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Major religions' teachings on various issues

Islam in America Tuesday, November 20, 2001


Buddhism Christianity Hinduism Islam Judaism
The nature of God 
No creator/ruler God. Buddha is regarded as a supreme sage or embodiment of enlightenment. All-powerful, omnipresent; a Trinity of three persons in one being: Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. Diverse beliefs in many gods and goddesses but also in Brahman as an ultimate reality. All-powerful, omnipresent, single being. All-powerful, omnipresent, single being.
Jesus Does not figure in theology or history. The Son of God, fully divine and fully human, whose death and resurrection reconciled God and humanity. Does not figure in theology or history. A great prophet but not divine Attracted some Jewish followers but not considered divine or a prophet.
Origin of universe Not part of doctrine; matter is considered an illusion or manifestation of ultimate reality. Created by God. Diverse beliefs, many believe in a creator. Created by God. Created by God
After death The dead are reincarnated to work out negative karma (results of evil deeds) until they are enlightened and achieve bliss in Nirvana. The saved will go to heaven, and the damned to hell. The dead are reincarnated to work out negative karma (results of evil deeds) until they are enlightened and become one with Brahman. The saved will go to heaven, and the damned to hell. The righteous will be rewarded, but emphasis is on virtue in this life.
How one is saved Eliminating desires through compassion, charity and other virtues. Faith in Jesus Christ, good works and taking sacraments (Catholic view) or faith in Jesus, with good works as a natural result (Protestant view).

Virtuous living, worship, pilgrimage and other observances.

Belief in God, following Mohammed's teachings and example. Faith, prayer, obedience to God.
Why do people do evil? Abuse of free will. Abuse of free will, though all sin stems from inherited sinful nature of Adam and Eve. Abuse of free will. Abuse of free will. Abuse of free will.
Why is there suffering in the world? Karma -- reaping the results of past sins. Human sin, Satanic attacks and (some say) God's use of suffering to teach or warn people. Karma -- reaping the results of past sins -- and evil spirits. Attacks by Satan allowed by God to test one's faith and erase one's sins. Sometimes due to wrongdoing or abuse of free will. Considered a mystery, though God suffers with the sufferer and will punish wrongdoers.
Holy books Tipitaka (three-part cannon) Bible (Hebrew scriptures and New Testament) Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, others Quran Bible (Hebrew)

Violence/war*

Holds to ideal of ''ahimsa'' (non-injury) and emphasizes non-violent resistance to evil, but sometimes permits violence in areas such as self-defense. Though it has always had pacifist elements, most major Christian bodies permit violence under circumstances such as self-defense and fighting injustice. Despite past persecution of non-believers, Christianity forbids forced conversions. Like Buddhism, holds to ideal of ''ahimsa'' (non-injury) but sees warfare as justified and even required at times, such as to prevent greater evil. Permits warfare for self-defense and subduing enemies of the faith, but forbids targeting enemy civilians, trees or crops. Also forbids wars of aggression. Justifies, even requires, violence in punishing some crimes, but never in forcing someone to convert. Although its ancient scriptures prescribed wars of conquest, modern Judaism generally permits violence only for self-defense or for the prevention of greater evil.

*All major religions historically have been used at times to condone violence, which is one of hte most hotly debated issues within religions. These summaries attempt to show the consensus of most thinkers within each religion.

SOURCE: http://www.beliefnet.com/


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