A comparison of different religious writings and ways
Many religious people today believe that – all religions are acceptable to God, that they are simply variations of one faith, but that, inevitably they are all serving the same God. The common saying is that “All paths lead to God.” Is that actually true? What do history, the human experience, and the religious writings of the world, tell us about the many faiths around the earth? Are all forms of worship acceptable to God, or does he have certain way of worship, and one specific message? Is religion a human “pick' n 'mix”, according to our preferences, or does God require more of us?
It is interesting to compare the various writings of the religions of history, to see what they tell us about God, and to find out if they actually agree with one another. Do all religious writings say the same thing - are they in agreement? Let us use, as a guide, a list of important questions about life;
There are many religious texts in the world, some still read and translated, others have fallen into obscurity. Although there are variations, the most famous, still revered and followed by millions of people are the following;
The Bible – Hebrew writings, and Christian Greek writings - 1,500 BCE – 90 CE
Shruti and Smriti – Writings of the Hindu faith - 900 BCE
Catholic Apocrypha – Additional writings added to the official canon of the Bible – 200 BCE
Mahayana – Teachings of the Buddha - 100 BCE
Talmud – Oral traditions of Judaism - 200 CE
Koran – Teachings of Mohammed - 600 CE
Book of Mormon – Teachings of Joseph Smith - 19th Century
Now, let us compare the answers from the various religious writings, to the following questions, and see if they all agree;
Who is God?
Where did mankind come from?
Why is there suffering in life
Are all religions acceptable to God?
What does the future hold?
Part 1 - Who is God?
Since the oldest, and most published and read, of the religious writings is the Bible, let us start with that book. Most scholars of the scriptures, Jewish, or Christian, will acknowledge that, where the word “LORD” (in capitals) is used in the Biblical texts, it is a substitute for the original Hebrew word that represents the name of Almighty God. There were four consonants - “YHWH” in that name. The written Hebrew language did not incorporate vowels into it so the reader was required to insert them when pronouncing the words. Due to superstition and a misunderstanding of the commandment not to “take up the name of God in a worthless way”, in the 2nd century BCE, the Jews began to replace the actual name of God with the Hebrew words “Adoni” and “Elohim” meaning “Lord” or “God.“ Many scholars believe the Hebrew pronunciation to be “Yahweh.” The nearest translation into English, which was established when the Bible was first translated into the English language, is - “Jehovah” (see Exodus 6.3). This name, which occurs over 7,000 times in the Bible, and in almost every book of the Bible, was accepted for centuries, up until the twentieth century, when it was gradually eliminated from many (but not all) modern Bibles. The Bible clearly teaches that “Yahweh your God is one” (Deuteronomy 6.4), and we are told explicitly - “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42.8).
In the “Shruti” and “Smriti” – the writings of the Hindu faith, there is not one God, but many. Among the names of the gods are “Vishnu”, and “Brahma.”
In the Catholic Douay version of the Bible, the divine name – the Hebrew Tetragramatton, is obliterated, and no name is given for God, other than “LORD.” The Apocrythal books, which were later added, despite the majority of scholars denying their authenticity as Biblical texts, make no reference to the name of God at all.
The "Mahayanah" – which claim to be the teachings of Buddha, make no mention of God's name. In fact, Buddha's original teachings were not actually a religion, in the strictest sense of the word. Gautama the Buddha had next to nothing to say about God; neither did he ever claim to be God. In fact, it is said that he told his disciples, “If there is a God, it is inconceivable that He would be concerned about my day-to-day affairs,” and “there are no gods who can or will help man.”
While the Jewish oral traditions – the Talmud, were supposedly based on the fundamental teachings of Judaism – contained in the Hebrew Bible, they omit the name of God. Dr A. Marmorstein, a rabbi, wrote in his book “The Old Rabbinic Doctrine of God”: “In their excessive zeal to avoid taking the divine name in vain, they completely suppressed its use in speech and subverted and diluted the identification of the true God. Under the combined pressure of religious opposition and apostasy, the divine name fell into disuse among the Jews.” The authority of the Talmud came to be viewed as superior to the actual Hebrew Bible – the direct revelation by God to Israel, through the prophets.
The writings of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, are contained in the Koran. In a commentary on 27.40 in the Koran, by Tafir Jalalayn, we read - “Asaf, the son of Barkhiya was a righteous man. He knew God’s greatest name, and whenever he called on it, he was answered.” However, the name for God given in the Koran, in Arabic, is “Allah.” Many Muslims today believe this to be God's name. But, the word - “Allah” is not a name, but an Arabic title meaning - “The God.” Unfortunately, because of the religious tensions between Jews and Muslims over the centuries, along with the wars between so-called “Christians” and Islam, many devout Muslims are suspicious and resentful of the Bible, and it's translations of God's name. What has alienated Islam even further from the Bible is Christendom's doctrine of the “Trinity” - the belief that God is three people in one. Although most Muslims have a respect for the Bible, they consider it's present translation to be doctored by Christendom, and they reject many parts of it.
The book of Mormon claims to compliment the teachings of the Bible. Brigham Young in “Journal of Discourses” of July 13, 1862, wrote “The Book of Mormon in no case contradicts the Bible. It has many words like those in the Bible, and as a whole is a strong witness to the Bible.” Although the book of Mormon does contain the name of God – “Jehovah”, it attributes the name to Jesus, making him Almighty God. Again we see the later doctrine of the Trinity (a word not found in the Bible) changing the nature of the God of the Bible.
Part two to follow.