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In today's technological world rapid communication and mobility bring the religions of the world as close as our living room television sets or even as close as the neighbours next door. Our global situation has made it necessary for theologians, as well as politicians, economists, and other persons of the private and public sector, to deal with adherents of the world religions. We are confronted and challenged by people of other religions and their truth claims that appear to conflict with the truth claims of the Christian religion. Such conflicts must be dealt with, and a criterion must be developed for making judgements regarding these claims. I propose the following criterion: from a Christian perspective it can be said that other religions contain truth insofar as they contain revelation that requires a human response of love (agape) toward other human beings. The validity of this criterion was established on the basis of the answers to the following five questions: 1) What constitutes truth in a religion? 2) Is all revelation saving? 3) According to the Christian scriptures, what is God's central revelation? 4) According to the Christian scriptures, what is the appropriate response to God's revelation? 5) According to the Christian scriptures, what is agape? In evaluating other religions, a theologian must begin from the perspective of his or her own religion. Thus these five questions will be examined and answered from a Christian perspective, showing, where appropriate, how the answers in other religions differ. On the basis of the above criterion, an evaluation will then be made of important components of the scriptures and traditions of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. In the context of the discussion of each of these religions the following questions will be asked: 1) Do the adherents of each religion consider their scriptures to be revelation? 2) Do the scriptures and traditions of each religion call for the action of agape toward other people?l

* Peggy Starkey is assistant professor of religion at Meredith College, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. 1 This study is limited to the scriptures and to the written traditions such as the Talmud or Bhagavad Gita, which are often considered to be sacred or as important as scripture. The author is aware that religions are organic entities and that adherents of a particular religious community today may live their religious lives in ways that deviate from the community's original scriptures or that the community's scriptural interpretation may vary from one segment of the community to another.



I. What constitutes truth in a religion? What does it mean to say that a religion contains truth? Truth for most westerners generally means judgements, propositions, statements or ideas that correspond to what is assumed to be reality in the sense of that which is factual or verifiable. As Wilfred Cantwell Smith has pointed out, truth in this sense of propositional truth is western and limited.2 In Hinduism, for example, truth is not a matter of the correspondence of rational propositions to an independent reality, but rather "truth is a matter of realizing the inner connectedness of things, not only to each other but also to their source, which is the very center of reality,"3 i.e., Atman (the self) is Brahman (the ultimate principle or reality of the universe). Thus in eastern thought, truth has meanings such as real, authentic, trustworthy, healthy, appropriate and moral, whereas in the west, these moral and personal dimensions of truth are often omitted. Wolfhart Pannenberg points out that the beginnings of the western view of truth may be traced to Hebrew and to Greek roots. The Hebrew word for truth, emeth, means reliable, dependable and faithful. Truth is almost always connected to the relationship between persons and contains an historic feature; that is, truth occurs again and again. In Greek, the word aletheia refers to something static that lies underneath or behind things. Aletheia means "unconcealedness." In the Greek sense of the concept truth does not happen, but truth is. 4 Truth in the New Testament is like the Hebrew word emeth in that aletheia means that which has certainty and force; that upon which one can rely; that which is trustworthy, sincere and honest. On the other hand, alethia means the real state of affairs, a true statement, a true teaching or faith, divine reality or revelation.5 It is this static, truth-in-itself idea that won in the west after the Enlightenment.6 According to Smith, only since the Enlightenment have questions been asked regarding the truth of a religion. Prior to this time religions had not been thought of as intellectual systems or patterns of doctrine that could be labelled "Hinduism," "Christianity," "Buddhism," or "Islam" and could be judged true or false or to contain truth or error.7 Smith helps us realize that to ask the questions, "Is a given religion true?" or "Does a religion contain truth?" is not
WILFRED CANTWELL SMITH, "A Human View of Truth," Truth and Dialogue in World Religions: Conflicting Truth-Claims, ed. John Hick (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1974, pp. 20-44. 3 JOHN M. KOLLER, "Dharma: An Expression of Universal Order," Philosophy East and West, 22 (1972), p. 133. 4 WOLFHART PANNENBERG, Basic Questions in Theology: Collected Essays, trans. George H. Kehm, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press), 1970, pp. 2-5, 19. Cf. Gerhard Kittel, ed. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans, and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1964, pp. 232ff. 5 TDNT, vol. 1, pp. 242-245. 6 PANNENBERG, Basic Questions in Theology, vol. 2, p. 17. 7 WILFRED CANTWELL SMITH, Questions of Religious Truth (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 1967, pp. 73-74. See Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion: A New Approach to the Religious Traditions of Mankind (New York: The New American Library), 1964, pp. 50-74 for a discussion of whether or not there is such an entity as religion.



only to do something western and modern but also to use confusing and inaccurate concepts. Religions change and evolve. Any one religion at a given moment " differs according to geographical location and according to the individual adherent.8 Thus what can it mean to ask whether a religion contains truth or whether a religion is true? Smith states that religious truth lies in the person; i.e., a religion becomes true or contains truth as it is lived in a true manner in the life of a practicing individual. Yet Smith states that this lived truth must be rooted in divine truth.9 John Macquarrie asserts that theology is concerned first of all with existential truth. Kierkegaard made the same point, John Macquarrie tells us, when he said that religious truth consists "not in sentences, or concepts, or in the correspondence of thought with things, 'not in knowing the truth but in being the truth'."10 In the opinion of John Hick, however, for a religion to become true in a person's life, the religion must rest on true assertions or presuppositions about reality. n W. C. Smith would not deny Hick's assertion, but for Smith the problem lies in the verifiability of the assertions or presuppositions upon which a religion rests and from which a person lives.12 Paul Knitter argues that western consciousness has equated truth with that which is absolute. Truth in the west is an "either/or" assertion. If Christianity is true, then what appears to conflict with Christianity is false. This equation of true and absolute, however, is unnecessary.13 As W. C. Smith has pointed out, in eastern consciousness truth can be a matter of "both/and."14 According to Knitter, for a religion to be true or to contain truth, it does not have to consider itself the absolute religion founded "on the absolute, certain, final and unchangeable possession of Divine Truth."15 Rather, a true religion is one based on an authentic experience of the divine.16 From a Christian point of view, it is generally agreed that for a religion to be true or based on true assertions, the religion must be based on true revelation of
SMITH, Questions of Religious Truth, p. 74. See also John Hick, God Has Many Names (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1982, p. 76. SMITH, Questions of Religious Truth, p. 81 and 83. See also pp. 90-91. 10 JOHN MACQUARRIE, Principles of Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 1977, p. 146. 11 JOHN HICK, "The Outcome: Dialogue into Truth," Truth and Dialogue in World Religions, ed. John Hick, pp. 147-148. 12 WILFRED CANTWELL SMITH, Faith and Belief (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press), 1979, pp. 157-158. See also Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology: Faith and the Comparative History of Religion (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1981, pp. 187188. 13 PAUL KNITTER, "Christianity as Religion: True and Absolute? A Roman Catholic Perspective," Concilium 136 (1980), p. 19. 14 Ibid., p. 19. See also Wilfred Cantwell Smith, "Conflicting Truth Claims: A Rejoinder," Truth and Dialogue in World Religions, ed. John Hick, pp. 159-160. See also Robert J. Schreiter, "Response," Christ's Lordship and Religious Pluralism, eds. Gerald H. Anderson and Thomas F. Stransky (New York: Orbis Books), 1981, p. 47, who states that "our disjunctive, either/or kinds of logic" cannot solve the problem of the universal claims of Christianity in the face of other religious traditions. 15 KNITTER, "Christianity as Religion," pp. 18-19. 16 Ibid., p. 19.
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the absolute or ultimate reality, or, in Christian terms, based upon the revelation of God. Yet how is it possible to determine the truth of a revelation? The word revelation is derived from the Hebrew and Greek verbs galah and apokalypto, which mean to "unveil," "uncover," or "disclose." Revelation is usually an "unveiling" to or through a person or persons. Once received, revelation is accepted on faith as revelation by the person or persons and is expressed to the community of believers. The community must then make a judgement as to the reality or truth of the revelation. Often this revelation becomes scripture. A great deal of subjectivity is involved in this communal judgement because of such factors as the perception and manner of verbalization of the receiver, and the faith, culture, and attitudes of the community that is addressed. The community of faith, however, judges the revelation in the best way it can, often using existing scripture and tradition as criteria. One cannot get behind the experience of a revelation to prove its validity; rather, as John Macquarrie states, all that can be done is to describe this experience. We must, however, test each experience of revelation in every way we can. Even so, we are never certain, and hence we commit ourselves to revelations without proof; i.e., we take such experiences on faith.17 Therefore, when I state in this paper that a religion contains truth, I am speaking not of the absolute truth of one religion over against another, but rather I am asserting that a religion contains true revelation. Hence, I will avoid speaking of "true religion" and speak of religions containing truth. II. Is all revelation saving?

When Christians ask the question of the truth of a revelation of a religion other than their own, they are judging the truth of that revelation from outside the religious community in question. This manner of judging is dangerous and often arrogant and inaccurate.18 Yet one must make judgements because there are ideologies and actions in this world that are judged evil or destructive, and these forces must be recognized and condemned. At the same time, those religions that contain truth must be supported, and Christians must learn to understand and work with persons of other religions for a world that is more truly human. As Paul Knitter has demonstrated in his article, "European Protestant and Catholic Approaches to the World Religions: Complements and Contrasts," most Christian theologians acknowledge God's activity or revelation in the

MACQUARRIE, Principles of Christian Theology, p. 88. See also pp. 100-103. Note W. C. Smith's comment on page 74 of Questions of Religious Truth where he states that no one person in one lifetime could become sufficiently well informed on the history of Buddhism or of Hinduism, for example, to be able to say whether the religion is true or false and know what she or he was saying.

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world religions. The problems emerge when revelation is characterized as salvific. Knitter's outline of the view of Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians shows that for the most part Roman Catholic theologians equate the presence of revelation in a religion with the presence of God's saving grace. Protestant theologians, however, after admitting the presence of revelation in the religions, often deny the presence of salvation. Thus Protestant theologians tend to separate revelation and salvation whereas most Roman Catholic theologians do not.19 There are exceptions to this Protestant tendency. Paul Tillich points out that biblical affirmations of revelation also show that revelation is saving. God's revelations to Moses, Isaiah of Jesusalem, Peter, and Paul, for example, demonstrate the inseparability of revelation and salvation. In each case the revelation is transforming and leads to a life of service that the Christian has judged to come from a saving experience.20 In the last lecture of his life, Tillich asserts that the experience of revelation is universally human, that religions are based upon revelation given to people wherever they live, and that revelation and salvation cannot be separated. "There are revealing and saving powers in all religions."21 Another exception to the Protestant separation of revelation and salvation appears in the work of Choan-Seng Song who asserts that all religions contain revelation and salvation. God has not left God's self without witness. If Christians reject other religions as devoid of God, then this would mean that God is not universal. If Christians assert that God's revelation is present in the religions, then Christians must admit the presence of God's salvation in the religions, or else this would mean that God's presence in all things has no redemptive value. Such an assertion would deny God's love, and limit what God can do; hence, for Song, all religions express God's truth or true revelation, which is saving.22 If, as Karl Barth has said, "revelation is God's self-offering and self-manifestation,"23 then God's revelation must be saving, or else, as Paul Knitter has stated, "God's self is shown without really being offered or given; God would be relating to people in bits."24
19 PAUL KNITTER, "European Protestant and Catholic Approaches to the World Religions: Complements and Contrasts," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 12 (1975), especially p. 21. 20 PAULTILLICH, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 1951, p. 145. 21 PAULTILLICH, The Future of Religions, ed. Jerald C. Brauer (New York: Harper & Row), 1966, p. 81. 22 CHOAN-SENG SONG, Christian Mission in Reconstruction-An Asian Attempt (India: The Wesley Press), 1975, p. 180. See Hans Kng, On Being a Christian, trans. Edward Quinn (New York: Pocket Books, 1976), p. 104, who states that the questions of truth and salvation should not be confused. The world religions are ways of salvation even though, from a Christian point of view, these religions contain both truth and error. Thus, to say that other religions are ways of salvation is not to say that all religions are equally true. 23 KARL BARTH, Church Dogmatics, trans. G. T. Thomson and Harold Knight, vol. 1, part 2 (Edinburgh: & Clark), 1956, p. 301.

PAUL KNITTER, "European Protestant and Catholic Approaches to the World Religions," p. 26.



Although one cannot say that there is a consensus among theologians concerning the presence of saving revelation in the other world religions, it can certainly be affirmed that there are strong arguments for the position that revelation is intrinsically saving in its purpose and effects, and that such a point of view is supported by notable theologians, both Catholic and Protestant.

III. According to the Christian scriptures, what is God's central revelation? From the perspective of Christian scriptures, God's central revelation, which is given through Jesus Christ, is agape. "The God whom Christ reveals is a God of mercy and love, who reaches out after all men and women everywhere in compassion and yearning; who delights in a sinner's repentance, who delights to save."25 Or, as Emil Brunner puts it, "God reveals himself as love and he reveals his love as mercy and grace, thereby giving perfect expression of his love as agape and to agape as his own being."26 Thus from a Christian point of view God shows that God desires the healing or salvation of all people because God reveals that God is merciful and loving. The Christ event confirms above all else the love of God. This central affirmation of the Christian faith is exemplified by such New Testament passages as Romans 5:8, "But God shows his love for us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us"; John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"; / John 4:8-10, "He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins."27 God's love is total, saving, and is offered to the whole world.28 God's love is boundless and forgiving. The parables of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-23), the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7) and the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) demonstrate God's love of outcasts and sinners and describe God as good, gracious, merciful and loving.29 In / John 4:8, as quoted above, we are told that God is love (agape). Such a statement does not intend to give the absolute denotation of the complete description of God. The reverse may never be predicated, i.e., "love is God."

W. C. SMITH, Toward a World Theology, p. 171. EMIL BRUNNER, Faith, Hope, and Love (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1956, p. 67. See also Ephesians 2:4-6. For a discussion of the implicit expressions of God's love for humanity in the synoptic gospels see Ceslaus Spicq, Agape in the New Testament, trans. Marie McNamara and Mary Richter, vol. 1 (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co.), 1963, pp. 129ff. 28 SPICQ, Agape in the New Testament, vol. 3, p. 16. 29 JOACHIM JEREMAS, The Parables of Jesus, rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 1963, pp. 131-132.
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Rather the text says that agape is so central to the being of God that it becomes the criterion for determining the knowledge of God in interpersonal relation ships. Hence the central, saving revelation of God according to the Christian scriptures is agape.30 IV. According to the Christian scriptures, what is the appropriate response to God's revelation? It is clear from the teachings of the Christian scriptures that the required response to this saving revelation of God's love is not correct doctrinal belief. Belief is the holding of certain ideas, and for Christians these ideas are expressed in doctrines. Doctrines are one type of expression of faith, but belief in doctrines should not be confused with faith.31 Called forth by the revelation of God's love, faith is a human response of trust and obedience to God. Thus faith is obedience in love (Gal. 5:6). God's love makes faith possible, and the love of human beings gives God's love its visibility and makes it effective in the world.32 Faith is deeper than the religious system out of which it grows and in which it is nourished.33 One can argue on solid critical grounds that Jesus did not call upon people to believe in God or believe on Jesus, himself, nor to join a particular religious community. In fact, in the New Testament, faith is attributed to a Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11-29), a Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:21-27) and a Gentile nobleman (Matt. 8:15-23), irrespective of their religion.34 According to Matthew 7:21, Jesus says that not everyone who identifies him as Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of God will be saved.35 People will not be judged for correct doctrinal beliefs but for their faith. Those who will enter the kingdom on the day of judgement are those


Romans 5:8; John 3:16; / John 4:8-10; Luke 15:4-32. See also Robert McDermott's article, "Agape, Dharma, Tao as Key Religious Motifs," Bucknell Review 18 (Fall, 1970), in which he makes a case for the centrality of the concept of agape in the Christian tradition from a history of religions perspective. According to McDermott, agape "functions religiously both in the lives of model Christian personalities and in the conceptual and cultural aspects of the Christian tradition.... Furthermore, since agape performs so essential a role in whatever is counted as Christian, a study of its various functions helps to reveal the nature and structure of everything Christian," p. 88. Note also McDermott's references to the works of Paul Ramsey and Anders Nygren that also demonstrate the centrality of agape to Christianity, p. 79. See also Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology, p. 171. See also Brunner, Faith, Hope, and Love, pp. 12-14, who speaks of faith, hope and love as each being the criterion of true Christianity. 31 SMITH, Faith and Belief, pp. 13-19. 32 VICTOR PAUL FURNISH, The Love Command in the New Testament (Nashville: Abingdon Press), 1972, p. 94. See also Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, pp. 138, 140-142. 33 SMITH, Faith and Belief, pp. 6-12. See also Rudolf Bultmann, "The Group in the New Testament," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), 1971, vol. 6, pp. 174-228. 34 PERRIN, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, p. 139. See also p. 140 where Perrin says that Mk. 1:15 is a later addition. 35 Cf. Romans 2:10.



who in faith respond to God's love by loving others. It may even be contended that those who are rewarded are not aware that they are serving God, but that they are just serving human need.36 Passages such as Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 10:29-37 stress that people will be judged on their love of others rather than on their doctrinal beliefs. As Rudolf Bultmann puts it, the picture in Matthew 25:31-46 "... contains the two doctrines, which belong together, of the 'transformations' of God and of the presence of eternity in time."37 In other words, one meets God in the other. Love shown to the other is love shown to God whether we are aware of it or not. "Who is my neighbour?.. .The neighbour in need is God in need. The stranger in suffering is God in suffering To know God and to love him is to know and love our brothers and sisters."38 According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus issues a call to radical obedience (cf. Luke 9:62, 9:60, Mark 10:15).39 This obedience calls for a new approach to living in terms of a new relationship to our fellow human beings. This new relationship is to be characterized by love of neighbour (Matt. 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37) and beyond that by love of enemy (Matt. 5:44-58). < Thus, the Jesus tradition teaches that one's response to God's love is rooted in God's way of relating to humanitywith totally impartial and unconditional agape. Y. According to the Christian scriptures, what is love (agape)'!

The Greek word normally used in the New Testament to denote God's love or a person's love of God or neighbour is agape. The verb form, agapan, does not specify an emotion or a fixed state but an action. / John 3:18 says that love is not a matter of words but action; it must be shown in deeds.41 For Jesus, love is will and action.42 This loving action is exemplified by the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The Samaritan shows compassion or mercy for a person in trouble by taking concrete steps to alleviate the person's physical


See the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, Matthew 25:31-46. See also my article, "Biblical Faith and the Challenge of Religious Pluralism," International Review of Mission 71 (1982), pp. 73-74. Cf. Jeremas, The Parables of Jesus, pp. 205-210. 37 RUDOLF BULTMAN, "The Idea of God and Modern Man," trans. Robert W. Funk, Translating Theology into the Modern Age (Journal for Theology and the Church, vol. 2), ed. Robert W. Funk (New York: Harper & Row), 1965, p. 95. 38 CHOAN-SENG SONG, Third-Eye Theology: Theology in Formation in Asian Settings (New York: Orbis Books), 1979, pp. 94-96. 39 NORMAN PERRIN, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (New York: Harper & Row), 1967, p. 141. 40 Ibid., pp. 148-149. See also Furnish, The Love Command in the New Testament, p. 60, who states that the Parable of the Good Samaritan probably contains an indication of Jesus' own view of the meaning of love that transcends all cultural, religious and ethnic barriers. 41 SEE SONG, Third-Eye Theology, p. 95. See also p. 91 where Song states that "love is not a concept but an action." 42 TDNT, pp. 44-45.



sufferings. He cleanses the man's wounds, takes him to an inn (a simple resting place for travelers), and gives the innkeeper money to take care of the injured man.43 Let us note two things in this parable: one: love is concrete, compassionate, merciful action; two: the neighbour is anyone in need, regardless of religion, nationality, sex, or social position, including one's enemy.44 To love one's enemies does not mean to become their friend. The verb agapan, not philein, "to love in friendship," is used in Matthew 5:43-48. Thus a warm feeling for the enemy or sinner or unpleasant person is not required; rather one is called upon to show agape, i.e., respect and kindness to all persons, including those who hate you or persecute you. Agape is not grounded in the lovableness of the person who is loved, nor in one's subjective valuation of the one toward whom love is directed.45 Thus we are called upon to treat with esteem, to treat fairly, and to help even our enemies, those we do not like, or those who persecute us (Luke 6:17ff; Matt. 5:44) when these people are in need. ^ Why? Because we are called to love God and our neighbour, i.e., anyone who is in need. The only way a human being can love God in the active sense of agape is to love other people. Our love of God is shown through our compassion and charity to others (Matt, sheep and goats).47 Or as Jesus answers the Scribe in Luke 10:29-36, a good heart that is moved to pity and then to charitable or compassionate actions by another person's sorrow or need will obtain eternal life.48 With all his interest in the interpretation of the early Christian kerygma and his concern for righteousness based on faith, the Apostle Paul also declares the centrality and the permanent validity of love (I Cor. 13; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:6, 14). For Paul, faith works through love (Gal. 5:6), and this love calls us to be servants of one another, to love our neighbours as ourselves (Gal. 5:13-14). In / Corinthians 13, Paul uses fifteen verbs to express the concrete manifestations of love.49 Thus for Paul, as in the gospels, love (agape) is action. One of love's most important activities, according to Paul, is love's insistence on justice for all human beings.50 From the perspective of the Christian scriptures, God's central revelation, which is given through Jesus Christ, is agape. An examination of Christian
PETER RHEA JONES, "The Love Command in Parable," Perspectives In Religious Studies 6 (1979), pp. 232-333. See also Furnish, The Love Command in the New Testament, p. 41. See also Luke 14:12-14; Mark 9:39; Matthew 18:10. Cf. Jeremas, The Parables of Jesus, pp. 205-206. 44 JONES, "The Love Command in Parable," pp. 234-235. See also Choan-Seng Song, The Compassionate God (New York: Orbis Books, 1982), p. 135, who states that for the good Samaritan "love has no religious and racial boundary. This boundless love is the true love." See also Luise Schottroff et al., Essays on the Love Commandment, trans. Reginald H. and Use Fuller (Philadelphia: Fortress Press), 1978, especially p. 23. 45 BRUNNER, Faith, Hope, and Love, pp. 63-64. 46 SPICQ, Agape in the New Testament, vol. 1, p. 11. 47 Ibid., p. 29. 4 * Ibid., p. 117. 49 SPICQ, Agape in the New Testament, vol. 2, p. 177. 50 Ibid., p. 178. See also Furnish, The Love Command in the New Testament, pp. 91-95, for a discussion of the eschatological and christological orientation of Paul's love ethic.



scripture shows that agape is active and involves justice, risk,51 compassion, charity, respect, service, and forgiveness52 towards others without expecting love in return.53 This agape is selfless love and constitutes a way of life.54 Agape, as defined above, is a valid criterion by which, from a Christian perspective, the scriptures and traditions of other religions can be examined to see whether or not they contain revelation that requires the practice of love toward other human beings.55 Christians, therefore, can affirm that wherever the scriptures and traditions of other religions call for a response of agape toward other people, there religion that contains truth is found.56 In applying this criterion, I am looking for that which, from a Christian point of view, looks like reasonable expressions of or echoes of agape. In the discussion that follows, the term scripture is used for sacred writings that are considered authoritative for a religious community. Revelation is used in the Hebrew and Greek sense of the term which means to unveil, to disclose or to uncover. The source and means of the disclosure or revelation will differ according to the religious tradition under discussion. As the following discussion moves into the religions of the east, it will become apparent that the question: "Do the adherents of each religion consider their scriptures to be revelation?" is more complex than it may appear at first glance. In eastern religions, for example, the lines of what is considered canon are less rigidly drawn than in western religions.57 One must be cautiously alert to the quite different anthropologies and ontologies involved in other religions, especially eastern religions. Furthermore, in the following discussion, when I draw upon
SONG, Third-Eye Theology, p. 97. JAMES MOFFATT, Love in the New Testament (New York: Richard R. Smith, Inc.), 1930, p. 104. GENE OUTKA, Agape: An Ethical Analysis (New Haven: Yale University Press), 1972, p. 14. Note that the further analysis of agape in relation to concepts such as justice, mercy, lovingkindness and compassion involves many complex issues that cannot be addressed within the limits of this discussion. 54 FURNISH, The Love Command in the New Testament, p. 60. 55 Assessing other religions by using the criterion of agape could be done in a number of ways. If one agrees with W. C. Smith that the locus of religious truth is in the action of the person, then one would examine the action of adherents of each religion. Smith, Questions of Religious Truth, pp. 67-68. Such an examination, however, would seem more appropriate to the social sciences. Robert A. Segal, "The Social Sciences and the Truth of Religious Belief," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 48 (1980), p. 403-413. Inasmuch as my criterion is taken from Christian scriptures and tradition, this study will be limited to the examination of significant scriptures and written traditions of other religions. 56 See Orlando E. Costas, "A Radical Evangelical Contribution from Latin America," Christ's Lordship and Religious Pluralism, pp. 152-154, who offers a threefold criterion for truth in other religions: 1) identity with those who suffer; 2) struggle for liberation of the poor and oppressed; 3) an inner structure that is a paradigm of justice, freedom and hope. Identity with the poor and the struggle for justice, of course, are a part of loving others, or rather, the poor are part of humanity, whom we are called to love. Hence my argument that agape is a Christian criterion for truth in other religions is supported by liberation theology represented here by Costas, who holds that the practice of liberating agape is the only means by which truth can be known and verified. According to Jones in "The Love Command in Parable," pp. 236-237, the wounded man beside the road in the Parable of the Good Samaritan becomes a test of authentic religion. See also pp. 240-241. 57 G. VAN DER LEEUW, Religion in Essence and Manifestation, trans. J. E. Turner, vol. 2 (New York: Harper & Row), 1963, p. 437.
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the scholars and advocates of other religions who hold that concepts in their religion are similar to agape, I am aware that not all scholars and advocates of these religions would be in agreement. Finally, I want to emphasize that the following discussion makes no claims to present a point of view that is Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Confucianist. Rather I am presenting what a Christian might find revelatory and salvific in these religions insofar as they appear to express or echo the Christian concept of agape. I also acknowledge the different reasons for and the varied emphases placed upon agape in other religions without denying the validity of agape as a criterion for truth in the world religions.

Divine revelation for the orthodox Jew is found in the Torah, which was revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai in two parts: the Written Torah known as the Tanakh58 and the Oral Torah called the Talmud. Through the study of the Tanakh and the Talmud "one attains revelation."59 Thus for the orthodox Jew, both the Tanakh and the Talmud are authoritative writings. The four words used in the Tanakh in the sense of agape as defined above are ahabah, heded, emeth, and mishpat. The word most often translated "to love" in the Tanakh is ahab, usually rendered agapan in the Septuagint. The other Hebrew words listed above, however, also express the concept of agape. Emeth is often translated faithfulness, mercy, and truth. Mishpat is usually translated justice. Hesed is rendered goodness, kindness, mercy, love, and loving-kindness. The prophetic books speak of hesed and mishpat as God's requirements of God's people Israel. In osea, for example, we read that God is angry with Israel because there is no emeth or hesed in the land (Hosea 4:1). God requires both love of God and love of people for one another. Thus hesed is the proper conduct of all people toward one another. "The word hesed signifies man's readiness for mutual aid, stemming from a pure love of humanity; it is the realization of 'the generally-valid divine commandment of humaneness'."61
58 Often referred to as the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament. Liberal Jews often treat the Talmud "as an historical document separating off the parts which can claim universal validity from those which merely express individual opinions; orthodox Judaism, on the other hand, has always acknowledged the absolute validity of the Talmud as a whole and even put it almost on a par with The Old Testament...". Gunter Lanczkowski, Sacred Writings: A Guide to the Literature of Religions, trans. Stanley Godman (New York: Harper & Row), 1961, p. 35. 59 JACOB NEUSNER, The Way of Torah: An Introduction to Judaism, 3rd ed. (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company), 1979, p. 15. See also pp. 13-14, 22. This understanding of the Torah is that of rabbinic or classical Judaism. Ibid., p. 12. See also Joseph Neusner, "Form and Meaning in Mishnah," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 45 (1977), p. 28. See also Leo Trepp, Judaism: Development and Life, 3rd ed. (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company), 1982, pp. 3, 188, 218-220. ^TDNT, vol. 1, p. 39. 61 NELSON GLUECK, Hesed in the Bible, trans. Alfred Gottschalk (Ktav Publishing House, Inc.), 1975, p. 57.



God's judgement is upon Israel because their hesed is fleeting (Hosea 6:4-5). God requires hesed, not sacrifices, for God's people (Hosea 6:6). Israel is called upon to return to God by holding fast to hesed and mishpat and trusting in God (Hosea 12:7). "Mishpat is to be understood in the sense of doing good and hating evil, and hesed as the ethical and religious conduct of men among themselves, which proves man's obedience to the divine commandments and makes communion between man and God possible";62 thus, hesed corresponds to mishpat. "He who acts in accordance with hesed will also naturally practice loyalty and righteousness."63 A person who loves others does so by showing justice {mishpat) and kindness {hesed) to all. Hesed is "the true expression of genuine religiosity," and hesed is "humaneness and brotherliness toward all." M Other prophets call for love and justice. Amos preached, "hate evil, and love good, and establish justice {mishpat) in the gate" (5:15). According to Amos, God does not want sacrifices and external signs of worship, but rather God commands the people of Israel to "let justice {mishpat) roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream" (5:24). Micah 6:8 states, "He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice {mishpat), and to love kindness {hesed), and to walk humbly with your God?" Jeremiah tells the people of Judah that Yahweh delights in kindness {hesed), justice {mishpat), and righteousness (9:24). The servant of Deutero-Isaiah will establish justice {mishpat) in all the earth (42:1-9), and Trito-Isaiah speaks the words of Yahweh to the people to "keep justice {mishpat) and do righteousness" (56:1). Ezekiel enumerates the deeds of a righteous person, which include feeding the hungry and clothing the naked (Ez. 18:5-9). Exodus 23:1-8 and Deuteronomy 16:18-20 call for justice {mishpat), and Exodus 22:21, reads "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."65 Furthermore one should not "afflict any widow or orphan" (Ex. 22:22) and one must even come to the assistance of an enemy (Ex. 23:5). Finally, Leviticus 19:18 says, "You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love {ahabtd) your neighbour {reya) as yourself: I am the Lord." Thus, according to the Hebrew scriptures, love is best understood as action; love is doing just, compassionate, and merciful deeds. According to Jacob Licht, doing what is right and just is the essence of the ethics of the Tanakh. ** The command to love {ahabtd) one's neighbour {re'a) in Leviticus 19:18 has been both central to Judaism and problematic to Jewish scholars. The centrality of this command is borne out in a number of rabbinical statements.
62 Ibid., p. 59. 63 Ibid., p. 59. 64 Ibid., p. 59. 65 Cf. Exodus, 23:9. 66

JACOB LICHT, "Ethics," Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 6 (Jerusalem: The Macmillan Co.), 1971, p. 934. See also Elliot N. Dorff, "The Interaction of Jewish Law with Morality," Judaism 26 (1977), p. 465, who says that the emphasis of Jewish moral education is on action.



The rabbis who founded the Talmudic tradition in the first six centuries C.E. (Common Era) understood the Torah to be the embodiment of God's will. The precepts of the revealed Torah enabled people through their deeds to express their love of God with all their heart and with all their soul.67 The will of God revealed in the Torah was to do deeds of loving-kindness. For the rabbis, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God were not mere abstractions but were injunctions that must be lived in the world.68 Thus we find in the Talmud a passage that tells us that the possessor of the Torah is one who loves one's fellow creatures, loves righteous ways, and loves uprightness (Aboth 6:6). Furthermore, the great Rabbi Hillel is quoted as having said that a disciple of Aaron is "one who loveth one's fellow creatures..." (Aboth 1:12). Sometimes when the rabbis wanted to emphasize an idea, they would claim that it amounted to the entire Torah. This was the use of hyperbole as a teaching device.69 This use of hyperbole is seen in the following Talmudic passage: "When a heathen who wanted to become a proselyte asked Hillel to teach the proselyte the whole Torah while he stood on one foot, Hillel replied, 'what is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it'" (Shabbath 31a).70 Elsewhere Rabbi Akiba is said to have called this statement the fundamental principle or universal rule.71 Furthermore, the Talmud states that one who loves one's neighbour and who lends a s eia to a poor person in the hour of that person's need will hear, after calling upon God, "Here I am!" (Yebamoth 62b-63a). The command to love one's neighbour is central to the Tanakh and to the Talmud. Since antiquity the problem that has arisen among the rabbis is not the centrality of the command but the meaning of the word neighbour {re1 a). The context of the word re'a in Leviticus 19:18 makes it difficult to know whether re'a in this passage means fellow Jew or all people. According to Eugene Borowitz, Rabbi Ben Azzai chose the verse: "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him" as the most comprehensive principle of the Torah. In so doing, Rabbi Azzai was not denying the importance of the commandment to love one's neighbour as one's self, but rather Azzai "is seeking a more inclusive verse, for 'neighbour' might be understood literally or locally, but 'creation in the image of God' excludes no human being."72

MAX KADUSHIN, "Aspects of the Rabbinic Concept of Israel: A Study in the Mekilta," Hebrew Union College Annual 9 (1945-1946), pp. 67-68. See also p. 95. See also Neusner, The Life of the Torah: Readings in the Jewish Religious Experience (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company), 1974, p. 85. 68 JACOB NEUSNER, Invitation to the Talmud: A Teaching Book (New York: Harper & Row), 1973, pp. 22, 36-37. MAX KADUSHIN, Worship and Ethics: A Study in Rabbinic Judaism (Northwestern University Press), 1964, pp. 34-35. 70 See Ibid., p. 35, for further discussion of this passage. 71 The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, trans. Anthony J. Saldarmi (Leiden: E. J. Brill), 1975, p. 155. 72 EUGENE G. BOROWITZ, "Love and Fear of God," Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 11 (Jerusalem: The Macmillan-Co.), 1971, p. 530.



Borowitz further states that "both Hillel (Avot 1:12) and R. Meir (ibid. 6:1) enjoin that one should love all mankind ('creatures')" 73 Concern for the nonJew and the non-Jew's welfare is understood to be part of the Jewish goal of promoting peace among all peoples. From this goal, the Jews developed a whole range of moral responsibilities toward Gentiles. Even Maimonides writes: "We bury the dead of heathens, comfort their mourners, and visit their sick, as this is the way of peace." 74 Nevertheless, Maimonides interprets re'a to mean fellow Jew. Of the law to love one's neighbour, Maimonides states: "By this injunction we are commanded that we are to love one another even as we love ourselves, and that a man's love and compassion for his brother in faith shall be like his love and compassion for himself, in respect of his money, his person, and of whatever he possesses and desires." 75 Furthermore, Maimonides says that the command to love the stranger in Leviticus 19:34 refers to one who has become a proselyte to Judaism. 76 Hence for Maimonides, re'a is a member of the congregation of Israel. Martin Buber, on the other hand, understands re'a, translated by the Septuagint as "the one near by, the near," to mean in the Tanakh first of all one to whom I stand in an immediate and reciprocal relationship, and this through any kind of situation in life, through community of place, through common nationality, through community of work, through community of effort, especially also through friendship; it transfers itself to fellow-men in general and so to others as a whole. 'Love thy re'ah" therefore means in our language: be lovingly disposed toward men with whom thou hast to do at any time in the course of life.77 In Deuteronomy 10:12, "Israel is summoned to love God." Since God loves all humanity, not only Israel, but foreigners, the evil and the good, the just and the unjust (Deut. 10:1a), Jews must do likewise in order to love God. 78 In / and Thou, Buber develops his message around the understanding that God reveals to us that every person is a Thou to God, and hence human beings must respond to every other person as a Thou loved by God. 79 In referring to a Hasidic teaching, Buber quotes the teacher as saying: " 'Love thy fellow as one like thyself!' The true love of God begins with the love of men. And if one

Ibid. Ibid. 75 MOSES BEN MAIMN (MAINMONIDES), The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Vol. I: The Positive Commandments, trans. Charles B. Chavel (New York: Soncino Press), 1967, p. 220. (Italics mine.) Ibid., p. 222. 77 MARTIN BUBER, TWO Types of Faith, trans. Norman P. Goldhawk (New York: Harper & Row), 1961, pp. 69-70. 78 Ibid., pp. 71-72. It follows, according to Buber, that Jews must love their enemies. The popular saying that one is free to hate one's enemies is a misunderstanding of the commandment to love one's neighbour and stands in contradiction to the commandment in Exodus 23:4f to bring help to one's enemy (pp. 72-73). 79 MARTIN BUBER, / and Thou, trans, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 1970, p. 180.



should say to you that he has love for God and has no love for men, know that he lies."80 Buber then quotes the Baal-Shem-Tov to further explain the command to love one's neighbour: "It lies upon you to love your comrade as one like yourself. And who knows as you do your many defects? As you are nonetheless able to love yourself so love your fellow no matter how many defects you may see in him."81 According to Buber, the sayings of the Pharisees give strong expression to the command to love one's neighbour. It actually says in a Midrash that even one's enemy is created in God's image and that if one hates another person, one hates God.82 Today the idea of neighbour is universalized by many Jewish writers. Ernst Simon, in a paper entitled "The Neighbor (Re'a) Whom We Shall Love," presented at a meeting of the Institute for Judaism and Contemporary Thought in Israel, 1972, concludes after a survey of rabbinic thought on this problem that most rabbis, including those of the Talmudic period, interpret re'a as fellow Jews. There have been exceptions, however, since the ninth century C.E., such as Jacob Zvi Mecklenburg (1785-1985), who interprets re'a to mean "every human being,"83 and Hanock Albeck who argues in such a way as to leave the reader to believe that re'a included Gentiles in classical Jewish thought from early times.84 Simon feels that there is a moral obligation that takes priority over the Halakhah. For Simon, this moral obligation leads him to assert that re'a is every person.85 The word used for love in Leviticus 19:18 is ahabta, but the rabbis who emphasized love in their ethics, refined and enriched the concept of love. Rather than one term for love, the rabbis used a number of terms besides ahabah, such as rahamin (compassion), zedakah (charity),86 and gemilut hasadim (deeds of loving-kindness87 or literally, doing deeds of lovingkindness). 88 According to the rabbis, love is active. One does zedakah (charity) or gemilut hasadim (deeds of loving-kindness). These concepts overlap and have the wider connotation of love in rabbinical usage.89
MARTIN BUBER, Hasidism and Modern Man, ed. and trans. Maurice Friedman (New York: Harper & Row), 1966, p. 237. *lIbid., p. 244. 82 BUBER, TWO Types of Faith, p. 73. 83 ERNST SIMON, "The Neighbor (Re'a) Whom We Shall Love," Modern Jewish Ethics: Theory and Practice, ed. Marvin Fox (Ohio State University Press), 1975, p. 51. 84 Ibid., p. 50. 85 Ibid., p. 54. Cf. Harold Fisch, "A Response to Ernst Simon," Modern Jewish Ethics, pp. 5761. Cf. Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros, trans. Philip S. Watson (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1953, p. 63, who states that "neighbour" in the Old Testament means only one's kin or member of one's nation. 86 On zedakah as love see Max Kadushin, "Aspects of the Rabbinic Concept of Israel," p. 89, footnote 163, and p. 95, footnote 190. 87 KADUSHIN, Worship and Ethics, p. 60. 88 MOORE, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, vol. 2, p. 171, footnote 10. 89 MAX KADUSHIN, The Rabbinic Mind, 3rd ed. (New York: Block Publishing Co.), 1972, p. 297 and footnotes 45 and 46 on p. 297. See also Kadushin, Worship and Ethics, pp. 20-24. See also Max Kadushin, Organic Thinking: A Study in Rabbinic Thought (Philadelphia: Press of the Jewish Publication Society), 1938, p. 363, footnotes 193 and 194.



It is said in the Talmud that King David, in rendering legal judgement, would acquit the innocent and condemn the guilty. When David saw, however, that the guilty person was poor, David performed an act of zedakah (charity) by paying out of his own pocket the fine that he had to levy on the guilty poor person in order to carry out justice (Sanhdrin 6b). ^ According to Max Kadushin, "the word hesed which is the singular of hasadim in the phrase gemilut hasadimthat is, the practice of deeds of loving-kindness means a deed done out of love and kind friendship."91 Deeds of lovingkindness are deeds that one does for other people that are not specifically found in a list of commands but that are done solely out of the response of lovingkindness toward another's need.92 Gemilut hasadim are deeds that give of the self in personal attention, sympathy, and service.93 Of the gemilut hasadim the Talmud says: "He that pursueth afterrighteousnessand loving-kindness findeth life, righteousness and honour" (Kiddushin 40a).94 Of Rabbah and Abaye, descendants of the house of Eli, the Talmud says: "Rabbah, who engaged in the study of the Torah, lived forty years. Abaye, however, who engaged in the study of the Torah and the practice of loving-kindness, lived sixty years" (Yebamoth 105a). Furthermore, almsgiving {zedakah) and deeds of lovingkindness {gemilut hasadim) together are equal to all of the commandments of the law.95 The Abot de Rabbi Nathan, found in the Babylonian Talmud in an appendix to Nezikin,96 often refers to compassion and deeds of loving-kindness. In fact, two of the ten means by which the world was created were compassion and loving-kindness.97 The world stands on three things: the Torah, the Temple service, and acts of loving-kindness.98 Furthermore, we are told in scripture that " 'the loving-kindness of the Lord fills the earth' (Ps. 33:5)" and that " 'the loving-kindness of the Lord is from (one end of) the world to (the other end of) the world upon those who fear him' (Ps. 103:17)".99 After the destruction of the Temple, Hosea 6:6 forms the paradigm of Judaism. "The major sacrifices of special importance were the whole burnt offerings; the study of the Torah replaces them. The minor sacrifices of every day are replaced by acts of loving-kindness." 10

In Rabbinic speech, "charity to the poor" is described by zedakah, which denotes "righteous" or "just doing". Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud, vol. 1, p. 22, footnote 7. See also Kadushin, Worship and Ethics, pp. 27-28 for a discussion of the biblical and rabbinical usage of zedakah. 91 KADUSHIN, Organic Thinking, p. 136-137. 92 Ibid., p. 137. 93 MOORE, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, vol. 2, p. 171. See also pp. 172ff. for specific deeds. 94 See Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud, vol. 3, p. 197, footnote 8, which states that "life" is understood to refer to life in the next world and "righteousness and honour" to the reward in this world. 95 MOORE, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, vol. 2, p. 171. 96 MOORE, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, vol. 1, p. 158. 97 The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, pp. 258-259. See also p. 207. 98 Ibid., p. 183. 99 Ibid., p. 74. 100 Ibid., p. 74, footnote 1.



The following story from Abot de Rabbi Nathan illustrates the importance and function of deeds of loving-kindness: Once, as Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai was coming forth from Jerusalem, Rabbi Joshua followed after him and beheld the Temple in ruins. "Woe unto us," Rabbi Joshua cried, "that this, the place where the iniquities of Israel were atoned for, is laid waste." "My son," Rabban Yohanan said to him, "be not grieved. We have another atonement as effective as this. And what is it? It is acts of loving-kindness, as it is said, Tor I desire mercy [loving-kindness] and not sacrifice'" (Hos. 6:6).101 Hence in the Jewish tradition the will of God is often understood in terms of the doing of acts of loving-kindness. A Christian can conclude from the examination of the scriptures and traditions of Judaism, that Jews are called to live a life characterized by deeds of compassion, charity, loving-kindness, respect, and justice toward all. Thus a Christian can affirm that according to the criterion of agape, Judaism contains truth.

Muslims believe that God, the Merciful and the Compassionate,102 has revealed the obligations and duties of humankind in the Qur'an. Muslims consider the Qur'an God's uncreated speech and God's perfect and final revelation to humankind.103 The Hadith, or the Traditions of the words and actions of the prophet, is also authoritative for Muslims. "The Qur[an] speaks of Muhammad being given the Book and the Wisdom, interpreted later as meaning the Qur[an] and the H[adith]. Though not verbally inspired like the Qur[an], the words in the H[adith] spoken by Muhammad are held to be spoken .under divine guidance." 104
101 Quoted from Neusner, Invitation to the Talmud, p. 22 (brackets mine). See also The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, p. 74. 102 TOSHIHIKO IZUTSU, God and Man in the Koran: Semantics of the Koranic Weltanschauung (Tokyo: The Keio Institute of Cultural and Linguistic Studies), 1964, p. 230. See also Suras 11/90 and 85/14 of The Holy Qur'an, trans. A. Yusuf Ali, 2nd ed. (American Trust Publications), 1977 where God (Allah) is spoken of as merciful, loving and forgiving. (All references to the Qur'an will be taken from this translation unless otherwise noted.) God is addressed in the beginning of all but one Sura of the Qur'an as God, the Merciful and Compassionate. 103 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam (Boston: Beacon Press), 1972, pp. 42-44. See Sura 3/164. See also G. F. Hourani, "Ethical Presuppositions of the Qur'an", The Muslim World 70 (1980), especially pp. 19-24 for a discussion of God's revelation in the Qur'an of the moral knowledge that makes people accountable. 104 S. G. F. BRANDON, gen. ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 1970, p. 316 (brackets mine). The Hadith Qudsi, quoted later, is considered less authoritative than the Hadith and Qur'an. When quoting from the Qur'an one says that this is what God said. When quoting from the Hadith Qudsi one says that this is what God said as reported by Muhammed, p. 317.



The Qur'an calls humankind to submit to God.105 Believers, or those who submit to God, are defined as those who do good to or love their neighbours.106 Confession of faith in Islam must be corroborated by fidelity of life.107 According to the Qur'an, God loves those who do good, and God does not love those who do evil (Suras 2/195, 3/134, 3/148, 5/96). One important aspect of being religious in Islam is distributing one's wealth to the needy for the love of God.108 Those people are consideredrighteouswho, rather than grasp material wealth, give freely of themselves and their possessions, whether they are well-off or in difficulties, because others may also be in difficulties.109 On those who believe And do deeds of righteousness There is no blame For God loveth those Who do good. (Sura 5/96)no Love of God, which requires love of God's creatures, U1 must extend to nonMuslims. 112 "Even with Unbelievers, unless they are rampant and out to destroy us and our Faith, we should deal kindly and equitably, as is shown by our holy Prophet's own example."113 God has no favourites114 but judges people on their deeds .ofrighteousnessor loving-kindness. "Allah declares that salvation does not depend upon one's
105 The words "Islam" and "Muslim" are taken from salama, which means to submit. Annemarie Schimmel, "Islam", Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religions, eds. C. Jouco Bleeker & Geo. Widengren, vol. 2 (Leiden: E. G. Brill), 1971, p. 125. Muslim is a participle meaning "surrendered" (to God). Islam is the corresponding verbal noun with the meaning "surrender (to God)." W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (New York: Oxford University Press), 1977, p. 117. See also Kenneth Cragg, The House of Islam, 2nd ed. (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company), 1975, p. 44. 106 A. S. TRITTON, Islam: Belief and Practices (Westport, Conn.: Hyperion Press, Inc.), 1951, p. 14. According to Tritton, love means "the will to do good to someone," p. 17. Furthermore, love for God can only be shown by obedience to God, which requires love of neighbour. Ibid., p. 172. 107 CRAGG, The House of Islam, p. 46. See also John Renard, "Muslim Ethics: Sources, Interpretations and Challenges," The Muslim World, 69 (1979), p. 168, who says that to seek God's forgiveness is the first step towards receiving God's mercy, which in turn furthers one's good conduct.

ros TRITTON, Islam, p. 14.

The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 157, footnote 453. See also Sura 3/134. See also Suras 60/8 and 19/96. The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 272, footnote 798. See also Suras 2/195; 3/148; 5/14. "Islam recognizes true faith in other forms, provided that it be sincere, supported by reason and backed up byrighteousconduct." The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 265, footnote 779. See also p. 34, footnote 77. From Sura 60/1 it appears that one must not be on friendly terms with the enemies of one's faith. The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 1531, footnote 5409. On the other hand, Sura 60/7 says "It may be that God will grant love (and friendship)/Between you and those whom/Ye (now) hold as enemies./For God has power/(Over all things); And God is/Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." See also The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 1533, footnote 5420 where Ali says, "We should hate what is evil, but not men as such." 113 Ibid., p. 1534, footnote 5421. 114 Sura 19/94-95. Cf. The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 786, footnote 2531. See also p. 854, footnote 2788.

109 110 111 112



connection with any group but on one's right beliefs and good deeds." 115 On the Day of Judgement, those who will be summoned to enter paradise are the God-fearing, the humble, the charitable and the forgiving.116 On the other hand, doom is the fate of those who have refused the needy (Sura 107). Deeds of loving-kindness or charity are spelled out in concrete actions in the Qur'an. One must give of one's substance, however cherished, to family, orphans, the needy, travellers, even strangers, and beggars117 (Suras 2/177; 4/36). Good works in Islam include everything that advances the good of anyone in need. 118 By no means shall ye/Attainrighteousnessunless/Ye give (freely) of that/Which ye love; and whatever/Ye give, of a truth/God knoweth it well (Sura 3/92). The test of genuine deeds of righteousness or charity is: Do you give something that you value greatly, something that you love? If you give your life in a cause, that is the greatest gift you can give. If you give yourself, that is, your personal efforts, your talents, your skill, your learning, that comes next in degree. If you give your earnings, your property, your possessions, that is also a great gift; for many people love them even more than other things. And there are less tangible things, such as position, reputation, the well-being of those we love, the regard of those who can help us, etc. It is unselfishness that God demands, and there is no act of unselfishness, however small or intangible, but is well within the knowledge of God.119 A Muslim must not only "Do as you would be done by" but "must give in full what is due from you, whether you expect or wish to receive full consideration from the other side or not." 120 When one gives of one's self or of one's possessions, one gives what is from God (Sura 4/39). 121 God will reward doubly any good we do (Sura 4/40), for God is never unjust.122 Charity, or almsgiving, became so important in Islam as a concrete expression of faith that zakat, or almsgiving, became an institution and one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat became "the cement of Islam" and "is understood as a means to repentance and atonement, as a way of practical reconciliation, and as a parable of brotherliness."123 The Qur'an states:

115 S. ABUL A'LA MAUDUDI, The Meaning of the Qur'an, vol. 1 (Lahore: Islamic Publications, Lis.), 1971, p. 80, footnote 80. See also Suras 1/62, 5/72, 22/17. 116 H. A. R. GIBB, Mohammedanism: A Historical Survey, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press), 1979, p. 41. See also Suras 2/82, 20/112. 117 See The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 69, footnote 179 where Ali states that "Practical deeds of charity are of value when they proceed from love, and from no other motive." See also p. 179, footnote 177 where Ali states that a Muslim must concentrate on love of God and love of one's fellow human beings. 118 The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 102, footnote 294. For other references to charity see Suras 2/195,215,271. 119 The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 147, footnote 419. 120 The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. 1703, footnote 6011. 121 See Ibid., p. 192, footnote 558. 122 Ibid., p. 192, footnote 559. 123 CRAGG, The House of Islam, p. 46.


INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF MISSION Those who (in charity) Spend of their goods By night and by day, In secret and in public, Have their reward With their Lord; On them shall be no fear Nor shall they grieve. (Sura 2/274)124 The following two Muslim sayings illustrate the importance of zakat: A man served God for seventy years and then committed a sin which cancelled the merit of his service. Afterwards he gave a loaf of bread to a poor man, so God pardoned his sin and gave him back the merit of his seventy years' service. His alms are vain who does not know that his need of the reward for giving is greater than the poor man's need of the gift.125 To whom does one offer charity {zakat)! To the needy who ask and to the needy who are prevented from asking (Sura 51/19). True charity remembers not only those in need who ask, but also those who are prevented by some reason from asking. The man of true charity seeks out the latter. There may be various reasons which prevent him from asking for help: 1) he may be ashamed to ask, or his sense of honour may prevent him from asking; 2) he may be so engrossed in some great ideal that he may not think of asking; 3) he may even not know that he is in need, especially when we think of wealth and possessions in a spiritual sense, as including spiritual gifts and talents; 4) he may not know that you possess the things that can supply his need; and 5) he may be a dumb and helpless creature, whether a human being or a dumb animal or any creature within your ken or power. Charity in the higher sense includes all help, from one better endowed to one less well endowed.126 After the death of Muhammad in 632 C.E., his followers began to collect his words and various stories about his actions. The Hadith, these traditions about the prophet, became a source of ethical conduct molded on the life and sayings 127 of Muhammad, who was held up as a "moral paradigm." The Hadith uphold the ideal of love of neighbour or the doing of deeds of lovingkindness to all people. According to the Hadith, "those who love one another for God's sake, those who sit together for God's sake, and those who visit one another for God's sake" will occupy paradise. 1 2 8 Love of another includes preventing a person from acting wrongfully. 129 Furthermore, according to the
124 See The Holy Qur'an, trans. Ali, p. I l l , footnote 323 where charity is defined as "unselfish giving of one's self or one's goods." See also Suras 51/7 and 2/110. 5 T R I T T 0 N ) islam, p. 26. See also Cragg, The House of Islam, pp. 46-48 for a discussion of 2 zakat. See also Gibb, Mohammedanism, pp. 43-44. See also Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam, p.26117. * The Holy Qur'an, trans., Ali, p. 1422, footnote 5001. A precise list of those to whom charity is to be offered can be found on p. 458, footnote 1320, and Sura 9/60. 127 RENARD, "Muslim Ethics," pp. 169-173. 128 Mishkat al-Masabih, trans., James Robson, vol. 3 (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf), 1964, p. 1044. h9 Ibid., p. 1032.



Hadith, Muhammad said "a man does not believe till he likes for his brother what he likes for himself." 13 The section of the Hadith on faith states that when Muhammad was asked what the most excellent aspect of faith was, the prophet replied: "That you should love for God's sake That you should like other people to have what you like yourself, and dislike that they should have what you dislike yourself."131 Love of God and neighbour was explained by Muhammad as follows: "If anyone is pleased to love God and His messenger, or rather to have God and His messenger love him, he should speak the truth when he tells anything, fulfil his trust when he is put in a position of trust, and be a good neighbour."132 Furthermore, in the Hadith, as in the Qur'an, it is said that "Those who are merciful have mercy shown them by the Compassionate One. If you show mercy to those who are in the earth He who is in heaven will show mercy to you." 133 God will know you when you are in God's presence by your "love of your children, of your kin, of your neighbours, of your fellow-creatures."134 "Do you love your Creator? Love your fellow-beings first."135 Charity will be the shade of the believer on the Day of Resurrection.136 John B. Taylor points out in his article on Islamic eschatology that the controversial Hadith Qudsi says that on the Judgement Day, God will say to the unrighteous "O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit me," 1 3 7 but those who have responded to God's mercy and love by offering charity and by forgiving others will enter paradise. The five pillars of Islam are set forth in the Hadith in the section concerning faith. "Ibn 'Umar reported God's messenger as saying, 'Islam is based on five things: the testimony that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, the observance of the prayer, the payment of zakat, the Pilgrimage, and the fast during Ramadan.'" 138 According to an ancient tradition, Muhammad added a sixth pillar, or primary obligation, "The active love of one's neighbour, i.e., the duty of doing to others what one would wish done to oneself."139 The Hadith states that "Every act of kindness is sadaqa."140 Both sadaqa and zakat are used in the Qur'an for alms. Sadaqa, however, came to mean
Ibid., p. 1033. Mishkat al-Masabih, trans., Robson, part 1, p. 16. Cf. Luke 14:26. Mishkat al-Masabih, trans., Robson, vol. 3, p. 1038. 133 Ibid., p. 1034. 134 AMEER ALI, The Spirit of Islam: A History of the Evolution and Ideals of Islam (Cambridge: George H. Doran Co.), 1923, p. 174. 135 Ibid., p. 174. 136 Al-Hadis of Mishkat-al-Masabith, trans. Al-Haj Maulana Fazlul Karim, 2nd ed., book 2 (Dacca, East Pakistan), 1963, p. 22. 137 JOHN B. TAYLOR, "Some Aspects of Islamic Eschatology," Religious Studies 4 (1968), p. 69. 138 Mishkat al-Masabih, trans. Robson, part 1, p. 6. 139 . J. DE BOER, "Ethics and Morality (Muslim)" Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings, vol. 5 (New York: Charles Scribners Sons), 1914, p. 502. 140 Mishkat al-Masabih, trans. Robson, part 18, p. 403.
131 132 130



voluntary almsgiving whereas zakat came to mean legal alms.141 The Qur'an frequently calls believers those who observe salat (ritual prayer) and pay the zakat.142 Thus a smile, helping a person with a heavy load, removing a dangerous object from the road, or even a good work is considered by the Hadith to be a sadaqa. m "Abu Sa'id reported God's messenger as saying, 'If any Muslim clothes a Muslim when he is naked, God will clothe him with some of the green garments of paradise; and if any Muslim gives a Muslim drink when he is thirsty, God will give him some of the pure wine which is sealed to drink.'"144 The belief that people will be judged solely on their deeds toward other people enjoins Muslims to practice self-denial and universal charity. The belief that the God who will judge them on their works is merciful, loving, and omnipotent, leads Muslims to humble submission before Allah and to the practice of patience, resignation, and firmness in the trials of life.145 Hence from a Christian point of view, the revealed scripture and traditions of Islam meet the criterion of agape insofar as they call for deeds of charity, loving-kindness, forgiveness, selfless giving, and mercy toward other human beings.

Up to this point we have been dealing with religions influenced by what may be called the Semitic-western thought pattern. The cultures out of which Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Chinese religions developed, however, in many cases contained categories foreign to western logic. Caution must be exercised in applying the criterion of agape, a term from the western (Greek) world, to the eastern world. As Austin B. Creel puts it, "one must be continually on guard against taking categories of one culture and imposing them upon another."146

141 BRANDON, Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 407. SeeAl-Hadis, trans., Karim, pp. 9-10. For a discussion of the two and a half per cent tax paid by wealthy Muslims to the poor. See also Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 170. 142 BRANDON, Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 407. 143 Mishkat al-Masabih, trans. Robson, part 18, p. 403. SeeAl-Hadis, trans. Karim, p. 10 for the wide meaning of charity in Islam. See "Allamah Sayyed Muhammad Hasayn Tabataba'i," Shi'ite Islam, trans, and ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Albany: State University of New York Press) 1975, p. 233 for a brief discussion of the Shi'ite practices of charity. 144 Mishkat al-Masabih, trans. Robson, part 18, p. 406. See also Al-Hadis, trans. Karin, p. 12 where Karin says, "In charity, there is no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims except in zakat which cannot be lawfully given on [sic] non-Muslims. Besides zakat, every other alms and charities may be given to men without discrimination. This is based upon a precept of the Holy Prophet who advised that alms should be bestowed upon the [sic] poor and the needy." See also Ibid., p. 18. 145 Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 176. 146 AUSTIN B. CREEL, "Dharma as an Ethical Category Relating to Freedom and Responsibility," Philosophy East and West 22 (1972), p. 168.



Care will be taken, therefore, in the following discussion of what westerners call Hinduism,147 not to make superficial comparisons regarding agape and not to lift Hindu concepts out of context. The scriptures of Hinduism are varied and numerous. Those scriptures called the Vedas, Brahmanas, and Upanishads are considered shruti (heard); that is, they are revelations to their authors and therefore they are sacred writings or scriptures.148 All later writings are considered "smriti (remembered); that is, although they derive from revelation, they have been composed by their human authors."149 Later writings include the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and the Puranas. Although the Vedas 15 are classified as direct divine revelations, the later writings such as the Bhagavad Gita,151 called by some "the New Testament of India," are considered to contain sacred history, traditions and teachings of great sages.152 The relationship between the later writings and the Vedas can be considered analogous to the relationship between the Talmud and the Torah in Judaism.153 Thus many Hindus consider the later writings to be scripture. The Bhagavad Gita, for example, "has been recognized for centuries as an orthodox scripture of the Hindu religion possessing equal authority with the Upanishads...."154 The Christian concept of agape was defined above as actions characterized by justice, risk, compassion, charity, respect, service, forgiveness and selflessness. When examining the multifaceted teachings of the Hindu scriptures for a similar concept, one that emerges is dharma, a complex term that can range in meaning from what westerners call the Hindu religion to specific duties of individuals in specific situations.155 According to John M. Koller, the term dharma has been translated by words such as "morality," "duty," "religion," and "law." "But since dharma encompasses all of these different terms in its various uses, no one term from the English vocabulary provides an adequate translation."156 Koller goes on to explain that an important reason for this difficulty is the difference in thought and practice in Indian society and Greco-European society. In the west, even
147 See Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion, pp. 61-63, who says that Hinduism is a term imposed from the outside on a people who follow the Way or Dharma. 148 JOHN B. NOSS, Man's Religions, 6th ed. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.), 1980, p. 75 footnote. 149 Ibid. See also Lanczkowski, Sacred Writings, pp. 82-93. See also Ward J. Fellows, Religions East and West (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston), 1979, pp. 85-91. 150 See Noss, Man's Religions, p. 75 footnote, who explains that the Brahmanas and the Upanishads are actually part of the Vedas. 151 The Bhagavad Gita is found in the Mahabharata. 152 W. JAMES DYE and WILLIAM H. FORTHMAN, Religions of the World: Selected Readings (New York: Meredith Publishing Company), 1967, pp. 4-5. 153 Ibid., p. 4. By Torah, I assume Dye means here either the Pentateuch or the entire Tanakh. 154 The Bhagavadgita, trans. S. Radhakrishnan (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.), 1949, p. 15. Cf. Brandon, Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 567. *55 JOHN M. KOLLER, "Dharma: An Expression of Universal Order," Philosophy East and West 22 (1972), p. 131. See Creel, "Dharma as an Ethical Category," pp. 155-157. See also M. Dhavamony, "Hindu Morality," Studia Missionalia 27 (1978), pp. 219ff.

KOLLER, "Dharma" p. 132.



where human norms are regarded as expressions of divine law, these norms are human-centred and rationalistic. "In Vedic and traditional India, on the other hand, man is regarded as a manifestation and expression of a deeper reality, which is the measure of man, not vice versa."157 All of reality is one in being and in function in Indian thought. Hence "the dharma of a being is given by its very being through its participation in the central and ultimate reality of which it is a manifestation; it is not something added on to the being of the individual in question in order that certain aims might be achieved."158 According to J. Gonda, dharma is an untranslatable term that encompasses a whole range of social and religious norms and duties. It is dharma "that really matters" because dharma "supports the structure of society, upholds the regular and harmonious progress of the cosmic processes and is essential to the continuity of all phenomena in the universe."159 Dharma is often used to refer to a person's duty or path in the sense of one's social responsibilities, or that which one ought to do.160 Most branches of Hinduism teach high moral principles.161 According to the Upanishads, one obtains moksha (salvation or liberation) through the knowledge that Atman (one's soul or self) is one with Brahman (the ultimate principle of the universe).162 Thus one's goal is to move beyond dharma, i.e., beyond deeds and the world of morality, to moksha. Nevertheless, until one progresses to the point of moksha, one is obligated to follow one's dharma, one's duty in life as defined by scripture and tradition.163 Although the perfect soul is said to be "beyond good and evil," the liberated or enlightened soul or self cannot do an evil deed.164 Knowledge of the Brahmanatman cannot be obtained, according to the Upanishads, by one "who has not ceased from bad conduct."165

Ibid., pp. 132-133. Ibid. See J. A. B. van Buitenen, "Dharma and Moksha," Philosophy East and West 1 (1957), pp. 41-48, and Daniel H. H. Ingalls, "Dharma and Mokhsa," Philosophy East and West 1 (1957), pp. 33-48, for a discussion of the meaning of dharma in relation to moksha. x 9 * J. GONDA, Visnuism and Sivaism: A Comparison (London: The Athlone Press, University of London), 1970, p. 67. 160 See Creel, Dharma as an Ethical Category," p. 156. Thomas J. Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition (Encino, California: Dickenson Publishing Company, Inc.), 1971, p. 73. For a brief summary of the meaning o dharma, which varies in different scriptures written in different periods, in the development of Hinduism see Margaret and James Stutley, eds., Harper's Dictionary of Hinduism (New York: Harper & Row), 1977, p. 76. For a more comprehensive discussion see Creel, "Dharma as an Ethical Category," pp. 155-168 and Gerald J. Larson, "The Trimurti of Dharma in Indian Thought: Paradox or Contradiction?" Philosophy East and West 22 (1972), pp. 146-147. 161 The Bhagavad Gita, trans., Franklin Edgerton (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), 1975, p. 127. 162 HOPKINS, The Hindu Religious Tradition, pp. 36-38. 163 CREEL, "Dharma as an Ethical Category," p. 167. 164 The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Edgerton, 126. 165 Katha Upanishad 2.24. All Upanishad quotations are taken from The Thirteen Principle Upanishads, trans. Robert Ernest Hume, 2nd ed. rev. (London: Oxford University Press), 1934. See Dhavamony, "Hindu Morality," pp. 222-224.

157 158



One who has attained the insight that Brahman is Atman can be said to love others or to treat others with respect, justice and compassion because they are one with the self, the Brahman-atman. Not for love of the husband is a husband dear, but for love of the Soul {Atman) a husband is dear. Not for love of the wife is a wife dear but for love of the Soul a wife is dear. Not for love of all is all dear, but for love of the Soul is all dear.166 Here the central idea is that these other people or objects are not separate entities but part of the Brahman-atman or the "world-self and that in the common, everyday experience of having affection for others we find illustrated the great doctrine of the individual self finding his selfhood grounded in, and reaching out towards, that larger Self which embraces all individuals and all things." 167 According to the Laws of Manu, completed sometime between 200 B.C.E. and 100 C.E., there are ten duties a person must carry out regardless of the person's class (yarna) or stage of life {asrama). These duties are in fact virtues and their essence can be stated as "not doing to others what one would not like done to oneself."168 According to the great epic poem, the Ramayana (developed about the first or second century B.C.E.), the idea of dharma implies that a person must do good to all human beings. This imperative to do good takes precedence over the duties of one's own caste (yarna) or state in life {asrama).169 The Mahabharata (developed after the third century B.C.E. and completed around 200 C.E.) 170 states that the practice of good conduct toward others leads to happiness. "One should look upon all creatures as on one's own self."171 The moral law emphasizes kindness to all creatures. "When a person does not conduct himself sinfully towards any creature in thought, word and deed, then he is said to attain to Brahman." 172 In turning to the Bhagavad Gita (composed not more than a few centuries before the Common Era and later incorporated into the Mahabharata), one finds an attitude toward practical morality that is characteristic of most Hindu teachings.173 Immorality is presented as a fatal hindrance to liberation {moksha).
Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad 2.4.5. See also 4.5.6. The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, trans. Hume, p. 65. DHAVAMONY, "Hindu Morality," pp. 243-244. 169 Ibid., p. 226. 170 HOPKINS, The Hindu Religion, p. 87. 171 The Mahabharata 12.291f; 310; 5.33ff. Quoted from Dhavamony, "Hindu Morality," p. 228. 172 The Mahabharata 12.262.5, quoted from Dhavamony, "Hindu Morality," p. 229. 173 The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Edgerton, pp. 107 and 183. (All quotations from the Bhagavad Gita are from this translation.)
167 168 166



Not to Me do deluded evil-doers Resort, base men, Whom this illusion robs of knowledge, Who cleave to demoniac estate (vii: 15). One must rid oneself of immorality before seeking liberation. Desire, wrath, and greed; Hence one should abandon these three (xvi:21). Freed, son of Kunti, from these Three gates of darkness, a man Does what is good for his soul; Then he goes to the highest goal (xvi:22). The good person who is on the path to liberation is characterized by qualities such as generosity, uprightness, compassion to all creatures, and nonviolence. 174 This person, striving for moksha, is compassionate, generous, charitable, free from malice and excessive pride, and filled with forgiveness and purity (xvi: 1-3). Furthermore, the true devotee of Krishna is compassionate and unselfish. The devotee is: No hater of all beings, Friendly and compassionate, Free from selfishness and I-facuity, Indifferent to pain and pleasure, patient (xii:13). The disciplined man who is always content, Whose self is controlled, of firm resolve, Whose thought and consciousness are fixed on Me, Who is devoted to Me, he is dear to Me (xii:14). In the Bhagavad Gita, the doctrine of classical Hinduism that Atman is Brahman, or that all is one or that one's own self or soul is identical to the self or soul of all other creatures, leads to action on the part of the believer that meets the criterion of agape. For seeing in all the same Lord established, He harms not himself (in others) by himself, Then he goes to the highest goal (xiii:28). A person is said to be still further advanced when he or she treats all people, friend or enemy, equally (vi:9). 175 Thus the Bhagavad Gita calls upon people to treat all creatures like themselves (vi:32). One should "delight in the welfare of all beings," 176 even the welfare of an outcaste (v:18). Nirvana is won by those "who delight in the welfare of all beings" (v:25). Edgerton states that the ethical doctrines of the Bhagavad Gita quoted above are essentially that of the Golden Rule. Those who thereby look upon all beings in the same way as upon themselves, and thus will not injure any creature, such
114 175

Ibid., p. 184. See Bhagavad-gita As It Is, trans. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, p. 317. 176 The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Edgerton, p. 185.



people are fixed in Brahman; i.e., they are liberated.177 Of these people Edgerton says: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyselfbecause thy neighbour is thyself; God is in both thee and thy neighbour, and both are in God. He who acts in this spirit need not fear that his acts will bind him to further existence."178 The Bhagavata Purana, produced in the ninth century C.E., sets forth love of Krishna and service to him as the principal dharma for a devotee of Krishna. "The devotional emphasis carries over also into the Bhagavata's social attitudes. Great compassion is shown for the poor and lowly, caste distinctions are declared irrelevant for the devotees of Krishna and there is great praise for devotees who are Sudras or members of lowly castes. The appeal throughout is to the simple followers of Lord Krishna who claim no qualifications except devotion, and no purity except purity of heart in love."179 An example of a later thinker who incorporates love of God and of all people is Ramananda, who lived in the fifteenth century. Ramananda not only believed one could achieve liberation regardless of caste but included among his disciples a woman, a Muslim, and an outcaste. United by faith in the personal God, Rama, the sect stemming from Ramananda, called the Ramanandis or the Ramamats, hold that 6ibhakti consists in perfect love toward God and that all men are brothers." 18 That the Hindu is called upon in many of the Hindu scriptures to love other people is true in the external description of the acts required. In this sense, the Hindu scriptures meet the criterion of agape. The reason for these actions, however, is often different from the western Christian view and perhaps should not be passed over as quickly as Edgerton appears to do.181 We need to be extremely cautious in making eastern categories fit our own. The criterion used, however, makes no attempt to examine the reasons for or the motivations behind the actions of agape. Hence a Christian can conclude that the Hindu scriptures call for the action of agape described as acts of compassion, justice, respect, generosity, uprightness and selflessness toward all.

The question of whether or not Buddhists consider their scriptures to be revelation is problematic for many westerners because the Buddha did not claim to have received his insights from any external agency or supreme being.
Ibid., p. 163. See also Bhagavad-gita As It Is, trans. Prabhupada, p. 293. The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Edgerton, p. 163. Cf. Rudolf Otto, India's Religion of Grace and Christianity Compared and Contrasted (New York: Macmillan Company), 1930, pp. 75-77 and 84-85, who points out the differences in the assumptions underlying the Christian and Hindu Golden Rule. 179 HOPKINS, The Hindu Religious Tradition, p. 124. 180 W. RICHARD COMSTOCK, gen. ed., Religion and Man: An Introduction (New York: Harper &Row), 1971, p. 168. 181 See The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Edgerton, pp. 162-163.
178 177



Rather, his enlightenment is described as "the realization in trance of the specific destinies of all living beings and of the general principles governing these destinies."182 Revelation accorded to the Buddha is the "spontaneous outflow of his [the Buddha's] own attainment of unexcelled perfect enlightenment as to the ultimate actuality of all things."183 Buddhist scriptural traditions, called by Thurman a "bewildering profusion of doctrines," are all considered by Buddhists to be equally authentic and sacred.184 The Pali Canon is considered scripture by both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists, while the Mahay ana schools possess an enormous quantity of other scriptures.185 This later scripture is considered revelation by the Mahayanas because in their theory of revelation the enlightened disciples' teachings are considered the Buddha's own teaching. The Mahayanists introduced the idea of the Buddha's inspiration whereby the eternal, omnipresent, and omniscient Buddha "infuses thoughts into the minds of individuals and sustains the advocates of his Dharma."186 When Gautama attained enlightenment, it is said that his first thought was to retire from the world because humanity would be too addicted to its attachments to understand his Dharma.187 The Buddha, however, out of compassion for all beings, reconsidered and remained active in the world to teach his Dharma.188 "Of me, if of anyone, it can truly be affirmed that, in me, a being without delusions has arisen in the world, for the weal and welfare of many, out of compassion toward the world, for the good, the weal and the welfare of gods and men."189 It is evident in this quotation from the Buddhist scripture (SuttaPitaka) that the virtue of compassion is represented in tradition as central to the Buddha's sense of his task in the world.190 According to the Pali Canon, the Buddha passed through many lifetimes as a bodhisattva, i.e., as one not yet a Buddha but destined to become a Buddha. Throughout these lifetimes, the Buddha-in-the-making performed many deeds of great charity and self-abnegation for the good of others. In the life prior to his being born, Gautama, the Buddha-in-the-making, was "the perfect example of generosity and self-denial."191 He is said to have given away his wealth, his

RICHARD ROBINSON and WILLARD L. JOHNSON, The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduc-

tion, 3rd ed. (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company), 1982, p. 13. See also Thomas Berry, Religions of India: Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism (California: The Bruce Publishing Company), 1971, pp. 130-131 for further scriptural accounts (and references) of the Buddha's enlightenment. 183 ROBERT A. F. THURMAN, "Buddhist Hermeneutics," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 46 (1978), p. 24. 184 Ibid., p. 22. 185 DYE, Religions of the World, p. 99. See also Fellows, Religions East and West, pp. 143-146. See also Lewis Browne, ed., The World's Great Scriptures: An Anthology of the Sacred Books of the Ten Principal Religions (New York: The Macmillan Company), 1946, pp. 134-135. 186 Robinson, The Buddhist Religion, pp. 67-68. 187 Ibid., p. 21. 188 Ibid., p. 22. 189 Majjhima Nikaya i. 13. Quoted from Clarence H. Hamilton, "The Idea of Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism," The Journal of the American Oriental Society 70 (1950), p. 140. 190 Ibid., p. 146. 191 Ibid., p. 147.



property, his beloved children and his wife to those who asked for them because "in his heart there was no unkindness, only boundless compassion."192 These stories about the Buddha identified compassion as Gautama's "allconsuming motive." 193 The Pali canon enumerates ten paramitas (virtues or perfections) exercised by the Buddha-in-the-making in preparation for his enlightenment.194 According to the introduction to the Jataka, the first paramita the future Buddha promises himself he will exercise is dana, alms or charity.195 And then I searched, and saw the First Perfection, which consists in Alms [dana], That highroad great whereon of old The former seers had ever walked. Require perfection in thine alms, If thou to wisdom wouldst attain.1% The ninth perfection is metta, which can be translated as love, loving-kindness, or good-will. And then I sought and found the Ninth Perfection, which is called Good-will [metta]', Which mighty seers of former times Had practiced and had followed So likewise thou both friend and foe, Alike with thy Good-will [metta] refresh, And when this Ninth Perfection's gained, A Buddha's Wisdom shall be thine.197 The Buddha's first sermon is said to proclaim the middle way set forth in the Holy Eightfold Path.The way to enlightenment involves one's actions toward other people and the intention behind these actions. Right intention, one of the teachings of the Holy Eightfold Path, emphasizes benevolence and aversion to injuring others. 198 When the Buddha sent out his disciples to preach he said to them: "'Go ye now, O monks, and wander, for the good of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the advantage, good, and welfare of gods
192 193

Ibid. Ibid. See Maha Sthavira Sangharakshita, "Aspects of Buddhist Morality," Studia Missionalia 27 (1978), pp. 160-161 for a discussion of the six or ten paramitas in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. See also Har Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass), 1970, pp. 165ff. 195 M. ANESAKI, "Ethics and Morality (Buddhist)," Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. Hastings, vol. 5, p. 452. 196 Quoted from Henry Clarke Warren, Buddhism in Translations (New York: Atheneum), 1974, p. 23 (brackets mine). 97 Ibid., p. 28 (brackets mine). 198 ROBINSON, The Buddhist Religion, p. 27.


INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF MISSION and men' (Vin. i. 21)." Furthermore, the Buddha says that "in helping oneself one helps another, and in helping another one helps oneself (S. v.
169) 200

According to S. Tachibana, it is not true, as some Mahayana Buddhists claim, that the arahant has no interest in the salvation of others. "The Buddha always told monks who were Arahans or candidates for Arahatship to regard others' 201 good or salvation as highly as their own." According to the Tevigga Sutta, Buddha advised a young Brahmin named Vasettha, who wanted to know how to reach his goal of union with Brahman to let his mind pervade the entire world with love {metta), compassion or pity 202 {karuna), sympathy {mudita), and equanimity {upekha). The meaning of metta (love) to a Buddhist is described in the Dharmapradipika of Gurulugomi, IV, as follows: If one has developed love truly great, rid of the desire to hold and possess, that strong, pure love which is untarnished with lust of any kind, that love which does not expect material advantage and profit from the act of loving, that love which is firm but not grasping, unshakable but not tied down, gentle and settled, hard and penetrating as a diamond but unhurting, helpful but not interfering, cool, invigorating, giving more than taking, not proud but dignified, not sentimental yet soft, the love which leads one to the heights of pure attainment, then, in such a one there can be no ill-will at all. 203 This selfless love and compassion are prescribed for monks and lay persons throughout the Buddhist world. The Buddhist must not only treat friends and neighbours with metta but also "one's enemies should be treated with lovingkindness." 2 0 4 Metta can be applied practically as follows: 1) The thought of helping others, however limited one's ability to help others may be, is not to be avoided. 2) Having resolved to attain the Highest Goal (Buddhahood), abandon selfish ness and devote thyself to the service of others. 3) If only the good of others be sought in all that one doeth, no need is there to seek benefit for thyself. (PG V, 10; VII, 8; XXIII, IO) 205
199 S. TACHIBANA, The Ethics of Buddhism (London: Curzon Press Ltd.), 1981, p. 98. ("Vin" = Vinayapitaka) 200 Ibid. ("S" = Samyuttanikaya) 201 Ibid., p. 97. See also Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, pp. 16-17. 202 MAX MULLER, ed., The Sacred Books of the East, vol. 11 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press), 1881, pp. 201-202. See also pp. 273-274 footnote number 1 where these four terms are called the four Brahma-viharas oxAppamannas. They should be the constant companions of a good Buddhist. See also George Rupp, "The Relationship between Nirvana and Samsara," Philosophy East and West 21 (1971), p. 60. See also Comstock, gen. t., Religion and Man, pp. 152-153. See also T. O. Ling, ed., a Dictionary of Buddhism (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 1972, p. 44. 203 Phra Khantipalo, Tolerance: A Study from Buddhist Sources (London: Rider & Company), 1964, p. 78. 204 Ibid. 205 pQ = Percepts of the Gurus (in Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrine). Quoted from Ibid., p. 19.



The Metta-Sutta says: Whatever living beings there b e . . . May all beings be happy. Let none deceive another Nor despise any person whatsoever in any place. Let him not wish any harm to another Out of anger or ill will. Just as a mother would protect her only child At the risk of her own life Even so let him cultivate a boundless heart Toward all beings. Let his thoughts of boundless love Pervade the whole world, Above, below, and across without any obstruction Without any hatred, without any enmity. Whether he stands, walks, sits, Lies down, as long as he is awake He should develop his mindfulness This they say is the noblest living here.206 A well-known Buddhist monk of Burma states that metta describes a love that requires one to sacrifice self-interest for the welfare and well-being of humanity. 207 Metta is not only thoughts of love but right actions. 208 According to E. A. Burtt, metta here is "an unlimited self-giving compassion flowing freely towards all creatures that live." 209 Karuna, translated above as compassion, can also be translated as love. 210 A person who is genuinely compassionate suffers with others who suffer.211 "Karuna is not sentimentality, emotion that does not know its effects, but that, actually partaking in the needs and sorrows of others, it knows the right means... to end misery and despair."212 Thus in Buddhism, metta and karuna as well as mudita, "the capacity to rejoice in the success or joy of others, without envy and without hypocrisy," 213 are expressions of the action Christians call agape.214 The chief function of these benevolent acts is to prevent the pain and suffering of other beings and to promote their pleasure and happiness. This virtue is derived from the Buddhist ethical idea that "We ought not to hurt
206 The Metta-Sutta 8:1, 6-10. Quoted from Winston L. King, Buddhism and Christianity: Some Bridges of Understanding (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1962, pp. 72-73. 207 Aggamahapandita U Thitlila, "Buddhist Metta," The Light of the Dhamma 5 (1958), p. 49. 208 Ibid., p. 51. 209 E. A. BURTT, ed., The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, (New York: The New American Library), 1955, p. 46. 210 DAYAL, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 178. 211 HERBERT V. GUENTHER, "The Buddhist Sunyata and Karuna," Aryan Path 22 (1951), p. 409. 212 Ibid., p. 410. 213 KING, Buddhism and Christianity, p. 77. 214 L. M. JOSHI, "Social Perspective of Buddhist Soteriology," Religion and Society 18 (1971), p. 64, who explains that such virtues are necessarily directed to others as one cannot practice love, compassion and charity apart from society.



mentally and physically our fellow creatures as well as our fellow men, but to love and protect them."215 Put in other words: "We should not do to others what we do not wish done by them; and at the same time we should do to others as we would they should do to us."216 With the development of Mahayana Buddhism, the idea of the bodhisattva was extended from the past lives of the Buddha to the way of life open to anyone who followed the Buddha.217 The bodhisattvas are beings who regard others' salvation as more urgent than their own.218 In order to help others, the bodhisattvas postpone their entrance into Nirvana. They help others to obtain the spiritual goal of Nirvana and also to "obtain the more material advantages of happiness and welfare in the world."219 The bodhisattva's career is threefold. The first stage in his career is his taking the vow in which he declares: "I shall not enter final Nirvana before all beings have been liberated."220 The bodhisattva's second stage is to practice the six paramitas, or perfections, which are: the practice of 1) wisdom (prajna)', 2) giving or charity {dana);22i 3) morality {sila); 4) patience {ksanti); 5) exertion or vigour {virya) in such things as cultivating virtues, studying Dharma, and doing good works for the welfare of others; 6) meditation {dhyana).222 The bodhisattvas are to practice these perfections without aiming at merit for themselves.223 For the bodhisattvas, the perfections that are emphasized are those that call for the practice of love and compassion for other beings.224 The virtues of dana (charity or giving) and karuna (compassion or love) are linked together in the motives of the bodhisattvas. "Compassion is not just feeling the suffering of others, but acting to alleviate it "225 "Karuna, an attribute of a perfect Buddha and of a budding bodhisattva, is exhibited, practiced, and developed
TACHIBANA, The Ethics of Buddhism, p. 184. Ibid., p. 188. See also Ibid., p. 189, where Tachibana quotes the Pali scripture that states, "The self is equally dear to others, and therefore let a man, who regards his own self as dear, not injure others" (Samyuttanikaya i.75; Udana 47). See also Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 179. 217 HAMILTON, "The Idea of Compassion," p. 148. 218 DAYAL, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 17. 219 EDWARD CONZE, ed. and trans., Buddhist Wisdom Books, 2nd ed. (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.), 1975, p. 23. See also Edward Conze, Buddhist Thought in India: Three Phases of Buddhist Philosophy (Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press), 1967, p. 236. See also Edward Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development (New York: Harper & Row), 1975, pp. 125 and 130. 220 CONZE, Buddhist Wisdom Books, p. 79. See also pp. 57-58. See also Robinson, The Buddhist Religion, pp. 76-77. See also Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, pp. 17-18. For another version of this well-known vow see Sangharakshita, "Aspects of Buddhist Morality," p. 173. 221 See Edward Conze, Buddhist Texts Through the Ages (New York: Harper & Row), 1964, pp. 136-137. 222 ROBINSON, The Buddhist Religion, p. 77. 223 See Conze, Buddhist Wisdom Books, p. 28, who says when giving is accompanied by the wrong metaphysical views the giving will have limited results. See also pp. 26-27. Cf. Matthew 6:2-4. See also Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 111. 224 ANESAKI, "Ethics and Morality (Buddhist)," p. 452. 225 IQSHL, "Social Perspective of Buddhist Soteriology," p. 63.
216 215



chiefly by dana."226 The heart of the bodhisattva is full of karuna. "He loves all beings, as a mother loves her only child." 227 This means that the bodhisattva loves all equally.228 Thus he practices charity {dana) towards all "without any selfish motives whatsoever."229 The bodhisattva gives himself for the sake of others. He returns good for evil, and helps even those who have injured him. He identifies himself with the poor and the lonely, and looks upon himself as if he were another person. He follows the two Golden Rules of the Mahayana: 1) "Do unto others as you would do unto yourself" and 2) "Do unto others as they wish that you should do unto them." 23 Thus in the heart of the bodhisattva who seeks enlightenment as a means to save other beings, one finds mercy, love and compassion.231 The third stage in the career of the bodhisattva is reached with the attainment of Buddhahood.232 The concept of the practice of compassion {karuna) is no different from the Christian concept of the practice of charity {agape).233 Those who practice compassion and love will do whatever is necessary to relieve suffering and awaken others to wisdom, including "the relief of poverty, the abolition of oppression, the establishment of a just social-political order." 234 Compassion for all beings in Mahayana Buddhism is "indicative of a charity which reaches even beyond the bounds of justice and aims to relieve all sufferings of the world due to whatever cause." 235 Hence the Bodhisattva Hridaya Bhumi Sutra states: "Let our thoughts be riveted on love; let us strive our utmost to do good to one another " 236 It is the eternal law, according to the Dhammapada (v. 5), that "hatred does not cease by hatred, it ceases by love." 237 Santideva, a seventh century Indian poet, writes of the aspiration of a bodhisattva: O that I might become for all beings the soother of pain. O that I might be for all them that ail the remedy, the physician, the nurse, until the disappearance of illness.
DAYAL, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 178. Ibid. See also Conze, Buddhism, pp. 125-126, who states that "Bodhisattvas, confirmed in pity, find pleasure in doing good to others without egoistic preoccupation." 228 See Joshi, "Social Perspective of Buddhist Soteriology," pp. 62-63, who says that "the historic success of Buddhism stems from its concern for the many, regardless of race, caste, class, or sex." 229 DAYAL, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. ill. 230 DAYAL, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 179. 231 HAMILTON, "The Idea of Compassion," p. 150. See also Khantipalo, Tolerance, pp. 182-188 for quotations regarding the compassion of the bodhisattvas. 232 CONZE, Buddhist Wisdom Books, p. 24. 233 PAUL KNITTER, "Horizons on Christianity's New Dialogue with Buddhism," Horizons 8 (1981), p. 53. See also Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine, p. 17. 234 KNITTER, "Horizons on Christianity's New Dialogue with Buddhism," p. 54. 235 HAMILTON, "The Idea of Compassion," pp. 150-151. 236 Quoted from Khantipalo, Tolerance, p. 80. 237 Quoted from Joshi, "Social Perspective of Buddhist Soteriology," p. 64.
227 226



O that by raining down food and drink I might soothe the pangs of hunger and thirst, and that in times of famine I might myself become drink and food. O that I might be for the poor an inexhaustible treasure.238 As with Christianity, according to L. M. Joshi, the soteriology of Buddhism is sociologically conceived because the individual liberation is linked up with the welfare of society. Karuna and metta are aimed at the liberation of all beings. "In this system of universal liberation, to work for the liberation of others is a 239 necessary duty, nay, the foremost duty of one who seeks Nirvana." The numerous Buddhist scriptures, which are considered revelation, call for a life of acts of boundless compassion, charity, benevolence, sympathy, selfless ness, self-sacrifice and justice toward other people, and therefore meet the criterion of agape. On the other hand, to assert from a Christian perspective that the criterion of agape appears to be present in Buddhism is not to claim that all Buddhists would agree with this value judgement.

Confucius won his fame as a teacher of practical morality.240 Confucius did not claim to be an original thinker or to have a special revelation, but rather to be a "transmitter of received tradition."241 Nevertheless, Confucius and other Chinese philosophers assumed that the moral law contained the "Will of Heaven" revealed to ancient sages and passed down throughout the ages.242 Thus the writings of the Chinese philosophers are considered revelation in the sense that they contain that which was disclosed to the ancient sages. Although Confucius did not leave a systematic account of his ethical thought, many of his sayings were collected and later written down by his followers.243 The concept in Confucius' teachings that most closely echoes the Christian concept agape is jen,244 variously translated as "virtue," "goodness," "benevo 245 lence," "charity," or "love." Although the meaning and role of jen is an issue

HAMILTON, "The Idea of Compassion," p. 150. JOSHI, "Social Perspective of Buddhist Soteriology," p. 63. 240 . L. BULLOCK, "Ethics and Morality (Chinese)," Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. Hastings, p. 467. 241 ALLIE M. FRAZIER, Chinese and Japanese Religions (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), 1969, p. 16. 242 JULIA CHING, Confucianism and Christianity: A Comparative Study (New York: Kodansha International), 1978, pp. 122, 144-145. See also Frederick Copleston, Religion and the One: Philosophies East and West (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Co.), 1982, p. 40. 243 T. L. BULLOCK, "Ethics and Morality (Chinese)," Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. Hastings, p. 467. See also Frazier, Chinese and Japanese Religions, p. 16. 244 CHING, Confucianism and Christianity, p. 138. Cf. J. A. Martin, Jr., Book Review of Confucianism and Christianity: A Comparative Study by Julia Ching in Union Seminary Quarterly Review 33 (1978) 214-5, who emphasizes the extreme caution that must be exercised in comparing Christian and Confucian concepts both in terms of the comparative method itself and in regard to the differing interpretations of these concepts by experts in these areas of scholarship. 245 BRANDON, gen. ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 412. See also Wm. Theodore de Bary, Wing-Tsit Chan, Burton Watson, eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1 (New York: Columbia University Press), 1960, p. 26.



of great debate among scholars and adherents of the various forms of Confucianism, it is held by some to be the central theme of Confucius' dialogues.246 In the Analects, jen means "good" in a wide and general sense. Jen is unselfishness and the ability to put oneself in another's place.247 "Now the man of perfect virtue \jen], wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others. To be able to judge others by what is right in ourselves; this may be called the art of virtue!" (6:28)248 When a pupil asked about the meaning of jen, Confucius replied that jen means that one should love [ai] all human beings (12:22).249 In fact, the practice of jen, which involves acts of generosity and charity, is more important than life itself. 25 "The Master said, The determined scholar and the man of virtue [jen] will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue [jen]. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue [jen] complete'" (15:8).251 A definition of jen is approached in 17:6 of the Analects: Tsze-chang asked Confucius about perfect virtue [jen]. Confucius said, "To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue [jen]." He begged to ask what they were and was told, "Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness."252 Furthermore jen means "not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself" (12:2).253 "What I do not want others to do to me, I do not want to do to them" (5:11).254 "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" (12:2).255 "Repay hatred with uprightness and repay virtue [te] with virtue [te]99 (14:36).256 The superior person, according to the Analects, is one who: "cultivates himself so as to give all people security and peace" (14:45).257 One must extend j'en to all because "all within the four seas (the world) are brothers" (12:5).258
CHAN, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," p. 296. The Analects of Confucius, trans. Arthur Waley (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.), 1938, p. 28. 248 Quoted from The Chinese Classics, trans. James Legge, 2nd ed., rev., vol. 1 (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1893), p. 194. See footnote number 28 on page 194. See also Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 31, who says that 6:28 is "the Confucian golden rule in a nutshell." 249 The Chinese Classics, trans., Legge, vol. 1, p. 260. See also Chan, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," p. 299. 250 BRANDON, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 412. See comment on 12:22, Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 40. See also de Bary et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1, p. 26. 251 Quoted from The Chinese Classics, trans., Legge, vol. 1, p. 297 (brackets mine). 252 Quoted from Ibid., p. 320 (brackets mine). 253 Quoted from Ibid., p. 251. 254 Quoted from Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 28. 255 Quoted from Ibid., p. 39. See The Chinese Classics, trans., Legge, vol. 1, p. 251. 256 Quoted from Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosphy, p. 42 (brackets mine). See footnote number 149 on p. 42. See Chan, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," p. 299-300 for a discussion of the Golden Rule of Confucius. 257 Quoted from Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 42. 258 Quoted from Ibid., p. 39. See footnote number 137 on p. 39.
246 247



Furthermore, "When the superior man has studied the Way, he loves men" ( 17:4).259 When asked if there is one word that can serve as the guiding principle for conduct throughout life, Confucius said: "It is the word altruism (shu). Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" (15:23).260 Thus, according to the Analects, one should practice jen because "A heart set on love (jen) will do no wrong (evil)" (4:4).261 Hence jen embraces all virtues and precludes all evil.262 Menz Tzu or Mencius (372-289 B.C.E.?)263 is considered the second most important sage in Confucianism. His sayings have been recorded by his followers in the book called Mencius. Like Confucius, Mencius based his teaching upon jen, adding the second virtue / (righteousness or duty).264 "Mencius said, 'Humanity [jen] is man's mind and righteousness, [i] is man's path' " (6a: ll). 265 "Humanity [jen] is the peaceful abode of men and righteousness [i] is his straight path" (4A:10).266 According to Mencius, the person of jen loves others (4B:28), all and everyone (7A:46).267 One could not help but practice love (jen) for others. The practice of jen, however, was in accord with the degree of one's personal relationship to other people. Mo Tzu (470-391 B.C.E.?),268 on the other hand, insisted that equal love (jen) should be shown for all people.269 Condemning what he thought of as Confucianist skepticism regarding heaven, Mo Tzu asserts that heaven is an active power that loves all people and all people must follow heaven by practising universal love. 27 Those who desire to do righteousness must obey the will of heaven, which is to practice universal love. m For Mo Tzu the practice of universal love (jen) "lies in the promotion of benefits for the world and the removal of harm from the world."272 These "harms" of the world arose out of lack of jen. Thus when asked what the way of universal love (jen) and mutual benefit was, Mo Tzu replied: It is to regard other people's countries as one's own. Regard other people's families as one's own. Regard other people's person as one's own When all
Quoted from Ibid., p. 46. Quoted from Ibid., p. 44. Quoted from Frazier, Chinese and Japanese Religions, p. 70 (brackets mine). See Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 25. See also The Chinese Classics, trans., Legge, vol. 1, p. 166. 262 CHAN, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," p. 298. 263 DE BARY et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1, p. 86. 264 Ibid., pp. 86-7. See Chan, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," p. 302. 265 Quoted from Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 58 (brackets mine). 266 Quoted from Ibid., p. 74 (brackets mine). 267 CHING, Confucianism and Christianity, p. 94. 268 DE BARY et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1, p. 34. 269 Ibid., p. 87. See Ching, Confucianism and Christianity, p. 95. See also Chan, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 211. 270 DE BARY et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 34-35. See also Chad Hansen, "Freedom and Moral Responsibility in Confucian Ethics," Philosophy East and West 22 (1972), p. 177. See also Wei-ming Tu, "L as a Process of Humanization," Philosophy East and West 22 (1972), p. 198. 271 DE BARY et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1, pp. 46-47. 272 CHAN, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 213.
260 261 259



the people in the world love one another, the strong will not overcome the weak, the many will not oppress the few, the rich will not insult the poor, the honored will not despise the humble, and the cunning will not deceive the ignorant. Because of universal love, all the calamities, usurpations, hatred, and animosity in the world may be prevented from arising. Therefore the man of humanity praises it. 273 Furthermore, says Mo Tzu, "Love only exists when it has reached everybody; love has disappeared the moment it fails to include all; when love is not pervasive, it cannot be called love."274 The concept of jen continued to be the most important virtue in Confucianism. The neo-Confucian philosopher, Chu Hsi (1130-1200),275 provided the clearest expression o jen.276 According to Chu Hsi, jen is the character of the human mind and the principle of love.277 "It is through jen that the individual overcomes his own selfishness and partiality, enters into all things in such a way as to fully identify himself with them, and thus unites himself with the mind of the universe which is love and creativity itself."278 Thus jen is impartial279 and involves love for all.280 Jen is unaffected by poverty or social position, and jen involves actions of moral insight, characterized by courtesy, good judgement, sincerity and selflessness. For people to love other people as they love themselves, according to Chu Hsi, is to perfect love (jen).281 In distinguishing love from altruism, Chu Hsi said that "where altruism is the (negative) lack of selfishness, love is more positive, like water that pours down the stream if the dam is removed. By removing the dam of selfishness, one becomes unselfishly altruistic, thereby giving love a free course."282 The word "jertfzis written in two parts, (J\ ) humanity plus (.z.) two (meaning plural).283 Thus the Chinese character of jen underscores the active character of jen. Love (jen) is meaningless unless it is acted out in human relationships.284 Hence in the Confucianist tradition, jen is love that is universal and active in human relationships.285


Ibid., p. 214. DAY, The Philosophy of China, p. 64. 275 CHAN, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 588. 276 BRANDON, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 413. 277 CHAN, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 591. See also pp. 594-595, 597, 633. 278 DE BARY et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, vol. 1, p. 480. See also p. 485, Chu Tzu ch'uan-shu 49:11b; p. 491 Chu Tzu ch'uan-shu 42:6a; and pp. 501-502 Chu Tzu ch'uan-shu 47:19b-20a. 279 CHAN, ed. and trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 633. 280 Ibid., p. 595. 281 BRANDON, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, p. 413. See Chan, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," especially pp. 314 and 319 for a discussion of the development of the concept jen in Confucianism. 282 DAY, The Philosophy of China, p. 208. 283 CHAN, "The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen," p. 311. 284 Ibid. 285 Ibid., p. 319.



Hsieh Sung-kao, a twentieth century Chinese Christian, found in jen a close resemblance to the Christian concept of agape. Such quotations from the Analects as "To practice... reverence, generosity, sincerity, sagacity and charitableness... will constitute jen"; "By jen is meant to love man"; "He who does not live in jen can hardly be considered as wise"; and "If one be concentrated in jen, there will be no evil" were evidence to Hsieh Sung-kao that Confucius came close in his understanding of jen to Jesus' and to Paul's interpretation of agape.286 I conclude with Hsieh Sung-kao that the scriptures of Confucianism appear from a Christian perspective to meet the criterion of agape in that they call for acts of charity, benevolence, selflessness, self-sacrifice, kindness and righteousness toward all human beings as a way of life. Conclusion In the preceding discussion, I have formulated a criterion by which Christians may make value judgements concerning elements of truth in other world religions. Upon the basis of the Christian scriptures, one can affirm that God's revelation is saving revelation, and that the central revelation given through Jesus Christ is agape. The description of God's love found in the Christian scriptures shows that it is total, saving and is offered to all humanity. Furthermore, the appropriate response to God's love, is not adherence to "correct" doctrinal beliefs, but is radical obedience to God, which entails a new relationship with our fellow human beings with agape as the decisive norm. Agape is not an abstract or static ideal but is action characterized by risk, justice, compassion, charity, respect, service, forgiveness and selflessness toward all people. Consequently, it is legitimate for Christians to affirm that wherever the scriptures and traditions of other religions call for actions toward other people with the same characteristics as agape, there one finds religion that contains truth. In seeking to determine whether these religionsJudaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianismconsider their sacred writings (or scriptures) to be revelation, I have shown that they do when revelation is understood as "unveiling," "uncovering," or "disclosure." Even in the case of Theravada Buddhism, the Buddha is thought to have had a disclosure of the destinies of all living beings and of the principles governing their destinies, although such disclosure did not come from an outside source as it would in the western understanding of revelation. Moreover, the examination of the scriptures and traditions of these religions has shown that each of them calls for actions that can be considered expressions of agape because of the numerous appeals for

DAY, The Philosophy of China, p. 304. See Ching, Confucianism and Christianity, pp. 138139. Here again one must be aware of the possible bias of scholars who wish to find comparable religious concepts.



compassion or sympathy, charity or benevolence, mercy, loving-kindness, respect, justice, forgiveness, uprightness and selflessness or self-sacrifice. The different reasons for the required acts of agape and the varied emphases placed upon these acts in other religions, though different from Christianity, in no way invalidate these acts as criterion for the verification of truth in other religions. By means of the criterion established at the outset of this paper, then, the world religions examined here contain truth. The value of inquiry leading to such a conclusion is that it should be of assistance in at least two ways: 1) In furthering interfaith dialogue by moving away from an exclusivism that rejects rather than takes seriously the truth claims of religions other than Christianity. At the same time it should be clear that the present attempt has been carried out in the interests of retaining the values of one's own religious point of view without downgrading or denying the merits to be found in other religious systems and traditions. The need in today's world alluded to in the introduction to this paper is to find ways to build bridges between people of differing cultures for the purpose of establishing free and open communication and of fostering understanding, acceptance and cooperation in the global community in which all people increasingly are becoming participants. 2) The second aspect of the value of this inquiry grows out of the first. Too often the religious dimension is either inadequately perceived or is perhaps regarded as inconsequential where crosscultural communication and cooperation are demanded. Learning to live together as a community of nations is not only a matter of international political and economic interests but also touches persons at the most basic levels of their cultural heritage. Preventing destructiveness and exploitative impulses should not rest upon the exercise of force but upon the deepest aspects of humanity's perception of the profound values inherent in the revelation apparent within their religious heritage.


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