Contrasting Christianity with Buddhism (Part 1)
I recently have become friends with a practicing Buddhist. He is a wonderful guy, kind, and deeply committed to his worldview. He is also a committed vegan and has strong views concerning how we are to respect the life other animals and persons.
The other day we met up and talked about his views as a Buddhist and mine as a Christian. It was a great experience and helped me to think more deeply about how Christianity differs from Buddhist thought. While I don’t claim to be an expert in Buddhism, I believe I now have a better understanding of its basic premises.
Unapologetically, I believe the Christian faith is true and best explains the world around us. With that view, I understand many of my friend’s Buddhist positions to be false to reality and what is ultimately true. Here’s a few of my reflections from the whole process on how the Buddhist view contrasts with the Christian view:
The Impersonal Universe Vs The Infinite Personal God:
In Buddhist thought there is no personal God outside of the universe who has spoken or cares for the universe’s inhabitants. We are all there is, alone and left to ourselves. The universe is impersonal–it is understood to be god in its totality–and we are all members of it. Christian thought is strikingly different. We believe in an infinite personal God who exists, is there, and can be known. He created the universe, is separate from it, but interacts with everything in it. None of us is ultimately alone; we are personal creatures made by God to know God and know each other. We can experience a true relationship with a personal God now and for all of eternity. The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts and this is why we long for God. Thus, I believe Christianity best explains and fulfills this longing to know a personal God who is there.
The Lonely Creation Vs. The Cared for Creation:
In Buddhist thought creation itself is left alone. Every plant, animal and human is on his/her own and left to fend for him/herself. There is no God looking over us or caring for us. Christian thought is very different: God is there and He cares for every single animal, plant, and person. Nothing can escape His care or His rule; He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the fields of grass. Every snow flake is part of His design and every fish at the bottom of the ocean exists because God has deemed it to be so. Everything is under God’s intentional personal care under and His rule.
Life As A Right Vs. Life As A Gift:
My Buddhist friend builds his morality around the sanctity of life. He believes life itself is something that must be preserved and that to end another creature’s life is immoral in any circumstance. The highest object of worth and most sacred thing is life itself. While =the Christian affirms the value of life, he or she understands reality differently: life is a gift from God rather than a right in itself. God our Creator has the prerogative to give life or take it away. He also can designate some creatures to be used for clothing or food. We are like pots and God is the potter. He is not unjust to take away life or designate some of His creatures to be used for food or clothing. Ultimately, we are not entitled to the life we have, it is a gift from God who owns everything and rules everything. The Christian views life as sacred and worth protecting because it is a precious gift from God.