Wednesday, November 16, 2005


If you want to understand the differences and similarities between the three Great Abrahamic Religions, you have to understand where the borders lie on the Mental Map that defines them.

Here’s a Surveyor’s Report:

Judaism: The Rambam’s Thirteen Principles of Faith
  1. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.

  2. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our G-d. He was, He is, and He will be.

  3. I believe with perfect faith that G-d does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.

  4. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is first and last.

  5. I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to G-d. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.

  6. I believe with prefect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.

  7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.

  8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.

  9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by G-d.

  10. I believe with perfect faith that G-d knows all of man’s deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), “He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does.”

  11. I believe with perfect faith that G-d rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.

  12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. However long it takes, I will await His coming every day.

  13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when G-d wills it to happen.
[Note: Rambam is the Hebrew acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides, a scholar of towering prominence in medieval intellectual and religious life, as well as a philosopher, scientist, and physician. He formulated the Thirteen Principles of Faith in his commentary on the Mishna, written in 1168 C.E.]

Christianity: The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

[The profession of the Christian faith common to the Catholic Church, to all the Eastern Churches separated from Rome, and to most of the Protestant denominations, as formulated at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 C.E.]

Islam: The Islamic Creed (Shahada)

There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet.


[Gotta hand it to them Muslims. They know how to keep it simple.]

Do the creedal statements above encapsulate all there is about each religion? Of course not. But these are the Core Principles of each belief system, from which all else proceeds: useful for understanding the boundaries of what you believe...and what you do not believe. Everything else is window dressing, explanation, and politics.

Three Major Religions with a single progenitor.

They can’t all be right...and that is where Faith comes in. The ability to trust, to believe, without a scintilla of Real Evidence. It’s what makes Religion different from Science: both pursuing elusive Truth, but each one using completely different tools in the course of the chase.

What do you believe? And what do you not believe?

No comments: