Buddhism vs. Christianity

Examining the Fundamental Differences: Buddhism vs. Christianity

The popular appeal of Buddhism today is one of “coolness”, “tolerance”, and non-buddhadissention. It’s a belief system that many feel can help them “detach”, maintain neutrality, and find peace in a world of injustice and suffering. Some even say that Buddhist teachings and Christianity are compatible, and that one can be a Christian and at the same time adopt Buddhist teachings. 

The truth is, although one can find many truths in Buddhist teachings, Buddhism is in many points incompatible with Christianity.  Upon examination of fundamental Buddhist and Christian beliefs, it quickly becomes obvious that there is a clear contrast between the teachings of Buddhism and those of Christianity. Although you may hear some Buddhists claim that “we believe the same things; there are many paths to God”, many fundamental Buddhist teachings are in fact diametrically opposed to those of the Biblical Christianity

Examining Buddhist Beliefs  

The following is a list of “Basic Beliefs of Buddhism”, along with an answer for each from a Christian point of view.  The list is of Basic Buddhist Beliefs is taken from “Buddhanet”,http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/snapshot01.htm.  Please note that this is a response to these published Buddhist position statements, based on what the Bible says, and my own experience as a Christian.

Let’s take a look at each of these Buddhist assertions which I have listed from the above Buddhist website, and consider how they compare or contrast with what the Bible, and what Christians believe.  Then examine the evidence yourself – pick up a Bible and read the passages I refer to.  Look at the scientific and other evidence I refer to.  Research and see what Buddhism teaches.  And ask God to lead you, for as it says, “.. anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).

1. “There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgment Day.”

In contrast to this Buddhist assertion, the Bible asserts, and modern science supports, that there is indeed an “almighty Creator”.  

According to modern physics the Universe did not always exist, but had a definite beginning of space, time, and all matter (14.5 billion years ago).  Popularly known as the big bang”, this theory is the most widely accepted, and best attested to theory in science.  That “first Cause” indeed had to have been “almighty” to have created everything – all matter, space and time – out of nothing, in an instant, in order to have what we have today in this marvelously finely tuned, highly complex creation we live in.

Consistent with modern scientific evidence, the Bible also asserts that there was a First Cause to all things, that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1).  Indeed, the Bible proclaims we have an “awesome God”.  Science now proclaims we have an expanding universe, but the Bible revealed this long ago when the psalmist wrote that “He stretches forth the heavens like a curtain” (Psalm 104:2). Time and again God has shown that “there is nothing too hard for Me“, if we will only believe and place our trust in Him.

Rewards and punishments have to do with judgment and accountability, and the Bible does assert that each must give an account to God one day for their actions.  God is a loving Creator, and that’s absolutely true.  But He is also just, and must punish sin.  And we have all sinned, and missed the mark – as the Bible says, “All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  The good news is that those that put their faith in Jesus are not condemned – because they have put their trust in Him – God Himself, who came to earth in the form of man to pay the ultimate penalty for all sin, and rescue His creatures.  “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)

Yes, “good works” are vital, but they are like the fruit of a good tree that is firmly planted.  Faith naturally produces good works, or the fruit of the Spirit of God – the result of God guiding us along His path each day.  As a result, we reap rewards in this life by helping others, and we grow in character to be more like Christ.  Those outside of Christ must give an account one day to God apart from Christ’s saving work on the cross – and can their works save them?  Can Buddha’s eight fold path of guidance save?  The Bible says no, because the stain of “sin” still remains.  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) – and that name is Jesus.

2.  “Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.”

While it may not recognize a “supernatural being”, Buddhism is still nevertheless a religion.  Practitioners follow a set of rules “religiously”, and pay homage to a  “natural being” – Buddha.  Statues are erected to Buddha, and followers revere his legacy and teachings.  In contrast to Christians, who based their salvation on faith in God and His finished work of redemption, Buddhists practice good works and “detachment” with the world to hopefully alleviate suffering – and to one day, through a cycle of re-birth, attain “enlightenment”. 

Buddhism stresses that each individual must on their own behalf work to attain perfection, as one poutingworks through countless re-births to one day eventually achieve “enlightenment”. The problem is, there is no empirical evidence for cycles of “re-birth”.  Death is still the barrier we all must face before the great beyond.  In contrast to Buddhism, the Bible in Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (KJV).  It is appointed unto men once to die – not to die, then be re-born, die again, through an endless cycle of re-births. No, my friend.  This is a deception from the evil one. The good news (the “gospel”), is that Jesus has conquered sin and death, and for this reason, each person must pay close attention to Him, what He has done, and what He has said (Hebrews 2:1). For salvation from death and eternal life is in no one else but Jesus Christ the Lord. . 

The second issue with Buddhism is that, in emphasizing “the potential for perfection within”, it is in fact promoting worship of the creation, rather that the Creator.  It is essentially saying that through meditation, good works, and following the Buddhist teaching, you can save yourself.  The Bible on the other hand says the Jesus is the only way of salvation, enlightenment, and fulfillment: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Act 4:12)

In contrast to Buddhist teachings, the Bible states that there IS an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator God, and that the human condition is in a fallen state: inherently sinful, lost, and in need of a Savior.  This is the message in both the Old and New Testaments – that “the heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).  And again, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23)  The Bible says that all have been stained with sin since the Fall of the first two humans – Adam and Eve.  And what have we seen since history began but continual rebellion against God and each other – all due to this inherent sinful nature passed on to each of us. 

That rebellion has led mankind to be separated from His Creator, in need of a Redeemer.  Buddhism in effect teaches you can save yourself by following the Eight Fold Path, and enduring through a cycle of re-births to eventually reach Nirvana, or the “blowing out” or “quenching” of the activities of the worldly mind and its related suffering.  Christianity says no, all are appointed to live once, but God in His infinite mercy has provided the way of salvation from death.. We are all lost, stained by sin, and in need of a Savior.  Paul the Apostle writes “O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death!  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:24-25)  That Redeemer is Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price for mankind’s sin “once and for all”, bringing all that receive Him back into a right relationship with the Creator through His saving grace (unmerited favor).

3. “No savior concept in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others.”

There is no savior in Buddhism because there is no recognition of “sin” in Buddhism; so naturally there is no need for a savior or salvation.  The implication is that one can save oneself, and eventually through multiple lifetimes finally enter “Nirvana”.   In contrast, the Bible says that “all jesus_facehave sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.”  All are in need of a Savior.  In the Old Testament God proclaims Himself as Savior of His people:  “I, [even] I, [am] the LORD; and beside me [there is] no Savior” (Isaiah 43:11);  In the New Testament, it is clear that this Savior has come in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11).

But can a person reach a Nirvana by “good works” and following the Eight Fold path?  Is there even such a thing as “Nirvana”, or escape from worldly suffering?  Christianity says no – you have the indelible stain of sin on your being, and the only way of salvation and way back to the Creator is by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart and trusting in Him for your salvation. Salvation is a free gift!  It cannot be earned by good works. That is why it is called the “gospel”, or good news. God loved His creatures SO MUCH that He came down, became a person like us, then gave His life for us so that we could be with our Father for all eternity.  He loves us that much. The Bible says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). 

If there was any other way, God Himself would have seized it.  But there was no other wayGod needed to remain just, but also act as the justifier for His fallen creatures.  Only God Himself, coming to earth in the form of a Man – Jesus of Nazareth – could live a sinless life, then lay His life down willingly and pay the ultimate price of redemption for all of mankind, so that anyone who believed in Him could have eternal life in Heaven. That is why Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6). 

Buddha, although a very wise teacher, was still a fallen creature like everyone else, and he died. He left some very wise teaching that many follow to improve themselves – but Jesus did the same, and much more.  Not only did Jesus give us some of the wisest teachings ever – not only did He point the way – He was and is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).  Only Jesus was the sinless Lamb of God who came in the form of flesh, lived a perfect life, died for us, and then rose again from the dead!  Buddha remains in the grave to this day. Only Jesus conquered death, and rose again. God in human flesh, Jesus Christ the Lord, paid the price once for the sin of all mankind, so that we could all be made righteous to God. Are their many paths to “get back to the garden”?  Not according to the Bible.  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).  If one desired to choose a single verse from the Bible that conveys God our Creator’s wonderful love for us, it would be this:

“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whosoever believes (trusts) in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

But a gift is not a gift unless it is received.  God will not violate our free will, for without freedom to choose (or not), there can be no love. Each of us remains a creature with a free will to choose God or not, and God will not force His way into our life.  We must each choose Him, belevee in Him, and receive Him into our heart.  Then we are “born again” to new life; our dead spirit is made alive to commune with God’s Holy Spirit. We become “new creatures” in Christ, and daily take up the cross and follow Him.  We live out our lives in surrender to His Spirit, who lives within our hearts.  And He perfects us day-by-day as we yield to Him and seek His perfect path for our lives.

4. “A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student.”

Buddha was a teacher, and his followers are students.  To Christians, Jesus is also a great Teacher.  But He is ever so much more!  “Jesus is Lord” (Phil 3:20) proclaims the Bible in numerous places, and in fact this was a common pronouncement among early Christians.  The Bible says that Jesus is the eternal Word of God made flesh (see John chapter 1).

The truth isno matter how much you learn, how much you meditate, how much you give up worldly healinggoods, or how much you try – you cannot save yourself.  Only Jesus can save us from sin because only He bridged the huge chasm that was created as a result of the Fall.  He is our “the Way” back to the Father;  the “Bread of Life”; the “Door of the Sheepfold”; the “Resurrection and the Life”.  He saves us from sin through faith in Him – a resurrected, LIVING Lord.  As a result, we know we have eternal life.  And He empowers the Christian who relies on Him to walk that exciting, fulfilling life on a daily basis by the power of His Spirit.

The Bible makes it clear that our own good works will not suffice.  As Jesus said, “unless  you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24).  Believe and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior – you have nothing to lose, and everything in this life, and in the world to come, to gain!  Your Creator does not want you to perish, to be deceived by those who would lead you astray; but to have life, and that more abundantly! 

5. “The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.”

Buddhism emphasizes the need for one to take personal responsibility to “liberate oneself” – to rely on one’s own abilities, self-discipline and “striving” to improve. The problem, from the Christian point of view, is that the “sin thing” will keep getting in the way.  Read Paul the Apostle’s passage about his struggles to be led of the Spirit while in this fleshly body:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but [how] to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will [to do], I do not do; but the evil I will not [to do], that I practice.” (Rom 7:18-19). 

Paul goes on to proclaim who will deliver him, and enable his victory so that he can have the power to perform the good and deny the evil:  “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:24-25)

Christianity recognizes the need for individuals to be accountable for all of the actions done while on this earth, and to practice self-control.  But here is the key difference.  Self-control, kindness, patience, these are all “fruits” of the Spirit who dwells within each born-again believer:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal 5:22). Good works are expected of a Christian (read James) – but it is not “works” that justifies one before God – only by faith is one justified, and that faith has to be placed in His Son, Jesus, as your Lord and Savior.  A living, active faith in the Lord produces good works, just as a tree firmly planted produces good fruit.  Healthy trees don’t “strive” to produce fruit.  They do it naturally. 

Bottom line – Buddhism does not recognize the reality of the “sin” defect in every human being, while Christianity does recognize the sin reality and the fallen disposition of human kind.  Buddhism proposes that one rely on one’s own abilities for continual improvement, whereas Christianity states that without the indwelling power of the Spirit, this will be a loosing battle – doomed to failure. 

Christianity proclaims that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens us”.  It is not a blind faith, but an informed faith in an all powerful Creator who reached out and saved us.  Christians recognize that they are in need of a Savior, and they are to “walk” in the power of the Spirit, rather than live under the power of the flesh.  Christians who walk in the Spirit rely on the Spirit of Christ, and allow God to to be their strength to accomplish His purposes in their lives.

6. “Taking refuge in The Triple Gems i.e. the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha; does not mean self-surrender or total reliance on an external force or third party for help or salvation.”

While Buddhism is not self-surrender or total reliance on an ‘external force’ or third party for help or salvation, Christianity takes the opposite position. 

The Bible teaches that you must indeed surrender your self, your desires, and your will to the Lord God Almighty. Recognizing that He is God, and you are not “god”.  This is fundamental to Christianity, and it starts with “repentance” – acknowledging that you are a sinner, dead in your sins, and in need of a Savior.  Giving your life to Jesus, relying totally on Him, and inviting Him into your heart to live and reign on the throne of your life results in a “new birth” – being born of the Spirit. .That is why Jesus said “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.” (John 3:6). 

It is then that you become a “new creation” in Christ – and He begins to rework you from the inside out, as you “rely” on His indwelling Spirit by prayer and seeking His will for your life.  Daily he is making you a member of God’s family, day by day He works out the old fallen nature, and works in a new Christ-like nature.

7. “Dharma (the teachings in Buddhism) exists regardless whether there is a Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha (as the historical Buddha) discovered and shared the teachings/ universal truths with all sentient beings. He is neither the creator of such teachings nor the prophet of an almighty God to transmit such teachings to others.”

There is a bit of truth in many of the world’s religions.  
There are also many good secular teachings that are profitable for self-control, self development, etc.  But that does not means these paths are the way to salvation, and eternal life. you_decide

Christianity teaches that there is a God in Heaven, and that He is also all around us.  That He is eternal, all powerful, all mighty, and all knowing.  It also proclaims that HE is the source of ALL truth, knowledge and Wisdom.  The Bible, God’s written word, wasn’t “discovered” – it was transmitted on purpose by God’s Spirit to selected individuals, as they were “moved” by His Spirit to write His pronouncements (the meaning of “inspired”).  “Thus says the Lord” is a common refrain throughout the Bible. 

The Bible states that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but the way thereof is the way of death (Proverbs 16:25).  It further proclaims that “there is no other name under Heaven by which man can be saved” – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Teachings alone cannot save.  They cannot provide a right standing before the almighty Creator.  Only faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior can do that.

8. “Especially emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism, all sentient beings have Buddha Nature/ Essence. One can become a Buddha (a supreme enlightened being) in due course if one practices diligently and attains purity of mind (ie absolutely no delusions or afflictions).”

While Buddhism teaches that you can in effect “work your way to heaven” in due course by practicing diligently and attaining purity of mind, Christianity emphatically teaches the opposite: that no amount professor_at_workof “good works” are going to result in one’s “enlightenment”, and attainment of perfection.  Why?  Because those works are the product of a fallen nature.

Christianity is about listening and following after His indwelling presence – and the result, any ‘good works’, are the “fruit of the Spirit” – not the “striving of the flesh”.  The Spirit dwelling in each Christian has made their spirit “alive” unto God, enabling them to walk with Him daily. As the Bible says, “…we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph 2:10). 

For it is “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is it gift of God, not of works lest any should boast.” (Eph 2:8)  No one is getting to Heaven, Nirvana, or Paradise through their own efforts.  The Bible states that our good works are “as filthy rags”.  Only Jesus is able to clothe us sufficiently to save us.  He is our only hope, He is “the resurrection and the life“.  Works are a fruit of our spiritual walk with the Lord; not a justification for right standing with a holy God.  The only works that will endure are those that are born out of a pure heart following after God’s will.

Finally, the Bible states that in Jesus dwells “all the fullness of the God-head in bodily form” (Col 2:9). And “in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.  In a prophecy recorded in Isaiah 53, the Bible declares that “by His stripes we are healed”.  So, in point of fact, accepting Christ as Savior and Lord, and getting to know Him better each day is the best way of letting that old life die, getting rid of those delusions and afflictions, and being born again into new life – here and now, and for an eternity to come.

9. “In Buddhism, the ultimate objective of followers/practitioners is enlightenment and/or liberation from Samsara; rather than to go to a Heaven (or a deva realm in the context of Buddhist cosmology).”

According to Wikipedia, Samsāra (Sanskritसंसार), (in Tibetan called “khorwa”)[1], literally means “continuous flow”, and is the cycle of birthlifedeathrebirth or reincarnation.  So according to point 9 above, the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to free oneself from this continuous cycle of re-birth.  In a modern vernacular context, particularly in the Himalayas, samsara is also a word used to describe the how life is full of attachments and comings-and-goings, a subtle state of suffering.  So practicing Buddhism is more immediately about freeing oneself from “attachments”, and any state where there might be some “suffering” involved. 

Christians don’t try to liberate themselves from or disconnect from the world, as Buddhism teaches.  Jesus taught a parable of the ‘good Samaritan’, to illustrate how important it was to not only love God, but also love your “neighbor” by doing real, self-sacrificing actions.  Unlike Buddhism, Christianity teaches engagement, not detachment.

Christians are commanded to work to change the world for the better – to reflect the light of Christ into the world. He stressed that those that follow Him are “the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13), and “the light of the world” (Matt 5:14-16). We are not to hid our light under a bush, but to engage and be a light to the world. As a result we have seen thousands of Christian hospitals, orphanages, universities, and outreaches established by follows of Christ. Jesus set an example of servanthood and helping others, and those who would follow after Christ are encouraged to emulate that.

10. “Karma and Karma Force are cornerstones in Buddhist doctrines. They are expounded very thoroughly in Buddhism. Karma refers to an important metaphysical concept concerned with action and its consequences. This law of karma explains the problem of sufferings, the mystery of the so-called fate and predestination of some religions, and above all the apparent inequality of mankind.”

Karma is essentially cause and effect, past and present.  That your past genetic inheritance, plus previous experiences, along with current experiences and choice, explain what and where you are today.  Your “Karma”.

Of course there is cause and effect, and we have genetic inheritance, and choice.  In fact, the Bible teaches “God is not mocked – whatsoever you sow that shall you reap also.” (Gal 6:7)  Suffering is a reality comprehensible for Christians, explained by the fact of sin in the world and a fallen creation.  Inequality is the result of greed, selfishness, and people preying on one another.  Factor this end_timesup a notch and you have the cause of most wars.  All the result of sin “warring in our members”, as the book of James discusses.

And although there are disasters that occur in this creation that has gone awry, much suffering is brought on by mankind’s own injustice to one another.  Christians understand that, so its not a mystery.  We also realize that many times suffering brings us closer to the Lord, as we rely on Him through trials to grow our character (see also James 1).

But rather than blaming our past, present, and trusting our future to some mysterious “Karma”, the Bible teaches that God planned you – that He knew you while you were still in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  In fact, in contrast to the notion of Karma being responsible for your past and present state, Christianity teaches that you are here today because God has a plan and a purpose for you life – now, and in the life to come.  You are absolutely unique, and only you can fulfill the mission He has put you here for!

11. “Rebirth is another key doctrine in Buddhism and it goes hand in hand with karma. There is a subtle difference between rebirth and reincarnation as expounded in Hinduism. Buddhism rejects the theory of a transmigrating permanent soul, whether created by a god or emanating from a divine essence.”

Another fundamental difference between Buddhism and Christianity is this.  While Buddhism teaches that if you are not “enlightened” in this life, you are up for a re-birth, while the Bible says “man is appointed to live once, and then comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27).  There is no re-birth, or re-incarnation doctrine in Christianity.  couple

What hard scientific evidence is there for “rebirth” into a second life?  None as far as I can tell.

Whereas Buddhism rejects the notion of a “soul” being the essence of a human, the Bible teaches that each person is an eternal “soul”, comprised of mind, will and emotion. Your soul is what makes you a unique person; it i s your identity.  You do not “have a soul – you ARE a soul.  You have a body” (C.S. Lewis). Many philosophers have subscribed to the existence of an eternal soul – Plato, to name one.  Jesus taught that your soul is eternal, and that we pass from this life into eternity. He stressed that a person’s eternal soul has immense value, far more than wealth or fame that is gained in this short, temporary existence: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:37) 

This is an important question – are you just a physical organism, or something more?  Are you a soul, or just firing synapses in a chunk of grey matter? The Bible teaches that you were created by God as a living eternal soul with a body, and that God wants to see you born again to new life so that you can connect with Him, grow spiritually, and be Heaven bound. You were made for a purpose, and your Creator has a plan for your life.  Consider this carefully, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  He wants to make you a part of His kingdom. You are to be with the Lord forever, or apart from Him – depending on the choices you make in this life.

12. “Maitri or Metta in Pali (Loving Kindness) and Karuna (Compassion) to all living beings including animals. Buddhism strictly forbids animal sacrifice for whatever reason. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory.”

Christianity teaches that originally Humans were created as the peak of God’s creation, and that at that time, all God’s creatures lived in harmony.  But then humans rebelled, and “sin” entered the human race and all of creation.  All of creation since is in a fallen state, which is why there is sin, why mankind wars against itself, and why even creation displays a fallen state. 

Christians are taught that all God’s creatures were created “good”, and that they all reflect His handiwork.  But we are not to worship animals. We are to treat them well, as living beings which have a place in God’s wonderful creation.   Christians do not sacrifice animals, as was done by the Hebrews at one time.  We are to give sacrifices of obedience, praise and thanksgiving to God.  

As far as eating goes, the Bible teaches that Christians should not eat food sacrificed to idols, and that a blessing of thanksgiving should be said before partaking of food.

13. “The importance of Non-attachment. Buddhism goes beyond doing good and being good. One must not be attached to good deeds or the idea of doing good; otherwise it is just another form of craving.”

The importance of “non-attachment” is about not being attached to anything.  So Buddhists are not to be influenced by the bad – but not to be too interested in doing good either! The goal is not to do good, or do bad.  Just to do nothing.  Non-attachment. In contrast, Jesus commanded us to follow after Him, and proactively do good to others.  Put your faith in action.  In fact, in James it says “faith without works (good works) is dead”.  In Romans 12 Paul writes: 

“Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil.  Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”

This is not an attitude of detachment, but of engagement. As a result, Christianity has done far more good in the world that Buddhism or other religions.  More hospitals have been built by Christian organizations to heal people.  More schools to educate have been established by Christians.  Christian organizations have also sent missions around the world for centuries, helping those in need. 

14. “In Buddhism, there is consideration for all sentient beings (versus human beings, as in other religions). Buddhists acknowledge/accept the existence of animals and beings in other realms in Samsara.”

According to Wikipedia, “Sentience” in Buddhism is the state of having senses (sat + ta in Pali, or sat + tva in Sanskrit). In Buddhism, the senses are six in number, the sixth being the subjective experience of the mind. Sentience is simply awareness prior to the arising of Skandha. Thus, an animal qualifies as a sentient being.

whaleWhile the Bible teaches that God created all living and non-living things, and all that was considered by Him to be “good”, Humans are represented as the pinnacle of God’s creation – formed “on the 6th day of creation”, or as one of the final acts of God’s creative work (animals having been created earlier).  Christianity teaches that we should take care of animals and other aspects of creation, as good stewards of His creation – but does not teach that we should revere animals as “sentient beings”.

In fact, animals are worlds apart from humans in terms of demonstrations of self-awareness and higher thought.  While they are amazing elements of God’s creation, they do not demonstrate the capacity to worship the Lord as humans do.  Animals do no build churches, or temples.  They do not build laboratories, or explore the solar system.  Very simply, Christianity teaches that human beings are God’s special creation, endowed with His spirit of life, created “in His image and likeness” – and that the animal and plant kingdom are a subsidiary part of God’s creation.

15. “No holy war concept in Buddhism. Killing is breaking a key moral precept in Buddhism. One is strictly forbidden to kill another person in the name of religion, a religious leader or whatsoever religious pretext or worldly excuse.”

There is no “holy war” concept in Christianity either.  Christians are commanded “Thou shalt not murder.”  However, wars are a reality in this fallen world.  The Bible teaches that war happens because “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2).  Its based on the sinful nature in man, which is why it’s a reality in this fallen world.   

So Buddhism having no concept of war doesn’t prevent wars from happening.  Wars exist because of the fallen state of mankind, and the root cause of sin.  The solution is the saving grace that is available in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matt 5:9). The Bible teaches in the Book of Revelation that there will be a “final war”, and to conclude that will be the coming again of God’s Holy One, the Messiah – Jesus Christ.  He will one day in the not too distant future end that final war, and bring in the peace that we all so desire.

16. “Suffering is another cornerstone in Buddhism. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths. Sufferings are very well analyzed and explained in Buddhism.”

Suffering is a reality in this world, as Jesus said “in the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” But so is the opportunity for joy, happiness, and fulfillmentLets look at how Christianity vs. Buddhism treat the reality of suffering.  How many hospitals around the world has Buddhism founded?  How many has Jesus .. the Man in WhiteChristianity founded?  Countless. 

Christianity recognizes that there is suffering in the world.  Much of this suffering comes about from our own poor choices, or evil actions we inflict against others (due to the sin nature within us).  Other suffering is brought about simply because we are fallen creatures, living in a fallen world. But Christianity teaches that God often uses suffering to teach us and to refine us.  In fact, for those that follow Him God can and does in fact use evil to work for good – as it says “all things work together for good to those that love God, and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  Yes, God can even turn the evil some do to us into His good purposes for us. 

The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t “run away” from or try to detach ourselves from suffering.  In fact, it says in James that we ought to “count it all joy” when we enter into trials and tribulation (James 1:2) – knowing that God is doing a work to perfect our character to make us more like Him.

17. “The idea of sin or original sin has no place in Buddhism. Also, sin should not be equated to suffering.”

Another key difference between Buddhism and Christianity is the recognition of “sin”.  Biblical Christianity teaches that a “sin nature” has been passed on to humans, as the result of the fall of the first humans.  “Sin” is a defect in the nature of humans – it is the rebellious nature in the very heart of every human.  Literally it means “missing the mark”. Our own experience bears witness to this truth. For example, you don’t have to teach children to disobey, to rebel – they do it “naturally”.  Paul wrote about the sin nature in Romans, when he described the war between the Spirit and the flesh that was warring in his members.

Buddhism denies the existence of sin and instead teaches that you are fundamentally good, and that if you “strive” hard enough, in some future lifetime you might make it to “Nirvana”.  In contrast, Christianity teaches that we are all flawed, all stained by a sin nature.  No amount of our own own effort will perfect us – only a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s also look at sins relationship to suffering.  Is there a connection?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  For example: sometimes when we sin, we bring on sufferings because of our own actions.  In other cases, suffering has no cause in sin. Its an effect of a fallen creation – we suffer due to wars, natural disasters, and so forth. But Christians can rest in the assurance that even though they may have to undergo suffering, their Lord is “going to work ALL things together for good for those that trust in Him” (Romans 8:28) 

18. “Buddhist teachings expound no beginning and no end to one’s existence or life. There is virtually no recognition of a first cause — e.g. how does human existence first come about?”

Another fundamental difference between Buddhism and Christianity is this idea of “no recognition of a first cause”.  This is a direct opposition to established scientific fact, and the teaching of the Bible.

One of the most proven facts of science is that a “big bang” occurred about 14 billion years ago – that there was a “first cause” to all matter, time and space.  That all things have NOT been continuing on forever.  There was a start to all things,

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The Bible, in Genesis 1:1, is consistent with the notion that the known universe started with an initial singularity: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) The word created in Hebrew is “bara”, which means “to create out of nothing”.  So science and the Bible concur – there was a first cause that was the start of all matter, space and time – what he Bible calls “heavens and the earth”.  Buddhism, on the other hand, apparently takes no position on this.  The Bible, however, gives glory over and over to the Lord of all Creation.  In fact, the Bible says “the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

19. “The Dharma provides a very detailed explanation of the doctrine of anatman {anatta in Pali} or soullessness , i.e. there is no soul entity (whether in one life of many lives).”

Another fundamental difference between Buddhism and Christianity is the existence of a “soul” as  the very essence of a “person”.  Buddhism teaches “there is no soul”, while the Bible teaches very clearly that we each are an eternal soul: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find [Him] if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Due 4:29).

Jesus said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26). The Bible teaches that you ARE an eternal soul, and that your soul – your mind, will, and your emotions, the elements that make you uniquely “you” – possess and direct a body.  Its interesting that scientists are increasingly discovering evidence for an immaterial force that acts on the brain to make choices for this or that (ref “You are Not Your Brain“, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz). 

What’s more, the Bible teaches that humans – in contrast to other creatures – are a tri-part life form: spirit, soul and body. In Genesis we are informed that God formed humankind from the dust of the Earth (thus the body), and that He breathed into the human His ‘breath of life’ (spirit), and man became a living ‘soul’. (Gen 2:7) 

20. “The Buddha is omniscient but he is not omnipotent. He is capable of innumerable feats but there are three things he cannot do. Also, a Buddha does not claim to be a creator of lives or the Universe.”

According to the dictionary, omniscience is “the capacity to know everything”.  Point 20 above states that the Buddha is omniscient – that he knows everything (but he is not omnipotent, or “all powerful”).

In contrast, the Bible teaches that ONLY God, the Lord, the Creator, “knows everything” – or is all knowing. And being the Creator and Sustainer of time, space and all matter, He is of course all powerful. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that God is omni-present – that there is no where that one can go to “hide” from His Presence.  We read in Psalm 139:7-8: 

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

Christianity teaches that there is only ONE all-knowing, all mighty, ever present God of Creation, and that He exists in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Its either Buddha, or the Creator, that is all knowing – not both.  There can be only ONE all knowing, all powerful, in all points present Being.  Not two.  Logically that rules Buddha out.

21. “Prajna [Panna in Pali] or Transcendent Wisdom occupies a paramount position in Buddhist teachings. Sakyamuni Buddha expounded Prajna concepts for some 20 years of his ministry. One is taught to balance compassion with prajna i.e.emotion (faith) with rationale (right understanding / truth / logic).”

The Bible teaches that in Christ are “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:3).  That is why Jesus could make the claim that no other holy man would dare make: “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life”, said Jesus to His disciples. By growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the incarnate Wisdom of God, Christianity teaches we will likewise grow in understanding, knowledge of the truth, and in the application of these truths to all the facets of life – in this life, and in the life to come.

The Bible also makes it clear that there is a false “wisdom” of this world, and that this sort of false wisdom leads to folly.  “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, (Romans 1:21-22). True Godly Wisdom is a gift from God, whereas the wisdom of the world “puffs up” a person, making them proud and arrogant.  

The Bible does teach that we should use all of the gifts that God has given us – our reason, as well as our compassion and emotional understanding.  In fact, God declares in Isaiah 1:18 to “come now, let us reason together“. God wants us to use our whole person – mind, will, and emotion – in whatever we do, especially in the worship of Him as our Lord and Creator. Jesus told us to love the Lord “…with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”. (Matt 22:37) 

22. “The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism are relatively important and strong. While all religions teach some forms or variations of stabilizing/single-pointedness meditation, only Buddhism emphasizes Vipassana (Insight) meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment.”

Who Was Mary Magdalene?This is a reference to meditation, which is healthful for mind-body coordination and popular in today’s 21st century culture. It can calm your mental faculties, and your bodily state.  While extensive meditation may result in detachment or “liberation” from reality and the world, it is not going to bring you “enlightenment” with the source of all knowledge and wisdom.

The Bible teaches that while meditation is useful, it is prayer that connects our spirit with God’s Spirit. Meditation may be calming and helpful, it is not a substitute for prayer.  Only prayer can connect a believer with their Creator, through the Spirit that is within each child of God.

Furthermore, prayer can be done as a meditation.  Psalm 1, for example, talks about how one ought to meditate (or chew) on the truth in God’s Word:

“Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sis in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

23. “The doctrine of Sunyata or Emptiness is unique to Buddhism and its many aspects are well expounded in advanced Buddhist teachings. Briefly, this doctrine asserts the transcendental nature of Ultimate Reality. It declares the phenomenal world to be void of all limitations of particularization and that all concepts of dualism are abolished.”

The concept of Emptiness in Buddhism is in stark contrast to that of Christianity, where Jesus said “I am come that you might have life (Zoe), and that more abundantly.” (John 10:10).  Zoe, or Spirit filled life, is God’s life within you when you are a born again, Spirit filled follow of Jesus. 

When apart from Christ, a life that is lived in this world might seem quite “empty”. That is because we were created as spirit creatures, not merely soul and body. We are intended to be in connection with our Creator through our spirit, connecting with His Spirit; not enduring a life apart from Him. Christianity teaches that God wants to fill us with His life, His “Zoe” – not empty us!  Jesus said “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water!” (John 7:38).

The Bible teaches that we are born again into God’s family, we should empty ourselves of the old creation, so we can be filled and renewed day by day as a new creature in Christ.  He will then fill us with His abundant life, and His joy!

24. “Conditioned Arising [Paticcasamuppada in Pali] or Dependent Origination is another key doctrine in Buddhism. This doctrine explains that all psychological and physical phenomena constituting individual existence are interdependent and mutually condition each other; this at the same time describes what entangles sentient beings in samsara.”

The Bible also teaches that we need to pay attention to what we fill our minds with, and how we treat our physical bodies. In Galatians it states that our bodies are “the temple of God” (1 Cor 3:16-17), and that we ought to treat and care for our temples wisely and reverently. The Lost Tomb of Jesus

In Romans 12:2 it states “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” We are not to be filling our minds with worthless or wicked thoughts, but rather words of encouragement and life, based on God’s Word.  The Bible stresses that whatsoever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8).

Bottom line, Christianity teaches that we ought to care for our body, our minds, and especially our spiritual life.  Because they are all important, and interdependent.  But what is most important, according to the Bible, is that your spirit be “made alive” – that it be quickened, and that you have a “new birth”.  Once “born again” you enter into a new spiritual life, and relationship with the Lord. And God begins a work in you from the inside out, making you a “new creature in Christ”.  Slowly but surely, your mind is renewed day by day, and the body falls in line and is subservient.

25. The concept of Hell(s) in Buddhism is very different from that of other religions. It is not a place for eternal damnation as viewed by ‘almighty creator’ religions. In Buddhism, it is just one of the six realms in Samsara [i.e. the worst of three undesirable realms]. Also, there are virtually unlimited number of hells in the Buddhist cosmology as there are infinite number of Buddha worlds.”

If we were inventing a religion, as C.S. Lewis once remarked, we could get really creative and imagine all sorts of fanciful places or realms, with any number of levels. Christianity teaches very simply that you are either alive spiritually, or not (“he that has the Son has life, he that has not the Son has not life”).  To know Jesus, the eternal Son of God, is to know the Father, and to have life.

To have life in the Son is to have eternal life, and pass one day from this existence into an eternity with the Lord (“heaven”).  We don’t know precisely, but the Bible gives us some idea of what heaven will be like

The Bible teaches that there is punishment for evil, just as there are rewards for good.  Hell is horrible because it is eternal separation from God.  Hell was not designed for humans, but for evil spirits who have rebelled against the Creator – who want no part of Him.  Eternal separation from the Creator is what some humans will also have, not because God wishes it upon them, but because they wish it upon themselves, and will have no part in Him.  “God is not willing that any [of His humans] should perish” in this place, which is why He himself came down in the form of flesh (Jesus) to save us. (John 3:16).

26. “The Buddhist cosmology (or universe) is distinctly different from that of other religions which usually recognize only this solar system (Earth) as the center of the Universe and the only planet with living beings. The Buddhist viewpoint of a Buddha world (also known as Three Thousand-Fold World System) is that of one billion solar systems. Besides, the Mahayana Buddhist doctrines expound that there are other contemporary Buddha worlds like Amitabha’s Pure Land and Bhaisajyaguru’s world system.”

The Bible does not discount the idea that there may be other worlds with intelligent life.  The Bible, and Christianity, are focused on God’s creation here on earth, and His redemptive plan for His human creatures (an indeed all of creation). According to modern science, there are countless galaxies and stars, and any number of planets.  But so far, there is no proof for other planets that support complex, highly intelligent life.  Any planets that have been discovered have been done so by inference, and are usually found not to have even the conditions to support life.

The Bible’s cosmology is more in agreement with current scientific findings than Buddhism.  The Bible declares in Gen 1:1 that “In beginning God created the heavens and the earth (ie., the cosmos).  While people

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centuries ago thought that the universe had always existed, modern scientific discoveries has shown that the universe could NOT have always existed.  That there must have been a beginning to all space, time, and matter. This theory, popularly know as the “Big Bang”, is the most proven theory in all of science – proven by the general theory of relativity, by the “expanding universe” as discovered by Hubble, and by the observations of “afterglow” background radiation” as discovered by satellites. If th4ere was a “Big Bang”, there must be – according the the law of Cause and Effect – a “Big Banger” who started it all. This we call God, or the Creator. Thus, scientific findings contradict what Buddhism teaches, and support the Bible’s assertion that the universe (space, time and matter) did not always exist, but stated at a particular point in time and space, some 13.5 billion years ago. 

Furthermore, Christianity doesn’t preclude the existence of other worlds, but neither does it assert it.  God may have created other worlds with other beings.  And if He has done so, no doubt He has a plan for His creatures on those worlds. But so far, it doesn’t appear that worlds like the earth are plentiful throughout the universe.  In fact, the earth appears to be extremely “rare” and unique in the universe reference the following books to check this out: Rare Earth“, andThe Privileged Planet.

27. “Samsara is a fundamental concept in Buddhism and it is simply the ‘perpetual cycles of existence’ or endless rounds of rebirth among the six realms of existence. This cyclical rebirth pattern will only end when a sentient being attains Nirvana, i.e. virtual exhaustion of karma, habitual traces, defilements and delusions. All other religions preach one heaven, one earth and one hell, but this perspective is very limited compared with Buddhist samsara where heaven is just one of the six realms of existence and it has 28 levels/planes.”

The truth is, there is no proof for endless rounds of rebirth, endless cycles of existence.  From the Christian viewpoint this is a  dangerous deception – because it implies an endless series of “second chances” at getting it right.  While Buddhism teaches endless “second chances”, Christianity teaches the opposite – “man is appointed to live once”, and then comes judgment for all that is done in this life. All of the empirical evidence we have is that there is just ONE life which a creature is appointed to live; one “finely tunes”, amazing earthg that we live upon.  

As C.S. Lewis put it, if we are inventing a religion, we can imagine just about anything we like.  Numerous levels of heaven,  Many worlds.  Endless “second chances”.  But just because we imagine these things doesn’t make them true.  I can imagine their is no such thing as gravity, but when I step off that cliff, I will be dead wrong. 

The Bible teaches that after death, ALL will stand before their Creator, and will be judged for deeds they have done in the body.  The Bible declares that we are all judged by God’s standard, and that those who have never heard of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for them will be judged according to their works.  Those that have heard of God’s plan of redemption, and have believed on Him and  accepted Jesus into their hearts and become saved, will not be judged, but be saved by grace through their faith:.

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; 
it is the gift of God,
not by works, so that no one can boast
(Eph 2:8-9)

Those that have heard, and do not believe, but reject God’s only and only Son, and His plan for their salvation, are judged by God’s standard, in light of their works while in this life.  The problem we have is that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” (Roam 3:23). We have all come up short – THAT is why God came down, became a creature like us, lived the perfect life we could not, fulfilling God’s Law, then giving His life to pay the ultimate price for all of our sins. Because we could never do this on our own. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven [JESUS] given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Act 4:12). 

Salvation is a FREE gift – that is the “good news”!  If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead for your sins, you will be saved.  The is no evidence for endless cycles of rebirth to get it right.  No endless second chances.  You cannot “work” your way to heaven, no matter how many chances you might have.  Why?  Because you and I are fallen, sinful creatures, in need of redemption, and God’s new life in the spirit. So God made a Way, and that Way is in Jesus Christ.   

The Bible says that God seeks a relationship with every single one of His human creatures – He may be speaking to you right now, asking you to give Him a chance in your life.  Will you consider turning your life over to Jesus, and asking Him to come in to your heart and enable you to be all that you can be? You will have an abundance of life in this world, and life everlasting in the Heaven, and in the world to come! 

So Which is Will You Choose? The Religion of Buddhism, or a Relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus?

So which is it?  The way of the Buddha, or a living relationship with Jesus, the living Lord of Creation?

The truth is that we are all sinners, but we were designed and created to be in relationship with our maker.  We all have a “God-sized” hole in our hearts – a hole that we try to fill with all What is Heaven Like?sorts of things – possessions, success, money, sex, etc. But in the end none of this truly satisfies.  No other religious figure – including Buddha – and no endless series of “works” to reach heaven (or Nirvana), can bring you into a personal relationship with the LORD – because as it is written, “there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved”, and that name is JESUS.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ bridges the gap between fallen Mankind and his Creator. 

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?  If you do, then you have everything to look forward to – in this life, and in the life to come.  Peace with God, joy in your daily life, fulfillment of God’s purpose while here on earth, and life eternal.  You were made for a purpose, and your daily walk with Jesus will help you come to realize His purpose in your life and fulfill it.  If you don’t have a relationship with your Creator through Jesus Christ, you can!  Give Jesus a chance!  Don’t put it off.  Allow Him to come into your life and make you “a new creation”!  You have nothing to loose everything to gain.  Here is a link to Billy Graham’s web site that can show you how you can invite Jesus into your life and be the creation He has always intended you to be …

>> Take Me to Steps to Peace With God ==> http://www.billygraham.org/SH_StepsToPeace.asp

Buddhism vs. Christianity Sources


11 thoughts on “Buddhism vs. Christianity

  1. Thank you for your reply and no it was not lengthy by any standard. I appreciate that you took the time to read and get back to me. I guess I just view things differently. May God bless you, and thank you once again.

  2. Hi Sir,I am also a converted Christian.I was a bhuddhist.but I experienced that I even didn’t know about Christ, but I am Christian now, because I believe he chose his people, but I am facing so many oppositions from my family.I pray to Lord that he may open theirs heart

  3. Thank you and God bless you! Your answers and replies are so graceful. I’m so thankful that God showed his love and enough evidence so that I have confidence in my faith that is based on truths; and we have his word addressing the difficulties we are going through..

  4. Hi Sam. Praise the Lord. I am very happy that you invited Jesus into your heart, and now are walking with Him. He is truly “God with us”, Emmanuel. And yes, He is Alive! And many will be very surprised when He comes again, as He promised. As it says, “God is not slack concerning is coming, as some count slackness”. He will come for us own, you can bet on it! Paul.

  5. You’re great! You must have done a lot of research. Thanks to you I have an idea on how to write my preach speech.

  6. Great article writing. I don’t bash religions either, but when one has to compare the teachings (the true nature of another that makes the religion what it is, one can conclude the real truth of those teachings). God’s Word is without a doubt true, error free, eternal and has the key to eternal life. If so many people can actually see that and realize the efforts they do cannot save them, truly they will see and know peace. Glory be to God. You make powerful great points.

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