The Mystery of Incarnation


From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “So if we extend, as I am suggesting, “incarnation” beyond Jesus of Nazareth and recognize that Buddha and Muhammad and others may be “enfleshments” of Ultimate Reality or Ultimate Truth, then because these enfleshments take place in very, very different historical contexts, the truths that they reveal will be very, very different, one from the other. Or, in Buddhist imagery, if we call Jesus and Buddha different fingers pointing to the moon, we can’t simply say they are pointing to the very same thing. They are pointing to really different parts of the moon –or maybe it’s better to say they are pointing to different moons, both of which are orbiting around a Mystery that is beyond them both. In other words, in saying that Jesus and Buddha are both unique manifestations of Holy Mystery or the Spirit, we are saying that although the Mystery may be “one,” Jesus and Buddha remain really different. Or perhaps it is more accurate to recognize that there are real differences within the one Mystery. Only by preserving the differences, and then letting them speak to each other, can we preserve and better understand the Mystery.”


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