It's interesting for me because, in my life, my contact with Buddhism was basically the way out of nihilism and atheism. I was so negatively disposed to the Church for various personal reasons, but once I had had my eyes opened a bit by spending time in Nepal I began to see my baptism in a new light.
Interesting where the same paths lead for different people.
You also raise a very good point here:
The final break for me was the realization that Hindu and Buddhist belief is that we save ourselves, and spend many, many lifetimes trying to get to that point. Where, the Christian message is clear, we cannot save ourselves, it is Jesus Christ who is our Salvation.
There is definitely something to this, but I'm not sure that it's so clear-cut. To an extent it really depends on the kind of Buddhism you're talking about; in Tibet, for example, even though it is definitely stressed that we are responsible for our own decisions, at the same time there is a very heavy emphasis on the idea of the lama or teacher as someone who has the power to "save" or "rescue" you from the depths of cyclic existence.
Yet, my understanding is the inability to let go of this type of reliance would be an inhibitor to enlightenment. Similar to the paradox of holding on to letting go.
And even though, in Christianity, Pelagianism is and always was heretical, it is still very much the case that we have to decide to open ourselves up to the possibility of receiving God's grace--yes we couldn't make that decision on our own, yes we need to be baptised, but there is still some facet of our own agency required.
God created us as rational creatures, with free will. Mormonism defines free will differently than mainstream Christianity. Where, Mormonism views free will as having as many choices as possible, with the more choices one has, the more free one is. Christianity understand free will as a gift given by God, in order that we can love Him freely. So the choice is stated simply, to love God, or not. The "or not" is defined as acting in sin. While stated simply, it is the difficulty of living the love of God in which we struggle. We aren't left to struggle alone. God has not abandoned us in our sin, as made clearly evident by the Cross. So love of God is not only a choice, but also a grace. Not something we are able to do without Him. We are created by God to love God.
So as I mentioned, I'm not sure it's so cut-and-dried. On the other hand, in Buddhist Studies (and Religious Studies more generally) there is widespread and uncritical use of the term "soteriology" applied to things like achieving enlightenment. One of the subsidiary points I'm trying to make in my own scholarship is that we should probably reserve the term "soteriology" for religions with a soteros.
Yes, I agree with this, and should clarify that when I say "saved" in the context of Buddhism, I'm not using it in the same context as Christian "saved". The two believe in different "endings" to this mortal life (Buddhism a cycle of mortal lives), and what constitutes achieving that ending. It is the individual Buddhist who ends his/her own cycle. (Strictly speaking, Buddhism has no God. So, my perception is that you have built a syncretic religion of your own.)
There is also the question of suffering, which Buddhism and Christianity approach in radically different ways, especially Catholic Christianity.
I coined the term eleutheriology (from eleutheria, freedom) for the study of the goal of Buddhist praxis, the rhetoric surrounding which much more heavily emphasizes the idea of casting off or cutting through the chains that bind oneself to cyclic existence. I think the terminology nicely reflects the difference (such as it is), although your mileage may vary... I'm curious to hear what you think.
Yes, but freedom and salvation are pretty much the same thing for a Christian.
On a side note, and to reintegrate this detour back into the main discussion, I think Mormonism is much more individually-focused than Buddhism or Hinduism. One of the main problems I have with Mormonism, one of the key reasons I can't consider it Christian, is that it has basically no theology of grace; it makes Pelagianism look downright orthodox.
Individualism is an attribute of Mormonism, which is inevitable (I'd say) seeing that it arose from the prevalent individualism of 19th century American. But I don't view it as distinct. From a Catholic POV, individualism has crept into most of Christianity. The Catholic view, and Jewish view as well, is that we are saved as a people. Christ died for all. (Not saying Jews are Christian, just that the OT is always about a people being saved. "I will be your God and you will be my People.") I don't see this in Hinduism or Buddhism. There is a not a "people saved", enlightenment is still an individual endeavor, without belief in a universal Savior.