How Does Zoroastrianism Compare to Christianity?

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Everybody knows about the Middle Eastern monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But few people know there is another religion that originated in the Middle East whose adherents also believe in and worship one God. That little known religion is called Zoroastrianism, or the Parsi faith.

As we saw in my previous article, Zoroastrianism is the ancient Persian religion that dominated Iran prior to the coming of Islam. The prophet Zoroaster (c. 628–551 BC) affirmed and proclaimed a monotheistic faith that identified Ahura Mazda as the almighty God. An ancient religion that reflects a moral dualism, the Parsi faith places a strong emphasis upon individual human choice and responsibility.

The religious idea that heaven is an earned reward and damnation a just punishment is held by many more people than just the small number of individuals who embrace the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism (estimated to be about 200,000 worldwide). The idea that heaven is reserved for those who try to live good, decent, and just moral lives and hell a just punishment for those who are evil is an extremely common belief. It is a belief held by many within the institutional religions of the world and by people who identify themselves as not being religious per se, but rather “spiritual” in self designation.

The Natural Self-Help Religion of Man

So why do so many people, both formally religious (Zoroastrians and Muslims) and the so-called spiritual, think heaven is an earned reward and hell the result of a failure to live a moral life? I think this belief reflects what I call the natural religion of man. The seeming instinct or impulse of religious people in general is to think that heaven is a choice of the will. So good, decent people go to heaven whereas truly bad people end up in hell. And the natural religion might even allow for God to cut some slack for the many people in the middle. The motto for this common religious perspective might rightly be: “God helps those who help themselves.” Unfortunately, sometimes even people within Christendom mistakenly believe this way.

Historic Christianity: A Religion of Divine Rescue

Christianity at its heart is a religion not of self-help but of divine rescue. According to the New Testament, all human beings are fallen and cut off from God because of their sin (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:3). Broken sinners can’t earn entry into heaven (Romans 8:7–8). What human beings need most is not moral guidance from a prophet who shows the way of earning salvation like Zoroaster and Muhammad, but rather a Savior like Jesus Christ (John 14:6). In fact, the central message of the New Testament is that God the Son has come to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ to rescue sinful human beings from God the Father’s deserved wrath (Ephesians 2:4–5; Titus 3:5). So while all people deserve hell because of their sins, heaven is a gift of God’s saving grace through the forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ.

Zoroastrianism and Islam, as reflections of the religion of natural man, are works-oriented religions. The deities of these religions offer no saving grace and accordingly give no assurance that a person will achieve heaven or paradise. But historic Christianity is distinct in being a faith of grace that the triune God gives to repentant sinners, who by their own efforts could never earn heaven.

Thank the Lord for salvation by grace!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
—Ephesians 2:8–9

  One thought on “How Does Zoroastrianism Compare to Christianity?

  1. May 23, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Keep in mind that it is by grace that we even exist, we are saved by grace we are given certain talents by grace, we exist by grace, but it is up to us to decide if we want to put those unmerited gifts to a Christ centered use, or a selfish use. If we put them to a selfish use, we merit hell. Recall the administration of priests rabbis and scholars of the day Christ ran out the money changers, considered themselves righteous and excepted of God, yet they turned the house of God into a den of robbers. Matthew 7:21-23

    • May 24, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace (Romans 11:6).

      • May 25, 2017 at 6:58 am

        In context, reading the entire chapter, grace can be neglected and therefore lost, through disbelief, which is connected to disobedience, and thus deeds, in this case bad. I think many “faith alone” and “saved by grace” believers must suffer from cognitive dissonance.

        Rom. 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.

        There is a difference between work with expectations of material wages, which is not based on faith, verses working in faith, where a deed is preformed with a hope of a heavenly reward from an invisible Father, which may never be experienced until we have ran the full race, and crossed the finish line. 1 Cor 9:24

      • May 25, 2017 at 7:32 am

        Chris:

        Since you appear to have little respect for me and/or my approach to theology (seeming to imply that I “suffer from cognitive dissonance” and stating that I “use … authority as a cloak to persuade others of fallacious arguments” and that I have a “skewed” understanding of the Gospel, see two of your previous comments below), I’ll no longer post your comments on my blog.

        I’ve corresponded with you over a long period and I think I’ve treated you respectfully and patiently and responded to your theological issues with a fair-mindedness but you have responded back with some rather rough comments. Maybe you didn’t mean to for it is difficult to pick up tone and intent with online interaction. Nevertheless, I think it best that we end this thread here.

        I still wish you well in Christ.

        Sincerely,

        Ken Samples

        Two of Your previous posts:

        “What would be the name of a fallacy where someone is in a position of authority, such as a Professor of Logical Argument, who uses that authority as a cloak to persuade others of fallacious arguments, even if the Professor is convinced it is true? Wouldn’t it be difficult to challenge such a position?”

        “I’ve listened to a good number of his podcasts to know he is pretty much skewed too far to the relatively new view that salvation a merit free ticket into heaven. If we are in the last days, such doctrines are sure to emerge as Scripture predicts. He ignores or minimizes the scriptures as seen in Hebrews, James, 1,2 Peter, 1 John, which are among the books Martin Luther considered putting into an index of his Bible translation. He also ignores the books that Martin Luther did put into an index. Although he does agree that salvation can be lost, he rarely warns of it, nor does he give much practical advice on how to avoid such a disaster. Salvation becomes cheapened, blasé.”

    • Jennifer
      May 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      rhoadeschris,

      I hear fear in your words. Fear and accusation. God does not want us to live in fear. We have been promised assurance that is complete. To propose otherwise is to minimize Christ.

      Your post had me thinking about the following Scripture verses:
      “Who keeps us in life And does not allow our feet to slip” (Psalm 66:9, NASB).

      “[Walk by the Spirit ] It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1, NASB).

      “So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind” (Eccl 2:17, NASB).

      “”‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’” (Psalm 46:10, NASB).

      I don’t know you but I pray that the you will find rest and “cease striving.”

      • May 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm

        Great verses, Jennifer.

        Thank you.

        Ken Samples

    • May 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Only God with His infinite power and wisdom could create and save a corruptible people made in His image. Although God created humans as good, we (represented by Adam) ruined our nature forever by pride, which led to disobedience and outright rebellion against our loving, perfect Creator. Each and every one of us, had we been in Eden instead of Adam, would have eventually and inevitably turned away and trusted ourselves ahead of God; such is the cost of being granted an existence with free will in a finite physical realm. A higher view of humankind and our corrupted nature, or a lesser view of the severity of our rebellion, or a lower view of Almighty God than what He is, leads to a prideful and self-destructive belief that God can be persuaded to grant mercy by our puny and filthy efforts. Only His grace, irresistibly put to action and effect by faith in Christ, can be the sure and immovable way to repair the damage we did.

      • May 25, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        Thanks MFD.

        Ken Samples

    • May 31, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Thanks, Stephen.

      Ken Samples

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