Christianity and World Religions

Christianity and World Religions Christianity compared and contrasted.

Christianity's relationship to Judaism

The Jewish conception of the messiah ("mosiach" in Hebrew) holds certain similarities to that of Christians, yet there are substantial differences. According to Jews, the Hebrew Scriptures contain a small number of prophecies concerning a future descendant of King David, who will be anointed (Hebrew: moshiach) as the Jewish people's new leader and will establish the throne of David in Jerusalem forever. In the Jewish view, this fully human and mortal leader will rebuild the land of Israel and restore the Davidic Kingdom. This subject is covered in the section on Jewish eschatology. Christian understandings of the term "messiah" are based on Jesus' statements about himself in the New Testament, namely: (a) that he was the fulfilment of many Old Testament prophecies, most significantly the 'Servant Songs' in Isaiah, (b) that he came to establish the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven), which was not to be an earthly kingdom, (c) that when asked whether he was the expected messiah, he pointed at the miracles he performed, (d) prophecies he fulfilled, (e) as well as referring to himself by titles that Jews would recognize as belonging properly to the messiah, and (d) by showing himself to be the exemplar of lowliness of mind in his role as heir of the Kingdom of God. (See Judeo-Christian tradition and Comparing and Contrasting Judaism and Christianity)

Islam's relationship to Christianity

Islam shares a number of beliefs with Christianity. They both share similar views on monotheism, judgement, heaven, hell, spirits, angels, and a future resurrection. Christ is acknowledged and respected by Muslims as a great prophet - indeed the only prophet who was without sin - and is ascribed titles such as Messiah and the Spirit of God. Both religions also believe that Christ is next to God - "In the company of those nearest to Allah" in the Quran, metaphorically expressed in the Bible as being at God's "right hand".

The religions both share a belief in Christ's virgin birth, his miracles and healings, and that he ascended into heaven. However Christ is not accepted as the Son of God by Muslims (except in the sense of being someone loved by God). They believe only in God as a single entity, not as the Trinity of many denominations of Christendom. Neither do Muslims accept Christ's crucifixion. Because Muslims believe only in the worship of a strictly monotheistic God, they do not accept the use of icons, seeing this as idolatry. For the same reason, they do not worship or pray to the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam.

Relations with other faiths

The spread of Christianity has been international, in some cases entirely displacing the religions and altering the customs encountered among those people to whom it has come. This centuries-long process has been met with violent opposition at times, and likewise the spread of Christianity has in some cases been carried out with martial force. The relationship of Christianity to other faiths is encumbered to some extent by this history, with modern Christians, particularly in the West, expressing embarrassment over the violence in Christianity's past. While military conquest for the spread of Christianity per se has been disavowed by nearly all sects of Christianity in modern times; there is not nearly the same consensus regarding the morality of the work to make new converts from out of other religions, even without martial force. There is inherent controversy in the acts of Christians seeking converts, and in the reaction of Christians to the proselytizing efforts or the displacing effects of the spread of other religions.

Many Christian organizations continue to believe that they have a duty to make converts among every people, even if it results in the extinction of another religion or folk-culture. In recent years, however, the religious pluralism and ecumenism movement has been endorsed by many official representatives of the Christian churches, as a way of effecting reconciliation between Christian people and people of other faiths. This has led to many cases of reconciliation. In some cases, this endorsement is accompanied by a complete disavowal of all proselytizing efforts. In recent years there has been significant reconciliation between some Christians groups and the Jewish people. The article Christian-Jewish reconciliation deals with this issue in detail.

See also

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