¢¹What is Religion?
Sacred and the Spiritual
¢ÑIndia and Hinduism
¢ÑKoran and Islam
Fundamental beliefs and basic history
Because it integrates a large variety
of heterogeneous elements, Hinduism constitutes a very complex but
largely continuous whole, and since it covers the whole of life,
it has religious, social, economic, literary, and artistic aspects.
As a religion, Hinduism is an utterly diverse conglomerate of doctrines,
cults, and ways of life.
The distinction between the level of
popular belief and that of elaborate ritual technique and philosophical
speculation is very marked and attended by many stages of transition
and varieties of coexistence. Primitive magic and fetishism, animal
worship, and belief in demons occur beside, and often combined with,
the worship of more or less personal gods, as do mysticism, asceticism,
and abstract and profound theological systems or esoteric doctrines.
For example, worship of female local deities does not, in the same
milieu, exclude the belief in pan-Indian higher gods, or even in
a single High God. Such deities are also frequently
looked upon as manifestations of a High God.
In principle, Hinduism incorporates all
forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection
or elimination of any. The Hindu is inclined to revere the divine
in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and is doctrinally tolerant,
leaving others - including both Hindus and non-Hindus - whatever
creed and worship practices suit them best. A Hindu may embrace
a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu, and since the
Hindu is disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms
of worship, strange gods, and divergent doctrines as inadequate
rather than wrong or objectionable, he tends to believe that the
highest divine powers complement each other for the well-being of
the world and mankind. Few religious ideas are considered to be
The core of religion does not even depend
on the existence or nonexistence of God or on whether there is one
god or many. Since religious truth is said to transcend all verbal
definition, it is not conceived in dogmatic terms. Hinduism is,
then, both a civilization and a conglomerate of religions, with
neither a beginning, a founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy,
or organization. Every attempt at a specific definition of
Hinduism has proved unsatisfactory in one way or another, the more
so because the finest Indian scholars of Hinduism, including Hindus
themselves, have emphasized different aspects of the whole.
Background of Relativism
What is the base of Indian culture? This is not simple
question, but these can be as Hinduism and Caste. It¡¯s really hard
to say with somthere is no concept of unchangeable eternity. Principles
of Hinduism have been changed at any time according to time, place,
and religious desire and willingness of the people words about these
likewise all culture in India. Hinduism is a live religion from
the prehistoric age to now. So Hinduism is not a religion can be
drawn a limit clearly. Also it is not determined specifically for
the scripture. Hinduism is both physical religion based on
reality and non-physical one surpassing reality. It contains all
types of belief from logical philosophy to illogical belief. So
there is no concept for oppression and heresy in Hinduism. This
means e. There is an indissoluble connection between Hinduism and
Caste. Caste is social system centering on ¡°awareness of contamination¡±.
Contamination is a material by secreted and produced by animal,
and infected to others through contact and so on. A group permanent,
viviparous, and professional with contamination belongs to low grade
of rank. On the contrary, a group distant contamination belongs
to the highest grade. So the lowest grade in this system is a cleaner
for a corpse, especially body of cow, and a scholar is in the highest
grade of rank. Cleanness is a relative concept of contamination.
Cleanness comes from live cow and its products such as secret, milk,
butter and air, sun, and the Ganges. Personal contamination can
be removed temporarily by source of cleanness. So the Hindu wash
their body in the Ganges, and clean their house with cow¡¯s urine.
But permanent and collective contamination can not be washed by
source of cleanness. There is a grade of rank based on contamination
in Caste, but it is not drawn clearly. Just because one is high
grade in Caste, it doesn¡¯t follow that he has real power. Also
Caste is not a fixed system not to allow movement permanently. Caste
has bigger meaning from the wedding and food stand point of view
than from power and grade point of view. The important function
of Caste in society is limitation about wedding and food. Different
grade of Caste can not marry together.
Hindu is born as the Hindu. Religion to Indian is not selectable.
Everyone belongs to one of branches already when he is born, and
can not escape from its girth. This is his life. Hinduism is regulating
Indian life up to today since it originated in BC 3000. The ¡°Hindu¡±
is Persian pronunciation of ¡°Sindu¡±, Sanskrit of the Indus River.
Hindu itself means India. So Hinduism is the very Indian religion.
For Indian, religion is not special one and is not critical thing.
That is just form for living. Because life is the very religion,
Hindu aware religion specially are not common. For foreigners, they
show religion as Indian life itself. Indian doesn¡¯t really think
themselves as religious. There is an indissoluble connection between
Hinduism and Indian life like this.
all people are not same in their life pattern, it¡¯s not strange
to them that there are many Gods in Hinduism. One might wonder how
such a multitude of beliefs about the divine could possibly co-exist
in one religion. But they do. There is, however, a widespread recognition
that none of the personal gods of Hinduism is in any way exclusive
or unique. They are all simply different ways of conceiving of the
one reality behind all things - Brahman. Many gods or incarnations
of gods are worshiped by Hindus. Chief among them are Shiva, a fierce
figure representing both the creative and destructive sides of divinity
as well as the ideal of yogic meditation, and Vishhnu, who incarnates
himself many times through history in order to bring the message
of salvation to man. The gods are sometimes amoral; their freedom
from the usual restraints necessary to humans is often celebrated,
and they are often represented with sexual imagery. Many lesser
cults worship a complex variety of gods, all of whom are usually
seen as manifestations of the one supreme being, Brahman. Brahman
is seen by many Hindus as a personal, loving God who desires the
salvation of all man. More usually, however, he is described as
a supreme, impersonal being completely above all creation and uninvolved
with life on earth.
Fundamental beliefs and basic history
Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha,
north of Hindustan, about the middle of the sixth century BC. Is
present adherents are chiefly in Burma, Nepal, Ceylon, Thailand,
Tibet, and China, with small numbers in Japan. It has, in recent
years, made some inroads into Europe and North America, though chiefly
those in the West are immigrants from Asia.
Buddhism is regarded
by many as not a new religion, but rather a reformation of Hinduism,
and specifically of the Hinduism as practiced by the highest caste,
The attraction of Buddhism, especially in its
original environment, was the spirit of universal charity and sympathy
that it breathed, as contrasted with the exclusiveness of caste.
It was, in fact, a reaction against the exclusiveness and formalism
of Hinduism - an attempt to render it more universal and to throw
of its burden of ceremonies. Buddhism did not expressly abolish
caste, but declared that all followers of the Buddha who embraced
the religious life were thereby released from its restrictions.
This opening of its ranks to all classes and to both sexes no doubt
gave Buddhism one great advantage over Hinduism.
Buddhists have always looked on India as their "holy land",
and beginning with the fourth century of our era, a stream of Buddhist
pilgrims continued to flow from china to India during six centuries.
Several of these pilgrims have left accounts of their travels, which
throw a light on the course of Buddhism in India, and on the internal
state of the country in general, that is looked for in vain in the
literature of India itself.
A prominent name in the history
of Buddhism is that of Asoka, King of Magadha in the third century
BC, whose sway seems to have extended over the whole peninsula of
Hindustan and even over Ceylon. This prince was to Buddhism what
Constantine was to Christianity. He was at first a persecutor of
the faith, but being converted - by a miracle, according to the
legend - he became a zealous propagator of the religion - not, however,
as princes usually promote their creed, for it is a distinguishing
Buddhism that it has never employed force,
rarely even to resist aggression. Asoka showed his zeal by building
and endowing viharas (monasteries) and raising topes and other monuments
over the relics of Buddha and in spots remarkable as the scenes
his labors. Hiouen-Thsang, in the seventh century of our
era, found topes attributed to Asoka from the foot of the Hindu
Kush to the extremity of the peninsula.
For the glimpses we
get of the state of Buddhism in India we are indebted chiefly to
the accounts of Chinese pilgrims. Fahien, at the end of the fourth
century, found some appearances of decline in the east of Hindustan,
its birthplace, but it was still strong in the Punjab and the north.
In Ceylon it was flourishing in full vigor, the ascetics or monks
numbering nearly 100,000. In the seventy century - i.e. 1200 years
after the death of the Buddha - Hiouen Thsang represents it as dominant
but decaying, though patronized by powerful rajas.
first four or five centuries of our era, Buddhists, perhaps driven
from the great cities, retired among the hills of the west, and
there constructed those cave temples which, for their number, vastness,
and elaborate structure, continue to excite wonder. There are reckoned
to be not fewer than 900 Buddhist excavations still extant in India.
How the destruction of the Buddhist faith in Hindustan came about
- whether from internal corruption, or the persecution of powerful
princes, adherents of the old faith - we do not know. But it is
certain that from the time of Hiouen-Thaang's visit its decay must
have been rapid, for about the eleventh or twelfth century the last
races of it disappear from the Indian Peninsula.
to Buddhist belief, when a man dies he is immediately born again,
or appears in a new shape. That shape may, according to his merit
or demerit, be any of the innumerable orders of being that compose
the Buddhist universe - from a clod to a divinity. If his demerit
would not be sufficiently punished by a degraded earthly existence
- in the form, for instance, of a woman, or a slave, or of some
persecuted group, or a disgusting animal - he will be born in one
of the 136 Buddhist hells, situated in the interior of the earth.
These places of punishment have a regular gradation in the intensity
of the suffering and in the length of time the sufferers live, the
least term being ten million years; the longer terms are almost
beyond the powers of Indian notation to express. A meritorious life,
on the other hand, secures the next birth either in an exalted and
happy position on earth, or as a blessed spirit, or even divinity,
in one of the many heavens, in which the least duration of life is
about ten billion years. But however long the life, whether of misery
or of bliss, it has an end, and at its close the individual must
be born again and may again be either happy or miserable - either
a god or the vilest inanimate object.
The Buddhist conception
of the way in which the quality of actions - which is expressed
in Sanskrit by the word karma, including both merit and demerit
- determines the future condition of all sentient beings, is peculiar.
They do not conceive any god or gods as being pleased or displeased
by the actions, and as assigning the actors their future condition
by way of punishment or of reward. The idea of a god, as creating
or ruling the world, is utterly absent in the Buddhist system. God
is not denied; he is simply not known.
Another basis of Buddhism
is the assumption that human existence is on the whole miserable
and a curse rather than a blessing. An enervating climate and political
conditions may have aided in producing the feeling common to Hindu
and Buddhist that life is evil. But the root of the matter is philosophical.
Life is a whole; nature is a whole; to be born is to become separate
or individualized from the whole. Individuality implies limitation;
limitation implies error; error implies ignorance. Hence birth is
an evil because it is inseparable from ignorance, and it is only
the removal of ignorance which can lead to the suppression of desire,
while only the suppression of desire can lead to peace. This desire,
which Buddha identified with the "will to live," he called
trshna (Pali,Tanha) or "thirst." The little value that
Hindus set upon their lives is manifested in many ways. The punishment
of death has little or no terror for them and is even sometimes
coveted as an honor.
Death was no escape from this inevitable
lot, or, according to the doctrine of transmigration, death was
only a passage into some other form of existence equally doomed.
Guatama saw no escape but in what he called Nirvana, literally "extinction",
"blowing out," or "annihilation." Yet it would
be wrong to hold that the man who has freed himself from desire
and has recognized the essentially illusory character of this world
is utterly devoid of sentiment; on the contrary, the Buddha and
his followers lay stress on Love, which is the cardinal virtue of
Buddhism. While, in his perfect peace of mind, the "enlightened"
man is entirely indifferent to pleasure and pain and unmoved by
the vicissitudes of this world, his soul is not dead, but filled
with love and sympathy for everything which is still in the thrall
of desire, but without undue preference of one object over another.
This love, or charity, is called in Sanskrit Maitri. Complete Nirvana,
which in the original meaning of the term is attainable during life,
was in fact, attained by Guatama himself. The process by which the
state is attained is called Dhyana and is neither more nor less
than ecstasy or trance, which plays so important a part among mystics
of all religions. The individual is described as losing one feeling
after another, until perfect apathy is attained, and he reaches
a state "where there are neither ideas, nor the idea of the
absence of ideas."
The key of the whole scheme of Buddhist
salvation lies in what Gautama called his four sublime verities
(truths). The first asserts that pain exists; the second, that the
cause of pain is desire or attachment; the third, that pain can
be ended by suppressing desire; and the fourth shows the way that
leads to this. This way consists in eight things: right faith, right
judgment, right language, right purpose, right practice, right effort,
right thinking and right meditation.
In order to understand
how this method is to lead to the proposed end, we must turn to
the metaphysical part of the system contained in the "concatenation
of causes," or "chain of causation" (Pratityasamutpada),
which may be looked upon as a development of the second "verity",
viz., that the cause of pain is desire (Trshna) - or rather, as
the analysis upon which that verity is founded. The immediate cause
of pain is birth, for if we were not born we should not be exposed
to death or any of the ills of life. Birth, again, is caused by
previous existence; it is only a transition from one state of existence
into another. Contemplation and science or knowledge are ranked
as virtues in Buddhism and hold a prominent place among the means
of attaining Nirvana. It is reserved, in fact, for abstract contemplation
to effect the final steps of the deliverance. Thought is the highest
faculty of man, and, in the mind of an Eastern philosopher, the
mightiest of all forces. A king who had become a convert to Buddhism
is represented as seating himself with his legs crossed and his
mind collected; and "cleaving with the thunderbolt of science
the mountain of ignorance," he saw before him the desired state.
It is in this cross-legged, contemplative position that the Buddha
is almost always represented - that crowning intellectual act of
his, when, seated under the Bo tree he attained the full knowledge
of the Buddha, saw the illusory nature of all things, broke the
last bonds that tied him to existence, and stood delivered for evermore
from the necessity of being born again, being considered the culmination
of his character and the highest object of imitation to all his
Morality and Religious Observances
There are ten moral precepts or "precepts of aversion."
Five of these are of universal obligation: not to kill, not to steal,
not to commit adultery, not to lie, and not to be drunken.
The other five are for those entering on the direct pursuit of Nirvana
by embracing the religious life: to abstain from food out of season
(i.e., after midday); to abstain from dances, theatrical representations,
songs, and music; to abstain from personal ornaments and perfumes;
to abstain from a lofty and luxurious couch; to abstain from taking
gold and silver.
For the regular ascetics, or monks, there
are a number of special observances of a very severe kind. They
are to dress only in rags, sewed together with their own hands,
and to have a yellow cloak thrown over their rags. They are to eat
only the simplest food and to possess nothing except what they get
by collecting alms from door to door in their wooden bowls. They
are allowed only one meal, and that must be eaten before midday.
For a part of the year they are to live in forests, with no other
shelter except the shadow of a tree, and there they must sit on
their carpet even during sleep, to lie down being forbidden. They
are allowed to enter the nearest village or town to beg food, but
they must return to their forests before night.
absolutely necessary "aversions and observances" above
mentioned, there are certain virtues or "perfections"
of a supererogatory or transcendent kind that tend directly to "conduct
to the other shore" (Nirvana). The most essential of these
are almsgiving or charity, purity, patience, courage, contemplation,
and knowledge. Charity or benevolence may be said to be the characteristic
virtue of Buddhism - a charity boundless in its self-abnegation
and extending to every sentient being. Benevolence to animals, with
the tendency to exaggerate a right principle, is carried among the
Buddhist monks to the length of avoiding the destruction of fleas
and the most noxious vermin, which they remove from their persons
with all tenderness. The sect of the Jains carried this to absurd
There are other virtues of a secondary kind, thought
still highly commendable. Thus, not content with forbidding lying,
the Buddha strictly enjoins the avoidance of all offensive and gross
language, and of saying or repeating anything that can set others
at enmity among themselves; it is a duty, on the contrary, especially
for a Sramana, to act on all occasions as a peacemaker. Patience
under injury and resignation to misfortune are strongly inculcated.
The Buddhist saints are to conceal their good works and display
their faults. As the outward expression of this sentiment of humility,
Gautama instituted the practice of confession. Twice a month, at
the new and at the full moon, the monks confessed their faults aloud
before the assembly. This humiliation and repentance seems the only
means of expiating sin that was known to Gautama. Confession was
exacted of all believers, only not so frequently as of the monks.
The ritual or worship of early Buddhism is very simple in character.
There are no priests, or clergy, properly so called. The Sramanas
or Bhikshus (mendicants) are simply a religious order - a class
of monks, who, in order to accomplish the more speedy attainment
of Nirvana, have entered on a course of greater sanctity and austerity
than ordinary men; they have no sacraments to administer nor rites
to perform for the people, for every Buddhist is his own priest.
The only thing like a clerical function they discharge is to read
the scriptures or discourses of the Buddha in stated assemblies
of the people held for that purpose. But in northern Buddhism there
is a complete ritual, with rites and worship strangely like that
of the Roman Catholic Church, through whose missionaries these traits
may have been introduced.
In some countries the monks are exceedingly
numerous; around Lhassa in Tibet, for instance, they are said to
be one-third of the population. They live in monasteries, and subsist
partly by endowments, but mostly by charity. Except in Tibet, they
are not allowed to engage in any secular occupation. The vow is
not irrevocable. This incubus of monasticism constitutes the great
weakness of Buddhism in its social aspect.
Lamaism, the form
of Buddhism prevalent in Tibet and Mongolia is a combination of
Buddhism with Sivaism and Shamanism or spirit worship. The nature
worship of the nomad Mongols was probably influenced by the precepts
of Lao-Tse and Confucius and the preaching of Nestorian monks before
it absorbed a Buddhism which had already become weak.
of Buddha as an incarnation of the divine essence resulted in the
establishment of a hierarchy in Tibet. There were two Lama popes,
the Dalai-lama or "grand lama" and the other bearing the
titles of Tashi-lama, Bogdo-lama, or Pen-Ch'en.
While both popes
have the same rank and authority, the Dalai-lama's diocese was larger,
giving him greater influence.
Lamaism possesses a lower clergy,
which recruits its ranks on the principle of merit. It has four
orders: the novice; the assistant priest; the religious mendicant;
and the teacher. All these make a vow of celibacy, and live in convents.
At the head is a Khubilghan, or an abbot. Lamaism also has its nuns.
The adoration of the statues of the Buddha and of his relics is
the chief external ceremony of the religion. This, with prayer and
the repetition of sacred formulas, constitutes the ritual. The central
object in a Buddhist temple, corresponding to the altar in a Catholic
church, is an image of the Buddha, or a dagoba or shrine containing
his relics. Here flowers, fruit, and incense are daily offered,
and processions are made with singing of hymns. Of the relics of
the Buddha, the most famous are the teeth that are preserved with
intense veneration in various places.
With all their admiration
of the Buddha, his followers have generally never made a god of
him. Gautama is only the last Buddha - the Buddha of the present
cycle. He had predecessors in the cycles that are past (24 Buddhas
of the past are enumerated); and when, at the end of the present
cycle, all things shall be reduced to their elements, and the knowledge
of the way of salvation shall perish with all things else, another
Buddha will appear, again to reveal to the renascent beings the
way to Nirvana. The Buddha, then, is not a god; he is the ideal
of what any man may become; and the great object of Buddhist worship
is to keep this ideal vividly in the minds of the believers.
Confucianism, the philosophical system founded
on the teaching of Confucius (551-479 BC), dominated Chinese sociopolitical
life for most of Chinese history and largely influenced the cultures
of Korea, Japan, and Indochina. The Confucian school functioned
as a recruiting ground for government positions, which were filled
by those scoring highest on examinations in the Confucian classics.
It also blended with popular and imported religions and became the
vehicle for articulating Chinese mores to the peasants.
school's doctrines supported political authority using the theory
of the mandate of heaven. It sought to help the rulers maintain
domestic order, preserve tradition, and maintain a constant standard
of living for the taxpaying peasants. It trained its adherents in
benevolence, traditional rituals, filial piety, loyalty, respect
for superiors and for the aged, and principled flexibility in advising
use Confucius as the spelling for K'ung Fu-tzu-Master K'ung-China's
first and most famous philosopher. Confucius had a traditional personal
name (Ch'iu) and a formal name (Chung-ni). Confucius' father died
shortly after Confucius' birth. His family fell into relative poverty,
and Confucius joined a growing class of impoverished descendants
of aristocrats who made their careers by acquiring knowledge of
feudal ritual and taking positions of influence serving the rulers
of the fragmented states of ancient China.
himself to learning. At age 30, however, when his short-lived official
career floundered, he turned to teaching others. Confucius himself
never wrote down his own philosophy, although tradition credits
him with editing some of the historical classics that were used
as texts in his school. He apparently made an enormous impact on
the lives and attitudes of his disciples, however. The book known
as the Analects, which records all the "Confucius said,
. . . " aphorisms, was compiled by his students after his death.
Because the Analects was not written as a systematic philosophy,
it contains frequent contradictions and many of the philosophical
doctrines are ambiguous. The Analects became the basis of the Chinese
social lifestyle and the fundamental religious and philosophical
point of view of most traditionalist Chinese intellectuals throughout
history. The collection reveals Confucius as a person dedicated
to the preservation of traditional ritual practices with an almost
spiritual delight in performing ritual for its own sake.
combines a political theory and a theory of human nature to yield
a tao-a prescriptive doctrine or way. The political theory starts
with a doctrine of political authority based on the mandate of heaven.
The legitimate ruler derives authority from heaven's command. The
ruler bears responsibility for the well-being of the people and
therefore for peace and order in the empire.
presupposes a view of human nature in which humans are essentially
social animals whose mode of social interaction is shaped by li
(convention or ritual), which establishes value distinctions and
prescribes activities in response to those distinctions. Education
in li, or social rituals, is based on the natural behavioral propensity
to imitate models. Sages, or superior people-those who have mastered
the li-are the models of behavior from which the mass of people
learn. Ideally, the ruler should himself be such a model and should
appoint only those who are models of te (virtue) to positions of
prominence. People are naturally inclined to emulate virtuous models;
hence a hierarchy of merit results in widespread natural moral education.
Then, with practice, all people can in principle be like the
sages, by acting in accordance with li without conscious effort.
At that point they have acquired jen (humanity), the highest level
of moral development; their natural inclinations are all in harmony
tao (way). The world is at peace, order abounds, and the
harmony between the natural and the social sphere results in material
well-being for everyone. This is Confucius' utopian vision, which
he regards as modeled on the practice of the ancient sage kings.
Confucianism emerged as a more coherent philosophy when
faced with intellectual competition from other schools that were
growing in the fertile social upheavals of preimperial China (c.400-c.200
BC.) Taoism, Mohism, and Legalism all attacked Confucianism. A common
theme of these attacks was that Confucianism assumed that tradition
or convention (li) was correct.
Mencius (c.372-c.289 BC) developed
a more idealistic version of Confucianism stressing jen as an innate
inclination to good behavior that does not require education. Hsun
Tzu (c.313-c.238 BC), on the contrary, argued that all inclinations
are shaped by acquired language and other social forms.
rose to the position of an official orthodoxy during the Han dynasty
(206 BC-AD 220). It absorbed the metaphysical doctrines of Yin (the
female principle) and Yang (the male principle) found in the I Ching
(Book of Changes) and other speculative metaphysical notions. With
the fall of the Han, the dynastic model, Confucianism fell into
severe decline. Except for the residual effects of its official
status, Confucianism lay philosophically dormant for about 600 years.
With the reestablishment of Chinese dynastic power in the T'ang
dynasty (618-906) and the introduction of the Ch'an (Zen Buddhist)
premise that "there is nothing much to Buddhist teaching,"
Confucianism began to revive. The Sung dynasty (960-1279) produced
Neo-Confucianism-an interpretation of classical Confucian doctrine
(principally that of Mencius) that addressed Buddhist and Taoist
issues. The development of this philosophy was due mainly to Cheng-hao
(1032-85) and Cheng-i (1033-1107), but for the orthodox statement
of Neo-Confucianism, one turns to Chu Hsi (1130-1200). His commentaries
on the four scriptures of Confucianism were required study for the
imperial civil service examinations.
on the term li, which here means "lane" or "pattern."
Correct behavior is held to follow a natural pattern (li) that is
apprehended by hsin (heart-mind). Mencius' theory of the innate
goodness of man is a theory of the innate ability of this heart-mind
to apprehend li in situations and to follow it. To become a sage,
one must study li and develop the ability to "see" it
by a kind of intuition. Later, in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644),
Wang Yang-Ming claimed that the heart projects li on things rather
than just noticing external li. To become a sage, one cannot just
study situations, one must act before li becomes manifest. Thus
the heart-mind, which guides the action, is the source of li (moral
After the disastrous conflicts with Western military
technology at the dawn of the 20th century, Chinese intellectuals
blamed Confucianism for the scientific and political backwardness
of China. Chinese Marxism, nonetheless, differs from Western Marxism
in ways that reveal the persistence of Confucian attitudes toward
politics, metaphysics, and theories of human psychology. Anti-Confucianism
has been a theme in various political campaigns in modern China-most
notably during and just after the Cultural Revolution. Increased
toleration for all religions since Mao Tse-tung's death may lead
to a moderate revival of Confucianism, although the interest seems
to be mostly in historical issues.
In Taiwan, by contrast,
Confucian orthodoxy has survived and serves to underpin an anti-Marxist,
traditional authoritarianism. Serious, ongoing Confucian philosophy,
however, is found mainly in Hong Kong and among Chinese scholars
working in the West.
The term Taoism refers both to the philosophy
outlined in the Daode Jing (Tao Te Ching) (identified with Laozi
or Lao-tzu) and to China's ancient Taoist religion. Next to Confucianism,
it ranks as the second major belief system in traditional Chinese
formulation of Taoist philosophy is attributed to Laozi (fl. 6th
or 4th century BC) and Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu) (c.369-c.286 BC) as
well as the Lie Xi (Lieh-tzu) (compiled during the Han dynasty,
202 BC-AD 220). Three doctrines are particularly important:
Tao (way) is nonbeing (wu), the creative-destructive force that
brings everything into being and dissolves everything into nonbeing;
return (fu) is the destiny of everything-that is, everything, after
completing its cycle, returns to nonbeing; and nonaction (wu wei),
or action in harmony with nature, is the best way of life. Zhuangzi
taught that, from a purely objective viewpoint, all oppositions
are merely the creations of conceptual thought and imply no judgments
of intrinsic value (one pole is no more preferable than its opposite).
Hence the wise person accepts life's inevitable changes. The Lie
Xi said that the cultivation of Tao would enable a person to live
for several hundred years. Taoism teaches the devotee to lead a
long and tranquil life through the elimination of one's desires
and aggressive impulses.
regarded as a corruption of Taoist philosophy, the Taoist religion
began in the 3d century BC with such practices as alchemy (the mixing
of elixirs designed to ensure the immortality of the body). The
alchemy was carried out by Taoist priest-magicians at the court
of Shih Huang-ti of the Qin (Ch'in) dynasty (221-207 BC). These
magicians were also acclaimed as spirit mediums and experts in levitation.
They were the heirs of the archaic folk religion of China, which
had been rejected by the early Confucianists. Among the prominent
features of Taoist religion are belief in physical immortality,
alchemy, breath control and hygiene (internal alchemy), a pantheon
of deities (including Laozi as one of the three Supreme Ones), monasticism
and the ritual of community renewal, and revealed scriptures. The
Taoist liturgy and theology were influenced by Buddhism. Its scriptures,
the Daozang (Tao-tsang), consist of hundreds of separate works totaling
more than 5,000 chapters.
Among the principal Taoist sects to
emerge was the Heavenly Master sect, founded in West China in the
2d century AD. It advocated faith healing through the confession
of sin and at one time recruited members as soldiers and engaged
in war against the government. The Supreme Peace sect, also founded
in the 2d century, adopted practices much like those of the Heavenly
Master sect and launched a great rebellion that went on for several
years before ending in AD 205. The Mao-shan (Mount Mao) sect, founded
in the 4th century, introduced rituals involving both external and
internal alchemies, mediumistic practice, and visionary communication
The Ling-pao (Marvelous Treasure) sect, also
founded in the 4th century, introduced the worship of divinities
called T'ien-tsun (Heavenly Lords). The Ch'uan-chen (Completely
Real) sect was founded in the 12th century as a Taoist monastic
Eventually the Heavenly Master sect absorbed most
of the beliefs and practices of the other sects and, in the 20th
century, became the most popular Taoist group.
Tao can be roughly
translated into English as path, or the way. It ¡°refers to a power
which envelopes, surrounds and flows through all things, living
and non-living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes
balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites. Taoism
is a philosophy that is deeply embedded into the traditions and
history of China. It is difficult to distinguish between what is
Taoist and what is Confucian because they both have many of the
same ideas about man, society, rulers, heaven, and the Universe.
Confucianism deals with the practical and the earthly while Taoism
deals with the esoteric and the heavenly. Both beliefs stem from
traditional Chinese ideas that were not delegated to one religion.
Therefore, it is difficult to place the origins of Taoism. The Tao-Te
Ching is the basis of many other works in Taoism. Most of the Tao-Te
Ching deals with the interaction of yin and yang and their influences
upon nature. Yin represents the female and is serene and without
motive. Yang represents the masculine aspects of the universe, which
are hot, dry, and active. The ideal balance is to able to retain
the characteristics of both. Taoist do not concern themselves with
society. Taoism is a very individual philosophy in that Taoists
are expected to value their own life above all else. They should
not worry about wealth and power. These are not the concerns of
people. There is no need to sacrifice oneself for the good of society.
Everyone is responsible for their owns. Taoism looks upon death
and a natural occurrence that one should not fear or dread. Yet,
as the philosophy evolved into different sects, there are some who
seek immortality. These believe that, even though death is natural,
it can be avoided by practicing Taoism so completely that the energy
of the soul is released and the person becomes pure cosmic energy.
Taoism, in it¡¯s involvement in maintaining the balance of the natural
order, is preoccupied with repairing that balance. Through medicine
and meditation, this balance in maintained. Therefore, many of the
Taoistic ceremonies center around this need. There have been various
discussions about ¡° What is Taoism?¡± from long ago, so there have
been lots of opinions for this.
This includes religion and popular customs. Islam
is one of the major religions. One who follows Islam is Muslim.
Traditionally, its followers have regarded Islam as extending over
all areas of life, not merely faith and worship which are commonly
viewed as the sphere of religion today. Thus many Muslims prefer
to call Islam a way of life rather than a religion. It is for this
reason too that the word Islam, especially when referring to the
past is often used to refer to a society, culture or civilization,
as well as to a religion. Islam is a theocracy, which means that
Moslem laws govern both religion and civil state: both personal
and public laws. Muslims today claim that Islam can bridge the gap
between Jews and Christians. History of Islam discusses political
developments, literacy and artistic life, taxation and landholding,
tribal and ethnic migrations, etc.
The last prophet, Muhammad
Islam is not a new religion by Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad
was chosen by God to deliver His Massage of Peace, namely Islam.
He was born in Arabia, and was entrusted with the Message of Islam
when he was at the age of forty years. The revelation that he received
is called Koran, while the message is called Islam. Muhammad is
the very last Prophet of God to mankind. He is the final Messenger
of God. His message was still to the Christians, the Jews and the
rest of mankind. He was sent to those religious people to inform
them about the true mission of Jesus, Moses, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.
Muhammad is considered to be the summation and the culmination of
all the prophets and messengers that came before him. He purified
the previous messages from adulteration and completed the Message
of god for all humanity. He was entrusted with the power of explaining,
interpreting and living the teaching of the Koran.
is not the Bible
In this Book, the Holy Prophet¡¯s life, the
history of the Arabs and the events which occurred during the period
of the revelation of the Koran have not been mingled with the Divine
Verses, as is the case with the Bible. The Koran is the pure word
of the God. Not one word therein is divine. Not a single word has
been deleted from its text. The Book has been handed down to our
age in its complete and original form since the time of Prophet
Muhammad. Whenever some Divine Message was revealed, the Holy Prophet
would call a scribe and dictate its word to him. The Holy Prophet
used to instruct the scribe about the sequence in which a revealed
message was to be placed in a particular chapter. In this manner,
the Holy Prophet continued to arrange the text of the Koran in systematic
order till the end of the chain of revelations. Again, it was ordained
from the beginning of Islam that a recitation of the Holy Koran
must be an integral part of worship.
Basic doctrine: Five Pillars of Islam
God instructed the Muslims to practice
what they believe in. Five duties have traditionally been seen as
obligatory for all Muslims. These duties are the so-called Five
Pillars of Islam.
1. Creed (Shahada): The verbal commitment
and pledge that there is only One God and that Muhammad is the Messenger
of God, is considered to be the Creed of Islam.
(Salat): The performance of the five daily prayers is required of
3. Fasting (Saum): Fasting is total abstinence
from food, liquids and intimate intercourse (between married couples)
from dawn to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.
Tax (Zakat): This is an annual payment of a certain percentage of
a Muslim¡¯s property that is distributed among the poor ot other
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj): The performance
of pilgrimage to Makkah is required once in a life time if means
are available. Hajj is in part in memory of the trials and tribulations
of Prophet Abraham, his wife Hagar and his eldest son Prophet Ishmael.
The pillar balances external action with internal conviction, the
other four, although they take belief for the granted, consist predominantly
of external acts. There are other duties and practices regarded
as obligatory. The eating of pork is prohibited and male circumcision
is the norm. Consumption of alcohol is forbidden. Meat must be slaughtered
according to an approved ritual or else it is not halal.
the essence of Islam is acceptance of one God and of the prophethood
of Muhammad, in practice adherence to Islam has traditionally been
manifested by living a life according to Islamic law within an Islamic
community. The law is regarded as of divine origin: although it
is administered and interpreted by human beings, it is understood
as the law of God. To obey the law is to obey God. One should not
underestimate the importance of questions of belief and dogma in
Islam, but generally speaking for Muslims, Islam has been more a
matter of right behavior than of concern with the niceties of belief.
Traditionally, Muslims have held that the law was revealed by God
in the Koran and in the Sunna. Islamic law concerns itself with
far wider areas of public and private life than does a modern secular
legal system. Economics, politics, matters of diet and dress, penal
and civil law, welfare, and many other aspects of social and private
life are, in theory at least, regulated by Islamic law. To live
a life according to the law has probably been the main religious
ideal for most Muslims, although one should not conclude that Islam
is merely a legalistic religion.
Moral system of Islam
has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as
a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances.
To achieve these rights Islam provides not only legal safeguards
but also a very effective moral system. Thus whatever leads to the
welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam
and whatever is injurious is morally bad.
Islam attaches so
much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warns
against too much of formalism.
We are given a beautiful description
of the righteous and God-conscious man in these verses. He should
obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love
of God and the love of his fellow men.
We are given four heads:
a) Our faith should be true and sincere,
b) We must
be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men,
c) We must be good citizens, supporting social organizations, and
d) Our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all
This is the standard by which a particular mode
of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard
of judgment provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct
should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions Islam seeks
to firmly implant in man's heart the conviction that his dealings
are with God who sees him at all times and in all places; that he
may hide himself from the whole world but not from Him; that he
may deceive everyone but cannot deceive God; that he can flee from
the clutches of anyone else but not from God. Thus, by setting God's
pleasure as the objective of man's life, Islam has furnished the
highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide
limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity. By making
Divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge it gives permanence
and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope
for genuine adjustments,
adaptations and innovations, though
not for perversions, wild variation, atomistic relativism or moral
fluidity. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear
of God, which will impel man to obey the moral law even without
any external pressure. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgment
it furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct
with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and
It does not, through a false sense of originality and
innovation, provide any novel moral virtues nor does it seek to
minimize the importance of the well-known moral norms, nor does
it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without
cause. It takes up all the commonly known moral virtues and with
a sense of balance and proportion it assigns a suitable place and
function to each one of them in the total scheme of life. It widens
the scope of man's individual and collective life - his domestic
associations, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political,
economic, legal, educational, and social realms. It covers his life
from home to society, from the dining-table to the battlefield and
peace conferences, literally from the cradle to the grave. In short,
no sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive
application of the moral principles of Islam. It makes morality
reign supreme and ensures that the affairs of life, instead of dominated
by selfish desires and petty interests, should be regulated by norms
It stipulates for man a system of life which is
based on all good and is free from all evil. It invokes the people,
not only to practice virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate
vice, to bid good and to forbid wrong. It wants that the verdict
of conscience should prevail and virtue must not be subdued to play
second fiddle to evil. Those who respond to this call are gathered
together into a community and given the name "Muslim".
And the singular object underlying the formation of this community
("Ummah") is that it should make an organized effort to
establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil.
Fundamental beliefs and basic history
Judaism traces itself back to Moses, who
is regarded as the author of the first five books of the Bible,
where he laid down the law of God to the nation. Salvation was a
work of God, demonstrated by the Exodus. Since God had the power
to save the nation from Egyptian , so God had the power to
save people from to sin. The law was given after salvation
from Egypt, not accidentally; it illustrates that salvation is a
work of God, and that obeying the law is a consequence of the work
God has begun
in the heart - a loving response to his grace.
Unfortunately, as so often happens, the concept of the nature
of salvation quickly became perverted. Israel quickly fell into
allowing their beliefs to be dictated by their culture, and as the
surrounding culture was polytheistic, they quickly started worshipping
other gods in addition to Yahweh. The prophets warned the people
of God's displeasure, but repentance was never complete until after
Israel suffered the indignity of first Assyrian and then Babylonian
exile and captivity.
Afterward, Israel was never tempted to
worship idols or other gods; however, Judaism became increasingly
legalistic in its orientation, with salvation being tied to keeping
the law, performing the sacrifices, and doing what the priests ordered.
The cart was placed before the horse, as it was.
sects developed in Judaism, the Pharisees, who believed in the books
of Moses and also the Writings and the Prophets and who taught that
external righteousness was the way to achieve God's favor. The only
difference that the Saducees, another sect had with the Pharisees,
what that the Saducees did not accept any of the Bible but the five
books of Moses.
Consequently, they also didn't believe in angels,
demons, or the resurrection of the dead (no afterlife at all, in
fact). The Eseens were like the Pharisees in most ways, except they
viewed the nation as hopelessly corrupt, and so they separated themselves
and lived in the hills, waiting for God to send a reformer like
Moses who would eliminate the corruption and restore a legalistically
The zealots were entirely political in orientation,
and argued for the use of force to drive out the Romans. They contented
themselves with acts of terrorism until they eventually became the
dominant force in the nation and in AD 66 began a seven year struggle,
ultimately unsuccessful, to drive out the Romans.
of their activity was the destruction of the nation and the burning
and destruction of the temple, ending the possibility of sacrifice.
As most of the Saducees had been priests, they mostly died
when the temple was destroyed. The zealots were also mostly dead
at the hands of the Romans, and the Esseens didn't involve themselves
with anyone. Also, being celibate, they didn't reproduce and finally
The only group left to reconstitute Judaism after
the disastrous Jewish War were the Pharisees, and so modern Judaism
is essentially the child of the Pharisees and bears scant resemblance
to the Judaism of the Old Testament.
Since the temple no longer
exists, Judaism had tried to get around this significant lack by
arguing that God prefers acts of righteousness and mercy better
than sacrifice. The result is that Judaism emphasizes doing good
deeds in order to stay of God's good side and to ensure a good afterlife.
Salvation is a process of personal redemption by bettering oneself
and bettering mankind.
great by world standards, the small nation of Israel was repeatedly
defeated and finally dispersed throughout the world. But the Jews
are unique in that they maintained their identity in the midst of
a large number of diverse cultures. Thus, although a religion closely
tied to one ethnic group, Judaism has had a profound effect on beliefs
and practices throughout the West and the Near East.
a bewildering variety of Jewish groups and nationalities, many of
whom are strange to each other. One loose way of dividing modern
Judaism is into four groups: Orthodox Jews maintain strict adherence
to traditional customs; Reform or Liberal Jews attempt to apply
broadly Judaic notions to contemporary culture in a humanistic manner;
Conservative Jews try to forge a middle way between the previous
two, hoping to maintain strong Jewish identity; and Hasidic Jews
follow a mystical path, although many Hasids are little other than
the right wing of Orthodoxy.
Jews hold a large number of writings
besides the Old Testamant as authoritative.
The Holocaust, in which over six million
Jews were killed under Nazism and other forms of anti-Semitism,
has become a major theme of Judaic thought in recent years.
unity of God--both as a powerful, just ruler and as a merciful,
loving deliverer--is central to Judaism. That means that Jews do
not flinch from confronting the problem of the existence of pain
and suffering, although they freely admit that it is a mystery.
Somehow God is Lord even in the midst of a painful and evil world.
God is not merely some supreme force but is a person, one with emotions
of anger, sadness, and joy. He is above all a person with whom one
can have a relationship; He desires to share the full gamut of emotions
At the same time God has a certain remoteness. He
is above the world, and His ways are often inscrutable to man. The
tension between God's nearness and farness is a recurring theme
of Judaism, leading to passionate appeals by Jews for communication
God is seen as continually active in a creative way,
constantly working in the world to offer men the opportunity to
fulfill their obligations toward Him and toward fellow men.
Man and the Universe
material world is considered on the whole "very good"
(Genesis 1:31), and man has a unique responsibility to order it
according to God's purposes. Some Jews go as far as to say that
all people, animals, and things contain a "divine spark,"
which man is assigned
to call forth to completeness through
The personhood of God and His need for relationships
form an analogy for man's most pressing need: to live in harmony
with other men.
History is the arena of God's purposeful activity,
and Jews often look for signs of His approval or judgment in historical
The great responsibility of man as well as his frailty
and wickedness are emphasized. The distinguishing mark of humans
is their ability to make ethical choices; it is to those choices
that Judaism most often addresses itself directly.
Salvation and the Afterlife
One's eternal existence in the hereafter is determined
by moral behavior and attitudes. Although there is no Christian
notion of saving grace in Judaism, it is taught that God always
offers even the most evil men the possibility of repentance (teshuva,
After such repentance one can atone for
one's rebellion against God's ways by positive action.
the notion of individual salvation and heavenly existence is not
prominent in Judaism. In fact many Jews criticize Christianity for
being a "selfish" religion, too concerned with personal
The notion of an afterlife is not well developed
in the Old Testament.
Later writers speculated unsystematically
about a final day of judgment.
Jews still hope for the coming
of the Messiah, who will hand out eternal judgment and reward to
all. This hope is largely communal; the entire Jewish race and the
whole of creation is in view more than individual men.
end the moral life of man here on earth is considered the most proper
concern of man; final judgments are best left to God.
("to point the way, give direction"), often translated
"law," refers in Judaism to a total pattern of behavior,
applicable to all aspects of communal and individual life. It is
to be found not only in the Old Testament Scriptures but also in
a wide variety of oral traditions, rituals, ceremonies, stories,
and commentaries on Scripture.
Jews have often tried to develop
rules of behavior to cover each situation encountered in their various
cultures. Thus a gigantic literature covering codes of conduct has
arisen. From time to time movements have emerged that have tried
to cut through those rules and get back to the original meaning
of torah, but legalism has been a perennial problem of Judaism.
As can be seen in the Ten Commandments, much of Jewish morality
is related primarily to the good of the community. The Jewish prophets
were perhaps the first strong proponents of social justice in the
ancient world, and concern with economic justice continues to be
an integral part of Judaism.
But material possessions are generally
not considered bad in themselves, even the prophets did not denounce
wealth as such, but wanted a greater number of people to have more.
Marriage and children are held in high regard by Judaism. Singleness
is looked down on even for religious leaders, and much time is spent
teaching children the precepts of the faith.
Fundamental beliefs and basic history
Christianity affirms that Jesus Christ
was God in the flesh; yet, since the Bible proclaims that there
is but one God, but in the same breath affirms that the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit are each God, the doctrine of the Trinity
was developed to reconcile this apparent contradiction. The biblical
analogy to explain the nature of a single, triune deity is that
of a family, inherent in the names of the three members of the godhead,
and reflected in the femininity of the Holy Spirit, especially in
the Old Testament.
Christianity also affirms that Jesus came
to Earth for the express purpose of dying for the sins of humanity,
solving what would otherwise be an insoluble problem. Christianity
teaches that Jesus was born of a - essentially, to put it
in modern terms, Mary was a surrogate mother. The reason that he
had to be born of a is because sin is a genetically inherited
trait; we are born this way. Therefore, for Jesus to escape the
taint of original sin, he could not be descended from Adam.
Christianity affirms that Jesus was crucified by the Roman
authorities and died, was buried in a rich man's tomb, and that
three days later, Jesus rose from the grave. He preached to his
disciples for another forty days, and then ascended back to the
Heaven, promising to return some day "in the
same manner as you saw him leave."
The disciples of Christ,
being average Jews of the first century, were not looking for a
new religion; instead, their interest was in the coming of the promised
Messiah, who would be king and would liberate the nation from the
hated Roman oppressors. Even
following the resurrection, his
disciples kept pressing him, "are you now going to establish
the kingdom?" That is, are you now going to get rid of these
After Jesus' ascension back to heaven, the Holy
Spirit was sent to the followers of Christ. This altered, or corrected
their thinking so that they finally fully understood that Jesus'
purpose was not to liberate them from political , but rather
to liberate them from spiritual .
a sect of Judaism, and was tolerated by the Roman government as
such, until the Jewish War when the Jewish people attempted by use
of force, to liberate themselves from Rome. Christians refused to
participate in this action, and as a consequence were kicked out
With the rising numbers of non-Jews converting
to Christianity, its Jewish nature has become increasingly obscured.
claims an unbroken line from Peter, as the first Pope (Bishop of
Rome, in charge of the visible Church of Christ) to the present.
Salvation is considered to be the product of the sacrifice of Christ
on the cross combined with certain good works and sacraments; therefore,
a person contributes to their salvation by going to church, taking
communion, and following the commands of the church. In Catholic
theology, the words of the Pope, church councils and tradition are
placed on the same authoritative level as the Bible, and the Bible
is to be understood as it has been interpreted in the past. In fact,
the laity is dependent upon the priests as their intermediaries
to God, and as the explainers of the meaning of Scripture.
result of Martin Luther's protest to the sale of indulgences was
a split in the western church in the early 1500's AD. The pillars
of the reformation are three:
1. Salvation by grace through
faith, not by works.
2. Only Scripture is authoritative.
3. Priesthood of all believers.
Interestingly, in the late twentieth
century, the Catholic church is more and more coming to recognize
the correctness of Luther's ideas. In many ways, todays Catholicism
is approaching the ideal that Luther had in mind. Unfortunately,
this transformation in the Catholic Church for the most part has
been limited to the upper leadership and theologians. Most of the
laity, and even many in the priesthood, have yet to come to grips
with the transformation.
The concept of Priesthood of the believer,
where each individual Christian may for him or herself interpret
the Bible and decide what to believe opened the floodgates for freedom;
it also, not surprisingly, resulted in an increasing fragmentation
within Protestantism over questions of doctrine. Divisions within
Protestantism for the most part are over the following questions:
1. Church organization. There are three basic ways churches
have organized themselves:
Authoritarian - church/denomination
run by a single individual.
Presbyterian - church/denomination
run by a group of elders elected by the churches
of the denomination.
Congregational - each church is autonomous
and is run according to democratic principles, with the individual
members voting for what they want. Denomination is run by the individual
churches cooperating voluntarily.
or not to baptize infants
is baptism a necessary part of salvation?
mode of baptism: by immersion only, or is pouring and sprinkling
also valid methods?
The bread and wine become
the literal body and blood of Jesus.
The body and blood of
Jesus are mystically present in the bread and wine.
and wine are merely symbolic representations to remind the believer
of Christ's sacrifice.
Other divisions in Protestantism
are largely the result of national divisions; for instance, the
reason for different Lutheran denominations in the US is the consequence
of them having been founded by German or Norwegian immigrants. Consequently,
in the twentieth century we have witnessed the unification of some
of these Lutheran denominations since all of them speak English
now, rather than different languages.
Some of the divisions
have been of relatively recent origin, the result of the so-called
Modernist/Fundamentalist controversy over the nature of Scripture:
is it an inerrant product of God, or is it of purely human origin
and therefore, obviously, flawed. Several new Baptist denominations
came out of the American Baptist Convention (formerly Northern Baptist
Convention) over this issue.
The Baptists first split in the
United states in 1845 over the issue of slavery. While the Northern
Baptist Convention has since been renamed and has further fragmented,
the Southern Baptist Convention retained its name and has yet to
fragment, though in the 1980's it went through the same controversy.
Another division within Christianity since the early 1920's has
been the so-called Charasmatic movement, which has emphasized personal
spiritual experience and personal revelations, and "gifts of
the Spirit", especially the speaking in tongues:
Within the last twenty years or so some of the fastest growing denominations
and churches have been those which are explicitly charasmatic.
Traditionally, the issue that has separated Baptists from other
denominations has been baptism by dunking people, and their insistence
on separation of Church and state; only in recent years have some
Baptists started to drift from this firm belief that churches have
no business involving themselves in politics or vice versa.
Under Protestantism may be included the non-orthodox, marginal sects
which arose in the United States in the 19th century, such as Jehovah's
Witnesses, who deny the Trinity, see salvation as the result of
works, and believe that Jesus is a created being, not God, and reject
the notion of Hell. Mormonism also rejects the Trinity, sees salvation
as the result of works, rejects the notion of Hell, and is explicitly
polytheistic. They believe that God was once a man, and that someday
each individual will rise to the same status and be put in charge
of his own world. Extremely patriarchal, they believe that the purpose
of women in eternity is to give birth to an endless supply of "spirit
babies," to populate the worlds each man will control. Also,
in the middle of the 1800's, the Millerites became a popular movement,
which believed in the soon coming of Jesus Christ and set a date
in 1847. When Jesus failed to materialize, the movement transformed
itself and became what today is known as Seventh-Day Adventism.
Seventh Day Adventists today are essentially orthodox, except for
their insistance on conducting church services on the "sabbath"
- i.e., Saturday - a strong legalistic streak, and a tendency toward
vegitarianism; the writings of White are also a very strong influence
on the group.