How should we understand the three 'Abrahamic' religions?



Why aren’t the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) one main religion?


Nihal posted his query while preparing a 9th grade school report, and unfortunately this response comes too late to help. On the specific question of”why” these three faiths exist the way they are the best a mere journalist can say is “God only knows.” However the interrelationships, overlaps, and differences among these great religions are certainly worth pondering, and not just in schoolrooms.

Christianity and Islam are No. 1 and No. 2 in size among world faiths and together encompass a majority of the people on earth. They are major competitors today and their past political confrontations, raised recently by President Barack Obama, were often violent.

However, it’s been 1,169 years since Muslims sacked Rome and the original St. Peter’s Basilica, 920 years since Pope Urban launched the First Crusade in an ill-fated attempt to protect Christian access to Jerusalem, 724 years since the vile Crusades ended and 332 years since Muslim troops last threatened to conquer Vienna.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam emerged in the same sector of the Mideast and jointly uphold Abraham as a founding ancestor who established worship of the one God (“monotheism”). Judaism’s roots are by far the most ancient. Christianity gradually grew apart from Judaism after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the early 30s A.D. Islam, the youngest of the three, dates its history from 622 (“Common Era”) when founding Prophet Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina.

The three share broad similarities on aspects of God’s nature and morals. And following the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. there was an upsurge of discussion about three “Abrahamic religions,” with what Protestant sociologist Peter Berger calls the “admirable intention of countering anti-Islamic hatred.”

Continue reading "How should we understand the three 'Abrahamic' religions?" by Richard Ostling.

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