Throughout history, many men have founded religions which gathered large followings. Here is a list of some of them and a list of questions to ask religious founders.
RELIGIOUS FOUNDERS IN HISTORY 1-Zoroaster or Zarathustra – Born between 1700 and 500 BC, Zoroastrianism 2-Gautama Siddhartha (the Buddha) – Born c.563 BC, Buddhism 3-Confucius – Born in 551 BC, Confucianism 4-Jesus Christ – Born c. 4 BC, Christianity 5-Muhammad – Born in AD 570, Islam 6-Guru Nanak – Born 1469, Sikhism 7-Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri (Bahaullah) – Born in 1817, Bahai 8-Charles Fillmore – Born in 1854, Unity School of Christianity 9-Gerald Gardner – Born in 1884, Wicca 10-A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada – Born in 1896, Harre Krishna 11-L. Ron Hubbard – Born in 1911, Scientology 12-Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – Born in 1918, Transcendental Meditation 13-Sun Myung Moon – Born in 1920, Unification Church
QUESTIONS TO ASK RELIGIOUS FOUNDERS Were your message and the details of your life prophesied before your birth? Were your followers instructed to bring peace and love to others, or did you lead them into war? Was your message primarily spiritual or political? Did you teach and practice the equality of all human beings? Did you promise an existence beyond this life? Was your life one of sacrifice or pleasure for yourself? Did your religion bring you wealth and prosperity? Is your burial place in existence today? Was your message confirmed with miracles? Were you raised from the dead? Was there peace and cooperation among your disciples after you were no longer present in the flesh?
Considering these questions to ask religious founders, some of the founders could answer some of the questions in a positive way. None of them would answer all of these questions in the way Jesus Christ would. We are not attempting to denigrate any religion. We are only saying that we follow Jesus Christ because of what He did, how He lived, and what He taught. We also do not base our faith on the actions of any human who claims to follow Christ.
We have just finished the Christmas and New Year holiday, and Christmas cards are piled up on my desk. It isn’t that I have so many people who send me Christmas cards. Most of the cards are from organizations wanting a donation. They send a “gift” of a bunch of cards and hope it will shame me into giving to their cause. What is interesting to me is the Christmas card picture of baby Jesus in the manger.
I have Muslim and Buddhist friends who laugh at that Christmas card picture. Muhammad was an upper-class, wealthy military man who married into money and lived in comfortable conditions. Buddha was a Hindu prince who was not even allowed to see a diseased or suffering human. Sometime after the age of 29, he left the palace behind and became a wandering ascetic.
In contrast to these founders of major faiths, Jesus Christ was born in a town in which He was an alien. He grew up in Nazareth, a low-class village in the occupied territory of Galilee. (See John 1:46.) When you read passages like Matthew 5:41, you realize how much Rome controlled everything. John 19:10 points out that the Romans knew they had control. Christ had no political power and no army. He was born an “illegitimate child” to a mother who left town when she realized she was pregnant. (See Luke 1:38-39.) People wondered why Jesus spent His time with the poor, despised, and downtrodden. (See Matthew 9:11-13.) Unlike Mohammed or Buddha, Jesus came into a world of misery, war, prejudice, pain, strife, and violence and did not associate with political leaders or the social elite.
Because of the birth and upbringing of Jesus, people were amazed at His teaching. (See Matthew 7:28-29.) It is also because of the background of His life that we cannot have a problem that Jesus doesn’t understand. He had no money – only his cloak. He was “born on the wrong side of the tracks.” He was born an “illegitimate child.” Unlike followers of all other faiths on Earth, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are – yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
I have seen mangers. They are dirty with mouth slime from cattle plus insects and worms and unprotected from the elements. The sterile, clean, neat, ordered Christmas card picture is not reality. However, but it can remind us of how God in His wisdom provides for us and understands our needs. The birth and upbringing of Christ provide an apologetic for the validity of Christianity.