Questions About Other Religions

Has anyone ever asked you about other religions?

Maybe they asked if devoted followers of other religions will go to heaven. It is easy to see the beliefs that religious people have in common regardless of their faith background. They are typically all moral people. They are probably kind and generous. They probably do not lie, cheat, or steal.

So what are the differences? If the results are the same, does it really matter what someone believes about God or spirituality?

Let’s explore a few major world faith systems. It should also be said that each of these religions has sects with a variety of differing beliefs. However, we will only briefly look at some of the core beliefs of each.


Hindus worship 300,000 different gods and goddesses. These various gods all converge into a universal spirit called the Ultimate Reality or Brahman. Brahman is not a god, but more of a term for ultimate oneness. Hindus believe their position in life is based on their actions in a previous life. If their behavior was evil, they might experience tremendous hardships in this life. A Hindu’s goal is to become free from the law of karma … to be free from continuous reincarnations. There are three possible ways to end this cycle of karma:

  1. Be lovingly devoted to any of the Hindu gods or goddesses.
  2. Grow in knowledge through the meditation of Brahman (oneness) to realize that circumstances in life are not real, that selfhood is an illusion, and only Brahman is real.
  3. Be dedicated to various religious ceremonies and rites.

New Age

New Age promotes the development of the person’s own power or divinity. When referring to a god, a follower of the New Age is not talking about the almighty, personal God who created the universe. Rather, a New Age god refers to a higher consciousness within that person.

A person in New Age would see themselves as a god, the cosmos, or the universe. In fact, everything that the person sees, hears, feels, or imagines is to be considered divine.

New Age presents itself as a collection of ancient spiritual traditions. It acknowledges many gods and goddesses, as in Hinduism. The earth is viewed as the source of all spirituality and has its own intelligence, emotions, and deity. Self is the creator, controller, and god of all. There is no reality outside of what the person determines.

They teach techniques such as meditating, breathing exercises, chanting, and drumming – all to develop an altered consciousness and one’s own identity.


Buddhists do not worship any gods or God. People outside of Buddhism often think that Buddhists worship the Buddha. However, Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) never claimed to be divine and Buddhists reject the notion of any supernatural power.

Buddhists see the universe as operating by natural laws. Life is seen as consisting of pain—in birth, sickness, death, and continuous sorrow and despair. Most Buddhists believe a person has hundreds or thousands of reincarnations, all bringing misery. It is the desire for happiness that causes a person’s reincarnation.

Therefore, the goal of a Buddhist is to purify one’s heart and to let go of all desires. A person must abandon all sensuous pleasures, all evil, all joy, and all sorrow. To do so, Buddhists are to follow a list of religious principles and intense meditation.

When a Buddhist meditates, it is not the same as praying to or focusing on a god, but is more of a self-discipline. Through dedicated meditation, a person may reach Nirvana, the blowing out of the flame of desire, the highest state of inner peace.

Christians believe in a God who is loving and approachable.


A follower of Islam is called a Muslim. Muslims believe there is one almighty god, named Allah, who is infinitely superior and distant from humankind.

Allah is viewed as the creator of the universe and the source of all good and all evil. Everything that happens is Allah’s will. He is a powerful and strict judge, far too great to be approached by people. It is impossible for individuals to have a relationship with Allah or know much about him.

Though Islam honors several prophets, Muhammad is considered the last or most recent prophet; therefore, Muhammad’s words and lifestyle are the Muslim’s authority. To be a Muslim, one must follow five religious duties, called the Five Pillars of Islam:

  1. Repeat a creed about Allah and Muhammad.
  2. Recite certain prayers in Arabic five times a day while facing Mecca.
  3. Give to the needy.
  4. Observe Ramadan, during which, one month each year, from sunrise to sunset fast from food, drink, sex, and smoking.
  5. Pilgrimage once in one’s lifetime to worship at a shrine in Mecca.

At death, based on one’s faithfulness to these duties, a Muslim hopes to enter Paradise, a place of sensual pleasure. If not, they will be eternally punished in hell.


Christians believe in a God of justice and love who has revealed Himself and can be personally known in this life. In Christianity, the believer’s focus is not on religious rituals or performing good works, but on enjoying a loving relationship with God and growing in knowledge of Him.

Faith in Jesus Christ Himself, not just in His teachings, is how the Christian experiences joy and meaningful life. In His life on earth, Jesus did not identify Himself as a prophet pointing to God or as a teacher of enlightenment. Rather, Jesus claimed to be God in human form.

Jesus performed miracles, forgave people of their sins, and said that anyone who believed in Him would have eternal life. He made claims such as, “I am the light of the world! Follow Me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life” (John 8:12).

Christians regard the Bible as God’s written message to humankind. In addition to being a historical record of Jesus’ life and teaching, the Bible reveals God’s identity and character as He interacts with people through history, specifically His chosen people, the Jews.

What Is the Difference?

In looking at these major belief systems and their views of God, we find tremendous diversity:

  • Hindus believe in 300,000 gods.
  • Buddhists say there is no deity.
  • New Age followers believe they are gods.
  • Muslims believe in a powerful but detached god.
  • Christians believe in a God who is loving and approachable.

Obviously, it is not logical to say that all these claims are equally true because different religions claim things that contradict the claims of the other religions. Christianity speaks of a God who brings us into a relationship with Him and comes alongside us as Comforter, Counselor, and All-Powerful God Who loves us.

Why Does It Matter?

Religions are more than just a moral code for how to live your life. If a person believes that is all they are, then it may be true that it would not matter which one you follow. However, that is not what most religions claim to be.

Each religion offers an understanding of ultimate reality and truth; none of them agree on this point. In the Bible, we see that God offers an invitation to humanity. He invites us to follow Him. Of course, many do not believe and decide to follow a different source of truth other than the God of the Bible. This is the story from the very beginning of the Bible’s narrative and continues on throughout all of scripture. This should not be a surprise to us.

We can respond, however, by following the example of God’s heart for all people (Genesis 12:3, Acts 1:8) and extending the invitation to anyone, even those from other religions. We do not have to be offended or offensive if people choose not to agree. We can take the initiative with people and trust God with the results.

This was a brief look at how some religions of the world compare to Christianity, but of course, much more could be said. You can explore Cru’s website for more on this topic and much more.

Next Step
Choose a religion that interests you the most, or that some of your students are connected to and do some more research. Visit a worship service or interview a religious leader. Seek to understand and look for ways to love with the love of Jesus.


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