5_religionist_symbolsSome people believe that all religions lead to the same end. Even a high-level examination of five of the world’s major religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism) reveals that this is not the case. Each religion makes claims that are not just missing from other religions, but are actually contradictory to other religions as well. The following five paragraphs (in no particular order) demonstrate some of the claims of these religions:

In Hinduism, perfection revolves around the perception of life. Hinduism teaches that people need to learn to see the world as it really is, not the illusion that it appears to be. It is the knowledge, therefore, that is sought after. Hinduism teaches the concept of karma, where good and bad deeds influence who you are in your next life. Achieving non-existence would break that cycle. Hinduism teaches that there are multiple gods, but it is up to the individual to determine which god(s) to follow – among the most worshipped are Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti.

Buddhism believes that one can reach Nirvana by getting rid of all earthly desires and denying the individual self through a lifetime of training. Buddhism is technically atheistic because there is no concept of god like there is in other religions.

Judaism believes that one achieves salvation through obedience to God’s law as outlined in the Old Testament of the Bible. They stop short of believing the New Testament of Christianity. The Old Testament contains numerous references to a coming savior, but they believe he has yet to come.

Christianity believes that salvation only comes through God’s mercy (as opposed to the works of the individual person in contrast to all of the above religions). Knowing that a sinful man is incapable of following the Mosaic law to the absolute letter, God gave us Jesus, who became the once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice to replace the various temporary sacrifices of the Mosaic law. Believing in Jesus is the ONLY way to God.

Islam teaches that there is a heaven (called Paradise to them) and a hell. They typically believe in parts of the Christian Bible, but also that its message was corrupted over time, and that the prophet Mohammed restored the true message (which does not include the Christian understanding of Jesus being the Son of God, nor the Jewish understanding of the Mosaic Law) in the Koran. The destination of a person depends on their good and bad deeds, including their following of the Five Pillars of Islam, and they will be judged on a future day of judgment. Forgiveness of sins through repentance is possible.

By this time, you might see a dilemma: there are certain attributes in each religion that make them mutually exclusive to each other. Each one demands devotion to a different god (or gods, or lack of gods), appeals for adherence to a different set of rules, and most of them have a different idea of what the ideal ending destination for a person even is. For example, Christianity requires living under a specific God with little room for variation on whom that God is compared to other religions. Islam requires forgoing the concept of Christ as the Son of God, a necessary belief for salvation in Christianity. Thus, we see one religion cannot act as a substitute for another.

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Further resources:

There are many charts online that compare world religions. For this post, I used the handy World Religions comparison chart at the back of the Apologetics Study Bible as well as the Wikipedia articles for each religion. The best sources would probably be among the followers of each religion, though.

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5 major religious symbols adapted from an image of 16 religious symbols by Pass a Method, under the CC-A-SA 3.0 license.