Do other religions require faith?

Although in modern times we synonymize faith with religion, are they really the same thing?

If faith is belief in some particular revelation, and revelation includes a fact that makes eternal happiness more likely than not, what is this fact that faith is based on for other (non-Christian) religions?

For Christianity, that fact is the Resurrection. Is there any comparable event for other religions that requires belief?

Judaism does not require a belief in a particular event for salvation. It is a collection of laws that must be followed. Islam requires belief that Muhammad is the final Prophet and the Quran is the Word of God, but there is no particular event that makes the prospect of eternal happiness more or less likely for the Muslim, as one is judged according to one’s deeds, and the good deeds must outweigh the bad. Zoroastrianism is based on the teachings of Zoroaster but similar to Islam there is no particular revealed event that serves as the basis for faith.

For Indian/Dharmic religions/philosophies, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, there is no such thing as eternal happiness. Taoism and Confucianism are performative and do not require faith as a means of attaining eternal happiness. Ancient and folk paganism (or neopaganism) are essentially cultural customs and did not require faith in some revealed fact that gave hope for an eternal reward.

Is Christianity unique in its requirement for faith in a fact? Or do different religions just require faith in different facts?

If my understanding of other religions on this point is inaccurate, please correct. :slight_smile:

Some religions can be more a philosophy, like Buddhism and Taoism. A lot can be based on experience but there is still plenty of room for faith in what is not yet experienced. So, I’d say “more or less…yes”.

There are a range of meanings for faith. I would prefer a loving reliance on the person of Jesus for Christianity, or God for some other religions.

If we use “a belief in a particular event for salvation”, for Jews it is the Exodus and for Muslims the revelation of the Quran to Mohammed. Most Eastern religions are less historical, but I do not know if Zoroaster is more eastern or western in this context.

Thank you for your replies.

That is an important part of it; faith includes this trust, and is also the “substance of things hoped for” and “evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1); it is also necessary for salvation (CCC 1815–6). We believe the testimony of the Apostles about the Resurrection, which is the cause of our hope for salvation. I am not sure if there is a requirement in other religions to believe in a testimony that reveals the object of faith. In other words, we believe that something miraculous happened, that Jesus rose bodily from the dead in glory, revealing a supernatural power, and this is the very thing that we hope for ourselves, to participate in the glorious resurrection by the will of God.

That is certainly in the expansive meaning of faith. It implies there is some cause for loving reliance, something hoped for. Is faith in something hoped for necessary in other religions?

I’ve heard and been told by Jews that Judaism is very different from Christianity because it is not “faith-based”; rather it’s about fulfilling the covenant God made with his chosen people by following the law as a righteous nation. The Exodus is about the revelation of the law. Belief in the facts of that revelation is a motive to follow the law, certainly, but is it a necessary faith? The Sadducees seem to have demonstrated at least that ancient Judaism did not require faith in salvation.

Islam is confusing and seems to at least partially require faith but I’m not sure why. If we define faith as belief in the testimony of another then Islam requires it but that seems to be only half the purpose of faith, the trust in someone else’s testimony that something was revealed. What about the necessary cause of hope? How is belief in the revelation of the Quran a Muslim’s substantial hope for salvation? I understand it’s different from our belief in the inspiration of the Gospel, but it seems like requiring belief for its own sake; believe in a man’s word that his word was revealed. Believe Muhammad because Muhammad must be believed.

That “faith in what is not yet experienced” is really what I’m thinking of as the counterpart to belief in the testimony of revelation. Judaism and Islam may require belief in supernatural events that have happened, but I don’t see where belief on faith is the basis for something they hope to experience.

May be completely wrong, but a religion is a belief system. This calls to mind:

One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.

  • Malcolm Muggeridge
2 Likes

Not wrong, religion is a system of belief and worship. The ancients and scholastics included it as a special virtue of justice. Where faith is a will to believe in something revealed — of and by God — to give hope for our salvation, religion is a practice of belief in sanctifying actions and rituals. I think we too often collapse words together when they really don’t mean the same thing, and lose the clarity to appreciate the difference.

Of course it is used in a different sense, but the word is still translated as “faith”:

Indeed, and it appears to be entirely optional, even criticized by practitioners. I also would contest that it seems to be used in exactly the same sense as trust.

Christianity claims that man’s problems, which primarily involve sin and death, are directly connected to his spiritual separation from God, which is the chief aspect of the state known as Original Sin and which constitutes death for man, sometimes referred to as the “death of the soul”. Man was made for communion with God; Adam thought otherwise and we, his descendants, don’t know any better and may think otherwise as well until we learn better for ourselves, with the help of time, experience, revelation/knowledge and grace.

Jesus came so that we may know the true God, and so believe in and be reconciled with Him so that we can enter this vital relationship and realize the life we were created to have as He does a work in us. We must be open to God, Someone above and beyond ourselves and our natural knowledge. Only then are true purpose, value, meaning, order, and goodness confirmed as foundational to this universe.

1 Like

I am afraid that you are making an all too common error. It is wrong to think that other religions will be anything like Christianity but with a few tweaks here and there. Other religions are very different.

For example, Judaism is an orthopractic religion. It is far more important in Judaism to do the correct thing regarding the Jewish religions and, particularly, its laws. This is considered more important than orthodoxy which in comparing Judaism means to have exact beliefs is far less important than actions.

2 Likes

Certainly some Hindu religions hold to ecstatic experience of God and eternal happiness through Moksha. Ananda, the State of Bliss or Happiness. Shradda is a firmly held conviction in the life path that a person has chosen. There are various life paths, per different Hindu philosophies, that lead to Moksha. Buddhism has nirvana and Jainism one becomes a liberated soul (Jina). In Zoasterianism those that chose good over evil go to the “best existence,” or heaven.

1 Like

[quote=“TomH1, post:11, topic:593510”]
For example, Judaism is an orthopractic religion. It is far more important in Judaism to do the correct thing regarding the Jewish religions and, particularly, its laws. This is considered more important than orthodoxy which in comparing Judaism means to have exact beliefs is far less important than actions.
[/quote]

An interesting argument, but I disagree. Yes, by the time of Second Temple Judaism there was unending argument about ritual -but what really united Jews was faith in the one, true God.

I think this was utterly different from the pagan world, where faith simply didn’t exist, certainly not in the way we imagine it.

Indian/Dharmic philosophies are difficult to discuss or compare comprehensively because there are so many different schools that use the same concepts but do not agree on the exact same descriptions. My understanding is that moksha and nirvana are terminations of self as illusory, either by a realization that self is indistinguishable from everything else or that there is no self.

So while there is an eternal peace to be attained in some schools (some even claim it can be in this life) it does not seem to be the end of faith as a personal experience or conscious enjoyment of a supreme good in perpetuity. In other words, there is no hope for personal salvation as an eternal and continuing perfection of self, rather freedom from ignorance and the burden of self.

1 Like

I agree. Without even a belief in the reality of self, how could there be personal salvation? Yet another backhand proof for Catholicism.

This might be getting at a deeper reason Indian and east Asian cultures saturated with Dharmic religious traditions have been so impervious to the gospel. If the self and individual conscious being is believed deeply as the cause of suffering, so that we must escape, rather than embrace, personal existence, then eternal life is not good news, it’s bad news! This is similar to ancient gnostic and Zoroastrian views of the world as evil and a direct contradiction to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief that what God creates is good (Gen 1:31).

I did study the religions of India in school and note that in addition to Jainism and Buddhism and older Vedic religions, there are six orthodox schools of philosophy plus the tantrikas and schools of Saivism. Under Vedanta are a few schools, at least seven. One of which is called Dvaita Darshan founded by Madhvacharya. This school rejects maya as an illusion, and God and souls exist as independent realities (and each soul is really different than any another). Vishnu (God) is the one supreme being. Moksha is realization that all finite reality is essentially dependent on the Supreme. This is quite different than non-dualism or qualified non-dualism.

I have not formally studied Indian religions, only read about them and discussed them informally with Hindus, Buddhists and Jains I have known. If there is a school that understands the personal self as a dependent good, capable of conscious, perpetual enjoyment and perfection through participation in a supreme good, then that’s fairly analogous to our concept of heaven. Liberation of the self from conscious existence and freedom from ignorance would be a negation — the opposite of hope for salvation. Nothing like a revealed faith is required. In any case, I’m certain that at least a significant part of our existing self — the material body — is always denied as essential or perfectible in these philosophies.

Dvaita is very different from other religions of India, at least as much different as the atheistic philosophies of Jainism and Buddhism. In Dvaita-Vedanta, salvation requires Vishnu’s elevation of the individual to an exalted state.

Here is a Dvaita-Vedanta description of heaven (for those that attain Mukta) from Shrimadhvavijaya Mahakavya and all there eternally serve God:

The Mukta souls are very beautiful, eternally young and wear Harichandana paste with sweet scent on their bodies, which is red like the newly born moon. They are fanned with attractive Chamaras by servants.

Eternal hell is also believed in, for what are called or tamo-yogyas. A significant divergence from Christianity is the belief in continuous eternal reincarnation for some classed as nitya-samsarans.

I looked it up on Wikipedia and it definitely seems strikingly different from the other schools and I’m curious if there was some contact or influence with Zoroastrianism or Islam. Interesting that they believe in damnation and a physical appearance of souls with bodies in heaven? Is this some kind of resurrection?

I read that Dvaita has no external influence but is from Madhvacharya alone, however Nyaya logic style is used. Well the body is glorified like in Christianity. Resurrection is like a single reincarnation either to damnation or to glory.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.