Have you ever said, there are too many religions to make sense of any? Well one does stand out and I challenge you to read on. It could change your life and your eternity.
Would you be surprised to know that there are only four major world religions, and three sects of Christianity? If you read these two blog posts, you will never look at religion the same again.
The world’s religions are not at all basically the same. One stands apart from the rest in its teaching
I used to think that there are so many religions who all claim truth, who’s to say who may be right. I was wrong on several fronts.
- There are not that many
- They are not all basically the same, but have major differences
- After a little research, one stands out
- Only one God offers salvation, relationship, love and to change us from the inside
Out of most of the world’s religions, only Judeo /Christian & Muslim traditions teach eternal consequences and salvation. Only one teaches that salvation is his gift, guaranteed by him and not dependent on our own effort. The chart below shows the global make up of the world’s religions.
When you remove the 16% of “unaffiliated” or non religious people, you are left with a very short list of religions to assess.
- Islam [Muslim] [610 AD]
- Hindu [oral tradition]
- Buddhist [oral tradition, text from 1st century AD]
I bet there are far fewer religions that you thought. I will deal with Judeo/Christian in a separate post.
- Siddhārtha Gautama, known as Buddha was born around 563 BC and thought to have died approximately 483 BC. Historians are not certain on these dates.
- Biographies are numerous and conflicting
- After almost starving to death, sitting under a pipal tree and declaring he would not leave until he found enlightenment, 49 days later, he reportedly achieved his goal.
- No belief in God or a creator. There are many paths to perfection
- Perfection comes from self enlightenment and change through reincarnation, meditation and self denial. When “nirvana” is attained, you have reached perfection and are free from pain and suffering
- Through the law of cause and effect known as karma individuals control their own destiny through their thoughts and deeds. The reason some die young, some have birth defects and others are murdered are effects of past wrong decisions on the part of the victim.
Hindu [Sanatana Dharma]
- Unknown beginning
- One true god/spirit that is in all things
- No religion teaches the only way to salvation, but that all genuine paths to God’s Light.
- Everyone will eventually reach salvation through lessons taught over numerous reincarnations of life;
Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny… Hinduism is both monotheistic and henotheistic. Hindus were never polytheistic, in the sense that there are many equal Gods. Henotheism (literally “one God”) better defines the Hindu view. It means the worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods. himalayanacademy.com
For these two religions, there is no real eternal consequence for those who don’t believe because eventually, every soul will eventually get there through innumerable chances called reincarnation.
The next largest world religion is Islam [Muslims] as the 16% noted as “unaffiliated” are those who do not believe in any religion.
- Islam means “submission” which is derived from a root word meaning peace, or peace through submission.
- Muslim means “one who submits to Allah, the Muslim god.
- Muhammad the Muslim prophet is believed to have died in 632 AD.
- Muhammad was said to have received his revelation from the angel Gabriel over the course of 23 years.
- He had to memorize what was said because Muhammad was illiterate
- Muslim’s can never be certain of salvation
- Ishmael was Abraham’s first son through his wife’s maidservant Hagar. The Jewish line from Abraham is through his first son Isaac, from his wife Sarah.
- The Ishmaelites became the Arab’s of today
The Muslim tradition states that the information that the angel Gabriel gave to Muhammad was memorized because he was illiterate.
Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them… Quran 7:157
It was not until after Muhammad’s his death in 632 AD, that companions of his committed Muhammad’s teachings to paper.¹
Because of differences in the writings, arguments confusion broke out. The third Caliph Uthman [644 AD to 656 AD] ordered that every copy be returned so they could be burned. He then distributed an official copy called Uthman’s codex.
Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. [Hadith – Book of Virtue]
Because the original writings were a culmination of several remembrances, years after Muhammad had died, and many were destroyed, the authenticity of today’s Quran cannot be verified.
In Islam, salvation is through good deeds done to earn favor with Allah, who may or may not decide you deserve passage to a paradise that is over flowing with human [emphasis on “man”], indulgences [abundant virgins, opulent foods and large mansions].
A Muslim can never be certain of his or her salvation. If your good deeds which are heavy, out weigh your bad deeds which are light, you might be saved, but only if Allah decides you deserve it.
In the Day of Judgment] they whose balances shall be heavy with good works, shall be happy; but they whose balances shall be light, are those who shall lose their souls, and shall remain in hell forever. Quran.com
Verily, none of you will enter Paradise because of his deeds alone.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “Not even me, unless Allah grants me mercy from himself. Know that the most beloved deed to Allah is that which is done regularly even if it is small. [DailyHadith; Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6099, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2818]
The Muslim tradition was written 600 years after the death of Jesus Christ and bares a remarkable parallel to Jewish history.
A believer in Islam must take by faith that Muhammad
- was visited by an angel and that the angel was truly from God
- correctly memorized and remembered what was handed down to him over the 23 years
- and that those who wrote down their memories after Muhammad’s death did so correctly
- All the above religions teach that the secret to peace and success in this life and the next is in our own hands
- One’s destiny is determined by an individual’s human effort
- Adherents to these teachings have an uncertain future in this life and the next
- Believers of these religions are trusting in one man’s word.
- Buddha – Buddha [self-enlightened after almost starving to death]
- Hindu – Unknown
- Islam – Muhammad [claims enlightenment by a visit from an angel]
This has been a quick and basic overview of three of the world’s leading religions. As you will read in my next post, the Judeo / Christian religion stands apart from every other religion in several areas. God is a personal, relational God who loves us as children, salvation is a certainty, and it is not dependent on our flawed humanity, but on his holiness, righteousness and justice.
The evidence and attestation for the Judeo / Christian God is overwhelming compared to every other world religion. The believer is not left to trust his/her life and eternity on a single man’s revelation.
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- Campo, Juan E. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Facts On File. pp. 570–74. ISBN 0-8160-5454-1.