Following the recent attacks by Islamic terrorists in Paris, France, many around the world have called for prayer. People have requested prayer for the city of Paris, for the victims of the attack and their families, and even for those we deem enemies of peace. This article is merely one example.
Then, the Dalai Lama spoke. “I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying,” he commented. “But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, Solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.”
I find this comment disturbing on more than one level.
First, I find the Dalai Lama’s comment disturbing, because it demonstrates the very aloofness that Jesus Himself meant to undo with the incarnation. Jesus’ coming in the flesh was meant, for one thing, to draw people to God, not make them feel farther from Him (John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”). Throughout the Bible, it’s the creation, not the Creator (as the Dalai Lama is indirectly suggesting), who pulls away from potential intimacy. And when a tragedy strikes, even if prayer was silent beforehand, God may even use it to remind us of just how seriously we need Him (e.g., 2 Chronicles 7:14). This leads me to my next disagreement.
Second, I find the Dalai Lama’s comment disturbing, because it demonstrates a human ability above and beyond what the Bible teaches is possible. In other words, the Dalai Lama’s belief that God would say, “Solve it yourself because you created it in the first place,” suggests a remarkably high confidence in humankind’s ability to do what is right, which the Bible itself never offers. From the Fall in Genesis 3 to our current situation, we have perverted justice and twisted God and His Word for our own means. We simply don’t possess the ability to get it right…because we aren’t right (Romans 3:10, 23). We may have glimpses of right from time to time, but ultimately we’re in the wrong with God: we’re sinners. We don’t fix, we break. Terrorisms is proof positive of this fact. (No, we may not strap bombs to our chests in order to terrorize people, but we’re all terrorists to a degree. Consider Matthew 5:21-30.)
The comment made by the Dalai Lama, this highly respected Nobel Peace Prize winner, greatly disturbs me. We need to pray, because we need God. We need the perspective and grace that come from spending time (individually and universally) in prayer. We can’t extricate ourselves from our own mess. If we could, the definition of redemption would be emptied of all its value, and the incarnation proven pointless.