Now all of us know there are many religions in the world, and each one is further divided into schisms, factions, and sects. Christianity has its denominations, Islam has its sectarian differences, and even Buddhism is divided into different schools of thought.
Moreover, there are tons of ways to classify these religions. So you can have “Eastern & Western religions”, or “Monotheistic & Pantheistic religions” so on and so forth. But I suggest that there are only 2 kinds of religions in this world.
One is the God-centered and the other is the man-centered religion. We also have to name these two religions, so let’s call the God-centered religions the “religion of Abel” and the man-centered religion the “religion of Cain”.
The story of the Cain and Abel is popular worldwide. The Qur’an says:
“Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! they each presented a sacrifice (to God): It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: “Be sure I will slay thee.” “Surely,” said the former, “God doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.” Sura 5:27
So here are two brothers who both worship the same God. We see that even since the inception of humanity, religion has been a divisive issue where people always have differences in beliefs and practice. But the question is, why did God accept one offering and the reject the other?
The Qur’an does not give us the details. So let us move to the Torah and the books of Jewish scholars. What do we find there?
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. (Genesis 4)
So what was it about the meat that God liked it instead of fruits?
I asked the questions in my Sunday school class and received some interesting answers. I was told that “The fruits were old “and that is why God didn’t like them!
Some people even suggest that Cain did not bring the tithe, the 10%. That is why God did not like it. But obviously, scriptures do not provide these details.
The fruits symbolize man’s own efforts, and this is in essence what a man-centered religion is all about. On the other hand, when Abel offered a blood sacrifice, he was admitting the fact there is nothing a man can do that would please the Almighty. In other words, it is not my efforts that make God happy.
Centuries later, Jesus told us a story:
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God (Luke 18)
Those who show God their “fruits” will leave the alter empty handed, but those who admit that they can do nothing to please a Holy God stand justified in His presence.
However, that’s not the only difference between the religion of Abel and the religion of Cain. Man-centered religion is the religion of hate, whereas the God-centered religion works in the best interests on humanity.
Have you ever realized that the first murder in the history of the world was done in the name of faith? What Adam did to Cain is what religious people have doing all the time.
So instead of worshiping God hypocritically, we should rather sing with U2:
She stands with a naked flame
I stand with the sons of Cain
Burned by the fire of love
It is also interesting to note what the books of Jews says on the Cain-Abel episode:
“We find it said in the case of Cain who murdered his brother, The voice of thy brother’s bloods crieth (Genesis 4.10). It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, that is, his own blood and the blood of his seed. Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race, but to him who preserves the life of a single individual it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race.(Mishnah Sanhedrin, 4.5).
This is the value the God-centered faith places upon human life. Someone asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?”, and he replied:
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12
So what is the true religion? That we don’t boast of our own religiosity, but rather serve humanity in love.
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©PK Christian Writer 2012-2014
I am a writer who creates content for clients (and myself as well). I think, read, and surf a lot. My strong areas of research and writing include religion, history, literature, and online content creation (especially blogging and ghostwriting).