A Comparitive Religions Question

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A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby Bare_Truth » Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:09 am

Although I have read a good bit and talked with those of other faiths at several universities over 29 years, I never took a "comparative religions" class; but maybe some of you have, or some of you have had contact with religions that will bear on my question.

How many religions are there that stress a loving compassion of God for Mankind?
-- I see this attribute of God in the old testament for Judah and Israel and all that willingly join themselves to what I will loosely call the Judiac religion.
-- I also see this as an overwhelming theme directed to persons throughout all manknd in the Christianity of the New Testament writings.
-- Islam, the 3rd "Abrahamic religion" has not impressed me as having much of this and seems more directed toward god showing favor to those following a rigid code, and harsh treatment for those who do not.

I confess ignorance about this theme in other religions. How many other religions speak of a diety or a "primary diety among others" that has a major desire to benefit mankind, (as opposed to just showing favor to those who will worship that diety) ?

I will add that What I see in Christianity and the Judiaic religion is a God that:
-- loves mankind,
-- who seeks to bless those who follow ways he has laid out for their prosperity
-- who grieves for those who follow evil ways (as opposed to hating and seeking or even delighting in their destruction)
-- who seeks in every way to help mankind to blessings (as opposed to blessing only those who "get it right" on their own efforts).
-- who always looks on the intent of the heart of those who fall into sin and has mercy and works to redeem them.
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby natman » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:17 pm

We did the "When Worldviews Collide" Bible study by Ergon Caner, a converted Muslim and dean at Liberty University (at the time) a few years ago in which he compares all of the major world religions.

Judeo/Christianity appears to be the only religion that depicts a loving God who is reaching down to His people.

The rest appear to be based on performance of people trying to satisfy a vengeful god or gods, reaching up to them.

Most are based on a scale, in which you either get into Heaven, Nirvana, nothingness or move up or down the evolutionary scale by being 51% good or better than you were in your last life.

When exposed to all of the choices, including atheism, I cannot understand why ANYONE would chose any of the other "religions". However, I do know of some who are not even satisfied with a God who loves them enough to send His only Son to die for them, who would rather create a god of their own making who is powerless or only "loving" with a love void of discipline, which is not love at all.
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby JimShedd112 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:33 pm

In the early 1980s I took a class called REligions of the World which, as I recall touched upon all the major religions - Christianity, Taoism, Bhuddhim, Hinduism, Janism, etc. It seemed to me they all basically had the same principles of the Golden Rule and a Ten Commandments background. (Perhaps I'm wrong and just don't remember it well enough).

One thing which will always stick in my mind is the words of the Presbyterian (?) minister who taught the class and who said Bhuddist principles were the greatest of all in terms of how one should live his/her life.

Based upon what little I have heard of Islam over the last decade or so it does seem if one fails to follow the teachings of Mohammed you are an infidel who deserves to die.

And, as a kid growing up it seemed my parents focused their belief in Christianity (as members of the Methodist and then Baptist faiths with some Holiness teachings thrown in from time to time) on the Old Testament, saying if one was not "saved by God" through asking for forgiveness of their sins they would burn in Hell for all eternity. Yes, they believed, somewhat, in God's love for all mankind but could not resolve the issue in terms of what would happen to those who never converted to Chritianity. They did say if peopler died without ever knowing of God (children, primitive tribes, etc. never exposed to God's Word) they would be saved from the fires and brimstone of Hell.

I never could wrap my mind around the concept onlyy those "washed in the blood of the Lamb" would be able to enter the Gates of Heaven (a place no one has ever proved to exist, whether on the future earth or literally in the sky).

I have a friend who is a professed atheist who has told me he wishes he could believe there is a God but has seen no real evidence. Everything he sees about him can be explained through deductive reasoning.

I'm sorry if I've strayed off-message but I too cannot simply accept everything on faith alone.

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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby natman » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:25 am

luxorsecurity wrote:In the early 1980s I took a class called REligions of the World which, as I recall touched upon all the major religions - Christianity, Taoism, Bhuddhim, Hinduism, Janism, etc. It seemed to me they all basically had the same principles of the Golden Rule and a Ten Commandments background. (Perhaps I'm wrong and just don't remember it well enough).


The problem with all of the other "religions" is that they have no way to deal with sin. When, not if, one sins, those sins are with you for all eternity and must be balanced upon the "scales".

luxorsecurity wrote:One thing which will always stick in my mind is the words of the Presbyterian (?) minister who taught the class and who said Bhuddist principles were the greatest of all in terms of how one should live his/her life.


My dad spent much of his military life in Japan and Vietnam and took in some of the Bhuddist philosophy. The major point that he learned was the idea that you could do ANYTHING as long as you did not "hurt" someone else. Consequently, he felt that he could have sex with any woman he wanted to as long has he did not "physically" hurt my mom. Unfortunately, while his actions and his ideas did not cause "physical" harm apart from the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease, it cause a TON of emotional harm and caused the break up of their marriage and the destruction of our family.

luxorsecurity wrote:And, as a kid growing up it seemed my parents focused their belief in Christianity (as members of the Methodist and then Baptist faiths with some Holiness teachings thrown in from time to time) on the Old Testament, saying if one was not "saved by God" through asking for forgiveness of their sins they would burn in Hell for all eternity. Yes, they believed, somewhat, in God's love for all mankind but could not resolve the issue in terms of what would happen to those who never converted to Chritianity. They did say if peopler died without ever knowing of God (children, primitive tribes, etc. never exposed to God's Word) they would be saved from the fires and brimstone of Hell.

I never could wrap my mind around the concept onlyy those "washed in the blood of the Lamb" would be able to enter the Gates of Heaven (a place no one has ever proved to exist, whether on the future earth or literally in the sky).


What is not to resolve? At judgement, if a person has placed their faith and trust in Christ, then God provides "grace". If they have not, God provides "justice". Actually, God provides "justice" in both cases. In the case of the "Christians" the justice has been bought and paid for by the blood of Christ (God Himself).

Based on what your parents have said, the ABSOLUTE BEST thing we could do is burn all Bible and refuse to spread the Gospel to ANYONE so that all people would be totally ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and thereby go to Heaven.

In actuality, God's Law is written on all of our hearts whether we know about Jesus or not. We all know that it is wrong to steal, to direspect our parents or to commit adultery because we all know how much it hurts for someone to do those things to us. However, we have all committed some indescretion. Christianity is the ONLY religion that gives us a means to cover our indescretions and to attain right relationship with God again.

luxorsecurity wrote:I have a friend who is a professed atheist who has told me he wishes he could believe there is a God but has seen no real evidence. Everything he sees about him can be explained through deductive reasoning.


Everything???

Perhaps he can explain the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, clotting blood, the eyball, the fact that our planet is perfectly located in our solar system, in our galaxy and in space to provide not only the optimum place for life to thrive, but for exploration of the universe as well.
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby JimShedd112 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:09 pm

Nat, your argument your dad believed he had the right to do anything, including adultery, as long as he did no physical harm pretty much follows the same arguments I heard growing up in regards to Christianity. Basically, asking for forgiveness upon one's deathbed will absolve one of all sins and would allow the person to go to heaven, no matter how sinful their life had been up to the point of salvation.

So, how is the Bhuddist principles really any different? Bhuddism does teach, limited to my limited understanding, one must go through consecutive reincarnations, hopefully moving upward through their better behavior in each successive life, until they reach pefection and achieve Nirvahanna.

Christianity, on the other hand, allows one to sin up to the moment before death, if kon, and ask for absolution to live eternally in heaven.

Catholics, at least, believe in purgatory so one must atone in limbo between heaven and Hell before ascending to heaven.

I can't honestly explain my friend's views except to say he has seen no concrete proof, in his mind, of the existence of God.

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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby natman » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:35 pm

luxorsecurity wrote:Nat, your argument your dad believed he had the right to do anything, including adultery, as long as he did no physical harm pretty much follows the same arguments I heard growing up in regards to Christianity. Basically, asking for forgiveness upon one's deathbed will absolve one of all sins and would allow the person to go to heaven, no matter how sinful their life had been up to the point of salvation.


It is not quite that simple. One cannot simply sin their entire lives with impunity and then assume that they can ask for forgiveness when they know they are dying and assume they can get into Heaven. Forgiveness rest in ACTUALLY placing our faith and trust in Christ.

luxorsecurity wrote:So, how is the Bhuddist principles really any different? Bhuddism does teach, limited to my limited understanding, one must go through consecutive reincarnations, hopefully moving upward through their better behavior in each successive life, until they reach pefection and achieve Nirvahanna.


And what is "Nirvahanna"? It is to become "nothing", a condition in which there is no more pain, sorrow, feeling.... nothing, forever a part of the vast universe. Essentially, it is "annihilism".

Christianity does not teach "annihilism". It teaches "eternal existence" in either the presence of the grace of God or apart from the grace of God. It teaches "Once to die and face judgement."

luxorsecurity wrote:Catholics, at least, believe in purgatory so one must atone in limbo between heaven and Hell before ascending to heaven.


Which is a contruct that is not anywhere in the Bible.
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby JimShedd112 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:04 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Nat. Bottom line, though, all religions are a creation of man, along with all books of faith. So, it boils down to what men have interpreted based upon what their god or God has told them through visions, dreams, answers to prayers, etc. So, who can say who is right and who is wrong? None of us, I guess, if there truly is an afterlife, will know the answers until we are dead.

I have no objections to Christian teachings of solid moral behavior and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, etc. My argument against , for lack of a better term, is there is only one way and if you don't believe what I believe you are wrong and are condemned for eternity. Then, it gets into killing in the name of one's religion or god, i.e., extremist Muslims and the Inquisitions of old, or the Salem With Trials.

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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby natman » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:28 pm

luxorsecurity wrote:None of us, I guess, if there truly is an afterlife, will know the answers until we are dead.


It is a little late at that point. I am banking on it and if I an wrong, then so what for the both of us. However, if I an right then, 'sucks to be you at that point.

luxorsecurity wrote:My argument against , for lack of a better term, is there is only one way and if you don't believe what I believe you are wrong and are condemned for eternity.


The issue isn't that there is only one way. The issue is that there is any way at all. Christianity is the ONLY religion that provides such a way through Faith alone in Christ alone.

luxorsecurity wrote:Then, it gets into killing in the name of one's religion or god, i.e., extremist Muslims and the Inquisitions of old, or the Salem With Trials.


All of those examples were not sanctioned by the Bible. However, there were some situations where God DID instruct His people to kill those who were offering up their own children on the fires of Maleck (false gods).
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby jochanaan » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:02 pm

If I may jump in here (ka-splash! :mrgreen:):

Jim, you are right that all religions, including Christianity to some extent, are human constructs. However, might not one of them or some of them be constructs by humans who were or are in touch with the Divine Being?

It seems to me that what makes Christianity different, at least in its purest form, are several radical beliefs:

1. God is, and is One. (This one we share with Judaism and Islam.)

2. God has visited the world in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ (which, being interpreted, is "The Anointed One"). This one's almost as radical as a belief in aliens.

3. This Jesus, after being crucified (nothing special about that; lots of folks were crucified in those days), came back to life and went back up to Heaven, proving once for all that He is/was/will be God. This is even more radical, and it was exactly the "stumbling stone" that caused many of those who heard the original Apostles preach to scratch their heads and reject the message.

4. Because of Jesus' resurrection, we may become worthy of being with God in Heaven, not by living a completely sin-free life (who can?), nor by living again and again until we "get it right," but simply by giving ourselves fully to God, to the point of letting Him (in His Holy Spirit persona) possess us and lead us. This is the point that's often misunderstood. It is not that we wait until our deathbed and then say "I'm sorry, Lord, will you forgive me?" It is rather that we recognize we CANNOT by any effort of our own live well, without harming ourselves or others even by our own standards; then we give ourselves over to God, believing (even if the belief takes the form of desperation, as it often does!) that only He can bring about the needed changes in our deepest selves that will allow us to live well, doing good and not harm.

You see, Christianity at its heart is all about transformation. Not that we can do anything to effect the change, but rather that God, because of His love and favor towards us, effects the change as we accept Him in His full presence. That's the radical thing! Other belief systems say that you must transform yourself by doing such-and-such or worshipping so-and-so; the Bible's God says that He will transform us if we just let Him. Maybe the others teach the same great "moral laws" and thus have a measure of the truth--but the Jesus way is so much easier, since we don't have to do the work without His help! Praise His Name! Amen.
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby JimShedd112 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:33 pm

As i've said before, Chritian principles are a great set of rules (for lack of a better term) to live by and I won't discount anyone's belief they are indeed inspired by God.

And, Nat, there is absolutely nothing wrong if you are right that you do believe and lead a life guided by what you believe to be Divine guidance. But, what is wrong with the belief you MUST live by the right principles to lead to eternal life or whatever one's belief system teaches? Ultimately, the major religions tell us to be charitable and to do good deeds which benefit our fellow man. Unfortunately, some do advocate death to one's enemies simply because of a different set of values. Christianity certainly teaches love.

And, you see, we can discuss our differences without hate or vitriol. I think no less of any one of you who believe you have found the answers. Perhaps I will too at some point.

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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby jochanaan » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:16 pm

luxorsecurity wrote:As i've said before, Chritian principles are a great set of rules (for lack of a better term) to live by...
Indeed they are. But I don't follow them for that reason; I follow them because I love God.

And actually, not to follow such principles is not really an option. To live in society requires that we do so; that's why all the major religions (I don't consider Satanism a major religion) promote mostly the same rules. The difference in Christianity is that we have Help to follow the rules. :D
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby JimShedd112 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:19 am

Jochanaan,

You're absolutely right, Satanism is NOT a major religion. In fact, in my mind, it is a cult.

As far as civilization requiring conformity to the principles taught within Christianity, I absolutely agree - it really is a moral code and is what allows mankind to live together. But, then again, as you stated it is the same code followed by most if not all major religions thus, making it universal. So, does it not follow people of all faiths are indeed "talking' about the same God (or god) using different names and descriptions of the Supreme Being which rules over the heavens and earth?

How is it they all arrived at the same general concept of a superior being which created everything and whom we may spend eternity with by declaring our faith or performing deeds dictated by Him (or him)?

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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby natman » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:29 am

luxorsecurity wrote:So, does it not follow people of all faiths are indeed "talking' about the same God (or god) using different names and descriptions of the Supreme Being which rules over the heavens and earth?

How is it they all arrived at the same general concept of a superior being which created everything and whom we may spend eternity with by declaring our faith or performing deeds dictated by Him (or him)?


The devil is in the details. While we may all refer to a "higher power", the meaning that is poured into that "higher power", "God", "god" or "gods" can vary substantially. It is like seeing a billboard along the freeway that reads in bold letters, "TRUST IN JESUS", but then seeing the finer print that reads "You can trust Jesus Rodriquez Auto Repair to fix your car." Same word, different meaning.

It is no wonder that most of us arrive at the "superior being" concept when we consider the complexities and the vastness of our universe and how such a place that is so perfectly suited for human life came into being and continues. Unfortunately, not very many carry it too far beyond that point to consider that such a "superior being" is also a loving, fatherly creator and not merely someone or group of someones who are distant or must be appeased in order to avoid his or their wrath.

However, it is comforting to know that the vast majority of people believe that there IS a power far greater than themselves and that they are not in control of everything around them, that they must rely on the providence of that higher power. At least it is a common starting point in the conversation of the One True God, Jehovah (YHVH), with whom we can actually have a loving relationship, now and forever.
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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby JimShedd112 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:53 am

Thanks for your viewpoint, Natman. Again, I guess none of will truly know until we cross over, though living by the principles you and others of Christian faith certainly is to be admired. Morality should be practiced by everyone.

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Re: A Comparitive Religions Question

Postby nuudman » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:50 am

Purgatory: i have felt and heard that it came from questions concerning what was to happen to that side of Paradise after Christ's Resurrection. It also allowed the church a nifty lil way to fund raise to offer "to pray ole Joe out of Purgatory..."


Always marvelled at the splitting of the Judaic-Christian & Muslim Religions on the birth order from Abraham. Rachel screws up and unrighteously hands Hagar over to Abraham to take as a wife. Abraham accepts this deal. he should have known this was going to be trouble and to have waited upon the Lord to fix the problem. Ishmael was born first to the handmaid. Then Rachel finally gets pregnanat with Isaac. Isaac gets the birthright because of being from the wife. And this split is the basis of the longest running family fueds in history.
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