It is well known that man is a social creature. In so doing, there are some aspects of culture that come in through his life. One of these aspects is religion. There are three main monotheistic religions in the world; Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Below is a discussion of these religions and the manner in which they interrelate with each other, with greater focus lying in the manner in which Christianity relates to the rest.
Origin and Historical Account of Interactions
The term Christianity is derived from the Greek word Kristos, which is used by the Christians in Greek to translate the Hebrew word Messiah (Author, n.d). The members of the religion are called Christians since they follow after Jesus Christ, who, according to the Christian Bible, was sent by God to die for the sinners. The followers were branded as Christians at a place called Antioch. The disciples of Jesus spread his news to the world and the non-Jews readily accepted the news, and were converted. These people form the body of Christianity (Author, n.d).
Of course, there must be other religions that are associated with Christianity, and there must be ways in which the religion interacts with others in the world. The religion that is very close to Christianity is Judaism. According to Anon. (n.d), Judaism can be said to be the oldest religion in the world, with Hinduism being the only religion that could have been in existence for an equally long time. In fact, it can be said to be the parent religion for both Islam and Christianity since both sprout from its foundation, only differing in their New Testaments. The Holy Book for Judaism is known as the Tanakh, which comprises of the books found in the old Testaments of the Christian Bible and the Islamic Quran. Judaists believe that there is only one God who is a supernatural being, just as do Christians and Muslims. However, while the latter two believe in Jesus Christ and Mohammed respectively, Judaism refuses to recognize Jesus Christ as the son of God. In fact, it holds that Jesus was crucified for blasphemy since he claimed to be the Son of God, Which, according to Judaists, is not the case. As such, the main bone of contention between the two religions is the fact that one believes in Jesus Christ while the other does not. This brings in the strife. However, the conflict is not so evident since there are relatively fewer Judaists than Christians. Most Judaists are from the Jew origin and are mainly concentrated in Israel.
The religion that does not see eye to eye with Christianity under all circumstances is the Islam religion. The differences between the two arise from all aspects of their faith and beliefs, with the only similarity being the fact that both believe in God as the Supreme Being. However, Islam recognizes Jesus just as a prophet of Allah, rather than the son of God as do the Christians. Muslims also believe that since Jesus could not fulfill his mission on earth, God sent another prophet, Mohammed, who accomplished the mission. As such, in as much as Muslims do not deny the existence of Jesus, they refuse to recognize him as the son of God as do many Christians. Furthermore, the origin of the religion is also different. Christianity comes from the Greek word meaning the Anointed one, which refers to Jesus Christ. However, Islam is derived from an Arabic word for submission and also related to the word ‘salaam’ which is Arabic for ‘peace’ (Christianity in View, 2012). From the above account, it can be seen that there are ideological differences between Christianity and Islam. Perhaps this could be the reason as to why there are quite a number of conflicts between the followers of the two religions.
Whenever there are people with differing ideas on a similar issue, it is very likely that conflicts and disagreements as each tries to justify his end and earn followers as opposed to the rest. This spreads across all the aspects of human lifestyle, and religion is not spared as well. The founders of the different religions, that is, Jesus Christ for Christians, Abraham for Judaism and Mohammed for Islam, asked their followers to conquer the earth. That is they had to make followers of their religion. Apart from Judaists, the others have heeded keenly to this call and to date, they are still trying to convert the nations of the world to their side. Of course, this implies that there are spheres of interaction between them. Of course, this cannot be avoided since the people have to be reached by whichever means. As such, messengers of the different religious groups often come face to face or even interact in the normal settings. These interactions bring out some issues, such as the ones discussed in the following paragraphs.
Contemporary Issues – Judaism
As already mentioned, the Christians and Judaist have a lot in common mainly because they all borrow from the same literature in terms of the Old Testament. However, there arises a bone of contention in the fact that Christians believe in Jesus Christ while Judaists follow the Abraham’s ways as they await the coming of the Messiah that was prophesied (Anon., n.d., Author, n.d). as such, the main difference is the fact that the Christians talk of a Messiah who has already come, died for man and resurrected, then ascended to the heavens.
They await for him to come for the church. The Judaists, on the other hand, are still in wait fro the coming of the Messiah. As such, the difference is that while Christians wait for the second coming of their Messiah, the Judaists are equally waiting for the first coming of the Messiah. This difference does not come with major rivalry between the two. However, there are some bad blood between the two.
Kress (2012) indicate that the main cause of the rivalry between Judaism and Christianity came from the onset of the Holocaust in which many Jews suffered and were killed en masse. The Judaist harbor bitterness towards Christians since the latter was in support of the Holocaust. They believed that the Judaists were insignificant and that they should be wiped from the face of the earth. In as much as not all the Christians were in support of the Holocaust, the few that did create the bone of contention between the two.
In the modern day, however, the rivalry has been continually dissolved, making the people from the two sides come together more often and interrelate without much differences. Kress (2012) observes that due to the globalization and modernization, it so happens that Jews and Christians are intermarrying at a very fast rate. This happens especially in the metropolitan countries such as the U.S.A. As such, the intermarriages are breaking the barrier that used to exist between the two. It so happens that if a Jew is married in a Christian family, he/she learns the manner of life of the Christian family. The married people therefore get to know more about Christianity and realize that the prejudices they had about Christianity were not true. The same happens when a Christian is married to a Jew family. As such, the marriages act as ice-breakers, bringing the two religions closer.
It also happens that Christian theologists are very interested in learning more details about the life of Jesus. In so doing, they have to look into the culture of the Jews since Jesus himself was a Jew and he lived the Jewish culture. Through these studies, the theologians tend to cement the relationship between the Jews and Christians. They also tend to dissolve the supercessionism belief (Kress, 2012) which has it that Christianity came to take over from the Jewish culture. Rather, it helps in making sure that the people from the different sides respect the beliefs of the others. If conversion has to occur, then it has to be through conviction; and that is the reason as to why Christians are so interested in learning more about the Jewish culture, so that they can understand it more and have ways of convincing the Jews.
In general, the relationship between the Jews and Christians is not very sour. However, there are ideological differences that exist between the two, and strict followers of the two religions can find it quite hard to fully accept the people from the other. However, the two can be said to be drifting closer to each other due to the fact that their members often meet in social functions and even make long term commitments such as marriage. Allowing such interactions has led to the gradual disappearance of the barrier that existed between the two. As such, it can be said that the trend is that the Judaists and Christians are getting closer to each other, but this should not overshadow the fact that the two are still very different in their ideologies, which still means that in as much as they come close, they will always conflict when it comes to matters of faith.
Islam is thought by many, just like Christianity, to be a global religion since it has spread all over the world. Unlike Judaism, the relationship between the two is sour and has been so for quite a long time. The differences are so pronounced and the relationship between the two is often hostile. This prompts the need for a deep analysis so as to find out what exactly could be the cause of the differences, and how adversely it has affected the two.
The first difference arises from the fact that Islam fails to recognize Jesus as the savior (Religion in View, 2012). It argues that he was a prophet but he was never crucified. Rather, he was raised by God into the heavens. There is also the fact that Christians believe in forgiveness through the grace of God, and through the acceptance of Jesus Christ. However, Islam believes that forgiveness comes about due to the good deeds of an individual, or what is otherwise termed as justification by works or deeds. These two differences lead to the major disagreements between the two religions, as indicated in the following paragraphs.
The World Wide Council of Churches (1992) argues that Christians look at Muslims as threats, both spiritually and in the political sense. The Muslims also tend to view Christians from the same angle. As such, the two are tied in what can be termed as the struggle of power since each is concerned with making sure that it influences the whole world to rally behind it. however, it so happens that in so doing, Islam advocates for the use of Jihad or what is commonly known as the Holy War. This is where an individual can volunteer to fight for his religion to the death. They believe that if one dies in a Jihad, then he gets a straight ticket to heaven where he is greatly rewarded by Allah. Christianity, on the other hand, believes in peace and no violence. As such, they tend to view Muslims as violent and dangerous people since they can engage in war in the pretext of fighting fro their religion. This adds more dirt to the murky waters that the two live in, making their relationship an even worse one.
The Council (2012) also notes that Islam is not only a religion, but a way of life. As such, in their territory of influence, Muslims tend to control every aspect of life from worshipping to governance and even the banking matters. As such, Christians tend to look at it as a form of slavery where the people are bound to do certain things just because they ascribe to the religion. They also argue that hose who do not comply tend to face much prosecution, since the benevolence of Muslims is confined to the members of the religion. This understanding completely spoils the relationship between the two, making them live with each other suspiciously and with much mistrust.
The mistrust between the two is so deep such that Muslims are thought to be behind most of the terrorist activities that take place in the world today. This is justified by the fact that most terrorists and terror groups come from the Middle East and the Arabic countries, which are places where there are high concentrations of Muslims. The fact that the region is unstable and seems to be the cradle of main terrorists heightens the suspicion on the religion. On the other hand, their hatred for Christianity is extended since they feel that Christians are, in a way, enemies to their religion. As such, the relationship between Christianity and Islam is very sour, and, if nothing is done about it, then the situation could continue worsening.
The main objective of this discussion was to bring out the current issues in the three main religions of the world. In order to achieve this, it was important to look at the histories and origins of the different religions as well as their founders. This formed the basis on which the discussion could be constructed. From the discussion, it has emerged that the relationship between Christianity and Judaism is not very hostile, though the Holocaust caused a rift in it. however, current interactions have gradually bridged this gap. The same cannot be said about Christianity and Islam. This relationship is quite hostile and volatile, and has been so for quite a long time. The main reason for the differences is that the two are quite strong and widespread. They also tend to have a political influence in their areas of dominance. As such, in areas where both are present, there is a very high likelihood of a conflict since there is the struggle for control. The two seem to be incompatible.
Christianity in View. (2012). Comparison Table between Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Retrieved on 9th August 2012 from http://christianityinview.com/xncomparison.html
Considerations. Retrieved on 9th August 2012 from http://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation/interreligious-trust-and-respect/issues-in-christian-muslim-relations-ecumenical-considerations.html
Kress, M. (2012). Jewish-Christian Relations. Retrieved on 9th August 2012 from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Jewish_World_Today/Jews_and_Non-Jews/Jewish-Christians_Relations.shtml
World Council of Churches. (2012). Issues in Christian-Muslim Interactions: Ecumenical