Greg Bahnsen’s Categorization of World Religions

Notes from Greg L. Bahnsen’s ” Defending the Christian Worldview Against All Opposition (Vol. 2): 10. A Quick Course in Comparative Religion

Three kinds of religious philosophies:
A. Transcendant Mysticism: Place an emphasis on what goes on beyond a man’s experience. They are transcendent religions and are mystical in their outlook.
Hinduism and refutation: This world is illusion and we are trying to get to nirvana. We can only get there if we meditate and get off the wheel of life. We are all building up karma. This religion is not scriptural in that their Bhagavad Gita does not function for the Hindu in the same way the Bible functions for the Christian. Their text is not a rational authority as the Bible is. If they ask why we believe the Bible then we reply, “If there is not a biblical worldview then there is no basis for believing anything.” We ask Hindu to justify laws of logic, scientific inference, moral absolutes etc. But the Bhagavad Gita teaches that there is no true distinction between good and evil. As Christians we are not saying, “we’ve got our book and its better than yours.” Our apologetic is God has revealed himself and is our ultimate authority, therefore we believe the Bible on His say so. If the unbeliever does not, we reduce him to absurdity.
B. Immanent Moralism: Their emphasis on what is close and nearby like Buddhism. Their gods or religious forces are close at hand, and some of them even are atheistic. They stress a moralistic and ethical code that must be lived out.
Buddhism and refutation: Founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, renounced the life of luxury and saw a vision of four different sites (old man, sick man, dead man, shaven monk). This led him to join a ascetic cult. He renounced the world and wanted to find the meaning of suffering. He discovers the middle way of enlightenment and suffering. Buddha was tempted under the fig tree by the evil one. After having overcame it, he became the enlightened one, Buddha. Buddha says whats wrong with the human race is suffering. He made this a religion of immanent moralism. It is immanent because he said you are not to accept any outside authority. It denies the supernatural and it is atheistic. It is a religion of personal experience. He says suffering comes from man’s desire. Buddha says if there were not human desires, then there would be no suffering. The stopping of desires comes at the point of perfect detachment. Why should we appeal to Buddha because he said something? According to him, we should appeal to something we experience and not to authority. Religious authority becomes arbitrary and inconsistent. Buddha says there is no soul in man, but we should build karma. How can there be karma if there is no soul that is going to be passed on?
C. Biblical Counterfeits: These religions have been influenced by the Bible, but have perverted the true revelation of God.
Polytheistic: They have a biblical like view of God, but they think there are many gods. (Mormonism)
Unitarians: Follow the Bible, but deny the Trinity. There is only in person that is God. (Islam; Jehovah’s Witness)
Pseudo Messianic: False saviors. (Sun Myung Moon followers “moonies”)


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