“Hybridity of Kuanyin and Mary, Maternal Sacrifice and Salvation: A Comparative Theological Study,” by Jea Sophia Oh

What kind of life or living could be the key of salvation? This paper deconstructs the traditional understanding of sacrifice as the code of salvation, as many Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus’s Crucifixion brought salvation “once and for all.” Not only in Christianity, but also in many other religions, sacrifice has been recognized as a crucial key to bring salvation.

Kuanyin is the bodhisattva of compassion, one who chose not to be Buddha but chose to stay with us for sharing our sufferings. Similarly, Mary is a Christian counterpart and mother figure who complied with God’s call to be a virgin mother of Jesus and witnessed the death of her own child with a great deal of suffering and compassion and yet was excluded from the divine trinity. Given these examples, can it be said that sacrifice is the key to salvation? I would say, “No! The cross is a result of living and not the climax of living. The key lies in compassionate living.”

Maternal sacrifice is that of a self-giving life and love. Mary’s life and her maternal sacrifice have been ignored by traditional soteriology, which emphasizes death and suffering. The code of salvation for these two mother figures is actually their compassion and love, therefore, “Life.” Likewise, Kuanyin’s sacrifice is a part of her self-giving love in the process of salvation, not the purpose or the condition of salvation.

This paper turns our soteriological focus from death to Life, the compassionate living as an alternative soteriology. With love, Kuanyin sacrificed her body. With love, she stays on earth to save all Life.

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