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Pastor declares Zen Buddhism to be compatible with Christianity



Zen Buddhism seems to have a special appeal for certain representatives of the so-called Protestant church. The glorified mysticism of the Church of Rome was already taking over. An evangelical pastor provides an example of one of the reasons for the ongoing mass exodus from this church.

Justified escape from the churches

The Protestant churches in Germany themselves have repeatedly provided reasons and justifications as to why their sheep have been running away in droves for some time now. The once protesting churches still claim to stand on the cornerstones of the gospel, from the perspective of the reformers, above all Martin Luther. Apparently this institution or an entire armada of its representatives does not understand that the majority of its sheltered flock recognizes that fundamentally preached doctrines and philosophies cannot be further from the gospel. Nevertheless, the umbrella organization of Evangelical Churches in Germany (EKD) is still guessing as to how it could have gotten to the point where the ranks of church members have already thinned out to such an extent.

Christianity and Zen Buddhism – exclusion?

Buddha head
Does Far Eastern philosophy have a place in Christianity?

What does Christianity have to do with Zen Buddhism? Nothing, one could now answer and thus already tick the topic off. But not for the Protestant church. Their media mouthpiece offers the Wiesbaden pastor Thomas Hartmann an (advertising) platform for his newly written book about the connection between Zen Buddhism and Christianity. Not his first work of this kind. His book “The Meaning in Suffering: What Can Heal Us” was published in 2009. The Protestant pastor presents methods of how people can achieve a “positive psychology” to overcome suffering and illness using spiritual and Christian aspects. Zen meditations based on the Buddhist model were also used for this purpose.

The new book is called “Jesus and the Now. So don’t worry about tomorrow – the next day will take care of itself!”. In a conversation with a representative of the Wiesbaden deanery, so to speak an interview in his own house, the pastor describes his ideas about the similarities between Christianity and Zen Buddhism (Source).

“Fits together wonderfully”

Pastor Hartmann explains that meditation plays a central role in Zen Buddhism. Zen means the “path inward,” with the attempt to “experience the pure presence of the world.” The fact that God plays no role in “pure Zen” is not an exclusion criterion for the pastor. Rather, the elements of Christian faith and Zen can be easily combined with each other. He wanted to demonstrate this with his book. “Zen and Jesus – that goes together for me,” says Hartmann.

The book contains numerous quotes from “spiritual thinkers or from the Bible,” said the author. The practical exercises to be found could be implemented by anyone. Therefore, this spiritual reading book is also suitable as a gift for those who want to deepen their faith and spirituality.

The pastor himself practices many of the exercises described from time to time. The many Buddhist sayings, the so-called “Kōans”, are particularly fascinating. According to the priest, these sayings cannot be solved with reason, but rather force people to leave the path of rational thinking. A paradox, as if one were meditating and thought that one had now succeeded in not thinking about anything.

Hartmann describes that he has already experienced moments like this. This is done when completing tasks with great mindfulness, but with a complete focus on them. This means that one can experience a “kind of transgression of the subject-object relationship”.

The role model: Zen grandmaster

A great role model for Hartmann is Willigis Jägers, a Benedictine monk and Zen master. The author once completed a week of meditation at a spiritual center run by Jäger.

Willigis Jäger, who died in Holzkirchen, Bavaria, in 2020, represents exactly what must be questioned in every statement from the mouth or pen of a modern theologian. Terms used in Christianity do not necessarily mean what they are defined in the Gospel. Jäger explains this himself in his book “Search for the Truth. Ways – Hopes – Solutions”, 2nd edition, from 1999. If he uses the word “God”, that does not mean that this is the God of the Christian imagination corresponds. He himself is not guided by a Christian image of God. There is no personal, omnipotent God who created heaven and earth, independent of creation.
These are the words of a “Benedictine” who once studied theology and today serves as the great role model for the Protestant pastor Hartmann.

According to the priest, Zen has nothing to do with self-optimization. With Zen it was about the development of one’s own self. The core of Zen is “intentionality” and he reiterated this aspect emphatically in his new book.

The principle: empty your head

Emptied head offers space for abstracts

What the Buddhist calls “Zen meditation,” the Catholic calls “Ignatian Exercises,” and the Evangelical calls “contemplative mediation.” What do these areas have to do with the gospel? Nothing, absolutely nothing at all. A significant development in the context of spiritualism in its purest form. Emptying the mind using meditation based on the Far Eastern model corresponds exactly to the opposite of what meditation means in the sense of the gospel.

Jesus Christ himself indicated what it means to clear your head and not let it be filled by the Holy Spirit afterwards. Matthew 12:43-45:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

An emptied head, the emptied house, does not remain empty for long. Either ideally filled and thus occupied by the Holy Spirit, or by a group of vagabond spirits who want everything other than human salvation.

Syncretism with Jesuit guidance

What the priest repeatedly advocates in his book is pure syncretism. No matter how harmless this term may seem, this condition has always been anathema to the Lord. The ancient people of Israel often stumbled upon this. Apostasy from the true faith always began with the adoption of pagan customs and mixing them with the teachings of God (Info).

Paul F. Knitter SJ

“Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian”is the title of Jesuit Paul F. Knitter’s book published in 2013, after he published the book “Multifaith Dialogue and Global Responsibility” in 1998. For Knitter, God is dependent on humans, the “divine spirit” needs the world and therefore the spirit had to create the world. One can already guess which “spirit” the Jesuit Knitter is talking about here.

Arul Maria Arokiasamy SJ

Arul Maria Arokiasamy (“Ama Samy”), an Indian Zen master and – who is surprised? – Jesuit, believes that Christianity and Buddhism are not only combinable, but this combination is a duty if man wants to achieve awakening in the true nature of reality.

Alexander Löffler SJ

“Hoping for a savior from outside, be it a Buddha or a God, is pointless from the Dalai Lama’s point of view,” says Alexander Löffler, Jesuit, lecturer in fundamental theology at the Sankt Georgen University of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt/M., in his essay “Religious Atheism? The Challenge of Buddhism” (2015).

Formation for the uniformity

Ecumenism plays the driving role for these scholastic philosophies. The pioneers, thinkers and leaders are the “brothers” from the Jesuit order (founded in 1534), which was unleashed on humanity in 1540. It is obvious that Christianity must be brought to an intersection with Buddhism, which is actually based on atheism, in its various forms. The aim is to unite all religions under the umbrella of a recognized, central institution in Rome. Ostensibly for the “preservation of creation”, the “unity theology” that has now been formulated (Info).

Buddhism and Protestant ordination?

After ordination there is also a legal question

Now a fundamental question about the world views and, above all, the understanding of the Gospel on the part of the Protestant pastor. Before a prospective pastor is let loose on humanity in the Protestant church, he is ordained. Here the “fresh graduate” makes a vow that looks like this or in a similar form:

Looking to Jesus Christ, the sole Lord of the Church, I am ready to carry out my office as a servant of the divine Word and to help ensure that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as given in the Holy Scriptures and attested to in the creeds of the Reformation , is proclaimed to all the world.

For my part, I want to ensure that the church is built on the foundation of the Gospel in its preaching, teaching and life and I want to ensure that false teaching, disorder and offense are prevented in the church.

I want to do my parish service in obedience to Jesus Christ according to the rules of our regional church and to maintain the secrecy of confession“.

How could this or similar wording signed by the pastor be reconciled with bringing Buddhism into the church? Is it perhaps a question of the distinction between professional Christian and private Zen Buddhist, just as compatible as an intercontinental flight to Bali on a private trip while protesting against emissions as an “actionist”? This can probably only be answered after a few hours of Zen meditation and emptying your head.

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.

Job 5:13

The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
Psalm 94:11

Bible verses from King James Version

Pastor declares Zen Buddhism to be compatible with Christianity
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