Major World Religions Cross ComparisonMay 17, 2010
(Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus)
If you said “yes” to any of the above
questions keep reading …
Each of us certainly is entitled to believe anything in any area of life. Our lives are ours to uniquely live out. The decisions we make, the paths we choose to take and the destiny they lead us to will forever be connected. Though we could talk about people embracing the freedom of choice and beliefs in any area of life in today’s culture more than other times in history past, my goal is to focus on the unique positions humans take on spiritual matters/beliefs.
The basis for this article is to compare five major world religions or positions people take today: Muslim (Islam), Buddhist, Hindu, Jew (Judaism), and Christian. Now I also acknowledge that there are other well established positions people take including: a lack of faith in an ultimate creator (atheist), an undecided position that is deeply rooted in intellect, science and black and white factual information (agnostic), or a seemingly unending list of blended or customized spiritual faith concoctions that allow an individual to build a faith that caters to the life they want to live as if they were the actual creator of their own life. Though there is really an endless possibility of sources for comparative major world religion beliefs and population statistics of their followers, below are some sources that might help the fact finders of the world continue their own independent research:
Below is a summary of the major points of belief for each of the following major world religions. I acknowledge that it is difficult to every show every point that might cover every potential cross-comparison question that might arise in a spiritual discussion. This article is simply focusing on a macro-summary of the differences and similarities between the religions so healthy conversations can be fostered on clear information in an easy compared way. I definitely encourage you to do your own research, reading of the major holy books of world religions and to talk to spiritual leaders in each religion in your local community. Asking questions is a great idea for anyone who is seeking further wisdom in any area of life, so I strongly encourage this. Please don’t allow any lack of information or the misguided input from society, be the basis for your personal spiritual beliefs. This article’s goal is to set the landscape for you to chart your own course on your own spiritual journey. My goal is to represent each in a fair and concise way. Though I have my own strong personal beliefs, my goal is not to sway you in any way by imposing my personal beliefs. Sourcing in part has been provided by www.gotquestions.org, as well as spiritual leader input and my own personal research/study over the years as I have explored these very same matters/questions.
A Case for Beliefs of Muslims (Islam)
The Islamic faith held by Muslims was founded in the 7th century A.D. Like Christianity they believe in one true God. However, they believe that Allah is the only true God. They also believe that Muhammad was Allah’s prophet. They believe that by simply stating these beliefs you convert to Islam. Islam rejects the concept of the trinity (God the Father, Jesus Christ – Son, and The Holy Spirit) that the Christian faith is built upon. Islam does believe in one God and accepts certain portions of the bible such as the law and the gospels. However, Islam asserts that Jesus, though born of a virgin, was created as Adam, from the dust of the earth. Muslims do not believe Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. Islam teaches paradise is gained through doing good works and obedience to the Qur’an (their holy book).
A Case for Beliefs of Buddhists
Buddhists believe that the ultimate goal of life is to achieve “enlightenment” as they perceive it. Buddhism was founded by Siddharta Guatama (Buddha), who was born into royalty in India around 600 B.C. Classical Buddhism, tends to be silent on the reality of an ultimate higher being and is therefore considered atheistic in spiritual view. There are many schools of Buddhism that differ in ways from classical Buddhism. The Buddha never considered himself to be a God, rather the “way-shower” for others. Buddhism holds that sin is an impersonal and fixable error, not the depravity of mankind as other faiths believe including Christianity. Buddha was silent about the creation of the universe because they believe there is an endless cycle of life and death an no true beginning or end. They believe that Nirvana is the highest state of being that is sought to be achieved in life. The Buddha taught that people do not have individual souls, the individual self or an ego is seen instead as an illusion.
A Case for Beliefs of Hindus
The beliefs of Hindus are based upon diverse forms of this religion that can have millions of Gods. They believe that Braham is the one supreme God however over all other Gods. It is difficult to summarize in some ways the Hindu religion because there are so many various schools of thought that make it tough to define in a singular and consistent way. Any belief system is rejected by Hinduism if it doesn’t embrace Indian culture at some extent though. The spiritual goal of a Hindu is to become one with Brahma, thus ceasing to exist in its illusory form of the “individual self”. Their belief is that you will be repeatedly reincarnated in order that he/she may work towards self-realization. The recognition of Vedas (their most sacred book) qualifies any version of a Hindu belief system as truly Hindu.
A Case for Beliefs of Jews (Judaism)
A Jew is described as “a member of the tribe of Judah,” “an Israelite,” “a member of a nation existing in Palestine from the 6th century B.C. to the 1st century A.D.,” and “one whose religion is Judaism.” A Jew is one who has a Jewish mother or one who has formally converted to Judaism. There are five main forms/sects of Judaism today. The beliefs and requirements in each group differ dramatically. Traditional Beliefs of Judaism include: God is the creator of all that exists; He is one, incorporeal (without a body), and He alone is to be worshipped as absolute ruler of the universe. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (the Torah) were revealed to Moses by God. They will not be changed or augmented in the future. However, the Torah is only the first of three parts of the Tankah (the Hebrew Bible). They believe God rewards individuals for good deeds and punishes evil. Jews generally consider actions and behavior to be of primary importance; beliefs come out of actions. This conflicts with conservative Christians for whom belief is of primary importance and actions are a result of that belief. Jewish belief does not accept the Christian concept of original sin (the belief that all people have inherited Adam and Eve’s sin when they disobeyed God’s instructions in the Garden of Eden). Jewish believers are able to sanctify their lives and draw closer to God by fulfilling mitzvoth (divine commandments). They do not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and beliefs about him vary. They believe Messiah (anointed one of God) will arrive in the future and gather Jews once more into the land of Israel. There will be a general resurrection of the dead at that time. The Jerusalem Temple, destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans, will be rebuilt.
A Case for Beliefs of Christians
The Christian faith was founded in the1st Century A.D. Christians believe the Holy Bible is scripture that is God breathed and recorded by a multitude of men appointed by God. They believe that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son to the world to teach and save it (Jesus Christ) during his 33 years of ministry on Earth. They believe he can to teach the world about the power of our sinful nature to do what is counter to God’s desires for us. They believe he came to save those who could see their need for a creator and savior because of the depravity of their own sins. They believe there is only one true God who created the heavens and the Earth. They also believe Jesus Christ was present at the creation of the world. They believe the Holy Spirit was left behind after Jesus was crucified (death on a cross) by the very people he taught and came to save, and he ascended to heaven by being raised by God holding victory over death itself. They believe the Holy Spirit is our active and on-going connection with God today. The belief in the trinity (God the Father of the world, Jesus Christ his son, and the Holy Spirit) is understood to be the same God represented in these three forms. They believe that salvation and eternal life with God in heaven beyond our life on Earth is a gift to be freely received through God’s grace and love alone (not any good works that a person can do during their life).
Cross Comparison Tool
If you would like to see a simplified visual chart of each of these 5 major world religions side by side for your own study and further exploration, please download this Major World Religions Cross Comparison tool that I have researched and compiled for my coaching clients and readers. Feel free to share it with those in your life that you might enjoy a healthy debate or spiritual discussion with. Certainly, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. I welcome them, and by no means do I desire to come across as the spiritual advisory authority for my readers. I simply want to encourage people to really explore what they believe in or what they do not understand, so they can define or clarify what they truly believe spiritually speaking. If I don’t have a solid answer that I can support with credible sourcing, I will glad to seek out council to get you a good answer to your question. I strongly encourage you to seek out knowledge while being compassionate towards the differences of others as you explore or deepen your own position. If you are able to do this you grow in your ability to show love to the world around you, while gaining an eternal perspective.
So what are you going to do next to further explore the spiritual beliefs of the world? My hope is that you will invest your most precious life resource (your time) to further educate yourself, become more knowledgeable and to become more able to be compassion towards others through discussing differences. Above all, I pray that this article helps become a spring board for you to further clarify your personal spiritual beliefs so you can walk forward in life with further clarity and conviction.
I help my coaching clients focus on matters like these so they can see their business become more efficient, profitable and scalable, if desired. I also help them achieve better balance professionally and personally so they can see their business truly work to support their life purpose and vision. If you want to find out more about how this could be leveraged in your world, or if you want to discuss a business problem you are facing, feel free to contact me or call me at 717-615-2274.You are also welcome to share this article or other resources found on my blog. Feel free to contact me if you or an associate would like to join my blog or receive this article as a PDF.