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Buddhist Creed?

One of the first things our supervisor instructed us to do as church planters in Central Thailand was to glue a card with the Apostles’ Creed into the cover of every hymnal. Every Sunday we would have our small congregation of mainly leprosy believers memorize the creed and recite it in unison. They did not understand the historic development of this ancient creed, but as oral learners they enjoyed reciting it out loud while gaining a major dose of scriptural truth.
Here is a definition, “A Creed is a concise, formal, and authorized statement of important points of Christian doctrine.” Creeds begin with “I believe …” and stress doctrine along with supporting verses. The New Testament has a number of sections in creedal form (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Phil 2:5-11; 1 Tim. 3:16).
The closest to a creedal statement within Buddhism would be the affirmation, “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.” The three refuges is the formal point of entry for the lay devotee of Buddhism and is repeated in worship and in various ceremonies.
A pioneer OMF missionary to Thailand, John Davis saw the instructional and liturgical value of creeds and set about to develop a creed, which would resonate with Thai people from a Buddhist background. His desire was to reaffirm core biblical beliefs but at the same time address religious and cultural issues within the Thai context. Recognizing the Thai as preferred oral learners, he designed the creed to be easily recited out loud by the congregation.
Davis’ Thai creed is broken into ten “I believe” statements :
* I believe in God who is almighty and all-knowing, and who having created the universe, saw that everything he had made was good. All things did not come into being on their own, nor did ‘Ignorance’ create them.
* I believe that all mankind has evil desires, is not righteous in thought word and deed, and consequently is both disqualified from, and incapable of, entering paradise, because it is a holy place.
* I believe that mankind has no hope in self-dependence. Man is incapable of attaining sufficient merit to liberate himself and therefore, sowing what he reaps according to karma , he must perish.
* I believe that God, who is full of compassion and mercy, initiated and prepared the way of solving man’s problem by sending his Representative, Jesus Christ, into the world so that man may be delivered from hell.
* I believe that Jesus Christ volunteered to come from heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary according to history, in order to be man’s ‘scapegoat’ by dying on the cross to receive the penalty due to man because of his sin.
* I believe Jesus Christ, who is truth and mercy, is ready to offer his own abundant merit to whoever will confess and forsake their sin with sincerity.
* I believe that Jesus Christ has power over all people and all spirits in all ages and has demonstrated his power over them openly by the cross.
* I believe that only Jesus Christ has had victory over death through his resurrection that he is now alive and is therefore able and ready to deliver mankind from the results of sin forever.
* I believe Jesus Christ is the One who is to come according to prophecy to liberate all mankind. He will come a second time to establish his everlasting kingdom on earth, which will be filled with justice and righteousness.
* I believe whoever puts their trust in Christ becomes a member of His Church and is therefore responsible to be obedient to His teachings which are written in the Christian Scriptures, and that by so doing he will not despise or destroy those beautiful parts of Thai culture which accord with Scripture.
Picture of Written by Larry Dinkins
Written by Larry Dinkins

Larry Dinkins is an OMF missionary who has been serving in Thailand for many years. Larry is currently teaching at the Chiang Mai Theological Seminary, among other things.

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