Had a blast from the past today! Cleaning out on of the sections of my desk I happened upon a cd I burned almost 20 years ago containing a few of my papers I wrote in college. I thought I would share them here before I put them back on a shelf to be buried until who knows when...
Judaism, Islam and Christian worldviews in key areas
CLD 1013 Introduction to Christian Worldview
Judaism, Islam and Christian worldviews in key areas
The religions of Judaism, Islam, and this author’s personal worldview of Christianity have many similarities, but also many differences. The current trends of religious tolerance in the world are blurring these lines of difference between these three great religions and leading many to misinterpret the facts these religions are based upon. The scope of this work is to quickly and concisely highlight the similarities and bring out the differences of these three world wide religions in areas ranging from their respective views of God to their understanding of the after life.
The various denominations within each of these three great religions will not be explored nor will explanations concerning the minor differences within the denominations be examined. The research referenced will be based upon the overall general world view of each religion. For insight into the denominational differences it is suggested that the reader conduct further research into the specific issues of interest to them.
What is God?
Online research into the understanding of God reveals that the followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity share many of the same basic principles in their understanding of what God is. This sharing of aspects of God can be attributed to the fact that Islam and Christianity both honor the Hebrew Bible as one of the base texts of their respective religions.
The shared beliefs in what is God are:
God is the Creator of all things.
God is infinite in power and authority. (Omnipotent)
God is every where at every time. (Omnipresent)
God is all knowing and understanding. (Omniscient)
God is non-physical, and eternal.
God is compassionate.
Wikipedia (n.d.) states that the Judaist understanding holds that God is a single entity which can not be divided and has no separate aspects. The belief that God is more than one person, entity, or has differing separate aspects is considered as heretical to Judaists.
The Islamic understanding of God, according to Wikipedia (n.d.), agrees with the Judaists’ view as God is not divisible and has no separate aspects or identities. It is also claimed by Islamists that their God is the same God of Abraham that is supreme in Judaism and Christianity. The beliefs that God has differing separate aspects as is held in Christianity are considered as heretical to Islamists.
The Christian understanding of God is that of a Triune God, three persons in one being. Christians state that their God is the same God of Abraham the Judaists and Islamists worship, but in fuller understanding of who God is. The two other identities of the Christian God are Jesus and The Holy Spirit. They complete the unity of God; they do not stand alone or take away from the entire Godhead.
Where is the Ultimate Truth found?
Judaists refer to the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), the Torah and the Talmud as their sources of Ultimate Truth (Wikipedia, n.d.). The Hebrew Bible is what a Christian would refer to as The Old Testament in the Christian religions. The Talmud is a volume of rabbinic discussions concerning ethics, customs and laws of the Jewish people that add details to the teachings in the Torah and Tanakh (Wordiq, 2009). These sources, when used in tandem, assist the follower of Judaism in making the proper choices in their lives and remaining in the good graces of God.
Islamists consider the Qur’an as the current Ultimate source of truth in their faith. The Hebrew Bible and the Christian Gospel are respected as coming from God, but having been corrupted by man. It is their belief that the Qur’an is uncorrupted and the most recent word from God and that it supersedes the other texts (Wikipedia, n.d.). Islam honors Jesus as a prophet from God.
The Holy Bible is the source for Ultimate Truth for Christians. The Bible contains the divinely inspired and accurate Word of God. God directed the writers of the Bible in what to say and how to say it so that the words would echo through time to all His people. By reading and studying its texts, a Christian can find guidance and clarity for their daily lives.
What is the moral standing of humanity?
All three religions hold the same view of how humanity came to be upon the Earth. We were created by God because He wanted to create us. When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were innocent. Sin entered our world through the actions of Adam and Eve and thus came the downfall of humanity.
The Judaist view of the nature of man is that of a morally neutral being. It is by the choices a person makes that swings their moral compass to wrong or right, good or bad. By following the teachings in the sacred texts a person can keep on the right path (Halverson, 1996, p. 125).
The Islamic view of the nature of man is that of a morally good being. The person must make evil, bad or wrong choices to influence their moral standing. By following the teachings in their sacred texts, the followers of Islam can influence their moral standings (Halverson, 1996, p. 107).
The Christian view of the nature of man is that of a sinful being. The shadows of the transgression of Adam and Eve have stayed with humanity and we must follow God’s word and the teachings of His Son to overcome our short fall. Not only is man haunted by Original Sin, but his failures to follow the teaching of God create more sin in his life. By accepting Christ we can put our sins behind us, and join with God forever (Halverson, 1996, p. 125).
What has humanity done wrong and what must be done to fix the problem?
All three of these religions agree that sin is the wrong that humanity has committed against God. It is by this sin we have driven a wedge between ourselves and God. But the finer points in regards to what a sin is do differ between the religious views.
In Judaism, sin is created by man when he chooses to not follow the laws God has sent down to man to follow. By not adhering to the laws in the Tanakh, Torah and Talmud man sins. The sin of Adam and Eve does not follow humanity in the Judaist belief system. To repair the damage created by sin, the follower of Judaism must adhere to the written laws and offer repentance through prayer. Salvation does not exist in the Judaic system of belief due to their belief in being the chosen of God by God (Halverson, 1996, p. 125 -126).
In Islam, sin is viewed as humanity not following God’s laws as recorded in the Qur’an. The method to take away the damage created by sin is through repentance in prayer and following the laws of Islam. Salvation to a follower of Islam is simply put as having one’s good deeds out weight one’s bad deeds (Halverson, 1996, p. 107 -108).
Christianity views sin as a very serious affront to God by man. Sin is created by man when we act against God’s word or against His Son. Additionally, the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve does follow man though generations. Salvation for a Christian takes effort on their part; they must accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Good works alone will not get one to heaven (Halverson, 1996, p. 107 – 108).
What are the ethical principles?
The sacred texts of these three religions are the basis for the teachings which directly affect the ethical decisions of their followers. As stated earlier in this work, these three religions all share the belief in the writings of the Old Testament as the Word of God. The ethical principals that drive these religions are also very much the same (Kern, 2006, para. 6).
The main ethical principles behind Judaism, Islam and Christianity have been summed up by Kern (2006, para. 9):
Do not kill
An individual’s life is of infinite value to God and no other person's life is of more or less value than another
An individual’s life belongs to God
Everyone is tasked to save life and heal the sick
According to these basic shared principles abortion, homosexuality, suicide and euthanasia are all considered as unlawful and against God’s Laws. Respect for one’s self and respect for others around us is vital in making morally right decisions.
Additionally, all three religions agree that the Earth is a creation of God and that humanity is responsible for the care of it and all the creatures upon it. Anyone who deliberately pollutes the Earth or is cruel to animals is directly answerable to God and will be punished for their transgression. This understanding comes from the same Creation Story which is shared by these religions.
What happens to humanity after death?
The views of the after life in these religions do share some common characteristics. All three agree that there will be a final day of judgment, and that there is a life after this life, and that there are separate locations for those who deserve heaven, the good, and those who deserve hell, the bad.
All three religions state that there will be a final day of judgment. The Judaist belief calls this final judgment day the Day of the Lord. The Islamic Last Judgment is their terminology for this day. Christians refer to this as the Great White Throne Judgment. After this judgment has taken place, the souls sorted, the blessed will go to Heaven and the damned will go to Hell.
The Jewish Torah gives very little information on what the after life, heaven or hell, is like. There are no descriptions depicting either location in the Torah. Joseph Telushkin (1991) tackles this lack of detail as follows:
Since Judaism does believe in the "next world," how does one account for the Torah's silence? I suspect that there is a correlation between its nondiscussion of afterlife and the fact that the Torah was revealed just after the long Jewish sojourn in Egypt. The Egyptian society from which the Hebrew slaves emerged was obsessed with death and afterlife. The holiest Egyptian literary work was called The Book of the Dead, while the major achievement of many Pharaohs was the erection of the giant tombs called pyramids. In contrast, the Torah is obsessed with this world, so much so that it even forbids its priests from coming into contact with dead bodies…We are asked to leave afterlife in God's hands.
All that is clear in the Judaist belief system is that there is a heaven and a hell.
The Islamic view of the afterlife does offer more details in what Heaven and Hell are to be like than does Judaism. Both locations are described in physical terms. At Wikipedia (n.d.) Hell (Jahannam) is depicted as a fiery place for the torment of sinner. Heaven (Jannat) is depicted as a perfect version of life here on Earth. The Qur’an states that Heaven and Hell are split into many different levels. The worse one is during their life, the lower into Hell they go. The better one is during their life, the higher into Heaven they go.
Islamists also believe that Muslims who are not true to Islam will be sent to Hell but will not remain there for eternity. God will deliver them to Heaven after they make atonement.
The Christian view of the after life is very similar to the Islamic view in many regards. Heaven and Hell are described in physical terms. But more importantly, there is a stress put upon the spiritual aspect of the after life. There is the gift of being with God in Heaven, or the punishment of being separated from God in Hell.
In conclusion, after this short examination of these three monotheistic world religions it appears that the similarities between these religions out weigh the differences. Each of these monotheistic faiths traces their origination back to Father Abraham in ancient times. They all profess a belief in a final judgment day followed by an eternity in Heaven with God, or eternity in Hell without God.
I feel it is important to point out that this author’s Christian world view has been reinforced by the discovery of many more verifiable facts than the other religions examined in this work. This statement can be verified by the facts and arguments presented during the Christian Worldview Course and in the text “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.
I can truly say I do not have enough faith to be an Atheist.
(Halverson D C 1996 Compact Guide to World Religions)Halverson, D. C. (1996). The Compact Guide to World Religions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Bethany House Publishers.
(Kern I 2006 Bioethics in Judaism)Kern, I. (2006). Bioethics in Judaism. Retrieved August 25, 2009, from New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Web site: http://www.ijs.org.au/Bioethical-issues-in-Judaism/default.aspx
Telushkin, J (1991). Jewish Literacy, New York: William Morrow and Co. Web site: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/afterlife.html
(Wikipedia God in Judaism)Wikipedia. (n.d.). God in Islam. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Islam
(Wikipedia God in Judaism)Wikipedia. (n.d.). God in Judaism. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Judaism
(Wikipedia God in Judaism)Wikipedia. (n.d.). Islam. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/islam
(Wikipedia God in Judaism)Wikipedia. (n.d.). Judaism. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/judaism
(Wordiq 2009 Talmud - Definition)Wordiq. (2009). Talmud - Definition. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Talmud