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Summary of World Views about Judgement and Salvation

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Is there a hell?
Will I be judged when and by whom?
Will my actions in life be rewarded or punished?
Do I get another chance?
Why can’t we all accept that we are all a mixture of good and bad?
What happens when we die?
Does God tot up the good and the bad?
What does ‘being saved’ mean?
Is there a ‘heaven’ (or hell)?    

This was a topic where differences emerged over beliefs about the way the world and eternity are seen in the so-called ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western religious traditions.  But there were still important common approaches which ran across the team, including Humanists.

The Jewish contribution emphasises:
•    There is no clear teaching on what happens to us when we die or about a day of judgement  (coming of the Messiah)
•    However, judgement is an important theme relating to living a good and productive life
•    The High Holidays - Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur – are a big opportunity to review our lives (we admit what we have done, right and wrong, say sorry, correct the wrong and promise to do right.)
•    The world is judged by its people and people by their deeds

The Muslim contribution emphasises:
•    The true religion is Islam, so all who submit to its teachings are saved
•    Islam is a religion in which faith is demonstrated by good works
•    We will be judged according to the good we have done
•    By striving to please Allah and doing good works, we can reach heaven

The Sikh contribution emphasises:
•    Sikhs do not believe in judgement, punishment or salvation after death
•    The actions we do determine our life on earth: they have consequences
•    Our objective is to live truthfully and well in the present with consciousness of the guru
•    We should not try to judge others, but we should focus on our own lives

The Buddhist contribution emphasises:
•    A day of judgement and salvation are not Buddhist concepts, but judgement is important
•    A non-judgemental view accepts all that we are, think or do
•    Awareness of actions and things as impermanent; judgement changes according to context
•    Judgement arises from social and logical thinking and can lead to grief and suffering
•    Meditation helps you recognise awareness and freedom of the heart (Nirvana)

The Christian contribution focuses on the big question of what law is for:
•    All humans ask questions about the meaning and point of life: religion suggests some answers
•    Christianity offers the possibility of salvation from all this worry - by resting in God’s love
•    Early Christians emphasised judgement for sins and the possibility of heaven and hell
•    Christians often found hope from the yoke of greed, selfishness and worry about themselves through a life lived for others

The Hindu contribution starts from the cycle of birth and rebirth:
•    Our karma developed through life determines the nature and quality of our new life
•    ‘Judgement’, heaven and hell, can all be seen in the pleasure and pain we experience now in this life as a result of previous lives
•    Fulfilling the appropriate rituals, (eg Yoga), worship, puja is important
•    The ultimate goal is moksha - liberation from the human life-cycle into eternal one-ness and joy with Brahman
•    Hindu scriptures suggest study and meditation, virtue and helping others, worship and discipline are ways of approaching Moksha

The Humanist contribution emphasises that:
•    Believing in no god or gods, Humanists believe we must make our own destinies
•    Some see science as the way to save or improve the world
•    Others see art as deepening our knowledge of ourselves and our world
•    Others say that a massive human effort through politics and ethics are required
•    Spiritual experiences, such as one-ness with nature and life are also important to help us to identify with all peoples