Religion has and always will be one of the major forces that drives and has constantly shaped our world. Throughout the centuries wars have been fought, laws have been created, countries and towns have been built and demolished all to protect or to make known a religion.
In this paper I will examine the characteristics of the three major Western religions of the world including Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The origin of all three religions will be covered as well as there view of God and several conflicts they have. Several beliefs such as judgment and the trinity will also be examined..
The origins of Judaism can be traced back to the stories of the Old Testament. These stories however cannot be proved by other historical facts (there are no records of the existence of the Hebrews until 1230BCE). (***) Through careful examination of the Old Testament we can conclude Abraham, the first patriarch of the Jews, lived between 1700-1900 BCE.
The new nucleus of the religion are said to be formed by Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. . These biblical figures, along with their wives, formed their new religion in Canaan. Jacob fathered twelve sons that became the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Due to a great famine in Canaan these men moved along with their families to Goshen, located in Egypt. The great mass of Jews in Egypt was not good and after about four centuries the Israelites had become the slaves of the pharaohs.
They built massive monuments that still stand today. The new leader of the Jews was Moses who leads the people out of Egypt. One of the defining moments in the Jewish faith is when God speaks to Moses and hands him the ten Commandments miraculously engraved in stone tablets. Following forty years the Jews built the first temple in the city of David after capturing Canaan.
Jesus Christ was born in the city of Bethlehem at the beginning of the Common Era. . Very little is known about his life until at the age of thirty when he began his ministry following his baptism by John the Baptist and the gathering of his twelve disciples. Jesus performed many miracles and healed many people who where sick or disabled as he spread the gospel. Jesus became disliked by the Jewish leaders and Pontius Pilate because of his radical beliefs.
As a result he was crucified and after three days was resurrected, ascending to the heavens to sit on the right hand of God. Apostle Paul began to spread Christianity from 48 to 62 CE after being called upon by Christ through a vision. By 100 CE Paul’s missionary journey had spread the faith throughout the Mediterranean basin. Christianity became the official religion of Rome during the rule of Emperor Constantine. This is the Stepping stone that would later evolve into the Roman Catholic Church decades later.
After the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West the western and eastern religions began to separate apart. In 1054 they excommunicated each other and it became permanent after western crusaders destroyed Constantinople in 1204 CE. A new branch of Christianity in Germany was cultivated in 1520 CE when Martin Luther expressed his doubts over the legitimacy of indulgences and papal infallibility.( ***) Excommunicated from the Catholic Church, Luther was responsible for the Protestant Reformation.
Muhammad received his revelation from the angel Gabriel in 1610Ce after the fortieth year of his life. His mission spent the next ten years in an uphill battle just trying to survive. The Persecution of Muslims in Mecca made the Hijrah from Mecca to Medina necessary in 622 CE. . By Consolidating his power in Medina, Muhammad was able to ward off attacks by Mecca and in 630 he made a triumphant return to Medina. “In 630 CE the prophet returned triumphant to Mecca with such a large band that the Meccans did not resist.
The Ka’ Bah was purged of its idols and from that time to the present has been the center of Muslim piety”(Fisher, p.350). The majority of Meccans converted to the new religion. When Muhammad died in 632 CE Abu Bakr was named the first Caliph and trouble started. The Muslims became divided over who would be the rightful successor. Two sects were formed, the Sunnis and the Shiites whom have been fighting since then and until this day.
The existence of god constitutes one of the greatest attempts by mankind to break out of the physical world and walk into the phenomenal and spiritual realm of experience. The question of God’s existence is the most influential one of human philosophy. The answer affects the whole fiber of human life, whether mankind is the dominant being or whether he is inferior and has a superior being which he must love and obey.
According through what is being read and taught by others there are basically three ways one can argue the existence of God. Number one, the priory approach argues from a conception of God as a perfect being whose non existence is inconceivable. And Last, the existential approach asserts the existence of God through a direct experience or personal revelation this particular approach is not learned, but is more of an experiential view. The three Great Religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity all have some or all of these elements of presenting god in there faith.
The God of worshop of these religions is not to be shared with idols of worship. These three religions also believe in a creed of monotheism. The God of worship, known to them, is not to be shared with relics or objects of worship considered being idols. These three religious believe in a creed of monotheism. However, according to one’s personal convictions this is where the similarities between the three faiths end.
The people outside of one’s religion are believed to be infidels, pagans, or unbelievers. By comparing the view of God between Islam < Judaism and Christianity similarities will arise. Even more so between Judaism and Christianity because they both use the Old Testament. Both Judaism and Christianity reject the Origin of the Islamic faith. These are broad statements in comparing the three but still are general facts. `From birth Muslims are taught about the oneness of god.
The Muslim faith also advocates the unification of all people under God and reject the teaching of a “chosen people”. To Muslims the name Allah encompasses all the Holy attributes. As in the Jewish faith Jesus is regarded as a prophet but is denied as being God’s son. Judaism from a traditional religious sense takes its monotheistic beliefs of the existence of god from the Old Testament writings. In traditional Judaism god is perceived as a loving father who has supreme infinite power.
The central prayer of any Jewish religious service is to “love God” as instructed in the book of Deuteronomy Chapter 6.(***) The view of God presented in the scriptures of the New Testament along with the Old Testament is the basis of Christian doctrine.. The idea of Jesus as the Holy Son of God, as previously mentioned, is rejected by Muslims and Jews alike. The Old Testament speaks of a Messiah that would atone for the sins of the world and the New Testament teaches about Jesus the Son. He is accepted and worshiped as God by all evangelical Christians. He is essential to Christian God worship.
The religious conflicts between Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been numerous throughout history and continue to this day. Most of these disagreements are ancient, and many speculate that they will never be solved. Murdering in the name of God remains a sad commentary in the history, present day, and future of mankind. It is arguable that the first conflict arose with the founding of Christianity.
Since Jesus attacked traditional Judaism he was given over to the Romans, tortured and crucified. During the Spanish Inquisition, many Jews were persecuted as heretics and had to flee from their homes. Much persecution of Jews by Christians has been justified by the belief that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. In Nazi Germany and after the fall of the Third Reich, many Germans said that even though what happened to the Jews of Europe during World War Two was horrible, they did bring it on themselves because they were responsible for the death of Jesus.
`The Christian/Muslim conflicts began during the seventh century CE, with the fall of the Byzantine cities in Egypt and the Holy Land within ten years of the death of Muhammad. “Europeans watched in horror as the Holy Lands became Muslim and the “infidel” advanced into Spain” (Fisher, p.382). This European advance was finally checked in France at the battle of Tours in 732 CE. Between 950 and 1300 CE, under the aegis of the Pope, Europe tried to roll back the Islamic gains and retake the Holy Land in the Holy Crusades.
Lacking the logistical support and leadership necessary for success, the Holy Crusades were over when the fourth Crusade ended in utter defeat. Roughly one hundred and fifty years later, the Muslims finally put paid to the whole issue in 1453 CE with the capture of Constantinople, causing the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and giving Islam total hegemony over the entire Middle East. Today the Christian/Muslim conflicts have more to do with the West’s support of Israel and the West’s dependence on Arab oil. And although open warfare between the Islamic world and the West has not really happened except in the 1990 war with Iraq, (which was over oil, not religion) terrorism is still a source of friction between the two cultures.
The Jewish/Islamic conflict began in 1948 CE with eviction of Arabs from
their homes and the ensuing creation of the state of Israel in what was formerly known as Palestine. Wars between the Arabs and the Jews have taken place time and again to decide the fate of Israel. After nearly sixty years, there still seems to be no end in sight.
The Palestinians yearn for a homeland that can never be as long as the state of Israel exists. Because of the Holocaust during World War Two, the Jews vowed to never again be a people without a homeland. Both claim Jerusalem as their rightful capital and as a sacred site to both religions.
Compromise seems impossible on this issue. The Trinity, the core beliefs of most religions require people to submit themselves to a higher power. When dealing with western religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, they all have monotheistic views. Monotheism is the worship of a single God of the universe. Even though each of these religions believes in worshipping one single God, they all differ when it comes down to their core belief. The Islamic religion believes in one God, who they call Allah.
They completely submit to only him and obey all his laws. Unlike Christianity, the Islamic religion does not believe in the Trinity. They believe Jesus was just another prophet just as Moses, Isaac, and Abraham were. Adam was the first prophet and Muhammad was the last. The Judaic religion believes that humans are made in God's image and have direct contact with God. People are ultimately able to chose between good and evil. It is believed by this faith that God is going to send a Messiah.
Both of these religions contradict Christianity because of the Holy Trinity. One of the core beliefs of Christianity is the existence of the Holy Trinity. There is one God who is part of the Holy Trinity, which consists of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. According to Grolier Encyclopedia, All are equally God and so are one, each sharing in the divine attributes of ultimacy, eternity, and changelessness; yet they are distinguishable in their relations to one another and in their roles.
There are several examples in the Holy Bible describing how God is present in the form of one or all forms of the Trinity. The first example of all parts of the Trinity being present at once is when Jesus was being baptized by John the Baptist. The verse can be found in Matthew 3:16-17 and it states, And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. In this verse, Jesus Christ is equal with God, and the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father. The Holy Spirit also appears at the baptism in the form of a descending dove. In this scripture, we have all forms of the Trinity present at one time. Another example of the Trinity is God in the form of the Son (Jesus Christ). The purpose of God coming to earth in human form was so Jesus could be sacrificed for the sins of the world. Instead of people sacrificing animals unto God, Jesus was sent to be the ultimate sacrifice to die and pay for the sins of the world.
The doctrine of the Trinity contradicts the Islamic beliefs because Muslims believe that God can not be represented in any worldly form. The last example of God in the form of one of the Trinity is when Jesus died to sit on the throne in heaven.
Jesus said in John 5:5, And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you for ever: The Comforter is another name for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was sent to continue what Christ did while he was on earth. His purpose is to help and strengthen in difficult times, intercede in prayer, and aid in any way needed by the believers.
Judgment The goal of all these different religions is to ultimately get to a place called heaven. Heaven can be described as a place that believers go after death where God abides in a righteous state of being. In Islam, paradise or the garden is a place of physical as well as spiritual delights for the saved. Since the Holy Qur'an was sent down from heaven in Arabic to Muhammad, it serves as a guide for the believers to get to paradise. In Judaism, it is believed that heaven is to abide with the Hebrew God Yahweh. Only exceptional human beings, such as Elijah, are raised after life on Earth.
Since the Jewish people do not believe in the New Testament, exceptional human beings would be considered people like Moses, Abraham, Jacob and his twelve sons (the twelve tribes of Israel). In Christianity, the final goal is a new, transformed, and redeemed world where Christ abides with his people in holy perfection. There will be no sickness or disease, and all sins will be erased. From the dust, man was formed, and to the dust he shall return until the resurrection of Christ. All the dead bodies and souls will be resurrected and reunited in heaven with Christ.
Some Christians also believe that ultimately the earth will be destroyed and a new heaven and earth will be formed. Once this takes place, all believers will possess new bodies that are real and tangible, but yet immortal. In order to get to heaven, all members of these religions must go through some form of judgment. The Judaic tradition calls this day the Day of the Lord. During this time, all that are unfaithful to God will be judged. There will be a battle of good versus evil, followed by a world catastrophe. In the Islamic tradition, there will be a Last Judgment.
After death, everyone will be held accountable for his or her deeds. Everyone who rejects the holy Qur'an and Allah will be damned to Hell. The Christians also believe in a judgment day. Their judgment day occurs after the Second Coming of Christ for the Great Judgment Day. During these times there will be an anti-Christ (false prophet), and Jesus Christ will defeat him in a battle called the Battle of Armageddon.
During the judgment day believers and non-believers will be judged on their beliefs and works. It is clear that all three religions believe in some type of judgment at the end of death to account for one's beliefs. After the judgment day in each religion, each person will either go to heaven or hell. Hell is defined as a state of being of unrepentant souls who are damned to eternal punishment after death.” The Islamic and Judaic religions describe hell as being eternally separated from God.
The Christians describe hell as a burning lake of fire and brimstone. In each religion, the soul does not reach a final resting-place. People will either spend an eternity in heaven or hell, once they have been judged. In each religion there has to be some point of salvation, through God's grace. Although they all have monotheistic views of God, they all have differences when it comes to the core of their beliefs.
After examining these aspects of the three great Western religions, it appears that the similarities between them actually outweigh the differences. All are monotheistic traditions believing in the same God, all three trace their lineage to Abraham, and each believes in a judgment day followed by an afterlife spent in either Heaven or Hell.