For one to take refuge,
there must be respect.
For one to have respect,
there need not be refuge.
Since faith and respect are different, respect for other religions does not mean we must have faith in their doctrines. For example. I have met with some Christians who take interest in certain Buddhist practices, study them, and even practice them. They take particular interest in Buddhist methods for achieving one-pointed meditative concentration as well as how to increase love, compassion and patience. Since these practices are common* to Christianity and Buddhism, I express my admiration for what they are doing. [*Ed: The commonalities are to some extent only. E.g. Buddhist teachings of perfect compassion encompass all sentient beings, including animals, hungry ghosts and hell-beings, while Christianity sees animals to be ‘created’ for consumption, spirits to all be demonic, and hell-beings to deserve condemnation for eternal suffering.]
To Christians, however, who become interested in the view of emptiness, I lightheartedly respond that this is distinctly Buddhist and has little connection with Christian doctrine. Why? Probing emptiness requires looking into dependent-rising, and if its implications are understood, it becomes difficult to accept a single, permanent, unchangeable God as the creator of the world. If one tried to have faith in Christianity and in Buddhism, one would be asserting the existence of a Creator God and at the same time the nonexistence of a creator God. That s impossible. Therefore, while respect is both feasible and beneficial, faith is another matter…
Indeed, from the viewpoint of religions that assert a creator God, Buddhism has a philosophy of deprecation, seen in its denial of a creator God, as well as a philosophy of exaggeration, seen in its assertion of former and future lives. Conversely, from a Buddhist viewpoint religions asserting a creator God have a philosophy of exaggeration, as well as a philosophy of deprecation in their denial of the cause and effect of karma over the course of countless lifetimes.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama