Matthew 5:44 KJV

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

In Buddhism, it is taught that you should love your enemies because, at some time in the infinite sequence of rebirths, it was certainly the case that your enemy was once your mother. Therefore, hating your enemy is as irrational as hating your mother. This isn't a true explanation, but it is a rational justification for loving your enemies.

But in Christianity, everyone is an atom created by the Creator, completely detached from everyone else. In light of this, why is it rational to love your enemies?

  • If something is 'not true' it cannot be rational.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 29, 2023 at 7:24
  • @NigelJ If something is not rational, then it cannot be true. Because truth presupposes rationality. But there are many instances of something being rational but not true. That is, being internally logically consistent but not corresponding to reality. "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." (H. L. Mencken)
    – Fomalhaut
    Nov 29, 2023 at 16:15
  • @Formalhaut "truth presupposes rationality" is an Enlightenment inversion of classic Christianity "rationality presupposes truth as its measure" combined with correspondence theory of truth that Enlightenment still holds, although in matters of religion Enlightenment thinking relegates religion to being irrational. But pre-modern thinking has a bigger scope for rationality, with God (the truthmaker) as also the most rational of all beings. If God is love and if the true love is the Christian love (who loves enemies), then loving enemy must be rational. Nov 29, 2023 at 17:54
  • @GratefulDisciple The logical definition of rationality is "internal logical consistency". You can have a belief system that exhibits perfect internal logical consistency while having little to no correspondence to reality (the logical definition of truth). See non-euclidean geometry. But you cannot have a true belief system that lacks internal logical consistency.
    – Fomalhaut
    Nov 29, 2023 at 22:21
  • @Formalhaut Even in math / physics, you have to start with some axioms / premises. In Christianity there are several major theological systems. The one most generous to natural reason (Thomism) would have very strong premises that can mostly be established by reason alone. We then do the best we can to construct a logically consistent theological system which also include Biblical concepts of God. Also remember that human 'rationality' is a philosophical construction; yours is not the only definition. Most Christian systems demand that the soul's perception of God IS part of rationality. Nov 29, 2023 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


First, your assertion that "everyone is an atom created by the Creator, completely detached from everyone else" is completely false. Christians are joined together as Christ's mystical body (with Christ as head) becoming the one family of God. The church as body of Christ suffer together in solidarity at the hands of our collective enemies just as our head (Jesus) suffered but STILL loving his enemies from the cross, saying: "Father, forgive them for they don't understand what they are doing."

If it is rational for Jesus to love humanity who crucifies him on the cross, then it should be rational for members of his body to do the same. I admire Buddhists who have great compassion to others who struggle in life; whatever their doctrinal explanation. Regardless of one's religion, it is salutary to love one's enemy. I can even see a Buddhist understand the rationale by Jesus said "they don't understand what they are doing", as in Buddhism much suffering is caused by ignorance of our inner psyche. Both Buddhists and Christians wish the best for every human being, enemy or not.

There is an interesting 1996 journal article from the Buddhist-Christian Studies Jesus the Bodhisattva: Christology from a Buddhist Perspective. If for Buddhists it's rational to love one's enemy, it's rational for Christians too, by conceiving an individual Christian to be united to Jesus the Bodhisattva, since one earns the title "Christian" only by being united to the Body of Christ.

But Christians go one step further because Christianity CAN explain the source of that power to love enemies as coming from God Himself which He shares with us through Christ, rather than Buddhism's explanation in terms of Emptiness, as a response journal article A Christian Response to "Jesus the Bodhisattva" says:

However, one might ask on what grounds Keel would maintain that Buddhist Emptiness and God's love (or grace) can refer to the same ultimate reality. ... to say that Emptiness has such a character of grace does not necessarily lead to the fact that Emptiness refers to the same ultimate reality as does the Christian God (or grace). Above all, is it true to say that Buddhist ultimate reality can have an objective reality? If Emptiness is to be regarded as objective reality, it cannot help but be reified. ... As we well know, hoever, such a reifying expression is exactly what the concept of Buddhist Emptiness was devised to avoid. This is because such objective ultimate reality, Buddhists believe, gives rise to human beings' attachment to it, an attachment that must be regarded by Buddhists as something to be destroyed.

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