HOW CHRISTIANS VIEW NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
BIBLE PASSAGES ABOUT OTHER RELIGIONS
The Bible contains many religiously intolerant statements and describes many
religiously intolerant actions. Most of the genocides mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures
(Old Testament) were motivated by intolerance of neighboring tribes' religious beliefs.
Some biblical passages call for the execution of people of other faiths during
peacetime. Some applicable
passages from the King James Version of the Bible are listed below:
Passages from the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament)
||Leviticus 17:7-9: "And they shall no more offer their
sacrifices unto devils...Whatsoever man...that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And
bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the
LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people." This rule also
applied to foreigner visitors in their land; they were allowed no religious freedom.
||Numbers 1:51: "...when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall
set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." A
non-Israelite who comes too close to the Jewish temple is to be executed.
||Numbers 3:10: "...they shall wait on their priest's office, and the
stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." As above.
||Numbers 18:7: "...the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death."
||Numbers 17:13: "...whosoever cometh any think near onto the tabernacle of
the Lord shall die." As above.
||Deuteronomy 17:2-5: "If there be found among you...[a] man or
woman...[who] hath gone and served other gods and worshipped them...then shalt though
bring forth that man or that woman...and shalt stone them with stones, till they die."
This is a statement of total religious intolerance, calling on the death penalty for
holding different religious beliefs.
||Deuteronomy 32:16-20: "They provoked him to jealousy with
strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils,
not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers
||Psalms 106:35-38: "But were mingled among the heathen, and
learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they
sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils..." Gods and Goddesses of
other societies were regarded as devils.
Passages from the Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. New Testament)
||Acts 10:34-35: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of
a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every
nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with
him." This passage is ambiguous. It can be interpreted in at least
||The World Council of Churches' interreligious relations &
dialog group interpret s this passage as implying God's tolerance of
other religions. They write: "Interest in a Christian
approach to people of other faiths can already be seen in the New
Testament. In the book of Acts, Peter, responding to the realities of
a multi-faith context, says to the gentile Cornelius, 'I truly
understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone
who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.' " 1 They appear to infer that people in "every nation"
who worship their God and perform good deeds are acceptable to Yahweh.
This would include Hindus praying to Krishna, Muslims to Allah,
Zoroastrians to Ahura Mazda, etc.
||This passage could also be interpreted in an exclusive manner.
Both references to "him" would then refer exclusively to
Yahweh. A person would have to fear Yahweh before he was acceptable to
Yahweh. Thus, God would accept only those who specifically worship
him, irrespective of where they live or what their skin color is, etc.
Then, individuals who worshiped other deities would be rejected by
||1 Corinthians 10:20-21: "But I say, that the things which the
Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye
should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of
devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."
Again, the Gods of the Gentile Pagan religions were perceived as devils.|
||2 Corinthians 6:14-17: "Be ye not unequally yoked together
with unbelievers [in Christ]: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial
[Baal]? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel...Wherefore come out from
among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will
receive you." The author associates non-Christians to unbelief, unrighteousness,
darkness, the worship of Baal and uncleanliness. He calls on Christians to separate
themselves from persons of other religions.|
||1 Timothy 4:1: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the
latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and
doctrines of devils..." Beliefs of other religions are described as coming from
evil spirits and devils.|
||Revelation 9:20-21: "And the rest of the men which were not
killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not
worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which
neither can see, nor hear, nor walk." This is a reference of an end-of-the-world
scenario in which non-Christians did not abandon their worship of other gods - here
defined as devils and statutes of deities.|
Jesus appears to have rejected many of the prohibitions against other religions found
in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Examples are:
||Matthew 15:26-28: A Gentile woman from Canaan asked Jesus to heal her
daughter who she believed was severely demon-possessed. The state of medical science in1st
century Palestine was primitive. Jesus and others believed that mental illness was caused
by demon possession. At first he described his teaching as bread and referred to the woman
by a racist term: a dog. She responded with a joke, and Jesus healed her child. Here Jesus
initially rejects a woman of another faith, and later accepts her as a fellow human being.
||John 4:7-12: Jesus visited Sychar in Samaria and stopped at the well
built by Jacob. He asked a Samaritan woman for some water to drink. She is surprised for
two reasons: why a Jewish male would talk to a Samaritan, and why he would talk to a
woman. Jewish males at the time would not speak to women in public, and avoided
interacting with Samaritans because they were considered impure. Their faith was only
partially based upon Judaism.
Copyright © 1997 to 1999 incl., and 2002 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-JUL-4
Author: B.A. Robinson