Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Three Religions on Love, Forgiveness and Truth

Comparing and Contrasting Sacred Texts

On Love

Bible: “God is love” is stated in the Gospel and Letters of the Apostle John. The personification or embodiment of divine love is Jesus Christ. To know Jesus Christ is to know what divine love is. The Bible uses the word in different ways: 1) Man's love of things. (2) Human love. (3) Man's love for God. (4) God's love in the negative sense, i.e. "God loveth not ..." (5) God’s love for His Son, (6) the love that exists between the Persons of the Trinity, (7) God's love for mankind and (8) the Incarnation of divine love in Jesus Christ. The key to understanding love in the New Testament is John 3:6: “For God so loved the world that He gave in only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Qur’an: "God is love" [Allahu muhibba] is not one of the attributes of God in the Qur’an. The Arabic word love, hubb is used 69 times in the Qur'an and can be divided into five categories: (1) Man's love of things. (2) Human love. (3) Man's love for God. (4) God's love in the negative sense, i.e. "God loveth not ..." and (5) God's love for those who do His will.

Teachings of Buddha: The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy. The Buddha taught his son Rahula to “practice loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return. Practice compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return.

On Forgiveness

Bible: The New Testament teaches that followers of Jesus are to forgive always and even to forgive their enemies and those who mistreat them. When Peter asked Jesus how many times one should forgive, Jesus responded, ”seventy times seven”, which is to say an unlimited number of times.

Qur’an: The key phrase about forgiveness in the Qur’an and one which is repeated many times is: “Allah is Ever-Pardoning, All-Powerful.”

“And if anyone inflicts an injury the same as the one done to him and then is again oppressed, Allah will come to his aid.” (Surat Al-Hajj, 60)

“Shaytan [Satan] promises you poverty and commands you to avarice. Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing. (Surat Al-Baqara, 268)

“Those who reject [Islamic] Faith, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them to any path except the way to Hell, to dwell therein forever. And this to Allah is easy.” (Sura 4:168)

Mohammed taught: “Whoever says: "La ilaha illal-lah wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu-l-mulk wa lahu-l-hamd wa huwa 'ala kulli shai'in qadir," one hundred times will get the same reward as given for freeing ten slaves; and one hundred good deeds will be written in his accounts, and one hundred sins will be deducted from his accounts.” (Hadith, Vol. 8, Book 75).

Teachings of Buddha: One must hold no bitterness toward any living thing. No distinction should be made between friend, enemy or stranger, but every sentient being should be regarded as equal. The Buddha taught:

“The father becomes the son in another life,
Mother becomes the wife,
Enemy becomes friend;
It always changes.
Therefore there is nothing definite in samsara."


Bible: Truth is a Person, the third Person of the Trinity and the embodiment of love, so that truth and love are never disconnected in the New Testament. God dwells in the believer to produce love and to fill the believer with the fullness of God's presence. The key verse explaining this relationship is Ephesians 3:14-19:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Qur’an: The Qur’an makes no specific statements as to the nature of truth, but Muslims believe that Islam is the truth based on this verse in the Qur’an: "With the truth we (God) have sent it down and with the truth it has come down.” (Sura 2)

The Teachings of Buddha: The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that there is suffering. The Second Noble Truth is that there is a cause of suffering. The Third Noble Truth is that there is an end to suffering, and the Fourth Noble Truth is that there is a method to bring an end to suffering.

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