The Recognition of an Especially Sacred Community
The two most individualistic religions, Jainism and Buddhism, have organized their holy ascetics into a monkish order, Sangha or congregation; but women are regarded as inherently inferior.
Hinduism teaches that its whole hereditary caste system is a sacred institution as compared with the rest of the world, and that as compared among themselves the upper castes are successively the more holy.
Judaism – The synagogue is the place where people of equal standing meet together to pray without any need for an intermediary.
Christianity – The infallibility of the Pope, is a part of Roman Catholic doctrine.
Islam cuts clean across the common ideas of hereditary status, of social superiorities, and even of international exclusiveness by its insistence upon absolute submission before the one omnipotent world potentate, Allah, and upon active joining in his cause.
The Hope of a Universal Religion
The idea of becoming universal does not occur in the sacred scriptures of Sikhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Shinto and Taoism; and never to have arisen in their whole history.
In the case of Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism, the hope of becoming universal has been definitely dropped in their history.
In the case of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, the plan of becoming universal stands clearly commanded in their sacred scriptures, and was acted upon by the founder himself, and has been followed up actively in their later history, so that they have actually become international through missionary effort.
The Hopes and Fears of a Future Life
Hinduism and Buddhism teach that the present life is not worth continuing; although the future life is thus for most people a dread necessity, yet by various proper processes a person’s evanescent miserable individuality may finally be extirpated altogether.
Jainism teaches that immortality is inherently unavoidable, with ultimate residence in either heaven or in hell.
All four of the religions which originated in India teach the doctrine of transmigration, that by power of the law of Karma, a person’s soul becomes reincarnate after death in some other earthly body, according to his conduct in this present life.
Confucianism regards religion as consisting chiefly of proper ethical conduct, yet offers for the future only a ghostly kind of existence, without hope of heaven, without fear of hell, without consequences of any kind resulting from a person’s present manner of living.
Zoroastrianism and Islam teach an inescapable judgment scene, with rewards and punishments. A paradise with delights for the pious, and a hell with perpetual agonies of physical torments for the unsubmissive unbeliever. Zoroastrianism reduces the sensual features of heaven and hell to a minimum, and finally manages to eliminate all evil, but by means of an apocalyptic ceremonial.
Christianity contains a considerable variety of eschatological belief within the Bible, and also in its subsequent history. However, Christianity has taught uniformly that there will be a sure and just judgment for all mankind, when the good people will enter into the joy of closer fellowship with God, and when the wicked will suffer the terrible consequences of the seperation from God.