Comparative Religions & Christianity
This article will outline the major religions and their leaders and compare them to Christianity and Jesus Christ. Most of the data is drawn from the booklet, How Is Jesus Different from Other Religious Leaders?, by Ralph O. Muncaster, available on such web sites as Amazon and Alibris. This author has found Mr. Muncaster to be both detailed and accurate in his works.
Mr. Muncaster holds a BS in engineering and an MBA from the University of Colorado. A former atheist and hardcore Bible skeptic, Ralph spent 15 years conducting research to dispute the Bible. To Ralph, it seemed that the Bible could not possibly be consistent with such sciences as anthropology, molecular biology and physics. Armed with an engineering-education and a critical, questioning mind, to his surprise, the more he searched, the more evidence he found that supported the Bible's claims. Mr. Muncaster has taught classes in Christian Apologetics and World Religion in universities including Vanguard University of Southern California where he served as Adjunct Professor. He frequently speaks at churches and organizations on a broad variety of biblical topics.
The whole purpose of the booklet by Mr. Muncaster is to show undeniable data as to why the Bible, Christianity and Jesus Christ are the only true representatives of the one true God of the universe. He primarily investigates all religions through their leaders, as he does Christianity and Jesus Christ. He looks at each leader using five key issues, which are:
1. What is his role?
2. What are his claims?
3. Can the claims be confirmed?
4. Do actions support the claims?
5. Does he have divine confirmation?
Additionally, Mr. Muncaster looks at the claims of each leader within the framework of and the available evidence for specific priorities, which are from lowest to highest:
1. Does he interpret something old?
2. Does he proclaim something new?
3. Does he claim divine insight?
4. Does he claim to be God?
Mr. Muncaster next examines each leader’s claim(s) from the following standpoints:
1. Is the claim special or remarkable?
2. Is the claim verifiable?
3. Is there evidence of divine confirmation for the claim?
4. Do the actions and the ultimate fate of the leader support his or her claim?
In considering confirmation data regarding a religious leader, Mr. Muncaster focused on three very important questions, which are:
In all, Mr. Muncaster amassed enough critical evidence to arrive at the firm conclusion that, as he puts it, “Careful, thorough analysis will reveal, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is the only religious leader who has provided ample evidence and reason to trust all of His words. Examining the evidence for choosing Him is by far the most important act of your life.”
Mr. Muncaster examined Christianity, which this author firmly believes is not a “religion.” It is a relationship or union with a Person, Jesus Christ. But many consider it a “religion” (consisting of about a third of the world’s population) and he listed it along side and compared it to the following:
The following are the facts regarding each of the above.
The founders of Judaism were Abraham (the covenant of promise in Genesis 12, unilateral promise from God that through Abraham the great nation of Israel would be born) and Moses (the establishment of the Law, both moral and ceremonial). Other leaders of Judaism were David and the prophets. Their period of life was from 2000 B.C. to 400 B.C. Its holy writings are the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament of the Bible). Judaism is the foundation of the history-based religions of Christianity and Islam. Judaism came through Abraham’s son Isaac, and Islam came through Abraham’s son Ishmael. It is significant that God chose Abraham to be the father of the great nation of Israel and even more significant that God chose Moses to teach the world about His nature and His law through the nation Israel. Their claims are based on Jewish writings, history, archaeology and Jesus’ testimony. Divine confirmation of their claims rests upon Jewish writings, miracles and 100-percent accuracy of many prophecies. There actions in verifying their claims are that they were faithful, but sinful, died and remained dead. In conclusion, their claims were very important, were backed by archaeology, prophecy and the supporting testimony of Jesus Christ.
The basic doctrines of Judaism are:
The Founder of Christianity was Jesus Christ. The active period of Jesus’ life was from A.D. 30 to A.D. 33. The holy writings of Christianity are all contained in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. The entire account of Jesus Christ, as seen in the New Testament, fits precisely with the Jewish beliefs about a coming Messiah and dovetails 100-percent with all the prophecies concerning the Messiah found in the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ is unlike any other leader of religion in that He claimed to be God. His words, teachings and actions clearly revealed that He was God in human form. Throughout His public life, Jesus showed that His claim to be God was true by (1) performing miracles that “only God could perform” and (2) perfectly fulfilling His own prophecy of His death and resurrection, which was also the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (part of a whole of which Christ fulfilled all). The evidence of Jesus’ claim is found in Jewish writings, history, archaeology and Jesus’ own testimony.
Divine confirmation of Jesus’ claim is found in100-percent fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming Messiah, eyewitness accounts, historical records, miracles and archaeology. His claim of Deity is verified by His life and actions in that He lived a sinless life and 3 days after His death He was resurrected alive from the grave.
In conclusion, Jesus Christ is the most unique founder/leader of any system of belief, past or present, because of His claim to be God incarnate, which is backed by substantial evidence (both divine and otherwise) of every kind. He is also unique in His teaching that all His disciples should (1) love their God totally—Mark 12:30, (2) love their neighbor in the same manner that they love themselves—Mark 12:31, and (3) bring all others to Christ throughout the world—Matthew 28:19, 20. [The point is that Christianity according to Jesus Christ is a doctrine of grace, faith, love and inclusion; never legalism, death and exclusion]
The basic doctrines of Christianity are:
§ God: There is one God. Jesus is the Son—one of the three Persons of the triune Godhead (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit).
§ Mankind: People are sinful by nature.
§ Sin: People are separated from God by sin, and must accept God’s gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf in order to be reconciled with God.
§ Salvation: Eternity is a gift from God, given freely to people who by faith alone in Christ alone (His Person and sacrifice) accept His grace-gift.
The founder of Islam was Muhammad and Islam is the third of the major history-based religions, after Judaism and Christianity. Islam, whose followers are called Muslims, makes up about 20 percent of the world’s population. There are two major groups of Muslims: (1) Sunni Muslims—about 80 percent of Muslims who recognize only written traditions as authoritative, and (2) Shi’ite Muslims who recognize traditions and the authority of certain living people. The groups disagree about Muhammad’s rightful successors. The Arabic word Islam means “submission [to the will of God].” Muhammad lived from A.D. 570 to A.D. 632. At the age of 40 he claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel, who had revealed to him the “one single God—Allah.” This revelation gave him insights that later became the basis of the writings of the Qur’an. Beside the Qur’an, Islam’s other holy writings are the Torah and Psalms (revised) and the Gospels (revised) of the Bible. Later, the Qur’an contained much material from extra-biblical Jewish sources and from heretical “Christian” writings such as the Gospel of Thomas.
Muhammad is considered by Muslins to be the ultimate prophet, above Jesus, Moses and others. Because He was rejected by both Christianity and Judaism, he turned from Jerusalem to Mecca as the most holy city. This raises the question as to how much of Muhammad’s theology was a reaction to Judaism and Christianity, as opposed to revelation from God. Muhammad’s claim was that God chose him to be a prophet greater than Moses and Jesus. This is verified by Islamic writings, some archaeology, history and his disciples. It is suggested that divine confirmation of his claim is found in the “beautiful language” of the Qur’an, which confirmation is of “low significance.” Muhammad’s own actions and deeds and the ability to incite rebellion are somewhat significant to his claim. Muhammad died on June 8, 632 and remained dead. In conclusion, Muhammad made a significant claim, none of which can be backed by clear divine evidence.
The basic doctrines of Islam are:
The founder of Confucianism was Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 B.C. China is the home of several of the largest Eastern religions: Confucianism, Taoism, and their variations, all of which are philosophy-based. Of all these religions, Confucianism claims the most followers. Confucius lived during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., about the time of Buddha. His teachings gained popularity during the decline of Taoism, a ritual-based religion. Confucius taught moral laws, not just rituals. It was often combined with the practice of Buddhism, as it still is today. Its holy writings are The Five Classics.
Confucius was more of a politician than a religious leader. Holding many official positions, he was able to convince many of his contemporaries that his moral-political system was the best way to restructure Chinese society. After his death, some of his followers began to venerate him as divine. Confucius’ claim was to have political insight and wisdom beyond others. His claims are totally of philosophy but cannot be verified. There is no divine confirmation of his claims. His actions as a leader were of a politician that united his country on ethical grounds. Confucius died in 479 B.C. and remained dead. In conclusion, Confucius made no significant claim other than that he had a philosophy of life consisting of political and moral teachings.
The basic doctrines of Confucianism are:
The founder of Hinduism is unknown. Of its leaders, no one has been identified as the founder. The religion centers in India, the world’s second most populous nation, whose population is about 82 percent Hindu. The followers of Hinduism make up about 13 percent of the world’s population. However, it has a far-reaching impact because it forms the basis for the “Christian” mind-science cults (for example, Christian Science); New Age religions and practices (such as transcendental meditation); and other philosophies. Furthermore, Buddhism resulted from Gautama Buddha’s reforms of Hinduism.
Several doctrines are consistent through all Hindu sects, which are:
Hinduism was founded about 1500 B.C. It holy writings are the Vedas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad-Gita. The claims of the original Hindu leaders were that they had philosophical wisdom about the gods and about eternity. There is no direct evidence verifying their claims, and there is no divine evidence of their claims. There is no known history of the lives (actions) of any of these leaders. All of the early Hindu leaders died and remained dead. In conclusion, the doctrine of Hinduism affects many but there is no evidence supporting its inspiration.
The basic doctrines of Hinduism are:
The founder of Buddhism was Gautama Buddha, originally named Siddhartha Gautama, was born in 563 B.C. in part of northern India that is now part of Nepal. Buddhism currently claims about 6 percent of the world’s population. Two of the major sects of Buddhism are Theravada, which is based on the original form of Buddha’s teachings and is prevalent in southern Asia; and Mahayana, which centers in China and Japan. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes the individuality of humans and the necessity of self-effort to achieve salvation, which is limited to the worthy. Mahayana Buddhism stresses social concern and people’s interdependence, accepts many writings as scripture, and teaches that everyone will receive the “grace” necessary for salvation (universal salvation). Its holy writings are the Three Baskets (the Pali Scriptures) and the Mahayana canon (open and containing many holy writings).
Buddha, it was said, was sheltered when young. But after exposure to life, the endurance of six years of self-denial and a time of meditation under a fig tree, he asserted that he had received the enlightenment he was seeking, and he became the “Buddha,” which means “the enlightened one.” His claim therefore was that he became “enlightened” beyond Hindus in his philosophy. But there is nothing that can verify his claim, and there is certainly no evidence of divine origin to it. As for his life (actions), he was apparently genuinely concerned for his people’s welfare. He died about the year 483 B.C. and remained dead. In conclusion, although his claims affect many with teachings about the afterlife, there is no supporting evidence to any divine inspiration.
The basic doctrines of Buddhism are:
Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
The founder of Mormonism was Joseph Smith. Mormonism is one of the largest cults that call themselves “Christian.” Its membership is less than one percent of the world’s population. Joseph Smith was a mystic and a treasure-seeker. He became known as a practitioner of occult-type rituals, which eventually resulted in his imprisonment in 1826. Smith denounced all religions and claimed he had received visions from the angel “Moroni” in 1820 and 1823 that directed him to buried “golden plates.” From the writing on these plates he claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon. These plates have never been seen by anyone else. Other works considered by the Mormons to be holy writings are Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and the King James Version of the Bible.
The Book of Mormon and other Mormon writings have been extensively studied by experts. Among other findings, the historicity of the Book of Mormon has been flatly denied by representatives of the Smithsonian institute; and the “Book of Abraham” in Pearl of Great Price was proven fraudulent by a Mormon expert in Egyptology. The failed prophecies of the Mormon writings have also caused problems for the church. For instance, the Book of Mormon declares that Jesus’ birth was to take place in Jerusalem (Alma 7:9, 10), whereas it actually took place in Bethlehem.
In 1844, Joseph Smith was jailed for trying to stop press exposure of questionable Mormon activities. While he was awaiting trial, a mob broke into the prison and killed him. Mormon doctrine now teaches that Smith is a god who sits on the throne with Jesus and “Elohim” (another god, who was formerly a human), and who will judge human beings along with these other gods. So Smith’s claim was that he was a god equal to Jesus and that he had received a special divine message. There is no verification, either human or divine, to support these claims. And Smith’s life only showed that he was a deceiver who abused the trust of his followers. He died in 1844 and remained dead. In conclusion, Smith’s claim of godhead proved absolutely false under the weight of zero evidence.
The basic doctrines of Mormonism are:
Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
The founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was Charles Russell, who lived from 1852 to 1916 and who founded the organization in the late 1800s. This organization is diametrically opposed to Christianity in that the Deity of Jesus Christ is denied and His role is diminished. They created a new “biblical” theology emphasizing that salvation is dependent upon one’s actions, and it places a high emphasis on prophecy about the “end times.” Its holy writings are the “New World” Version of the Bible (a reworking of the King James Version) and the Watchtower Writings.
Charles Russell began his work in 1870 with a small group of Bible students, who in 1876 elected him “pastor.” Russell later admitted in court that he had lied under oath regarding his knowledge of Greek, his ordination, and various other matters. It was on this foundation that the Watchtower Society was founded in 1896.
The failure of prophecies is a problematic legacy for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The string of false predictions began with Russell’s prediction of Jesus’ “invisible” second coming in 1874, coupled with the end of the world in 1914. When these did not occur, the end of the world date was changed to 1914, then again to 1918, then to 1925. Finally, after many failures, the Watchtower Society seems to have given up on setting dates.
Charles Russell claimed that God chose him and gave him “special” prophetic revelation. None of his claims are verifiable; there is certainly no evidence of divine confirmation. Even some of his followers have rejected his teachings. His life was one of being a recluse, and his ideas were harmful in that they took advantage of his followers. He died in 1916 and remained dead. In conclusion, he was proven to have falsely claimed divine insight. He was not able to establish any credibility outside the Watchtower Society. His record shows that he deceived people and misused their good will for his own benefit.
The basic doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are:
The founder of Christian Science was Mary Baker Eddy, who lived from 1821 to 1910. Christian Science is neither “Christian” nor “science.” It is one of the leading “mind science” religions, all of which have a close relationship to the Gnostic mystery religions of the first few centuries after Christ. All its teachings are fundamentally opposed to biblical Christianity. They teach that only “mind” or “spirit” is real; “matter” is evil, being actually an illusion from which people must gain freedom—which they do by learning and studying special secrets, procedures, or “mysteries.” As with “matter,” Christian Science also views “sin,” “hell,” and “heaven” as illusions. Everything ultimately depends on a person’s “state of mind,” which in turn is governed by a person’s coming to understand that “god” is in everyone and part of everything.
Mary Baker Eddy based her doctrines on Phineas Parker Quimby’s teachings about mental-psychic healing. She expanded on Quimby’s writings in her own writings in 1866 by stating that “God is mind.” This “religion’s” teachings are contradictory, since they also claim that the first tenet of Christian Science is: “…We take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal life.” They actually reject the role of Jesus and the existence of sin and hell. The followers of Christian Science attempt to reconcile their actual beliefs with their “first tenet” by their method of “Bible study.” They may only understand verses in the Bible by reading the commentary on the verses from Science and Health. Their holy writings are the Bible and Science and Health, but the latter has priority and flagrantly misinterprets the Bible.
Mary Baker Eddy’s claim was that she had philosophical insight into interpreting the Bible. There is no evidence either secular or divine to confirm her claim. In fact, her doctrine about medicine has led to many deaths. Her life centered on the occult, which she reinvented into a Gnostic religion. She actually rejected the teachings of the Bible; although she stated that it was the “sufficient guide to eternal life.” This is representative of the inconsistencies that her life and teachings exhibited. She died in December of 1910 and has remained dead. In conclusion, Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science have proven to be a religion totally at odds with biblical Christianity.
The basic doctrines of Christian Science are:
The founder of Scientology was L. Ron Hubbard who lived from 1911 to 1986. He was a science-fiction writer who maintained that he had a Ph.D. from Sequoia University in California, though no such accredited institution could be found. His success in science fiction writing resulted in the best-selling book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which launched the “religion” of Scientology.
Scientology promotes belief in an extraterrestrial race called “Thetans” and offers special (and costly) supernatural treatments that can provide salvation. These treatments supposedly remove “engrams,” which are scars from psychic-spiritual traumas embedded in the person’s mind, so that the Thetans can have free rein within the person’s spirit. Scientology claims to have a floating “hospital ship” that can be concealed from public and governmental knowledge; it is supposedly in this ship that the treatments are carried out.
It is interesting to note that several prominent Hollywood actors have been attracted to Scientology, such as Karen Black, John Travolta, and Lou Rawls. Governments of several countries have investigated Scientology and have warned their citizens about the truthfulness of its claims. In the United States the “religion” continues to be embroiled in many lawsuits over its activities. Needless to say, this “religion” has no need for the Bible or Jesus Christ.
Hubbard became a millionaire from his association with Scientology. His claim was that he had “special insight” into “knowing” the universe and eternity. There exists no evidence of any kind confirming his claims. His life appears to reflect greed and deception. His only motive was financial gain, which he fulfilled. He also became a recluse. Although Hubbard profited immensely from the “religion” he created, many others have been injured by their participation in it. Hubbard died in 1986 and has remained dead. In conclusion, L. Ron Hubbard started a “science-fiction religion” with no basis in factual evidence, and it serves only to deceive people and to accumulate wealth.
The doctrines of Scientology are:
Of all the leaders previously discussed, only Jesus Christ proves to be unique. Surrounding Him is a mass of evidence that proves He is who He claimed to be, historically, scientifically, archeologically and statistically.
Jesus Claimed to be God
He specifically said that He was God (John 8:58; 10:30). He indicated that he could forgive sin (Matthew 9:1-8). He accepted worship (Luke 5:8; John 20:28). He performed miracles that only God could do (Isaiah 35:4-6; Matthew 9:1-8; 12:1-14; 21:42-46; 26:63-66).
Jesus Fulfilled All Prophecy Concerning Himself
All prophecy from the Old Testament concerning the coming Messiah was 100-percent fulfilled by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No leader of any religion (Christianity is not a “religion”) was mentioned beforehand in prophecy.
Of the hundreds of prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament, Mr. Muncaster in his book selects a sampling of 48 of them. Each one is listed by its Old Testament scriptures and is then compared with its New Testament fulfillment scriptures. All of the prophecies were made at least 400 years before Jesus’ birth and all were 100-percent fulfilled by Him. Of this record, Mr. Muncaster makes the following statement:
If we were to select just 48 of the prophecies about Jesus and calculate the odds of their being fulfilled in one single man, we would find that those odds would be “much more remote” than the odds of picking a single designated electron out of the entire contents of the universe.
Jesus Proved He Was God
How can anyone prove he is God? According to God’s Word in the Bible, there is literally only one way that anyone can prove that he is God:
Only God can predict the future (Isaiah 46:10). The Bible tells us to “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and specifically tells us to use prophecy as the test of something that is alleged to come from God (Deuteronomy 18:14-22).
In addition to maintaining that He was God, Jesus told both His disciples and the Jewish religious leaders that He would be resurrected from the dead, which would be a confirmation of all His words and prophecies.
Jesus fulfilled His prophecy of the miracle of the resurrection. The resurrection verified His claim to be God and confirmed His triumph over death.
Jesus Proved He was God by His Sinless Life
The life that Jesus lived was pure, spotless and in perfect accord with God’s Word in the Old Testament and His own teachings. Never once could anyone point to Him as a sinner. The only exception was when he was condemned by the “religious leaders” of the day because they claimed Jesus made Himself God. But then, this proved to be no sin at all. It was true!
History Confirms that Jesus is God
There were many eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life—His birth, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. On one occasion after He arose from the grave more than 500 people saw Him (1 Corinthians 15:6). Moreover, many of those people were still alive when the manuscripts containing such claims (of His Deity and of His resurrection) were circulating. If those letters and manuscripts had been false, the eyewitnesses would have denounced them as frauds.
There are a huge number—unequalled anywhere else—of ancient manuscripts that report the history of Jesus, including His remarkable predictions and His death and resurrection (some of these documents are from non-Christian sources). Many of these manuscripts are early copies of the apostolic letters and the Gospels. Amazingly, there still exist more than 24,000 of these ancient manuscript copies, in spite of centuries of efforts to eradicate the Christian Scriptures. Compare this to the number of surviving manuscripts of some of the great works of secular history, such as The Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar. Only ten copies remain of this work, yet its historicity is never questioned.
The type of hard, factual manuscript evidence doesn’t even apply in the case of the religious leaders discussed in this article. Why? Because they were alone at the time they alleged they were “inspired.” Any of these leaders could write anything they wanted and claim they were given divine revelation—and no one could contradict them. On the other hand, there were many witnesses to the events of Jesus’ life, which fulfilled both ancient prophecies and Jesus’ own predictions.
Additionally, there is an enormous body of historical documents that supports the fact that thousands of early Christians willingly suffered execution—often of the most horrible kind—because they refused to deny the historical fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection. All of the original apostles (except John) were executed in horrible ways because they were unwilling to deny the historical account of Jesus Christ—His life, death and resurrection. Thousands more of Christ’s early disciples did the same. Other martyrs sometimes die for improvable philosophies or for lesser causes, but those early followers of Christ, who witnessed the truth, would never have died for a “resurrection lie.”
Since Jesus is Who He Said He Was, What Should a Person Do?
There are only two courses of action any person can do when confronted with the truth of Jesus Christ. You may reject Jesus and thereby suffer the consequences of your decision now and when you enter death’s door. Or you may believe in Jesus Christ and receive His free gift of inner peach and joy now plus an eternal coexistence with God after death.
John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
To believe in Jesus Christ is not just an academic or head acceptance of Him. The word “believe” means to place one’s full dependence, trust or confidence in Him as God (by virtue of His resurrection) and to equally trust in His sacrifice upon Calvary’s cross as your personal guarantee that your sins have been paid for, that you are completely forgiven and that you are reconciled with God. It actually means that “with your heart” (genuinely) you accept Him and all that He did for your personal salvation and that you look to no other means in place of or in addition to this for your personal salvation. This is what is called repentance, when by faith alone you turn from any other means of salvation and accept only Jesus Christ and the penalty-price He paid for your sins on Calvary’s cross.
Once you make this earnest and willful decision, you are:
Once this decision is made, you should follow it up: