Good thread to read. It's a daily struggle for me when I think about my past as a Christian. A year ago I was about to start college to begin my journey to be a pastor, and a year later I am a new Buddhist who falls on the vow of the Amida Buddha as I can't seem to walk on my own anymore (in a spiritual sense).
Much above that was mentioned is true. The biggest thing that lead me to flee from Christianity is the reliance on the inerrancy of scripture and the fact that Christianity looks nothing like what Jesus preached.
Still everyday, Christianity pursues me, nipping at my tired heals.
I have never been able to make heads or tails of the Bible. But after practicing Buddhism for over half my life I now have a greater understanding and respect for much of what I understand to be the message of forgiveness, and I don't really understand why people find it so hard.
India, as you know, is full of various religions, not to mention the many variations just of the Hindu faith. It was the same in Buddha's time. What he noticed was that, regardless of what people believed in or did not believe in, ultimately, all beings do what they do for the very same reason.
If you realize that all beings do what they do to have peace within, then you see that both the good acts as well as the evil acts committed by people are done for the same reason (With the exception of those who thrive on suffering). To find perfect peace. To have happiness and the cause of happiness, to be free from suffering and the cause of suffering, to experience that happiness without depending on it, to experience sadness without dwelling in it. To just be.
Christ realized this and it became the basis for his path of forgiveness, because the path for inner peace is the great equalizer...that, and death. It's what all people share in common. It's the path that all beings are already on
, even though they may not realize it, and they don't know how to find it, and they do foolish or terrible things, and they suffer. It's what brings the same anguish and torment to people regardless of wealth or status or power or fame. In fact, to all beings. So, if you throw stones at someone else, you throw them at yourself too. One doesn't forgive the crime, but one forgives the motivation for the crime. One can only feel great sadness for those who commit terrible acts, their thinking that doing so will release them from their torment. Sad for them and of course sad for those they hurt.
"The kingdom of heaven is within you" (Luke 17:21) is the quintessential teaching of Buddhism. Buddha searched all around Northern India for the answer. But when he finally directed his search inward, he found that he already had what he needed, and that all beings do too, and that is to realize and depend on (take refuge in) mind's infinite nature (Amitabha) which is beyond all grasping and clinging to "me".
So, "The kingdom of heaven is within you" except that when you find that kingdom, there is no "me"...there's just the kingdom, which is, of course, another word for perfect peace.