The Zen-like Art of Defining Christianity

Glenn Beck

Image via Wikipedia

It’s crazy how much hubbub Glenn Beck’s recent rally continues to cause in the media. It’s no surprise that it sparked political controversy, but who would have thought it would spark a theological debate as well? So, is Glenn Beck a Christian? Is President Obama?

This got me thinking that the question “What is a Christian?” seems to be much like a Zen Buddhist kōan (pronounced KOH-ahn), a mystical contemplation that aims to inch one ever closer to enlightenment. Perhaps the most famous kōan is the ubiquitous, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” It’s often contemplated whether kōans have correct answers. According to Wikipedia:

…although there may be “traditional answers” (kenjō 見処 or kenge 見解) to many kōans, these are only preserved as exemplary answers given in the past by various masters during their own training. In practice, any answer could be correct, provided that it conveys proof of personal realization.

Yep, sounds about right to me. On a related note, is it me or does it seem more difficult to define “Christian” than it is to define an adherent to another world religion such as, “Jew,” “Muslim,” “Jain,” “Hindu,” “Buddhist,” or “Zoroastrian?” Why is that so? (I mean that as a genuine, non-rhetorical question.)


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