8 major differences between Eastern religion and Christianity.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 2.27.18 AM


It’s no secret that religions, doctrines, and dogmas from the Eastern world are making a substantive impact in the contemporary West. This is almost certainly due to online cross border/culture communication, via television, and a host of other modern technologies that have shrunk the globe and turned the world into a global village. The New Age religion, an amalgamation of Eastern religious practices and doctrines, is one peak in this influential movement that captures the minds of many younger people who enjoy the mysteries of spiritualism and that of the divine. The massive growth is also due to those who wish to extend beyond the confines of traditional religion, which in the West happens to be Christianity, in search for something diverse, mysterious, cultural, expressive, and foreign. As a result it is no longer surprising to see books, or sacred texts, dedicated to these religions in our Western bookstores, for instance one should, with minimal effort, come across the Vedas of Hinduism, the Pali Canon of Buddhism, and the Yi-Ching of Confucianism. More Eastern religions would also include Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, and others.

However, in this brief blog article I wish to illustrate several differences between that of the Eastern religions and Christianity. This would help to give readers a better understanding of these mysterious Eastern faith systems that we may hear very little about in the West if one does not actively seek it. This blog article is surely by no means exhaustive. I shall add future additions in blog posts.

1) The concept of God:

In an Eastern worldview, Hinduism for instance, God is an impersonal force or principle that does not transcend nature, in other words the Hindus, and many other Easterners, are pantheists who believe that God is part of the natural world. This is entirely antithetical to Christian theism in the way that the Christian God totally transcends his creation. The Christian God is also personal as he is manifest in his creation, in our rationality, in our moral compass, and perhaps most notably in the historical person of Jesus. The Christian concept of God is an eternal, living, spirit being (John 4:24), who is the creator and sustainer of his universe (Acts 17:24; Colossians 1:16-17), and not part of it, as Hindus believe.

2) God vs. gods:

Orthodox Christianity also affirms monotheism, the view that there is just one God in the form of three distinct persons (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), whereas the majority of Hindus are pantheistic and for the most part are polytheistic (belief in many gods).

Being polytheistic Hinduism has a pantheon of over 300 million of these gods, the most popular of these are Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu of all who have come to earth in various incarnations to the aid of human beings or avatars.

3) Oneness with God:

Furthermore, an Eastern worldview is also diametrically opposed to Christian theism in the way that he ultimate goal of humanity is to become one with nature because nature is God. Proponents such as Deepak Chopra believe that all humans are divine and they just don’t realise it, and that they must attain ultimate oneness with this divine being. In Christianity man is made in God’s image and this is distinct from both nature and God. The Eastern thought of man being divine sounds very similar to the very temptation by Satan in Eden: “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.”” (Genesis 3:4, italics mine)

4) A View of the universe:

Christianity and Hinduism also differ greatly in their conception of the universe, or its beginning. In another blog article I noted that the Hindu sacred texts hold to a problematic view of the universe by denying Big Bang cosmology in favour of the oscillating model. In The Bible (Genesis 1:1) “God created the heavens and the earth,” which sounds very much like the current scientific consensus of the Big Bang event. As the physicist Victor Weisskopf succinctly puts it: “The Judeo-Christian tradition describes the beginning of the world in a way that is surprisingly similar to the scientific model.” (Weisskopf, Victor F. Quoted in: ‘The World of Physics’)

5) Jesus’ radical self-concept and uniqueness:

Buddhism is quite different to some other Eastern religions, and is based off a belief system espoused by Buddha (Siddhārtha Gautama). Buddha was considered as enlightened, and his teachings encourage followers to rid suffering by understanding the Four Noble Truths. Altogether this is different to that of Jesus who not only proclaimed the one true Kingdom of God, but also claimed to be the only way to God (John 14:6), be the same as God (John 10:30), and tells us that we will suffer in this world (1 Peter 4:13; Matthew 10:22). Jesus claimed to be one with God on various occasions, and this we see in his favourite self-designation as the “Son of Man” which is described in length in Daniel 7 of the Old Testament, and of which Jesus applies to himself. This is unlike Buddha, and Krishna (Muhammad, Smith, and others) who never claimed such a thing, and thus Jesus stands in a class of his own. We are also told that Jesus is close to us in a personal way, in fact closer than any brother (Proverbs 18:24), but in Buddhism we have no personal relationship with Buddha.

6) As a matter of history:

In some of the forms of Buddhism the historical reality of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha, is irrelevant, or insignificant, in the way one can be a committed Buddhist without even acknowledging Buddha’s one time existence. That is impossible for Christianity as the entire belief system hinges upon Jesus, and his resurrection. On the other hand Hinduism has no known founder, prophet, or king that know of, nor does Confucianism have historical verification to support and establish it as a divine system. The teaching of Confucius basically was neither religious nor philosophical, but merely social.

The Hindu Vedas are also not historical documents in the way that the Old and New Testaments are, of which detail many peoples, cultures, cities, nations etc. Many narratives in the Vedas are praises to many gods while other narratives seem to be that of mythical stories and events. From this it is difficult to discern whether the narratives are actually intended to be taken as history or symbolical. These details significantly separate the Christian religion from other Eastern faiths, and this has lead E.F. Harrison to wrote that:

“Some religions, both ancient and modern, require no historical basis, for they depend upon ideas rather than events. Christianity is not one of these.” (Harrison, E.P. ‘A Short Life of Christ’, 1968)

7) Reincarnation vs. Sin:

Eastern religion does not see man as one who has been separated from God, as opposed to Christian theism that clearly illustrates that all men have fallen short of the glory of God through sin (Romans 3:23), and thus are separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), even though we are made in his image (Genesis 1:27). Subsequently, in Hinduism the soul has always existed and will continue to exist until via a process of rebirths it has merged with the ultimate reality Brahman. The process of enlightenment and the journey to the ultimate reality is undergirded by the doctrine of karma – this means that everything from joy, sadness, wealth, health and affliction is the result of karma that is a debt paid off over lives, and in our present lives. This debt accumulates as a result bad choices and deeds one does in his life, and thus karma is simply seen as neither good nor bad, just reality.

Such is again antithetical to Christian theism in the way that mans is his own saviour, he via decisions and choices will determine his future, as one commentator, David Bentley, adds: “It is an evolutionary process to be achieved by one’s own effort.” Whereas in Christianity Jesus is the only redeemer and the way to salvation. We cannot save ourselves, hence why God sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus is the one who bridged chasm between humankind and God.

8) The notion of eternity:

Much of Buddhism and Hinduism seems to be about escape. One must pay off their karmic debt to achieve oneness with an ultimate reality, for the Buddhist he longs for Nirvana, the transcendent state in which there is no more suffering, desire, sense of self, and the where the person is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth.

Whereas on Christianity there is a place called Heaven in which believers will go to be with God for eternity. In that place there will be fellowship with God(John 14:3, Revelation 21:3), it will be a place of reward (Matthew 5:12), and where believers will inherit new bodies that shall not decay (Philippians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 15:42). In a nutshell, Heaven will be the place where humans were meant to be.

In Conclusion:

Quite to the contrary of some proponents of pluralism in our age that propound the notion that all religions or belief systems are the same, or that they are just different avenues to God, I think falls short of actuality. We clearly have seen that these differences above, of which are by no means exhaustive, illustrate this. These differences are significant, and significant to the extent that the various doctrines of each religion are antithetical to one other, hence irreconcilable. Of course the differences between each of the religions, and their correspondence to reality, must be further explored.

12 responses to “8 major differences between Eastern religion and Christianity.

  1. Hi James, thanks for the interesting article.

    How did people get to heaven before Jesus and Christianity existed? Aboriginal Australians arrived in Australia approximately 50,000 years ago, and I’m pretty sure they were not familiar with the pentateuch or the new testament. Are those ignorant and now deceased people in the Christian heaven?

    How do ignorant people get to heaven if the only way to heaven is through Jesus? How do people that are mentally disabled go to heaven when they can’t even comprehend the concept of a sacrificial Jesus, or a heaven? How do dying babies go to heaven when they don’t even understand the word Jesus, or any words at all? How does a baby understand the concept of salvation through Jesus?

    If a baby or a mentally disabled person is automatically saved due to ignorance, then what does that say about free will?

    I have asked similar questions of my pastor, many many years ago, in a prayer group, when I was about 20 years old. His response was “Those are some excellent questions, how about we all pray for the answers”. It was immediately obvious to me that I was being manipulated by the leader of the bible study. Anyway, after several minutes of awkwardness, the group’s prayer finally was answered! “We are certain that God will provide for those special cases as required”. And that’s when I realised it was all total nonsense.

    This all happened to me over 20 years ago. But I must say, how surprised I am that people still make a living defending and debunking religion. It is quite the spectacle.

    So from previous experience, I think that this blog is all about making money. James simply throws grenades at atheists and other religions and then just sits back and waits for the ‘likes’ and the ‘tweets’ and the ‘what’s trending?’ If this was actually about God, then James would be arguing until he could argue no longer. Feel free to look back at all of the articles and comments and count the number of responses from James.

    I’m still waiting for a comment from James to the post by Paul on March 2, 2015 at 11:53 pm.
    James Bishop wrote: on March 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm “I am going to reply and I look forward to doing so, MS. But when I am ready I will provide a follow up.”

    When are you going to reply? It has been 2 months.

    • I have to keep this woefully short, but I’ll still try to assess a few points.

      1) Babies and mentally disabled aren’t separated from God as we are since they lack the comprehension of good and evil that we have. To try them for something they had no idea of it being evil is something even secular judges think of as wrong. They’re also not ignorant per se, they lack the ability to separate themselves from anything to begin with.

      2) I actually believe it to be a matter of the heart. If there’s a person of an honest heart, honestly seeking truth and love, he will eventually find to God. There have been several people with near-death experiences saying that Jesus asked them whether they love him or not. I actually think, the second you want to be with Jesus, you will be with him. It wouldn’t make sense if he’ll was full of people that came to want to be with Jesus. Hell, I believe, is full of people that are entangled in their sin, and that only crave their sin, which is why they’re separated from God.

      3) I’ve just recently discovered this blog, but as far as I perceive it there are no men’s of making money. There is no advertising, nor are there any “Donate” buttons.

      But thank you for saying if it’s actually about God one would argue and argue to no end, since this is precisely what I’m doing.


      • 1) Comprehension of good and evil is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is whether you accept Jesus. Think of a baby, or someone with a serious brain injury, or someone with a severe mental disability, or someone who has simply not heard about Jesus. If they are unable to accept Jesus, do they get a free pass? If they get a free pass, what does that say about free will? I would much rather die as a baby and automatically go to heaven for eternity rather than live a mediocre life and end up in hell for eternity.
        2) What I find very confusing about hell is ‘why bother’. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, would you torture them for it or would you simply move on and try to meet other people? Why would God go to the trouble of resurrecting people just to torture them? Why not just leave them dead and resurrect the ones you like? I just can’t fathom an omni-benevolent God torturing someone for eternity simply because they were skeptical about the bible.
        3) I was in a foul mood when I wrote that. If there was an edit feature I would remove it. Having said that, an audience needs to be developed before you can start making money. It can take a year or two, and then you can start advertising and selling stuff.

  2. When it comes to those who have never heard about Jesus, I really don’t know about them. But what I am concerned about is those who have heard. They won’t have any excuse.

  3. I don’t agree about there being no excuse, I think lack evidence is a very reasonable excuse. I also think the fact that we are made fallible is a reasonable excuse. I have been made in such a way that I require sufficient evidence in order to be convinced of anything. And I have also been made in such a way that I can misunderstand things and get things wrong. If I have simply misunderstood the Bible do I then go to hell for eternity?

    Regarding people that have never heard of Jesus, or mentally disabled people that can’t comprehend a Jesus. This problem actually goes a lot further than that. What about still born babies and miscarriages, what does the Bible say about their souls? At what stage does a fetus gain a soul that requires saving through Jesus?

    Furthermore, did you know that we all share an ability with each other that God does not possess? We actually have the ability to forgive each other unconditionally, but God doe not have this ability. God can only forgive after blood has been spilt. Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t require a burnt offering or a human sacrifice to forgive someone. I don’t even require repentance in order to forgive someone. And I am just a mortal sinner.

  4. It’s quite more simple.

    There si a problem.
    What do you ou do ?

    1. I protect my nation = islam
    2. I belive I Will adapt myself With my new environnement = buddism
    3. I think I need holier/recognized persons than me touche resolve it = judaism
    4. I assume that only my creator can do that = christianity

    There si no other way tout réactions.
    I personnaly admit better a god Who save us because of his grâce for this true proof offre love. Without him, il Would be no reason tout endure a difficult situation. No way to help the others ans love or to receive love back.

    I’m sorry for my little level in english !.

  5. “While Western atheists turn from belief in God because a tsunami in another part of the world caused great suffering, many brokenhearted survivors of that same tsunami found faith in God. This is one of the great paradoxes of suffering. Those who don’t suffer much think suffering should keep people from God, while many who suffer a great deal turn to God, not from him.”
    –Randy Alcorn

  6. There are quite a few mistakes on hindu religion made above
    1. There are not infinite gods in Hinduism, There is one universal soul/spirit/energy and all living things including animals have souls that are part of that universal soul. Hence all living things have divinity between them and there is no difference between them. Good is to ensure and maintain balance in nature and evil is to cause imbalance or cause harm to many beings. Concept is that if everyone around you is happy, invariably you will be happy, However if everyone around is unhappy, you will become unhappy. Similarly the concept of vegetarianism. Since animals also are divine it is not right to kill and eat them. Even plants are divine and the goal is to cause as little damage as possible while living. The many god symbols are just ways and means to pray to the divine and to construct a mental image of the divine. The goal of all living beings is to understand and experience that there is no difference between self and the divine at which point you cease to be reborn and are one with the infinite/ eternal soul.
    2. I do have some questions for followers of the monotheistic faiths:
    1. How do you explain the differences in birth of people i.e why are some people born rich and why some poor? Why are some born without limbs or deaf or mute?
    2. Why would God want to discriminate amongst his people if he loves everyone of his people? Why should only Christians or Muslims go to heaven and not others?
    3. Lets say a person is good, he donates to charity everyday of his life, he helps everyone, has pure thoughts all the time but does not believe in Jesus or Prophet Muhammad or maybe he is an athiest, Does he go to heaven?
    4. Did God create Satan or is Satan a seperate spirit? If God did not create Satan/demon, who created Satan/demon? If God did not create Satan, is it possible that God did not create many other things in the universe? Similarly is it possible that Satan has created many things in the universe? Is Satan outside of universe like God or is Satan part of the universe?
    5. Did God create Nature for humans or are humans part of nature?
    6. Why did god create living things other than Humans? Can other living things experience heaven, hell?

Let me know your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s