Differences Between Christianity and the Eastern Religions
We are living in a day of increased technology and communication, and by means of such advanced media as television we can witness events as they occur around the globe. This has led to more familiarity with the thoughts and religious beliefs of other people.
East has met West, and we are seeing that there are vast differences between Christianity and the religions of the East.
The God of Eastern thought is impersonal, while the God of the Bible is personal. In some Eastern religions, God is everything and everything is God, while the Bible teaches that God is independent from His creation.
One of the basic concepts of Eastern thought is the concept of material illusion (maya in Hindu); the material world is an illusion, and sin is nothing but ignorance about the fact of illusion.
The Scriptures teach that the world has objective reality, and sin, far from being mere ignorance about the illusion of the world, is willful rebellion against the very real, infinite God.
The law of karma is an intricate belief in many of the Eastern religions. Good karma or good works is the way a person will be delivered from the cycle of rebirth, while bad karma will result in a person being reborn in a lower form than the previous life. Salvation is based on works.
The Scriptures teach that human deeds are not even considered in the matters of eternal salvation. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5, KJV). Works do have a very vital place, but they come within the life that has already received the salvation God gives, and are to be the grateful and beautiful expression that salvation for that person is real (Ephesians 2:10).
As for the idea of the transmigration of souls or continuous rebirths until one reaches nirvana or eternal bliss, the Bible teaches no such gospel of the second chance. The teaching of the Scriptures is that each person is unique, not part of everything, and after that unique person dies, he will be accountable to God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
The Christian world view is totally different from that in the Eastern religions. History has no purpose or meaning to the Eastern mind; it is a never-ending struggle. The Bible portrays a super-natural God, who is working toward the ultimate goal of setting up His eternal kingdom.
Another avenue which has served to introduce the Western world to Eastern thought is the drug culture. Along with the emphasis on drugs on the university campuses in the 1960s came an emphasis on Eastern religion, which matched perfectly for those looking for a way out. This increased interest in the academic community brought about new literature with Eastern thought forms which then began to permeate our culture. Authors such as Hesse, Casteneda, and Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) became popular. Even groups such as Transcendental Meditation (T.M.) gained respectability and sprang up everywhere.
There are many other differences between the Eastern religious thought and Christianity; there are few similarities, even of a superficial nature. The above differences are sufficient to indicate the lack of any correspondence between Christianity and Eastern religions on any major, fundamental tenet of belief.
This is an excerpt from Answers to Tough Questions.
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