In Judaism, some religions are considered to be Avodah Zarah, and others are not. So, for example, if Christianity or certain of its denominations is Avodah Zarah, that has implications for Jews' interactions with those religions and with their places of worship.

Islam also distinguishes between religions which are Ahl-ul Kitab and ones which are not.

Does any major Christian tradition make similar distinctions, or does Christianity generally merely treat all non-Christian religions as non-Christian?

  • 1
    You might need to define "Avodah Zarah".
    – Narnian
    Sep 26, 2012 at 21:33
  • @Narnian. It looks blooming complicated. As near as I can work out, it's to do with idolatry (though actually they appear to conflate idolatry with polytheism), and is to do more with whether it looks like idolatry than whether the worshipers themselves would consider it so.
    – TRiG
    Sep 26, 2012 at 21:36
  • 1
    @TRiG, that's a fair analysis of 'Avodah Zarah. We typically translate it as one of the following: polytheism, paganism, or idolatry. But don't let the translations fool you. It also includes a whole host of things, and the term can be applied to emphasize that the 'Avodah (service) is Zarah (foreign), not that the being being served is foreign, so that even if a Jew is not worshiping an idol, if he is deliberately doing the wrong service to G-d, this could theoretically (although I haven't really seen it applied this way exactly - and I've asked) be considered 'Avodah Zarah as well.
    – Seth J
    Feb 14, 2013 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


Christians view Judaism differently than we view any other religion. Christians believe Judaism to be true except on the key point of the identify of the Messiah.

Besides that, Christians believe that all other religions are false to the extent that they disagree with things that Christians believe are true. And every other religion disagrees with Christianity on vital points.

(I presume most every other religion will likewise say that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Who would not say that? I mean, who would say, for example, "I believe the world is round, that person over there believes the world is flat, well, we're probably both right." That's the definition of "controversial subject".)

  • I too considered Judaism, however it is not uncommon for some Christians to consider the Jewish God as a different God.
    – user1054
    Sep 27, 2012 at 12:36
  • 1
    @DanAndrews Do you have an example of that? I've never heard of it. Sep 27, 2012 at 19:34
  • Comments on an internet forum don't constitute a reference. Can you show that there are more than a handful of people that believe this? Sep 27, 2012 at 20:35
  • Since it was you who made the point, I think it's up to you to show your evidence first. Sep 27, 2012 at 20:49
  • Are there Christians who hate Jews? Yes. Personally, though, I've met lots of Christians, and I can only think of one person I've ever known who called himself a Christian but spoke disparagingly of Judaism. Okay, not a scientific sample, but I think it's pretty rare.
    – Jay
    Sep 28, 2012 at 7:25

General orthodox Christianity believes that there is an exclusivity with Christians. This is because their interpretation of:

John 14:6 NIV

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

However because of:

Mark 12:30-31 NIV

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

They are to have compassion for all people regardless of their belief system. While other religions are generally considered "Pagan" or worshiping a "false" god(s). This sometimes gets confusing when some Christians claim that another religion's main god is really Satan in disguise - which is mentioned as an enemy of God in the bible.

Judaism has a different type of the relationship with Christianity. However its definition is not universally agreed upon. So, is the relationship special, "yes". Can I define it? "No, unless you want to read a book."

  • 1
    You omitted to mention the undoubtedly special case of Judaism. Sep 27, 2012 at 19:38
  • If you can come up with evidence that a significant number of Christians believe that Judaism worships a different God, then I will definitely reconsider the downvote. Sep 27, 2012 at 20:40
  • The question asks if some non-Christian religions are considered differently from others. The fact that Judaism is a special case is clearly an important part of the answer to that question. Sep 27, 2012 at 20:46
  • I was trying to avoid this conversation.
    – user1054
    Sep 27, 2012 at 20:47
  • Even if you believe that all Jews are going to Hell for not accepting Jesus the relationship between Christianity and Judaism is very much unlike any other. Sep 27, 2012 at 20:57

Christianity has a special and unique relationship with one other religion - Judaism.

The history of these two religions is that thousands of years ago God had a chosen people - the Jews. He made a special covenant with them and promised them a saviour - Messiah. Then (according to the Christian view) God sent this Messiah - Jesus. Some Jews accepted him and some did not. Those that accepted him became called Christians and began to accept non-Jews into their ranks. Those that did not continued to call themselves Jews and began a whole new strand of religion - Rabbinic Judaism.

Opinions within Christianity differed and continue to differ about the status of Jews. Some believe that by rejecting the promised Messiah the Jews have forfeited the promised made by God for their salvation. Some hold that God's promises of salvation made to the Jews still apply to them. Some passages from the new testament would tend to indicate this. In any case it is certain that Judaism has a unique relationship with Christianity because of their shared history and scripture and because of many shared articles of faith.

  • not the downvote here, but I think this answer could do with a more direct treatment of the question and the idea that non-Christian is non-Christian and why first, then if you want, expound on the history of Israel and how some traditions treat it as an exceptional case.
    – Caleb
    Sep 28, 2012 at 21:01
  • The questioner appeared not to be asking about the treatment of non-Christian religions in general, but about whether different non-Christian religions are treated differently. Sep 28, 2012 at 21:06

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