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Christianity - Other Faiths

This GCSE RE Christianity quiz looks at other faiths. Although Christians believe Jesus was the Son of God in human form ~ and that He claimed ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no-one comes to the Father except by me’ (note: not just ‘a way’!) ~ they recognise that other people may have valid religious experiences through other traditions.

In the case of Judaism, most Christians readily acknowledge that Jesus was Himself a Jew, but that in Him the Messianic prophecy was fulfilled, whereas Jews are still waiting. The other great monotheistic (i.e. ‘one-God’) religion of Islam shares a deep respect for what we know as the Old Testament, and honours Jesus as a special figure, though not on a par with Mohammed.

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Once we move away from the monotheistic faiths, interreligious dialogue is into another realm again, since at least Judaism and Islam believe in broadly the same one creator God. When European colonists set themselves up in the Far East, they needed to seek common ground with the Hindus, who have and worship a range of deities (this may have reminded colonial administrators with any Western classical education, of the Graeco-Roman pantheons), but the Hindu approach is to respect all other faiths and look for goodness in a common cause. It is probably worth recalling St Paul’s tactic on arrival in Ephesus, whose citizens already honoured at least a dozen gods and had built a shrine ‘to an Unknown God’: he then told them he had come to explain exactly this one that they had been waiting for.

On the other hand, there is a well-known analogy about all religions leading to the top of the same mountain by different routes.

Obviously, if anyone believes they have had a deep and genuine religious experience or revelation, they are unlikely to wish to turn back on it; but anyone of true religion should be able and willing not only to tolerate, but to respect what is most precious to others (even if they happen deeply to believe those others are mistaken and have ‘got the wrong answer’.

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  1. Across the range of Christian traditions ~ certainly Catholicism with its monastic orders, and the Protestant churches ~ there is a robust and cherished history of 'singing from the same songsheet' as Judaism, with its ancient and comprehensive anthology of hymns and prayers that Jesus Himself knew, loved and quoted frequently (not least at key moments of His earthly life and ministry). Which 'Old Testament' book do we have in common mind here?
    This is a clear reference to the Psalter with its 150 'prayer-songs, for public or private devotional use, covering pretty well the whole range of experience and emotion from triumph, through comfort, to moments of deep despair.
  2. Islam honours Jesus in many ways such as the following, but we have put in ONE which is wrong ~ which one?
    In an age when extremist distortions of Islam attract unhelpful attention, it is useful to see how much common ground there is ~ but clearly, Islam does set some significant limits on who Jesus was and what He did (no crucifixion, no Trinity, for starters).
  3. Sikhs and Christians may appear to have little in common culturally, but Sikhs are keen to be tolerant, and to seek both good and commonality in all people they meet. Here are some observations about their understanding of Christianity: click on any ONE that you believe to be FALSE (or on Answer 4 if you reckon all of them are true for Sikhs)
    From the Christian perspective, it is encouraging to see the Sikhs looking so hard for common ground. For the reciprocal direction, see our Sikhism quizzes!
  4. Hinduism and Christianity make another pairing in which there are both significant similarities, and important differences. From the point of view of the individual believer, which of the following is the most far-reaching difference?
    Hinduism does not entertain anything like the Christian concept of the eternal afterlife ~ hence no need, nor mechanism, for eternal salvation. An individual's good or bad actions can make a difference to their own future reincarnation; their aim is to earn their way to eventual peace. Christians do not believe a human can achieve such perfection, but that it is only through God's gift of Jesus that the way to heaven can remain open for others of us.
  5. With any potential interplay between Christianity and Buddhism, one is having to look quite hard ... but which one of the following religious features is NOT common to both?
    From this one key difference flow many others ~ please see our Buddhism quizzes for more on those.
  6. Of course, there are meanwhile many people who do not positively subscribe to any religious system, yet who do their level best to live helpfully and harmoniously alongside others. Only one of the following labels describes a person who retains an open mind as to whether there may or may not even be a God: which one?
    An agnostic is at least prepared to accept the possibility of such metaphysical things as a god, the supernatural or an afterlife ~ though presumably without having any direct experience of them. All the others start from a premise that no such things can exist, nor need to.
  7. One of the most conspicuous and outspoken atheists around the turn of the millennium (!*) has been Richard Dawkins of Oxford. When he suffered a relatively mild stroke in the early weeks of 2016, a group of his Christian opponents ~ from what is sometimes simplistically described as the 'God v. Science' debate, chiefly around creationism ~ posted on the internet to say they were praying for his recovery and wellbeing. What was the response to this from some of Dawkins' own supporters?

    (* The millennium, of course, was an otherwise arbitrary date reckoned from the birth of Jesus, though more recent thinking suggests it could be 'out' by a few years; it would now be somewhat impractical to change the system!)
    (It certainly seems odd that people who do not believe in prayer, can actually regard the intentions of others to pray as actively offensive rather than merely futile; it would equally ill behove any Christian to wonder whether there were a whiff of paranoia somewhere around the atheists' response. Altogether a bemusing little episode in the public discourse!)
  8. Only weeks before this, Dawkins had (somewhat unlikely, though ever the contrarian) supported the Church of England in another public dispute, over ... what?
    Three major cinema chains, representing between them over 3/4 of British screens, had refused the commercial on the grounds of it being their policy never to show religious nor political advertising. Dawkins commented that 'I still strongly object to suppressing the ads on the grounds that they might "offend" people. If anybody is "offended" by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended'.

    There are many interesting religious and social undercurrents to such a situation, but your author can vouch for Dawkins' self-description as a 'cultural Anglican', having spotted him singing gently along in a carol service congregation at New College, Oxford some years ago.
  9. One of the following does NOT reflect traditional mainstream Christian understanding on interfaith marriages ~ which one?
    St Paul (also, by previous training, a rabbi) urged that the marriage of a Christian with someone of no faith ~ or an active but different one ~ would be like yoking two animals to a common harness which they each wanted to pull in different directions, and could only come to no good. Interfaith marriage is always likely to be something of an extra struggle, but it would certainly not be our place to condemn it as such and out of hand.
  10. 'There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions'
    ... said who?
    Küng is an influential Swiss Catholic thinker who for over 20 years was President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic, and has published on such deep and vexed questions as euthanasia. Any student of RE at whatever level could usefully make a point of finding out more about him.

Author: Ian Miles

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