Occasionally, I see answers that compare Christianity to "Eastern religions" -- and that phrase is usually followed by a completely muddled failure to understand...Something, probably Buddhism or Hinduism.

And, as this is Christianity.SE, I would not expect or require the answerers to (necessarily) know anything about Buddhism, etc. But now their answers have elements in them that are just wrong, and those elements are not easily detectable by the community, being out of the range of the community's expertise.

And it's hidden behind the veil of the phrase "Eastern religions," which prevents people from looking up real information by obscuring the (grammatical) subject.

Can we do anything about this?

Examples:

I'm not sure if this is an issue in general, but it sure bugs me.


A more reasonable use of "Eastern" within the church: How is spiritual progress described in eastern monastic traditions?

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@MarkTrapp: Oh, sure. And that one is clear within the question. –  Sean McMillan Nov 1 '11 at 12:22
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2 Answers

Yes!

You have several options:

  1. You can comment on the answer, asking them to clarify particular parts.

  2. You can edit the answer to fix minor errors that don't change the original intent of the post. Also, you can comment to point out especially egregious errors.

  3. You can downvote if you feel that the misrepresentation brings down the quality of the answer. Don't forget that after an edit, votes can be recast.

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+1 for commenting. It has an awesome power; people often change their mind of a post on reading an informative comment. This puts some pressure to posters to fix problems mentioned in comments. –  dancek Oct 11 '11 at 22:19
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Commenting and is very helpful. I learned the bad habit of answering quickly at stackoverflow, in the rush to answer first. That habit leads to sloppy answers here. I appreciate comments that force me to re-evaluate and improve my answers. –  David Stratton Nov 3 '11 at 4:48
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People who don't believe there is anything unique about Christianity may take umbrage at a statement concerning Eastern Religions.

But as a definition, Eastern Religions to a Christian are those that

A. Practice meditation to achieve some personal end

B. Are pantheistic or polytheistic

C. Don't particularly like Christians

or any combination or permutation of those. So, if you believe that Christianity (or Catholicism) contains is the fullness of truth, like I do, then you're going to have to have some explanation why Eastern Religions do not contain the fullness of truth.

The intelligentsia on both the enlightened atheistic side and the convicted Christian side lumps the Eastern Religions together for some reason or other so yeah, point out glaring flaws, but don't assume that no one has a right to talk about what they don't believe. Maybe there's a reason we don't believe it, because we do understand it and we know that what we've got, in Jesus, is the absolute fullness of truth!

There is a problem in lumping Islam into the list of 'Eastern Religions' some consider it an Eastern Religion because we see their practices as being influenced in some ways by ancient eastern customs some say it's a 'Western Religion' because it is essentially a vague interpretation of Christianity and Judaism.

I believe, and this is not humpty dumptyism, the location on the globe that the beliefs are predominantly practiced does not make a religion Eastern or Western, but it is the orientation of the people.

We are accustomed to see the names of the great religious founders all in a row: Christ; Mahomet; Buddha; Confucius. But in truth this is only a trick, another of these optical illusions by which any objects may be put into a particular relation by shifting to a particular point of sight. Those religions and religious founders, or rather those whom we choose to lump together as religions and religious founders, do not really show any common character. The illusion is partly produced by Islam coming immediately after Christianity in the list; as Islam did come after Christianity and was largely an imitation of Christianity. But the other eastern religions, or what we call religions, not only do not resemble the Church but do not resemble each other.

G.K. Chesterton - The Everlasting Man

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A and B are fine, but what does C have to do with the question posed by the OP about what to do with misrepresentations of non-Christian religions? –  Caleb Oct 12 '11 at 8:28
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I don't care if you believe it, just if you're informed about it. Buddhism and Hinduism are as different as Christianity and Islam (maybe more.) But If I lumped them together, I would fail to draw the distinctions that are important. –  Sean McMillan Oct 12 '11 at 12:13
    
@Caleb it's something that shouldn't be ignored but is by a majority of the detractors of Christianity. Christians could live (and have lived) peacefully in the midst of every other creed. Right now we're being murdered for our faith in Pakistan, Iran and many other places and that is being ignored. –  Peter Turner Oct 12 '11 at 12:45
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@PeterTurner That is a gross miss-grouping of religions. "Eastern" religions usually refers to Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. The countries you mention where the worst persecution of Christians is happening are typically NOT those eastern religions at all, they are monothesitic ones that don't fit that label at all! –  Caleb Oct 12 '11 at 12:53
    
@Caleb, OK I understand where you're coming from, but Eastern Religions, to me, includes Islam. So yeah, that may just prove that it's a fallacy to even talk about Eastern Religions at all. –  Peter Turner Oct 12 '11 at 12:58
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@PeterTurner: Islam is no more an Eastern religion than Christianity is. They both originated in the same place after all. And Christianity is alive and well in the East. It's thriving in Iran and China and India and Korea and other places perhaps more so than in the West. There is actually a generally understood category of mystical pantheistic or polytheistic religions lumped together as "Eastern" but it does not include Islam. Your definition is a humpty-dumptyism! –  Caleb Oct 12 '11 at 13:10
    
Shufi Islam is mystical, but there are mystical traditions within Christianity too. "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." I don't think Norwich is particularly Eastern. –  TRiG Oct 12 '11 at 14:57
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