I met a Buddhist lady who felt that the one big difference between Buddhism and other religions was that Buddhism was the most tolerant and inclusive. She said the churches she had visited always claimed Christianity as the ONLY TRUE RELIGION, labeling all the rest as wrong.
She told how some ladies had knocked on her door with a booklet, and she asked them, “If I have extra money to donate, I have no problem donating to a Christian orphanage, but would you Christians donate to a Buddhist orphanage?” They told her directly “no”, and left without sharing their booklet with her.
I told her about how from the beginning of creation, from Adam and Eve and the very first family, God had told people how to worship him, because he had a particular purpose for it, wanting it to represent Jesus who would come and die for the world, and how the Old Testament foreshadowed the New Testament, but how that from the very first family on earth, and all down through history, people were always walking away from what God wanted and inventing their own man-made worship, which could not accomplish the purpose God meant for it.
She was nodding her head and at some point mentioned how she was confused by all the different varieties of Christianity.
I told her that was why we were so careful to do only what we found in the Bible, so that we were not adding rules that God never wanted people to be burdened with -- even to the point that other groups would call us narrow and restrictive -- but we did so to keep from adding burdens God never commanded men to carry, and to keep from contributing to the bewildering array of flavors that she herself had just said made her worry that she would never know if she had found a true or fake Christianity.
She nodded her head, saying this was true of every religion she knew of, people adding stuff and leaving the original.
She said she had wished for a miracle like Christians always seemed to be talking about, telling God she would believe in him if he showed her one, but had not gotten one.
Wanting to relieve her mind, I told her that though we firmly believed that God would give us help in answer to prayer, the Bible did not teach that miracles were happening today. I told how Jesus did miracles to prove who he was, how the apostles also did miracles and could transfer this power to others, but how now that the Bible was finished and confirmed, and all the apostles dead, there was no one left alive to do a genuine miracle.
She said she was very happy to have met me, and that she was deeply burdened, believing in reincarnation, and conscientiously doing many good works to work off her debt from past lives, but oh the strain from never being able to know when it would all be paid back. She said, “You can’t remember any of it so you can never know how much you have left to pay back, and dear god what is the meaning of this wretched life. It is all making me hurt here, here, and here, in my body. I will never know when it is all paid back. The endless scripture readings I attend to pay back an unknowable cloud of victims. My husband says to just throw it all over, but if I do that, the people I have wronged may come back to haunt me.”
“And then I think about going over to Christianity but my husband says they burden people with sin, too, so then I think wouldn’t it be better if there were no religion and no sin, because it hurts me.”
I said, “So if reincarnation is not true, you are carrying this burden for nothing. If reincarnation is not true, you only have to deal with the sin from this life.”
“But I grew up believing in reincarnation,” she said, “like you grew up in Christianity. I can’t change and STOP believing in reincarnation, just like you can’t change and START believing in reincarnation.”
I said our father raised us to believe in the Bible because of its proof, how our father had told us never to do what some people do -- saying that even if Christianity wasn’t true they would believe in it anyway because it was “comforting” – but he had told us never to do that because truth was important. “The Bible says, ‘Know the truth and the truth will set you free.’” I said.
“Oh yes!” she said, and wanted to know if she was wrong to be searching for peace in a religion.
“There’s good fear and bad fear, but the main thing is ‘What is real?’” I said, “If someone says there’s a lion over there and I say, ‘That news makes me uncomfortable, I’m going to forget I heard it,’ that’s not going to save me from the lion. Or if someone says there is a lion when there isn’t, then I’m carrying a fear for nothing. It’s not whether you are comfortable or not that matters, but ‘Is there a lion or not?’”
“If reincarnation is true, fine, I’ll accept the burden,” I said, “but if it’s not, there’s no meaning to the burden…. Peace is important but if someone says for me to kill my mother or be killed, I will say go ahead and kill me then, because some things are more important than life and peace.”
“I know all that,” she said.
I continued, “So if you search for truth, peace will come with it, but if you look for peace and say truth is not important, then you will never find peace.”
“Ah yes!” she said.
** ** **
Soon after this conversation and others, I attended brother Roger Campbell’s gospel meeting and filmed him answering 3 questions this lady had texted me to ask him: “Motives for Belief”, “Reincarnation”, and “If There Is Only One True God, Why So Many Religions?”
This article was originally written January 2019