Belief Comparisons of the World's Major Religions

Compiled by Rev. Meredith J. Sprunger

Table 1

Religion
(Date of origin)

Dominant Values
Explanation for Evil
Salvation
Afterlife

Buddhism

(Sixth Century, B.C.)

Introduction to Buddhism

Right knowledge, aspiration, speech, behavior, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, contemplation, control of one's mind, kindness Insatiable desires are the cause of evil and suffering Nonattachment to the world; Follow the eight-fold path; Self-effort; Salvation is through reincarnation and working with the laws of karma; Mahayana Buddhism has deities which function as saviors. Nirvana is the highest destiny of the human spirit--a state of indescribable bliss. In Mahayana Buddhism there are afterlife states referred to as heavens and hells.

Christianity

(First Century, A.D.)

Introduction to Christianity

Love of God and man; Ten commandments; Service, truth, beauty, goodness, justice, humility, learning. Satan; Fall of man; Imperfection of creation; egocentricity; alienation from God. Evangelicals: Salvation comes from faith in blood atonement of Jesus; Mainline: Faith in Jesus as mediator-Savior. Judgment: heaven and hell; Modern: Growth and service in heaven; fading of belief in an eternal hell.

Confucianism

(Fifth Century, B.C.)

Introduction to Confucianism

Balance authority and obedience with goodness and love; Respect, courtesy and peace. Man basically good; Lack of filial piety is the root of evil in society. Following social propriety and offering sacrifices. In later stages some groups offered sacrifices to Confucius. Not other-worldly; Accept vague ideas of heaven and hell; Humanistic values relative to the present life.

Hinduism

(Second millennium, B.C.)

Introduction to Hinduism

Diverse and tolerant; Hereditary caste system, truthfulness, honesty, nonirritability, self-control. Pleasure, wealth and worldly success are illusions, the pursuit of which result in evil. Path of renunciation; Commitment to Atman-Brahman; Growth toward perfection by reincarnation Nirvana; Extinction of personality in Brahman or totally indescribable state

Islam

(Sixth Century, A.D.)

Introduction to Islam

Five Pillars: creed, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage; Predestination; Specific rules of conduct. Satan; Not submitting to the will of Allah; Allah beyond human questioning; Accept life as is. Submission to the will of Allah; Living by the Five Pillars Judgment: heaven and hell; Sensual description of afterlife.

Jainism

(Sixth Century, B.C.)

Introduction to Jainism

Nonresistance, nonattachment, trughfulness, honesty, renounciation of sexual pleasure, monastic ideals Attachment to the evil material body Liberating soul from matter through law of karma and reincarnation; this is possible only by individual effort. Nirvana; Extinction of personality or totally indescribable state

Judaism

(Second millennium, B.C.)

Introduction to Judaism

Ten commandments; justice, righteousness, truth, loving-kindness, humility, learning, kosher food. Satan; Unfaithfulness to the will of God; choosing egocentric self, false gods, or evil. Early: Animal sacrifice; Later: Faith and righteous living; Messianic deliverance. Not other-worldly; Early: She'ol--land of the dead; Later: Judgment, heaven and hell.

Shinto

(Seventh Century, B.C.)

Introduction to Shinto

Personal cleanliness; Sense of communal guilt; Bushido: honor, loyalty, courage, truth, justice Man and nature essentially good; Suicide encouraged to avoid dishonor, defeat or to protest. Salvation comes from being a part of the chosen Japanese people and living with honor and purity. Shinto largely adopted Mahayana Buddhist beliefs of heaven and hell.

Sikhism

(16th century A.D.)

Introduction to Sikhism

Pure motives and actions; Love of spouse and family; service, humility, learning; forsaking evil company The illusion that matter is real is the source of evil; Man is helpless and is dependent on divine action Become one with God; Salvation results from worship of the true name; faith, love and devotion are essential. Nirvana; extinguishing absorption of individuality in God. There is also mention of heaven and hell.

Taoism

(Sixth Century, B.C.)

Introduction to Taoism

Recompense injury with kindness; quiet humility; simplicity in living; attain fullness of life. Egocentricity is the source of evil and suffering; Man's way vs. God's way; Worldly things are worthless. Oneness with Tao; Pomp and glory are to be despised. Early: All goes back to Tao; Later: Heavens and hells.

Zoroastrianism

(Sixth Century, B.C.)

Introduction to Zoroastrianism

Good thoughts, words and deeds; Being truthful, compassionate, just; Learning, service Angra mainyu or Satan; Man born sinless--chooses between good and evil. Choosing good over evil; Living a righteous life. Judgment: heaven and hell; Ultimate triumph of good and eradication of evil.

 

Table 2

Religion

Dominant Emphasis
Scripture and Revelation
Founder and Origin
Ultimate Reality--God

Buddhism

Introduction to Buddhism

Ethical self-culture; Four Noble Truths; Eight-fold Path to Enlightenment Tripitaka Siddhartha Gautama

No personal God; no soul;

Buddha Deified

Christianity

Introduction to Christianity

Jesus as Lord; Fatherhood of God; Brotherhood of man; Kingdom of God; Church Bible; Roman Catholics also accept church tradition as authoritative Jesus of Nazareth; Paul: Expediter of church development. God as Heavenly Father

Confucianism

Introduction to Confucianism

Social propriety; The Middle Way ( li ) The Five Classics and Four Books are used as touchstones of conduct and wisdom. Kung-Confucius

Early: Shang Ti

Later: Confucius deified

Today: Humanistic

 

Hinduism


Introduction to Hinduism

Divine immanence and spiritual growth governed by karma and reincarnation The Vedas, Upanishads, Code of Manu, Bhagavad-Gita Early Aryans from Persia Impersonal Brahman

Islam

Introduction to Islam

Submission to God; Teachings of Muhammed Quran-Koran; Twenty-eight prophets of Allah (Abraham, Moses, Jesus, others.) Muhammed Allah

Jainism

Introduction to Jainism

Asceticism; Ahimsa--noninjury to any living thing Aganas, Siddhantas Mahavira

Various gods; unimportant

Mahavira taught that there is no personal God; Mahavira deified

Judaism

Introduction to Judaism

Ethical monotheism; God is active in social/historical processes Torah-Old Testament; The Talmud (comprised of the Mishnah and Gemara) Semitic Patriarchs; Abraham and Moses El Elyon; Elohim; Jehovah;Yahweh

Shinto

Introduction to Shinto

Nature worship; Emperor worship; Patriotism; Purity Kojiki, Nihongi Sun Goddess Amaterasu; Grandson, Ninigi, first emperor Kami: Izanagi and Izanami (Sun Goddess Amaterasu)

Sikhism

Introduction to Sikhism

Syncretic unity between Hinduism and Islam Granth Guru Nanak God--The True Name

Taoism

Introduction to Taoism

The divine way (Tao); Simplicity in living; Following nature. Tao Te Ching Lao-tzu The Tao--Supreme Being; The Ultimate All-Father; Absolutes which are unknowable.

Zoroastrianism

Introduction to Zoroastrianism

The struggle between good and evil. Avesta Zarathustra Spitama-Zoroaster Ahura Mazda; Seven sources of reality who are both masculine and feminine.