Preface to Buddhism and Buddhists in China
A missionary no less than a professional student of Buddhism needs to approach that religion with a real appreciation of what it aims to do for its people and does do. No one can come into contact with the best that Buddhism offers without being impressed by its serenity, assurance and power. Professor Hodous has written this volume on Buddhism in China out of the ripe experience and continuing studies of sixteen years of missionary service in Foochow, the chief city of Fukien Province, China, one of the important centers of Buddhism. His local studies were supplemented by the results of broader research and study in northern China.
No other available writer on the subject has gone so far as he in reproducing the actual thinking of a trained Buddhist mind in regard to the fundamentals of religion. At the same time he has taken pains to exhibit and to interpret the religious life of the peasant as affected by Buddhism. He has sought to be absolutely fair to Buddhism, but still to express his own conviction that the best that is in Buddhism is given far more adequate expression in Christianity. The purpose of each volume in this series is impressionistic rather than definitely educational. They are not textbooks for the formal study of Buddhism, but introductions to its study. They aim to kindle interest and to direct the activity of the awakened student along sound lines.
For further study each volume amply provides through directions and literature in the appendices. It seeks to help the student to discriminate, to think in terms of a devotee of Buddhism when he compares that religion with Christianity. It assumes, however, that Christianity is the broader and deeper revelation of God and the world of today. Buddhism in China undoubtedly includes among its adherents many high-minded, devout, and earnest souls who live an idealistic life. Christianity ought to make a strong appeal to such minds, taking from them none of the joy or assurance or devotion which they possess, but promoting a deeper, better balanced interpretation of the active world, a nobler conception of God, a stronger sense of sinfulness and need, and a truer idea of the full meaning of incarnation and revelation. In the first paragraph, why does the author write that Buddhism has “serenity, assurance and power”?
He wants to convince readers that Buddhism is worth studying. He wants to convince readers that Buddhism is a daunting subject. He wants to show that Buddhists are worthy opponents. He wants to show that Buddhists consider themselves important.