Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha, whereas Christianity is centered on the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. Buddhism is a nontheistic religion, i.e., it does not believe in a supreme creator being a.k.a. God. Christianity is a monotheistic religion and believes that Christ Is the Son Of God.
|Place of origin||Indian Subcontinent||Roman province of Judea.|
|Place of worship||Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines.||Church, chapel, cathedral, basilica, home bible study, personal dwellings.|
|Practices||Practices of the Threefold Training: Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, a.k.a the Noble Eightfold Path.||Prayer, sacraments (some branches), worship in church, reading of the Bible, acts of charity, communion.|
|Use of statues and pictures||Common||In Catholic & Orthodox Churches.|
|Life after death||Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently.||Eternity in Heaven or Hell, in some cases temporal Purgatory.|
|Belief of God||The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God.||One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.|
|Means of Salvation||Following the Noble Eightfold Path.||Through Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection.|
|Scriptures||Tripitaka - a vast canon composed of 3 sections: the Discourses, the Discipline and the Commentaries, and some early scriptures, such as the Gandhara texts.||The Holy Bible|
|Original Language(s)||Magadhiprakrit||Aramaic, Greek, and Latin.|
|Clergy||The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female monks). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists.||Priests, bishops, ministers, monks, and nuns.|
|Followers||Buddhists||Christian (follwers of Christ)|
|Use of Statues||Used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha.||Forbidden in Protestant denominations; icons are used in Catholic & Orthodox denominations.|
|Goal of Philosophy||To eliminate mental suffering.||Objective reality. Worship of God who created life, the universe, and is eternal. Christianity has its own philosophy, found in the the Bible. That philosophy is Salvation from sin, through the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.|
|View of the Buddha||The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage.||N/A.|
|Holy days/Official Holidays||Vesak day in which the birth, the awakening, and the parinirvana of the Buddha is celebrated.||The Lord's Day; Advent, Christmas; New Year, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, every day is dedicated to a Saint.|
|Symbols||The conch, endless knot, fish, lotus, parasol, vase, dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma), and victory banner.||Cross, ichthys ("Jesus fish"), Mary and baby Jesus.|
|Authority of Dalai Lama||Dalai Lamas are tulkus of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. They are cultural figures and are independent of the doctrinal basis of Buddhism.||N/A.|
|View of other Dharmic religions||Since the word Dharma means doctrine, law, way, teaching, or discipline, other Dharmas are rejected.||N/A|
|Human Nature||Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No".||Man has inherited "original sin" from Adam. Mankind then is inherently evil and is in need of forgiveness of sin. By knowing right and wrong Christians choose their actions. Humans are a fallen, broken race in need of salvation and repair by God.|
|Status of Vedas||The Buddha rejected the 5 Vedas, according to the dialogues seen in the nikayas.||N/A.|
|Founder||Gautama Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha)||The Lord Jesus Christ.|
|Goal of religion||To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana.||To love God and obey his commandments while creating a relationship with Jesus Christ and spreading the Gospel so that others may also be saved.|
|Literal Meaning||Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha in order to become like the Buddha.||Follower Of Christ.|
|Marriage||It is not a religious duty to marry. Monks and nuns do not marry and are celibate. Advice in the Discourses on how to maintain a happy and harmonious marriage.||A Holy Sacrament.|
|Religious Law||The Dharma.||Has existed among Catholics in the form of canon law.|
|Population||300-350 million.||Over a billion adherents worldwide.|
|Confessing sins||Sin is not a Buddhist concept.||Protestants confess straight to God, Catholic confess mortal sins to a Priest, and venial sins straight to God (Orthodox have similar practice) Anglicans confess to Priests but considered optional. God always forgives sins in Jesus.|
|Religion which atheists may still be adherents of||Yes.||No.|
|Geographical distribution and predominance||Theradava Buddhist countries, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are the places of predominance of Buddhism. The Noble Truths are presently best heard in Myanmar only.||Europe, North and South America, and Australia and New Zealand.|
This video compares the the beliefs of Christianity and Buddhism and draws parallels between the two religions.
Similarities in teachings
Christian scholar Marcus Borg found several similarities between the teachings of Buddha and Jesus.
In this New York Times article, Jay L. Garfield, who is the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Humanities at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and author of the book Engaging Buddhism: Why Buddhism Matters to Contemporary Philosophy, describes how Buddhist philosophy is concerned about different questions than the philosophy of Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam:
First, since Buddhism is an atheistic religion, it doesn’t raise questions about the existence of God that so dominate the philosophy of Abrahamic religions, let alone questions about the attributes of the deity. Buddhists do worry about awakening (Buddhahood). How hard is it to achieve? What is it like? Is a Buddha aware of her surroundings, or do they disappear as illusory?
Buddhists also worry about the relation between ordinary reality, or conventional truth, and ultimate reality. Are they the same or different? Is the world fundamentally illusory, or is it real? They worry about hermeneutical questions concerning the intent of apparently conflicting canonical scriptures, and how to resolve them. They ask about the nature of the person, and its relationship to more fundamental psychophysical processes. Stuff like that. The philosophy of religion looks different if these are taken to be some of its fundamental questions.
In this video a Buddhist contrasts Christian and Buddhist philosophies by narrating two stories about death.
For further reading, there are several books available on Amazon.com on Buddhism and Christianity: