More Information
ISBN: 9781783687862
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 11
Publication Date: 30/06/2020
Pages: 196
Series: Studies in Theology
Language: English

A Christian Theology of Suffering in the Context of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand


In this book, Satanun Boonyakiat elucidates a Christian theology of suffering relevant to the context of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand. Grounding his work in a trinitarian comparative theology of religions, Boonyakiat explores the ways in which Buddhist teachings on suffering – specifically the Four Noble Truths – can challenge, enrich, and deepen a Christian perspective. Ultimately, Dr Boonyakiat suggests, a Christian theology of suffering relevant to the people of Thailand, both Christian and Buddhist alike, must move beyond a traditional, western emphasis on theodicy to address a practical response to suffering’s lived reality – a response rooted firmly in Scripture and grounded in a theology of the cross.

Author Bios

Satanun Boonyakiat

SATANUN BOONYAKIAT is from Thailand and earned his PhD in Theology (Theology and Culture) from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA. He serves as assistant president and chaplain of Payap University, Chaing Mai, Thailand, as well as lecturing at the university’s divinity school, McGilvary College of Divinity.


This book represents a wonderful example of careful listening to another religious tradition in order to properly appreciate and learn from it; Boonyakiat’s work is a genuine conversation where Christians discover what they can learn from Buddhism.

William A. Dyrness, DrThéol, Doctorandus
Dean Emeritus and Senior Professor of Theology and Culture,
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA

This groundbreaking work is the very conversation that is needed in mission understanding and work in our modern world that avoids the reflexive dead-end of either a deaf fundamentalist exclusivism or a naïve inclusive pluralism that ends in relativism. Readers will not be disappointed by this fine work.

Thomas Alan Harvey, PhD
Academic Dean,
Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, Oxford, UK

Among Christian theologians, few have reflected more profoundly on suffering – human and divine – than the German, Jürgen Moltmann. In this extraordinary study, Professor Boonyakiat brings Moltmann’s Christian interpretation in a critical-sympathetic dialogue with the foundational and authoritative Buddhist teachings as presented in the Scriptures and by some leading contemporary teachers.

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, DrThéol, Habil
Professor of Systematic Theology,
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abstract
  3. Abbreviations
  4. Introduction
  5. Chapter 1 A Trinitarian Theology of Religions and Trinitarian Comparative Theology
    1. A Christian Theology of Religions
      1. A Traditional Typology
      2. A More Comprehensive Typology
    2. A Comparative Theology
      1. Francis X. Clooney
      2. James L. Fredericks
      3. Keith Ward
      4. Towards a Trinitarian Comparative Theology
    3. The Trinity and Human Suffering
    4. Conclusion
  6. Chapter 2 The Reality of Human Suffering
    1. The Basic Understanding of Suffering in Buddhism
      1. The Founder of Buddhism
      2. The First Noble Truth: The Truth of Suffering (Dukkha)
      3. The Three Characteristics of Existence
    2. Theological Understanding of the Reality of Suffering
      1. The Reality and Complexity of Suffering in the Biblical Perspective
      2. Reexamination of the Traditional Theological Understanding of Suffering
    3. Conclusion
  7. Chapter 3 The Causes of Suffering
    1. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Samudaya)
      1. Tanhā
      2. Avijjā
      3. The Law of Kamma
    2. Theological Understanding of the Causes of Suffering
      1. Suffering Is the Result of Sin: The Message of Retribution Theology
      2. Suffering Is the Result of Oppression: The Message of Liberation Theology
      3. Suffering Is a Mystery: The Message of the Book of Job
    3. Conclusion
  8. Chapter 4 The Ways to the Extinction of Suffering
    1. The Buddhist Way to the Extinction of Suffering
      1. Right Understanding (Sammādiṭṭhi)
      2. Right Thought (Sammāsankappa)
      3. Right Speech (Sammāvācā)
      4. Right Action (Sammākammanta)
      5. Right Livelihood (Sammā-ājīva)
      6. Right Effort (Sammāvāyāma)
      7. Right Mindfulness (Sammāsati)
      8. Right Meditation (Sammāsamādhi)
    2. The Theological Understanding of the Way to the Extinction of Suffering
      1. Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross
      2. Kazoh Kitamori’s Theology of the Pain of God
      3. Jürgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God
      4. Kosuke Koyama
    3. Conclusion
  9. Conclusion
  10. Bibliography