Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Buddha and Biblical Womanhood

Last week I wrote briefly about Rachel Held Evans’ year of living biblically. Her stated aim is to live out what the Bible teaches about womanhood. Today she writes about her difficulty in adopting the “gentle and quiet spirit” commanded in 1 Peter 3:4. To help develop such a spirit, she has incorporated contemplative prayer into her morning routine, “particularly breathing exercises, lectio divina, and centered prayer.” She appeals to the teaching of contemplative masters—both Buddha and the Proverbs—as sources for learning how to master “the volatile human spirit.”

Just a reminder, Thomas Nelson has agreed to publish her book in 2012.


  • MatthewS

    Denny, I think you’re making a mistake on this one, big time.

    She points out a parallel between Buddha and Proverbs.

    I find wisdom literature fascinating. The fact that there are parallels between Amenemope and Solomon is fascinating to me.

    The fact that Buddha happens to agree with Proverbs is worthy of note to anyone interested in what wisdom lit. has to say about this subject. It’s a statement of fact.

  • Donald Johnson

    Does not general revelation (the material world) reveal truths about God? Paul wrote so in Romans.

    Is it not possible that a pagan might discover these truths?

    Of course, a pagan will be lacking in special revelation, but they can still say true things at times.

  • rachel

    i think the point is that we do not need philosophies and practices of the world to develop of a gentle and quiet spirit…we need the Holy Spirit, who is not known through
    general revelation

  • rachel

    i think the point is that we do not need philosophies and practices of the world to develop a gentle and quiet spirit…we need the Holy Spirit, who is not known through general revelation

  • David Fosdike

    @MatthewS – I think Denny is on solid ground. Note the the warning to believers in Colossians 2:2:8-10 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Why would anyone delivered from the world (I am not assuming that Rachel is) want any less than the fulness of Christ? Buddha, works, law or worldly philosophy cannot save me let alone make me complete or mature. And as for other wisdom literature: why would I want it, fascinating though it may be, when I have the God-breathed, living, eternal Word of God?

  • Charlton Connett

    I find it interesting that she chooses to use the term “the Buddha”. While it may be argued that she is just using a generally accepted name for a religious figure, the use of the definite article before the name, while proper, seems to convey a different meaning to me, one that affirms the claim of enlightenment that the name “the Buddha” conveys. However, I might be reading her a little too strictly. Add to this that she, by her comment, includes Buddha as one of the “Contemplatives” and there seem to be some theological difficulties with what she is saying. It comes across as though she is saying that Buddhist contemplative meditation is a valid way of achieving control of the Spirit, which would negate the necessity of reliance upon the Holy Spirit that Scripture urges.

  • Matthew Staton

    David, FWIW, I believe Denny softened the wording here from what I initially reacted to. The title of the piece and my original reading implied that Evans was actively seeking the teachings of “the Buddha.” This was reflected in the title of Denny’s post, the way the sentence read (which I believe he has now changed), and the closing shot “Just a reminder, Thomas Nelson has agreed to publish her book…”

    Yet, she quotes one single cross-reference from the Proverbs to (the) Buddha, taking nothing unique from Buddhist teachings. This is a valid use of wisdom literature. There are cross-references to be made from Proverbs to all sorts of other wisdom literature.

    If she is in fact trying to learn about “Biblical Womanhood” from Buddhism, then she deserves an strong and honest rebuttal. But a single cross-reference is not that.

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe that Denny has changed his wording to include the bit about Proverbs and to change the force of the implication that she was actively studying Buddhism on this subject. If he did not change anything, then my original reading was reactionary and I would apologize. If he DID change the wording, it would have been considerate of him to make a note of it.

  • Matthew Staton

    Denny, I see that I have another exhibit for my hall of shame.

    I read your post and reacted to it. When I came back later, the words didn’t read like what I had reacted to in my mind. So I assumed you had changed the wording!

    I am the one who made a mistake, big time. I apologize for reading you uncharitably and reacting without gentleness and respect.

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