The two Monotheistic and Polytheistic religions that you will see throughout this paper are Christianity and Shinto. I chose these to give me a better insight about the religion since I am not a religious person, I find it very interesting. The topics that will be mentioned are ancestry, salvation, forgiveness and the afterlife. Shintoism is very different compared to Christianity however, there are some differences. When it comes to the beliefs of Shinto’s and Christians, they differ quite a bit. Christians are monotheistic meaning they believe in one god and that he created the heavens and earth. Christianity consists of the father, son and the holy spirit. The nature of Christianity revolves around the life, death and Christian beliefs on the resurrection of Jesus.
Christians believe God sent his son Jesus, the Messiah, to save the world. They believe Jesus was crucified on a cross to offer the forgiveness of sins and was resurrected three days after his death before ascending to heaven. Christians also believe in the Second Coming which basically means that Jesus will return to Earth again. For Shinto’s, there are 5 elements of their beliefs. The first element would be Purity. We all were put on this earth pure and for Shintoism, they always want to remain pure. Shinto is always with kami and if they are not then it would consider them impure. The second element would be Makoto – Sincerity. Shinto's have plenty of morals and ethics due to the sincerity of their belief. What Makoto means is that if you do not have the goodness and sincerity in your heart then it is pointless to follow a set of rules, regulations, or commandments. The third element would be in harmony with nature.
They believe in kami which is the idea that everything living or non-living possess a spiritual essence. Depending on the location or the object, it is said that some have a greater amount of kami which makes it easier for some people to connect with them. The Japanese people must love and care for nature like it is fragile and to appreciate all of life within nature because it can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. The practices between these religions are also different as well. Shinto compared to Christianity do not have weekly services. Anyone can visit the shrines whenever it is convenient for them. These shrines are best known as the home of the kami. Upon entering the shrine stands a torii better known as a gateway. Visitors pass through to a basin to get their hands washed and mouth rinsed out. Then, the person usually makes an offering at the Haiden and then makes a prayer. As far as Christians go, their practices usually include Worship service on Sundays, prayers, studying or reading the scriptures and participation in baptism or sacraments.
Worship includes singing, prayer and a sermon. Christians usually pray daily and read the bible. Baptism is important in Christianity and most people are baptized as a young kid or an adult and participate in communion. The Eucharist is also a widely held practice which is basically sharing wine and bread in honor of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Let's talk about ancestry now. Both religions worship their ancestors and it is very important. In Christianity, ancestors are worshipped mainly through prayers and feasts. Holidays that you may be aware of are All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Day of the Dead. Ancestor worship in Japan is a very important piece of the religion. When a person dies and then their soul is transformed into an ancestor, their primary focus is to guard and protect the Household lineage.
Shinto worships the ancestors mainly through social-religious activities such as visiting graves and praying, observing Obon festival and the kamidana which is a mini altar that is set up in people's homes. Salvation in Christianity is rare unless you fall into some categories, then you will be saved. It is up to the human whether they shall be saved and go to heaven. The bible teaches that the unsaved will go to hell for eternal punishment but there are circumstances that god can be your savior. If a person becomes baptized, repents their sins, trusts Jesus as their lord and savior, do good works, follow church rituals and avoid certain behaviors then they can be saved from hell. Forgiveness in our world is what is perceived as the main issue for humans. Christians; disobedience and putting will and ego ahead of the god lead to many sinful acts. Sin calls for the forgiveness of divine grace and even penance. For Shinto’s, purification is needed due to the divine essence that a human cannot be lost or destroyed. Purification in full effect allows the overlay of the essence to fully shine.
Shintoism and Christianity are different when it comes to the afterlife. For Christians, eternal religion in God and pious behavior throughout life results in the soul’s resurrection into Heaven within the hereafter. If people have properly repented their sins to God, their souls will spend eternity in Heaven, but those who have led a sinful life with no penitence may be sent to Hell. Christians believe, after the physical body dies, wherever the soul spends the rest of eternity is determined by life on earth. Shinto’s on the other hand, believe in the Yomi. Yomi is basically the underworld of the religion, even though it is not related to theology. Shinto’s are concerned with the present living people so that Yomi, does not affect the physical decay of the believers after death. It wasn’t until Buddhism for the afterlife to make sense to the Shinto’s. Buddhism teaches Shinto that thinking and meditating about death is a huge deal because it means that life is short, and we will all end up there one day. Not a single person says, “Hey I'm going to end up in hell and I am going to live a wonderful life in paradise” that is not the case. Shinto views Yomi as a gloomy and shadowy existence in perpetuity of the deceased. In conclusion, these two religions differ in all these areas as you can tell.