Buddhist-Christian Studies, vol. 17 (1997)

[This volume is available online in JSTOR.]

EDITORIAL, pp. iii-iv

The Buddhist-Christian dialogue flourishes in the practice of zazen. Why does Zen practice provide such a fertile meeting ground? These two articles explore possible areas of explanation: the mode of Zen “discourse,” comparative religious hermeneutics, and the instructive life of a central Zen personality.

Philosophical and Rhetorical Modes in Zen Discourse: Contrasting Nishida’s Logic and Koan Poetry, pp. 3-23
Steven Heine

Reason in Zen practice is not jettisoned in favor of the irrational but may be used as a bridge to the suprarational. Metaphorical descriptions of place, using the language of both philosophy andpoetry, provide forms for this use of reason. Nishida’s philosophical text, “Topological Logic and the Religious Worldview,” functions as a bridge between these philosophical and rhetorical modes, helping in the process understanding between East and West but perhaps sacrificing somewhat the creative ambiguity of the Koan tradition.

Dogen: Enlightenment and Entanglement, pp. 25-46
David Putney

Dogen refused to accept any metaphysical interpretation of Buddha-nature as some kind of entitive being or essential potentiality, yet he continued to engage the doctrine of Buddha-nature in his teachings and writings. Dogen worked to develop an approach to Buddha-nature most conducive to practice. For Dogen, the doctrine of Buddha-nature must be understood in the context of the Buddha Dharma as practice.


The affinities among Christian feminist theologies and interreligious dialogue, particularly the Buddhist-Christian dialogue, continue to produce unusually rich insights. In papers presented at the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies 1996 International Conference at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, “Socially Engaged Buddhism and Christianity,” two participants discuss aspects of this intriguing web of ideas and practice.

Reflections on Buddhist-Christian Dialogue and the Liberation of Women, pp. 49-60
Paul Ingram

The liberation of women engenders other forms of liberation–for both women and men. At their core neither Buddhist nor Christian teachings are patriarchal, but both have been shaped by institutions that are patriarchal. These traditions must be reshaped to more faithfully reflect their egalitarian core teachings. Interreligious dialogue is an effective way to aid this reshaping.

Visions of Interconnectedness in Engaged Buddhism and Feminist Theology, pp. 61-76
Alice A. Keefe

Interconnectedness is an appealing ideal in both engaged Buddhism and feminist theology. There are differences, however. Engaged Buddhists stress selfishness as the root cause of “disconnectedness” and clear awareness through meditation as the antidote and goal. Feminists stress sexism as the root cause and the overcoming of dualistic patterns of patriarchy as the goal. Both traditions can learn from each other in addressing these causes and seeking these goals.


Great Death, Great Life: An Interview with Masao Abe, pp.
Kenneth Kramer

In this interview with Masao Abe, Zen Buddhist scholar and author of Zen and Western Thought (1985), Kenneth Kramer, professor of religious studies at San Jose State University, explores the Zen Buddhist approach to death and dying. Professor Kramer has examined this theme in some depth in his book, The Sacred Art of Dying: How the World Religions Understand Death (1988).


The theme of the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was “Mission and Dialogue.” Three Buddhists and three Christians explored the relationship (or lack thereof) between these two modes of discourse.

Buddhist Views:

Dialogue and Synthesis: Sot’aesan’s Perspective and Examples, pp. 89-96
by Bokin Kim

The author explores three issues: (1) how the dialogical and synthetical methods of Sot’aesan (the founder of Won Buddhism) work by showing concrete examples of his encounters with other religious traditions, mainly three Eastern religious traditions–Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism; (2) how Sot’aesan synthesizes the Christian dimension of faith into a non-theistic tradition of the East since Sot’aesan encountered Christian believers on several occasions; and (3) issues that might derive from the further expansion of Sot’aesan’s perspective in the multireligous context of the world.

Mission and Dialogue: A Paradox?, pp. 97-106
Andrew Olendzki

The Pali canon teaches a commitment to both mission and dialogue. The mission part, however, is tempered by a generally pessimistic outlook about the mission. It is clear that the Buddha, although convinced of the truth of his dharma, was a respectful and accepting dialogician.

Mission and Dialogue in the Soka Gakkai International, pp. 106-113
Virginia Straus

Missionary activity is regularly carried out by the Soka Gakkai International. But so are three types of dialogue: dialogue in the service of world peace, dialogue in the service of the scholarly search for truth, and dialogue aimed at mutual understanding.

Buddhist Views: A Response, pp. 114-117
Donald Swearer

Although these three Buddhist statements on mission and dialogue are distinctive, there are common themes. The multifaceted enterprise called mission can be seen as having at least three modes: mission as dialogue, mission as synthesis, and mission as service.

Christian Views:

Christian Mission and Interreligious Dialogue: Mutually Exclusive or Complementary?, pp. 119-130
William R. Burrows

Mission is the general Christian category that includes four modes of action, one of which is dialogue. Unfortunately, dialogue is often seen as antithetical to mission. Christians need to rethink their concept of mission so that it includes dialogue.

Mission and/or Dialogue: A Roman Catholic Perspective, pp. 130-139
William Cenkner

Historically in the Roman Catholic church, mission and dialogue have been seen as being in opposition. Since Vatican II, however, they have come to be seen as complementary. This does not and should not remove tension between them. That tension can be creative if Christians see other religious traditions as valuable.

Interreligious Dialogue and Evangelism, pp. 139-151
Terry C. Muck

The communication theory of David Krieger enables us to recognize different levels of discourse in the interreligious dialogue setting. Argumentation, proclamation, and disclosure can be seen as complementary if the affective dimension of dialogue (a dimension that includes respect, goodwill, sincerity, honesty) is emphasized. These aspects of the affective dimension cannot be “manufactured” on the human level but must be referenced to a transcendent realm.

Christian Views: A Response, pp. 152-158
Judith Simmer-Brown

Discussion of the relationship between mission and dialogue in the Christian tradition could be helpfully extended to discussion of similar dynamics of comparable impulses in Buddhism. Mutualtransformation in each tradition could very well be the result of such dialogue about dialogue.

Living religious traditions change, develop, clash, and transform. This occurs on the individual level and the social level.

Beyond Dual Religious Belonging: Roger Corless and Explorations in Buddhist Christian Identity, pp. 161-177
Henry N. Smith

In practicing across the Buddhist and Christian traditions, Roger Corless attempts to preserve the autonomy of each as a self-contained explanatory system. It would be more meaningful, however, if dual religious practitioners were to achieve a new synthesis in a coherent but provisional worldview. A resulting “Mahayana Christianity” need not become either another absolutist religion or a purely relativistic approach to religion. The spiritual formation facilitated by practice across traditions far outweighs the dangers of constructing new syntheses.

Questions for Buddhist and Christian Cooperation in Korea, pp. 179-195
Frank Tedesco

Historically, different religious groups lived together in relative religious peace in Korea. The introduction of Christianity has been a mixed experience: some cooperation, increased confrontations. During the past fifteen years, at least twenty Buddhist temples have been vandalized or destroyed, creating an atmosphere of Buddhism under siege. No one has been positively identified, arrested, or definitely associated with any of these crimes. But all religious groups, including Christian groups, need to join hands in denouncing this persecution.

NEWS AND VIEWS, pp. 197-227
edited by Donald Mitchell

BOOK REVIEWS, pp. 230-258
edited by Paul Ingram

Rita Gross