Similarities in theistic religions

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by christianyouth, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. christianyouth

    christianyouth
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    Hey Guys,

    I'm wondering how someone could handle the idea of similarities in theistic religions. You know, the idea that Islam believes in an omnipotent God, that they have doctrines that can be shown to be similar to us. Or what about Jews? Simone the righteous said that the three main duties of the Jewish life were Worship, Deeds of loving kindness, and study. That is very much like us Christians! Or the idea that all religions have the basic tenet that we need to live in a way according to God's law and love our neighbors. In Buddhism, recognizing that all people are of the same essence as you, and that we are all 'one', and the major implications that follow from that. In Christianity, recognizing that we all share the image of God. There can be numerous similarities drawn between religions. How do we account for these in a biblical way?

    How do we account for religious experience outside of the Christian faith, that could be called 'supernatural' experiences?

    Many times skeptics use the similarities in religions to posit some evolutionary explanation for religion. How can we give a biblical explanation for the similarities in religions? Does the Bible give us the leeway to allow for similarities in different religions?

    We have some very smart people here on this board who know the scriptures, and I look forward to hearing your answers. :)
     
  2. canadyjd

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    Satan imitates God in order to lead people astray.

    A little leven, levens the whole lump.

    There is only one true way of salvation. That is through Jesus Christ, according to His Word and by the Power of His Spirit.

    No other religion posesses that essential element.

    Everything else is a poor imitation that does not bring salvation.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  3. donnA

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    When things are similar, they are automatically different, similar admits differenances.
    Satan.
    Satan seeks to immitate God and His works, as we saw in the story of Moses. But he can not immitate the good, and love of God.

    this would be why we can not allow for similarities, if we look for similarities, a common ground, soon we are allowing more differences because of the similarities.
    This is compromise.

    This is what I would say about similarities.
     
  4. OldRegular

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    Where did you get the idea that Buddhism is a theistic religion? It is at best pantheistic, at worst atheistic. Also Islam borders on deism not theism.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    The primary assumption of the secular world is an acceptance as fact of the theory of evolution. A second assumption is that of “development” of culture through stages from primitive or lower forms, to higher, advanced societies. Religion is just another facet of developing culture

    The evolutionary approach sequences these stages according to a developmental pattern. Even if this approach is not accepted, the actual classes described do exist.

    1. Mana/Fetishism
    Most primitive form, general awareness of spiritual forces

    Mana = spiritual force of Melanesia in primitive culture seeking good (success in crops, health) or evil
    Mana is located in special object such as doll, stick, bone, rock, meteor (Ephesus). This is a fetish.
    All responsibility rests with man.
    [Primitive Society]

    2. Magic
    Manipulating spiritual forces in order to bring about a desired effect.
    Correct technique is mandatory for result; ritual, chant, spell are carefully formulated
    [Wicca, Paganism]

    3. Animism
    Visualizing these forces as personal spirits, with distinct identities like people possess.
    “Anima” is Latin for “soul”

    Finite Spirits:
    Nature spirits – human form but inhabit trees, rocks, rivers
    Household spirits – inhabiting homes, villages
    Ancestor spirits – departed family members, retaining status
    These spirits are not all powerful. Knowledge is limited and they must be informed (they detest being surprised). They have limited domains (weather, field, and village)
    They may be able to help if humans can use “divination” to find their will. Must keep spirits happy, showing respect and deference. This leads to ritual, offerings and prayers.
    Live in harmony with spirits and all will be well. A “Shaman” is able to gather the energy of these spirits.
    Formal religion is concerned with ultimate issues (sin, salvation). Animism offers power to cope with immediate, everyday needs
    [Tribal religions of Africa, America. Shinto.]

    4. Pantheism
    Furtive “wordsmithing” that indicates personality (from a proper concept of theism) into an impersonal philosophy that includes all beliefs.
    The universe is everything and everything is the universe.
    [Confucianism]

    5. Polytheism
    Change from worship of finite spirits to gods. Difference is quantitative, since gods are vastly superior to spirits. People make this choice of transformation – of promoting a spirit to god-level or worshiping an abstract principle
    Poly = many and Theism = god

    Simple society – can’t live without fertility, so develop ba’al. Need help in the kitchen? Spirit of cooking turned into a god.
    Complex society – abstract ideals turn into a pantheon of gods. Liberty, Wisdom, Love, Justice (Greek, Hindu)
    Need to worship = acknowledge divine beings as superior, submitting to them, and entreating their favor.
    Magic is good (all lower forms okay) but gods have their own will (as Odysseus learned.)
    Biblical use of gods, lords = demonic forces

    Acts 17:18
    Deuteronomy 32:17
    Numbers 21:29
    Isaiah 19:1
    Isaiah 13:21


    “sed’im” = lords
    “elelim” = idols
    “se’irim” = satyrs

    [Satanism, Demonism, religions of Greece, Rome, Egypt]

    6. Monism
    There is no absolute truth about anything. Cannot differentiate between aspects of ultimate reality (truth or non-truth). It is all an impersonal oneness.
    Man is caught in an illusion of separateness, needs “enlightenment” to see self as one with the world
    [Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism]

    7. Competing Dualism
    There are two opposing gods seeking man’s cooperation in the fight against each other. Man must choose wisely to join the good side or force.
    [Zoroastrianism]

    8. Balancing Dualism
    There are two opposing but interacting and balancing forces in the universe.
    Nature must be lived in balance and harmony
    Yin and Yang
    [Taoism]

    9. Henotheism
    Recognize the existence of many gods, but choose to worship only one.
    Geographic, family, individual devotion (cult of Mary in Catholicism, Hindu pantheon)
    The Assyrian “Rab-shakeh” (field commander) taunts the Jews, saying that his gods are higher than those of the Jews.
    [Catholicism, most Christian “cults”]

    10. Monotheism
    Highest form of external worship

    One God – first believed by Jew, then Moslem and Christian.
    He is Creator and author of absolute moral directives, and alone is worthy of our worship
    He alone is to be worshiped BUT Son, Spirit, Mother, spirits, angels, saints, - all seem to sway monotheism back toward polytheism. People may worship God but communicate through one of these lesser intermediates.
    [Judaism, Christianity, Islam]

    11. Beyond Gods?
    Early evolutionists were Christian and stopped with Monotheism. Now belief moves toward “beyond the need for a god” altogether.
    Personal insights, secular humanism that dispenses with all forms of traditional religion and supernatural elements (John Dewey)
    No end in sight for man’s evolutionary progress!
    [New Age]
     
  6. Allan

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    I always point out that a lie can easily be swallowed if you add a little truth.
    So what seperates these from Christianity?

    I break it down to a very simple thing:
    Every religion in the world except Christianity has one prime thing in common. You must do something in order to merit or earn your salvation. All of them - bar none.

    Christianity is the only one where-by God has already done everything that would have been required of you. All God has told us to do is believe His truth and in Him.



    It is this which allows us to discuss all the things pertaining to salvation. Our sins, it's penalty, His grace and mercy, Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. All other views have men hoping they are good enough but never really sure that when they die they even have a good chance of getting in. We know the truth is that when we trust in our works there is no hope at all for us.
     
  7. Gold Dragon

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    I don't know if anyone has really addressed your questions yet but I'll give it a stab.

    I think one of the reasons theistic religions have similarities is because God has made man in his image (Gen 1:27) and revealed himself to man through nature (Romans 1:18-20). So there is an inherent part of man that seeks to know God and understand him. I think everyone here will agree that non-Christian religions including atheism and believers that man is god, are wrong in their attempts to know God. But I think God has created us and creation in a way so that we want to know him.

    I think another reason there are similarities between religions is because they influence each other. Many religions were strongly influenced by Judaism including Islam, Bahai and Zoroastrianism. The eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto etc all influenced each other and probably had some minor influences from Judaism as well.

    Of course Christianity was strongly influenced by Judaism because the first Christians were all Jews and God's plan of salvation for all man came through the Jews.

    I think it is fair to say that for Satan to deceive people and draw them away from God, he needs to use something that is plausible and identifies with the part of us that was created by God that reaches out to him.

    Some attribute it to Satan and demons. Some attribute it to the power of the human mind to experience things that are not there. Maybe it is God working and people just misinterpret it.

    I don't know the answers to this but I would not easily dismiss supernatural experiences of any sort even though I am trained in the sciences to rely on evidence and the scientific method and be skeptical of the supernatural.
     
    #7 Gold Dragon, Oct 27, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2008
  8. John of Japan

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    "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). Everything that looks good in any other religion, every charity, every educational system, everything similar to Biblical Christianity, originally came from Christ. Even the writing system in most countries was introduced by missionaries who translated the Bible. The heathen religions you have mentioned are all bankrupt of social progress.

    Let me prove that from Japanese history. Before Christians came, this Buddhist/Shinto country had no charities. They had no medical science to speak of (just Chinese herbs) and no hospitals. They had no educational system for anyone but samurai boys, and not much for them but the Confucian classics. Women were oppressed, with prostitution and VDs being rampant. There was a nasty caste system: the Eta, the farmers and peasants, the merchants, the samurai caste. A samurai was allowed to execute a commoner for simply bumping his sword arm in the street. In short, Buddhism did nothing good for Japan whatsoever.

    Then came the Christian missionaries. The first modern clinic was run by missionary doctor James Hepburn. The educational system was founded by Christians to such an extent that Inazo Nitobe, a Christian educator, was honored by having his picture on the 5000 yen bill for many years. The modern agricultural system here in Hokkaido where I live was founded by William Clark, a Christian who led his samurai students to Christ. I could go on and on, but I'll close with the fact that democracy and religous freedom were brought to Japan by General MacArthur--a Christian.

    If you want to study more on this, I recommend What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe. This book describes what I have said about Japan as a world-wide phenomenon.
     
  9. Jim1999

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    Far too many people holiday in the various countries of the world. They spend their time seeing things, historical sites and such. They should, like missionaries, spend more time with the common people and learn of them. Then it becomes like a new pair of contact lenses and a greater vision of humanity. They would then return to their homeland with a new vision and a new hope.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. christianyouth

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    Wow... Thanks for all of the great replies!

    JoJ, it's really interesting to see how Christian missionaries have been lights in those cultures, bringing about social progress. That's a great argument to give to militant secularists who think we need to discard Christian values in order to progress. Very interesting to hear about these ancient eastern religions effects on the people!

    Allan, also very good point. I've heard what you said expressed like this before, "Religion is man making his way to God, Christianity is God making his way to man."

    Dr. Bob, very interesting chart! I disagree with the idea that religion evolved, but it seems like we can see that progression in religion, at least in the world as a whole. So I wonder what would some alternative, Christian explanations would be for that chart, and the 'evolution' of religion? Maybe it could be just like Gold Dragon spoke of, religions interacting with each other.

    Gold Dragon, thanks! Very good points about general revelation and the image of God in us. I think that would account for a lot of things. That's really interesting, I'd like to discuss those two topics more on here sometime. Yes, I also am not quick to discount super natural experiences in other religions. Yet I like what Donna and others have said, Satan is at work in this. When Paul was telling them about offering meat to idols, he said something about offering the meat to demons!

    Great thread. :)
     
  11. John of Japan

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    I recently read a story where a famous French anthropologist said to an African whose tribe was famous for ceremonial religious masks, "I guess the missionaries destroyed your religion, didn't they?" The African pointed to a mask hanging on the Frenchman's wall and said, "No, that did. You showed us that our traditional religion had no power by showing us the masks were useless!"

    Concerning Dr. Bob's post, I'm sure your realize that he was showing the evolutionary view, which he can't really believe, judging from the Scriptures he inclued. The truth is devolution; that is, all false religions devolved from an original concept of the true God. One example of this is that the original Chinese religion was the worship of the monotheistic God named Shang Ti. He appears in the writings of Confucius with the name Tien, meaning Heaven. An excellent book on the remnants of true religion in the countries of the world is Eternity in Their Hearts, by Don Richardson.

    One more note. I truly hope you'll get rid of the Buddhist saying in your signature. Buddhism is such a wicked religion, though I know the propaganda says it's a religion of peace. It is the religion that even more than Shinto, most keeps my beloved Japanese from trusting Christ as Savior.
     
  12. tinytim

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    I was going to write something like this... good post.:thumbs:
     
  13. Marcia

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    Right! :thumbs:

    I'm so with you on this! I was involved in Tibetan and then Zen Buddhism for a number of years before being saved. It is such an "angel of light" religion, especially as it's perceived in the West where they think all Buddhists have some kind of deep inner peace. Most people here have no idea what Buddhism is about.

    Buddhism is so incredibly dark and evil at its core. I heard the Dalai Lama speak twice last year in Ithaca, NY. I also read some of his previous speeches (which are in a book) and prepared for the talk because I then gave a talk on Buddhism 2 nights later and what its true nature is.
     
  14. John of Japan

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    It's late here in Japan, and I need to head to bed, but I just had to add more.

    "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace" (Jer 6:14). That's Buddhism. Japanese Buddhists are so stressed out! This country has a very high percentage of stress related diseases.

    Zen Buddhism in Japan is especially stressful. In Yokohama, a couple of ladies my wife taught English to told her about a young American man who came over to train at a Zen temple. He had to get up at an unearthly time for zazen, seated meditation. The priest would then walk behind the meditators with a bamboo sword and smack anyone who started to nod off. The poor young man had a nervous breakdown and had to be shipped back to the States!
    It really is evil. And the Dalai Lama is all hype. Tibetan Buddhism is one of the worst kinds. My parents were planning to be missionaries to Tibet under the China Inland Mission before I was born, but the Communist takeover stopped them. So I've heard about Tibet since I was a little boy. The culture is harsh and cruel towards foreigners, and anti-Christian. I was told when I was young that there were more missionaries buried on the border of Tibet than Christians in the entire country. Here is an interesting evaluation of the current situation:
    http://www.sim.org/PG.asp?fun=1&pgID=81

    I recently read When Iron Gates Yield, by 1940s missionary to Tibet Geoffrey Bull. He told of visiting a monk who had isolated himself from the world to meditate. The man was so happy to have visitors, even foreigners, that he wept, and was thrilled to get a New Testament. He had no peace, no joy, no forgiveness, no salvation through Buddhism.

    Thailand is one of the strongest Buddhist nations in the world. All the young men there have to do a stint as a monk, I've heard. Yet in spite of their very strict Buddhism (or because of it), they have one of the highest rates of child prostitution in the world, as well as other kinds. Buddhism is a cursed religion.
     
  15. Marcia

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    JoJ, thanks so much for your input on this. You see the despair and damage from Buddhism more than most Americans. Tibetan Buddhism is very occultic - I would even describe some of it as sorcery. I think that's partly due to the animistic roots that got adapted into Buddhism when Buddhism came to Tibet.

    The Dalai Lama has a goal to plant Tibetan Buddhism in as many places as he can, and he has started monasteries in several places in the U.S. These monasteries are attracting westerners with classes, many of whom then become involved in the religion. There is one in Ithaca and it has grown in classes, etc. to such an extent, that they are going to build a new, larger building. This will be the 2nd time they've had to expand into a new building. Yet, people here welcome the DL with open arms as though he is a saint. I can understand this from non-believers, but even Christians seem almost taken in by him.

    Thanks for that link!


    Apparently, in Thailand and in Theravada Buddhism, the only people who can become enlightened are monks, so many become monks at a young age (and only men can be monks there for the most part). This is also how the women in the family can get spiritual merit, so there is a strong motivation to send boys to the monasteries. It's such an evil, crafty bondage!

    You're right about the child prostitution there - what an irony! Yet people here so adore Buddhist monks, as though they have the answers!
     

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