The school year is over! The last few weeks, in particular the last couple weeks, have been a busy time with me. We had an awards ceremony toward the end of the year, (grades had to be completed for that), had to cram in the Constitution Test for my 8th graders, then a few more final assignments for the final report card. Then, last but not least, the 8th grade graduation for our school.
Working for a Charter School is quite the different animal than working for a public school. As with any job, you will have some advantages and disadvantages. I had been working on some other posts when I had a spare few minutes the past couple weeks, but thinking of the differences between the public school system, where I had worked for many years, and now employed by a charter school, encouraged me to consider the differences between Christianity and other religions or world views. So I want to take a few minutes and point out some significant differences. I learned a few things when I worked on this. Maybe you will too.
Key Persons/Founders/Time and Place
Christianity – Jesus Christ around 30AD, Israel within the Roman Empire
Jehovah’s Witnesses – Charles Taze Russel, 1852-1916, Brooklyn, New York
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Joseph Smith, Jr. 1805-1844, Rochester, New York
Christian Science – Mary Baker Eddy, 1821-1910, Boston, Massachusetts
New Age – Stems from several Eastern religions, popularized by Shirley MacLaine in the 1980’s and 1990’s
Key Sources for Doctrine
Christianity – The Bible, which includes Old and New Testament
Jehovah’s Witnesses – The Bible: New World Translation, Watchtower and Awake magazines
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the King James version of the Bible.
Christian Science – Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, Manual of the Mother Church, Christian Science Journal, and Christian Science Sentinel.
New Age – No specific sources, selected scriptures, and other Hindu, Buddhist, and Native American teachings or beliefs.
Who is God
Christianity – One in three persons, not three gods, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – One person called Jehovah. No Trinity. Jesus is the first thing Jehovah created.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – God was once a man who progressed to a god. He and his wife (Heavenly Mother) have physical bodies.
Christian Science – God is an non-personal principle of life, love, intelligence and spirit. Matter is an illusion.
New Age – Depending on who you talk to, everything and everyone is God. People have unlimited inner power (the force 😉 ) to discover and use.
Who is Jesus
Christianity – The second person of the Trinity, fully God and fully man. He has always existed, and according to God’s plan, He is the sacrifice as a payment for our sins.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – He was Michael the archangel. On earth, he was a man who lived a perfect life and was resurrected as a spirit, who returned in 1914.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – He was a spirit child created by Father (Elohim) and Mother. His body was created by a sexual encounter with Mary and Elohim. Jesus was married and his sacrifice does not provide full pardon for our sins, but only a resurrection.
Christian Science – Jesus was a man who only lived perfection. Christ means perfection. Jesus was not a God, and God cannot become a man. Christ did not suffer and could not suffer for our sins.
New Age – He was a spiritual model, teacher, guru and became a master who used the inner divine power to attain great wisdom. Some believe he traveled to India or Tibet and learned many more mystical truths and eventually rose to a higher spiritual realm.
How to be Saved
Christianity – Salvation is by the grace of God and has nothing to do with our efforts or works, because everyone will come up short to the Glory of God. Believe that Jesus died for our sins, physically rose again.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – Be baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness. You will earn a possible salvation (salvation is limited to 144,000) by door to door evangelism.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Resurrected by grace, but only saved by works. Works include faithfulness to church leaders, tithing, Mormon baptism, and secret temple rituals. To be saved, you must be a member of the Mormon church.
Christian Science – Humanity is already saved eternally. Sin, evil, sickness, and death are only an illusion.
New Age – Again depending on who you talk to, salvation may be attained through meditation, self-awareness, spirit guides. Have more positive karma than negative karma, and eventually through reincarnation you will reach perfection or become one with god or the universal energy.
What happens after Death
Christianity – After death, everyone waits for the final judgment and both believers and non-believers will be resurrected. Believers saved by grace and Christ’s gift will spend eternity in heaven, non-believers will spend eternity in hell, separated from God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – The 144,000 will live as spirits in heaven.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Most will go to one of three heavens and some will earn godhood. The rest will be banished to the outer darkness.
Christian Science – Death is not real. Heaven and hell are not real.
New Age – Many believe in reincarnation, and that cycle will continue till one reaches perfection or harmony with god. No heaven or hell.
Christianity – Baptism, Communion, voluntary missionary work.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – They do not observe holidays or birthdays. Not allowed to vote, salute the flag, or work in the military. Blood transfusions are not permitted. Meetings at their Kingdom Halls 5 days a week.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Secret rituals and celestial marriage for members in good standing. They do not allow tobacco or alcohol use. Two year missionary work is common. Emphasis on education with many colleges in Mexico and the South Pacific.
Christian Science – Since matter is an illusion, they use Christian Science practitioners for healing. Claims of miraculous healing is common in the Christian Science Monitor.
New Age – Meditation, visualization, astrology, channeling, hypnosis, trances, tarot cards, and use of crystals are common practices for New Age believers. Efforts toward world peace, belief in self and the inner goodness of human kind will overpower the darker side of ourselves.