Interview with Ellis Potter via Apologetics 315
I just read an excellent interview with Ellis Potter, an ex-Buddhist monk turned Christian pastor and former member of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. The conversation touched on a wide array of issues such as Potter’s testimony, presuppositional apologetics, and the amount of faith required to be a Christian. Of particular interest was Potter’s assessment of the Christian faith in contrast to the Buddhist faith:
“I asked a lot of questions and Francis Schaeffer was alive and working there in the community at the time and he was very generous with his answers to my questions and it was a gradual process of working through a number of issues and one of my questions was about Epistemology. It was about how do we know and my basic question was ‘Can human beings have a relationship of knowledge with something outside of that human being which is valid and stable?’ And in Buddhism, you would say ‘No. The relationship is unity and being.’
And that there actually isn’t anything outside the self or outside the Buddha nature. And that is a very strong absolute way of considering reality that’s very attractive in lots of ways. And what I was hearing about at L’Abri was that there were relationships in reality and on an absolute level as the basic framework. And so that was my basic question and the way God worked with me was to remember a song that I had sung in college from an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan and the beginning of the song is ‘Who are you who asks this question?’
And so I asked myself, who is asking all of these questions that I was asking. And the Buddhist answer to that questions would be ‘Asking is.’ The Christian answer is ‘I am asking. And I am asking what is outside of myself in relationship.’
And that began really to strike me as more basically true about my situation and my experience of myself and my environment because I couldn’t remember a time ever when I was not asking questions. It was really a basic part of who I am and who I always have experienced myself to be. And in Christianity as the Bible presents it, we never lose that. We always have the reality of asking questions and relating. So in Christ, the asking is validated and stabilized and perpetuated and enlivened, whereas in Buddhism it comes to an end in unity…”
This is one of the fundamental realities of being a Christian – understanding your place in relation to and relationship with the Creator of all things. In my opinion there can be no such thing as relationship without two distinct persons relating; which stands in contrast to the monistic philosophy that asserts that everything is one. And, as Potter reminds us, Christianity affirms distinctive relationships (a feature embedded in reality) and therefore should be taken seriously.
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