Judaism vs. Christianity

Judaism vs. Christianity

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Judaism vs. Christianity

Judaism and Christianity developed on the basis obeying God, on adherence to his rules and intentions and their faithful fulfillment. Since the fulfillment of God’s will is a duty of a Jewish or Christian person, both religions fall into the rule-deontological category.

In Judaism, God is seen as having a contractual relationship with the Jewish people where they must obey his holy laws in return for their status of the chosen people. God rewards or punishes Jewish people based on whether they obey or disobey his will. In parts of the Old Testament, however, God does show mercy or forgiveness, and in later interpretations God’s laws such as the Ten Commandments are followed not only out of loyalty to God but also because of their high moral character.

In Christianity, the emphasis is placed on love of God rather than on obeying his will. People must believe that God is merciful and loves them as well. As a reflection of God’s love, people must also love other people (and the whole humanity in general) and forgive their enemies.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus endorses agape, or selfless love (in contrast to eros, or possessive love), which consists of dedication to another person’s good, even at the expense of our own good and happiness. People should practice peace and nonviolence, return good for evil and love for suffering (“turn the other cheek”). This leads to a special conception of justice, called the “divine justice”, which is based on giving a person what he or she needs rather than deserves (e.g., in case of a crime, redemption rather getting even).

Even though agapeistic love is certainly a noble ideal, it is unstable equilibrium and an easy victim of the “prisoner’s dilemma,” in which the best alternative for a group of people is not the best alternative for each person in the group.

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In other words, strict adherence to agapeistic ideal only works if everyone follows it but fails if there are selfish people who take advantage of the selfless people.

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