• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

Tuesday, 22 December 2020 17:08

Research on conversion shows importance of dialogue


Fr Thien Nguyen PhD 550A doctoral thesis by Fr Thien Nguyen SVD, which researched conversion from Christianity to Buddhism in Australia, found that such conversion was a complex and long process based more on dissatisfaction with the person’s Christian tradition rather than proselytisation.

Fr Thien, who graduated from Monash University with his PhD this month, says he hopes his research will help Church leaders to change their pastoral approach in caring for the faithful and encourage all believers to engage in dialogue across faiths.

“The research was a long journey of studies which involved both struggles and growth, frustration and joy,” he says.

“It raised many questions about the faith and practices that I inherited, professed and lived. It invited me to go deeper into what I believed and preached as a Roman Catholic missionary priest.

“Through this study of religious conversion, I had to seriously study both systems of belief, namely Christianity and Buddhism.

“Paradoxically, Buddhism became a mirror that enabled me to see the similarities and differences of the two traditions – there are more similarities than differences – and to make sense of and understand better my Christian faith.

“It was, in fact, my personal journey of conversion which helped me to be a confident Christian and an open, yet humble missionary.”

Although each conversion story studied in Fr Thien’s research was a unique case, the findings revealed that this type of conversion carried certain characteristics.

“Firstly, this conversion was not the outcome of proselytisation,” he says. “Rather, it was the result of the combination between the sense of dissatisfaction of individuals toward the teachings and practices of their Christian tradition and the natural response of their personal spiritual search in the context of interreligious engagement.

“Secondly, conversion to Buddhism never ended, but was an ongoing and life-long process. It was a process of becoming, which required strict self-discipline in developing Buddhist wisdom, learning skills, practising meditation and living out compassion. In other words, it was an ongoing journey to awakening.

“And finally, while the converts were faced with many challenges, they all found a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment from becoming Buddhists in Australia.

“The challenges included allocating time to and understanding certain teachings and some rituals, finding a local Buddhist community to associate with, and being discriminated against by local people.”

Fr Thien, who is director of the Janssen Spirituality Centre in Boronia, Victoria, says he hopes his thesis raises some awareness in and among the Christian churches regarding certain theological concepts and ideas which invite more understandable explanations of their beliefs, practices and faith.

He also hopes it may help church leaders to change their pastoral approach appropriately in providing care to their faithful.

“The thesis also encourages every person of faith to be open to sharing with and learning from people of other faith traditions,” he says.

“Mission today, instead of focusing on proselytisation, should take a form of dialogue in order to seek conversion of heart and mind.”

PHOTO: Dr Thien Nguyen SVD on his doctoral graduation day.