Judgmentalism and exclusivism
JUDGEMENTALISM states that after death people are judged by God and either sent to heaven or condemned to eternal torture in hell.
There are two types of judgementalism, judgment by works and judgment by faith.
Judgment by works states that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. This is a pretty clear-cut decision when it comes to Mother Teresa or Adolf Hitler, but what about the majority of humanity who are somewhere in between? In fact we would expect most people to be around the 50% good/50% evil mark. We can reduce the doctrine of judgmentalism to absurdity by envisaging all sorts of razor-edge and hair-splitting situations where minor transgressions tip the balance between going to heaven and an eternity in hell.
Judgment by faith (otherwise known as exclusivism) states that its not what you do, but what you believe that matters. You can kill, maim, rape, loot and pillage to your meme's content as long as you do it in good faith.
All faith-based judgmentalists agree that everybody who belongs to the right religion goes to heaven and everybody else (including unbaptised infants) goes to hell. The only thing they tend to disagree on is which is the right religion.
Needless to say Buddhism will have nothing to do with this vindictive and arbitrary soteriology. The Buddhist belief is that after death the mind goes through a kind of review process where it comes face to face with its own negative aspects, and is then drawn to the environment of its next birth by the imprints of its attachments. The actual membership of a religion has no consequences apart from the positive (or sometimes negative) actions of body, speech and mind produced by the teachings. Religious affiliations are mere labels which have no inherent existence.
To see what logical and moral contortions even expert theologians have to put themselves through to justify exclusivism, read 'Politically incorrect salvation' ( By the way, do the comments on Buddhist logic in this article seem rather strange - or is it just me?).
An attack on Buddhism, from a judgementalist pespective, was launched a few years ago by Pope John Paul II in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope. The Catholic Church has since repeated these allegations with the online publication of the section on Buddhism in The Catholic Encyclopedia. This article is worth reading if only for the final three or four sentences, which are a classic example of Cultural Imperialism - old habits obviously die hard!
A calm, reasoned and non-divisive response to all this hot air and invective can be found in Crossing the Threshold of Liberation by Dr Yutang Lin..
- Sean Robsville
If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?