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World Religions and their Beliefs
Transcript of World Religions and their Beliefs
Doing it right
Having a meaningful life
Feeling like we matter
(some people are just followers)
What Drives us?!
The following is an opportunity to look into the major world religions... Hinduism, New Age, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.* Included is a brief description of each, its distinguishing characteristics, and what a person can gain from each. The author then presents for your consideration the ways in which Jesus' teaching differs from the major religions
*Each of these systems has sects with differing beliefs. The description given here focuses on the heart of that system.
Religions we will discuss
Authority of the Vedas and Brahmans
The authority of the ancient scriptures known as the Vedas as well as that of the priests known as the Brahmans are two concepts that are fundamental to Hinduism and differentiate the faith from Buddhism and Jainism
Brahman: Ultimate Reality
Most Hindus venerate one or more deities, but regard these as manifestations of Ultimate Reality. So who, or what, is the Ultimate Reality that is behind the universe and all the gods? In the Rig Veda, it is referred to as "the One." In the Purushasukta, it is given the name "Purusha," and in the Upanishads it is called "Brahman," "the One," and several other names.
The Sanskirt word karma means "actions" and refers to the fundamental Hindu principle that one's moral actions have unavoidable and automatic effects on one's fortunes in this life and condition of rebirth in the next.
Hinduism is a decidedly theistic religion, but it can be difficult to determine whether it is a polytheistic, pantheistic, or even monotheistic religion. Of course, this is chiefly a western question: the Indian mind is much more inclined to regard divergent views as complementary rather than competing.
Purpose of Life
In Hinduism, there is not just one purpose of human life, but four: Dharma - fulfilling one's purpose; Artha - prosperity; Kama - desire, sexuality, enjoyment; and Moksha - enlightenment.
vary significantly across various sects and schools, but all share an admiration for the figure of the Buddha and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth. Theravada Buddhism, prominent in Southeast Asia, is atheistic and philosophical in nature and focuses on the monastic life and meditation as means to liberation.
Mahayana Buddhism, prominent in China and Japan, incorporates several deities, celestial beings, and other traditional religious elements. In Mahayana, the path to liberation may include religious ritual, devotion, meditation, or a combination of these elements. Zen, Nichiren, Tendai, and Pure Land are the major forms of Mahayana Buddhism.
Buddhism was founded by an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama around the year 500 BCE. According to tradition, the young prince lived an affluent and sheltered life until a journey during which he saw an old man, a sick man, a poor man, and a corpse. Shocked and distressed at the suffering in the world, Gautama left his family to seek enlightenment through asceticism. But even the most extreme asceticism failed to bring enlightenment.
Finally, Gautama sat beneath a tree and vowed not to move until he had attained enlightenment. Days later, he arose as the Buddha - the "enlightened one." He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the path to liberation from suffering (the dharma) and establishing a community of monks (the sangha).
there are over 360 million followers of Buddhism. Although virtually extinct in its birthplace of India, it is prevalent throughout China, Japan and Southeast Asia. In the 20th century, Buddhism expanded its influence to the West and even to western religions. There are now over one million American Buddhists and even a significant number of "Jewish Buddhists." Buddhist concepts have also been influential on western society in general, primarily in the areas of meditation and nonviolence.
The Gospels describe a three-year teaching and healing ministry during which Jesus attracted 12 close disciples and other followers who believed him to be the Messiah. This is the basis of Jesus' title "Christ," which comes from the Greek word for "Messiah."
Jesus' teachings focused on the themes of the kingdom of God, love of God and love of neighbor. Along with some of his teachings, his growing popularity with the masses was seen as dangerous by Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government, leading to his execution by crucifixion.
Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead three days after his burial, and in so doing made it possible for those who believe to be forgiven of sin and attain eternal life. Much of Christian belief and practice centers on the resurrection of Christ. The most distinctive belief of mainstream Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity, which views the one God as consisting of three Persons: the Father, the Son (Christ) and the Holy Spirit.
The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible, which consists of the Old Testament (roughly equivalent to the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament. The New Testament contains 27 books: four gospels (narratives of Jesus' life), one account of the apostles' ministry after Jesus' death, letters from church leaders (the earliest of which predate the Gospels), and an apocalyptic work.
Nearly all Christians regard the Bible as divinely inspired and authoritative, but views differ as to the nature and extent of its authority. Some hold it to be completely without error in all matters it addresses, while others stress its accuracy only in religious matters and allow for errors or limitations in other areas due to its human authorship.
vary between denominations and individual Christians, but the vast majority of Christians believe in some kind of heaven, in which believers enjoy the presence of God and other believers and freedom from suffering and sin.
Views differ as to whether those of other faiths or none at all will be in heaven, and conceptions of what heaven will be like differ as well.
A slightly lesser majority of Christians believe in the existence of hell, where unbelievers or sinners are punished. Views differ as to whether hell is eternal and whether its punishment is spiritual or physical. Some Christians reject the notion altogether.
Catholic Christians also believe in purgatory, a temporary place of punishment for Christians who have died with
Christian beliefs about the afterlife
Christianity has 2 Billion Followers, mostly in the western world
The central religious belief of Judaism is that there is only one God. Monotheism was uncommon at the time Judaism was born, but according to Jewish tradition, God himself revealed it to Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people. Beginning with Abraham, God has always taken special care of the Hebrews (who would later become the Jews). After rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, and many more religious and ethical guidelines in the Torah ("the Law"). Many of the guidelines (mitzvah) emphasized ritual purity and the importance of remaining set apart from the surrounding polytheistic cultures.
Aside from its staunch monotheism, Judaism has few essential beliefs. Jewish identity arises primarily from belonging to an ancient people and upholding its traditions. Dogma, while important, is secondary. Although the medieval thinker Rabbi Maimonides once enumerated "13 Articles of Faith," many Jews do not accept all these, and Jewish beliefs vary widely on theological matters such as human nature and the afterlife.
is one of the oldest religions still existing today. It began as the religion of the small nation of the Hebrews and through thousands of years of suffering, persecution, dispersion, and occasional victory, has continued to be a profoundly influential religion and culture.
Today, 14 million people identify themselves as Jews, and nearly 3.5 billion others follow belief systems directly influenced by Judaism (including Christianity, Islam, and the Bah'ai Faith). Modern Judaism is a complex phenomenon that incorporates both a nation and a religion, and often combines strict adherence to ritual laws with a more liberal attitude towards religious belief.
Beliefs of Judaism
Divisions in Judaism
Divisions within Judaism, known as "movements," have developed in modern times as varying responses to secularism and modernity. Orthodox Judaism is the most conservative group, retaining nearly all traditional rituals and practices. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Reform Jews retain their Jewish identity and some traditions but take a liberal approach to many Jewish beliefs and practices. Conservative Judaism lies in the middle of the spectrum, taking a moderate approach in its application of Judaism to the modern world.
Jews of all movement celebrate many special days throughout the year and throughout each person's life. Major religious holidays include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Hanukkah, historically a minor holiday, has become more prominent in the last century for Jews who live in areas that celebrate Christmas. The Sabbath, a day of rest and worship at the synagogue, is observed each Saturday. In Judaism, all days begin at sunset, so all holidays begin at sundown and end at sundown.
o recognize the role of God and the Jewish community in each person's life, numerous life cycle events are observed with traditional rituals. At the first Sabbath after the birth of a child, the proud father is called forward in the synagogue to recite blessings for mother and child. Eight days after birth, baby boys are circumcised.
At the age of 13 (12 for girls), a boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah, or "Son of the Commandment" and a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah, "Daughter of the Commandment." The occasion is marked by the youth's first public reading of the Torah in the synagogue (only boys may do this in Orthodox congregations), followed by a large and joyous celebration.
Jewish wedding ceremonies incorporate many ancient traditions and symbolic gestures (including the well-known breaking of glass), and divorces are obtained within the Jewish community. At death, a Jewish person's body is cared for by the chevra kiddisha, the "holy society," who wash the body and prepare it for burial. The deceased is treated with great respect and never left alone. After burial, the deceased's loved ones enter a formal period of mourning, which decreased gradually over the course of a year. The dead is then remembered and honored each year on the anniversary of death.
In addition to these special days and ceremonies, the Jewish life is marked by regular religious observance. Each Saturday, Sabbath is observed by ceasing work and spending the day in worship at the synagogue and at home with family. The study of Torah and other Jewish scriptures is considered very important, and many Jewish children attend Hebrew school so they can study it in its original language. In everyday life, traditional Jews observe the laws of kashrut, eating only foods that God has designated "kosher." Among non-kosher, or prohibited, foods are pork, any meat that has not been ritually slaughtered, shellfish, and any meal that combines dairy with meat.
Events in Judaism
is a monotheistic religion based on revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century, which were later recorded in the Qur'an (Koran), Islam's sacred text. The faith spread rapidly and today Islam is the second largest religion in the world. The Arabic word islam means "submission," reflecting the religion's central tenet of submitting to the will of God. Islamic practices are defined by the Five Pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and alms. Follow a link below to learn more about Islam.
According to Muslim belief, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad, a camel driver, in a mountain cave and delivered a message from the one true God. The Prophet Muhammad dedicated the remainder of his life to spreading a message of monotheism in a polytheistic world. His life's work is recorded in the Qur'an, the sacred text of Islam.
In 622 AD, the Prophet fled north to the city of Medina to escape growing persecution. This event is celebrated by Muslims as the hijira ("flight") and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar (622 AD = 1 AH).
Eight years later, Muhammad returned to Mecca with an army and defeated it easily. By Muhammad's death, 50 years later, the entire Arabian Peninsula had come under Muslim control.
The word "Islam" means "submission," reflecting the religion's central tenet of submitting to the will of God. Islamic practices center on the Five Pillars of Islam: confession of faith, daily prayer, fasting during Ramadan, pilgrimage and charity.
The sacred text of Islam, the Qur'an, was written in Arabic within 30 years of Muhammad's death. Muslims believe it contains the literal word of God as gradually revealed to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel over the course of 20 years. Also important is the tradition of the sayings and actions of the Prophet and his Companions, collected in the hadith.
Islam and the West have had a rocky relationship for centuries, and in recent years the tension has only seemed to escalate. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine is religiously charged, Western involvement in Middle Eastern affairs is resented, and various hijackers, suicide bombers and terrorists base their actions on their Muslim faith.
Many Muslims, however, have denounced this radical minority as violating both true Islam and the true meaning of jihad, and Islam continues to be the fastest-growing religion in the world.