R#1. Shinto is a religion which has its geographic origin in Japan. Approximately during the eighth century, this faith came into existence. And until the mid-1940s, it was the official state sanctioned religion of Japan. The practice of Shinto involves the focused worship of spirits of nature and deceased ancestors (Underwood, 2013). Shinto further believe in the existence of a holy power or force they call Kami. According to Shinto, Kami can be found in all things, both dead and alive.
A sacred and holy site for followers of the Shinto belief system is Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is located in the Yamanshi and Shizuoka prefectures of Honshu, Japan (Underwood, 2013). It has served as a holy place for the Shinto since the seventh century. At the base of Mount Fuji there are multiple shrines which pay honor to Kami. These shrines hold sacred objects that are of great symbolism, value, and importance to the Shinto faith. For the followers of Judaism, the city of Jerusalem is one of the most holy places. Located in Jerusalem are some of the most revered and hallowed place of this faith. Examples are the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Safrai, 2018).
In a comparison of these two religious beliefs, I do not see similarities or parallels as it pertains to the worship of nature. In Judaism, its followers worship an unseen god which they believe is the creator of all things (Mendelssohn, 2013). Whereas the Shinto worship Kami, which is a force they believe is in all things, including nature. Furthermore, when a follower of Shintoism worships in their holy places, they hold strongly that Kami dwells in these places (Underwood, 2013). As for adherents to Judaism, the reverence they have for physical locations is not to worship the location, but to worship the god that created the location.
Mendelssohn, M. (2013). Jerusalem: or on religious power and Judaism. Brandeis University Press.
Safrai, Z. (2018). Jewish and Christian Sacred Sites in the Holy Land. In Seeking out the Land: Land of Israel Traditions in Ancient Jewish, Christian and Samaritan Literature (200 BCE-400 CE) (pp. 363-469). Brill.
Underwood, A. C. (2013). Shintoism: The indigenous religion of Japan. Read Books Ltd.
Shinto is a religion in Japan that is directed the natural world to worship the history of the Japanese. In our textbook it says that it connects the Shinto “people of Japan and their land, as well as Japan’s present and its past,” (Voorst, 2020). This religion for years had no name nor does it have any scripture related to it even though it has been practiced by the Japanese for centuries.
Kami are the spirits of the world that are among humans that are worshipped in the Shinto religion. They are forces of nature, such as the rocks, rivers, and trees. Most kami spirits are known to be good while some can be evil. Kami shrines were built later in the years after Shinto started being practiced where they thought that Kami was present or sensed in that area.
A scared site to the Japanese is the Shrine of Ise. “It’s considered to be the most sacred site to the Shinto,” (ROTS, 2015). This site is where all the Asian religions come together with the Shinto to show respect and worship the previous Gods. A lot of local people make this trip “in their religious groups, to visit the shrine as part of a once-in-a-lifetime journey,” (Vardaman, 2002).
When it comes to other religions like Christianity, Judaism, Or Islam they are representing a god that they believe exists not only in spirit, but they will one day reunite with. In Shinto they are believing that they spirit they are worshipping are not only in the y nature all around us but also living among us in statues that they worship as well. According to one source there is a place that Is in common to all three religions is that, “Located on a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem, surrounded by massive stone walls, it has for thousands of years been venerated as a holy site by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,” (Ijaz, 2020). So, in being similar they all have scared places to worship but they are also worshiping different things in different ways.
Van Voorst, R. (2020). Relg: World (4th ed). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
ROTS, A. P. (2015). Sacred Forests, Sacred Nation. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 42(2), 205–233.
Vardaman, J. M., Jr. (2002). Ise Shrine. In K. Christensen & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (Vol. 3, p. 149). New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.bethelu.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/CX3403701364/GVRL?u=tel_a_bethelc&sid=GVRL&xid=48fb6785
Ijaz, H. (2020). A Christian’s Experience of a Muslim Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 55(1), 125–132.
The term theodicy is defined as the attempt to provide a response as to why evil exist. Going further, theodicy works to explain how a “good” creator God can knowingly allow the existence of evil (Griffin, 2004). In its explanation, theodicy frees God from the illogical premise of a sovereign and morally perfect God co-existing with malevolent wickedness. German philosopher Max Weber stated that the problem of theodicy can be addressed using the concepts of karma, dualism, and predestination (Weber, 2009).
In my own life, I spent years wrestling and struggling with an age-old question. This is the question of why bad things happen to good people. My mouth has formed the words of this inquiry many times. Especially when I, or a loved one, has been the victim of being unjustly treated. But when I began to understand the message of redemption communicated in the Holy Bible, a light came on in my mind and heart.
Let me be clear here, I do not blindly follow the words of scripture. After twenty-five years of police work, I have seen evil alive and well in the world. I have also seen the thankless sacrifice of flawed men and women serving others. With that said, I find the biblical book of Romans is so true. Specifically, Romans chapter three: verses eleven and twelve. Here it states that no one does good, not even one (Talbert, 2002). Now this teaching that “no one does good” is woven throughout the Bible. Also, if we are honest, there is evidence of this throughout the history of mankind. Biblically, this truth originates in the story of the fall of humanity in Genesis chapter three. This is the account of how man, in a perfect and good creation, forfeited good for evil. Consequently, allowing evil (sin) to enter his being; as well as infect all of creation (Von Rad, 1973). With understanding this as a fact, seeing injustice is not a confusing dilemma for me.
Now, how do I reconcile a good God and the existence of evil? Well, according to the teaching of Bible, evil (sin) entered the world through the first man Adam. However, according to the Gospels, this was resolved with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, some may say, “well the bible is a book written by man”. Others may say that “the bible is full of contradictions”. However, for me, based on an honest inventory of my life, I find the Bible, the Word of God, is very true. Therefore, I believe that Genesis chapter one: verse one is true. It states that, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…period (Von Rad, 1973). Now if this is true, everything else is true. Additionally, I find this as being a more than credible answer to the problem of evil.
Griffin, D. R. (2004). God, power, and evil: A process theodicy. Westminster John Knox Press.
Talbert, C. H. (2002). Romans. Smyth & Helwys.
Von Rad, G. (1973). Genesis: a commentary. Westminster John Knox Press.
Weber, M. (2009). From Max Weber: essays in sociology. Routledge
For those who adhere to the faith of Islam, their pillars of faith instructs them to understand who Allah, or God, is. This path involves learning the many names of Allah which reveal his attributes and qualities. In the faith of Islam, these are known as the Ninety-Nine Names of God. These names are found between the pages of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. A review of these names reveals attributes ranging from Allah being the “First”, or AL-AWWAL; to him being the “Last”, which is the name AL-AAKHIR (Samat, 2001).
Of the Ninety-Nine Names of Allah, there are three which I believe have a corresponding parallel with attributes of the Judeo-Christian God. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God has the attributes of being omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient (Khimjee, 2018). For the Judeo-Christian, being omnipresent speaks to Him being present at all time and in all places. In the Quran, the name AL-WAASI’ speaks to the attribute that Allah is all-encompassing without bounds (Samat, 2001). The God of the Holy Bible is also known as being all powerful, or omnipotent. In the same vein, the name AL-MUQTADIR of Allah declares him as being omnipotent as well (Samat, 2001). Then, in the name AL-‘ALEEM, we find the attribute of Allah being omniscient or all knowing (Samat, 2001). This is also attributed to the Judeo-Christian God revealed in the Bible. The shared attributes of power, presence, and intelligence demonstrate the similarities between Allah and the God of the Holy Bible (Khimjee, 2018).
Now, some may conclude that the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition is the same as Allah revealed in the Qur’an. However, I would have to disagree. In the Judeo-Christian faith, salvation is a free unearned gift given through a relationship with God through His Son Jesus the Christ (Demarest, 2006). Whereas in the Islamic faith, salvation must be earned through obedience to the teachings of the Qur’an (Khalil, 2012). Here we find the difference of a gift that is freely given, versus something that must be earned before it is received. For me, this is a clear difference between these two religions.
Demarest, B. (2006). The Cross and Salvation (Hardcover): The Doctrine of Salvation. Crossway.
Khimjee, H. (2018). : the Attributes of God in the Monotheistic Faiths of Judeo-Christian and Islamic Traditions. iUniverse.
Khalil, M. H. (2012). Islam and the fate of others: The salvation question. OUP USA.
Samat, T. (2001). The 99 most eminent names of Allah. Utusan Publications.