I woke up to a question in my inbox on Facebook today, and the only way I could answer it was by explaining the difference between Buddhism and Christianity. As I logged on to here, I realized, there were many language lessons I still have I can give you, but the answer to this question will help so many people, so I decided to explain for you the difference between Buddhism and Christianity.
To begin with Buddha was a Hindu prince who became a priest. He was a good man trying to be good. In Buddhism, people have many lives just like in Hinduism since Buddha was actually a Hindu. You are born, you live your life, and you die, and then you come back again and the process begins again. It happens again and again throughout eternity until you can reach Nirvana, or as the Hindus say “until you can become one with Brahmin” or one with the universe. If you aren’t good enough in this life, you may come back as a worm or a pig in the next life. If you are good enough in this life, you will come back as a higher form of life or even higher on the social structure. In India, the social structure is very graduated. The people on the bottom, they call “the untouchables.” The people at the top are the priests. Everyone else is between these two somewhere. Their goal is to come back as a priest, but if we are really honest with ourselves, how many of us are good enough to be a priest in the next life? After they become a priest, if they are good enough, they can finally become one with the universe or reach Nirvana when they die. It is all through their own effort, and they have to try to do it again, and again, and again throughout eternity on this earth.
In Christianity, God is not a human being like Buddha. He is above mankind. He made the world and everything in it, including us. In the beginning, mankind lived with God, and we were happy. However, the tempter came and tempted man to go against God and do something he asked them not to do. God is holy. He is set apart and sin can’t enter where he is. He can’t be around sin. Sin is the bad things that we do. When Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman, sinned, they were put out of the garden of Eden, the paradise he had made for them and separated from God. However, God loves mankind. That is why he made us to begin with. When he put them out of the garden, he made a plan right then to bring mankind back to him because he didn’t want to put them out. They had to understand the path to come back. When he was talking to Eve, the woman, he said someone would come from her that would crush sin, the problem that was keeping people from God, and the tempter would strike his heal, but the one God sent would be the victor.
All of the Old Testament is preparing mankind for the one that God would send, and he finally sent him, Jesus. Jesus was sent from God to show us the path back to God. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we don’t have to struggle like the Buddhists do for centuries trying to get back to God. You see, Buddha died and was buried. Jesus died and rose from the grave. If he can rise from the grave and then rise back up into Heaven as many people saw him do, then he can help us and show us how to do it too. When Christ died, it was Satan, the tempter, bruising his heal. When he died and rose from the dead, he crushed sin. Christians are asked to repent, or stop sinning, decide to stop doing bad things. The sins we have committed, are wash away in baptism which according to Romans 6, is where we meet the blood of Christ. According to the book of Hebrews, forgiveness of sings is impossible without blood. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, God did not strike the Israelites down because there was the blood of a lamb above their door. We need the blood of the lamb, Jesus. We need to accept his death, burial, and resurrection. We need to die to sin, repent, just as Jesus died on the cross. We need to be baptized, to be buried in water, just as Jesus was buried, and then we come back from baptism with forgiveness of sins, a new life, just as Jesus came back from the dead.
Christians have to be humble enough to understand that we can’t do it alone. We need Christ. We have to be humble enough to understand that everyone sins. With Buddhism, they think they can become one with the universe by being good enough, but that pride is a sin. We have to humble ourselves before God and do things his way. In Buddhism, they teach that you just flow into life and trickle between the cracks like water poured on wood to get along. In Christianity, we know there is a God, and we are not God. We are his servants, and we look to him to tell us how to live our lives, not other people. Sin is the breaking of God’s law. Sin in Buddhism is nebulous. We are able to know what sin is in Christianity.
According to Acts 2:38, when we repent and are baptized, we receive the gift of the holy spirit. The holy spirit is what God gives us to help us do the right thing. Galatians 5:16-25 helps us know what sin is and what the indwelling of the holy spirit is:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idoltery and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit” (Galatians 5:16-25).
Christianity keeps God in his proper place, above mankind. Buddhism makes man a god. In Christianity, we do not worship ourselves as being good, but Buddhists worship themselves as being good. In fact, in Hinduism, they teach that each man becomes a god. Buddha was a Hindu. In Christianity, we understand that we are part of God’s creation. We are not gods. There is only one God, one creator of mankind. Christians let God be in charge. We don’t slip through the cracks like water being poured over wood to figure out the right path, but we listen to God to find the right path because God is our father. God made us, and he loves us. Buddha didn’t make us. He was simply a good man trying to figure out how to be good. Jesus was sent from God, and he knows the difference between right and wrong. Jesus taught us how to get back to God, and we don’t have to do it by ourselves like Buddhists do. As Christians, we know we aren’t perfect, but Buddhists think they are perfect or can become perfect through their own effort. The main difference is that God is God in Christianity, and in Buddhism, people are gods. God helps us to go Heaven, but in Buddhism, they think they can get there through their own efforts. In Christianity, we know we aren’t perfect. We don’t lie to ourselves, and we accept help from God.