life. These changes can be extremely subtle or mammoth in nature. They may be slow or sudden--but change of some sort constantly affects existence.

    Suffering is enhanced when change is not accepted. We would do much better in life if we accept the moments as they are, take the joys as they are, and let them pass away--awaiting for new ones to come. If we try to hold on to something hoping that it won’t change, we only hurt ourselves.

    This idea is simple but profound--and easy to forget. Buddhism reminds us of a truth here. I have seen people hold on to happy, old memories or hurts, playing “I wish” or “What if.” These folks are truly hurting themselves. (Have done some of that myself too.) My brother-in-law, a great friend and counselor, has often said, “You have to deal with what is.”

    Now, Buddhism seems to view life “under the sun.” It is atheistic having no real place for a personal God. If there is a God, it apparently would be pantheistic. (Also--someone can help me out with this--was George Lucas reflecting Buddhism in Star Wars? It appears to me that he was.)

    If one does look at life “under the sun” he is going to agree with Buddhism that everything changes.

    However, if we say--and mean it categorically--that EVERYTHING changes, Christ and His Scriptures would disagree because there is a category that doesn’t change. Actually, it is a person.

    The Bible teaches the Immutability of God. One author wrote, “God’s immutability is due also to his necessary being and self-existence. That which exists uncaused, by the necessity of its nature, must exist as it does. It is due also to his absolute perfection. Neither improvement nor deterioration is possible. Any change in his attributes would make him less than God...”1

    James, the half-brother of Christ reminds us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17).”

    The author of Hebrews is very direct and states: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:9).”

    In a world of constant change, Jesus offers Himself as an anchor for the soul. We can hold on to Him as unchanging without hurting ourselves. We can still deal with what is, because He always is who He is.

    His kingdom is eternal as well. Abraham, the father of many nations, understood this “for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).” This city, this kingdom, has eternal foundations. They can never be shaken or changed.

    In this life, everything changes. But we must broaden our view to the eternal.

    What other Scriptures reveal the immutability of God?
    How does the idea of impermanence in this life help us or hurt us?
    Can you see the Uncaused Cause? The Self-existent One who transcends our changing world?
    How can we all be ultimately following the same thing if these two views of life are so different?
    1Henry Clarence Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), 83.


    At 12:49 PM, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    I really like Thiessen's 'Lectures on Systematic Theology'. Although, I think it was a bit naughty of Doerkerson to change the conclusions when he revised it.

    At 7:07 PM, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said...

    I've really enjoyed these looks at Buddhism. Good work.

    At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

    There is the possibility that the Holy Spirit changes, expands, cycles. And, even the possibility that the stirrings we experience are reflections (or, in Hinduism's more panentheistic conception, outer edges) of the Spirit itself. Like the sunstorms on the sun.

    At 12:00 PM, Blogger John Rush said...


    When talking about the Immutability of God, I do not want to convey the idea of stillness or deadness. He is alive, glorious, "dynamic" without changing His attributes...if I can put it that way.

    But there are no shadows of turning in Him, thankfully.


    At 7:56 AM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    One needs to look at Buddhism as a philosophy that is also compatible with hinduism. I think you are right about George Lucas. It seems his new age approach is old Hindu ideas repackaged for Hollywood.

    May the tao be with you.

    brother John


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