July 7, 2012

Counterfeit Religions I: An Introduction to Comparative Religion

This short new series will be a series on comparative religion called Counterfeit Religions and it will also include a short run down of the data of other religions outside of Christianity. As I have always argued for the Christian viewpoint on this website this series will be no different. I posit that Christianity (outright) has the only legitimate absolute truth claim. All other claims by all other worldviews in relation to God are counterfeit. Perhaps at some point in the near future I will explain  why they are counterfeit for all prominant worldviews but for now I will give links to the two that I have already written on and why they are logically and internally inconsistant: Buddhism in my post Where Buddhim's Road Diverges: Eyes Upward or Eye's Inward? and Islam in the post Where Islam's Road Diverges. Most will see the discrepancies in their faith. I am merely presenting these religions as false or counterfeit religions and providing fast facts about them so readers do not go away uneducated and ignorant of faiths that compete head-to-head with Christianity for souls. The problem is that all these other counterfeit religions condemn people to damnation and an ever deepening downward spiritual spiral of deception, deceit and death.

So What Is Comparative Religion?

The discipline of Comparative Religion is the historical, critical and comparative study of religions of the world. First there needs to be a motive for comparative study or the endeavor is pointless. This could initially be nothing more than curiosity. In some cases it could be a jadedness or dissatisfaction with the religion that one adheres to or an aversion to all religions in general and a desire to see what is so disagreeable about them. There must also be material to compare that should be first-hand (at worst second-hand) information about the religions religious beliefs and practices of persons or peoples not belonging to one's dominate aboriginal tradition (Sharpe 3). Most all have sacred text. Christianity: The Bible, Judaism: The Hebrew Bible, Islam: The Qur'an. This is a point of commonality and a point of comparison at least for these monotheistic religions. These texts shape and form standardized behaviors or what we would call traditions.  The third thing that needs to be present to compare religions is methods or methodology. This has to be an agreed upon method by all involved or benchmarks and standards of assessment and comparison become subject to variation and possibility of extreme bias. I guess this is what they call the Law of Identity or Identification in logic. If we cannot agree on the term(s), the outcome even if it’s the same will be hard to identify and hard to agree on.

This of course is where the root of conflict would be if trying to honestly assess similarities and differences between religions. At its core the concept of comparative religions is the study of all religions in a systematic or controlled way in terms of doctrines, core beliefs, and practices. The study is primarily concerned with the philosophical underpinnings such as ethics, morals, supernatural (where applicable) and form or nature of salvation (if there is any). Some other aspects that are comparable are origins, dates, how they developed, interaction with the culture in which they reside and the inter-relational aspects towards other religions and people of other cultural hearths and /or worldviews. To actually be able to describe what comparative religions is means we first must be able to understand or articulate what religion is. This in itself is a hard task as I found out attempting to answer the question for another assignment in my class: What is religion? To come up with a definition that is inclusive of all the various religions is in itself...a form of comparative religion, and not a very easy one. So we're dealing with a complex, subtle, and multi-dimensional reality, which is good to keep in mind from the beginning.

Comparing religious practice we can see a variety of repetitive rituals that occur on a daily, weekly, or annual basis. We'll see a lot of commonality between diverse religions. We see a great deal of commonality in the way these particular rituals activities are carried out. We'll see some striking parallels to some of the annual celebrations like Yom Kippur, where they have atonement in Judaism, or the Muslim fast in Ramadan. We obviously see the comparisons of Yom Kippur to the atonement of Christ in Christianity. This is because the Christian belief sees the idea behind Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) pointing to once and for all to Christ (Hebrews 9). In comparing religions we also look at historical and comparative perspective, with analysis of belief systems, moral code and symbolic rituals that often hide a deeper more transcendent significance to the believer or adherent of a given religion. To aid us in this comparison, we have resources (often extensive) and interpretations that those of antiquity or even the last few centuries did not have. In most cases many of us are free to pursue these comparisons free of persecution.

Sharpe, Eric John. Comparative Religion: A History. 2nd ed. London: Duckworth, 1994. Print.


Colesha Jackson said...

I am so glad someone is addressing the various religions that are not biblical.

Andy Pierson said...

I am doing the best I can with the tools the good Lord gave me Colesha. Thank you for your encouragement, it drives me forward in His Spirit. Thank You. Andy

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