How does Buddhism differ from Christianity?

Most Christians have a passing familiarity with the major holidays and notable dates in other religions’ calendars—Jewish holidays like Hanukkah are well-known, as is the Islamic observance of Ramadan. Similarly, most Christians have at least a basic knowledge of those religions’ basic beliefs.

But how much do you know about what Buddhists believe? Do you know how the claims of Buddhism compare and contrast with Christianity’s?

February is a fitting time to learn more about Buddhist beliefs, since it’s when many Buddhists celebrate Parinirvana Day, the day that, they believe, Buddha died and achieved complete Nirvana. A good place to start is an article on the basic beliefs of Buddhism from Campus Life, which also identifies points of similarity and difference between Buddhism and Christianity. A short article at Answers to Tough Questions explains how Buddhist beliefs differ from Christianity.

If you’re interested in further reading, J. Isamu Yamamoto has written a more in-depth article on how Christians should understand and respond to Buddhism in North America (and the article points out that there are different branches within the umbrella of Buddhism, so Christians who’ve studied up on one branch shouldn’t assume they know everything there is to know). Christianity Today has a short discussion of theological issues within Tibetan Buddhism, and an accompanying collection of articles for additional reading. And of course, you can’t beat Wikipedia for sheer volume of information about Buddhist history and beliefs.

So this month, as Buddhists around the world commemorate Buddha’s life and death, take some time to read up on Buddhist beliefs, and consider how you might share your faith with a Buddhist friend or neighbor.

11 Responses to “How does Buddhism differ from Christianity?”

  • You can also add to the list of research a fellow member of the network, Soulation… see Jonalyn’s blog post on how Jesus outshines Buddha comparing their treatment of women. This post generated a lot of discussion from actual Buddhists who don’t often agree with descriptions that comparative religions and Christian apologists give them. The comments on this blog also give excellent examples of how to dialog on these weighty matters:

  • To make it short and simple buddha worship idols and christians worship our lord and savior jesus christ god said put no other god before me for i’am a jealous god. we are not to suppose to worship idols. pray for them for they not know what they do or say in god grace amen.

    • malagasy says:

      As for me it is good to compare in some circumstances but I think sincerely what is important is just to have faith in JESUS CHRIST. To show the world that He is the savior. He is the way. He is the life…
      Lets take some words of a song I like very much.


      Thank you for your attention


    • Religious Expert Dr Marc says:

      The practice of Buddhism doesn’t worship an idol. It is a series of reincarnations until the person eventually gains enlightenment or nirvana. Buddhists use the image of Buddha to remember the teachings which bring inner and external peace and the practice of good behaviour.

      If you actually look at it in the same perspective, the image of Jesus on the cross reminds us of God’s sacrifice. It was not actually permitted or created by God himself so therefore Jesus on the cross is the same as someone worshipping an idol (statue of Buddha)as it was created by man to make money.

      The third commandment:
      “You shall not make for yourself an idol” – What’s Jesus on the cross or any picture of Jesus then? Surely thats an idol?

  • dave says:

    hey its cool to understand other beliefs as long as your faith is strong and your mind is focused on the true christian religion. remember for some that have an uncontrolled open mind they might not be able to stand strong in faith and fall into the trap that 2 or three religions combined develop their faith, its happening all the time especially at christmas when you see all the different beliefs and directives that in my opinion that draw your mind away from a beautiful loving god. thats why i feel when he says run as fast as you can from all things that pull you away.

  • dave says:

    also in a country that loved god and now has all these new beliefs in all directions, in all categories, for all reasons, what feels good, me first. we must stand strong of course with the holy ghosts help. thank you lord for the true, strong, authenic forgiving, non judgeing believers we have. just as the promises and blessing of abraham true believers carry the loving gods blessings on this beautiful country. blessings to the true religion that once you focus and check all facts only one proves the truth.

  • HosannaBiz says:

    The biggest and most important difference between Jesus Christ & Buddha? Jesus Rose above death and still alive! According to historical evidence. How reassure we Christians can look forward to His Final reappearance.
    Blessings to all
    Eric (HosannaBiz) on Twitter

  • Vera says:

    The biggest difference is that Jesus rose from the grave and is alive. How do I know? Because He lives in me.

  • One of the first issues that any Buddhist or Christian needs to address is the question of spiritual diversity.

    Not all Christian sects or Buddhist traditions believe exactly the same. There is a lot of theological ground to cover from Orthodox Greek and the Church of Latter Day Saints. There is a lot of spiritual divergence between Theravada and Pure Land Buddhists.

    So can you reconcile Buddha and Jesus? I just wrote about this subject in my most recent blog:

    I believe it can be done, but it requires a liberal understanding of both faiths. It requires “Giving Caesar what is Caesars” or rather using Buddhism to find secular happiness and Christ to the joy of the after life. Buddhism for those Buddhist Christians compliments their practice and doesn’t distract from it.

  • Doug says:

    Please do not lump the Buddhist tradition in with pagan idol worship.
    The person called The Buddha, did not want anyone to worship him. He did state that one should “work out your own salvation”. Whether you are a pentecostal, a catholic, anglican, or OH HORRORS, a muslim, you are worshipping the same God. There is Biblical truth to the start if Islam. Ishmael was a son of Abraham, and Islam considers Abraham one of the prophets of the One, True God. Siddhartha Guatama was just a man that got a clue as to the true nature of the universe. He passed that truth on to who would listen. This universe is impermanent, your God told you this.

  • As a Christian who practices Buddhism what I can say is that the negative comments here reflect a lack of understanding of what Buddhism is as well as a narrow and overly simplistic understanding of what Christianity is.