Evangelical Zen

A Christian's Spiritual Travels With a Buddhist Friend

Paul Louis Metzger;

Evangelical Zen is part Augustine’s Confessions and part Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Here Paul Louis Metzger, an Evangelical Christian, reflects on his spiritual journey—an inner pilgrimage of sorts that weaves through a physical forty-day journey with his family to Japan. The experiences of that journey, the beauties of Japan, its culture, and its religion become for him a lens on a deeper quest: here he is searching for and, he believes, finding a global humanity in conversation with Kyogen, his Buddhist friend.

Praise For Evangelical Zen:

“With rare honesty and humility, evangelical theologian Paul Louis Metzger journeys with his dear friend, the late Abbot Kyogen Carlson, in offering Christian and Buddhist reflections on some of the most daunting challenges facing humanity; i.e., religious intolerance, nationalism, xenophobia, and climate change. In this ‘spiritual travelogue’ between North America and Japan, Paul seeks a ‘global humanity’ and finds it with Kyogen in the shared weakness, mystery, hope, and strength at the juncture of personal, family, cultural, national, and spiritual life. This book will delight all pilgrims seeking light for the path.”

~ Thomas John Hastings, Senior Research Fellow in Science and Religion at the Japan International Christian University Foundation, New York City

“When it comes to inter religious interchanges, theology often gets more attention than relationships. That’s not true of Paul Louis Metzger’s Evangelical Zen. Although filled with stunning theological insights, it models how evangelical Christians and Zen practitioners can, and should, be in relationship. An inspiring read.”

~ Terry C. Muck, Scholar of Religion Specializing in the Relationship Between Buddhism and Christianity

“A brave, intimate exploration of what it means to have faith, to live that faith, and to meet the world in its multitudinous beauty. Paul Louis Metzger walks his talk.”

~ Sallie Jiko Tisdale, Author of Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhism Wisdom

“Through cross-cultural reflection in Japan, and his relationship with Buddhist priest Kyogen Carlson, Paul Louis Metzger pursues multifaith engagement in the way of Christ. For those asking “What would Jesus do?” in a pluralistic world where Christians live among adherents of the religions, Evangelical Zen provides a helpful example for Christ’s followers, and others, to emulate.”

~ John W. Morehead, Custodian, Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy

“In a world of what they call ‘gated affinity groups,’ Paul Louis Metzger, an evangelical theologian, and Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist priest, enter into a dialogue about their understandings of God, reality, culture, religion, and the world around them. The conversation is rich, vibrant, and teaming with dissent. Rather than dismiss one another or look for banal commonalities, they offer a journey in which the differences persist, our understanding is enlarged, and friendship remains. Read this book, not just for the insights it offers, but the way in which it models the kind of conversation our world desperately needs.”

~ The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times

“Professor Metzger, an Evangelical Christian theologian well-versed in Japanese culture and customs, has written a thought-provoking book that provides helpful insights for both Americans and Japanese. His years of interaction with a Zen Buddhist priest have enriched his learning and this book.”

~ Kiwa Fukushima, Chief Priest, Genshoin Zenkoji Temple, Nagano, Japan

“Books about the theory of intercultural or interreligious encounter abound, but this delightful series of reflections by evangelical theologian Paul Louis Metzger is different. Drawing upon his rich experience with the culture of Japan and a deep friendship with the late Abbot Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist, Metzger leads us on an intensely personal journey across religious, cultural, ethnic, and national boundaries in search of our common humanity as God’s creatures. Differences between Japan and the United States, the gospel of Jesus and the dharma of the Buddha, conservatives and liberals remain; but Metzger enables us to appreciate what we have in common and to find grace in sometimes surprising places. Wise and witty, this is a ‘must read’ for anyone concerned with issues of the gospel and cultural or religious others in our globalizing world.”

~ Harold A. Netland, Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“The most important prerequisite for being human is to have awareness that what one holds to be true is not the only truth in the world. Out of such awareness comes an unending stream of truths. We are being made truly human by the power of these myriads of truths. This is a guide book that demonstrates to the readers how such truths are to be brought forth. While it might be worthwhile just to be satisfied by each chapter’s appealing observation and dialogue, it would be far more beneficial for the readers to become ‘Paul’ and ‘Kyogen’ themselves and look anew at the world around them. When the truths are brought forth by power within us, we experience the joy of living firsthand.”

~ Shizuka Sasaki, Professor of Buddhist Studies, Hanazono University, Kyoto, Japan

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