Are the three major world religions more similar than different? That’s a good question and worth some thought and discussion. Here’s a good start to get you thinking from my colleague, Linda Ross, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Connecticut, USA, who also writes for creedible.com, an interfaith forum.
The Westport Faith Club, a group founded after being inspired by the book The Faith Club, took a field trip last Sunday. Our (I am a member) destination – The New York Public Library’s exhibit, Three Faiths. As we include Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women, the docent tour was something we relished. From the Library’s description: “Three Faiths includes 200 rare and precious works created over the past 1,500 years…Jews, Christians, and Muslims all possess a book that they regard as the Word of God. That Word — and the way it has been written, copied, and illustrated over the centuries — is the basis of Three Faiths.”
What I particularly loved was how the exhibit brought out some of the commonalities these religions share. To begin with all trace their ancestry back to Abraham, ‘an intinerant herdsman who lived some 3,700 years ago in the Middle East and embraced and promulgated his belief in a single deity.’ Due to the nature of the subject, I’m sure everyone had favorites that spoke to their hearts. We did go on the last day, but the good news is that much of the informative material is available online.
One striking quote was from the Babylonian Talmud, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; this is the entire Torah; the rest is but the commentary; go and learn it.” I thought, oh the Golden Rule! Jesus explained this as a key part of his ministry. In answer to the question of what is the greatest commandment in the law, he replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
On the Library’s exhibit website, one of the videos comments that Islam teaches the complete submission of mind and heart to God. The following quote is from the Hadith, sayings of the Prophet Muhammad to help one understand the Qur’an and the spirit of the religion, “Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
Inspired by what I had learned in viewing the exhibit and writing this column, I looked into my own faith to learn more along these lines. I was surprised by the amount of reference material. Perhaps it was my new perspective that allowed a deeper study. I’ll share one passage with you I discovered from the book First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany by Mary Baker Eddy, “The First Commandment of the Hebrew Decalogue, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me,’ and the Golden Rule are the all-in-all of Christian Science.”
What are your thoughts or examples from your religion that touch on the Golden Rule? Please note them in the comment section after this post.