Man’s Problem– Man is in moral rebellion against a righteous and perfectly Holy God (Ps 14:1-3; Isa 53:6).
Solution- Man has a sin problem that only the forgiveness of sins can solve; this solution was given to man in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who died in man’s place to pay for man’s sins (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 1:18-21).
Incarnation- Jesus is the unique and only God-the Son Who took on human flesh through the virgin birth to die for the sins of mankind and be resurrected (1 Cor 15:3- 6; Phil 2:5-9; Heb 2:14-17).
Salvation- Jesus declared that He is the Way of salvation and there is no other means of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). We have only this life to make our decision regarding Christ, and then comes the judgment (Heb 9:27)
God- God does not exist and is not relevant to the middle path; Jesus is acknowledged as a teacher, but not as great or important as Buddha.
Man – Man is a fiction; there is not a real “self’, only an illusion; the physical world is an illusion to be escaped.
Man’s Problem –People suffer because of desires and cravings.
Solution- Eliminate desire and attain enlightenment through self-effort (Theravada) or by help received from various bodhisattvas (Mahayana).
Incarnation-For Mahayana Buddhists, there are many bodhisattvas (incarnations). For Theravada Buddhists, Buddha was only a man – no God or gods are needed or wanted.
Salvation There are many paths to God based upon human effort; these are only through many cycles of death and rebirth.
Practical Guidelines For Sharing With A Buddhist
Though Christianity and Buddhism differ in their fundamental points of belief, they do both acknowledge the following principles:
- The value of a moral life;
- Desires can cause suffering;
- Prayer is of value;
- Self-discipline brings rewards.
The following are some suggestions for answering questions a Buddhist may have about Christianity:
- Ask questions to find out what branch of Buddhism they are part of, and whether or not their beliefs are filled with animism. Feel free to share your beliefs based upon the Word of God, since most Buddhists do not truly understand the true message of Christianity.
- For the Buddhist, salvation is a matter of self- effort. The Bible, however, gives the assurance that “whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13; see also Acts 16:30,31).
Mahayana Buddhism expanded to allow for the “help” of bodhisattvas (incarnated Buddhas), who are supposedly able to give some of their “karmic merit” to other Buddhists.
Deep within every human heart is the realization that their own human effort is not enough to save them and deliver them from sin. Remind the Buddhist of this, and of what is enough: faith in the only One Who can save him, Jesus Christ.
- Both Buddhism and Christianity acknowledge a set of moral standards by which to live. Yet man, being by nature sinful, cannot perfectly live up to these moral standards – and therefore cannot obtain salvation through his own efforts.
However, the Christian can testify of a Personal God Who is both willing and able to forgive sins through Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9), and Who makes all things new (2 Cor 5: 17).
- What makes Christianity unique is the personal presence of God. This truth should compel you as a Christian to do two things:
- Share your personal faith in God with others, and tell them of what God has done for you – answering your prayers, loving you, being with you at all times, forgiving you, giving you power to live this life, etc.
- Emphasize that God is personal. He is very near us (Ps 139; Matt 28:20; Heb 13:5). He delights in us coming to Him with our prayers and worship, and He delights in answering our petitions (Ps 22:3-5; 34: 17; Prov 15:29). The One true God understands and has compassion upon our affliction (Ps 69:33; Heb 4: 15), and He loves us eternally (Rom 8:37-39).
- Buddhists believe that everything is impermanent except i n the “void” where individuals can find permanence.
For us as Christians, our permanence is in Christ and our eternal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ does not change (Heb 13:8). The Scriptures teach us that God does not change (Ps 33: 11; Mal 3:6; Jas 1:17) nor do His promises (1 Ki 8:56; Rom 4:20, 21; 2 Cor 1:20). His justice is perfect (Gen 18:25; Deut 10:17, 18) and is perfectly balanced with His love and mercy (Ps 103: 17; Ps 136; Lam 3:22-24; Rom 8:31-39).