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Biblical Apologetics 4 Keith Foskey
Genesis  1: 1 - 1
Biblical Apologetics 4

“Comparing World Religions to the Christian Faith”
Medford Keith Foskey

What is religion?
Religion, as the term will be used in this paper, is a set of beliefs that attempt to answer life’s ultimate questions. Some examples of these questions are: What is ultimate reality? What is the nature of the world? What is the nature of man? What is man’s primary problem? What happens after death? This definition does not necessarily include a belief in God. Secularism and Humanism are examples of ‘religions’ because they attempt to answer life’s ultimate questions without the existence of a supreme being.

The religious world views
There are basically six religious world views: Monotheism, competing dualism, polytheism, balancing dualism, monism and atheism. Each religious group has a unique concept of god(s), view of humanity, view of humanity’s problems, what the solutions should be and what happens after death. Each of these groups is exemplified in literally hundreds of faiths, sects and cults that are being practiced in the world today.

Defining the world views
Monotheism
Monotheism is the concept of one transcendent God that is the single Supreme Being in the universe. The monotheist believes that man is a created being, different from all other created beings. According to the monotheist, the primary problem of man is his separation from God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all monotheistic faiths. The Jew believes that man’s primary problem is his inability to keep the perfect law of God. The Muslim believes the primary problem of man is failing to seek God’s guidance. Christianity says that man’s primary problem is his constant rebellion against God. Each religious group has a solution to its stated problem. Judaism believes that the only way to please God is to live according to His perfect law. The Muslim believes that the seeking of guidance from God is the way to please Him. The Christian believes that he pleases God through faith in His saving work. Amazingly the three groups share close beliefs in the afterlife. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all agree that a person continues in existence in either a version of eternal bliss (heaven) or a version of eternal torment (hell).

Competing Dualism
Competing dualism is the concept that there are two gods that constantly oppose one another. The competing dualist believes that man’s purpose is to join in the battle between good and evil and fight for good. Zoroastrianism is the primary competing dualist sect. Zoroastrianism believes that the major problem facing man is choosing evil over good. The solution to the stated problem is simply to choose to do good over evil. Competing dualism shares the monotheistic view of the afterlife which is a continued existence in either heaven or hell.

Polytheism
Polytheism is the concept that there are many gods. The theory of polytheism is found in many cultures including that of the Greeks and the Romans. Examples of polytheism are Santeria, voodoo, Shinto and most of the “folk” religions. Although each group of polytheists has unique purposes for man, a common bond is shared in the belief that man can be influenced or even possessed by the spirits. The polytheist believes that man’s most serious problem is angering the gods and this problem can only be solved by trying to appease them. The polytheistic view of the afterlife states that a person, depending on his life, has the possibility of advancing to some level in the spirit world.

Balancing Dualism
Balancing dualism is the concept that says there are two opposing, but interacting and balancing forces in the universe. This sect believes that man is simply a microcosm of the two interacting forces. “A microcosm is a small, representative system having analogies to a larger system in constitution, configuration, or development: ‘He sees the auto industry as a microcosm of the U.S. itself’ (William J. Hampton).” (10) The major group of believers in balancing dualism are the followers of Taoism. The Taoists use the yin/yang concept to explain the universe, which basically says there is a constant balance of good and evil, light and dark, black and white that if allowed to stay in harmony would result in perfection. Perfection is lost when the balance is interrupted. The mainline proponents of balancing dualism believe in a higher spiritual plane that can be advanced in the afterlife.

Monism
Monism looks to God not as a supreme being, but as a “personal oneness” to be achieved by all. The monist believes that all men are caught in the illusion of separateness, but are identical in essence to the “oneness”. They believe that man’s biggest problem is his ignorance of his own divinity. The solution to man’s problem is realizing our essence is the same as the “oneness” which is considered personal enlightenment. The afterlife is considered to be either reincarnation or a merge into the “impersonal oneness”. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Sufism and the new age movement are all examples of monistic sects.

Atheism
Atheism is the total rejection of any type of god. Man is not special and is not made in the image of God. Man is simply a complex form of matter. Atheists believe that man’s biggest problem is his superstitious and irrational thinking. The solution to man’s problems is applying rational thinking to his problems. According to the atheist a person ceases to exist at death.

Separating Christianity from the other monotheistic faiths
Islam
The god of the Islamic faith favors the God of the Christian faith in many ways. Both believe that God is One, is a transcendent creator, is sovereign, is omnipotent (all powerful), is omniscient (all knowing) and will judge the wicked. The differences, though they may at first seem small, have staggering ramifications. The god of Islam is a singular unity; The God of the Bible is a compound unity, who is one essence manifest in three persons. The god of Islam is not considered a father and has begotten no sons; the God of the Bible is a tri-unity who has eternally existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The god of Islam came into history through the Qur’an, a religious book; the God of the Bible came into history first through the Holy Scriptures and then through the Person of Christ.
Possibly the biggest and most profound difference between the god of Islam and the God of the Bible is grace. The Qur’an says that Allah [the name of the Islamic God] does not love those who do wrong or who are treacherous and sinful. (16) The God of the Bible says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Qur’an says that Allah desires to afflict some of their sins (16); The God of the Bible does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked and is not willing that anyone should perish (Ezekiel 18:23; 2nd Peter 3:9) The god of the Qur’an uses good deeds as a standard for judgment; the good deeds must outweigh the bad. The standard of the God of the bible is complete perfection. Since man is sinful, he has fallen short of that perfection. The God of the Bible provided a sinless Savior, Jesus, who took all sins upon Himself and through faith in Him a person can become perfectly justified.

Judaism
God, as revealed in the Old Testament of the Bible, called a man named Abraham to be the father of a special group of people called the Jews. The Jews were given revelation from God through the prophets beginning with a man called Moses. Moses was given the “Ten Commandments” from God on the top of Mount Sinai. He also wrote the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah or the Pentateuch. Throughout the Old Testament God promises to send a special person called the Messiah, who will come and rule of Israel forever. The Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed One of God. Most Jews believe that the messiah is yet to come. They deny their own scriptures that testify to the truth about Jesus. (17) The greatest examples of Jesus being the promised Messiah are found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah chapter 53 gives a perfect picture of Jesus Christ suffering for the sin of the world.

Comparing Christian Sects

Mormonism [Latter Day Saints]
View of the Church:
The Mormon faith teaches that the true church ceased to exist until its restoration by Joseph Smith on April 6th, 1830. According to Mormon legend, an Angel called Moroni told Joseph Smith about a box hidden in some hills that contained two golden plates. It supposedly took Smith three years to translate the writings on the plates. The translation became known as the ‘Book of Mormon’. Galatians 1:8 states, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”
View of God:
The Mormon Church teaches that God the Father was once a man who later became a God. They also believe that He still has a body of flesh and bone. One of the ‘Doctrine and Covenants’ of the Mormon church states that, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.” The Bible states that, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) and “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
View of Jesus:
The Mormon Church believes that Jesus is our elder brother who, himself, achieved godhood. They believe, also, that Mary was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, but through physical intercourse with God the Father. The Bible states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14) Mormons also teach that Jesus was married and polygamous. The Mormon “Journal of Discourses” states that “We say it was Jesus Christ who was married at Cana of Galilee”.
View of Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit, according to Mormon Theology, is a spirit in the form of a man.
View of the Scriptures:
The Mormons use multiple books to compile their beliefs, which are: The Bible, The book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants (revelations given to Joseph Smith), The Pearl of Great Price (sayings attributed to Moses and Abraham)
Eccentricities:
The Mormons do not believe in drinking tea, coffee or alcohol. They also do not believe in smoking. They also zealously train their members to win others to the Mormon religion. Mormons actually claim that for every one person who leaves their church for a Christian Church, forty people leave Christian churches for the Mormon Church. “Their zeal is not based on knowledge.” (Romans 10:2) The Mormons also control more than 100 businesses which generate more than four hundred million dollars a year. They own property in every one of the fifty states, and are the nation’s largest private landowner.

Jehovah’s Witnesses
View of the Church:
Charles Taze Russell of Pennsylvania founded the Jehovah’s Witness movement in the 1870’s. The followers of Russell were actually called Russellites until 1931. Russell died in 1916 and was succeeded by Joseph Franklin Rutherford. Rutherford died in 1942 and has had many successors to the presidency: Nathan Knorr (1942-1977), Frederick Franz (1977-1992), and Milton Henschel (1992-present). Throughout the years the Jehovah’s Witnesses have grown to over eight million members.
View of God:
The Jehovah’s Witness believes that God is One and denies the trinity. They are also very strict about referring to God by the name Jehovah.
View of Jesus:
Like many religions, the failure of the Jehovah’s Witness movement concerns mostly their view of Jesus Christ. Though they do believe Jesus was a perfect man, they do not admit to His equality with God. They will argue that He is “a god” but not “the God”. They believe that Christ “was and always will be beneath Jehovah”. The Bible states that, “For in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) They also deny Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Jesus said in Luke 24:39, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
View of Holy Spirit:
The Jehovah’s Witness believes that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force that emanates from the Father.
View of the Scriptures:
Under the presidency of Nathan Knorr, the New World Bible was published. This version, with its many inaccuracies, is used by Jehovah’s Witnesses as their official version and is where they derive most of their heretical teachings, which include many interesting interpretations of the 144,000 witnesses mentioned in Revelation. Another publication of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the ‘Watchtower’ magazine. With 18 million copies per month in more than 100 languages, the ‘Watchtower’ is the most influential way of perpetuating the Jehovah’s Witness teachings.
Eccentricities:
Along with eccentric proselytizing for their movement, Jehovah’s Witnesses have many unusual practices that are upheld by their organization. They do not believe in medical blood transfusions, which have sparked legal debates over the treatment of children who have died because of the parent’s non-consent to the procedure. The Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to salute the flag, vote in elections or sing the “Star Spangled Banner”. No holidays like Christmas or birthdays are ever celebrated. They also refuse to serve in the armed forces.

Christian Scientism
View of the Church:
Mary Baker Eddy founded the church of scientology in 1875. It currently has one million members, 3000 churches, in 56 countries. There are 700,000 members in the United States alone. Mary Baker Eddy was revered by her followers as an active healer, a pioneer thinker and a church reformer. She was honored in 1995 by being elected to the national Women’s Hall of Fame as the only American woman to found a worldwide religion.
View of God:
To the Christian Scientist, God is an impersonal principle of life, truth, intelligence and spirit. They believe that God is not a divine personality, but a divine principle of all that exists.
View of Jesus:
The Christian Scientist believes that Jesus was not God, but merely a man who displayed the principle of Christ. Jesus did not and could not have suffered for sins. Christian Scientists teach that Jesus did not die on the cross and did not literally rise from the dead. They also attack His second coming and virgin birth as ‘spiritual ideals’. Salvation in the Christian Science church comes by realizing that we are just as much a Son of God as Jesus is. There is no sin and a follower is believed to be reincarnated until perfection is reached.
View of Holy Spirit:
Christian Science believes that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal power.
View of the Scriptures:
Along with the Bible, which is not considered inerrant, the Christian Scientist studies the books of Mary Baker Eddy including, “Science and Health” and “Key to the Scriptures”.
Eccentricities:
Christian Science teaches that healing comes from the realization that you cannot become sick or be hurt. They go to ‘practitioners’ and not doctors and do not take medicine or vitamins. They do not believe in immunization. *Important Note: Mary baker Eddy never managed to produce any medical evidence about any of her claimed healings.

Apologetics Source Page

1. Ken Ham, “Did Adam have a belly button?” (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1999)

2. F. Clark Howell, “Early Man” (New York, Time-Life Books, 1968)

3. Dennis Peterson, “Unlocking the mysteries of creation” (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2002)

4. Dr. Derek Ager “The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record” (New York, NY: Halsted Press1981)

5. Josh McDowell “More evidence that demands a verdict” (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1981)

6. Ralph O. Muncaster “Creation vs. Evolution” [video]

7. I.L. Cohen “Darwin was wrong; A study of probabilities” (New York, NY: New Research Publications, Inc. 1984)

8. Sir Fred Hoyle “Hoyle on Evolution” Article in Nature, vol. 294 (1981)

9. Robert Kofahl, “Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter” (San Diego, CA: Beta Books, 1977)

10. William Morris, Ed. “The American Heritage Dictionary” (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1982)

11. Mark Water, “The Bible and Science Made Easy” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publications, 2001)

12. Carl Baugh, Ph. D. “Panorama of Creation” ( Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd. 1992)

13. Ruth Moore, “Evolution” (New York, NY Time-Life Books, 1964)

14. Carl Wieland, “Stones & Bones” (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1990)

15. Josh McDowell, “Answers to tough questions” (Wheaton, IL: Living Books, 1980)

16. Dean Halverson, Ed. “The Illustrated Guide to World Religions” (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2003)

17. Mark Water, “World Religions Made Easy” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publications, 1999)

18. Noah Flood Book

19. Dr. Jobe Martin, “Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution” (Video: Reel Productions)

20. Ray Comfort, “The Evidence Bible” (Gainesville, Fl: Bridges-Logos Publishers, 2003)

21. Ray Comfort, “God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists” (Gainesville, Fl: Bridges-Logos Publishers)

22. Ray Comfort, “Hidden Wealth Series, Scientific Facts in the Bible” (Gainesville, Fl: Bridges-Logos Publishers, 2001)

 
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