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Current Blog...             DIFFERENCES BETWEEN                  2/28/2021
                                                    WORLD RELIGIONS
                                                                    Essay

       Who is God, can we know Him, and is He actually interested in us? From the dawn of time, man has tried to answer these questions with religion . . . but how can we follow what is right and true? Let’s compare world religions to discover their differences and then determine how to better seek God.
       HINDUISM: Hinduism began around 1500 B.C. when Vedic speaking people from Iran migrated to India and began writing collections of sacrificial instructions, hymns, and philosophic literature, but no fixed doctrines.[1] The two main tenets of Hinduism are the caste system (social distinctions based in heredity[2]) and reincarnation, (the belief that [through Karma] the soul, upon death of the body, comes back to earth in another body or form).[3] At best, Hinduism is a vague, undefined religion that embraces many beliefs and practices that are often contradictory.[4]
       BUDDHISM: Founded around 500 B.C., Buddhism grew out of Hinduism led by Siddhartha Gautama, the first “enlightened” one. He believed the path of strict self-denial would lead to victory over one’s “flesh” nature; that abandoning one’s desires in life would stop the cycle of reincarnation, rid one of human suffering, and bring one to a state of “Nirvana”.[5] Several schisms have occurred over the years. Zen Buddhism is the most nonsensical one in that it doesn’t have goals and holds that, “truths of religion do not come through rational thought processes, study of Scripture, or faith in a deity but rather through a sudden flash of insight.”[6]
       ISLAM: People who practice Islam are called Muslims. In the A.D. 500s, the prophet and preacher, Muhammad, announced a new religion during a time when Arabia was disintegrating, morally. Muhammad introduced the god, Allah, claiming the angel, Gabriel, called him to be Allah’s
messenger.[7]
  The Koran is the Muslim bible which is considered Allah’s final word. Allah is said to be personal and omnipresent who majors on “justice” but minors on “mercy” and “compassion”. While miracles such as deliverance from suffering are not expected in this life, good deeds may be rewarded in the next life, although entry into heaven is not guaranteed. And those who live disobediently are warned of the
consequences.[8]
       JUDAISM: Judaism has its roots in the Hebrew Bible, (Old Testament). Considered the father of the Jews, Abraham lived around 2000 B.C.[9] In Genesis 12, God makes a covenant (agreement) with Abraham, promising to make him the father of a great nation, if he and his people will obey God’s laws. Secondly, God promises that the land of Israel will belong to them forever, but if they fail, they will be scattered from the land and regathered when they return to the Lord.[10] Third, God promises to send a deliverer--the Messiah. He would be a descendant of David and would rule eternally, bringing peace and righteousness.[11] Finally, God promises He will make a new covenant with Israel one day. In essence, God said He would put His instructions deep into men’s hearts, and that He would forgive sins and remember them no more. (See Jeremiah 31:31-34.)[12] The truth is, the people did fail, the Jews were scattered, and the Messiah has come, but the Jews have rejected Him.
       CATHOLICISM: Many Catholics are truly born-again Christians, but this category is being added here because there are some Catholic doctrines that conflict with Evangelical-Protestant beliefs.
       The Catholic Church originated after the crucifixion of Jesus and says it was established by the Apostles, beginning with Peter. They also claim to be the “one true church”.[13] There is no Scriptural basis for these claims.
       Catholics put a lot of value upon their popes. The Pope is said to have the same power and authority that Christ had over the church. They refer to him as Christ’s infallible[14] representative or “vicar”.[15] Additionally, church traditions are said to have an equal or greater authority compared to Scripture
itself.[16]
       CHRISTIAN CULTS: There are hundreds of religious organizations in the world. Many use Christianity as a starting point but depart from it, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, (Mormons), Scientologists, and the Unification Church.
  The Jehovah’s Witnesses, founded by Charles Taze Russell in 1931, somewhat follow the Bible but unfortunately, have written their own bible, interpreting and even rewording certain key passages in error. They deny the trinity and the deity of Christ, they don’t worship Jesus, or claim He rose from the dead, bodily. They believe Jesus was actually a created being.[17]
       The Mormon religion was also founded by a man: Joseph Smith Jr., back in the 1800s. Smith began receiving “angelic visions” when just 14 years old. Then in 1823, the angel, Moroni, directed him to the “golden plates”. These plates were later “translated” and became “The Book of Mormon-Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. Smith claimed it was the new and final revelation from God to the world.[18] Mormons claim the Bible is incomplete and has errors. They believe God the Father was once a man who then progressed to godhood and that mankind can “achieve” this too. They deny the trinity as three Gods in one, they say Christ was the firstborn spirit-child of the heavenly Father and Mother, and that God gives to (virtually) everyone a general salvation to immortal life.[19]
       NEW-AGE: The term, “New Age”, is a catch-all title “relating to a movement espousing a broad range of philosophies and practices traditionally viewed as occult, metaphysical, or paranormal.”[20] Crosswalk.com defines “New Age” as “actually a vast smorgasbord of beliefs and practices. Each New-ager fills his tray with whatever assortment fits his appetite. All is liberally seasoned with self-
centeredness. It's really a have-it-your-way religion, thus its modern appeal.[21]



How does orthodox Christianity differ from other faiths?
In a straightforward, noncritical comparison, Ridenour explores
the basic tenets of twenty worldviews, religions, and faiths.


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       CHRISTIANITY: We know we didn’t evolve. The chances of that are equal to the forming of a snowman through the random assembly of snowflakes. So there must have been a creator. Now we ask, “Why did God create us?” First, He wouldn’t have made us only to abandon us or be uninvolved in our lives. He desired a two-way relationship, but how could this work?
       Let’s examine this from another angle. If God had any evil in His heart, wouldn’t that lead to destruction? Do you know of any evil that is beneficial? Logic would answer, “No.” So if God has no evil in Him then He is perfect and good. He cannot, therefore, look upon evil or cohabit with evil beings. But human beings are flawed! None of us is pure and good all the time. We fail. So again, how can we have a relationship with God?
       Christianity answers all of these question. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16; NKJV). We will live with Jesus forever if we accept His gift of forgiveness, follow Him, and love Him in return.
       Why would one want to follow a false religion just because it may be mystical or fascinating but ultimately lead to separation from God for eternity. We can choose to believe in reincarnation, Karma, self-denial, an imagined and impersonal state of enlightenment, a god of justice without mercy, a distant god whom we are never guaranteed to know, a religion invented by some man who stumbled on some tablets, a religion where men have super-imposed their ideas upon our established Bible, or we can trust the Almighty God who not only knit us together in our mother’s womb, but knew us even
before that and desires to know us, completely.
       We began with these questions: “Who is God, can we know Him, and is He actually interested in us?” The answer is,”Yes, we can know Him. Yes, He is interested in us. And yes, we can learn about who He is through His word, the Bible.” For more information on how to become a Christian, visit: https://kathyveer.com/become-a-christian/


References:
1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Vedic-religion
2. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/caste-system
3. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/reincarnation
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid. pg 23.
6. Hopfe, Lewis M. (1979, 1976). Religions Of The World. Glencoe Publishing Co. Inc., p. 139.
7. Lochhaas, Philip H. (1981). How To Respond To Islam. Concordia Publishing House, p. 11.
8. Cory, Steven (1986). The Spirit Of Truth And The Spirit Of Error. The Moody Bible Institute Of Chicago, pamphlet panel no. 7.
9. https://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/bible_timeline_chronology/
10. https://probe.org/judaism/
11. Ibid.
12. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jer+31%3A31-34&version=NLT
13. https://www.christian-history.org/roman-catholic-one-true-church.html#:~:text=Typically,%20the%20Roman%20Catholic%20Church%20has%20claimed%20early,averaging%204%20stars%20on%20Amazon%20after%2029%20reviews.
14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility
15. https://www.gotquestions.org/vicar-of-Christ.html
16. https://www.gotquestions.org/Catholic-tradition.html
17. Kern, Herbert (1977). How To Respond To The Jehovah’s Witnesses. Concordia Publishing House.
18. Kaiser, Edgar P. (1977, 1995), How To Respond To The Latter-day Saints. Concordia Publishing House, pp. 9, 10.
19. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-8-beliefs-you-should-know-
about-mormons-when-they-knock-at-the-door/
20. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/new-age
21. https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-is-new-age-religion-and-why-cant-
christians-get-on-board-11573681.html



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