Eastern religions, which include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, are notably different from western religions, which are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. One of the major differences between the two groups of religions is that the God of western is personal while that of eastern is impersonal (Tomka, 2006). For instance, in Hinduism, God is everything, he is the universe and the universe is God, while Christians believe that God is sovereign and separate from the universe, His creation.
Another difference is the religious view of the world and material possessions and how it relates to sin. Eastern thought’s major notion is the idea of maya, Hindu term for material illusion. They believe that material possessions are an illusion, and that sin is due to ignorance about that illusion. The western religions on the other hand teach that the world and material possessions are a reality. The western religions also believe that sin is not mere obliviousness about the world’s illusion, but adeliberate rebellion against God.
The law of karma is a familiar belief among many Eastern religions. They believe that good karma, which refers to good works, is the only way one can be delivered from the reincarnation cycle, while bad karma results in reincarnating in a lower form than their present life.Western religions believe that salvation is through works and grace over karma. For instance, in Christianity, deeds are not considered as very important in determining salvation (Tomka, 2006). The bible states,“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NIV). Although ones deeds are important, they are not a salvation determinant, they come after salvation has already been received. Deeds are a sign that one is indeed saved.
The two groups of religions also differ in their belief in the transmigration of souls. The eastern religions believe in reincarnation where individuals get a chance to redeem themselves while the western religions do not believe in second life or second chances (Tomka, 2006). Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism believe in continuity of life where a person comes back to life and has another chance to chose how they want to live while Judaism, Christianity, and Islam teachings state that once a person dies, there is eternal judgment. For example, Scriptures teach that every individual is unique and after he/she dies, he/she will be answerable to God during judgment time (Hebrews 9:27, NIV).
Other differences include:
|Creation of the universe||Universe was created by god|
|Universe exists in endless cycle|
|Sabbath day||All day, any day|
|Cause of human suffering||Disobedience of God’s will||Soul’s ignorance|
|Scripture has limited/no authority|
|Individual freedom to choose God(s)/no-God|
|There is a judgment day||No judgment day|
|Number of lives||One life||Reincarnation, many lives|
|There is eternal hell/heaven|
|No eternal hell/heaven|
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