What religions lie beyond Christianity? Understanding what others believe and why is important and helps us connect to the world.
We know what Christianity stands for, but we might not know what other religions stand for and where they come from. In order to better connect with people about the gospel, we must first understand what they believe and why.
Religion: Judaism Christianity Islam Buddhism Hinduism
God: Yahweh God Allah no main god Brahman
Holy Book: Hebrew Bible "Tanakh" Bible Qur'an Sutras (actual words of Buddha) Smrti
Savior: Messiah Jesus Mahdi Maitreya Krishna
Judaism: Judaism is the name for the religion of the Jews, who are God’s chosen people. They believe in God as the one true God, but do not believe that Jesus is their Messiah. They continue to wait for the Messiah to come back to Earth and rescue them, as is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible called the Tanakh. There are different types of Jews in the Jewish religion today, such as Orthodox, Reform and Conservative. Orthodox Jews still follow the old laws and practices given to Moses by God. Reform Jews do not follow the old laws, but have modernized Judaism to fit with today’s world. Conservative Jews are in between Orthodox and Reform Jews meaning that they have changed Judaism a little bit to fit with the times while still following some of the old practices.
Christianity: Christians believe that there is one God, who sent his son Jesus, to die for our sins on Earth. When he sacrificed himself for our sins on the cross, Jesus made a way for us to live with God for eternity after we die. The only way to get to heaven is to believe in Jesus, our Savior, and to accept him as such. No deeds or works can get us to eternal life. Christians read the Bible, God’s word, and regard it all as true. We pray to God and talk with him, and we know through the Bible and the teachings of Jesus that it includes, that God wants to have a personal relationship with each of his children. He is always there for us and will always listen to our needs. He will never forsake us or let us go. Christians also believe in the Second Coming of Christ, or when Jesus comes back to earth for a second time, to kill Satan, the devil, and liberate persecuted Christians. Everyone will know that Jesus is God, and he will take all the faithful Christians with him to heaven.
Islam: Muslims, followers of Islam, submit to the will of Allah, or God, in Islam. The prophet Muhammad had the word of God revealed to him by an angel, and set off preaching the idea of monotheism to polytheistic people. Muslims recognized Jesus and Moses as important prophets of God as well, but Muhammad is the most important and main prophet of Islam. The Qur’an, written about 30 years after the death of Muhammad, is believed to be the words of God himself. Muslims do not believe that Muhammad was divine, but that he was an ordinary man. They also believe that Mahdi, a hero, is prophesied to return around the Second Coming of Christ. Mahdi will be assisted by Jesus in his fight against the false Mahdi, or the antichrist. Mahdi represents a savior to the Muslims.
Buddhism: This is a polytheistic religion centered around ending suffering for Buddhists during their life on Earth, and their eventual rebirth. Buddhists follow the teachings of Buddha himself, an Indian prince who undertook a journey to find answers after witnessing suffering in his kingdom. He became the Buddha or “Enlightened One”, and taught about ending suffering for the remainder of his life. Buddhists do not follow one God, nor do they believe that a God created the world. Some sects of Buddhist worship gods in nature, while other focus on meditation and are completely atheistic. The two main sects of Buddhists include Theravada Buddhists who are found in Southeast Asia, and are atheistic and Mahayana Buddhists who are found in China and Japan and worship nature and celestial gods.
Hinduism: With an origin in India, the religion of Hinduism is considered eternal by Hindus. The author of the sacred texts of Hinduism is unknown, as is the date of the origin of Hinduism. Some Hindus follow Shiva or Vishnu as their main god while others look to their atman or “divine Self” for guidance. Almost all of them acknowledge Brahman which is the unifying force behind all Hinduism. The smrti, one of the categories for Hindu sacred texts, are texts that explain the sruti to modern Hindus. The smrti are more popular with modern Hindus today than the sruti because they are more applicable to modern Hinduism today. Hindus believe in karma, which is the idea that a person’s luck, good or bad, is based on the deeds that they do. They also believe that karma plays a part in where a person’s soul will end up in their next life. After a person dies, their soul will go from the dead body to a new one in another life, and karma will decide whether a person’s soul gets a good new life or a bad one.