Ninian Smart’s religious dimensions include that of the ethical, defined as how people behave based on the doctrines and teaching of his particular religion. This provides people with a certain set of ways on how to “act”. Ethics is relational “whether expressed as laws, moral commandments, custom, or a system of values, it is the ethical dimension that guides us towards proper relationships with God (or Being), each other, nature, and culture.”
Ethics therefore serves as a guide to people when their beliefs are being questioned, and serves to imbibe in them a sense of responsibility and direction and “brings harmony from dissonance when there is a breakdown in ideal relational patterns.” Followers of religion cannot rely solely on doctrine for guidance; they also need a concrete example of how they will act on earth. Ethics therefore provides what is essential to doctrine, an interpretation of the correct behavior in application.
Religious ethics deals with the “proper patterns of action in the situation and circumstances of the human life cycle and social relations.” Each society has its own background and rules where assumptions regarding the world they live in are either fed or supported by their own religion. Christianity for example believes in respect and belief for only one God, and in India they believe strongly in karma.
In the ethical dimensions of religion, there is a sort of unity in their ethical demands. For all the other aspects of religion, namely the ritual, mythological, doctrinal, and social there are large disparities between what people believe, whereas in the ethical realm almost all religions proclaim the same ethical standards. This similarity is evident in the ‘Golden Rule’; treat others how you would like to be treated. For Christianity, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sum up the law of the prophets.” In Islam, “Hurt no one so no one may hurt you.”
Similar themes in both religions include “love and compassion”, “selflessness and charity”, “respect for family and community” and “concern with the life of the spirit as opposed to material goods.” It has already been stated that doctrines differ greatly among the world’s religions, yet ethical dimensions and standards are somewhat the same. Most of history’s known fights were clashes between opposing doctrines, and followers of the faith being loyal to their religion’s Word battle each other if only to uphold their belief. Islam and Christianity have fought for time and until now, peace hasn’t been attained.
Similarities in their ethical practices stand out most commonly in their commandment for belief in one God. As the creator, He is seen as All Mighty and that all humans created were made in God’s image. Life after death is an important aspects in both religions, and if one lived his life on earth in accordance to God’s will, he then will go to Paradise or Heaven after death. Familial relationships are a priority for both religions, and providing each religion’s respective moral values to children are a must. Marriage is sacred and is considered as a permanent bond between a man and a woman, and both should continuously help in propagating harmony and observance of ethical standards at home and in society.
In Islam, “murder, theft, adultery, lending money for profit, the practice of magic, cowardice in fulfilling Allah’s wishes, saying bad things about other people, and using drugs or alcohol are not allowed whereas in Christianity “brothel-keepers, prostitutes, sculptors, painters, keepers of idols, actors, charioteers, gladiators, soldiers, magicians, astrologers, and diviners could not become Christians”.
Both the Koran and the Holy Bible “promotes faith in God, promoting justice for everyone, forgiving others, and being compassionate, merciful, generous, humble, and tolerant.” More examples of what makes these two religions common in terms of ethics are family being a central aspect of their lives where they must teach the doctrines and practices of their respective religions to their offspring. Compassion and helping neighbors are also innate to both religions, where they both consider all man being equal.
More similarities than differences can be seen for the two major religions, Christianity and Islam. Though their doctrines remain different from each other, the message that these bring have almost the same meaning. They do bring their religion to a different level, living their faith in their lives even if it means death. To remain loyal to their religion, they fight battle over battle in order to defend their ethics and doctrines. Though the presentation of each religion’s ethical standards may be different in documentation, in further analysis they really are the same.
Wars have been waged over thousands of years only to protect their religion, and both will do anything if only to save their faith. They see the clashes in their religions and perceive each others to be enemies, yet the world’s strongest religions fail to consider the uniting factor that makes them one.
Through Ninian Smart, the dimensions of religion was made clear, and a deeper analysis of the doctrine and ethical standards of Christianity and Islam make it evident that they both do stand up for the same ethical beliefs in terms of family, community and God. Also, they will eventually battle it out between each other if they see that it is for their faith. In the end if these ethical standards were not met by their followers, persecution through sin awaits. It may not be through physical or mental punishment, but a falling apart from God which encompasses the whole being of a person, which is seen as most wretched.
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