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We're Here To Help You Make Comparative Religion Understandable

This is the evolution of an idea into an action. We want you to explore the world of comparative religious studies to make your world clearer in the widest possible perspective.

  • May /
    2013

    the Birth

    Finally the idea has come to fruition: the site is launched. For so long we had been dreaming of a place where the brilliant minds of our race could have their ideas examined thoughtfully and without prejudice.

  • January /
    2014

    the Upgrade

    We call in professional help to give the site the look and feel we want. We decided if we wanted to be relevent we would need to appeal. So we upgraded our site to look like it belonged to the digital age.

  • Febuary /
    2014

    the Content

    Now we are commissioning writers who are specialists in their field to contribute and make our website something to come back to again and again.

our Team

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our Religions

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Reviews Of The Great Religions
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Reviews Of The Great Religions of the World

Check out our latest comparative reviews of the great philosophical works of the world. We review the development of ideas over the centuries, examining religions and philosophies and put them into a context that you can understand.

the Bible

Texts To Study

Bibliolatry

What Is It

The Benefits of Bible Study

You all possess at least one Bible if you are a Christian, however by just possessing one does not bring a Christian to maturity. It takes a whole lot of hard work and that refers to Bible study. As you all are aware that for all the hard work – there are definite benefits in the end. Benefits of Bible studies can be in the form of getting answers to your life’s problems, defending your Christian faith or building a foundation for an intimate prayer life with God. The most important and ultimate payoff of Bible study is that knowledge that leads to maturity and confidence of being a Christian.

Who doesn’t want answers, but not everyone knows where to find them. As Christians, you know where to find the answers, as it is just right in front of your eyes through Bible study. All scriptures are inspired by God and are valuable sources for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Thus, if you have a question about anything like tattoos or body piercing, you have the answers there. While most of you often wonder how to raise and discipline your children, you don’t have to worry as there are many places in scripture that address these matters in addition to a number of stories that furnish you with give varied examples of good and bad parenting.

When you come before God in prayer, try to spend more time in listening to his words rather than spending time in always asking God for things or complaining in front of him. That is what Bible study aims to do for us. Bible study is the only way in which the Christians can defend the Christian faith properly. This also represents the power of your prayer life. Place your complete faith in God, and witness how life changes afterwards.

the Buddha

Kalama Sutta

This essay is about The Kalama Sutta which is sometimes referred to as the Buddha’s charter of free inquiry

In this, the Buddha lists criteria that he recommends we should use to decide which teachings to follow, and he also lists criteria which we should not use.
It is contained in the Anguttara Nikaya of the Tipitaka.

The sutta describes how the Buddha meets the Kalama tribe, and they say that they meet many holy men and teachers who all have differing teachings, and they are confused about which teaching to follow. He gives ten reasons that he does not recommend you use to choose and justify a teaching. He says that you should not follow teachings just because they are traditional, appear in a holy book, that they appear to be provable by philosophical reasoning, or because they are enunciated by your teacher, or an expert.

Instead he says you should only accept a teaching when you have direct experience that it is skilful, blameless, praiseworthy and conducive to happiness.I think it is particularly relevant to us as Westerners suffering from information overload, as we are bombarded all day long with different people’s opinions and theories, and it is so hard to navigate a way towards truth through this.It contrasts particularly with Christianity which states that you must believe everything written in the Bible because it is the word of God. This is an anathema to anyone brought up to question his deepest convictions.

I feel that in our culture, we have a spiritual void, because we used to have Christianity, and now we have a consumer society. The reason for this is because we have questioning rational minds, and cannot just believe the bible, even though part of us does have a yearning for spiritual experience.
We need a spiritual path that is founded on scientific and empirical principles. And in this sutta, the Buddha reveals that his path is indeed founded on these.

The Buddha again hinted at this as he was dying, and he exhorted his disciples to be “lamps unto yourselves” and “look not for a refuge in anyone besides yourselves”.Elsewhere he says “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it (on a piece of touchstone), so are you to accept my words after examining them and not merely out of regard for me,”It is this more than anything that differentiates Buddhism from the other religions. There are many common themes of positivity, prayer, meditation and visualisation, but with this sutta, the Buddha is encouraging us to think for ourselves, and not to mindlessly follow his teachings.

One of the reasons he says we should not use is that the teaching appears in scripture. This is ironic, because his words have now themselves become part of Buddhist scripture. But in this process, it reminds us of the spirit with which we should approach the rest of Buddhist scripture. i.e. that we don’t have to just accept something because the Buddha says so.He also recommends that we do not believe things just because an expert or even one’s own teacher recommends it. Again I think he is spot on with this. A teacher can help to challenge us, inspire us, open us up to new ideas, support us, and help us grow. But he is still human, and therefore fallible. And if we just blindly accept that what he says is true we are shutting down our critical faculty. And it is this critical faculty that allows us to become wise.

Another reason which he says should not be used is philosophical reasoning. I would agree with this, as I think philosophy can often become very abstract and removed from reality. When it does this, it can often verge on becoming meaningless and arbitrary. One can see this battle appear much later on in the history of philosophy, as some philosophers such as Hegel get very carried away with abstract systems, whereas other philosophers try to destroy these systems, and bring everything back to Earth where it is based on direct experience.You can see this happening in the 18th century with David Hume and the movement in Western philosophy that is interestingly known as the “Age of Enlightenment”. And you can see echoes of it with Friedrich Nietzsche, and afterhim the logical positive movement. This is yet another area where the Buddha was far ahead of his time.

He recommends a much more verifiable and rational approach. By its nature, it cannot be totally scientific, replicable and objective as it is based on introspection. That is why we are ultimately left to make our own decisions.Another virtue of this approach is that people really own the ideas that they have learned themselves from direct experience. This is far more valuable than an idea that is learned parrot fashion.
I personally was blown away when I heard that the Buddha said this so long ago, and it is one of the reasons why I follow the Buddhist path rather than some other religion. Christianity and Islam spread not only by the threat of violence in this life, but also by the threat of eternal damnation if people did not convert and follow them. In other words they are based on fear, and being trained to follow and believe the priest class without question.
It is of course true that all religions contain their share of wise people and fools. My point is that Buddhism is founded on sound empirical principles, and nowhere is this more apparent than the Kalama Sutta.

By Lenac Divad

the Rationale

Bible Study

Why read the Bible?

bible studiesIn Christianity’s case, the term bibliolatry can be used in a derogatory sense to those who want an extreme devotion to Bible studies, or hold a high view of biblical inerrancy. Those biblical inerrancy advocates point to passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, stating that the Scriptures, as perceived, can be a perfect (and in some views, complete) source that should be known about God . Critics of this view draw a view of a kind of idolatry, and point to verses like John 5:39-40 which emphasizes that Jesus was asking humanity to relate to God, and not only seek God’s rules and rejects a relationship with the God who created them.

However, some  believe that Bible study is good for the soul. They encourage you to join us in Bibliolatry and study the Bible for the good of your soul. Historic Christianity has never endorsed the worship of the Bible itself, as worship is expressly reserved only for God. That is, Christians believe that the Bible as a kind of signpost pointing to God, instead of considering the Bible as a book in itself as valuable as God Himself.

Some Christians believe that biblical authority is derived from God as the inspiration behind the text, not the text itself. Thus, the term is not a reference to a real belief, but is often used as a derogatory term to label negatively perceived practices of theological adversaries. The groups to which the term is most often used are from a Protestant background fundamentalists and evangelicals who hold to inerrancy of the Bible and the Scriptures as the only divine authority.

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An Examination of Hinduism

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calendarSaturday, 08 March

An Examination of Hinduism

Hinduism is the name for the unified set of beliefs which dominate most of India and Nepal.  Hinduism can be more difficult to classify than other religions, as it includes a synthesis of a number of diverse cultural and theological traditions.  There is a strong focus on prescriptive living, with many laws based around the concepts of karma, dharma, and the dictates of society itself. itsanewembeddtestfornow

hindhuismHinduism has a fairly strong claim to be taken as the oldest religion in the world.  These days, most scholarship regards modern Hinduism as a fusion theology with no single founder, and very diverse roots.

The same scholarship tends to identify three specific variants of Hindu religions; the Brahmanic-Sanskrit, priestly based practice based on Vedic texts, Folk and Tribal religions still prominent in rural India which are sometimes more animistic in nature, and so-called ‘founded’ religions, which are usually based on renouncer traditions and can be markedly anti-Brahman in nature.

There are four particular forms of commonly accepted religiosity as well, which include ritualism, spiritualism, devotionalism, and heroism.  Ritualism is a direct path of action adherents follow, spiritualism is often thought of as a journey under the guidance of a guru, devotionalism is worshipping God in a mystical way such as in bhakti traditions, and heroism is the famous Indian tradition to root religion in militaristic traditions, often associated with modern political Hinduism.


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Comparative Religion: an introduction

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calendarSaturday, 01 March


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Bible Studies

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calendarTuesday, 30 July

Important Teens Need Bible Studies

“What’s the key to inspirational bible studies for my group?” That’s a question I’m sometimes asked. My reply is to learn from the shepherd, after all God’s people are described in the bible as sheep. So how does a shepherd feed his sheep?

One way to ensure you have inspirational bible studies is to vary the style. Variety is the spice of life. The most monotonous of jobs and chores can be made more interesting by doing them in different ways. Conversely, even the most exciting career can be turned into drudgery and boredom through routine. There are different ways of doing guided bible studies and the leader should be creative in this.

“What’s the key to better bible studies for my group?” That’s a question I’m also sometimes asked. My reply is to learn from the shepherd, after all God’s people are described in the bible as sheep. So how does a shepherd feed his sheep? Andrew C.

Replies

Andrew c, not to burst your bubble, but I looked up the Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible you referenced above. I knew there had to be something odd about it as the words “devotion” and “devotional” have nothing to do with the bible or bible studies in the Catholic lexicon. This bible is produced by Zondervan a Protestant publishing company which has a long history of publishing Protestant theological materials with a specifically anti-Catholic slant. Furthermore, the translation is the NRSV, which is Protestant. This “Catholic” devotional bible is actually a re-packaged Evangelical “Women’s Devotional Bible” marketed to Christian (Protestant) Bookstores for Protestants to give to their unsuspecting Catholic friends or to lure Catholics into thinking the other materials in the bookstore are simpathetic to Catholics. Here in Indiana it is common for Protestant bookstores selling quite anti-Catholic materials to put rosaries in the front window or near the door and a “Catholic” study bible among their other bibles to lure the unsuspecting.


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the Introduction

Most people have heard of the term comparative religion, but fewer are sure exactly what it means.  It is actually a specific branch of study, a way of categorizing and comparing the different doctrines, rituals, beliefs, and practices of the different religions of the world.  It can also touch upon related subjects, such as philosophical concerns, ethics and morality, and even the psychology of human nature.

While there have been quite literally dozens of different religions throughout history, in the field of modern comparative religion scholars are able to break down most extant beliefs into one of three groups: Abrahamic, Dharmic, and Taoic.  Let’s take a closer look at these three broad groups, and see where some of the world’s most familiar religions fit in:

  • Abrahamic (or Western) – This theological categorization belongs to the three different monotheistic beliefs which feature the Patriarch Abraham as an element of their sacred history; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
  • Dharmic (Indian) – This category of beliefs encompasses the religions that developed on the subcontinent of India, and includes religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as some other, less well-known variants and offshoots.
  • Taoic (Asian) – A large group of religions fall into this category, including Taoism, Shinto, and Confucianism.  All these religions revolve around the concept of the Tao, which is roughly equivalent to the ‘natural force’ of the universe.

Now let’s move on and take a look at some specific religions, and examine them in the context of comparative religion.

the Five Pillars

The Five Pillars of Islam

Islam is a religion which has been much talked-about in recent years, but few understand.  Today, we are going to examine the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ – beliefs considered mandatory by members of that faith, and central to the foundation of Muslim identity.  In general, they deal with life, society, the purification of the self, and devotion to Allah, their God.  islamHere are the Five Pillars themselves:

  1. Shahadah – This is the public declaration that there is no other God but Allah, and that his prophet Muhammad is his messenger; the single most central tenet of Islam.
  2. Salat – This is the traditional ritual of praying five times daily while facing Mecca that many non-practitioners may be familiar with.
  3. Sawm – Fasting, self-control, and purification during the holy month of Ramadan is another essential element of Islam.
  4. Zakat – A tithe or tax on ones’ income in the amount of 2.5%, meant to be given to charity, the poor, or those in need.
  5. Hajj – The final Pillar is a pilgrimage which must be made to the holy city of Islam, Mecca, at least once in the lifetime of every Muslim physically and financially able to do so.

Both Shia and Sunni Muslims agree on the essential elements of these Five Pillars, but the Shia have their own name for them (Ancillaries of the Faith, or the Seven Pillars, depending on sect.)  The Pillars are most clearly summarized in the famous Hadith of Jibril in the Koran, the holy book of Islam.

 

of Judaism

The Basic Beliefs of Judaism

While it seems like it may be a simple thing to investigate the basic beliefs of Judaism, one of the world’s oldest religions and the first of the major religion groups known as the Abrahamic faiths, the truth is slightly more complicated.  The different formal schools of Judaism differ a bit on some interpretations of their holy texts; there is no ‘official’ creed that one must accept in order to be considered a Jew.

judaismPerhaps the closest anyone has come is the so-called thirteen Principles of Faith, first articulated by Rambam (perhaps more popularly known as Maimonides – Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon); these do a fairly good job encapsulating the essential requirements of the Jewish faith.

The Principles contain affirmations such as the fact that God exists, that there is only one of him and that he is unique, that he is incorporeal and eternal in nature, etc.  What marks Judaism out from other monotheistic and Abrahamic religions are later Principles; the fact that Moses’ prophecies were true, that Moses received both the Written and Oral Torah through divine revelation, that a Messiah will eventually come and that the dead will be resurrected, etc.

A famous anecdote often told when someone is required to summarize the essence of Judaism involves a Rabbi called Hillel in the first century B.C.  He was asked to sum up his faith while standing on one foot, and replied “What you find hateful, do not do to your neighbor.  That is the Torah, all else is commentary; now go and study.”

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