Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the monotheistic religions, which have both similar and different features. These faiths belong to Abrahamic religions and share their origin and customs. Adherents of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam believe that one God exists; they appreciate the Holy Scriptures, have faith in prophets and the Apocalypse, and follow other common beliefs. At the same time, they highlight many significant differences in the understanding of God, religious practice, and the authority of the divine scriptures. For Judaism, the religion of Muslims and that of Christians are only erroneous versions of their religion. For Muslims, Jews and Christians are believers with false dogmas and incomplete revelation. Christians do not consider Islam to be a true faith, and they suppose that Judaism is a true religion with imperfect revelation. Thus, the paper gives a brief overview of each religion, and compares and contrasts different points of view of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Christianity is one of the major faiths on the planet. Approximately two billion (or even more) people all over the world are Christians. The religion is based on Jesus Christ’s life and preaching. It appeared after his death, in 30 A.D. It has three main branches: Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism. In addition, the branches have smaller denominations. Their common authority is a church. Orthodoxy also includes tradition and liturgy, Catholicism – tradition and Pope, and Protestantism – scripture. The symbol of Christianity is a cross. Bible is the major sacred text. There are the Old and the New Testament. Christians believe in one God, who exists in three distinct persons: “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. Together, they are the Holy Trinity. Unlike Jews and Muslims, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Virgin Mary, and he is the Messiah. The purpose of Jesus is to reconcile people, who are sinful since birth, to God and acquaint them with the Word of God. The major rituals are “the Sacraments, Confirmation, Marriage, Penance, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the sick”. The main day of worship is Sunday.
Judaism is one of the oldest religions. The number of Jewish people is approximately 15 million. Nearly seven million of them live in the USA. Abraham was the founder of Judaism, and Moses was his follower. Judaism may be considered an entire culture. It is divided into five branches: Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, and Ultra-Orthodox. Their God is called Yahweh, or Jehovah. The holy texts are Hebrew Tanakh, which consists of five books of Torah, and Talmud. Jesus Christ was an ordinary Jew, but not a deific man. The major rituals are Circumcision of the newly born Jewish males, the ritual of observation of Sabbath, and the ceremony of the “coming of age” of Jewish boys. Unlike Christianity, a man is not sinful from birth in Judaism. However, people can commit sins, and they may be forgiven through continuous praying (three times per day) and repentance. The symbol of Judaism is the Star of David.
The largest religion after Christianity is Islam. It has more than one billion adherents. The founder was Muhammad. There are two major branches of Islam: Sunny Muslims (the majority) and Shi’a Muslims (approximately 15 percent). Muslims believe in one God – Allah. The holy script is the Quran. Jesus Christ is a prophet, but he is not divine. The main rituals are five pillars of Islam: Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj. They mean faith, praying five times per day, giving charities, abstaining during Ramadan (the Holy month), and a trip to Mecca (the Holy City). The notion of a sin is similar to that of Judaism – all people are born sinless, but they commit sins during the life. The symbol of Islam is a crescent with the name of Allah in Arabic.
All three faiths are monotheistic. Their adherents believe that God created the universe. God is fair and merciful; He wants people to live in goodness and well-being. The next similarity between these religions is the belief that all the people are children of God. They were created in God’s image and need to obey His rules. People have to officiate in a prayer house, comply with creeds, be virtuous, and do not harm others. If people offend others or themselves and do not commune with nature, they become villains, who violate the rules of God. However, each person can keep out of mischief and become good. Adherents of these religions have to read the Holy Scriptures, pray and accept God’s Testaments. The three faiths have the notions of Hell and Paradise. In addition, adherents admit the existence of eternal punishment for sins. There are many other similarities in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, but differences in their views also exist.
The first fundamental difference between these religions is their view of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was a prophet, the Son of God and Messiah. Muslims consider that Christ was only a foreteller, and people following Judaism believe that he was not deific at all. The three religions are differentiated in their view on Jesus Christ’s death. In Christianity, the Son of God was crucified for the sake of all people, and, after that, He raised from the dead and ascended to heaven. According to Islam, Christ was not tormented since Allah took him to heaven. As to Judaism, “Jesus was crucified for his claim to be divine”. Nevertheless, Islam values Christian Bible because it tells about the life of Jesus – their prophet. At the same time, Muslims do not agree with particular elements of the Holy Bible. Judaism does not believe in the Holy Scriptures; it has the Tanakh instead. Christians study the Old Testament and admit that the New Testament is also the Word of God. Though Islam admits both the Old and the New Testaments, its adherents state that these scriptures include some false information. The holy book of Muslims is the Quran, in which all the mistakes of the Testaments were rectified. The places of worship are different as well: Jews pray in synagogues, Muslims – in mosques, and Christians – in churches. Often Jewish men and women worship separately, unlike Christians and Muslims.
The next difference is the view of Muhammad and the Quran. For Islamic people, Muhammad was the last soothsayer of the Supreme Being. He conveyed the essence of the Quran with God’s help. On the contrary, Christianity and Judaism do not consider Muhammad to be a prophet. Another large distinction is the attitude towards God and His nature. As it was mentioned above, Christians believe that God is a unity of three individuals – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Judaism and Islam, people believe that a sole Creator exists. In Christianity, the Spirit is the deific constituent of the Holy Trinity. In Islam, the archangel Gabriel, who visited Muhammad and afforded him the words of the Quran, is recognized as the Holy Spirit. In Judaism, the Spirit is neither a person nor the creature. It is a divine energy that was given to the Prophets. Although the views on the Holy Spirit are diverse, its aim is almost the same.
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have different attitudes towards sins and salvation. In Christianity, Adam committed the first sin, and humanity inherited his sinful nature. Then, Jesus Christ expiated human sins through his crucifixion. Muslims believe that people are sinless from birth. However, they are weak by nature and they are tempted to commit sins. Jews consider that there is no initial sin, and people can be absolved for their offences through constant praying and penance. They have a special day for this purpose, which is called Yom Kippur. They can reach redemption through kind deeds, the Creator’s grace, and acts of veneration. Islamic believers can also be absolved when they perform good actions and pray to the Supreme Being. In Christianity, redemption is the outcome of faith in Christ and His deification.
The last important difference is the meaning of Hell for each religion. Thus, Christians claim that hell is the place where people are punished for their sins being doomed to perpetual sufferings. Besides, there is no transition between Heaven and Hell. In Islam, there are several stages of Hell, and the person can transfer from one stage to another. For Muslims, Hell is the place of fire and tortures. In Judaism, there is the notion of Gehinnom or Gehenne, which means that people who die in sin may suffer from punishment; however, the punishment is temporary. Nevertheless, humans may be subject to everlasting sufferings if they commit some unforgivable sins. Some Jews have faith in afterlife, but most of the adherents do not emphasize this idea.
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are three most ancient monotheistic religions. They have much in common. For example, all faiths recognize the existence of one God and Hell. However, there exist several major dissimilarities such as different sacred texts, names of God, worship days, etc. The culture of Jews and Muslims is similar while that of Christianity is different. It is obvious that these religions can co-exist, but, at the same time, they have some arguments and denials.