Religions, Cults & Worldviews: Valuable Answers for Valid Questions.
Select each of the world religion icons of world religions in the wheel then select the text link which appears in the middle of the wheel to open a page with more information about that world religion.
a. “Father of Faith” was greatly multiplied and his sons greatly multiplied all of which adhered to a “Hebrew” faith of monotheistic faith in One God and no other (revolutionary for the time).
b. His grandson Jacob had 12 sons which each were to be multiplied into their own tribe forming a common bond of Hebraic people.
c. This people was multiplied as ‘outsiders’ in the land of Egypt and were enslaved for 400 years until they were delivered by a man named “Moses”.
d. Moses acted as spokesman, ruler, and spiritual leader to the Hebrews and led them out of Egyptian captivity. He codified the oral traditions passed down from Abraham (possibly even Noah) and wrote what is called the “Torah” or “Pentateuch” to Christians, the first 5 books of the O.T.
a. Torah “The Law” written by Moses (possibly finished by Joshua)
b. Talmud Not “scripture” but VERY highly regarded Jewish library of oral law and tradition consisting of Mishnah (oral law in general to be distinguished from scripture) and Gemara (commentary based upon the Mishnah).
c. Midrash like the Talmud in terms of authority is a commentary on the Torah and rest of Jewish scriptures.
with some sects bordering on secularism.
There are many viewpoints on this important subject within Judaisim. The primary approach is that 1. God Exists, 2. Evil Exists - albeit illusory because evil serves a purpose for good 3. Judaism exists to conquer that evil by righteous deeds. A good world with evil within it, has been compared to a palace on fire. One can see the palace without the fire which is a world with only good or the fire - a world that is mostly all evil, or both and choose to be a person who helps to put out the fire.
The following is a quote from Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth:
"God exists. Therefore, everything that is, is because He made it. Everything that happens, happens because He willed it. In which case all injustice must be an illusion. We think it is evil because we don't really understand. When people suffer, either it is they are being punished because they did wrong or, if they are innocent, it is to purge them, to purify them, to teach them sympathy or compassion or serenity. Somehow God organises the souls' perfection through the bodies' torments. All evil is good in disguise. If we could only see things through God's perspective, we would have no question because everything, being from God, is good. There are no flames: there is only the palace."
"The primary thing in Judaism is 'doing', is action, is deed, is mitzvah. Because only the mitzvah makes the world a little less dissonant between what it is and what it ought to be.the whole programme of Judaism, the project of the Torah, is tikkun olam in the precise sense 'mending a fragmented, fractured, world'.
Again, as with most major issues, there are various schools of thought within Judaism regarding what happens when a person dies. One line of thinking is that because the Torah is supposedly silent on the issue of the afterlife, that there is no afterlife. It has been theorized that this was an intention of the Torah to be silent in order to steer the Hebrews away from the 'death mentality' of their Egyptian oppressors. However, it is conceded, even by those that hold to this view, that it does not allow for the fairness of G-d to justly repay those who are righteous and those who are evil (Hitler). There is another view that bears striking similarities to the Humanist Manifesto which follows that there is no afterlife, when one dies, they just simply die, but one's deeds on Earth will be as a 'memorial' to them and as they are remembered, their very memory is their immortality. Another school of thought is that the Torah indeed has a multitude of references to the afterlife and as such, warrants a belief in a heaven of sorts, and a hell to seperate the righteous from the unrighteous. Both of which are determined by their deeds on Earth: Good deeds = heaven (closeness with G-d) the amount/level of your deeds would determine your level of closeness to G-d, like eternal seats at a cosmic gymnasium. bad deeds = hell. (torment)
1. Orthodox Traditionalists who are united in their upholding of the Law and in their belief in the historical event of revelation at Sinai. Adheres to the inspiration of the Old Testament but values the Torah (1st 5 books) above all others.
a. believes in a coming Messiah, and of Israel having a homeland, and of a world to come. Believes in a type of “heaven” and “hell” although not consistent throughout.
2. Conservative Was started in response to the “enlightenment” period. Called “conservative” because it sought to ‘conserve’ Jewish tradition, not because this sect is particularly social or politically ‘conservative’.
a. A ‘happy medium’ between Orthodox and Reformed Judaism, founded in the 19th century. Does not believe in a Jewish “homeland”.
b. Teaches that Jewish law is always in ‘development’ based on the current culture.
c. Adheres to “textual criticism” of the Jewish scriptures.
3. Reformed very liberal wing of Judaism that all but denies any supernatural whatsoever.
a. focuses on race and culture issues of Judaism, neglecting or avoiding Jewish religious issues.
b. Also started as a result of the “enlightenment” period and supposed necessity to meet the needs of those that reject Divine revelation.(Gave rise to Christianity)
Guru Nanak founded Sikhism as a method to reconcile the warring belief systems of Islam and Hinduism. As such, he chose to retain the idea of Reincarnation which seeks to solve the problem of evil via an elaborate system of being reborn again and again, each time, an individual experiences the victimization of evil which supposedly works off the evil that he/she committed in a past life (Karma). This law of Karma works both progressively and regressively. Sikhs & Hindus believe that this should motivate a person to live a 'less evil' life so as to avoid coming back in the next life and suffering the negative Karma of their actions. The problem with this solution is that it doesn't solve the problem of evil at all, it only perpetuates it. Because every person that comes back to 'work off' evil requires another individual to inflict the evil upon them. That person then needs to come back and have evil inflicted upon them by someone who needs to come back and have evil worked off... and so on and so on,,, ad infinitum. In short, reincarnation and Karma require evil to vanquish evil
Heaven and Hell not mentioned and thus not believed in. Life is an opportunity to seize a union or closeness to god. Reincarnation is the primary belief held regarding life after death. At one point, an individual may obtain intervention by Akhal Purakh which eliminates the rebirth process
Udasis: an ascetic order of the Nanakshahi Sikhs
Akalis: considered 'fanatical' and wear a distinctive dress of blue with a black turban.
Philosophical Taoism began around 300 BC; Religious Taoism began 2nd century BC.
Confucianism: Chiu King
1. Founder Chiu King 550-479 B.C. Shantung Province, China
a. Contemporary of Siddharta Guatama and born just before Plato and Socrates, he went from state to state in China calling for social and political reforms.
b. Was referred to by his disciples as “King Fu-tzu” or ‘Kung the Master’ which was Latinized into the word Confucius.
c. Although Confucius referred to himself as simply a “story teller”, his disciples considered him a wise teacher and his belief system spread rapidly. Around the late 2nd century AD, the Chinese Emperor sacrificed at his tomb as a form of worship, and from 195-1914 A.D. Confucious was worshipped as deity.
d. Meng-tzu (Latinized Mencius) born in 371 BC became a major proponent of Confucianism and was raised to the rank of 2nd only to Confucius himself
Taoism: Lao Tzu
a. Lao Tzu “Old Philosopher” a lower level ruler in China like Confucius would be (He was possibly a contemporary of Confucious). He railed against the tyranny of rulers and government in general. He believed that men were supposed to live simple lives without honor and without a fruitless desire for knowledge.
b. Chuang-Tzu Prolific author in the 4th century, popularizing the teachings of LaoTzu. He wrote 33 books.
a. The Five Classics Wu Jing - collected manuscripts of the ancients which Confucius edited and annotated with commentaries. He put these works into 4 books and wrote the 5th one himself. They have gone through much editing and alteration:
i. The Book of Changes (I Ching) a collection of 8 triagrams and 64 hexagrams consisting of solid and broken lines. Supposed to have great power if the key were ever found.
ii. The Book of Anals (Shu K’ing) A work of history of the 5 prior Chinese dynasties to Confucius time.
iii. The Book of Poetry (Shih Ching) An ancient book of poetry believed by Confucius to make one virtuous.
iv. The Book of Ceremonies (Li Chi) Taught man to act in an honorable way like the ancients (an important value to Confucius)
v. The Anals of Spring and Autumn (Ch’un Ch’iu) Commentaries written by Confucius on the state of Lu during Confucius time.
b. The Four Books Si Shu “The Teachings of Confucious” used by him for teaching, some were written by his disciples and some comprise his teachings and others collected into the following works:
i. The Analects The sayings of Confucius, collected by his followers. Contains biographical information of Confucius.
ii. The Great Learning
iii. The Doctrine of the Mean details the relationship of man to the universal order.
iv. The Book of Mencius The 1st exposition on Confucianism ever written.
Tao Te King “The Way and Its Power” also known as the Lao Tzu. Written by Lao Tzu himself, it is a little booklet of about 5000 words (about 15 pages)
Confucianism referred to as “optimistic humanism” was profoundly impacting on the life,social structure, and political philosophy of China. It basically laid the groundwork in the psyche of the Chinese people for communism and, presumably, is the reason why it is so tolerated by their government while nearly every other religion is not.
Taoism - Mystical enigmatic belief system whose founder was a contemporary of Confucius(604-570 BC)
a. All things emanate from the Tao (The Way) which is an “impersonal force”
Both are Ethical Systems however as time went on gods were brought into the religious system, along with a belief in heaven and hell and the ultimate deification of Lao-Tzu.which acted as forerunners to the modern Marxist/Communist structure in Modern China.
a. Confucianism attempts to solve the problem of evil by teaching people to adhere an ethical code which will bring about a more fulfilling life.
b. The Taoist believes that “always without desire we must be found” c.f Buddhism
c. The Taoist looks for ways to find harmony between the opposites of life: The Yin and Yang but ultimately has no way to solve the problem of evil due to its passivity and emphasis on withdrawing from the ills of society.
Confucianism - "Do not do unto others, what you would not want them to do to you" - The analects of Confucius. (c.f. the negative of the statement by Jesus Christ, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you.")
Confucianism does not solve the problem of evil, it is simply a rigid code of behavior as a method of tolerating or avoiding evil but there was never a solution offered to solve the problem of evil.
Taoism- seeks answers to life's problems through inner meditation and outer observation
Confucianism -In Confucianism, there is no afterlife. When you die, that is it: the end. Confucius always taught the honoring of ancestors and ancient rituals but there is no view of life after death.
“You do not even understand life, how can you understand death?” Confucius
The Analects teach that Confucius believed that if there was indeed a heaven, it was on his side regarding the principles he taught. He never necessary declared belief in or taught of a heaven. He just shifted the current emphasis in China from heaven to earth to bring about better conduct. He felt it dangerous to delve into study of the supernatural so the question has remained open for 2500 years to his followers.
Taoism - goal is to be one with Tao, the impersonal force of the universe.
Tao Chuang Tzu when asked about his reaction to his wife dying: “I realize that originally she had no life; and not only no life, she had no form; not only no form, she had no material force. In the limbo of existence and non-existence, there was transformation and the material force transformed to became form, and the form transformed to became life and life became birth has transformed to become death. This is like the rotation of the 4 seasons: spring, summer, fall, & winter. Now she lies asleep in the great house (universe). For me to go about weeping and wailing would be to show my ignorance of destiny.” ultimately, there is “Tao” which equates to the mystical and unknown “nirvana” & “Brahman” of Hinduism and Buddhism. People go to ‘sleep’ and are transformed into this mysterious state as part of nature’s cycle.
Confucianism - rigid code of ethics for living
Taoism - living to join the impersonal force 'Tao'
Animism is so widely varied, orally transmitted, and primarily belonging to nomadic, tribes with unwritten tradition, that no authoritative writings exist (nor have ever been deemed necessary by practicing Animists).
Led to creation of Polytheistic practices, yet is not polytheistic in and of itself.
a. The animist lives in a world of tribal survival. This survival establishes social norms as well as a ‘loose’ moral code. Therefore, evil is anything that threatens the security of the tribe and/or the individual. This ‘evil’ is caused by good spirits who are angry or by evil spirits who are just simply evil. The animist attempts to ward off the anger of the good spirits (dead ancestors, gods, demi-gods, etc.) by performing sacrifices prior to a need required in their department: travel, harvest, reproduction, etc.
b. Innumerable evil spirits manifest themselves in possession, lycanthropy, and/or disease. The evil spirits can not be appeased and therefore, the help of a shaman is required to cast the evil spirit out of an individual and ultimately out of the community.
c. Ritual is essential for survival of the tribe in that it wins the favor of the spirits of one’s source of food, shelter, and fertility. It also wards off malevolent spirits8
d. Ceremonies of expulsion are designed to banish evil spirits from the community.
According to EB Tylor, the animist believes in a spirit world that is arrived at via a spirit’s journey after leaving the body. If the spirit left the body as a result of murder or death at childbirth, it may return to the village as a malevolent spirit. There is no ‘heaven’ or ‘salvation’.
a. Survival of the Dead gave rise to the offering of food, lighting fires etc. at the grave, as an act of filial piety then became “ancestor worship”
b. Widespread respect was paid to animals as the abode of dead ancestors.
c. Navajo The spirit remains on the earth as a sometimes malignant ghost.
Siberian Shamanism -
European Paganism -
North American Indians -
African Traditional -
Austrailian Aborigene -
South American Animism -
Polynesian Tribal -
Founder - Siddhartha Guatama born about 560 B.C. in Northeastern India to a wealthy ruler. His father sought to make him a prince and surrounded him with comforts and nice things and kept difficult and bad things far from Siddhartha.
a. “four passing sights” - On a journey to see the world, Siddhartha saw four troubling sights: a decrepit old man, a sick man, a corpse on its way to cremation, and a monk begging food. All of which led to:
b. “The Great Renunciation” Sid reasoned that the only happy one of the four was the monk and therefore renounced his wealth and position to become an ascetic monk. He was miserable and supposedly lived on a grain of rice per day. Subsequently, he renounced this lifestyle as well.
c. “The Enlightenment” Sid continued on his journey for spiritual truth and one day while he sat under a fig tree, deep in meditation, he achieved nirvana, the highest god-consciousness possible according to the Hindus (he was formerly a Hindu prior to this day). He achieved enlightenment and was renamed “The Buddha” (enlightened one) after this, the fig tree was called the Bodhi or Bo Tree (tree of wisdom).
a. Theravada Tripitaka “The Three Baskets” of scripture sometimes called the Pali canon and is 11 times the size of the Bible.
i. Vinaya Pitaka discipline basket. contains rules forr the higher class
ii. Sutta Pitaka teaching basket. contains discourses of the Buddha
iii. Abidhamma Pitaka metaphysical basket. contains Buddhist theology
b. Mahayana14 scriptures were originally written in Sanskrit and paralleled the Pali canon but have since been translated and added to by the Chinese, Nepalese, and Tibetan people. The Chinese canon alone is nearly 5000 volumes. Nearly any charismatic Mahayana leader’s teachings tend to be fully accepted by his followers as ‘scripture’ making it nearly impossible to learn (much less follow) the voluminous and contradictory writings of the Mahayana Buddhist.
c. Dhammadada contains sayings attributed to the Buddha
i. He from whom the delights of the senses fall away as water from the petal of the lotus or a mustard seed from the point of a needle him do I call Brahmana. (priests and/or scholars of the highest Indian caste)
ii. He who in this world has shaken off the two chains; the chain of Good and the chain of Evil; who is pure and exempt from suffering and passion him I call Brahmana
iii. He who has rejected that which causes pleasure and that which causes suffering, he who is impassive, liberated from all germs, the hero who has raised himself above all worlds - him do I call a Brahmana
Ethical "Humanist-like" System with similarities to its Hindu Roots, yet not poly or pantheistic.
a. They believe that ignorance fosters the belief that a rebirth is necessary and therefore one is at the mercy of this ignorance and subsequent rebirths until this ignorance is dispelled.
b. This ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by observing the following 4 truths: "Four jewels of Buddhism"
i. Truth of pain Dukkha In the five components of existence (birth, old age, sickness, death, emotion (sorrow etc.), are painful.
ii. Cause of pain - Cravings: the cause of rebirth, combined with pleasure and lust for passion, existence, non-existence etc.
iii. Cessation of Pain no craving, abandonment, non-attachement, forsaking
iv. Path to Cessation of Pain The “Noble 8-fold path”
c. 8-fold path:
1. right view,
2. right intention,
3. right speech,
4. right action,
5. right livelihood,
6. right effort,
7. right mindfulness,
8. right concentration.
a. All Buddhists: Emancipation from reincarnation cycle via self effort.
i. Afterlife is, like Hinduism, a series of life after life after life etc until Nirvana is achieved.
1. All Buddhists
a. Middle Path another name for the 8-fold path to avoid the two extremes:
i.“That, conjoined with passion & luxury which is low, vulgar, common, ignoble and useless.” Siddharta Guatama (The Buddha) c.f. Catholicism
ii. “That, conjoined with self-torture which is painful, ignoble, & useless”
b. Five precepts: The obstacles to the attainment of good karma can be overcome by observing the following 1. Kill no living thing 2. Do not steal 3. Do not commit adultery 4. Tell no lies 5. Do not drink intoxicants or take drugs
2. Theravada Early Buddhism sect nearly extinct in India but prevalent in Sri Lanka andsome parts of southeast Asia.
a. Key virtue is wisdom; religion is a full-time job (mostly for monks); Eschews ritual Prayer is meditation and vice versa.
3. Mahayana Later Buddhism sect prevalent in China & Japan (and parts of Southeast Asia)
a. Key virtue is karuna (compassion); religion is relevant to everyday life (for all) Esteems ritual; Prayer is even petitionary
4. Lamaism (Tibetan) Began in the 7th century AD.
a. primarily combines Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan Animism (Occultism).
b. lamas are priests and the chief priest is the Dalai Lama who is worshipped as the reincarnation of the Buddha (Bodhisattva Chenresi)
5. Zen A branch of Mahayana Buddhism Derived from Bodhidharma, a wandering Buddhist master living in India 600 B.C who claimed that the basic tenets of Buddhism are not derived from the scriptures but rather transmitted from mind to mind and need no explanation in words.
a. have no sacred scriptures for use in teachings but accept any writings Buddhist or not
b. look within, you are the Buddha.
c. Zen Buddhism and the art of motorcycle maintenance
Humanism, Atheism, Agnosticims in their most recent form
Key influencers of atheism:
a. George W. F. Hegel (1770-1831) “God was dependent upon the world at least as much as the world was dependent upon God, for without the world, God would not be God. Being that He is not self-sufficient, He was then unnecessary and ultimately imaginary.”
b. Ludwig Feurbach (1804-1872) postulated the idea of God arose as a result of men desiring to have some sort of supernatural Being as an explanation for their own existence and the events they observed around them.
c. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) taught that since God does not exist, man must devise his own way of life.
d. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1981) argued that man not only creates his own destiny, each man has only himself as the sole justification for his existence
e. Karl Marx - was greatly influenced by both Engels and Feurbach and authored “Communist Manifesto” and "Das Kapital"
Key influencers of agnosticism - T.H. Huxley (founded name 'agnostic' )
a. David Hume (1711-1776) British empiricist ‘We do not know for sure: we are agnostic’
"Belief is not to be confused with ultimate truth, which is unknowable."
b. Immanuel Kant (1724- 1804) a theist who believed it was impossible to know reality. Developed Hume’s skepticism into agnosticism.
c. Charles Darwin - a theologian (not a naturalist) authored “Origin of the Species” which was largely based on his grandfathers book “Zooinomia”;
Humanist Manifesto (1933) “Humanism is the faith in the supreme value and self-perfectability of human personality. Based on 15 concepts:
1. The Universe is self-existing and not created.
2. Man is a result of a continuous natural process.
3. Mind is a projection of the body and nothing more.
4. Man is molded mostly by his culture.
5. There is no supernatural.
6. Man has outgrown religion and any idea of God.
7. Man’s goal is the development of his own personality, which ceases to exist at death
8. Man will continue to develop to the point where he will look within himself and o the natural world for the solution to all of his problems
9. All institutions and/or religions that in some wa impede this “human development” must be changed
10. Socialism is the ideal form of economics
11. All mankind deserves to share in the fruits from following the above tenets.
12. Religious forms and ideas of our fathers are inadequate.
13. The quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind.
14. Man is alone responsible for the realization of his dreams.
15. Intelligence and will, bring the good life (fulfilled dreams) about.
Also see: "Das Kapital" - Karl Marx
"Religion is the opiate of the masses",
and "Origin of the Species" - Charles Darwin
Atheistic - a (without) theistic (belief in deity - theos)
Agnostic - a (without) knowledge (gnosis)
a. Man is the product of his society and upbringing and his morals arise from that which was nurtured in him.
b. Man is in control of his own destiny and dreams. Intelligence and will, properly applied, bring about the realization of his dreams and the “good life”
c. Ultimately, man is in a constant state of evolutionary development and will continue to improve and solve problems in his life and the world as he looks to himself and not an imaginary god or superstitious ‘outmoded’ faith.
a. There is no need of salvation as man is basically good and the supernatural (including the afterlife) does not exist.
b. The mind and personality are extensions of the body and therefore cease to exist when the body dies. Ultimately, this life is all there is, when we die it all ends according to the atheist.
Agnostic - basically fall into one of two positions:
i. There is insufficient evidence available at this time to know whether God exists or not. Says we “do not” know.
ii. It is impossible to ever know whether there is a God or not, in that he is wholly other and knowledge of Him is ultimately unattainable. Says we “can not” know.
Secularist/Non Religious - Synonimous with types named above, however, is a term used by some who consider themselves a variant of the above but would not categorize themselves necessarily as either agnostic or atheistic in belief.
1. Founder(s) Aryan nomads from the Baltic regions
a. Joined two religious systems: ancient civilization (animist) in the Indus River Valley (3000 BC) and their own religious beliefs as they began to invade northern India appx. 2000 BC.
b. Aryans also settled much of the area of modern day Greece.
a. The Vedas (knowledge or wisdom) 1400 BC 500 AD comprised of the mantras (hymns of praise), brahmanas (guide for ritual rites), and the Upanishads (teachings on religious truth or doctrine).
i. contains: law books, Ramayana & Maabharata, Puranas, aqamas, sultras,and the bhakti (devotions to gods)
ii. describes the religion of the Aryans via the writings of “Holy men” or rishis (seers). sruti all that is heard; smriti all that is remembered
iii. Describes a number of deities who are mostly personifications of natural phenomena: storms, fire, etc. (c.f. animism)
b. The Upanishads(secret teaching) 800-600 BC
i. the “later” Vedas which reflect the development of Pantheism: Brahman also the concept of “Atman is Brahman”; and maya the creation of the unreal.
ii. spoke of a multitude of gods
c. Bhagavad Gita inspired but of lesser authority because it is smriti and not sruti
i. the “New Testament” of Hinduism which records a conversation between the prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna (the incarnation of the god Vishnu) condoning personal devotion to deity.
a. karma action The process by which an individual is either rewarded for his/her good deeds and also the process by which they are punished for their bad deeds. This karma is usually expected to be carried out in the individual’s next incarnation, however, it seems there is a tendency among Hindus to believe that karma can be effected in this life as well.
i. The present is determined by the past, however the present, if acted out properly can determine the future.
ii. Karma is ultimately a perpetuation of evil and doesn’t solve it. In order for an individual to get their “evil” karma worked off, evil things must be carried out against them in this or the next life, which in turn requires that THAT individual’s karma must ALSO be worked off by someone ELSE and so on and so on.
iii. Rabi Maharaj, a former Hindu Brahman priest, points out that ultimately, Hindu society is supposed to be progressing and getting better after thousands of years of this karma practice. However, he notes that it only seems to be getting worse!11
iv. Karma is responsible for widespread neglect and needless suffering in India in that a Hindu believes that if they help a person in pain, trouble, etc. they are inhibiting that person’s necessary karma and will force that person to have to relive it all over again to work it off properly.
b. The caste system - social classes with thousands of sub-groups in each caste. and the laws of karma make social reform or improvement nearly Determined at birth by family, and/or by personal karma.
i. Bahmins are the priestly class and the highest order in the caste system.
ii. Kshatriyas warriors or ruler class. 2nd only to the Brahmins.
iii. Vaisyas merchant or farmer class follows the Kshatriyas
iv. Shudras laboring class “bottom feeders”
v. Dalits untouchables or “outcastes” which are outside the caste system.
The caste system and the laws of karma make social reform or improvement nearly impossible. One can’t help a person in need for fear of jacking their karma. One cannot improve his/her social position because it is contrary to the caste system. Whatever caste you were born into is the one you die in.
c.Samsara or “reincarnation” is the method by which bad karma is worked off and good karma rewarded. The more the Hindu overcomes evil in his/her own life, the better chance of being reincarnated in a higher caste and eventually achieving enlightenment the knowledge that there is no ‘self’ just ‘brahman’.
a. Moksha - The process by which a Hindu achieves true salvation - escaping the cycle of reincarnation and becoming “one with all things seen and unseen” (Brahman). This has also been referred to by some Hindus as “Nirvana” (c.f. Buddhism). Three possible paths to moksha:
i. karma yoga The way of works. moksha may be obtained by fulfilling one’s familial and social duties and ultimately overcoming bad karma accrued. The rules are listed the “code of Manu”
ii. jnana yoga The way of knowledge. Overcomes the avidyya or ‘ignorance’ that brings on the bondage of rebirth cycles. Achieved via deep meditation, a state of consciousness that we are one with Brahman. Selfhood is an illusion, there is only one reality: Brahman (cf Buddhism)
iii. bhakti yoga The way of devotion. Personal devotion to deity is considered (in the Bhagavad Gita) as a way of salvation for all classes of people. It is the most popular in Hinduism due to its emphasis on personal relationship to a god or many gods. The acts of worship at the temples is called puja which seeks the aid of a god to help one escape samsura.
b. Brahman - Until Moksha is attained there is no afterlife…just “life after life after life”. Once Moksha is attained, the Hindu goes into a being non-being state of oneness with all the universe (Brahman) or it is believed that the Hindu has a closer and more personal relationship to a particular god.
Mohammed, born in 570 A.D. in Mecca, Arabia. Died 632 A.D.
a. He married into wealth at the age of 25 and began regular mediation in a cave (every month of Ramadan).
b. He started receiving revelations at the age of 40 from the “angel Gabriel”. c.f. Mormonism
c. He became disgusted with idolatry and desired to rid Arabia of polytheism.
d. Due to his opposition to polytheism of Mecca, Mohammed and his bands of men were persecuted.
There are four inspired books of Scripture which god has revealed to man. (article 3 of 5)
a. The Law of Moses - although they believe that Ishmael received the blessing of Abraham and not Isaac as the Jewish and Christian faiths believe.
b. Psalms of David
c. Gospel of Jesus Christ - They believe that Jesus was a great teacher and some believe he was a prophet but not the incarnation of Almighty God as the Christians believe.
d. The Koran (Quoran). Wherever the first 3 disagree with the Koran, the Muslim feels that they have been corrupted. The Koran supercedes all other revelations and is Allah’s final word to man. c.f. Mormonism and the 'Book of Mormon'
Allah (Muhammad's tribal 'moon' deity)
Arose from polytheism of Arabia, specifically Mecca of Mohammad's time, whereby Mohammad declared Allah as the only god to be worshipped and all other gods declared idols. This was due to the influence of Jewish and Christian caravans that traveled through Mohammads town.
Through self-effort man improves his situation and eventually, a great judgement day
is coming where all people will be judged according to their works and the evil doers, unbelievers, sin and sinners will all be done away with. c.f. Catholic Christianity
a. Judgement day, one’s good works must outweigh the bad in order to go to paradise. Otherwise he/she will go to hell. Article 5 of 5
b. Jihad holy war If a Muslim dies in a jihad he/she has immediate access to paradise. (This is the primary motivation for suicide bombers) c.f Shintoist: Kamikaze fighters
c. Paradise is a physical place of sensual pleasures where each man will have a harem of beautiful women who will bear children for him. c.f Mormonism
Even if the Muslim does great works, it is still not a certain thing that he/she will get into heaven. Ultimately, Allah could have his reasons for denying them entry and he can change his mind at any moment. In other words, they won't have confidence of heaven until the gate slams closed behind them - according to the Quoran. c.f. Catholic Christianity
1. Sunni The majority of Islam today, they are a more moderate sect of Islam formed by 4 Orthodox schools of thought accepting The Quran, The Sunna (the practice of the prophet as expressed in the Hadith), the four bases of Islamic Law
2. Shi’ite A more “fundamental” sect of Islam primarily in Iran but also found spread throughout the middle east. They believed that the rightful replacement to Mohammed as prophet was the Caliph Ali the son-in-law of Mohammed who was murdered by Mu’awiya who claimed the role for himself. the Shi'ites claim that Allah has sent over 124,000 prophets.
*** NOTE: Nation of Islam or "Black Muslims" as they're known in the US are not listed here. This group is not considered orthodox by Muslims but rather, they are looked upon as a type of cult founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930 who was preached, by Elijah Mohammad, to be "God incarnate". He was touted as being the Christian Messiah and the Muslim 'Mahdi' (Redeemer). But he mysteriously disappeared only a few years after appointing an unemployed auto worker, Elijah Poole, who renamed himself Elijah Mohammad, as his primary spokesman. Fard was never heard from again and Elijah immediately assumed leadership of the group.
The primary leaders were Elijah Mohammad (considered a prophet), Malcolm X who was a charismatic outspoken proponent for the nation of Islam who was murdered by Elijah Mohammad's men as a result of Malcolm's discovery and subsequent complaints of Elijah's impropriety with women in the movement. (Two secretaries had filed paternity suits against Elijah).
They basically believe in the supierority of the black race and that all white men are the devil and they believe in a different version of Allah and Mohammad the prophet which is why they are considered a cult by many Muslims.
a. A Jewish man born of a virgin girl named Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.
b. At the age of 30 He began to proclaim that the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.
c. Preached of repentance and ultimate trust in Himself and His finished work as the only way to God (John 14:6)
d. Because Jesus was called (and called Himself) the Son of God, he was condemned as a 'blasphemer' by the Jewish leaders of His time and was ultimately sentenced to die according to Jewish law, however, Judea was under the rule of Roman authority and therefore the Jewish leaders could not carry out the death sentence. Jesus was handed over to the Romans who carried out the death sentence under Pontius Pilate via pressure of the Jews.
e. He suffered, died, was buried, and on the 3rd day He was resurrected from the dead and appeared to his 12 disciples and then to as many as 400 at once. He ascended into Heaven and declared that he will return again in accordance with the scriptures.
a. Bible Consisting of the Old & New Testaments
i. O.T. - 39 books consisting of Law, history, proverbial and prophetical sayings and words which all point to man’s need of a Savior.
ii. N.T. 27 books consisting of the 4 gospel accounts of Jesus life, ministry, passion, and resurrection, acts of the 12 apostles, and epistles (letters of instruction, encouragement, exhortation, and training) from the Apostle Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and James (the half-brother of Jesus)
iii. There is sufficient Manuscript evidence, Archaeological evidence, Predictive prophecy, and scientifical/statistical probability to support the Christian belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God. (II Tim. 3:16)
b. Canonization process19: why are some books in the Bible and others are not?
i. Was generally received by people of the time as scripture: was used regularly as part of worship.
ii. Self-authenticating quality with a unique power over the lives of men.
iii. Is internally consistent with the rest of the received canon of scripture.
iv. Considered to have had genuine Apostolic authority.
For 1 Billion Christians (Catholics), there are additional books of the Bible that are accepted as scripture but were so accepted outside of the historic canonization process and are therefore rejected by Protestant Christianity. These additional books are commonly referred to as the "Apocrypha" which means "the hidden".
Catholicism also believes in the inerrancy of the church (Catholic leadership) and the Pope, therefore, two more authoritative writings exist for this denomination:
Vatican I council - Codification of the Catholic position on specific doctrinal issues as delivered by the Pope at the time of the council.
Vatican II council - Codification of the Catholic position on specific doctrinal issues as delivered by the Pope at the time of the council.
Protestant and Orthodox Christianity rejects the idea of the inerrancy of the Catholic church and its Pope and therefore rejects these writings as authoritative.
Trinity: One God in three persons - Father, Son (Jesus), & Holy Spirit
a. The plan to do away with evil has been provided for in the person of Jesus Christ.
His atoning death and subsequent resurrection has stripped the evil one of his right to hold mankind accountable in that mankind’s sin account has been settled (in so far as he has appropriated it through faith in Jesus).
God Almighty will ultimately do away with all pain and suffering at the return of His Son Jesus. Until that time comes, The Father will continue to use the difficulties and hardship in this world to bring about a greater good in people.
a. Those that die without receiving Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for their sins personally, will have made a conscious choice to reject Him forever, sealing their own fate of eternal separation from God (all things even remotely ‘good’ or ‘pleasurable’) and will have, in their rejection of God’s goodness and ultimate eternal gift, accepted a position in torment called ‘hell’.
b. Those that die after having accepted Jesus atoning death as full payment for their sins, will be forever present with the source of all things good, kind, loving, wonderful, pleasurable, and pure: namely God Almighty. They are then to receive rewards for all of the good that they did from the motivation of love (not works) and will have their works of poor motivation destroyed before them. Christians will rule and reign with Jesus, the King of Kings and will be given tasks and authority to even judge angels.
Christian Denominations - (not referred to as "sects" or "religions")
1. East/West Schism 1054 A.D. arose as a political dispute regarding the authority of the Pope at Rome vs. The authority of the Bishop of Constantinople. Split the church.
2. The Reformation Martin Luther 1517 nailed his 95 thesis to the door at Wittenberg outlining the unbiblical practices and disagreements with Catholic doctrine, resulted in the first Protestant denomination "Lutheran".
3. King Henry the VIII of England - Desired a divorce from his wife and was refused the right to do so by the Pope. The King then formed his own national denomination called the Church of England or "Anglican" church. This church gave rise to many denominations today: Methodists, Church of Scotland, etc.
*** Please note, on this family tree you will not find groups like Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons/LDS belief systems. That is because this chart is representative of Christian denominations that adhere to the historic theological position of One God in Three Persons (The Trinity), The Biblical understanding of Jesus as Almighty God incarnate, and the person and nature in general of Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel and was not One in Being with Almighty God. They believe that the Holy Spirit is a sort of "divine spark" but not a person, much less God Almighty in the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity. This is a completely different Jesus than that of the Bible and of Orthodox Christianity. These are the teachings as passed down from Russel and Rutherford and are perpetuated by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Mormons believe that God the Father came from a planet near a star named Kolob, came to earth grew into man and then into God and then proceeded to make spiritual children. Two of which are Lucifer (the devil) and Jesus (brothers). This is clearly a different god from the Biblical God of Christianity even though the names are the same. The biblical account of Almighty God is that He is the creator of ALL planets and ALL stars, and all things seen and unseen (including the planets and the star named Kolob if such a star existed). The Biblical account of Jesus is that all things seen and unseen were created through Him, for Him, and by Him (Colossian ch1) and that means that even Lucifer was created BY Jesus and not the product of a sexual relation by His Father. These are the teaching as passed down from Joseph Smith.
The LDS faith and the Jehovah's Witness faith as well, are both considered non Christian and because of the controlling history of both organizations over their adherents as a result of their charismatic founders Joseph Smith - LDS, Russel & Rutherford - Jehovah's Witnesses, they are considered cults. Members in both cults deny that they are in a cult in a similar fashion as the members of Jim Jones following in the '70s. Oddly enough, both LDS and JWs consider each other cults