Are all religions alike? Are there many ways to get to heaven? Do all religions essentially believe in the same God? This summer our pastor is taking us through a series on “Getting to Know God.” This last Sunday he covered the doctrine of the Trinity — the wonderfully mysterious fact that God is One God yet three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. I’m not going to go into this doctrine here, but focus on one thing that probably hits home for a lot of Americans who call themselves Christian: What differentiates a Christian from a person of another religion, and does it matter?
Christianity is the only religion that has, at the very core of its doctrine, the belief in the Triune God, and especially that Jesus Christ is God and the Son of God. That He came to earth as a human, lived a perfect (“sinless”) life, died a horrific death specifically for the purpose of taking our place, sacrificing His own blood so that a relationship can be restored between us and God, rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father, acting as our Mediator. To my knowledge, the God of the Christian faith is the only God who seeks out a relationship with the people He created. This is very different from other religions.
In a nutshell, here are what other major religions believe:
- Mormonism: Sees God as the Supreme Being of the universe. However, He gradually acquired that position over a long period of time by living a perfect and righteous life. God the Father has a body (flesh and bones). Views Jesus and Satan as spirit brothers and sons of God. Every male can eventually become a god.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses: God is a single being, not a Trinity. He is not all-knowing or present everywhere. Jesus was created; He is a lesser God. He is Michael, the Arch-Angel.
- Islam: God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They believe in a strict monotheism. Jesus is not God, He was just a messenger, second to Muhammad in importance.
- Hinduism: Recognize a single deity, and view other gods and goddesses as manifestations or aspects of that supreme God. There are 330 million of these gods (give or take a few).
- Buddhism: There is no God. By following specific paths, and through reincarnation, one can eventually reach “Nirvana.”
- Bahai: Believe in a single God who has repeatedly sent prophets into the world through whom he has revealed the “Word of God.” Prophets include Adam, Krishna, Buddha, Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus), Mohammed, The Bab and Baha’u'llah.
- Taoism: There is no God to hear prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation. Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life. A believer’s goal is to harmonize themselves with the Tao.
- Shintoism: Believe in the “Kami” (many deities). All human life and human nature is sacred. Morality is based upon that which is of benefit to the group. Ancestors are deeply revered and worshipped.