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Does God exist? This is one of the most fundamental questions to a worldview. Either He does or He doesn’t. Logic dictates that both cannot be right. This is the final discrepancy we shall look at between the Buddha and Jesus. We have seen thus far the claims made by Mr. James Hanson that Jesus was a Buddhist do not carry weight. The Gospels have shown Jesus grew up in Nazareth. A cursory discussion of the historical reliability of the Gospels has been presented, suggesting the claims are true. Archeology has shown that this region was thoroughly Jewish, and not interested in being inclusive to other systems of thought. We have covered that the two taught diametrically opposed concepts of the soul/self. But we finally we come to the most basic question. Is there a God? Remember, Mr. Hanson claimed doctrine and history back his Buddhist claim. Yet history and archeology are not his ally. Thus far doctrine has not been either. If this claim can hold any weight then certainly the views of God should align. They don’t. Buddha was a functional atheist, and Jesus was not just a theist, but claimed to be God Himself.

The Buddha was functionally atheistic. This is not the type of atheism of Richard Dawkins. Mr. Dawkins would see the material world as the only existence. To him there is no supernatural — no divine/supernatural beings of any type. This is not the picture of Buddhism. Buddhism is atheistic in the sense that there may be super humans but they are not transcendent. In Part 4 we discussed how man’s soul was in constant flux and always changing. This idea really touches on their view of reality. All of reality is in flux all is in a state of perpetual change — even the gods. These are not gods the Western mind pictures. These are not creators or sustainers of the universe. They do not require worship or homage. They may have extraordinary powers, but are not to be revered. They are just in as much flux and change as the rest of us. They do not possess an unchanging quality, but are also trying to achieve Nirvana — to escape samsara (the cycle of birth and rebirth). Based on karma accrual over life a “person” can be born in a better or worse place. 1Strong, John S. The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations. Second Edition. WadsworthThomson Learning, 2002, 28 The ones, “who do not long for pleasure for themselves and do not rejoice in possessions become one of the four kings, foremost in planetary deities. People who revere their mother, father, and family elders, who are generous, patient, and do not delight in strife, will be reborn among the gods of Trayastrimsat heaven.” 2Strong, John S. The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations. Second Edition. WadsworthThomson Learning, 2002, 3 Everyone, gods included, are trying to see things as they are in order to come, “to the ultimate end of samsara.” 3Strong, John S. The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations. Second Edition. WadsworthThomson Learning, 2002, 31 For even the gods, “too are limited by death; for there is no termination of death and rebirth,” and are only karmically constituted beings. 4Strong, John S. The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations. Second Edition. WadsworthThomson Learning, 2002, 91 The gods can die and be reborn and are seeking Nirvana, just like humans. The only difference between gods and men is that they are able to contemplate and “see” things the way they are more easily. 5Strong, John S. The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations. Second Edition. WadsworthThomson Learning, 2002, 91 There is no difference in essence between the gods and man. They are the same. To Buddha, “the concept of gods or a God was irrelevant to advanced spiritual life.” 6Robinson, Richard H., and Willard L. Johnson. The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1997, 2 Gods and humans are both karmically constituted beings — they are equals. The gods are mere mortal beings seeking what everyone else is — enlightenment. There is no transcendent being in Buddhism. This is not so with Jesus.

Jesus did teach the transcendent God. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He instructed them to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not led us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Amen,” (Matthew 6:9-13). Take note God is not equal to humans in Jesus mind. But He is to be seen as sacred. His name is holy and set apart and not the same as this world. He is the God whose kingdom is not from here (see also John 18), yet His rule extends to this world. Further, daily provision or bread as well as deliverance are seen to come from God. People are contingent upon Him for existence. The main thrust is that His will would be done here. It is a prayer that we would be aligned and submitted to Him not found at war with Him. This is not an understanding that He is seeking some salvation just like the rest of us, He is the One being sought for salvation. To Him alone belong the power and the glory. God is transcendent, separate, apart from this world and sits as ruler over it. He is not seeking release from samsara as the Buddha’s gods. He does not need enlightenment. He is the only One worthy of glory and power. If Jesus and the Buddha were supposed to teach the same doctrine, then Jesus didn’t get the memo. For the God He teaches is not a mere mortal, but is the One whom all else is dependent upon. Jesus goes a step further and points to Himself as that God.(A few resources may be helpful, “Should You Believe in the Watchtower or is Jesus Christ Almighty God?,” also History of the “History of the Trinity: What the Watchtower Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “The History of the Trinity: Will the Real Pagans Please Stand Up?“)

In John 8:58 Jesus lets everyone know, “Most assuredly, I say unto you, before Abraham was I AM.” I am is the title God used in Exodus 3 when Moses asked God His name. God is the “I am”. This name carries the understanding of self-existence. Which is to say in God’s very nature He is not contingent upon another, but rather is independent of everything 7Geisler, Norman L. 2011. Systematic Theology in One Volume. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 417 There is only One who can be self-existent — completely independent of all else. Jesus applies this quality, which only God alone can possess, to Himself. The Jews understood this and picked up stones to stone Him (John 8:59). Jesus claimed divinity by applying what can only be true of God to Himself. The Buddha may have claimed enlightenment, but never deity. He may have claimed the complete impermanence of this world, but never self-existence. Yet here stands Jesus claiming there is a God and that He is Him.

Mr. Hanson’s arguments are utterly doomed. Upon their theology alone the two spiritual teachers he wants to unite, are ripped asunder. Either the gods are equal with us and, functionally, not gods at all or God is transcendent to everything and is uniquely incarnate in Jesus Christ. It cannot be both. The disparity of their doctrines forever divides the two leaders. Jesus either is God or not. Jesus asked the pointed question, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). Mr. Hanson said a Buddhist Lama. Others will say a religious guru. Yet Jesus question remains, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).Ω

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