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Religion Facts: Comparing and Contrasting the Abrahamic Religions

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Abrahamic religion is a term known by most to describe the three religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  The term Abrahamic religion is used to describe these religions today because all of these religions claim Abraham as part of their history and trace back to him in some way.  These three Abrahamic religions account for more than half of the world today making up more than fifty five percent of the human population.  These religions all have very similar views according to some beliefs, but also contrast greatly on others.  Most of these differences and similarities can be answered by the following questions.  What does it mean to be human?  What is the basic human problem?  What is the cause of the human problem?  What is the end goal of transformation?  What are the means of this transformation?  What is the nature of reality?  Finally, what is the sacred and how may the sacred be known? 


First we will answer the question, what does it mean to be human?  Throughout all of the religions, this question has almost identical similarities throughout.  According to Christianity God created the universe ex nihilo, and claims him to be the giver and sustainer of life.  All of the religions believe that humanity was created through the image of God and were put on this earth to submit to the will of God and to glorify him in every way.  Islam and Judaism speak of the taqwa or the divine spark that has been breathed into humanity thus proving their fellowship and special spiritual status with god.  Christianity however, does not mention this.


Religion Facts: Comparing and Contrasting the Abrahamic Religions

Now that the question is answered what humanity actually means according to each religion, it is important to know what problems occur within humanity and how people manage to destroy their relationship with God.  This leads us up to the question, “What is the basic human problem?”  Throughout all of the Abrahamic religions people have strict guidelines laid down in front of them in order to be followed to help them better their relationship with God.  God told us everything he expects from us.  He told us in the Bible and embedded in us everything we need to know.  So what is the problem?  Humanity according to all of the religions either alienates, breaks the kinship, or turns away from the will of God.  According to Judaism humanity is not inherently sinful, but has both good and evil impulses within them which cause humans to break the laws of the Ten Commandments.  Islam believes that humanity is capable of making their own choices.  They can either submit to the will of Allah or they can strive for wealth and beauty.  Christianity however, unlike Islam or Judaism says that humanity is born inherently sinful and they choose to disobey Gods plan for humanity.


According to all of these religions all of humanity has these problems, but we cannot fully understand these problems without also understanding the cause of them.  What is the cause of the problem?  All of the religions say that humanity fails to meet the mark.  Humanity has a set divine standard to meet that was shown to them either through the Koran (or Qur’an), the Torah, or the Bible.  Judaism and Islam believe that it is because humanity has the freedom to choose, that they stray from the path.  They also say that because of the spiritual warfare within, people reach for goals other than that determined by God.  Christianity however says that since humans are inherently sinful, this is the sole cause of their alienation.  It is for these reasons that humanity is unable to meet the mark set by God, and it is because of this reason that humanity cannot experience Gods love and fellowship.


Religion Facts: Comparing and Contrasting the Abrahamic Religions

Since humanity has all of these troubles meeting the mark and battles raging inside of them, it seems almost impossible for them to meet this divine standard.  What does humanity need to do in order to right themselves with God?  What is the end goal of transformation?  Each religion believes in some sort of savior or messiah that is forthcoming.  All of these religions believe that when the savior does come that everyone including the deceased will be judged based on their past efforts to bridge the gap between humanity and God, but each looks at this in a very different way.


 Christians believe that Jesus is the messiah and that he has divine abilities.  They believe that in the time of judgment in order to bridge this gap, redemption and compensation must be made.  If someone has not fully compensated for all of their sins, Christians believe that Jesus will pay the price for you and complete the bridge to God.  Jews on the other hand view Jesus not as divine, but just another person.  They believe that when the end of days comes that humanity will be judged based on their studying of the Torah and their followings of the Ten Commandments.  Jews believe that their messiah will come, for the first time, with the building of the third temple.  They also hold the belief that the end will come at a time of great suffering and war in which much of the population will perish.  Muslims believe that when the end of days comes that in order for the gap to be bridged, a person will have to have led a life where he or she has accomplished more good than bad.  Islam says that each person will have their good and bad deeds weighed on a scale calibrated to their abilities to follow the Koran, and those whose good deeds outweigh the bad will be accepted into the kingdom of heaven.  Those who have done more bad that good, or have rejected the truth of Islam once it has been presented will not be accepted to the kingdom of heaven and shall be shown no mercy.


Religion Facts: Comparing and Contrasting the Abrahamic Religions

The end goal of transformation for every religion differs in many ways, but what are the means of these transformations?  All of these religions have very similar means of transformation.  Christianity says that by doing things like Bible study, sacraments such as baptism, prayer, fellowship, and witnessing, help to bridge the gap.  Christianity also says that someone who believes Jesus is God dying for them though judged guilty will have there sins forgiven and will live within the fellowship of God.  Judaism basically says that the means of transformation are very similar.  They say that obedience to the teachings of the Torah, Rituals of remembrance such as Passover, prayer, and fellowship are all pieces of the means of transformation.  Islam like both of the other religions has steps in order to meet these means.  The Muslim people need to follow the steps of the witness, prayer, almsgiving, Ramadan and fasting, and Hajj.   These steps are all ways in order to bridge the gap between humans and God and to meet the correct means for transformation.


The end transformation is something that people have to look forward to, but what about now.  What is happening around us, and what is the nature of reality?  According to all of the Abrahamic religions, the nature of reality is the same.  God created this world in ex nihilo and is also the creator and the sustainer of all life.  Finite humans can comprehend this reality, but cannot understand their infinite and divine creators.  All of the Abrahamic religions also believe that time is linear, which means that everything has a beginning and an end.  Everything has an end except for God who is considered and eternal now, and existed before and after time.


Religion Facts: Comparing and Contrasting the Abrahamic Religions

What is the sacred and how can it be known?  When comparing the Abrahamic religions, the sacred is the same thing, God.  All of the religions say basically the same thing, that God is the ultimate and infinite, and that he cannot be understood by his finite creations.  However for all of these religions God has given humanity a manual in order to guide us through life.  These manuals are known as the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran (Qur’an).  Weather you are studying Christianity, Judaism, or Islam respectively.  Though impossible, throughout these books are the guidelines in order to help finite beings comprehend the infinite, in an attempt to help make the sacred known.

There are many points besides these that are agreed or very disagreed upon.  For example the Jews say that Ezra is the son of God while Christians say that the Messiah is the son of God.  Islam however sees these views as sinful.  The Christians also look at God as the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.  This is meant as one god in three different views.  Although all of the religions are monotheistic, Muslim followers also see this as sinful because they think both religions are worshiping multiple Gods when they were only ordered to worship one.  All of the religions also believe that their book, Bible, Torah, and the Koran, are the word of God, all of which are based off of the same divine revelation.  However Muslims believe that the Bible and the Torah have been corrupted and that the Koran is the only direct and accurate word of God.

Answering all of these questions it is easy to see that there are many differences and yet many similarities.  Which belief is correct when they all claim to be the truth?  Which path is the correct path to heaven?  These are all questions I do not have an answer for and ultimately will be left up to you. 

Religion Facts: Comparing and Contrasting the Abrahamic Religions


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