Buddha's Birthday is a national holiday celebrated in Korea on May 28th this year--and decorations have been up around Chuncheon for the better part of the past month. As with major Christian holidays in the States such as Easter and Christmas, tis the season for revelations of scandal involving religious leaders. But I am against using such cheap polemical low shots to advance the cause of the Gospel. Instead I wanted to take a moment to consider what is being done, if anything, to intentionally witness to and contextualize the Gospel for those from a Buddhist background.
Recently the Gospel Coalition has been running a series of posts related to contextualization for Muslims. But several other things have had me thinking about contextualization for Buddhists. Since coming to Korea I have had a few interesting encounters in which I have been mistake for a Buddhist monk/devotee based on my haircut (or lack thereof). Most recently it was on the train.
After striking up a conversation with an older man he asked me what I was doing in Korea. I told him I worked with a church. Confused the man asked me if it was a Buddhist 'church.' I told him that I was a Christian. He was surprised and then told me that he too was a Christian. He quickly commented that Buddhists were 'bad people.' I replied that we are all 'bad people,' Christians and Buddhists alike, but that God loved us so much that He sent His own Son Jesus. I told him that we need to love Buddhists too. He changed the topic and I had to get off at the next stop; but the encounter kept me thinking, who was taking the Gospel to the Buddhist in Korea?
For the next week I will post a daily blog with reflections on this question.