The world is full of man-made religions, none of which comes close to the kingdom of Christ in promise or delivery! Most world religions promote peace among mankind and we cannot disagree with that. However none of them promise salvation and an eternity with our loving Creator! Only the God of Abraham and His son Jesus Christ can do that!
We offer a brief overview of some of the more popular religions around the world. We ask you to remember that group mentality takes over when a group is criticized. Each member considers his group the best (or he wouldn't be in that group.) "My school is better than your school!" "My city/state/country is better than yours!" Noone likes to be hear they might be wrong. Especially when something as personal as religion is concerned. Nevertheless ...
From the Judeo-Christian perspective, after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden and populated the world the story of God became distorted over time and all manner of man-made religions developed. After several generations mankind was aware there was a Supreme Power but had forgotten the details. Various regions developed their own concept of religion.
World history shows organized religion began as far back as 9831 BC with the Neolithic Revolution. Political power was justified by religious prestige. The Gobeki Tepe lasted from 9130-7370 BC provided the oldest place of worship yet discovered. In 8000 BC four to five pine posts were erected near the eventual site of Stonehenge.
However our concern is not with ancient, long lost religions. The range of religions on earth today is quite extensive! From the Voodooists who believe the dead are capable of appearing in dreams to Mormons who believe the dead can still be saved by proxy baptism. As Christians we are aware the Prince of Confusion has been very busy! We will offer a brief overview of seven of the more popular non-Christian religions:
Here are other religions (sorted by size) available for your own research on the Internet:
Islam: 1.5 billion (Discussed elsewhere on this website.)
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
primal-indigenous: 300 million
African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
Juche: 19 million
Spiritism: 15 million
Judaism: 14 million
Jainism: 4.2 million
Shinto: 4 million
Cao Dai: 4 million
Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
Tenrikyo: 2 million
Neo-Paganism: 1 million
Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
Credits: Most of this information was found on Wikipedia. Knowing the reputation of Wikipedia, we confirmed information through various religious websites. We edited the information to show only the principle values of each religion.
Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from 'budhi', 'to awaken'. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.
According to Buddhism, after death one is either reborn into another body (reincarnated) or enters nirvana. Only Buddhas - those who have attained enlightenment - will arrive at the latter destination.
To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. Philosophy 'means love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:
(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.
Budda, Siddhartha Gotama, was born in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.
The Buddha said of death: Life is a journey. Death is a return to earth. The universe is like an inn.
What is Karma?
Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., all actions have results. (There is no time limit.*) Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. You do something good and something good will happen to you. Do something bad and you will suffer. Maybe not immediately but ultimately! How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) effects of the action on oneself, and (3) the effects on others.
* They believe Karma carries over from one life to the next. You may have done something evil in a past life and died before Karma was fulfilled. Therefore it is delayed until sometime in your next life. The same with doing something good. This explains a number of things: inequality in the world, why some are born handicapped and some gifted, why some live only a short life.
While all this sounds good on the surface we have to ask, where is the love for mankind? Where is the doing something good for its own sake? And most importantly, with constant re-living of one's life the subject of an eternity with your Creator is overlooked.
Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius ("Master Kong", 551–479 BCE). In older world religion books the estimates of the total number of adherents of Confucianism range up to 350 million.
The core of Confucianism is humanism, or what the philosopher Herbert Fingarette calls "the secular as sacred." The focus of spiritual concern is this world and the family, not the gods and not the afterlife. Confucianism broadly speaking does not exalt faithfulness to divine will or higher law. This stance rests on the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor especially self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucian thought focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics.
Some of the basic Confucian ethical concepts and practices include ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for other individuals. Yi is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good. Li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act in everyday life. Confucianism holds that one should give up one's life, if necessary, either passively or actively, for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren and yi.
Historically, cultures and countries strongly influenced by Confucianism include mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, as well as various territories settled predominantly by Chinese people, such as Singapore. In the modern times, Confucianism's influence has been vastly reduced and few people identify themselves as Confucians. Instead, people often see Confucian ethics as a complementary guideline for other ideologies and beliefs, including democracy, Marxism, capitalism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.
In popular practice the three doctrines of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism were often melded together. The abolition of the examination system in 1905 marked the end of official Confucianism. The New Culture intellectuals of the early twentieth century blamed Confucianism for China's weaknesses. They searched for imported doctrines to replace it, such as the "Three Principles of the People" with the establishment of the Republic of China, and then Communism under the People's Republic of China. In the late twentieth century, some people credited Confucianism with the rise of the East Asian economy and revived both in the People's Republic and abroad.
Hinduism differs from Christianity and other monotheistic religions in that it does not have:
Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic religions. They recognize a single deity, and view other Gods and Goddesses as manifestations or aspects of that supreme God. Henotheistic and polytheistic religions have traditionally been among the world's most religiously tolerant faiths. As a result, India has traditionally been one of the most religiously tolerant in the world.
Hinduism has grown to become the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. It claims about 950 million followers -- about 14% of the world's population. It is the dominant religion in India, Nepal, and among the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
"A Sikh is any woman or man whose faith consists of belief in one God, the ten Gurus, the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, who has faith in the amrit of the tenth Guru, and who adheres to no other religion." --Rahit Maryada
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region, and a member of the Sikh people. A Sikh is a disciple/subject of the Guru.
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. Three core principles establish a basis for Bahá'í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, that there is only one God who is the source of all creation; the unity of religion, that all major religions have the same spiritual source and come from the same God; and the unity of humankind, that all humans have been created equal, and that diversity of race and culture are seen as worthy of appreciation and acceptance. According to the Bahá'í teachings the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories.
In the Bahá'í Faith, religious history is seen to have unfolded through a series of divine messengers, each of whom established a religion that was suited to the needs of the time and the capacity of the people. These messengers have included Abrahamic figures as well as Dharmic ones - Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and others. For Bahá'ís, the most recent messengers are the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. In Bahá'í belief, each consecutive messenger prophesied of messengers to follow, and Bahá'u'lláh's life and teachings fulfilled the end-time promises of previous scriptures. Humanity is understood to be in a process of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale.
Comment: We need only to check the headlines of today’s newspapers to see that global peace and unity are nowhere to be found. Relying on human nature to provide peace and justice has proven to be a failed concept. The existence of so many religions may be the stumbling block to world unity.
With a world full of turmoil an example of obedient people was needed to convince the world there was a better way to live!
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells us of how obedient Abraham was in being prepared to present his son in sacrifice at the command of God. He was the perfect cornerstone for this new religion.
The central religious belief of Judaism is that there is only one God. Monotheism was uncommon at the time Judaism was born, but according to Jewish tradition, God himself revealed it to Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people. Beginning with Abraham, God has always taken special care of the Hebrews (who would later become the Jews). After rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, and many more religious and ethical guidelines in the Torah ("the Law"). Many of the guidelines (mitzvah) emphasized ritual purity and the importance of remaining set apart from the surrounding polytheistic cultures.
Aside from its staunch monotheism, Judaism has few essential beliefs. Jewish identity arises primarily from belonging to an ancient people and upholding its traditions. Dogma, while important, is secondary. Although the medieval thinker Rabbi Maimonides once enumerated "13 Articles of Faith," many Jews do not accept all these, and Jewish beliefs vary widely on theological matters such as human nature and the afterlife.
Divisions within Judaism, known as "movements," have developed in modern times as varying responses to secularism and modernity. Orthodox Judaism is the most conservative group, retaining nearly all traditional rituals and practices. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Reform Jews retain their Jewish identity and some traditions but take a liberal approach to many Jewish beliefs and practices. Conservative Judaism lies in the middle of the spectrum, taking a moderate approach in its application of Judaism to the modern world.
Jews of all movements celebrate many special days throughout the year and throughout each person's life. Major religious holidays include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Hanukkah, historically a minor holiday, has become more prominent in the last century for Jews who live in areas that celebrate Christmas. The Sabbath, a day of rest and worship at the synagogue, is observed each Saturday. In Judaism, all days begin at sunset, so all holidays begin at sundown and end the next sundown.
To recognize the role of God and the Jewish community in each person's life, numerous life cycle events are observed with traditional rituals. At the first Sabbath after the birth of a child, the proud father is called forward in the synagogue to recite blessings for mother and child. Eight days after birth, baby boys are circumcised.
Jewish Beliefs about the Messiah
Many of the world's religions have hope in a future heroic figure who will rescue the righteous, judge the wicked, and restore peace to the world (Krishna in Hinduism, Maitreya in Buddhism and the Second Coming of Christ in Christianity). In Judaism, this figure is the Messiah.
Comment: The Jews refuse to believe Christ is the Messiah because Scripture describes how Elias will return before the coming of the Messiah. What they don’t know is that Elias returned as John the Baptist (Mt 17:12-13). Consider, if there were no pictures how were they to recognize Elias? It was the spirit of Elias that filled John and made him prepare the way for the Messiah! But since this was described in the New Testament the Jews discount its authenticity.
Olam Ha-Ba: Jewish Beliefs about the Afterlife
Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death, which may seem surprising to non-Jews since the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam, both of which have their foundations in Judaism, elaborate rather fully about the afterlife.
The Rastafari are an African-based spiritual way of life that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930–1974), some as Jesus in his Second Advent, or as God the Father.
Rastafari developed in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1920s and 30s. In an environment of great poverty, depression, racism and class discrimination, the Rasta message of black pride, freedom from oppression, and the hope of return to the African homeland was gratefully received. The movement began with the teachings of Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), a black Jamaican who led a “Back to Africa” movement. He taught that Africans are the true Israelites and have been exiled to Jamaica and other parts of the world as divine punishment.
The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title (Ras) and first name (Tafari Makonnen) of Haile Selassie I before the coronation. In Amharic, Ras (literally "Head", an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and Tafari or "Teferi", which in Amharic means a man who is to be feared, or a hero. 'Jah' the Poetical and Biblical name for God, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible. Most see Haile Selassie I as Jah or Jah Rastafari, who is the second coming of Jesus Christ onto the earth, but to others he is simply God's chosen king on earth.
Rastafari holds to many Jewish and Christian beliefs and accepts the existence of a single god, called Jah, who has sent His Son to Earth in the form of Jesus and Selassie. Rastafari accept much of the Bible, although they believe that its message has possibly been corrupted. (Sometimes on purpose, other times by mistranslations) The Rastafari way of life encompasses themes such as the spiritual use of cannabis and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression, and sensual pleasures, called Babylon. It proclaims Zion, as reference to Ethiopia, the original birthplace of humankind, and from the beginning of the way of life calls for repatriation to Zion, the Promised Land and Heaven on Earth.
Rastafari is an ideology. Many Rastafari say that it is not a "religion" at all, but a "Way of Life". Many Rastafari do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves, although some do identify strongly with one of the "Mansions of Rastafari"—the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
By the late twentieth century, awareness of the Rastafari movement had spread throughout much of the world, largely through interest generated by reggae music, especially the major international success of Jamaican singer/songwriters Peter Tosh (1944-1987) and Bob Marley (1945–1981). By 1997 there were, according to one estimate, around one million Rastafari faithful worldwide. In the 2001 Jamaican census, 24,020 individuals (less than 1 percent of the population) identified themselves as Rastafari. Other sources estimated that in the 2000s they formed "about 5 percent of the population" of Jamaica, or conjectured that "there are perhaps as many as 100,000 Rastafarians in Jamaica".
Comment: Believing the Bible has been corrupted implies God is unable to provide His message down through the centuries. Keeping Scripture as written ensures salvation is available to everyone, whether they were born in 200 AD or 2000 AD.
I believe Jesus when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
I believe the apostle Paul when he says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8).
The Judea-Christian Bible contains fulfilled prophecy, statements of fact concerning science that was far beyond the knowledge of that day and a philosophy of love and kindness. These are features I consider decisive.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matt 7:12
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31
If these philosophical ideas were accepted and pursued how wonderful this world could be!
The actions of Christ are enough to convince me he is Lord. I believe Him when He says:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12
There is only one God and the only way to assure you will spend eternity with Him is to go through Jesus Christ. Jesus asks us to do many things to overcome our propensity for sin, things which are not grievous to us but reasonable service. Everyone is invited as the kingdom is open to anyone who calls upon the Lord!
the Holy Scriptures as delivered.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Josh 24:15
CONTACT AUTHOR: BRAD COOK