Comparing Buddhism and Christianity
In the early sixth century Christianity was evolving at a rapid pace. The spread of Christianity was not only moving westward through Europe, but it was also moving eastward down the Silk Road. The eastward spread of Christianity was primarily a form of Christianity known as Nestorianism, after the teachings of Nestorius, a fifth century patriarch. By 635 Nestorian Christianity had reached the heart of China spreading through all of Persia and India. During the middle of the seventh century Nestorian churches were found in cities all along the Silk Road, though there were unquestionably many fewer Christians than Buddhists in Asia
Up until the turn of the sixteenth century Christianity endured great persecution in China and Japan. Christianity became extinct in China and Japan until sixteenth century when European Christian missionaries first came to Asia. Upon meeting Buddhist monks the Christian missionaries realized there seem to be many similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. They noticed many other similarities in doctrine and books as well. The early missionaries to China and Japan were both shocked and disturbed by their findings that another religion had similar beliefs. The missionaries determined that this was the devil at work, inventing a counterfeit faith. In recent years scholars discovered the evidence of Nestorian Churches in Asia. Many people now believe that the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity are due to the influence of the Nestorianism in Asia.
It is evident when reading many Buddhist teachings that there are many
similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. Similarities between Christianity and Buddhism are evident in every sect of Buddhism, but are strongest seen in the Pure Land sect of Buddhism. In this essay I will compare the similarities and differences between Pure Land Buddhism and Christianity.
In the largest Pure Land scripture or sutra, composed in India, a story of Amitabha is told. It is said that many eons ago, Amitabha a monk, learned from the eighty-first Buddha about the wonders of immeasurable Buddha Lands. According to the sutra in the second century AD Amitabah vowed to create his own Buddha Lands. He said that he would make them eighty-one times more outstanding than all the other lands. Amitabah who’s name means endless life and light vowed that all people would be granted rebirth in these Buddha Lands or “Western Paradise”. He also vowed that all people who inhabited these pure lands would have easy entry in to Nirvana. The sutra explains that salvation could be gained by calling on the name of Amitabha with absolute faith in his vow of a pure land. It is said that with absolute faith in Amitabha he would appear at the time of death to lead the faithful to paradise or the pure land.
In China the beginnings of the Pure Land Buddhism can be traced back as far as the fourth century. During the fourth century a...