By Dr. David Schroeder
In the 1980s when I frequently flew for Trans World Radio, often I saw tall white guys in the airports dressed like Buddhist monks. James Sire writes about this phenomenon in The universe Next Door; A Basic Worldview Catalog in his chapter “Journey to the East.” These pilgrims were usually en route to Goa (an island off the west coast of India), or perhaps Thailand. In their orange/rust robes, sandals, and begging bags, they were almost a comical site, especially when compared with Asian monks.
I could not doubt their sincerity; they were truly on a quest for spiritual reality, which they had not found in America. However, for most of them, their quest did not last long. As Sire points out, the asceticism of monkish life was beyond them. Sadly, in those days there were not many examples of Asian Christianity that would have attracted them. But they were so close. Intuitively, they knew what today’s postmoderns know — the western naturalistic-materialistic-rationalistic-Enlightenment worldview is fraudulent. (Don’t tell that to people over 40, including Christians; it would be like an intellectual assassination.)
I wrote this article in an airport while returning from a month in Thailand. (By the way, I haven’t seen any Caucasian monks for many decades.) It was a month of sustained spiritual renewal for me, and it caused me to ask what it is about the Thai Jesus-followers who are the most enthusiastic, devoted, and evangelistic believers I have ever met. I’m sure there is not one simple answer, but I think it has to do with worldview. When a Thai person, formerly a Buddhist / animist, receives Jesus as their new God, they leave behind a very different world than westerners have. Their worldview, as one of my African friends says, is “supernatural, not superficial as it is in America.”
Theirs’ is a very radical conversion. They have truly left darkness and embraced the Light of the world. Their worldview remains supernatural but now it is biblical. Most modern westerners who become Christians have just a slight cultural adjustment — not very radical, so neither is their passion or zeal.
The difference is dramatic. And it’s not theological, like Pentecostal versus Calvinist. It’s based on another fact I observed — my Thai brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters truly believe Jesus is their God, the Creator, Savior, and Master. Yes, they also believe in the whole Godhead, but grasp better than we do that Jesus is God’s agent for all things pertaining to earth and humanity. So, when they are baptized in His Name, they joyfully enter the marriage covenant as part of the bride of Christ.
Oh, how I wish I could import the wonder of their worldview. All I can do is try to live it, and encourage you to, as well.
Dr. David Schroeder is the president of Pillar College.
About Pillar College
Pillar College, founded in 1908, is an institution of higher learning that provides a comprehensive education from a Christ-centered worldview. Pillar is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), licensed by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, and is a member of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Pillar offers associate, bachelors, and master’s degree programs . Pillar College educates, inspires and equips students for excellent scholarship, service and leadership. Rooted in and committed to Christian faith and love, Pillar fosters intellectual, spiritual and social development among its diverse student population. Pillar College has locations in Newark and Paterson, New Jersey. For more information about Pillar College, visit https://pillar.edu