Christianity and other religions

Christianity and other religions documents Christianity's relationship with other world religions, and the differences and similarities.

World-Day-of-Prayer-for-Peace Assisi 2011

Christian views on religious pluralism

Classical Christian view

Evangelical Christians believe that religious pluralism is heresy and contradicts the Bible.[1] Some Christians have argued that religious pluralism is an invalid or self-contradictory concept. Maximal forms of religious pluralism claim that all religions are equally true, or that one religion can be true for some and another for others. Some, but by no means all, Christians hold such pluralism to be logically impossible.[2] Roman Catholicism believes that while it is the fullest and most complete revelation of God to Man, other Christian denominations have also received genuine revelation from God, although partial and incomplete.

Calvinist Christian views

Although Calvinists believe God and the truth of God cannot be plural, they also believe that those civil ordinances of man which restrain man from evil and encourage toward good, are ordinances of God (regardless of the religion, or lack of it, of those who wield that power). Christians are obligated to be at peace with all men, as far as it is up to them, and to submit to governments for the Lord's sake, and to pray for enemies.

Calvinism is not pacifistic and Calvinists have been involved in religious wars, notably the French Wars of Religion and the English Civil War. Some of the first parts of modern Europe to practice religious tolerance had Calvinistic populations, notably the Netherlands.

Modern (post-Enlightenment) Christian views

In recent years, some Christian groups have become more open to religious pluralism; this has led to many cases of reconciliation between Christians and people of other faiths. The liberalization of many Seminaries and theological institutions, particularly in regards to the rejection of the notion that the Bible is an infallible document, has led to a much more human-centered and secular movement within Mainline Christian denominations, particularly in the United States. Some Mainline churches no longer hold to exclusivist views on salvation.

In recent years there has been much to note in the way of reconciliation between some Christian groups and the Jewish people. Many modern day Christians, including many Catholics and some liberal Protestants, have developed a view of the New Testament as an extended covenant; they believe that Jews are still in a valid relationship with God, and that Jews can avoid damnation and earn a heavenly reward. For these Christians, the New Testament extended God's original covenant to cover non-Jews. The article Christian–Jewish reconciliation deals with this issue in detail.

Multiple smaller Christian groups in the US and Canada have come into being over the last 40 years, such as "Christians for Israel". Their website says that they exist in order to "expand Christian-Jewish dialogue in the broadest sense in order to improve the relationship between Christians and Jews, but also between Church and Synagogue, emphasizing Christian repentance, the purging of anti-Jewish preliminary attitudes and the false 'Replacement' theology rampant throughout Christian teachings."

A number of large Christian groups, including the Catholic Church and several large Protestant churches, have publicly declared that they will no longer proselytize Jews.

Other Modern Christian views, including some conservative Protestants, reject the idea of the New Testament as an extended covenant, and retain the classical Christian view as described earlier.

Modern views specific to Catholicism

For the Catholic Church, there has been a move at reconciliation not only with Judaism, but also Islam. The Second Vatican Council states that salvation includes others who acknowledge the same creator, and explicitly lists Muslims among those (using the term Mohammedans, which was the word commonly used among non-Muslims at the time). The official Catholic position is therefore that Jews, Muslims and Christians (including churches outside of Rome's authority) all acknowledge the same God, though Jews and Muslims have not yet received the gospel while other churches are generally considered deviant to a greater or lesser degree.

The most prominent event in the way of dialogue between religions has arguably been the 1986 Peace Prayer in Assisi to which Pope John Paul II, against considerable resistance also from within the Roman Catholic church, invited representatives of all world religions. John Paul II’s remarks regarding Christian denominations were found in his Ut unum sint address. This initiative was taken up by the Community of Sant'Egidio, who, with the support of John Paul II, organized yearly peace meetings of religious representatives. These meetings, consisting of round tables on different issues and of a common time of prayer has done much to further understanding and friendship between religious leaders and to further concrete peace initiatives. In order to avoid the reproaches of syncretism that were leveled at the 1986 Assisi meeting where the representatives of all religions held one common prayer, the follow-up meetings saw the representatives of the different religions pray in different places according to their respective traditions.

The question of whether traditional Chinese ancestor veneration, consists of worshipping a God or veneration of a saint was important to the Roman Catholic church during the Chinese Rites controversy of the early 18th century. This dispute was between the Dominicans who argued that Confucianism and Chinese folk religion was worship, and therefore incompatible with Catholicism, and the Jesuit who argued the reverse. The pope ultimately ruled in favor of the Dominicans, a decision which greatly reduced the role of Catholic missionaries in China. However, this decision was partially reversed by Pope Pius XII in 1939; after this, Chinese customs were no longer considered superstition or idolatry, but a way of honoring esteemed relatives (not entirely dissimilar to the Catholic practice of praying for the dead).

Relationship with Sikhism

Sikhs also believe in one God and follow the Ten Sikh Gurus, unlike Christians who believe in one Almighty God made up of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Known as the Trinity). However, there is no heaven or hell in the Sikh religion.

Relationship with Judaism

Historically, the relationship between Christianity and Judaism has been strained. In the past, Christians were often taught that "the Jews" killed Christ, for which "murder" they bear a collective guilt (an interpretation which most major denominations now reject). Jews meanwhile have tended to associate Christianity with various pogroms, or in better times, with the dangers of assimilation. Anti-Semitism has a long history in Christianity (see Christianity and anti-Semitism), and indeed is far from dead (for example, in contemporary Russia). However, since the Holocaust, much dialogue aimed at Christian–Jewish reconciliation has taken place, and relations have greatly improved. Today, many conservative evangelicals support Christian Zionism, much to the irritation of Arab Christians, based partly on the Millennialist belief that the modern state of Israel represents the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

The phenomenon of Messianic Judaism has become something of an irritant to Jewish / Christian relations. Messianic Jews—who generally seek to combine a Jewish identity with the recognition of Jesus—are rejected by mainstream Jewish groups, who dismiss Messianic Judaism as little more than Christianity with Jewish undertones.

The Jewish conception of the messiah (משיח mashiach in Hebrew) holds certain similarities to that of Christians, yet there are substantial differences. According to Jews, the Hebrew Scriptures contain a small number of prophecies concerning a future descendant of King David, who will be anointed (Hebrew: moshiach) as the Jewish people's new leader and will establish the throne of David in Jerusalem forever. In the Jewish view, this fully human and mortal leader will rebuild the land of Israel and restore the Davidic Kingdom. This subject is covered in the section on Jewish eschatology. Some Christians have a different understanding of the term messiah, and believe that Jesus is the messiah referred to in the Old Testament prophecies; that the kingdom in these prophecies was to be a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly one; and that Jesus' words and actions in the New Testament provide evidence of his identity as messiah and that the remainder of messianic prophecy will be fulfilled in the Second Coming. Other Christians acknowledge the Jewish definition of messiah, and hold that Jesus fulfills this, being 'fully man' (in addition to being 'fully God'), and believe that the Second Coming will establish the Kingdom of God on earth, where Jesus, as messiah and descendant from David, will reign from Jerusalem.

Relationship with Islam

Islam shares a number of beliefs with Christianity. They share similar views on judgment, heaven, hell, spirits, angels, and a future resurrection. Jesus is acknowledged and respected by Muslims as a great prophet. However, while Islam relegates Jesus to a lesser status than God — "in the company of those nearest to God" in the Qur'an, mainstream (Trinitarian) Christianity teaches without question that Jesus is God the Son, one of the three Hypostases (common English: persons) of Christianity's Trinity, divinely co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The religions both share a belief in the virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles and healings, and that he ascended bodily into heaven. However, Jesus is not accepted as the son by Muslims, who strictly maintain that he was a human being who was loved by God and exalted by God to ranks of the most righteous. They believe in God as a single entity, not as the Trinity accepted by the vast majority of Christians. Neither do Muslims accept Jesus' crucifixion. Since Muslims believe only in the worship of a strictly monotheistic God who never assumed human flesh, they do not accept the use of icons, and see this as shirk (idolatry). Muslim influence played a part in the initiation of iconoclasm and their conquests caused the iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire. For the same reason, they do not worship or pray to Muhammad, Jesus, or any other prophets; only to God.

Adherents of Islam have historically referred to themselves, Jews, and Christians (among others) as People of the Book since they all base their religion on books that are considered to have a divine origin. Christians however neither recognize the Qur'an as a genuine book of divine revelation, nor agree with its assessment of Jesus as a mere prophet, on par with Muhammad, nor for that matter accept that Muhammad was a genuine prophet.

Muslims, for their part, believe that parts of the Gospels, Torah and Jewish prophetic books have been forgotten, misinterpreted, or distorted by their followers. Based on that perspective, Muslims view the Qur'an as correcting the errors of Christianity. For example, Muslims reject belief in the Trinity, or any other expression of the divinity of Jesus, as incompatible with monotheism.

Not surprisingly, the two faiths have often experienced controversy and conflict (an example being the Crusades). At the same time, much fruitful dialogue has occurred as well. The writings of Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas frequently cite those of the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, as well as Muslim thinker Averroes ('Ibn-Rushd).

On May 6, 2001 Pope John Paul II, the first pope to pray in a mosque, delivered an address at Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, saying: "It is important that Muslims and Christians continue to explore philosophical and theological questions together, in order to come to a more objective and comprehensive knowledge of each other's religious beliefs. Better mutual understanding will surely lead, at the practical level, to a new way of presenting our two religions not in opposition, as has happened too often in the past, but in partnership for the good of the human family." This Mosque of Damascus is famous for containing the head of John the Baptist.

Relations with Hinduism

Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity differ on fundamental beliefs on heaven, hell and reincarnation, to name a few. From the Hindu perspective, heaven (Sanskrit svarga) and hell (Naraka) are temporary places, where every soul has to live, either for the good deeds done or for their sins committed.

There also exist significant similarities in Christian and Hindu theology, most notably in that both religions present a trinitarian view of God. The Holy Trinity of Christianity, consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is sometimes seen as roughly analogous to the Trimurti of Hinduism, whose members -- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva—are seen as the three principal manifestations of Brahman, or Godhead.

Christian-Hindu relations are a mixed affair. On one hand, Hinduism's natural tendency has been to recognize the divine basis of various other religions, and to revere their founders and saintly practitioners. In Western countries, Vedanta has influenced some Christian thinkers, while others in the anti-cult movement have reacted against the activities of immigrant gurus and their followers. (See also: Pierre Johanns, Abhishiktananda, Bede Griffiths, Dalit theology.)

The Christian Ashram Movement, a movement within Christianity in India, embraces Vedanta and the teachings of the East, attempting to combine the Christian faith with the Hindu ashram model and Christian monasticism with the Hindu sannyasa tradition.[3]

Relations with Buddhism

In the 19th century, some scholars began to perceive similarities between Buddhist and Christian practices, e.g. in 1878 T.W. Rhys Davids wrote that the earliest missionaries to Tibet observed that similarities have been seen since the first known contact.[4] In 1880 Ernest De Bunsen made similar observations in that with the exception of the death of Jesus on the cross, and of the Christian doctrine of atonement, the most ancient Buddhist records had similarities with the Christian traditions.[5]

Buddhism and Protestantism came into political conflict in 19th century Sri Lanka and in Tibet c. 1904 (the Francis Younghusband Expedition). Various events have cooperated to introduce various strains of Buddhist theology and meditation to several generations of Western spiritual seekers (including some Catholic religious). Relations are generally good between both religions, except perhaps in South Korea where Christians have damaged Buddhist temples and engaged in other forms of Christian extremism.[6] The Russian republic of Kalmykia recognizes both Tibetan/Lamaist Buddhism and Russian Orthodoxy as its official religions.

Possible relationship with Zoroastrianism through Judaism

Many scholars[5] believe the eschatology of Judaism and possibly the idea of monotheism originated in Zoroastrianism, and may have been transferred to Judaism during the Babylonian captivity, thus eventually influencing Christian theology. Bible scholar P.R. Ackroyd states: "the whole eschatological scheme, however, of the Last Judgment, rewards and punishments, etc., within which immortality is achieved, is manifestly Zoroastrian in origin and inspiration." [6] However, the theory is questioned by other mainstream historians and scholars. The Oxford History of the Biblical World states "There is little if any effect of Zoroastrian elements on Judaism in the Persian period."[7]. Nevertheless, scholars such as Soloman Nigosian contend, in regarding the similar ideas of Zoroaster and later Jewish writers, that "the ideas were indigenous to Iran...it is hardly conceivable that some of the characteristic ideas and practices in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam came into being without Zoroastrian influence."[8] The new faith (Zoroastrianism) emerged in larger Persian empires. " Zoroastrianism reflected the cosmopolitan society of the empires". During this time Zoroastrianism profoundly effected the beliefs and values of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam ("Traditions & Encounters: A brief global History", Jerry H. Bentley. pg. 93). It is also possible that Zoroastrianism and later Jewish theology came from a common source.

For more on this theory, see Jewish history, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.

In the Younger Avesta, three divinities of the Zoroastrian pantheon are repeatedly identified as ahuric, meaning that each, as Ahura, act together in both representing and protecting Asha, or the divine truth governing the universe. These three are Ahura Mazda, Mithra and Burz, and hence known as the "Ahuric triad." Similarities with the Christian Trinity can be seen between Ahura Mazda and God the Father, Mithra and Christ the Logos, as well as between Burz and the Holy Spirit, both of which are associated symbolically with water. Both Zoroastrianism and Christianity consider themselves to be monotheistic, but like all other monotheisms they have highlighted certain aspects or energies of the divine to emphasize, and these are not meant to be interpreted as separate divinities. In both religions there are guardian angels, or fravashi, which are considered to be created beings and are distinct from the Energies of God or divine emanations. The Zoroastrian term yazata, however, has variously been interpreted as meaning emanations or "sparks" of the divine, or as being roughly synonymous with the term "angels." There have been various theories on the possible relationship between these aspects of Zoroastrianism and ideas of divine emanation in esoteric Christianity, Jewish Kabbalah, Islamic mysticism (Sufism), and other religious systems, such as Gnosticism, Yazidism, and the Druze, among others.

Relationship with Mithraism and Sol Invictus

There are many parallels between Mithraism, the religion of Sol Invictus, and Christianity. Aurelian is believed to have established the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Day of the Birth of Sol Invictus) as an annual festival held on the day when the sun's daily declination visibly starts rising again after the winter solstice, namely on December 25; the birth of the central figure was thus celebrated on the day which Christians later used to celebrate Jesus' birth (having always celebrated this at Epiphany).[7] Other similarities include the stories of Christ and Mithra as children being visited by shepherds, the trinity, and the immortal soul. Sunday itself was imposed as the official day of rest by Constantine, who referred to it as the Day of the venerable Sun. (Although Christians worshiped on Sunday from at least 150 years before Constantine)[8]

The earliest attestation of Mithraism is Plutarch's record of it being practised in 68BC by Cilician pirates, the first mithraists.[9] Tertullian, a Christian writer who lived between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, admitted there was a strong similarity between the practises of the two faiths:

the devil, ... mimics even the essential portions of the divine sacraments...he baptises some, that is his own believers, ... he promises the forgiveness of sins... Mithraism, .... also celebrates the oblation of bread, and introduces a symbol of the resurrection... - Tertullian,[10]

Justin Martyr, an earlier 2nd century Church Father, agreed that the similarities existed, claiming that Mithraism had copied the Eucharist.[11] Justin argued that the devil had invented Mithraism to mock Christianity.[11] Christian apologist Ronald H. Nash stated:

allegations of an early Christian dependence on Mithraism have been rejected on many grounds. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth -- at least during its early stages...During the early stages of the cult, the notion of rebirth would have been foreign to its basic outlook...Moreover, Mithraism was basically a military cult. Therefore, one must be skeptical about suggestions that it appealed to nonmilitary people like the early Christians. [9]

Relationship with the Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith believes that there is one God who sends divine messengers to guide humanity throughout time, which is called Progressive revelation (Bahá'í)—and is different from the Christian belief of Progressive revelation (Christian). They believe in the divine knowledge and essence of Jesus, among other messengers such as Muhammad, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, and others. Interpretations vary, but the Bahá'í Faith is sometimes considered an Abrahamic faith. The followers of the Bahá'í Faith believe in God, as do Christians, and recognize Jesus' teachings, but they have different views of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. The Bahá'í view of prophets is that although they have both human and divine characteristics, they are not themselves God, but rather "divine manifestations." They also see the Trinity as symbolic where Jesus and the Holy Spirit are polished mirrors that reflect the pure light from God. Although Bahá'ís affirm the Bible as sacred scripture, they do not consider the Bible to be wholly authentic as Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, affirmed that "The Bible is not wholly authentic, and in this respect not to be compared with the Qur’án, and should be wholly subordinated to the authentic Sayings of Bahá’u’lláh."[12][13]

Bahá'ís share some views with Christianity regarding moral and immoral behavior. Bahá'ís condemn polygamy, premarital sex, and homosexual acts while treating everyone, including homosexuals, with love, respect, and dignity. (See Homosexuality and Bahá'í Faith.)

Relationship with Scientology

Hubbard described Scientology as "the Western Anglicized continuance of many earlier forms of wisdom."[14] Hubbard includes the teachings of Jesus among belief systems cited as these "earlier forms of wisdom".[14] Jesus is recognized in Scientology as part of its "religious heritage",[15] though "is seen as only one of many good teachers".[16]

In the 2008 book Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions, authors Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears write: "According to Scientology, Jesus is an "implant" forced upon a Thetan about a million years ago",[17] and Jack Huberman writes in 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America that in Scientology Jesus is seen as having been "implanted in humanity's collective memory", by the character Xenu from Scientology space opera.[18]

Sociological aspects

The spread of Christianity has been international, in some cases entirely displacing the religions and altering the customs encountered among those people to whom it has come. This centuries-long process has been met with violent opposition at times, and likewise the spread of Christianity has in some cases been carried out with martial force. The relationship of Christianity to other faiths is encumbered to some extent by this history, with modern Christians, particularly in the West, expressing embarrassment over the violence in Christianity's past.

Converting adherents of other religions is widely accepted within Christianity. Many Christian organizations believe that they have a duty to make converts among every people. In recent years, ecumenism and dialogue between different religions has been endorsed by many official representatives of the Christian churches, as a way of effecting reconciliation between Christian people and people of other faiths, leading to many cases of reconciliation. In some cases, this endorsement is accompanied by a complete disavowal of all proselytizing efforts under the banner of religious pluralism.

This is specially marked by the inauguration, or installation, of Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu from Uganda, on November 29, 2005. Dr Sentamu is the first black African archbishop of the Church of England. He is also the first archbishop to beat bongo drums in the cathedral at his own inauguration. The newspaper Guardian, which dedicated its double middle page of the following day to a full picture of the grinning archbishop in full apparel at the porch of the cathedral, says that: "Dr Sentamu's sermon was a stern lecture to the Church of England to grow out of being a 'judgmental and moralising' congregation of 'pew-fillers, sermon-taters, Bible readers, even born-again believers and Spirit-filled charismatics' and go out to make friends in the world. 'We have lost the joy and power that makes real disciples and we've become consumers of religion, not disciples of Jesus-Christ', he said. 'Christians, go and make friends among Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, agnostics, atheists, not for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs but for friendship, understanding, listening, hearing.' His remarks were greeted with applause, not with silence as the order of the service instructed."

A special case is the issue of Christian–Jewish reconciliation, in which significant reconciliation has been reached.

Syncretism

Christian converts have often carried some of their previous customs to their new faith. This on occasion has led to syncretisms, that are often not accepted by mainstream Christians:

See also

References

  1. ^ Foundation Documents: Confessional Statement By The Gospel Coalition
  2. ^ Defending Salvation Through Christ Alone By Jason Carlson, Christian Ministries International
  3. ^ Christian Ashram Movement
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 1878 edition, article Buddhism by T.W. Rhys Davids
  5. ^ De Bunsen, Ernest (1880). The Angel-Messiah of Buddhists, Essenes, and Christians. Longmans, Green, and Company. p. 50.
  6. ^ Tedesco, Frank (1997). "Questions for Buddhist and Christian Cooperation in Korea". Buddhist-Christian Studies. 17: 179–195. JSTOR 1390412.
  7. ^ [1] [2] [3] [4]
  8. ^ Justin Martyr, First Apology, 67.3
  9. ^ Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 24.5
  10. ^ The Prescription Against Heretics, 40
  11. ^ a b First Apology, 66.4
  12. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1973). "32: BIBLE (Authenticity of the)". Directives from the Guardian.
  13. ^ Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and Universal House of Justice. "The Bible: Extracts on the Old and New Testaments". Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved November 6, 2016.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ a b Rhodes, Ron (2001). The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Zondervan. pp. 155, 164. ISBN 978-0-310-23217-9.
  15. ^ Hutson, Steven (2006). What They Never Taught You in Sunday School: A Fresh Look at Following Jesus. Tate Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-59886-300-0.
  16. ^ Shellenberger, Susie (2005). One Year Devotions for Teens. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-8423-6202-3.
  17. ^ Driscoll, Mark; Gerry Breshears (2008). Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions. Good News Publishers. pp. 14, 183. ISBN 978-1-58134-975-7.
  18. ^ Huberman, Jack (2006). 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America. Nation Books. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-56025-875-9.

Notes

  1. ^ Zoroastrianism: A Shadowy but Powerful Presence in the Judaeo-Christian World, Mary Boyce, London, 1987, and Encyclopedia Americana, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, vol 29, pp. 813–815, article by J. Duchesne-Guillemin.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia Americana, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, vol 29, pp. 813–815, article by J. Duchesne-Guillemin.
  3. ^ S. A. Nigosian, The Zoroastrian Faith, 97
  4. ^ Peake's Commentary on the Bible, Matthew Black and H.H. Rowley, ed., Revised edition, Nelson, New York, 1982, section 607b
  5. ^ Zaehner, R.C. The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1961, pp. 57–58.
  6. ^ The Oxford History of the Biblical World, M. Coogan, ed., 1998.
  7. ^ R. Nash, Christianity and the Hellenistic World as quoted in Baker's Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler; Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1999, p. 492.

Further reading

  • Ankerl, Guy (2000) [2000]. Global communication without universal civilization. INU societal research. Vol.1: Coexisting contemporary civilizations : Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. Geneva: INU Press. ISBN 978-2-88155-004-1.
  • Ingham, Michael, Bp. (1997). Mansions of the Spirit: the Gospel in a Multi-Faith World. Toronto, Ont.: Anglican Book Centre. ISBN 1-55126-185-5
  • Zuckermann, Ghil'ad [2006]. "'Etymythological Othering' and the Power of 'Lexical Engineering' in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. A Socio-Philo(sopho)logical Perspective", Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, edited by Tope Omoniyi and Joshua A. Fishman, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 237–258. ISBN 90-272-2710-1
Avatar

An avatar (Sanskrit: अवतार, IAST: avatāra), a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", refers to the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being.The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature, but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE. Despite that, the concept of an avatar is compatible with the content of the Vedic literature like the Upanishads as it is symbolic imagery of the Saguna Brahman concept in the philosophy of Hinduism. The Rigveda describes Indra as endowed with a mysterious power of assuming any form at will. The Bhagavad Gita expounds the doctrine of Avatara but with terms other than avatar.Theologically, the term is most often associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable. The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi in different appearances such as Tripura Sundari, Durga and Kali are commonly found. While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional. The incarnation doctrine is one of the important differences between Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions of Hinduism.Incarnation concepts similar to avatar are also found in Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions. The scriptures of Sikhism include the names of numerous Hindu gods and goddesses, but it rejected the doctrine of savior incarnation and endorsed the view of Hindu Bhakti movement saints such as Namdev that formless eternal god is within the human heart and man is his own savior.

Boris Falikov

Boris Zinoviyevich Falikov (Russian: Фаликов, Борис Зиновьевич), born September 24, 1947 in Holmsk, Sakhalin region, Russian Federation - is a Soviet and Russian historian and publicist, specializing in the field of new religions, has a Ph.D. in history sciences, assistant professor at “Centre of Religion Studies" with Russian State University for the Humanities.

He is the younger brother of the poet and writer Falikov, Illya Zenoviyevich.

Christian Peacemaker Teams

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world. These teams believe that they can lower the levels of violence through nonviolent direct action, human rights documentation, and nonviolence training. CPT sums their work up as "...committed to reducing violence by getting in the way ". CPT has a full-time corps of over 30 activists who currently work in Colombia, Iraq, the West Bank, Chiapas, Mexico, and Kenora, Ontario, Canada. These teams are supported by over 150 reservists who spend two weeks to two months a year on a location.

Christian agnosticism

Christian agnostics practice a distinct form of agnosticism that applies only to the properties of God. They hold that it is difficult or impossible to be sure of anything beyond the basic tenets of the Christian faith. They believe that God or a higher power exists, that Jesus may have a special relationship with God and is in some way divine, and that God should be worshipped. This belief system has deep roots in Judaism and the early days of the Church.

Christian atheism

Christian atheism is a form of cultural Christianity and ethics system drawing its beliefs and practices from Jesus' life and teachings as recorded in the New Testament Gospels and other sources, whilst rejecting supernatural claims of Christianity.

Christian atheism takes many forms: some Christian atheists take a theological position in which the belief in the transcendent or interventionist God is rejected or absent in favor of finding God totally in the world (Thomas J. J. Altizer) while others follow Jesus in a godless world (William Hamilton). Hamilton's Christian atheism is similar to Jesuism.

Christian interpretations of Virgil's Eclogue 4

Eclogue 4, also known as the Fourth Eclogue is the name of a Latin poem by the Roman poet Virgil. Part of his first major work, the Eclogues, the piece was written around 40 BC, during a time of temporary stability following the Treaty of Brundisium; it was later published in and around the years 39–38 BC. The work describes the birth of a boy, a supposed savior, who once of age will become divine and eventually rule over the world. During late antiquity and the Middle Ages, a desire emerged to view Virgil as a virtuous pagan, and as such, early Christians, such as Roman Emperor Constantine, early Christian theologian Lactantius, and St. Augustine—to varying degrees—reinterpreted the poem to be about the birth of Jesus Christ.

This belief persisted into the Medieval era, with many scholars arguing that Virgil not only prophesied Christ prior to his birth but also that he was a pre-Christian prophet. Dante Alighieri included Virgil as a main character in his Divine Comedy, and Michelangelo included the Cumaean Sibyl on the ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel (a reference to the widespread belief that the Sibyl herself prophesied the birth of Christ, and Virgil used her prophecies to craft his poem). Modern scholars, such as Robin Nisbet, tend to eschew this interpretation, arguing that seemingly Judeo-Christian elements of the poem can be explained through means other than divine prophecy.

Christianity and Theosophy

Christianity and Theosophy, for more than a hundred years, have had a "complex and sometimes troubled" relationship. The Christian faith was always the native religion of the great majority of Western Theosophists, but many came to Theosophy through a process of examination or even opposition to Christianity. According to professor Robert S. Ellwood, "the whole matter has been a divisive issue within Theosophy."

Document on Human Fraternity

The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together is a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was born of a fraternal open discussion between Francis and Tayeb, and it is meant to be a guide on advancing a "culture of mutual respect".

Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue

The Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue (EISD), formerly called Study Center for Religion and Society, is an institute located in Colombo, Sri Lanka that is devoted to the study and interpretation of religious and social movements of people in Sri Lanka, in order to assist the Church in fulfilling its duty to be a witness and service to the life of the nation. The center has been involved in successfully organising a number of dialogues, meetings and seminaries, and it has become an internationally recognised center for study and dialogue with Buddhism, along with other ecumenical concerns. The center was recognised in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the most active of all similar study centers worldwide.The Study Center was established in 1951, due to the resurgence of Buddhism after independence, which brought with it an increased need for dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity. The goal of the center is to consider Christianity in the light of the Sri Lankan culture and heritage, which is predominantly Buddhist. The Study Center was renamed in 1977 to Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue (EISD).

After its establishment in 1951, the center was managed by Rev. G. B. Jackson. It was organised into two divisions: Division of Buddhist Studies, and Division of Frontier Studies. The purpose of the former division is to promote study and research in Buddhism, while the purpose of the latter division is to explore the theological and social implications of the Christian faith in Sri Lanka. From 1962 until 1982, the center was directed by Lynn de Silva, whose focus was on Buddhist studies. Under his leadership, the EISD was set up in 1977 as an autonomous body separate from the control of religious bodies and institutions. Although the primary focus was maintained on Buddhist-Christian studies and dialogue, a third additional division called Division of Studies of other Faiths and Ideologies was opened in order to initiate studies in other religions.In addition to publishing books and papers on dialogue between Christianity and other religions, the EISD publishes the Dialogue journal on a quarterly basis, which is one of the first theological journals on Buddhist-Christian encounter. The journal was founded by Lynn de Silva in order to move the prevailing atmosphere between Buddhists and Christians in Sri Lanka away from diatribe and towards dialogue. This journal has published articles on a wide range of topics including "the existence of God, the idea of the soul, working towards shared ethical practice, monastic life, globalisation and women in religion."After Lynn de Silva's death in 1982, the EISD was directed by Rev. Kenneth Fernando, and it is currently directed by Marshal Fernando. Rev. Fr. Aloysius Pieris, S. J., who had been collaborating with de Silva since 1968, and who in partnership with de Silva had officially been responsible for editing the New Series of Dialogue, continued to work as editor of the journal after de Silva's death. Mrs. Langanee Mendis, the Administrative Secretary at the institute, is credited as being the main person responsible for the uninterrupted functioning of the institute after Lynn de Silva's death; she was also considered by Pieris in 2003 to be "a tower of strength [for the Ecumenical Institute] for well over 20 years."

Evangelii gaudium

Evangelii gaudium (English: The Joy of the Gospel) is a 2013 apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis on "the church's primary mission of evangelization in the modern world." In its opening paragraph, Pope Francis urged the entire Church "to embark on a new chapter of evangelism". According to the exhortation, the Church must understand itself as a "community of missionary disciples", who are "permanently in a state of mission". It has been described as a "remarkable and radical document, one that ranges widely and challenges complacency at every level", as well as "the manifesto of Francis" and a "Magna Carta for church reform."Evangelii gaudium touches on many of the themes of Francis' papacy, including obligations Christians have to the poor and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political, and legal orders. Francis says that the world "can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market" and calls for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality" that "attack[s] the structural causes of inequality." Refocusing society's priorities, he asks how "it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"Calling for an "ecclesial renewal which cannot be deferred", Francis is critical of the over-centralization of church bureaucracy, unthinking preaching, and excessive emphasis on doctrine. Throughout the exhortation he calls for more pastoral creativity and openness, insisting that the entire Church realize "a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything".... "the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are." (paragraph 25) In regard to what he perceives is a current negative dependence on over-centralization in the Church's structure as opposed to an open and missionary spirit flowing through every level, he writes, "I too must think about a conversion of the papacy.... The papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion." (paragraph 32)

In contrast to the writing style of previous popes, Evangelii gaudium is not written in an academic style but "in language that is both easily understood and captivating." In the 47,560 word document, Francis uses the word "love" 154 times, "joy" 109 times, "the poor" 91 times, "peace" 58 times, "justice" 37 times, and "common good" 15 times.

Exclusivism

Exclusivism is the practice of being exclusive; mentality characterized by the disregard for opinions and ideas other than one's own, or the practice of organizing entities into groups by excluding those entities which possess certain traits. (for an opposite example, see essentialism).

Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII

The Foundation for Religious Sciences John XXIII is a research institution at Bologna presided by Valerio Onida and directed by Alberto Melloni, which publishes, shapes, serves, organizes, receives and communicates research within religious sciences with a particular view to Christianity and other religions with which it has come in contact.

Foundation, established in 1953, is recognized by decree of the President of the Italian Republic and has conventions with Bologna University and other institutions: it operates in conditions of absolute autonomy regarding both in relation to churches and universities. It is open to public and private funding, as we all as that of foundations, companies, cooperatives and to ties with other centers. It intends to give continuity to the scientific research in the area of historical cultural activities begun by the intuition of Giuseppe Dossetti (1913–1996) and which developed thanks to the intellectual passion of Giuseppe Alberigo (1926–2007) who, for nearly 50 years, was its soul and secretary.

From this consideration derives a non-antiquarian taste for research and the conviction that rigorous knowledge of the historical processes is an adequate and exhaustive way to participate in the collective intellectual and spiritual dynamism by which research is continuously increased.

Interfaith marriage in Christianity

An interfaith marriage is typically defined by Christian churches as a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian. Within the sects of Christianity, this may be extended to include inter-denominational marriage.

Jesus in comparative mythology

The study of Jesus in comparative mythology is the examination of the narratives of the life of Jesus in the Christian gospels, traditions and theology, as they relate to Christianity and other religions. Although virtually all New Testament scholars and historians of the ancient Near East agree that Jesus existed as a historical figure, most secular historians also agree that the gospels contain large quantities of ahistorical legendary details mixed in with historical information about Jesus's life. The Synoptic Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke are heavily shaped by Jewish tradition, with the Gospel of Matthew deliberately portraying Jesus as a "new Moses". Although it is highly unlikely that the authors of the Synoptic Gospels directly based any of their stories on pagan mythology, it is possible that they may have subtly shaped their accounts of Jesus's healing miracles to resemble familiar Greek stories about miracles associated with Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. The birth narratives of Matthew and Luke are usually seen by secular historians as legends designed to fulfill Jewish expectations about the Messiah.The Gospel of John bears indirect influences from Platonism, via earlier Jewish deuterocanonical texts, and may also have been influenced in less obvious ways by the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, though this possibility is still disputed. Later Christian traditions about Jesus were probably influenced by Greco-Roman religion and mythology. Much of Jesus's traditional iconography is apparently derived from Mediterranean deities such as Hermes, Asclepius, Serapis, and Zeus and his traditional birthdate on 25 December, which was not declared as such until the fifth century, was at one point named a holiday in honor of the Roman sun god Sol Invictus. At around the same time Christianity was expanding in the second and third centuries, the Mithraic Cult was also flourishing. Though the relationship between the two religions is still under dispute, Christian apologists at the time noted similarities between them, which some scholars have taken as evidence of borrowing, but which are more likely a result of shared cultural environment. More general comparisons have also been made between the stories about Jesus's birth and resurrection and stories of other divine or heroic figures from across the Mediterranean world, including supposed "dying-and-rising gods" such as Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, and Osiris, while the concept of "dying-and-rising gods" has received criticism.

John Dayal

John Dayal (born 2 October 1948) is an Indian human rights and political activist. He is a member of the National Integration Council (NIC) of India, Secretary-General of the All India Christian Council and a past president of the All India Catholic Union. He has been outspoken in opposition to communal polarisation, bigotry and the spread of hatred between religious communities. He has also come out in support of defending church properties.

Nostra aetate

Nostra aetate (Latin: In our Time) is the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council. Passed by a vote of 2,221 to 88 of the assembled bishops, this declaration was promulgated on 28 October 1965 by Pope Paul VI. It is the shortest of the 16 final documents of the Council and "the first in Catholic history to focus on the relationship that Catholics have with Jews." It "reveres the work of God in all the major faith traditions." It begins by stating its purpose of reflecting on what humankind have in common in these times when people are being drawn closer together.

Pope John XXIII had originally conceived it as an expression of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jews. Over the course of several substantial revisions, the focus of the document was broadened to address relationships with several faiths. Opposition from conservative elements in the Church was overcome and support was gained from Jewish organisations.

Religion in Jersey

Despite its small size, the population of Jersey is made of people with a diverse range of religions and beliefs. Traditionally seen as a Christian island, Jersey's established church is the Church of England, and Anglicanism and Catholicism are practised on the island in roughly equal numbers. Together, these religions account for around half the population of Jersey. Other denominations of Christianity and other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism account for handfuls of people on the island. In recent years, irreligion has been an increasing force in Jersey, with two fifths of the population identifying as having no religion. This number rises to 52% for Jersey people under 35.

Samaritan Christians

The early relationship between Samaritans and Christianity is murky.According to the New Testament book of Acts, Philip the Evangelist conducted a mission in Samaria and significantly increased the number of Christian believers there. This was followed by the apostolic visitation of Peter and John, who were sent by the elders in Jerusalem to lay hands upon the baptized Samaritans so that they would receive the Holy Spirit.By the end of the second century CE, the original Samaritan Christian community had disbanded and was lost to history. A few scholars, like Dr. Ze’ev Goldmann, believe that Samaritan Christianity continued on for some time thereafter, and argue that “Samaritan Neo-Christians” had moved to Capernaum and had adopted the use of the pelta (shield) symbol as a representative sign, having a function similar to the Jewish star of David, which can be seen at several archaeological sites associated with them.

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