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lory to the God of heaven and earth, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the Almighty and Most High God, the God of all the earth! It is most privileged as a human being to search and study about God. For Gods ways are not our ways. The infinite, unfathomable God to be studied by a finite and limited creature is an attempt that humbles ones heart. He alone knows all things and without Him we are nothing and cannot do anything. It is with deep insight that comes from Him that shall set us free and receive enlightenment. I have selected the major religions man has known today and with these include the cults and the occults. Cults are also religions but have the masked of Christianity. They profess Christianity but their doctrines. gospel and lives they deny His saving work on the cross. He died and resurrected for the sins of all man once and for all and salvation is through Him alone and not by any group or church. Occults are those involved in deep spiritual darkness commonly known as satanic in rituals and beliefs. The religions of man continued the search for God. He has developed religions and beliefs. Preconceived ideas of the Creator whether man made, revelation by spirits, or angels of light supposedly abound and seem endless. There are few things I have deeply observed and have found that these religions have many common characteristics. Gods have evolved or gods were made by men. Is it right that we should receive gods whose beginning or origin is from mans thoughts or ideas? These religions have built their roots and were imbedded in the lives of many people. These have been part of their lives. The sad part many blindly follow them. Some unknown spirits transformed themselves into angels of light reveal a new god or gods, new revelations or teachings. Can the true God reveal Himself directly to man? How can we know that these spirits are from God? Who is behind these spirits? Why do their revelations contradict earlier revelations? Who is behind these contradictions? Man searched for enlightenment, peace and truth. God made man and has endowed him the consciousness of the Almighty. He can search and grope for God. Religions have searched for God but God came through His Son Jesus Christ. There is no religious founder who claimed He is the Son of God, came down from Heaven to earth, done no evil, healed the sick, set people free and died and rose from the dead other than Jesus Christ. That is the difference of true Christianity. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came and took the human form and lived with us. He died on the cross to pay for our sins and obtained the ransom for us so that whoever believes shall be forgiven and be saved. I hope this will end the search for the true God and may you find Him through His Son Jesus Christ. To Him is the highest praise both now and forever. May the Almighty God guide you. Pastor Larry Dela Cruz

CONTENTS The Search for God

Foreword Part I

------------------------------------ 2 RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD

History Timeline of World Religions and its Founders -------- 5 Founders of Religions and Churches -------------------- 7 Hinduism --------------------------------------------------- 9 Buddhism --------------------------------------------- 21 Chinese Religion -------------------------------------------------- 31 Islam --------------------------------------------------------- 55 Judaism ----------------------------------------------------- 79 Christianity ----------------------------------------------- 110 Roman Catholicism ---------------------------------------- 147 SUMMARY, DEEP ANALYSIS AND INSIGHTS ------------ 165

Part II


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints --------- 168 Jehovahs Witnesses ----------------------------------------- 172 Iglesia ni Kristo --------------------------------- 175 Church of God International -------------------------------- 179 Kingdom of Jesus Christ -------------------------------- 183 Seventh-day Adventist -------------------------------- 188 SUMMARY & ANALYSIS OF THE CULTS --------------------- 190 WHAT THE BIBLE HAS TO SAY TO THE CULTS --------- 191 Occultism -------------------------------------------------- 192 WHAT THE BIBLE HAS TO SAY TO THE OCCULTS ------ 193 INVITATION ------------------------------------------------ 194 HOW TO BE SAVED ----------------------------------------- 194 Religion Charts--------------------------------------------- 196 Comparison/Contrast of Various Religions & Christianity--------197


History Timeline of World Religions and its Founders 2,085 BC. Judaism-Abraham 1,500 BC. Hinduism- no specific founder 560 BC. Buddhism- Gautama Buddha 550 BC. Taoism - Lao Tzu 599 BC. Jainism, Mahavira 30 AD. Christianity Jesus Christ 50-100 AD. Gnosticism150-250 AD. -Modalism (Monarchianism)Sabellius, Praxeus, Noetus, Paul of Samosata 325 AD. -After being persecuted for almost 200 years Constantine made the Church becomes a legal religion, compromise begins to enter. 590 AD.-Roman Catholicism- Developed after Constantine; Pope Gregory? 610 AD.- Islam- Mohammed 1400 AD.- Rosicrucians-Christian Rosenkreuz (1694 US) Rosicrucians- Master Kelpius, Johann Andrea 1515 AD.- Protestantism- (Reformers) Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin 1650 AD.- Tibetan Buddhism-Dalai Lama 1700 AD.- Freemasony- Albert Mackey, Albert Pike 1760 AD.-Swedenborgism- Emmanuel Swedenborg 1784 AD.- Shakers - Mother Ann Lee 1830 AD.- Mormonism Joseph Smith 1830 AD.-Cambellites-Alexander & Thomas Cambell, Barton Stone 1838 AD.-Tenrikyo- Miki Maegawa Nakayama 1844 AD.-Christadelphians- John Thomas 1840-45 AD.-Millerites 2nd day Adventists William Miller then became 7th Day Adventists 1844 AD.-Bahai- Baha'u'llah (Abul Baha) 1845-1870AD.- 7th Day Adventists-E.G. White 1848 AD.-Spiritualism - Kate and Margaret Fox 1870 AD.-Jehovah's Witnesses- Charles Taze Russell

1875 AD.-Theosophical Society- H.P. Blavatsky, Henry Olcott 1879 AD.-Christian Science-Mary Baker Eddy 1889-1924 AD.-Unity School of Christianity- Myrtle Fillmore 1900 AD.-Rosicrucian Fellowship-Max Heindel 1902 AD.- Anthroposophical Society Rudolf Steiner 1906 AD. -The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World 1914 AD.- Iglesia ni Cristo- Felix Manalo 1914 AD.- Oneness Pentecostalism- Frank Ewart, G.T.Haywood, Glenn Cook 1917 AD.-True Jesus Church. Founders Paul Wei, Lingsheng Chang and Barnabas Chang 1930 AD. -Black Muslims (Nation of Islam) Wallace D. Fard 1927 AD.- Mind Science- Ernest Holmes 1934 AD.-World Wide Church of God- Herbert W. Armstrong 1935 AD.-Self Realization Fellowship- Paramahansa Yogananda 1954 AD.- Unification Church- Sun Myung Moon 1945 AD. -The Way -Victor P.Wierwille 1948 AD.- Latter Rain Franklin Hall, George Warnock. 1964 AD.- Eckankar The Ancient Science of Soul Travel (Eck). Founded by Paul Twitchell 1968 AD.- Hare Krishna (US)- Swami Prabhupada 1968 AD.- Children of God- David (Moses) Berg 1945 AD.-United Pentecostal International- Howard Goss, W.T. Witherspoon (can be traced back to 1914) 1944 AD.- Silva Mind Control Jose Silva 1950 AD.-Urantia Book- Dr. Bill Sadler 1950 AD.-Lafayette Ronald Hubbard published his book Dianetics-SCIENTOLOGY 1954 AD.-Atherius Society (UFOs)- Dr. George King 1955 AD.- Scientology- L. Ron Hubbard 1958 AD.- Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research- Henry Kinley 1958-1970 AD.- Church Universal and Triumphant Mark and E.C. Prophet 1958 AD. -Henry Kinley begins (IDMR) the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research 1959 AD.-Unitariarian Universalist 1960 AD.-Transcendental meditation- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 1960 AD.-Enkankar- Paul Twitchell 1961 AD.- Unitarian Universalism was officially formed. 1965 AD.-Assembly of Yahweh-Jacob Meyer 1966 AD.- Church of Satan Anton LaVey 1970 AD.-Findhorn Community Peter and Eileen Caddy David Spangler 1970 AD.- Divine light Mission- Guru Maharaj Ji 1973 AD.- CARP was established in the United States. [The Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles] to introduce the teachings of un Myung Moon. 1974 AD.-Assemblies of Yahweh-Sam Suratt 1979 AD.-Church of Christ International - Kip McKean 1980 -1982 AD.- Tara Center-Benjamen Crme 1980 AD.- House of Yahweh (Abilene) Jacob Hawkins
Oppenheimer , Mike.History Timeline of World Religions and its Founders. Let us Reason Ministries.3february2014. <http://www.letusreason.org/Cult11.htm>

Founders of Religions and Churches

Judaism - Abraham; Moses Rabbinic Judaism - Johanan ben Zakkai Kabbala - Moses de Leon Modern Hasidism - Israel ben Eliezer The Haskala or Enlightenment - Moses Mendelson Zionism - Theodore Herzl Secular Humanistic Judaism - Sherwin T. Wine Jews for Jesus - Moishe Rosen Christianity - Jesus Christ Orthodox (Eastern) - Michael Cerularius, 1054 Protestants, Lutherans - Martin Luther, 1517 Anabaptists - Zwingli, 1519 Church of England, Anglicanism - Henry VIII, 1534 Calvinism; Dutch Reformed - Calvin, 1536 Presbyterians - Knox, 1560 Puritans - Cartwright, 1570 Congregationalists - Brown, 1582 Baptists - John Smith, 1605 Episcopalians - Seabury, 1620 Quakers - Fox, 1654 Shakers - Ann Lee, 1741 Methodists - Wesley, 1744 Unitarians - Lindsay, 1774 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Joseph Smith, Jr. 1830 Churches of Christ, Christian Church - Campbell and Stone, 1832 Adventists - Miller, 1846 Jehovah's Witnesses - Russell, 1852 Salvation Army - Rev. General William Booth and Catherine Booth, 1865 Christian Science - Mary Baker Eddy, 1879 Unity School of Christianity - Fillmore, 1889 Pentecostals - Parham, 1900 Worldwide Church of God - Herbert W. Armstrong, 1934 Calvary Chapel - Chuck Smith, 1965 Islam - Muhammad Sunnis - Abu Shi'ites - Abdullah bin Saba'a Sufi - Ahmad al-Quadina Black Muslims - Timothy Drew Buddhism: Buddha (Sidhartha Gautama) Nichiren Buddhism - Nichiren Hinduism Transcendental Meditation - Guru Maharishi Mahest Yogi ISKCON - Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuda Rajneeshism/OSHO - Bhagwan Rajneesh Divine Light Mission - Maharaj Ji Vedanta Society - Swami Vivekenanda

Krishnamurti Foundation of America - Annie Besant Free Pimitive Church of Divine Communion - Bubba Free John Hanuman Foundation - Richard Alpert Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science - Swami Rami Self-Realization Fellowship - Paramahansa Yogananda Shree Gurudev Siddha Yoga Ashram - Swami Muktananda Paramahansa Sikhism - Guru Nanak 3HO Foundation - Yogi Bhajan Taoism - Lao-Tze Jainism - Mahavira Confucianism - Kung-futze (Confucius) Baha'i Faith - Baha'u'llah Zoroastrinaism, Parsis - Zoroaster Subud - RM.Muhamad Subud Sumohadiwijojo Theosophy - Madame Helena Petrova Blavatsky New Age - Alice Bailey est: - Werner Erhard Church Universal and Triumphant: - Elisabeth Prophet, 1958 Spititualism - Kate Fox, 1848; Kardec Unitarian Universalist Association - merger of Unitarians and Univeralists, 1959 Eckankar - John Paul Twitchell
Dominguez, Jerome.Founders of Religions and Churches. The Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Renewal(Adherents).3February2014.<http://www.adherents.com/misc/adh_founders.html>.


What is Hinduism?
About 80 percent of India's population regard themselves as Hindus and 30 million more Hindus live outside of India. There are a total of 900 million Hindus worldwide, making Hinduism the third largest religion (after Christianity and Islam). The term "Hinduism" includes numerous traditions, which are closely related and share common themes but do not constitute a unified set of beliefs or practices. Hinduism is thought to have gotten its name from the Persian word hindu, meaning "river," used by outsiders to describe the people of the Indus River Valley. Hindus themselves refer to their religion as sanatama dharma, "eternal religion," and varnasramadharma, a word emphasizing the fulfillment of duties (dharma) appropriate to one's class (varna) and stage of life (asrama). Hinduism has no founder or date of origin. The authors and dates of most Hindu sacred texts are unknown. Scholars describe modern Hinduism as the product of religious development in India that spans nearly four thousand years, making it the oldest surviving world religion. Indeed, as seen above, Hindus regard their religion as eternal (sanatama). Hinduism is not a homogeneous, organized system. Many Hindus are devoted followers of Shiva or Vishnu, whom they regard as the only true God, while others look inward to the divine Self (atman). But most recognize the existence of Brahman, the unifying principle and Supreme Reality behind all that is. Most Hindus respect the authority of the Vedas (a collection of ancient sacred texts) and the Brahmans (the priestly class), but some reject one of both of these authorities. Hindu religious life might take the form of devotion to God or gods, the duties of family life, or concentrated meditation. Given all this diversity, it is important to take care when generalizing about "Hinduism" or "Hindu beliefs."

The first sacred writings of Hinduism, which date to about 1200 BC, were primarily concerned with the ritual sacrifices associated with numerous gods who represented forces of nature. A more philosophical focus began to develop around 700 BC, with the Upanishads and development of the Vedanta philosophy. Around 500 BC, several new belief systems sprouted from Hinduism, most significantly Buddhism and Jainism. In the 20th century, Hinduism began to gain popularity in the West. Its different worldview and its tolerance for diversity in belief made it an attractive alternative to traditional Western religion. Although there are relatively few western converts to Hinduism, Hindu thought has influenced the West indirectly by way of religious movements like Hare Krishna and New Age, and even more so through the incorporation of Indian beliefs and practices (such as the chakra system and yoga) in books and seminars on health and spirituality.

What is the history of Hinduism?

The history of Hinduism is unique among the world religions in that it has no founder or date of origin. While most major religions derive from new ideas taught by a charismatic leader, Hinduism is simply the religion of the people of India, which has gradually developed over four thousand years. The origins and authors of its sacred texts are largely unknown. Although today's Hinduism differs significantly from earlier forms of Indian religion, Hinduism's roots date back as far as 2000 BC, making it one of the oldest surviving religions. Because of its great age, the early history of Hinduism is unclear. The most ancient writings have yet to be deciphered, so for the earliest periods scholars must rely on educated guesses based on archaeology and the study of contemporary texts. In the last few decades, the history of India's religion has also become a matter of political controversy. The history of any nation (or individual) is an important part of its self-identity, and this is especially true of India, which so recently gained independence after centuries of colonial rule. The controversy over India's history centers on the origin of the Aryan culture, as we shall see in more detail below.

The Indus River Valley Civilization

In 1921, archaeologists uncovered evidence of an ancient civilization along the Indus River, which today runs through northwest India into Pakistan. The so-called Indus Valley civilization (also known as the "Harappan civilization" for one of its chief cities) is thought to have originated as early as 7000 BC and to have reached is height between 2300 to 2000 BC, at which point it encompassed over 750,000 square miles and traded with Mesopotamia. Some writings of this period has been discovered, but unfortunately in such small amounts that they have yet to be deciphered. Knowledge of this great civilization's

religion must therefore be based on physical evidence alone. Baths have been found that may indicate ritual bathing, a component of modern Hinduism. Some altar-like structures may be evidence of animal sacrifice, and terracotta figures may represent deities. An important seal features a horned figure surrounded by animals, which some conjecture is a prototype of Shiva, but it could be a bull parallel to that found on Mesopotamian seals.

The Controversial Aryans

The Indus Valley culture began to decline around 1800 BC, due possibly to flooding or drought. Until recently, it was held that the Aryans (an Indo-European culture whose name comes from the Sanskrit for "noble") invaded India and Iran at this time. According to this hypothesis, both the Sanskrit language and the Vedic religion foundational to Hinduism is attributable to the Aryans and their descendants. The original inhabitants of the Indus Valley are thought to have had a Dravidian language and culture, which became subordinate to that of the invading peoples. Proponents of this hypothesis point to similarities between Zoroastrianism (the ancient religion of Iran) and the Vedic religion of ancient India, as well as similar finds in ancient cemeteries in modern-day India and Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In addition, no trace of horses or chariots have been found in the remains of the Indus Valley culture, but were central to Aryan military and ritual life. Since the 1980s, this "Aryan Invasion" hypothesis has been strongly challenged as a myth propagated by colonial scholars who sought to reinforce the idea that anything valuable in India must have come from elsewhere. Critics of the hypothesis note that there is lack of evidence of any conquest, among other historical and archaeological problems. One alternative hypothesis is explained by Encyclopdia Britannica as follows:
Between about 2000 and 1500 BCE not an invasion but a continuing spread of Indo-Aryan speakers occurred, carrying them much farther into India, to the east and south, and coinciding with a growing cultural interaction between the native population and the new arrivals. From these processes a new cultural synthesis emerged, giving rise by the end of the 2nd millennium to the conscious expressions of Aryan ethnicity found in the Rigveda, particularly in the later hymns.

The 19th-century Aryan Invasion theory has generally been abandoned as inaccurate, but most scholars do not reject the notion of some outside influence on the Indus Valley civilization. For many, it is a political issue as well as a historical one, with the original theory is regarded as racist and offensive. BBC Religion & Ethics summarizes the matter this way:
Many people argue that there is now evidence to show that Muller [original proponent of the hypothesis], and those who followed him, were wrong. Others, however, believe that the case against the Aryan invasion theory is far from conclusive. The matter remains very controversial and highly politicised.


What do Hindus believe?

Hinduism embraces a great diversity of beliefs, a fact that can be initially confusing to westerners accustomed to creeds, confessions, and carefully-worded belief statements. One can believe a wide variety of things about God, the universe and the path to liberation and still be considered a Hindu. This attitude towards religious belief has made Hinduism one of the more open-minded religions when it comes to evaluating other faiths. Probably the most well-known Hindu saying about religion is: "Truth is one; sages call it by different names." However, there are some beliefs common to nearly all forms of Hinduism that can be identified, and these basic beliefs are generally regarded as boundaries outside of which lies either heresy or non-Hindu religion. These fundamental Hindu beliefs include: the authority of the Vedas (the oldest Indian sacred texts) and the Brahmans (priests); the existence of an enduring soul that transmigrates from one body to another at death (reincarnation); and the law of karma that determines one's destiny both in this life and the next. Note that a specific belief about God or gods is not considered one of the essentials, which is a major difference between Hinduism and strictly monotheistic religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism. Most Hindus are devoted followers of one of the principal gods Shiva, Vishnu or Shakti, and often others besides, yet all these are regarded as manifestations of a single Reality. The ultimate goal of all Hindus is release (moksha) from the cycle of rebirth (samsara). For those of a devotional bent, this means being in God's presence, while those of a philosophical persuasion look forward to uniting with God as a drop of rain merges with the sea.

Authority of the Vedas and Brahmans

The authority of the ancient scriptures known as the Vedas as well as that of the priests known as the Brahmans are two concepts that are fundamental to Hinduism and differentiate the faith from Buddhism and Jainism.

What is the authority of the Vedas and Brahmans in Hinduism?

A fundamental defining characteristic of Hindu belief is the recognition of the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures, as an absolute religious authority. This is affirmed by virtually all traditional Hindus, and those who reject its authority (such as Buddhists and Jains) are regarded as unfaithful to their tradition.

Interestingly, however, the contents of the Vedas are practically unknown to most Hindus and the texts are seldom drawn upon for information or advice. Yet the Vedas are regarded as the basis of all the later texts used in Hindu doctrine and practice, parts of the Vedas are still quoted in essential Hindu rituals, and they are the source of many enduring patterns of Hindu thought. Another characteristic of Hinduism is the belief in the power and authority of the Brahmans (also spelled Brahmins), a priestly class that has spiritual supremacy by birth. Brahmans are the highest ranking caste in society and represent the ideal of ritual purity and social prestige. Because of their great purity, the Brahmans are called upon to perform vital religious tasks as well as interpret and teach the scriptures. The Brahman family priest officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonial occasions.

Brahman: Ultimate Reality

Most Hindus venerate one or more deities, but regard these as manifestations of Ultimate Reality. So who, or what, is the Ultimate Reality that is behind the universe and all the gods? In the Rig Veda, it is referred to as "the One." In the Purushasukta, it is given the name "Purusha," and in the Upanishads it is called "Brahman," "the One," and several other names.

Who is Brahman?
Most Hindus venerate one or more deities, but regard these as manifestations of Ultimate Reality. The Ultimate Reality that is behind the universe and all the gods is called by different names, but most commonly Brahman (not to be confused with the creator god Brahma or the priestly class of Brahmans). In the Rig Veda, Ultimate Reality is referred to as "the One." In the Purushasukta, it is "Purusha," and in the Upanishads it is called "Brahman," "the One," and several other names. Most modern Hindus refer to the Ultimate Reality as Brahman. The Upanishads describe Brahman as "the eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, spiritual source of the universe of finiteness and change." Brahman is the source of all things and is in all things; it is the Self (atman) of all living beings. Brahman is impersonal Being in itself, but it can be known through the many gods and goddesses that are manifestations of Brahman.

The Sanskirt word karma means "actions" and refers to the fundamental Hindu principle that one's moral actions have unavoidable and automatic effects on one's fortunes in this life and condition of rebirth in the next.

What is Karma?
The Sanskrit word karma means "actions" or "deeds." As a religious term, karma refers to intentional (usually moral) actions that affect one's fortunes in this life and the next. Karma (or kamma in Pali) is a concept common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, but interpreted in different ways. This article focuses specifically on Hindu beliefs about karma. The concept of karma or "law of karma" is the broader principle that all of life is governed by a system of cause and effect, action and reaction, in which one's deeds have corresponding effects on the future. Karma is thus a way of explaining evil and misfortune in the world, even for those who do not appear to deserve it - their misfortune must be due to wrong actions in their previous life. In Hindu texts, the word karma first appears in the ancient Rig Veda, but there it simply means religious action and animal sacrifice. There is some hint of the later meaning of karma in the Brahmanas, but it is not until the Upanishads that karma is expressed as a principle of cause and effect based on actions. One example is in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5. Karma is regarded as a fundamental law of nature that is automatic and mechanical. It is not something that is imposed by God or a god as a system of punishment or reward, nor something that the gods can interfere with. The word karma refers primarily to "bad karma" - that which is accumulated as a result of wrong actions. Bad karma binds a person's soul (atman) to the cycle of rebirth (samsara) and leads to misfortune in this life and poor conditions in the next. The moral energy of a particular moral act bears fruit automatically in the next life, manifested in one's class, disposition, and character. Hindu texts also prescribe a number of activities, such as pilgrimages to holy places and acts of devotion, that can wipe out the effects of bad karma. Such positive actions are sometimes referred to as "good karma." Some versions of the theory of karma also say that morally good acts have positive consequences (as opposed to simply neutral). In Vedanta and Yoga teachings, there are three types of karma:
1. 2. 3. Prarabdha karma - karma experienced during the present lifetime Sancita karma - the store of karma that has not yet reached fruition Agamin or sanciyama karma - karma sown in the present life that will come to fruition in a future life

The process by which karma is understood to work through various rebirths is as follows:
1. 2. Good or bad actions create impressions (samskaras) or tendencies (vasanas) in the mind, which in time will come to fruition in further action (more karma). The seeds of karma are carried in the subtle body (linga), in which the soul transmigrates.



The physical body (sthula sarira) is the field in which the fruit of karma is experienced and more karma is created.

The purpose of life in Hinduism is thus to minimize bad karma in order to enjoy better fortune in this life and achieve a better rebirth in the next. The ultimate spiritual goal is to achieve release (moksha) from the cycle of samsara altogether. It may take hundreds or thousands of rebirths to get rid of all of one's accumulated karma and achieve moksha. The person who has become liberated (attained moksha) creates no more new karma during the present lifetime and is not reborn after death. Various methods to attain moksha are taught by different schools, but most include avoiding attachment to impermanent things, carrying out one's duties, and realizing the ultimate unity between one's soul or self (atman) and ultimate reality (Brahman). See the article on the Purpose of Life in Hinduism for more information.

Hinduism is a decidedly theistic religion, but it can be difficult to determine whether it is a polytheistic, pantheistic, or even monotheistic religion. Of course, this is chiefly a western question: the Indian mind is much more inclined to regard divergent views as complementary rather than competing.

Hinduism and Theism

Hinduism is a decidedly theistic religion; the difficulty lies in determining whether it is a polytheistic, pantheistic, or perhaps even monotheistic religion. It should be noted at the outset, however, that this is chiefly a western difficulty: the Indian mind is much more inclined to regard divergent views as complementary rather than competing. Supporting a view of Hinduism as a polytheistic religion is the great pantheon of Hindu gods. The oldest and most sacred texts, the Vedas, are chiefly concerned with mythologies and rituals related to a number of deities, most of which are identified with aspects of the natural world. The gods of modern Hinduism include the chief gods Shiva, Vishnu and the Mother Goddess Shakti as well as a myriad of local community gods. Devotion to these various deities is based primarily on one's region and needs, and even when devotion is given to only one, the existence of others is acknowledged. Hindu worship virtually always involves sculptures and images, to which offerings are made and rituals are performed. Despite these polytheistic elements, however, many Hindus explain that the gods are various forms of a single Supreme Being (see quotes below). Similarly, the philosophical Hindu texts advocate a pantheistic view of ultimate reality. These texts, most notably the Upanishads, explain that there exists a single Supreme Reality, called Brahman. Brahman

is often personified and presented as the One that must be sought, and can begin to sound like monotheism. Yet the ultimate revelation of the Upanishads is that the self (atman) is identical with Brahman. Life is therefore best spent not in rituals and offerings to the gods, but in deep meditation on the self until this truth is experienced firsthand. So is Hinduism polytheistic, pantheistic, or monotheistic? Contributing to the difficulty of answering this question is the fact that Hindus are not nearly as concerned as are western thinkers with such labels and categories. After all, it is a favorite Hindu saying that "The Truth is One, but different sages call it by different names." But when Hindus do define their religion in these terms, usually for the benefit of curious westerners, they tend to do so in terms of monotheism and pantheism:
"Hinduism worships multiple forms of the one God." (OM, an American Hindu organization) "According to the tenets of Hinduism, God is one as well as many." (HinduWebsite.com) "Hindus believe in monotheistic polytheism, rather than polytheism." (The Hindu Universe) "Even though Hinduism is mistakenly regarded by many as a religion having many gods namely, polytheism, yet truly speaking Hinduism is a monotheistic religion." (Sri Swami Chidanda)

Why not monotheism? Although "monotheism" literally means belief in the existence of one God, the term has come to denote belief in a God who created and is distinct from the universe. Pantheism is the view that God is essentially identical with the universe and totally immanent in the world: God is the universe and the universe is God. Thus pantheism seems to be the most accurate label for Hinduism. The "with polytheistic elements" qualifier is added because the Supreme Being of Hinduism is most often worshipped in the form of multiple deities. However, it must be noted that this is a generalization that does not describe the beliefs of all Hindus. Some regard the universe as created by and essentially distinct from God, and are therefore "monotheistic" in the traditional sense.

Purpose of Life
In Hinduism, there is not just one purpose of human life, but four: Dharma - fulfilling one's purpose; Artha - prosperity; Kama - desire, sexuality, enjoyment; and Moksha enlightenment.


What is the purpose of life in Hinduism?

In Hinduism, there is not just one purpose of human life, but four:
1. 2. 3. 4. Dharma - fulfilling one's purpose Artha - prosperity Kama - desire, sexuality, enjoyment Moksha - enlightenment

The Sanskrit word dharma means many things, including "law," "teaching" and "religion." In this context, it means one's destiny or purpose. In general, it refers to one's vocation or career, which is often defined by class and family. If a Hindu man's father is a tire maker, his dharma is probably to make tires, too. Traditionally, the dharma of most women has been to be a housewife and a mother. Another aspect of dharma is paying the five debts. Hindus believe that they are born in debt to the gods and various humans, and they must repay those karmic debts during their lifetime. The debts are:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Debt to the gods for their blessings; paid by rituals and offerings. Debt to parents and teachers; paid by supporting them, having children of one's own and passing along knowledge. Debt to guests; repaid by treating them as if they were gods visiting one's home. Debt to other human beings; repaid by treating them with respect. Debt to all other living beings; repaid by offering good will, food or any other help that is appropriate.

Dharma also means righteousness, or living morally and ethically at all times.

Artha: Prosperity
Artha is prosperity or success in worldly pursuits. Although the ultimate goal of Hinduism is enlightenment, the pursuit of wealth and prosperity is regarded as an appropriate pursuit for the householder (the second of four life stages). It also ensures social order, for there would be no society if everyone renunciated worldly life to meditate. But while Hindus are encouraged to make money, it must be within the bounds of dharma.

Kama: Pleasure
Kama (Sanskrit, "desire") primarily refers to romantic love and sexual pleasure, though it can refer to desire in general. Like artha, kama is seen as an appropriate pursuit of the


householder. The Kama Sutra, a manual for erotic and other human pleasures (like flower-arranging), is attributed to the sage Vatsyayana.

Moksha: Enlightenment
The ultimate end of every Hindu's life is moksha, which can be understood in a variety of ways: liberation from rebirth, enlightenment, Self-realization, or union with God. This is considered to the be the highest purpose of life, although very few can achieve it in a single lifetime and there are a variety of paths to attain it.

Who are the gods and goddesses in Hinduism?

The gods of modern Hinduism are many, and include the chief gods Shiva, Vishnu and the Goddess Shakti as well as a myriad of local community gods. Devotion to these various deities is based primarily on one's region and needs, and even when devotion is given to only one, the existence of others is acknowledged. Hindu worship virtually always involves sculptures and images, to which offerings are made and rituals are performed.

One God or Many? Is Hinduism a polytheistic, pantheistic, or monotheistic religion?

Devi: The Mother Goddess Devi, the Divine Female, is also known as the Mother Goddess.

Ganesha The beloved elephant-faced deity known as Ganesh or Ganesha clears away life's obstacles.

Shiva The "Destroyer" and one of the chief deities of Hinduism. His name means "Auspicious One."


Vedic Gods The ancient Vedas describe a number of deities, most of whom are personified forces of nature.

Vishnu Vishnu, the "All-Pervading," is the protector of the world and the restorer of moral order (dharma).

What are the rituals and practices of Hinduism?

The religious life of many Hindus is focused on devotion to God (perceived as Brahman, Shiva, Vishnu, or Shakti) or several gods. This devotion usually takes the form of rituals and practices associated with sculptures and images of gods in home shrines. More philosophically-minded Hindus ignore the gods altogether and seek Realization of the Self through intense meditation. Still others focus primarily on fulfilling the social and moral duties appropriate to their position in life. These various approaches are regarded as equally valid, and in fact are formally recognized as three paths (margas) to liberation: bhaktimarga (the path of devotion), jnanamarga (the path of knowledge or philosophy), and karmamarga (the path of works and action). Hindu religious practices center on the importance of fulfilling the duties associated both with one's social position and one's stage of life. With regard to the latter, traditional Hindus are expected to pass through four stages (ashramas) over the course of their life:
1. 2. 3. 4. brahmacharga, which takes place during the school years, is focused on acquiring knowledge and developing character; grastha, the middle years, is focused on worldly pursuits and pleasures such as marriage, family and career; vanaprastha, when one's children reach adulthood, is a time of increased focus on spiritual things; and sanngasu, in the last years of life, one may abandon the world entirely for a life of contemplation.

All stages of life for the Hindu, however, involve religious rituals and practices. Some of the major Hindu practices are described in the articles below.


Ayurveda Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu system of medicine and healing that has found new popularity in the west today.

Hatha Yoga Outside of Hindu culture, the word "yoga" is usually understood to refer to the practice of meditative movement, or Hatha Yoga. However, Hatha Yoga is only one part of the Hindu traditions of Yoga and Tantra. It is one of the paths leading to the ultimate goal of Raja Yoga, or contemplation of the One Reality. Kundalini Yoga Kundalini yoga is a tantric form of yoga focused on awakening the kundalini, the latent psychic energy that lies at the base of the spine, and making it rise through the seven chakras to the top of the spine. Namaste Greeting The gesture (or mudra) of namaste is a simple act made by bringing together both palms of the hands before the heart, and lightly bowing the head. In the simplest of terms it is accepted as a humble greeting straight from the heart and reciprocated accordingly. Puja (Pooja) Puja is a religious ritual which some Hindus perform every morning after bathing and dressing but prior to taking any food or drink. Puja is seen as a way of relating humans to the domain and actions of the divine, and can be performed for anything considered divine, from Vishnu to a holy tree. The Sadhu (Holy Man) Some Hindus choose to leave their homes and dedicate their lives to spiritual disciplines. They renounce their possessions and devote themselves to a particular god and/or meditation, yoga and spiritual discussion. These are called sadhus, or holy men. Temples and Temple Rituals A guide to Hindu temples: how they are designed and built and the rituals and ceremonies that take place there.

Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



Buddhism was founded by an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama around the year 500 BCE. According to tradition, the young prince lived an affluent and sheltered life until a journey during which he saw an old man, a sick man, a poor man, and a corpse. Shocked and distressed at the suffering in the world, Gautama left his family to seek enlightenment through asceticism. But even the most extreme asceticism failed to bring enlightenment. Finally, Gautama sat beneath a tree and vowed not to move until he had attained enlightenment. Days later, he arose as the Buddha - the "enlightened one." He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the path to liberation from suffering (the dharma) and establishing a community of monks (the sangha). Today, there are over 360 million followers of Buddhism. Although virtually extinct in its birthplace of India, it is prevalent throughout China, Japan and Southeast Asia. In the 20th century, Buddhism expanded its influence to the West and even to western religions. There are now over one million American Buddhists and even a significant number of "Jewish Buddhists." Buddhist concepts have also been influential on western society in general, primarily in the areas of meditation and nonviolence. Buddhist beliefs vary significantly across various sects and schools, but all share an admiration for the figure of the Buddha and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth. Theravada Buddhism, prominent in Southeast Asia, is atheistic and philosophical in nature and focuses on the monastic life and meditation as means to liberation. Mahayana Buddhism, prominent in China and Japan, incorporates several deities, celestial beings, and other traditional religious elements. In Mahayana, the path to liberation may include religious ritual, devotion, meditation, or a combination of these elements. Zen, Nichiren, Tendai, and Pure Land are the major forms of Mahayana Buddhism.


What is the History of Buddhism? Life of the Buddha

The details of the Buddha's life are not known for certain, but most scholars are in agreement that he was an actual historical figure who lived in northern India around the 5th century BCE. The events of his life are recorded in Buddhist tradition and often lovingly illustrated in Buddhist art.

The First Buddhist Council

After the Buddha's death, his disciple Mahakasyapa took over leadership of the Sangha. One of Mahakasyapa's first acts as the new Buddhist leader was to convene a council of 500 arhats to collect and preserve the Buddha's teachings.

The Sangha
When Mahakasyapa died shortly after the First Council, Ananda became head of the sangha. During the 40 years he led the Buddhist monastic order, Buddhism spread throughout India. The Buddha had directed his disciples to teach "for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world," and this his disciples did.

The Second Buddhist Council

Along with increasing numbers often comes increasing disagreements. Within 100 years of the Buddha's passing, significant disputes arose, primarily in the areas of monastic discipline. To deal with these disputes, a Second Council was convened.

Conversion of Emperor Asoka

Around 270 BC, a man named Asoka became emperor of the powerful Mauryan dynasty in India. Emperor Asoka began his reign by expanding the empire his grandfather had established. He was very successful, and soon he ruled a sizeable portion of India.

Spread of Buddhism to Southeast Asia

One pair of Asoka's emissaries went to Sri Lanka, an island southeast of the Indian subcontinent. They were well-received by the local ruler, King Tissa, and Theravada Buddhism took hold there.


Spread of Buddhism to the Hellenistic World

The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism started when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor and Central Asia in 334 BCE, going as far as the Indus, thus establishing direct contact with India, the birthplace of Buddhism

What do Buddhists Believe?

Given the association of Buddhism with the meditating monk, one might well assume that Buddhism emphasizes practices over beliefs. It is true that right practices are important in Buddhism, but the faith really centers on correct understanding of human nature and ultimate reality. The Buddha, after all, was called the "Enlightened One." After he became enlightened, he taught that the way to eliminate suffering begins with understanding the true nature of the world. However, the Buddha considered knowledge important only insofar as it remains practical. He rejected speculation about such matters as God, the nature of the universe, and the afterlife, urging his followers to focus instead on the Four Noble Truths by which they can free themselves from suffering.
Basic Points of Buddhism In the 2,500 years since the Buddha's enlightenment, Buddhism has spread over many countries, split into numerous sects, and adopted a wide variety of beliefs, practices, rituals and customs. However, an essential unity centered around the teachings of the Buddha underlies these differences. Is Buddhism Atheistic? As seen in the Basic Points of Buddhism, one general doctrine agreed upon by Buddhists is: "We do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God." However, disbelief in a creator God does not mean that Buddhism is atheistic. Buddhas and Deities In Mahayana Buddhism, the universe is populated with celestial buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities that assist and inspire the Buddhist practitioner. Among the most popular are Kuan Yin, the Medicine Buddha, the Laughing Buddha and the Green and White Taras. These and other fascinating figures are explored in this section. Human Nature In Hinduism, the soul, or atman, is an eternally existing spiritual substance or being and the abiding self that moves from one body to the next at rebirth. The Buddha rejected this concept. Purpose of Life In Buddhism, the purpose of life is to end suffering. The Buddha taught that humans suffer because we continually strive after things that do not give lasting happiness. Reincarnation and Afterlife The Buddha said of death: Life is a journey. Death is a return to earth. The universe is like an inn. The passing years are like dust. Regard this phantom world As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,


A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp - a phantom - and a dream

Introduction to the Beliefs of Buddhism

In the 2,500 years since the Buddha was enlightened under the Bodhi Tree, Buddhism has spread over many countries, split into numerous sects, and adopted a wide variety of beliefs, practices, rituals and customs. However, an essential unity centered around the teachings of the Buddha underlies these differences. In 1966, a leading monks from both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions met in Sri Lanka with the goal of bridging the differences between the two groups and identifying the essential points of agreement. The World Buddhist Sangha Council, as they called themselves, unanimously approved the following "Basic Points Unifying the Theravada and Mahayana":
1. 2. 3. 4. The Buddha is our only Master. We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. We do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God. Following the example of the Buddha, who is the embodiment of Great Compassion ( mahaakarunaa) and Great Wisdom (mahaa-prajnaa), we consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth. We accept the Four Noble Truths, nameley Dukkha, the Arising of Dukkha, the Cessation of Dukkha, and the Path leading to the Cessation of Dukkha; and the universal law of cause and effect as taught in the pratiitya-samutpaada (Conditioned Genesis or Dependent Origination). We understand, according to the teaching of the Buddha, that all conditioned things ( samskaara) are impermanent (anitya) and dukkha, and that all conditioned and unconditioned things ( dharma) are without self (anaatma). We accept the Thirty-seven Qualities conducive to Enlightenment (bodhipaksa-dharma) as different aspects of the Path taught by the Buddha leading to Enlightenment. There are three ways of attaining bodhi or Enlightenment, according to the ability and capacity of each individual: namely as a disciple (sraavaka), as a Pratyeka-Buddha and as a Samyak-samBuddha (perfectly and Fully Enlightened Buddha). We accept it as the highest, noblest, and most heroic to follow the career of a Bodhisattva and to become a Samyak-sam-Buddha in order to save others. We admit that in different countries there are differences with regard to the life of Buddhist monks, popular Buddhist beliefs and practices, rites and ceremonies, customs and habits. These external forms and expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of the Buddha.



7. 8.


Is Buddhism Atheistic?
As seen in the Basic Points of Buddhism, one doctrine agreed upon by all branches of modern Buddhism is that "this world is not created and ruled by a God." According to BuddhaNet, a major Buddhist website:


There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.

The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods, and very shortly after his death a devotional element formed within Buddhism. Stupas were built to contain relics of the Buddha and pilgrimmages were made to places where he had walked. Soon the idea of past and future Buddhas developed, with Maitreya, the Buddha yet to come, being especially important. In the Mahayana system, a variety of celestial Buddhas and bodhisatvas came to be revered and looked to for assistance on the path to enlightenment. Especially devotional is Pure Land Buddhism, a subdivision of Mahayana that began in China. Pure Land Buddhists revere and call on the name of the Amitabha Buddha, who will grant them entrance to the paradisical "Pure Land" after death. As Buddhism spread into cultures with existing religious beliefs, it incorporated local deities and religious practices into the Buddhist system. For instance, in China, a popular boddhisatva became the female deity Kuan-yin, the giver of children. Finally, Tibetan Buddhist cosmology features a "vast number of divine beings (each with its own family, consort, and pacific and terrifying aspects), which are considered symbolic representations of the psychic life by the religiously sophisticated and accepted as realities by the common people." There are six realms of existence in the Tibetan cosmology, one of which is the realm of the gods. The gods enjoy the fruits of good karma in a paradise until their karma runs out and they are reborn in a lower realm. In fact, gods must be reborn as humans to attain enlightenment. In view of the above factors, scholars and Buddhists alike tend to describe Buddhism as atheistic in the sense that it denies an eternal creator God , while recognizing its theistic and devotional elements. The Encyclopedia Britannica explains,
While the contemplative elite may deny the real existence of gods and demons together with the rest of phenomenal existence, the majority of Buddhists from the earliest times in India, and in other countries where Buddhism has spread, have never neglected indigenous religious beliefs.

Do Buddhists Believe in God?

The Buddha's teachings and Theravada Buddhism are essentially atheistic, although neither deny the existence of beings that might be called "gods." (See Is Buddhism Atheistic? for more information.)


In Mahayana Buddhism, however, the universe is populated with celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas who are worshipped as gods and goddesses. The historical Buddha is honored in this way, but most other Buddhist deities are adapted from the cultures Buddhism has encountered from the pantheon of Hinduism to the indigenous religions of Tibet, China and Thailand. Among the most popular Buddhist deities are Kuan Yin, the Medicine Buddha, the Laughing Buddha and the Green and White Taras.

Buddhist Views of Human Nature

In Hinduism, the soul, or atman, is an eternally existing spiritual substance or being and the abiding self that moves from one body to the next at rebirth. The Buddha rejected this concept. He taught that everything is impermanent (anicca), and this includes everything that we associate with being human: sensations, feelings, thoughts and consciousness. This is the doctrine of anatta, "no-soul," a central concept of Buddhism. Human existence, in the Buddha's view, is nothing more than a composite of five aggregates (khandas):
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Physical forms (rupa) Feelings or sensations (vedana) Ideations (sanna) Mental formations or dispositions (sankhara) Consciousness (vinnana)

These khandas come together at birth to form a human person. A person is a "self" in that he or she is a true subject of moral action and karmic accumulation, but not in the sense that he or she has an enduring or unchanging soul. The doctrine of anatta, when combined with Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation and karma, presents an interesting difficulty. If humans have no soul or enduring self, what is it that reincarnates? The Buddha was characteristically resistant to dwelling on such speculative matters, and early opponents of Buddhism were quick to point out this apparent vulnerability in Buddhist thought. Buddhists explain the difficulty using the analogy of fire: When one candle is used to light another, the new flame is not the same as the old flame, and yet the first flame directly causes the second. In the same way, one human life, with its particular accumulation of karma, gives rise to the next life, even though no permanent soul passes from one to the other.


The Purpose of Life According to Buddhism

One of the most important questions all belief systems seek to address is: What is the purpose of life? And virtually all religions propose a way of life that will lead to salvation, liberation, satisfaction, or happiness. Buddhism is no exception. In Buddhism, the primary purpose of life is to end suffering. The Buddha taught that humans suffer because we continually strive after things that do not give lasting happiness. We desperately try to hold on to things - friends, health, material things - that do not last, and this causes sorrow. The Buddha did not deny that there are things in life that give joy, but pointed out that none of them last and our attachment to them only causes more suffering. His teachings were focused entirely on this problem and its solution. This is done by recognizing the impermanence of all things and freeing oneself from attachment to these things. This will lessen suffering and eventually end the cycle of rebirth. These teachings are expressed most concisely in the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, which together form the foundation of belief for all branches of Buddhism.

The Four Noble Truths

In his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha taught the "Four Noble Truths," which form the foundation of belief for all branches of Buddhism:
1. 2. 3. 4. All of life is marked by suffering. Suffering is caused by desire and attachment. Suffering can be stopped. The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eightfold Path

According to the fourth Noble Truth, one can permanently escape suffering by following the Noble Eightfold Path. The word "right" in these eight items designates "true" or "correct," to distinguish the Buddhist way from others: It is not enough to gain knowledge; it must be right knowledge.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Right knowledge Right intention Right speech Right action Right livelihood Right effort Right mindfulness Right concentration 27

In view of both the importance and the difficulty of accomplishing these eight activities and eliminating suffering, the Buddha and the earliest Buddhist advocated the monastic life as the surest way to enlightenment. This remains the perspective today in what is known as Theravada ("Way of the Elders") Buddhism, which predominates in Southeast Asia. In Theravada Buddhism, there is certainly room for the laity to participate in Buddhism, but it is generally thought that they must be reborn as monk before they can attain enlightenment. Thus the purpose of life for the Buddhist laity is to gain merit (good karma) by supporting the monks and doing other good deeds, in the hopes that the next life would be one favorable to gaining enlightenment.

Paths to Enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism

However, within a few centuries of the Buddha's death, a new perspective on the path to enlightenment began to develop. This movement called itself Mahayana, "The Greater Vehicle," because it opened the way to enlightenment to more people. According to Mahayana Buddhism, even those with families and secular careers could attain enlightenment and end the cycle of rebirth - they need not hope for rebirth as monks or nuns in the next life. Mahayana also provided faster routes to enlightenment than Theravada, making it possible to attain the goal in a single lifetime. As it spread from India into the north and across Asia, Mahayana Buddhism divided into several schools, each with a different view on the path to enlightenment. But the common theme in all forms of Mahayana Buddhism continues to be that just about anyone can achieve the goal in this life, and there are shortcuts to the austere monastic life prescribed by the Theravadans. Among the largest of the Mahayana schools still thriving today are Zen (Ch'an in China), Pure Land, and Nichiren Buddhism. The first two originated in China before becoming influential in Japan, and Nichiren originated in Japan. Zen/Ch'an means "Meditation" and teaches that enlightenment can be achieved by meditation leading to a great moment of insight. Pure Land is the most devotional branch of Buddhism, and holds that one need only call upon the name of Amitbha Buddha in faith to be reborn in the paradisiacal "Pure Land," in which one enjoys a pleasant paradise and attains enlightenment easily. Nichiren Buddhism centers on the Lotus Sutra, a Mahayana scripture. Nichiren (a 13thcentury Japanese teacher) taught that if one simply recites "Homage to the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law" (Namu myoho renge kyo) in faith, all one's spiritual and worldly wishes will be fulfilled.

Paths to Enlightenment in Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism

Vajrayana is an esoteric form of Buddhism that may have begun as early as the 2nd or 4th century CE in India and Sri Lanka, but is now most dominant in Tibet. Vajrayana Buddhism emphasizes that all apparent opposites are in fact one, and enlightenment lies in fully recognizing this fact through contemplation, yoga, and other ritual means. The

path to enlightenment is walked with the assistance of a personal deity, who is assigned by a guru. Special postures, mantras and icons are believed to help the practitioner identify with this deity and attain enlightenment.

Buddhist Beliefs about the Afterlife

What does Buddhism teach about the afterlife?
The Buddha said of death:
Life is a journey. Death is a return to earth. The universe is like an inn. The passing years are like dust. Regard this phantom world As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp - a phantom - and a dream.

According to Buddhism, after death one is either reborn into another body (reincarnated) or enters nirvana. Only Buddhas - those who have attained enlightenment - will achieve the latter destination.

Reincarnation (Transmigration)
Based on his no-soul (anatta) doctrine, the Buddha described reincarnation, or the taking on of a new body in the next life, in a different way than the traditional Indian understanding. He compared it to lighting successive candles using the flame of the preceding candle. Although each flame is causally connected to the one that came before it, is it not the same flame. Thus, in Buddhism, reincarnation is usually referred to as "transmigration."

Nirvana is the state of final liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. It is also therefore the end of suffering. The literal meaning of the word is "to extinguish," in the way that a fire goes out when it runs out of fuel. In the Surangama, the Buddha describes Nirvana as the place in which
it is recognized that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind itself; where, recognizing the nature of the self-mind, one no longer cherishes the dualisms of discrimination; where there is no more thirst nor grasping; where there is no more attachment to external things. 29

But all these descriptions only tell us what is not Nirvana. What is it like? Is it like heaven, or is it non-existence? The answer is not clear, due in large part to the Buddha's aversion to metaphysics and speculation. When he was asked such questions, he merely replied that it was "incomprehensible, indescribable, inconceivable, unutterable."
Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



Religion in China
Chinese religion is not an organized, unified system of beliefs and practices. It has no leadership, headquarters, founder, or denominations. Instead, "Chinese religion" is a term describing the complex interaction of different religious and philosophical traditions that have been influential in China. Chinese religion is composed of four main traditions: Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The religious outlook of most Chinese people consists of some combination of beliefs and practices from these four traditions. It is rare for only one to be practiced to the exclusion of the others. Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism are treated in their own sections on ReligionFacts. This section focuses on Chinese folk or indigenous religion, but reference is also made to the other traditions.

History of Chinese Religion

China is one of the most ancient civilizations on earth, and Chinese religion is one of the oldest forms of religion. Evidence of burial practices has been dated to as early as 5000 BCE. Today, Chinese religion is a complex mix of Chinese folk religion, Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Communist anti-religious sentiment. This article traces the history of Chinese religion, from the Neolithic Era, through the many powerful Chinese dynasties, to the present-day People's Republic of China.

Neolithic China
Archaeological evidence from Neolithic China shows a remarkable amount of care and ritual with regard to burial practices. Characteristics of 5th millennium BCE burial practices include:
consistency of orientation and posture - the dead of the northwest were given a westerly orientation and those of the east an easterly one. segregation of the dead into what appear to be kinship groupings graveside ritual offerings of liquids, pig skulls, and pig jaws collective secondary burial, in which the bones of up to 70 or 80 corpses were stripped of their flesh and reburied together

There is evidence of persons who acted as divination specialists as early as the 4th millennium BCE, and the 3rd millennium BCE saw the rise of lavish expenditures on tomb ramps and coffin chambers. There is occasional evidence of human sacrifice in the

4th and 3rd millennia, primarily in the form of a dependent accompanying his or her superior in death. Early forms of ancestor worship also appear during this period. The 3rd and 2nd millennia saw the rise of bronze casting, as well as increased warfare, increased wealth, status distinctions, private property, and religious and administrative hierarchies.

Shang Dynasty (1600 BC - 1046 BCE)

In the Shang Dynasty, the first historical Chinese dynasty, divination played a major role. Encyclopedia Britannica describes early Chinese divination practices as follows: Cattle scapulae or turtle plastrons, in a refinement of Neolithic practice, were first planed and bored with hollow depressions to which an intense heat source was then applied. The resulting T-shaped stress cracks were interpreted as lucky or unlucky. After the prognostication had been made, the day, the name of the presiding diviner (some 120 are known), the subject of the charge, the prognostication, and the result might be carved into the surface of the bone. Among the topics divined were sacrifices, campaigns, hunts, the good fortune of the 10-day week or of the night or day, weather, harvests, sickness, childbearing, dreams, settlement building, the issuing of orders, tribute, divine assistance, and prayers to various spirits. Divination practices evolved somewhat over the course of the Shang dynasty. By the reigns of the last two Shang kings, Ti-i and Ti-hsin (c. 1100 to 1045 BC), divination had become considerably simplified: predictions were uniformly optimistic, and divination topics were limited mainly to the sacrificial schedule, the coming 10 days, the coming night, and hunting.

Ch'ou Dynasty (1111255 BCE)

During the Ch'ou Dynasty, the various regions of China began to be unified into a single civilization. Likewise, religious ideas from different regions interacted and began to assimilate. Although some local differences remained, a general Chinese pantheon developed in which each god had a specific function. This reflected the unified Chinese empire with its bureaucratic society. The Ch'ou Dynasty also included the teachings of Confucius and Mo-tzu, who emphasized virtue, humanity, the importance of social relationships and a just ruler.


Ch'in Dynasty (221-206 BCE)

During the Ch'in Empire, the feudal system was abolished completely and China was divided into 40 prefectures. A network of highways was built for the emperor's troops, and several hundred thousand workers were enlisted to connect and strengthen the walls on the northern border of China. The resulting wall (now known as the Great Wall of China) extended from Gulf of Chihli westward across the pastureland of what is today Inner Mongolia and through the fertile loop of the Huang Ho to the edge of Tibet. The emperor also simplified and unified and writing system and codified the law. The Ch'in emperor, Shih huang-ti, is infamous for his suppression of intellectual ideas, censorship of books, and the deaths of many Chinese in the service of his grand projects. He was also terribly afraid of death. He made every effort to achieve immortality: deities were continually propitiated and messengers were dispatched to search for the elixir of life. Shih huang-ti died in 210 or 209 BCE while on a tour of the empire. Excavation of his tomb, near modern Sian (ancient Ch'ang-an), revealed more than 6,000 life-sized statues of soldiers keeping him company.

Han Dynasty (206/202 BCE-220 CE)

The Han Dynasty was the first dynasty to embrace Confucianism, which became the ideological underpinning of all regimes until the end of imperial China. Knowledge of the Five Classics of Confucius became necessary to hold any important post. The emperors of the Han Dynasty also supported and encouraged the development of art, science, technology, literature and religion. It was a period of great prosperity. During the Han Dynasty, emperors were seen as ruling under the Mandate of Heaven. They also had the important responsibility of securing spiritual blessings for the Chinese people. In earlier periods, one of the nine ministries of state took care of this duty, but later the emperor came to be more directly involved in official worship and ritual. The rituals of the state religion were initially addressed to the Five Elements (fire, water, earth, wood, and metal), the Supreme Unity, and the Lord of the Soil, but in 31 BCE these cults were replaced by sacrifices dedicated to Heaven and Earth. The sites of worship were moved to the outskirts of Ch'ang-an and a new series of altars and shrines was inaugurated. The Han emperor sometimes paid his respects to supreme powers and reported on the state of the dynasty at the summit of Mt. T'ai. Emperor Wu-ti's desire for immortality for himself and deceased loved ones led him to employ a number of intermediaries who claimed to be able to make contact with the world of the immortals. A few philosophers, such as Wang Ch'ung (27c. 100 CE), reacted against these beliefs by


propounding a rational explanation of the universe, but their skepticism received little support. Sometime during the 1st century CE Buddhism reached China, probably by travelers who had taken the Silk Road from north India. The establishment of Buddhist foundations in China and the first official patronage of the faith followed shortly. From the 2nd century CE there arose a variety of beliefs, practices, and disciplines that gave rise to alchemy, scientific experiment and the Taoist religion.

Three Kingdoms (220-263 CE)

The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in 184, ushering in an era of warlords. The period from 190 to 220 was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China. The middle part of the period, from 220 and 263, was marked by a more militarily stable arrangement between three rival states, Wei, Han, and Wu. The later part of this period was marked by the destruction of Shu by Wei (263), the overthrow of Wei by the Jin Dynasty (265), and the destruction of Wu by Jin (280). The term "Three Kingdoms" itself is somewhat of a mistranslation, since each state was eventually headed by an Emperor who claimed legitimate succession from the Han Dynasty, not by kings, so "Three Empires" would be more factually accurate. Nevertheless the term has become standard among sinologists and will be used in this article. Although relatively short, this historical period has been greatly romanticized in the cultures of China, Japan, Korea and throughout Southeast Asia. It has been celebrated and popularized in operas, folk stories, novels and in more recent times, films, television serials, and computer games. The best known of these is undoubtedly the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a fictional account of the period which draws heavily on history. The authoritative historical record of the era is Chen Shou's Sanguo Zhi, along with Pei Songzhi's later annotations of the text. The Three Kingdoms period is also one of the bloodiest period in the history of China. A population census in late Eastern Han dynasty reported a population of approximately 56 million, while a population census in early Western Jin dynasty (after Jin re-unified China) reported a population of approximately 16 million.


Period of Many Dynasties and New Buddhist Schools (263618 CE)

Though these three kingdoms were reunited temporarily in 280 by the (Western) Jin dynasty, the contemporary non-Han Chinese (Wu Hu) ethnic groups ravaged the country in the early 4th century and provoked large-scale Han Chinese migrations to south of the Chang Jiang. In 303 the Di people rebelled and later captured Chengdu. Under Liu Yuan the Xiongnu rebelled near today's Linfen County; his successor Liu Cong captured and executed the last two Western Jin emperors. More than Sixteen states were established by these ethnic groups. The chaotic north was temporarily unified by Fu Jian who was defeated at the Battle of Feishui when he attempted to invade South China. Later on, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei reunified north China again, marking the beginning of the Northern Dynasties, a sequence of local regimes ruling over regions north of Chang Jiang. Along with the refugees from the North, Emperor Yuan of Jin China reinstated the Jin regime at Nanjing in the south; from this came the sequence of Southern dynasties of Song, Qi, Liang and Chen, which all had their capitals at Jiankang (near today's Nanjing). As China was ruled by two independent dynasties, one in the south and the other in the north, this is called the era of Southern and Northern Dynasties. The short-lived Sui Dynasty managed to reunite the country in 589 after almost 300 years of disjunction. This period of almost continuous political upheaval was an important period of religious development. In the sixth century, new schools of Chinese Buddhism sought to adapt Buddhism to Chinese ways of thinking. The T'ien-t'ai school was a syncretistic movement based on the Lotus Sutra. The southern Ch'an (Zen) school was heavily influenced by Taoism. Pure Land Buddhism also gained popularity.

Tang Dynasty (618-907)

The Tang dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an (modern day suburb of Xi'an), the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization equal, or even superior, to the Han period. Its territory, acquired through the military exploits of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han. Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule. From Tang times until the closing days of the Qing empire in 1911, scholar officials functioned often as intermediaries between the grassroots level and the government. Although the royal family officially supported Taoism because they claimed to be descended from Lao-Tzu, Buddhism enjoyed great favor and imperial patronage throughout the period. In 629, the Chinese monk and scholar Hsan-tsang traveled to

India. He returned in 645 and carefully translated many Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Chinese. The T'ien-t'ai, Ch'an and Pure Land schools of Buddhism continued to rise in popularity. Many monasteries and temples were built, both state-sponsored and large and local and small. The larger monasteries acquired wealth and land from those taking monastic vows and from gifts of pious laymen. Buddhism suffered a great blow with the ascension of emperor Wu-tsung to the throne. A fanatical Taoism, Wu-tsung persecuted Buddhism between 843 and 845 for a combination of religious and economical reasons. China was suffering from great financial hardship and seizing the lands and holdings of the many Buddhist monasteries was a quick way of increasing the empire's holdings. 40,000 shrines and temples were closed and 260,000 monks and nuns were returned to lay life. The suppression was shortlived, but Buddhism in China would never be the same.

Sung Dynasty (960-1279)

After a brief period of instability known as the "Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms," the Sung Dynasty was established in China. The founders of the Sung dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Regional military governors and their supporters were replaced by centrally appointed officials. This system of civilian rule led to a greater concentration of power in the emperor and his palace bureaucracy than had been achieved in the previous dynasties. The Sung dynasty is notable for the development of cities not only for administrative purposes but also as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The landed scholar-officials, sometimes collectively referred to as the gentry, lived in the provincial centers alongside the shopkeepers, artisans, and merchants. A new group of wealthy commoners - the mercantile class - arose as printing and education spread, private trade grew, and a market economy began to link the coastal provinces and the interior. Landholding and government employment were no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige. Culturally, the Sung refined many of the developments of the previous centuries. Included in these refinements were not only the Tang ideal of the universal man, who combined the qualities of scholar, poet, painter, and statesman, but also historical writings, painting, calligraphy, and hard-glazed porcelain. Sung intellectuals sought answers to all philosophical and political questions in the Confucian Classics. This renewed interest in the Confucian ideals and society of ancient times coincided with the decline of Buddhism, which the Chinese regarded as foreign and offering few practical guidelines for the solution of political and other mundane problems.


The Sung Neo-Confucian philosophers, finding a certain purity in the originality of the ancient classical texts, wrote commentaries on them. The most influential of these philosophers was Zhu Xi (1130-1200), whose synthesis of Confucian thought and Buddhist, Taoist, and other ideas became the official imperial ideology from late Sung times to the late 19th century. As incorporated into the examination system, Zhu Xi's philosophy evolved into a rigid official creed, which stressed the one-sided obligations of obedience and compliance of subject to ruler, child to father, wife to husband, and younger brother to elder brother. The effect was to inhibit the societal development of pre-modern China, resulting both in many generations of political, social, and spiritual stability and in a slowness of cultural and institutional change up to the 19th century. Neo-Confucian doctrines also came to play the dominant role in the intellectual life of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

Yuan/Mongol Dynasty (1271-1368)

Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, became the supreme leader of all Mongol tribes in 1260. He began his reign with great aspirations and self-confidence in 1264 he moved the capital of the expansive Mongol Empire to Beijing, in recently acquired North China. He began his drive against the Southern Song, establishing, in 1271 eight years prior to Southern conquest the first alien dynasty to rule all China: the Yuan. The creation of a dynasty prior to conquest, keeping in mind that Dynasty was not a Mongol concept, shows political and military tact. The name was significantly in Chinese neither his native tongue, nor a language he spoke at all. In 1279, Guangzhou fell into Mongol hands, which marks the end of the Southern Song and the onset of China under the Mongols. The Mongols did not attempt to impose their religion (which consisted of a cult of Heaven and nature and shamanistic practices) on the Chinese people. The existing religions in China thus enjoyed comparative freedom under the foreign rulers. The Mongol rulers referred to the "three teachings" of the Chinese people: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. In 1223 Genghis Khan granted to the Taoist leader Ch'ang-ch'un and his followers full exemption from taxes and other duties demanded by the government (this was later extended to all clergies, including Buddhist). Imperial orders also outlawed some apocryphal Taoist texts, in which Buddhism was presented as a branch of Taoism. However, Buddhism was also attractive to the Mongols. Although turned off by the high intellectualism of the Ch'an school, the Mongols were attracted to the more magical and symbolic practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Kublai Khan appointed a young Tibetan lama as Imperial teacher (ti-shih); he became the head of Buddhism in all Mongol dominions, including China. In 1284, a special government agency was founded to deal with Buddhist and Tibetan affairs. This agency caused great resentment amongst the population for its brutal and avaricious procedures and the arrogance of the Tibetan lamas. The Chinese elite was especially shocked when Tibetan clergy introduced the court to sexual rites.

Although Tibetan Buddhism was favored under the Mongol Dynasty, Chinese Buddhism generally suffered during this period. The financial exemptions for clergy led many to leave society and join monasteries for purely utilitarian reasons, which had a negative impact on both society and Buddhism. In about 1300 the number of monks throughout China was estimated at 500,000, and was probably much greater during the last decades of Mongol rule. Monks played a great role in the rebellions to which the Yan Empire eventually succumbed, and the first Ming emperor was a former monk.

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Among the populace there were strong feelings against the rule of "the foreigners," which finally led to a peasant revolt that pushed the Yuan dynasty back to the Mongolian steppes and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368. This dynasty began as a time of renewed cultural blossom, with Chinese merchants exploring all of the Indian Ocean and Chinese art (especially the porcelain industry) reaching unprecedented heights. Under Ming rule, a vast navy and army was built, with four masted ships displacing 1,500 tons and a standing army of one million troops. Over 100,000 tons of iron per year were produced in North China, and many books were printed using movable type. Some historians argue that Early Ming China was the most advanced nation on Earth at the time. By the Ming period, Taoism and Buddhism had become poorly organized popular religions. What little organization they had was controlled by the state. The state continued to support Chu Hsi thought and enforced philosophical uniformity. In response, new blends of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist elements appeared in a sequence of efforts to find ways of personal self-realization through contemplative and mystical means. The 16 th century saw the rise of many private academies and widespread philosophical discussions and conflicts. The search for personal fulfillment only intensified with the collapse of the empire.

Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1912)

The Ch'ing Dynasty was founded not by the Han Chinese people who form the overwhelming majority of the population of China proper, but by the Manchus, a seminomadic people not even known by that name when they first rose to prominence in what is now northeastern China. Taking advantage of the political instability and popular rebellions convulsing the Ming dynasty, the highly organized military forces of the Manchus swept into the Ming capital of Beijing in 1644, and there remained until the Ch'ing dynasty was overthrown in a revolution in 1911, with the last emperor abdicating early in 1912.


The 268 years of Ch'ing dynasty China saw glorious successes, humiliating defeats, and profound changes to virtually all aspects of life. Today's China has in many ways been shaped by these experiences. The consolidation of Ch'ing power was accompanied by territorial expansion, and the borders of modern China largely reflect successful Ch'ing military campaigns. The incorporation of new lands and peoples required careful handling, and Manchu experience of nomadic culture and a willingness to adopt different postures toward different groups such as Mongols and Tibetans enhanced Ch'ing diplomatic effectiveness. Many great works of art and literature originated during the period and projects were undertaken to preserve important cultural texts. The novel form became widely read and one of China's most famous novels, Dream of the Red Chamber, was written in the mideighteenth century.

Republic of China (1912-1945)

The Republic of China succeeded the Ch'ing Dynasty. It ruled mainland China from 1912 to 1949 and has ruled Taiwan (along with several islands of Fujian) since 1945. Failure of reform from the top and the fiasco of the Boxer Rebellion convinced many Chinese that the only real solution lay in outright revolution, in sweeping away the old order and erecting a new one patterned preferably after the example of Japan. The revolutionary leader was Sun Yat-sen, a republican and anti-Qing activist who became increasingly popular among the overseas Chinese and Chinese students abroad, especially in Japan. In 1905 Sun founded the Tongmeng Hui (United League) in Tokyo with Huang Xing, a popular leader of the Chinese revolutionary movement in Japan, as his deputy. This movement, generously supported by overseas Chinese funds, also gained political support with regional military officers and some of the reformers who had fled China after the Hundred Days' Reform. Sun's political philosophy was conceptualized in 1897, first enunciated in Tokyo in 1905, and modified through the early 1920s. It centered on the Three Principles of the People (san min zhuyi): "nationalism, democracy, and people's livelihood." The principle of nationalism called for overthrowing the Manchus and ending foreign hegemony over China. The second principle, democracy, was used to describe Sun's goal of a popularly elected republican form of government. People's livelihood, often referred to as socialism, was aimed at helping the common people through regulation of the ownership of the means of production and land. The republican revolution broke out on October 10, 1911, in Wuchang, the capital of Hubei Province, among discontented modernized army units whose anti-Qing plot had been uncovered. This would be known as the Wuchang Uprising, which is celebrated as Double Tenth Day in Taiwan. It had been preceded by numerous abortive uprisings and

organized protests inside China. The revolt quickly spread to neighboring cities, and Tongmeng Hui members throughout the country rose in immediate support of the Wuchang revolutionary forces. By late November, fifteen of the twenty-four provinces had declared their independence of the Qing empire. A month later, Sun Yat-sen returned to China from the United States, where he had been raising funds among overseas Chinese and American sympathizers. On January 1, 1912, Sun officially declared the Republic of China and was inaugurated in Nanjing as the first provisional president. Educational reforms in the early republican period allowed thousands of Chinese to study in Japan, Europe and the United States. Taking influential positions upon their return to China, such foreign-educated Chinese were a modernizing force in society, at least in the cities. However, the rural areas remained largely unchanged.

People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China was proclaimed in the aftermath of the Communist Party's triumph in the Chinese Civil War by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949. For much of its early history, the People's Republic of China maintained a hostile attitude toward religion which was seen as emblematic of feudalism and foreign colonialism. Houses of worship, including temples, mosques, and churches, were converted into nonreligious buildings for secular use. In the early years of the People's Republic, religious belief or practice was often discouraged because it was regarded by the government as backwards and superstitious and because some Communist leaders, ranging from Vladimir Lenin to Mao Zedong, had been critical of religious institutions. During the Cultural Revolution, religion was condemned as feudalistic and thousands of religious buildings were looted and destroyed. This attitude, however, relaxed considerably in the late 1970s, with the end of the Cultural Revolution. The 1978 Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees freedom of religion with a number of restrictions. In practice, the Communist Party of China will react harshly against groups such as Falun Gong which it perceives as challenging its authority while in general ignoring groups that are not seen as challenging the state. Since the mid-1990s there has been a massive program to rebuild Buddhist temples that were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution.


Chinese Religious Beliefs

Chinese religious beliefs are wide-ranging and eclectic, deriving from several religious traditions (Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism). But several religious concepts are characteristic of general Chinese religious thought. Chinese religion is generally dualistic, emphasizing the two opposed and complimentary principles of the universe: yin and yang. But the yin and yang are the double manifestation of the single, eternal cosmic principal: the Tao. Also important is the concept of heaven (T'ien), which is sometimes described in terms of an impersonal power or fate, other times as a personal deity, and can also be equated with the Tao.
Afterlife Body and Soul Ch'i Buddhist Deities Folk Deities Ghosts and Spirits Heaven Tao Taoist Deities Yin and Yang

Is there an afterlife in Chinese Religion?

The Chinese conception of the afterlife is based on a combination of Chinese folk religions, Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism. At the moment of death, Chinese believe one's spirit is taken by messengers to the god of walls and moats, Ch'eng Huang, who conducts a kind of preliminary hearing. Those found virtuous may go directly to one of the Buddhist paradises, to the dwelling place of the Taoist immortals, or the tenth court of hell for immediate rebirth. After 49 days, sinners descend to hell, located at the base of the mythical Mount Meru. There they undergo a fixed period of punishment in one or more levels of hell. The duration of this punishment may be reduced by the intercession of the merciful Ti-ts'ang. When the punishment is complete, the souls in hell drink an elixir of oblivion in preparation for their next reincarnation. They then climb on the wheel of transmigration, which takes them to their next reincarnation, or, in an alternative account, they are thrown off the bridge of pain into a river that sweeps them off to their next life.


Human Nature in Chinese Religion

Does Chinese Religion believe in a soul?
In Chinese thinking, everything that exists flows out of the Tao, and human beings are simply a tiny component of the Tao. The ancient Chinese believed in a dual soul. The lower soul of the senses disappears with death, but the rational soul (hun) survives death and is the object of ancestor worship. Perhaps the most important Chinese concept related to the body and soul is the idea of ch'i. At its simplest, ch'i means breath, air or vapor, but in Chinese religious belief it is life energy or life-force. It is believed that every person is allotted a specified amount of ch'i and he or she must strengthen, control and increase it in order to live a long life. Many Taoist exercises focus on regulation and increase of one's ch'i. In the west, the most well-known example of such a practice is T'ai chi.

Ch'i (Qi)
What is Chi?
Ch'i (also spelled Chi or Qi) is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture. Found in Chinese traditional religion but especially Taoism, Ch'i literally means "air" or "breath," but as a concept it refers to the energy flow or life force that is said to pervade all things. The nature of ch'i has always been a matter of debate in Chinese thinking. Some believe ch'i is a separate force from the physical world, while others think ch'i comes from physical matter. Still others, especially Chinese Buddhists and Taoists, hold that matter arises from ch'i. The quality, quantity and balance of Ch'i is believed to be essential to maintaining health and achieving a long life. One author explains it this way:
"Qi is the basic material of all that exists. It animates life and furnishes functional power of events. Qi is the root of the human body; its quality and movement determine human health. There is a normal or healthy amount of qi in every person, and health manifests in its balance and harmony, its moderation and smoothness of flow." -- Livia Kohn, Health and Long Life: The Chinese Way


In addition to living a healthy life (both physically and psychologically), Ch'i can be regulated through practices like breath control, Ta'i Chi, massage and acupuncture. Nearly all techniques in traditional Chinese medicine are based on the concept of Ch'i. Breath control is considered especially fundamental to balancing the levels of Ch'i in one's body. Controlled and meditative breathing, called hsing-ch'i, allows ch'i to permeate the entire body by imagining the breath as a visible current moving through the body. Another type of breathing exercise, t'ai-hsi, attempts to revert one's breathing to that of an fetus in the womb. This is considered especially powerful for longevity and immortality (especially in Taoism). The traditional Chinese art of placement and arrangement of space called Feng Shui is also based on the flow of ch'i, as well as the five elements, yin and yang and other factors. The retention or dissipation of ch'i is believed to affect the health, wealth, energy level, luck and many other aspects of the occupants of the space. Color, shape and the physical location of each item in a space affects the flow of ch'i by slowing it down, redirecting it or accelerating it, which directly affects the ch'i of the occupants.

Chinese Buddhist Deities

Chinese Buddhism has many beliefs in common with other forms of Mahayana Buddhism, including many of the same bodhisattvas and other religious figures. However, the following Buddhist deities are especially (in some cases, exclusively) popular in China:

Kuan-Yin - Chinese and female form of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Jade Maiden Acolyte of Kuan Yin Golden Youth Acolyte of Kuan Yin Kuan-Ti (Sangharama) - Protector of Buddhism Wei-To (Skanda) - Protector of the Dharma Four Guardian Kings (Si-Ta-Tien-Wang) o Mo-Li Ching: Guardian of East - holds a magical mandolin or p'i-pa o Mo-Li Hai: Guardian of West - shown with the magic dragon or mystical snake o Mo-Li Shou: Guardian of North - holds an umbrella as protection against thunderous storms). o Mo-Li Hung: Guardian of South - with ferocious expression, and holding a precious sword


Chinese Folk Deities

One common type of Chinese deity is the "place god" or T'u-ti (Pinyin: Tudi). The primary characteristic of a place god is the limitation of his jurisdiction to a specific location, like a bridge, home, street, or field. A T'u-ti is always subject to the Ch'eng Huang, the spiritual magistrate of the city. A T'u-ti is often a deified historical person who had assisted a specific community during his lifetime. It is believed that if the person is deified and sacrificed to, he will be moved to continue his assistance from the spirit world. If misfortunes occur in a location dedicated to a T'u-ti, the T'u-ti is believed to have lost interest and a new patron is chosen.

Ghosts, Spirits and Demons

Spirits in Chinese Religion

Burning ghost money on the streets of Taiwan. Photo: Arion Potts.

Ghost money, which is burned as offerings to the spirits of the dead. Photo: Kevsunblush.


In Chinese thought, the world is populated by a vast number of spirits, both good and evil. Such spirits include nature demons (kuei-shen), evil spirits or devils (oni), and ghosts (kui). Evil spirits are believed to avoid light, so many rituals involving fire and light have developed, such as the use of bonfires, firecrackers, and torches. Evil spirits are also traditionally believed to travel in straight lines, which explains many curvy roads throughout China. But not all spirits are evil some are just unhappy. As evidenced by the practice of ancestor worship, most Chinese people believe the souls of the deceased endure after death and must be kept happy by offerings and honor. If a spirit is not kept happy, perhaps because it had a bad death, an improper burial or has no descendents to perform the proper rituals, it becomes a ghost (sometimes called a "hungry ghost," a term with Buddhist origins). Ghosts may attack human beings to prompt them to meet the ghosts' needs or at least to draw attention to their plight. Ghosts receive the most attentions during Ghost Month, the seventh month in the Chinese lunar year, and especially during the Ghost Festival on the fiftteenth day. In mainland China, belief in ghosts and evil spirits is declining under the influence of atheistic Communism. But in Taiwan, which split from China in 1949, the vast majority of the population (perhaps as much as 90%) believes in ghosts. Late-night television is filled with video of haunted houses and ghost-busting and afterlife experts make a good business of advising distressed clients on how to appease their angry ancestors.

The Chinese Doctrine of "Heaven"

Is there a heaven is Chinese Religion?
The idea of Heaven (T'ien) plays a prominent role in indigenous Chinese religion. The term can refer to a god, an impersonal power, or both. The concept is not well-defined, and religious scholars have had a difficult time deciding whether T'ien was believed to be a force like fate or a personal deity. It is also unclear whether the ancient Chinese believed T'ien responded to human supplication or simply worked in accordance with the principles of T'ien. T'ien is closely associated with Shang-ti (Supreme Ruler), and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. It appears that T'ien originally referred to the sky and Shang-ti to the deity who lived there, but T'ien came to be considered a divine power as well. Shangti was the supreme god of the Shang dynasty (16 th-11 th cent. BCE), and scholars think Shang-ti was assimilated into T'ien under the succeeding Chou dynasty (1111255 BC).

In the early Chou, T'ien was an anthropomorphic deity, but later descriptions are more impersonal and more like nature or fate. However they were understood, Shang-ti and T'ien were believed to have power over fertility of both people and crops. Perhaps the most important consequence of the Chinese idea of heaven is the concept of the Mandate of Heaven (t'ien-ming). According to this concept, rulers governed by divine permission and based on the ruler's virtue, not by right. Importantly, this permission was regarded as revocable if the ruler was not virtuous enough. Social and political unrest were traditionally taken as signs that the Mandate of Heaven had been revoked, and it was then permissible to overthrow those in power and replace them with the succeeding dynasty.

The Tao
What is the Tao?
The Tao is the central principle of Taoism and is highly influential throughout Chinese thought. It is the ultimate reality and the eternal principle. It has no characteristics, but contains within it all potentiality and all opposites. Thus yin and yang, yu and wu (being and not-being), and all other dual realities exist within the Tao.

Taoist Deities
Traditional/Folk Deities One common type of Chinese deity is the "place god" or T'u-ti (Pinyin: Tudi). The primary characteristic of a place god is the limitation of his jurisdiction to a specific location, like a bridge, home, street, or field. A T'u-ti is always subject to the Ch'eng Huang, the spiritual magistrate of the city. A T'u-ti is often a deified historical person who had assisted a specific community during his lifetime. It is believed that if the person is deified and sacrificed to, he will be moved to continue his assistance from the spirit world. If misfortunes occur in a location dedicated to a T'u-ti, the T'u-ti is believed to have lost interest and a new patron is chosen.

"T'u-ti." Encyclopdia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopdia Britannica Premium Service. 18 Jan. 2005 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9073651>.

Ghosts and Spirits In Chinese thought, the world is populated by a vast number of spirits, both good and evil. Such spirits include nature demons (kuei-shen), goblins, fairies and ghosts. Because


demons are believed to avoid light, many rituals involving fire and light have developed, such as bonfires, firecrackers, and torches. Body and Soul The ancient Chinese believed in a dual soul. The lower, sensitive soul disappears with death, but the rational soul (hun) survives death and is the object of ancestor worship. Perhaps the most important Chinese concept related to the body and soul is the idea of ch'i. At its simplest, ch'i means breath, air or vapor, but in Chinese religious belief it is life energy or life-force. It is believed that every person is allotted a specified amount of ch'i and he or she must strengthen, control and increase it in order to live a long life. Many Taoist exercises focus on regulation and increase of one's ch'i. In the west, the most well-known example of such a practice is T'ai chi. Afterlife The Chinese conception of the afterlife is based on a combination of Chinese folk religions, Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism. At the moment of death, it is believed that one's spirit is taken by messengers to the god of walls and moats, Ch'eng Huang, who conducts a kind of preliminary hearing. Those found virtuous may go directly to one of the Buddhist paradises, to the dwelling place of the Taoist immortals, or the tenth court of hell for immediate rebirth. After 49 days, sinners descend to hell, located at the base of Mount Meru. There they undergo a fixed period of punishment in one or more levels of hell. The duration of this punishment may be reduced by the intercession of the merciful Ti-ts'ang. When the punishment is complete, the souls in hell drink an elixir of oblivion in preparation for their next reincarnation. They then climb on the wheel of transmigration, which takes them to their next reincarnation, or, in an alternative account, they are thrown off the bridge of pain into a river that sweeps them off to their next life.

Yin and Yang

What is Yin and Yang?
In Chinese and other Eastern thought, yin and yang are the two opposing and complementary forces that make up all phenomena of life. Both proceed from the Supreme Ultimate and together they represent the process of the universe and all that is in it.


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "The significance of yin-yang through the centuries has permeated every aspect of Chinese thought, influencing astrology, divination, medicine, art, and government." Yin has the following characteristics, representations and symbols:
earth female dark passive absorbing even numbers valleys and streams the tiger the color orange a broken line

Yang has the following opposite characteristics, representations and symbols:

heaven male light active penetrating odd numbers mountains the dragon the color azure an unbroken line

The concept of the yin-yang is very ancient, and its precise origins are unknown. In the third century BCE, it formed the basis for an entire school of cosmology, the Yin Yang School.

Chinese Religious Practices

This section explores the traditional rituals and practices of Chinese religion, many of which are very ancient. Chinese religious rituals are especially based in Chinese folk religion and Confucianism but are influenced by Taoism and Buddhism as well.
Ancestor Worship Prayer Longevity Practices Divination, Prophecy and Astrology


Chinese Ancestor Worship

What is Ancestor Worship?

Ancestor painting, Qing Dynasty

"The Chinese have always been interested in their past -- worship of ancestors is worship of origins." (Heinz 1999:225) Ancestor worship (also called ancestor veneration) is a ritual practice that is based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Early forms of ancestor worship were deeply rooted and extensively developed by the Late Neolithic Period in China. The goal of ancestor worship is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living and sometimes to ask for special favors or assistance. The social or nonreligious function of ancestor worship is "to cultivate kinship values like filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage." (Yang 1957:278)

Ancestor Worship: Funerals, the Mourning Period and the Home Altar
Rituals of ancestor worship most commonly consist of offerings to the deceased to provide for their welfare in the afterlife, which is envisioned as being similar to the earthly life. Ancestor worship begins at the deceased kin's funeral, at which necessities like a toothbrush, comb, towel, shoes, water, or even a computer are placed in the coffin or burned as a sacrifice.


After the funeral, daily or twice-daily offerings are made to ensure the family member gets a good start in the afterlife. Necessities and luxuries, like the deceased's favorite foods, wine, and small sums of money, are placed on the altar in bowls or burned in front of the altar. The money is usually symbolic pieces of paper called "spirit money," not real bills. Fruits and vegetables are the preferred foods for offerings; meats are avoided because of their association with killing. Statues representing servants or other necessities for the afterlife are also placed on or near the altar. Family members also bow in respect before the altar. After a family member's funeral, Chinese families set up a home altar for the purpose of ancestor worship. The altar normally include a portrait or photograph of the ancestor, a commemorative plaque and cups for offerings. Altars are usually taken down after 49 days, the period during which the deceased is believed to be undergoing judgment. This belief is influenced by the Mahayana Buddhist idea of the Bardo, an intermediate period between death and rebirth. After the 49-day period, the deceased is worshipped along with all the other ancestors of the family.

Regular Ancestor Worship

After the home altar is taken down, the ancestors are believed to dwell in commemorative tablets. Ancestral tablets are pieces of wood inscribed with the name and dates of the deceased. They are kept in a small shrine at home and in the clan ancestral temple. Incense is lit before the tablets daily and offerings of food and prostrations are presented twice a month. Chinese weddings and funerals often include elaborate rituals honoring deceased family members. Periodical rites are also performed at the family cemetary and ancestor worship is central to the annual Ghost Festival and Tomb Sweeping Festival.

Prayer in Chinese Religion

Chinese Buddhism and Taoism both incorporate prayer into their daily religious rituals. In addition to the prayer accompanying offerings, the monastic prayer (mu-yu) is said morning, noon and night to the sound of a small bell. Prayer for the dead is especially important in Taoism and practiced at funerals, the 30th day after death, the anniversary of a loved one's death, and the birthday of the deceased. This is believed to help improve the experiences of the deceased's spirit in the afterlife. There are also particular prayers that accompany pilgrimages and vows. Buddhist monks and laymen often use a string with 108 beads to assist in prayer.


Chinese Longevity Rituals

Longevity practices - rituals and lifestyles aimed at gaining a long life or even immortality - have long been a part of Chinese religion. Even before the development of Taoism, several "hygiene schools" were teaching various techniques for achieving longevity. These practices later became a central part of religious Taoism, in which the pursuit of immortality and the Immortals is central. Chinese rituals intended to achieve longevity include alchemy (magical medicines), breathing exercises, sexual techniques, special diets (usually excluding grain), exercises, and meditation.

Chinese Divination and Astrology

What is Chinese Astrology?
Divination was commonplace in ancient China. The famous "Classic of Changes" (composed before the third century BCE) involved divination. However, Confucianism generally disapproved of divination and magic, preferring rationalism instead. Most Chinese governments have suppressed divination and prophecies as well, especially those reflecting negatively on the current rulers. Nevertheless, prophets sometimes appeared in folk religion promising followers a good life in this world and the next, and this was tolerated. One way in which ancient prophetical practices have survived is through Chinese astrology. Chinese astrology is related to the Chinese calendar, particularly its 12-year cycle of animals (in the Chinese zodiac), and the fortune-telling aspects according to movement of heavenly bodies across the Chinese constellations in the sky.

Background of Chinese Astrology

The ancient Chinese astronomers called the five major planets by the names of the Five Elements. Venus is Metal (gold); Jupiter is Wood; Mercury is Water; Mars is Fire; Saturn is Earth. The position of the five planets, the sun, the moon and comets in the sky and the Chinese zodiac sign at the time a person was born determine the destiny of a person's life according to the Chinese astrology. A laborious system of computing one's fate and destiny based on one birthday and birth hours is still used regularly in modern day Chinese astrology. The twenty-eight Chinese constellations are quite different from the 88 Western constellations. For example, the belt of Orion is known as the "Happiness, Fortune, Longevity" trio of demigods. Xuan Wu is also known as the spirit of the northern sky or the spirit of Water in Taoism belief. In addition to astrological readings of the heavenly bodies, the stars in the sky form the basis of many fairy tales. For example, the Summer Triangle is the trio of the cowherd

(Altair), the spinster maid fairy (Vega) and the "tai bai" fairy (Deneb). The two forbidden lovers were separated by the silvery river (the Milky Way). Each year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese calendar, the birds form a bridge across the Milky Way. The cowherd carries their two sons (the two stars on each side of Altair) across the bridge to reunite with their fairy mother. The tai bai fairy acts as the chaperone of these two immortal lovers.

Chinese Zodiac
The twelve zodiac animal signs are, in order: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. There are many legends to explain the beginning of the zodiac. One of the most popular explanations reads, in summarized form, as follows: The rat was given the task to invite the animals to report to the Jade Emperor to be selected for the zodiac signs. The cat was a good friend of the rat, but the rat forgot to invite him. So the cat vowed to be the rat's natural enemy for ages to come. Another popular legend has it that a race was used to decide the animals to report to the Jade Emperor:
All the animals lined up on the bank of a river and were given the task of getting to the opposite shore. Their order in the calendar would be set by the order in which the animals managed to reach the other side. The cat wondered how he would get across if he was afraid of water. At the same time, the ox wondered how he would cross with his poor eyesight. The calculating rat suggested that he and the cat jump onto the ox's back and guide him across. The ox was steady and hard-working so that he did not notice a commotion on his back. In the meanwhile, the rat snuck up behind the unsuspecting cat and shoved him into the water. Just as the ox came ashore, the rat jumped off and finished the race first. The lazy pig came to the far shore in twelfth place. And so the rat got the first year named after him, the ox got the second year, and the pig ended up as the last year in the cycle. The cat finished too late(thirteenth) to win any place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.

Some versions of the tale say that the cattle nominated a water buffalo to represent them because he was more proficient at water. The trade was acceptable because both animals are members of the family of bovids. Another expands the race; the route ran through a forest, over ranges of plains and grasslands, and along a stream, before finally crossing a lake to the destination town. Yet another variation tells of two different races. The first involved all the animals, in two divisions to avoid the fast animals dominating the top, and the top six in each division would "make the cut" for a second round. This format is rather like the one that the National Football League uses to determine its playoff teams (six from each conference). There is also a cycle of the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal (Gold), Water) on top of the cycle of animals. A person's year sign can be a gold dragon, a wood rooster etc. In ancient match-making practice in China, couples were brought together according to their compatible signs. For example, it is believed that dog and dog don't get along, but

dog and pig do; a water dog supports a wood pig but dominates a fire pig in their relationship because water benefits wood, but controls fire according to the Chinese five elements' interaction. The elements are also associated with colours, the traditional correspondence being green to Wood, red to Fire, brown to Earth, white to Metal, and black to Water. Some websites denote the years by the colour and zodiac sign (as opposed to animal sign and element). The elements are combined with the binary Yin Yang cycle, which enlarges the element cyle to a cycle of ten. Even years are yang, odd years are yin. Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac can only occur in either yin or yang: the dragon is always yang, the snake is always yin, etc. This combination creates a 60-year cycle, starting with Wood Rat and ending with Water Pig. The current cycle began in the year 1984. Since the (traditional) Chinese zodiac follows the (lunisolar) Chinese calendar, the switch over date for the zodiac signs is the Chinese New Year, not January 1 as in the Gregorian calendar. However, there are some newer astrological texts which follow the Chinese Agricultural Calendar (the jie qi), and thus place the changeover of zodiac signs at the solar term li chun (beginning of Spring), at solar longitude 315 degrees. The Chinese zodiac signs are used by cultures other than Chinese also. For one example, they often appear on Japanese New Year's cards. The United States Postal Service and those of several other countries issue a "Year of the ???" postage stamp each year to honor this Chinese heritage. However, those unfamiliar with the use of the Chinese lunar calendar usually just assume that the signs switch over on Jan 1 of each year.

Hours of the Day

n addition to years, the Chinese zodiac is also traditionally used to label times of day, with each sign corresponding to a "large-hour" or shichen, which is a two-hour period The following hours are in Beijing local time.
23:00 - 01:00: rat 01:00 - 03:00: ox 03:00 - 05:00: tiger 05:00 - 07:00: rabbit 07:00 - 09:00: dragon 09:00 - 11:00: snake 11:00 - 13:00: horse 13:00 - 15:00: goat 15:00 - 17:00: monkey 17:00 - 19:00: rooster 19:00 - 21:00: dog 21:00 - 23:00: pig


Chinese Holidays and Festivals

What are Chinese holidays?
Several traditional Chinese holidays and festivals are celebrated throughout the year. The most well-known Chinese holiday is Chinese New Year, which is celebrated in Chinatowns all over the world to the delight of Chinese and non-Chinese alike. Other holidays celebrate the seasons and honor deceased ancestors. The most important holidays in Chinese religion are the following:
Chinese New Year Autumn Moon Festival Ghost Festival Chinese Buddhist Festivals Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day)

Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



Overview of Islam
The Basics of Islam
Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, with over 1 billion followers. It is a monotheistic faith founded by a man named Muhammad in 7th-century Saudi Arabia.

According to Muslim belief, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad, a camel driver, in a mountain cave and delivered a message from the one true God. The Prophet Muhammad dedicated the remainder of his life to spreading a message of monotheism in a polytheistic world. His life's work is recorded in the Qur'an, the sacred text of Islam. In 622 AD, the Prophet fled north to the city of Medina to escape growing persecution. This event is celebrated by Muslims as the hijira ("flight") and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar (622 AD = 1 AH). Eight years later, Muhammad returned to Mecca with an army and defeated it easily. By Muhammad's death, 50 years later, the entire Arabian Peninsula had come under Muslim control. The word "Islam" means "submission," reflecting the religion's central tenet of submitting to the will of God. Islamic practices center on the Five Pillars of Islam: confession of faith, daily prayer, fasting during Ramadan, pilgrimage and charity.

The Quran
The sacred text of Islam, the Qur'an, was written in Arabic within 30 years of Muhammad's death. Muslims believe it contains the literal word of God as gradually

revealed to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel over the course of 20 years. Also important is the tradition of the sayings and actions of the Prophet and his Companions, collected in the hadith. Islam and the West have had a rocky relationship for centuries, and in recent years the tension has only seemed to escalate. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine is religiously charged, Western involvement in Middle Eastern affairs is resented, and various hijackers, suicide bombers and terrorists base their actions on their Muslim faith. Many Muslims, however, have denounced this radical minority as violating both true Islam and the true meaning of jihad, and Islam continues to be the fastest-growing religion in the world.

Six Articles of Faith

There is no official creed to which one must adhere to be considered a Muslim. All that is required is to believe and recite the Shahada: "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet." Beyond this core belief, however, Muslim doctrine is often summarized in "Six Articles of Faith." Many Muslims believe that one must adhere to the six articles to be considered a Muslim.

Muslim Beliefs about God

The single most important belief in Islam, and arguably the central theme of Islam, is that there is only one God. The name of God is Allah, which is simply Arabic for "the (al) God (Ilah)." The term is related to Elohim, the Hebrew word for God.

Muslim Beliefs about the Prophets

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is revered as "the Seal of the Prophets" - the last and greatest of the messengers of God. He is not divine in any way, for the strict monotheism that characterizes Islam (as well as Judaism) does not allow for such an interpretation. Other prophets are important in Islam as well, all of which are shared with the Jews or the Christians.

Muslim Beliefs about Human Nature

According to the Qur'an, Allah "created man from a clot of blood" at the same time he created the jinn from fire. Humans are the greatest of all creatures, created with free will for the purpose of obeying and serving God.


Muslim Beliefs about Life and Salvation

For a Muslim, the object of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person's deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate.

Muslim Beliefs about the Afterlife

Like Christianity, Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. There will be a day of judgment and humanity will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell.

Muslim Views of Other Religions

The Qur'an is clear that there must be "no compulsion in religion" (2:256). Yet Islam is not indifferent to conversion either - Muslims consider their religion to the be the one true religion, and invite people of all races, nationalities and religions to be part of it.

Six Articles of Faith

What are the Six Articles of Faith in Islam?
Muslim doctrine is often summarized in "Six Articles of Faith." According to this list, to be a Muslim one must believe in:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. One God; The angels of God; The books of God, especially the Qur'an; The prophets of God, especially Muhammad; The Day of Judgment (or the afterlife); and The supremacy of God's will (or predestination).

This list is sometimes shortened to Five Articles of Faith, which leaves off belief in the supremacy of God's will.


Muslim Beliefs about God

What do Muslims believe about God?
The single most important belief in Islam, and arguably the central theme of Islam, is that there is one God. The Muslim name for God is Allah, which is simply Arabic for "the (al) God (Ilah)." The term is related to Elohim, the Hebrew word for God.

What is Allah like?

Muslims believe that God is the all-powerful Creator of a perfect, ordered universe. He is transcendent and not a part of his creation, and is most often referred to in terms and with names that emphasize his majesty and superiority. Among the 99 Beautiful Names of God (Asma al-Husna) in the Qur'an are: the Creator, the Fashioner, the LifeGiver, the Provider, the Opener, the Bestower, the Prevailer, the Reckoner, the Recorder, the King of Kingship and the Lord of the Worlds.

What can Muslims know about Allah?

Although the God of Islam has revealed his will through the prophets, his actual nature remains ultimately unknowable. According to one Islamic scholar, God's will "is all we have, and we have it in perfection in the Qur'an. But Islam does not equate the Qur'an with the nature or essence of God. It is the Word of God, the Commandment of God, the Will of God. But God does not reveal Himself to anyone." In the words of another writer, "only adjectival descriptions are attributed to the divine being, and these merely as they bear on the revelation of God's will for man. The rest remains mysterious." Despite God's transcendence and ultimate unknowability, however, the Qur'an does not teach that God does not know us, nor that he remains aloof in some distant heaven. Quite the contrary: He is present everywhere and "as close to a man as the vein in his neck." The one thing that is made abundantly clear, however, is that Allah is One. He is unique and indivisible. The Qur'an repeatedly emphasizes strict monotheism, explicitly rejecting both polytheism and the Christian concept of the Trinity.

Characteristics of Allah
Along with Judaism and Christianity, Islam belongs to the religious category of "ethical monotheism." Allah is a God of justice, who expects righteous behavior and submission to the divine will (the word Islam means "submission," and a Muslim is literally "one who submits") and punishes unrighteousness.
"If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love and forgive you your sins." (Qur'an 3:31)


"Allah loves not transgressors" (2:190) "He loves not creatures ungrateful or wicked" (2:276) "Allah loves not those who do wrong" (3:57, 140) "Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious" (4:36).

Yet divine mercy is not absent from the Qur'an. It teaches that God will respond to anyone who cries out to him in distress and that he mercifully provides guidance to humanity so they can follow "the straight path." The primary way God has done this is through his prophets or messengers, the last and most important of which is the Prophet Muhammad. In the article on Islam for the Encyclopdia Britannica, Fazlur Rahman notes how the Muslim concept of God relates to the religious context in which the faith arose:
This picture of God-wherein the attributes of power, justice, and mercy interpenetrate-is related to the Judeo-Christian tradition, whence it is derived with certain modifications, and also to the concepts of pagan Arabia, to which it provided an effective answer. The pagan Arabs believed in a blind and inexorable fate over which man had no control. For this powerful but insensible fate the Qur'an substituted a powerful but provident and merciful God.

Finally, to conclude with a description of the God of Islam in the words of Muslims themselves, this is an excerpt from the same text on God found on several Islamic websites:
Allah is the proper name applied to the true God Who exists necessarily by Himself comprising all the excellent Divine names and attributes of perfection. Allah is One and Unique. He has no son, partner, or equal. He is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Every creature bears witness to His Oneness, Divinity, and Ruboobiyyah, and to the uniqueness of His attributes and names. His essence does not resemble any other essences. He does not exist in anything, nor does anything exist in Him. There is none like unto Him. He is the One, the Sole, the Indivisible. He is the Rubb who accomplishes all affairs, Allah is the Omnipotent and the Omniscient. His knowledge comprehends in perfect manner all things, hidden or manifest. He is greater than can be encompassed by the knowledge of His creatures. He knows everything, and He is aware of all that take place in the earth or in the heavens. Allah, the Supreme, is the Rubb of everything and has a free hand in the disposal of all affairs. Allah-exalted be He is the One Who manages the things that take place. No affair occurs in the visible or the invisible world without His determination, His decree, His will and His decision, so that what He wills takes place, and what He does not will does not take place. No one who can ever resist His command or change His decision. He is the Merciful One, and His mercy encompasses everything. He is far removed from injustice and tyranny. He is wise in all His actions, just in all His decrees. His justice ensures order in the universe, in which nothing is out of order. There is no one to share His dominion, nor does He take an aide or supporter from His creatures. He is the Rubb of the worlds. He is nearer to man than man's own jugular vein. Whenever a believer is in need or distress calls on Him, He responds. He is above the Seven Heavens, mounting His throne in the manner that suits His grandeur and majesty. Allah has revealed His final Scripture, the Qur'an, to the last of His Messengers, Muhammad, peace be upon him, who was responsible for conveying the Message of Islam to mankind. He is the Exalted Allah. Glory is due to Him. He is far removed from every imperfection. 59

The Role of Prophets in Islam

Prophets in Islam
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is revered as "the Seal of the Prophets" - the last and greatest of the messengers of God. He is not divine in any way, for the strict monotheism that characterizes Islam does not allow for such an interpretation. Other prophets (nabi in Arabic) are important in Islam as well, all of which are shared with the Jews or the Christians.

The Prophets of Islam

Prophets other than Muhammad in a painting of the Day of Judgment from 19th-century Iran.

Traditionally, five prophets are recognized by Islam as having been sent by God (known as ulul azmi, "the Resolute").
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Noah (Nuh) Abraham (Ibrahim) Moses (Musa) Jesus (Isa) Muhammad


There are a number of other historical figures recognized in the Qur'an as prophets, and still others that are not mentioned.
"And certainly We sent messengers before you: there are some of them that We have mentioned to you and there are others whom We have not mentioned to you..." (Qur'an 40:78)

Muslims trace their heritage to the Hebrew people and prophets. The term "Semite" derives from Shem, the son of Noah, and both Jews and Arabs consider themselves Semitic people. In particular, they trace their ancestry to Ishmael, the firstborn son of Abraham.

Abraham in Islam
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Abraham and Sarah, approaching old age, had difficulty bearing a child. This problem was made even more serious by the fact that God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations. So, with Sarah seemingly barren, Abraham took Hagar as a second wife. Hagar bore Abraham a son, named Ishmael. Shortly thereafter, however, Sarah also bore Abraham a son, named Isaac. Having fulfilled her marital duty and God's promise, Sarah demanded that Abraham reject Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham did so, and from this point, the Qur'an departs from the biblical story to follow the story of Ishmael. According to the Qur'an, Ishmael went to the place that would later be known as Mecca. His descendents would be the Muslims, while Isaac's descendents became the Jews.

Islamic Beliefs about Human Nature

What does Islam teach about human nature?
According to the Qur'an, Allah "created man from a clot of blood" at the same time he created the jinn from fire. Humans are the greatest of all creatures, created with free will for the purpose of obeying and serving God.

Original Sin in Islam

The Qur'an includes a version of the biblical story of the fall of Adam (Qur'an 7), but it does not conclude from it the doctrine of original sin as some Christian theologians have. In the Quranic version of the story, Adam and Eve begged God's forgiveness (7:23) and he punished them with a mortal life on earth but added, "from it [earth] you will be taken out at last" (7:25).

Since Allah forgave the sins of the first pair, Muslims believe, all are born in Al-Fitra, a natural state of submission to Allah. True repentance from sin returns a person to this original sinless state. According to Muslim theology, mankind's chief failing is pride and rebellion. In their pride, humans attempt to partner themselves with God and thereby damage the unity of God. Thus pride is Islam's cardinal sin. The cardinal virtue, then, is submission, or islam.

Purpose of Life and Salvation in Islam

What is the Purpose of Life in Islam?
For a Muslim, the purpose of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person's deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate. The Qur'an also suggests a doctrine of divine predestination. The Muslim doctrine of salvation is that unbelievers (kuffar, literally "those who are ungrateful") and sinners will be condemned, but genuine repentance results in Allah's forgiveness and entrance into Paradise upon death.

Faith and Works in Salvation in the Quran

The Qur'an teaches the necessity of both faith and good works for salvation:
He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full of Mercy to the Believers. (33:43) In the case of those who say, "Our Lord is Allah," and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): "Fear ye not!" (they suggest), "Nor grieve! but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that which ye were promised!" (41:30) And fear the Fire, which is prepared for those who reject Faith. (3:131) It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give zakat; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. (2:177) You be foremost (in seeking) forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden (of Bliss), the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers: that is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He pleases: and Allah is the Lord of Grace abounding. (57:21)


Those are limits set by Allah. those who obey Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath, to abide therein (for ever) and that will be the supreme achievement. But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a Fire, to abide therein: And they shall have a humiliating punishment. (4:13-14) To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward. (5:9) But those who believe and work righteousness,- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear, they will be Companions of the Garden, therein to dwell (forever). (7:42) As to those who believe and work righteousness, verily We shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed. (18:30) But after them there followed a posterity who missed prayers and followed after lusts soon, then, will they face Destruction,-Except those who repent and believe, and work righteousness: for these will enter the Garden and will not be wronged in the least,-Gardens of Eternity, those which (Allah) Most Gracious has promised to His servants in the Unseen: for His promise must (necessarily) come to pass. S. 19:59 -61

Islamic Beliefs about the Afterlife

What do Muslims believe about the afterlife?
Like Christianity, Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. Muslims believe there will be a day of judgment when all humans will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell.

Resurrection and the Day of Judgment

A central doctrine of the Qur'an is the Last Day, on which the world will be destroyed and Allah will raise all people and jinn from the dead to be judged. The Last Day is also called the Day of Standing Up, Day of Separation, Day of Reckoning, Day of Awakening, Day of Judgment, The Encompassing Day or The Hour. Until the Day of Judgment, deceased souls remain in their graves awaiting the resurrection. However, they begin to feel immediately a taste of their destiny to come. Those bound for hell will suffer in their graves, while those bound for heaven will be in peace until that time. The resurrection that will take place on the Last Day is physical, and is explained by suggesting that God will re-create the decayed body (17:100: "Could they not see that God who created the heavens and the earth is able to create the like of them"?).


On the Last Day, resurrected humans and jinn will be judged by Allah according to their deeds. One's eternal destination depends on balance of good to bad deeds in life. They are either granted admission to Paradise, where they will enjoy spiritual and physical pleasures forever, or condemned to Hell to suffer spiritual and physical torment for eternity. The day of judgment is described as passing over Hell on a narrow bridge in order to enter Paradise. Those who fall, weighted by their bad deeds, will remain in Hell forever. The Qur'an specifies two exceptions to this general rule:
1. 2. Warriors who die fighting in the cause of God are ushered immediately to God's presence (2:159 and 3:169); and "Enemies of Islam" are sentenced immediately to Hell upon death.

"O soul who is at rest, return to thy Lord, well-pleased with Him, well-pleasing Him. So enter among My servants, and enter My garden." (89:27-30)

Paradise (firdaws), also called "The Garden" (Janna), is a place of physical and spiritual pleasure, with lofty mansions (39:20, 29:58-59), delicious food and drink (52:22, 52:19, 38:51), and virgin companions called houris (56:17-19, 52:24-25, 76:19, 56:35-38, 37:48-49, 38:52-54, 44:51-56, 52:20-21). There are seven heavens (17:46, 23:88, 41:11, 65:12).

Hell, or Jahannam (Greek gehenna), is mentioned frequently in the Qur'an and the Sunnah using a variety of imagery. It has seven doors (Qur'an 39:71; 15:43) leading to a fiery crater of various levels, the lowest of which contains the tree Zaqqum and a cauldron of boiling pitch. The level of hell depends on the degree of offenses. Suffering is both physical and spiritual. Being a Muslim does not keep one out of Hell, but it is not clear whether Muslims remain in Hell forever. Non-Muslims (kafir), however, will be punished eternally. A Muslim author on IslamOnline.net explains it this way:
"Ultimately, God will remove from Hell those believers whose sins were not forgiven nor atoned for by good deeds in their lifetimes, and they will then enter Paradise. The remaining inhabitants of Hell will stay there eternally." (Islam Online)

Other Muslim commentators, noting that Allah can rescue people from hell as he chooses, and that he is merciful and compassionate, have hypothesized that eventually hell will be empty. Alternatively, Hell can be seen as a place of progress where souls are instructed until they are fit to go to heaven:


"Life after death is actually the starting-point of further progress for man. Those in paradise are advancing to higher and higher stages in knowledge and perfection of faith. Hell is meant to purify those in it of the effects of their bad deeds, and so make them fit for further advancement. Its punishment is, therefore, not everlasting." (Muslim.org, an Ahmadiyya website)

Islamic Views of Other Faiths

How does Islam view other religions?
Contrary to Islam's reputation of converting by the sword, the Qur'an is clear that there must be "no compulsion in religion." Yet Muslims are not pluralistic in their worldview - they consider their religion to the be the true religion and invite people of all races, nationalities and religions to be part of it. Islam is closely connected to the two other Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the Qur'an explains that the religion of the Jews and Christians is the same as that revealed to Muhammad, and Allah is God of them all.
The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn to Him. Moreover, We gave Moses the Book, completing (Our favour) to those who would do right, and explaining all things in detail, and a guide and a mercy, that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord. And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy: Lest ye should say: "The Book was sent down to two Peoples before us, and for our part, we remained unacquainted with all that they learned by assiduous study:" {Qur'an 6:154-56}

However, Jews and Christians have not been completely responsible with their revelation and should still be called to the Muslim faith:
And they became divided only after Knowledge reached them,- through selfish envy as between themselves. Had it not been for a Word that went forth before from thy Lord, tending to a Term appointed, the matter would have been settled between them: But truly those who have inherited the Book after them are in suspicious disquieting doubt concerning it. Now then, for that reason, call them to the Faith, and stand steadfast as thou art commanded, nor follow thou their vain desires; but say: "I believe in the Book which Allah has sent down; and I am commanded to judge justly between you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord: for us is the responsibility for our deeds, and for you for your deeds. There is no contention between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is our Final Goal. But those who dispute concerning Allah after He has been accepted,- futile is their dispute in the Sight of their Lord: on them will be a Penalty terrible.

Muhammad spoke approvingly of Jews and Christians as fellow "People of the Book," and the Qur'an even allows a Muslim man to take a Jewish or Christian woman for his

wife. It also expresses admiration for the Jews, in that "they know the Book as they know their own children!" As seen in the quote above, Muslims consider the prophets of Judaism and Christianity to be true messengers of God, but hold Muhammad to be the last and greatest of these. Although the Qur'an teaches that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, it rejects the divinity of Jesus. It also explicitly condemns the doctrine of the Trinity, which it seems to interpret as consisting of God, Jesus and Mary:
Believe therefore in God and His Apostles and say not "Three." They misbelieve who say, "Verily God is the third of three." The Messiah, the son of Mary, is only a prophet...and his mother was a confessor, they both ate food. And when God shall say, "O Jesus son of Mary hast thou said unto mankind, "Take me and my mother as two Gods besides God?"

Muslims reject both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. According to the Qur'an, Jesus escaped the crucifixion and ascended directly to heaven . Despite these sharp theological differences, the Qur'an does suggest there is hope for the salvation of Jews and Christians: at the Last Day, distinct communities will be judged according to "their own book" and:
Those who believe [in the Qur'an], and those who follow the Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Who is the Mahdi?
The Mahdi is the foretold redeemer of Islam who will come to the Earth before Judgment Day along Jesus, and cleanse the world of injustice. He is not mentioned in the Quran, only the Hadith. There is not uniform belief about when the Mahdi will return and what he will do when he arrives.

The Mahdi in Sunni and Shia

Beliefs about the Mahdi on which most Sunni and Shia agree are that he will be a descendant of Muhammad, he will have the name Muhammad, his return will coincide with the rising of the Antichrist, and there will be a solar eclipse in the month of Ramadan.


Shia Islam has a more developed doctrine about the Mahdi. Many Shia believe the Mahdi was born in A.D. 869 and was taken by God when he was five years old and will return in the end times as the prophesied redeemer. These Shias believe he will have black hair and dark eyes. They further believe he will come in an odd year and first appear in Mecca at the Kaaba. People will initial fear him, but eventually many will follow.

History of Islam
What is the history of Islam?
Arabia before Islam
The Arabian Peninsula was originally the home of nomadic peoples who coped with the desert climate by migrating every season ("Arab" roughly translates as "desert dweller"). When some began to establish settlements around the fifth century BC, many chose Mecca, near the west coast of Saudi Arabia, as their home. It did not offer a favorable climate or many natural resources, but it was the site of the Ka'ba, a large cubical shrine dedicated to various deities. The religion of the Arab world before the advent of Islam was an animistic polytheism. The desert was populated with fiery spirits called jinn. Numerous gods were worshipped, with most towns having their own patron god. Mecca soon became the religious center, with 360 shrines, one for each day in the lunar year. Local merchants depended heavily on pilgrims to these shrines for their livelihood, a fact which would become significant for Muhammad.

Arab polytheism was focused entirely on the earthly life, and religion was not a source of morality. By Muhammad's time, blood feuds, violence, and general immorality abounded. Yet monotheism was not unheard of among the Arabs. There was contact with Zoroastrianism, which was the official state religion of Persia from the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD and influential on its neighbors. It was a dualistic religion with beliefs in heaven, hell and a final judgment. In addition, both Judaism and Christianity had established a presence on the Arabian Peninsula, especially in the south. In Yathrib (later renamed Medina), the Jewish population was especially influential.


Even among the innumerable deities of Arabian polytheism was a god who was more impressive than the rest. Allah (Arabic for "the god") was "the creator, provider and determiner of human destiny," and "he was capable of inspiring authentic religious feeling and genuine devotion" (Smith, 225). In general, Allah was regarded as the greatest among the many gods deserving worship, but one contemplative sect, the hanifs, worshiped Allah exclusively. It was into this world of sporadic monotheism and rampant immorality that Islam was born.

Life of the Prophet Muhammad

Early Life of the Prophet
Muhammad (whose name means "highly praised") was born in Mecca in 570 AD. His father died shortly before his birth, and he lost his mother at the age of six. The young orphan was then raised primarily by his uncle, for whom he worked as a shepherd. At age 9 (some sources say 12), he joined his uncle on a caravan to Syria. As a young man, Muhammad worked as a camel driver between Syria and Arabia. Soon he established a career managing caravans on behalf of merchants. Through his travel first with his uncle and later in his career, Muhammad came into contact with people of many nationalities and faiths, including Jews, Christians and pagans. At age 25, Muhammad was employed by Khadija, a wealthy Meccan widow 15 years his senior. The two were married, and by all accounts enjoyed a loving and happy marriage. Early records report that "God comforted him through her, for she made his burden light." Although polygamy was common practice at the time, Muhammad took no other wife than Khadija until her death 24 years later.

Divine Revelation
In his late 30s Muhammad took to regularly visiting a cave in Mount Hira, on the outskirts of Mecca, to seek solitude and contemplation. In 610, at the age of 40, Muhammad returned from one such visit telling his wife he had either gone mad or become a prophet, for he had been visited by an angel. The initially startled Khadija became his first convert. Muhammad reported that while in a trance-like state, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and said "Proclaim!" But like Moses, Muhammed was a reluctant prophet. He replied, "I


am not a proclaimer." The angel persisted, and the Prophet repeatedly resisted, until the angel finally overwhelmed Muhammad and commanded him:
Proclaim in the name of your Lord who created! Created man from a clot of blood. Proclaim: Your Lord is the Most Generous, Who teaches by the pen; Teaches man what he knew not. (Qur'an 96:1-3)

After receiving Khadija's support, and additional angelic visits, Muhammad became confident he had indeed been chosen as the messenger of God and began to proclaim as he had been commanded. Muhammad's message to his countrymen was to convert from pagan polytheism, immorality and materialism, repent from evil and worship Allah, the only true God. He was always careful to clarify his role in God's work - he was only a prophet. He was not an angel, he did not know the mind of God, he did not work miracles. He simply preached what he had received. In the first three years of his ministry, Muhammad gained only 40 followers. And as his teachings threatened the Meccan way of life, both moral and economic, he and his followers experienced heavy persecution. It first took the form of mockery, but soon turned into open violence. Members of the small movement were stoned, covered in dirt as they prayed, beat with sticks, thrown into prison and refused service by merchants.

Persecution continued to increase until Muhammad received some welcome news: he had gained followers in the city of Yathrib, 280 miles north of Mecca. The city was in need of a strong leader, and a delegation from Yathrib proposed that Muhammad take the job. In return, they pledged to worship Allah only, obey Muhammad and defend him and his followers to the death. Allah revealed to Muhammed his approval of this arrangement, and Muhammad made plans to escape to Yathrib. The leaders in Mecca heard of the planned escape, and attempted to prevent it. But Muhammad and his close friend Abu Bakr managed to make a narrow escape north out of the city, evading a Meccan search party and arriving safely in Yathrib. This event is celebrated by Muslims as the Hijira. The year in which it occurred, 622, is the date at which the Muslim calendar begins. Yathrib was renamed Medinat al-Nabi, "the City of the Prophet," and is now known simply as Medina, "the City." In Medina, Muhammad proved himself an able politician and statesman as well as a prophet.
Exercising superb statecraft, he welded the five heterogenous and conflicting tribes of the city, three of which were Jewish, into an orderly confederation.... His reputation spread and people began to flock from every part of Arabia to see the man who had wrought this 'miracle.' (Smith, 230).


Battle for Mecca

After establishing himself in Medina and accomplishing the job he had been invited to do, the people of Medina began several years of battle with Muhammad's former home city. In 624, the Muslims won their first battle against the Meccans. As the latter had a much larger army, the former took the victory as a sign that God was on their side. However, a subsequent battle was not victorious, and Muhammad himself was wounded. But in 627, the Meccans attacked Medina, and Medina came out on top. The Prophet was not to lose again. In 630, Muhammad and his forces marched to Mecca and defeated it. The Prophet rededicated the Ka'ba temple to Allah, witnessed the conversion to Islam of nearly the entire Meccan population, then returned to Medina. Muhammad died in 632, having conquered nearly all of Arabia for Islam.

Spread of Islam
By 634, Islam had taken over the entire Arabian peninsula. Within 100 years of Muhammad's death, it had reached the Atlantic in one direction and borders of China in the other. This success was due in large part to the military and political abilities of Muhammad's successors, the caliphs.

Muslim Rituals & Practices The Five Pillars of Islam

What are the Five Pillars of Islam?
The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic arkan ud-Din, "pillars of the faith") are the five religious duties expected of every Muslim. The five pillars are mentioned individually throughout the Qur'an and Muhammad listed them together in the Hadith when he was asked to define Islam. Within a few decades of Muhammad's death, the five practices were singled out to serve as anchoring points in the Muslim community and designated "pillars." Fulfillment of the Five Pillars is believed to bring rewards both in this life and in the afterlife. The pillars are acknowledged and observed by all sects of Muslims, although Shi'ites add further obligatory duties, including: jihad, payment of the imam's tax, the encouragement of good deeds and the prevention of evil.


The Five Pillars of Islam are:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Daily confession of faith (shahada) Daily ritual prayer (salat) Paying the alms tax (zakat) Fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm) Pilgrimmage to Mecca (ha

What is Shahada?
The first of the Five Pillars of Islam is the shahada. Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith, expressing the two simple, fundamental beliefs that make one a Muslim:
La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah. There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God.

Sincere recitation of this confession of faith before of two Muslims is the sole requirement for those who wish to join the Muslim community. It represents acceptance not only of Allah and his prophet, but of the entirety of Islam. As one of the Pillars, the shahada must be recited correctly aloud with full understanding and internal assent at least once in every Muslim's lifetime. The shahada is also recited in the muzzein's call to prayer, included in the salat (daily ritual prayer) and incorporated in Sufi contemplative prayer. It is also recited in the moments before death. From the shahada are derived the other fundamental doctrines of Islam: angels, the Qur'an and the Bible, the prophets, and the Day of Judgment.

What is Salat?
Perhaps the most well-known Muslim practices among non-Muslims is ritual prayer, or salat, which is performed five times a day: at dawn (al-fajr), midday (al-zuhr), afternoon (al-'asr), sunset (al-maghrib) and evening (al-'isha). Prayer is always directed in the direction (qibla) of the Ka'ba shrine in Mecca. A prayer mat, sajjada, is commonly used during salat. Salat may be performed individually, but it carries special merit when done with other Muslims. The focal prayer of the week is the midday prayer at the mosque on Fridays. Salat must always be preceded by ablutions (wudu') of ritually washing the face, hands, and feet. This can be done with sand when water is not available. (Qur'an 5:6; also 2:222, 4:43.) (See Islamic-Paths.org for a detailed article on the ritual of ablutions.)


At the five appointed times, a muezzin announces a call to prayer (adhan), traditionally from a mosque's minaret. The words of the shahada feature heavily in the call to prayer:
Allahu Akbar Ashadu anna la ilaha illa Allah Ashadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah Haiya 'ala al-salat Haiya 'ala al-falah Al-salat khayrun min al-nawm Allahu Akbar La ilaha illa Allah God is most great I bear witness there is no god but God I bear witness Muhammad is the prophet of God Come to prayer Come to wellbeing Prayer is better than sleep God is most great There is no God but God

In modern times, the muezzin is usually heard on the radio. One can also utilize a service such as the "salat pager," which sends a reminder to the believer's pager as prayer times approach. When performing salat at the mosque, worshippers are aligned in parallel rows behind the prayer leader (imam), who directs them through the rak'as (prescribed postures and recitations). Islamic prayer begins in a standing position and moves through several simple postures until the supplicant is kneeling. (IslamicVoice.com has an illustrated guide to the rak'as, with an emphasis on the health benefits of the postures.) Specified recitations are said in each posture. The content of prayer is glorification of God, recitations of the Qur'an, and blessings on the Prophet. Salat concludes with the taslima (greeting), "Peace be upon you," even when praying alone. In addition to the regular prayer times, special congregational prayers take place just after noon on Fridays and mid-morning on the two major holidays. Individual devotional prayers, though not obligatory, are encouraged, especially during the night (tahajjud).

What is Zakat?
Almsgiving is a central activity in Islam. The Qur'an explicitly requires it (9:60) and often places it alongside prayer when discussing a Muslim's duties. ("Perform the prayer and give the alms." 2:43, 110, 277) For those who are greedy and use their money outside of the will of Allah, the Qur'an has harsh words: the fires of hell will heat up the coins and the greedy will be branded with it (9:34-35). The zakat is an alms tax, required of every adult Muslim with sufficient means. In many ways it resembles the modern welfare state, in which the "haves" are taxed to help the "have-nots." For most of Islam's history, the tax was enforced by the state. Today it is

mostly left up to the individual, except in Saudi Arabia where religious law (Shari'a) is strictly adhered to. The rate of zakat is 2.5 percent, not of income, but of the value of all of one's possessions. Five categories of goods are taxed: grains; fruit; camels; cattle; sheep and goats; gold and silver; and movable goods. The recipients of the tax are the poor, debtors, slaves seeking to buy their freedom, volunteers in jihad, pilgrims, and the collectors of the tax. (IslamiCity.com has a Zakat Information Center, featuring calculators for determining the amount of your zakat.) Along with the zakat, both the Qur'an and the Hadith emphasize the importance of voluntary almsgiving (sadaqa) to the needy. In Shi'a Islam, an additional one-fifth tax (khums) must be paid to the Hidden Imam and his representatives for the benefit of orphans, the poor, travelers, and the imams.

What is Sawm?
Sawm (also siyam), fasting, commemorates the revelation of the Qur'an to humanity during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. During Ramadan, all adult Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse during daylight hours. Exceptions are made for travelers, soldiers, menstruating women, and the ill, although such persons are expected to fast later when they become able. In addition to being a time of fasting, Ramadan is an opportunity for increased prayer and devotion. During the last 10 nights of Ramadan, some Muslims retreat to a mosque for even more intensive study and contemplation. One of these nights, usually the 27th of Ramadan, is the "Night of Power," the holiest day of the year. In the year 2005 (1426 AH), Ramadan will take place from approximately October 1 to November 30. Observance begins and ends upon the first official sighting of the new moon, so overcast skies may delay or prolong the fast. The observance of Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr (Festival of the Breaking of the Fast), a major Islamic holiday.

Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca

At least once in his or her lifetime, each Muslim is expected to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca, the sacred city of Islam. This holy journey is called the hajj in Arabic. While a visit to Mecca is beneficial any time of the year, it must take place during the month of Dhu al-Hijja (the last month of the Islamic year) to fulfill the requirements of the hajj. As with the sawm (fasting), exceptions are made for those who are physically or financially unable to fulfill this obligation, and one is actually commanded not to make


the hajj if to do so would cause hardship for his or her family. However, those unable to go themselves may fulfill their obligation by sending someone in their stead. The hajj is commanded in the Qur'an - "And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto God for mankind, for him who can find the way thither" (3:97) - and its rites were established by Muhammad, but Muslim tradition dates it back to Adam and Abraham, who were instructed by angels in the performance of the rites. The hajj was one of the last public acts of worship performed by Muhammad before his death. In part, the hajj commemorates the stories of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael and it has been assigned various other meanings throughout the centuries. For many Muslims, one of the most meaningful aspects of the pilgrimmage is the unifying effect of bringing together believers from all over the world to meet and worship together. Upon arrival at the boundary of Mecca (about six miles from the Ka'ba), pilgrims enter the state of ihram (purity) in which they will remain throughout the hajj. Males entering this pure state don the ihram garments - two white, seamless sheets wrapped around the body - and sandals. This aspect of the rite not only signifies the state of holiness the pilgrims have entered, but it serves to contribute to a sense of equality and unity by removing visual indicators of class, wealth and culture. Requirements for women are less stringent, but they usually dress in white with only faces and hands uncovered. While in the state of ihram, pilgrims must not cut their nails or hair, engage in sexual relations, argue, fight or hunt. When he or she enters the city of Mecca, the pilgrim first walks around the Ka'ba seven times (the tawaf, or circumambulation) while reciting the talbiya, then kisses or touches the Black Stone in the Ka'ba, prays twice towards the Station of Abraham and the Ka'ba and runs seven times between the small mountains of Safa and Marwa. The second stage of the hajj takes place between the 8th and 12th days of Dhu al-Hijja, beginning with a sermon (khutba) at the mosque on the 7th day. On the eighth day and night, the pilgrim stays at Mina or Arafat. On the ninth day, the ritual of wuquf ("standing") takes place at the small hill of Jabal al-Rahma in Arafat. The pilgrim then returns to Muzdalifa, a small town within the Meccan boundaries, to stay the night. The tenth day is Eid al-Adha (The Feast of Sacrifice), a major holiday observed by all Muslims. For those participating in the hajj, the day is spent in Mina, where the pilgrim sacrifices an animal to commemorate Abraham's sacrifice and throws seven small stones at each of three pillars on three consecutive days (the pillars represent sins and devils). The pilgrim then returns to Mecca, where he or she once again performs the tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka'ba). The head is then shaved or the hair is trimmed, which marks the end of the state of ihram. About 2 million Muslims complete the hajj each year. The government of Saudi Arabia has contributed significant resources to maintain the holy places and manage the crowd of pilgrims. Despite the large numbers seen in Mecca each year, only a small percentage


of Muslims have fulfilled the duty. Those who have done so may add the title hajj or hajji to their names.

Islamic Sects, Subdivisions & Groups

What are the sects of Islam?
Islamic sects are not simply "denominations," if that word is understood to mean various valid approaches to the same religion. Members of one Islamic group do not usually recognize members of other groups as fellow Muslims, and open conflict between sects is not uncommon. Yet, as a whole, Islam is less divided than Christianity and Judaism - the vast majority of the world's Muslims are Sunnis. And Sufism is a mystical approach to Islam that is approved as orthodox by nearly all Muslims. Follow a link below to learn about some of the largest Muslim sects and groups.
Ahmadiyya Shi'a Sufism Sunni

What is Sunni Islam?

With 940 million adherents out of about 1.1 billion Muslims, Sunni Islam is the largest Islamic sect. Followers of the Sunni tradition are known as Sunnis or Sunnites; they sometimes refer to themselves as Ahlus Sunnah wal-Jamaa'h, "adherents to the Sunnah and the assembly." Sunnis have their historical roots in the majority group who followed Abu Bakr, an effective leader, as Muhammad's successor instead of the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law Ali. The Sunnis are so named because they believe themselves to follow the sunnah ("custom" or "tradition") of the Prophet. Some general statistics: Algeria is nearly 99% Sunni (Sunni Islam is the state religion), Kuwait is 70% and Afghanistan is 80% Sunni. Sunnis also outnumber Shi'ites in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Sudan (70%), Syria (80%), Tajikistan (85%), Libya (97%), Jordan (92%) and certain islands like the Maldives, Comoros (98%) and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (80%). Contrastingly, Iraq is only about 45-60% Sunni, who are concentrated mostly in the central and northern parts of the country. Sunni Muslims are a smaller minority in Iran (10%) and Bahrain (30%).


Sunnis base their religion on the Quran and the Sunnah as understood by the majoroty of the community under the structure of four schools of thought. The four Sunni schools of law (madhahib) - the Hanafi, the Maliki, the Shafi'i and the Hanbali - are sometimes mistakenly understood as different sects, but they are not. These four schools of religious law associate themselves with four great scholars of early Islam: Abu Haneefah, Malik, Shafi'i, and Ahmad bin Hanbal. These scholars were known for their knowledge and piety throughout the Muslim world. They differed only in minor issues of application of certain principles in the religion and were not in opposition to each other. In fact, Ahmad bin Hanbal was a student of Shafi'i, who was a student of Malik. Sunnis view Shi'ites as from the ahlul-bidah the people of innovation. Sunnis oppose Shi'ite beliefs concerning some of the companions of the Prophet, the belief in the Imamate and difference on the Caliphate, and others. Other groups considered to be outside Islam by Sunnis are Nation of Islam, Ahmadiyya, and Ismailis.

What is Shia Islam?

Shia Islam encompasses most Muslims who are not counted among the Sunni. The division between Sunni and Shi'a, dates to the death of the Prophet Muhammad when his followers were faced with the decision of who would be his successor as the leader of Islam. Shi'ites are those who followed Ali, the closest relative of Muhammad, as Muhammad's successor. Today there are approximately 120 million Shi'ite Muslims in the world. The Shia consist of one major school of thought known as the Jafaryia or the "Twelvers," and a few minor schools of thought, as the "Seveners" or the "Fivers." These names all refer to the number of imams they recognize after the death of Muhammad. The term Shi'a is usually meant to be synonymous with the Jafaryia/Twelvers.

The Imams
The distinctive dogma and institution of Shia Islam is the Imamate, which includes the idea that the successor of Muhammad be more than merely a political leader. The Imam must also be a spiritual leader, which means that he must have the ability to interpret the inner mysteries of the Quran and the sharia. The Twelver Shias further believe that the Twelve Imams who succeeded the Prophet were sinless and free from error and had been chosen by God through Muhammad. The Imamate began with Ali, who is also accepted by Sunni Muslims as the fourth of the "rightly guided caliphs" to succeed the Prophet. Shias revere Ali as the First Imam, and his descendants, beginning with his sons Hasan and Husayn (also seen as Hosein), continue the line of the Imams until the Twelfth, who is believed to have ascended into a supernatural state to return to earth on judgment day. Shias point to the close lifetime association of Muhammad with Ali. When Ali was six years old, he was invited by the Prophet to live with him, and Shias believe Ali was the

first person to make the declaration of faith in Islam. Ali also slept in Muhammad's bed on the night of the hijra, or migration from Mecca to Medina, when it was feared that the house would be attacked by unbelievers and the Prophet stabbed to death. He fought in all the battles Muhammad did except one, and the Prophet chose him to be the husband of his favorite daughter, Fatima. In Sunni Islam an imam is the leader of congregational prayer. Among the Shias of Iran the term imam traditionally has been used only for Ali and his eleven descendants. None of the Twelve Imams, with the exception of Ali, ever ruled an Islamic government. During their lifetimes, their followers hoped that they would assume the rulership of the Islamic community, a rule that was believed to have been wrongfully usurped. Because the Sunni caliphs were cognizant of this hope, the Imams generally were persecuted during the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties. Therefore, the Imams tried to be as unobtrusive as possible and to live as far as was reasonable from the successive capitals of the Islamic empire. During the ninth century Caliph Al Mamun, son of Caliph Harun ar Rashid, was favorably disposed toward the descendants of Ali and their followers. He invited the Eighth Imam, Reza (A.D. 765-816), to come from Medina to his court at Marv (Mary in the present-day Soviet Union). While Reza was residing at Marv, Mamun designated him as his successor in an apparent effort to avoid conflict among Muslims. Reza's sister Fatima journeyed from Medina to be with her brother but took ill and died at Qom. A shrine developed around her tomb, and over the centuries Qom has become a major Shia pilgrimage and theology center. Mamun took Reza on his military campaign to retake Baghdad from political rivals. On this trip Reza died unexpectedly in Khorasan. Reza was the only Imam to reside or die in what is now Iran. A major shrine, and eventually the city of Mashhad, grew up around his tomb, which has become the most important pilgrimage center in Iran. Several important theological schools are located in Mashhad, associated with the shrine of the Eighth Imam. Reza's sudden death was a shock to his followers, many of whom believed that Mamun, out of jealousy for Reza's increasing popularity, had him poisoned. Mamun's suspected treachery against Reza and his family tended to reinforce a feeling already prevalent among his followers that the Sunni rulers were untrustworthy. The Twelfth Imam is believed to have been only five years old when the Imamate descended upon him in 874 CE at the death of his father. The Twelfth Imam is usually known by his titles of Imam-e Asr (the Imam of the Age) and Sahib az Zaman (the Lord of Time). Because his followers feared he might be assassinated, the Twelfth Imam was hidden from public view and was seen only by a few of his closest deputies. Sunnis claim that he never existed or that he died while still a child. Shias believe that the Twelfth Imam remained on earth, but hidden from the public, for about 70 years, a period they refer to as the "lesser occultation" (gheybat-e sughra). Shias also believe that the Twelfth Imam has never died, but disappeared from earth in about 939 CE. Since that time the "greater occultation" (gheybat-e kubra) of the Twelfth Imam has been in force and will

last until God commands the Twelfth Imam to manifest himself on earth again as the Mahdi, or Messiah. Shias believe that during the greater occultation of the Twelfth Imam he is spiritually present--some believe that he is materially present as well-- and he is besought to reappear in various invocations and prayers. His name is mentioned in wedding invitations, and his birthday is one of the most jubilant of all Shia religious observances.

Other Distinctive Shia Doctrines

The Shia doctrine of the Imamate was not fully elaborated until the tenth century. Other dogmas were developed still later. One characteristic of Shia Islam is the continual exposition and reinterpretation of doctrine. The most recent example is Khomeini's expounding of the doctrine of velayat-e faqih, or the political guardianship of the community of believers by scholars trained in religious law. The basic idea is that the clergy, by virtue of their superior knowledge of the laws of God, are the best qualified to rule the society of believers who are preparing themselves on earth to live eternally in heaven. The concept of velayat-e faqih thus provides the doctrinal basis for theocratic government, an experiment that Twelver Imam Shias had not attempted prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Distinctive Shia Rituals and Practices

In addition to the seven principal tenets of faith, there are also traditional religious practices that are intimately associated with Shia Islam. These include the observance of the month of martyrdom, Muharram, and pilgrimages to the shrines of the Twelve Imams and their various descendants. The Muharram observances, which culminate on the otherwise minor holiday of Ashura, commemorate the death of the Third Imam, Husayn, the son of Ali and Fatima and the grandson of Muhammad. He was killed near Karbala in modern Iraq in 680 CE during a battle with troops supporting the Umayyad caliph. Husayn's death is commemorated by Shias with passion plays and is an intensely religious time. Pilgrimage to the shrines of Imams is a specific Shia custom. The most important shrines in Iran are those for the Eighth Imam in Mashhad and for his sister Fatima in Qom. There are also important secondary shrines for other relatives of the Eighth Iman in Rey, adjacent to south Tehran, and in Shiraz. In virtually all towns and in many villages there are numerous lesser shrines, known as imamzadehs, which commemorate descendants of the imams who are reputed to have led saintly lives. Shia pilgrims visit these sites because they believe that the imams and their relatives have power to intercede with God on behalf of petitioners. The shrines in Iraq at Karbala and An Najaf are also revered by Shias.

Shia and Sufism


Shah Ismail, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, who established Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of Iran at the beginning of the sixteenth century, was revered by his followers as a Sufi master. Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, has a long tradition in Iran. It developed there and in other areas of the Islamic empire during the ninth century among Muslims who believed that worldly pleasures distracted from true concern with the salvation of the soul. Sufis generally renounced materialism, which they believed supported and perpetuated political tyranny. Over time a great variety of Sufi brotherhoods was formed, including several that were militaristic, such as the Safavid order, of which Ismail was the leader. Although Sufis were associated with the early spread of Shia ideas in the country, once the Shia clergy had consolidated their authority over religion by the early seventeenth century, they tended to regard Sufis as deviant. At various periods during the past three centuries some Shia clergy have encouraged persecution of Sufis, but Sufi orders have continued to exist in Iran. During the Pahlavi period, some Sufi brotherhoods were revitalized. Some members of the secularized middle class were especially attracted to them, but the orders appear to have had little following among the lower classes. The largest Sufi order was the Nimatollahi, which had khanehgahs, or teaching centers, in several cities and even established new centers in foreign countries. Other important orders were the Dhahabi and Kharksar brotherhoods. Sufi brotherhoods such as the Naqshbandi and the Qadiri also existed among Sunni Muslims in Kordestan. There is no evidence of persecution of Sufis under the Republic, but the brotherhoods are regarded suspiciously and generally have kept a low profile.

Unorthodox Shia Religious Movements

Iran also contains Shia sects that many of the Twelver Shia clergy regard as heretical. One of these is the Ismaili, a sect that has several thousand adherents living primarily in northeastern Iran. The Ismailis, of whom there were once several different sects, trace their origins to the son of Ismail who predeceased his father, the Sixth Imam. The Ismailis were very numerous and active in Iran from the eleventh to the thirteenth century; they are known in history as the "Assassins" because of their practice of killing political opponents. The Mongols destroyed their center at Alamut in the Alborz Mountains in 1256. Subsequently, their living imams went into hiding from non-Ismailis. In the nineteenth century, their leader emerged in public as the Agha Khan and fled to British-controlled India, where he supervised the revitalization of the sect. The majority of the several million Ismailis in the live outside Iran. Another Shia sect is the Ahl-e Haqq. Its adherents are concentrated in Lorestan, but small communities also are found in Kordestan and Mazandaran. The origins of the Ahl-e Haqq are believed to lie in one of the medieval politicized Sufi orders. The group has been persecuted sporadically by orthodox Shias. After the Revolution, some of the sect's leaders were imprisoned on the ground of religious deviance.
Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



History of Judaism
What is the History of Judaism?
History is of the utmost importance in Judaism. Whereas the sacred texts of most ancient religions focus on myths and philosophical concepts, the Jewish Bible is centered around historical narrative; and most Jewish holidays are intended to connect modern Jews with their historical ancestors and traditions. This article provides an overview of Jewish history from the biblical era to the modern day.

Historical and Religious Context

Judaism traces its history back to the creation of mankind, but the explicitly Jewish historical origins begin with Abraham and the Hebrews. According to the Torah, Abraham's home was the northern Mesopotamian town of Harran. Under God's command, Abraham migrated to the region of Canaan, which is roughly equivalent to modern Israel and Lebanon. For a time the Hebrews lived in servitude in Egypt, then returned to Canaan. The ancient Hebrew people were seminomadic herdsman and farmers, organized into tribes and living in Mesopotamia. Contributions of nearby cultures include a West Semitic concept of divine messengers, Old Babylonian and Hurro-Semite law, Mesopotamian cosmogony and primitive history, Canaanite language and mythological literature, and Egyptian hymns and wisdom literature. All of these cultures featured belief in creator and preserver gods, a system of ethics, and developed religious rituals. The head of the Canaanite pantheon was El, a powerful god depicted as both judgmental and compassionate.


Biblical Jewish History

The period of Jewish history designated by some historians as "Biblical Judaism" is the centuries covered by the narratives of the Tanakh, from the creation and primitive history of mankind to the last of the prophets in the 4th century BCE. The Tanakh tells the history of the Hebrew people from a religious viewpoint, beginning with the creation of mankind and ending with the words of the last of the prophets in the 4th century BCE. This period is often referred to by scholars as "Biblical Judaism." The Tanakh follows the Hebrew nation as it experiences cycles of favor and discipline by God. God establishes successive covenants with humanity (Adam, Noah and Abraham) and issues an extensive set of laws (through Moses) by which the Hebrews are to be set apart as God's people. When they stray, God sends prophets and invading armies to bring them back to himself. "It is this particular claim-to have experienced God's presence in human events-and its subsequent development that is the differentiating factor in Jewish thought."

Abraham and the Patriarchs (19th or 18th century BCE)

The biblical book of Genesis begins with a single, all-powerful God creating the world out of chaos in six days, with human beings created on the sixth day. Genesis goes on to chronicle an ancient history in which mankind repeatedly turns away from God and to immorality until God destroys the earth with a flood. God then makes a covenant with Noah, the one man saved from the flood, that he will never destroy the earth again. The specifically Hebrew element of biblical history begins with Abraham, who is considered the founder of the Jewish religion. However, he does not discover God but is rather called by the God who is already known into a covenant, in which God promises to many descendents and the land of Canaan. Modern scholarship has identified significant differences between the religion of Abraham and the patriarchs and the later Israelite religion of Moses. Historians note that the God of Abraham is referred to using generic, not specifically Israelite terms (namely, various forms of El), the Mosaic issues of divine jealousy and idolatry are virtually absent, and God's role is as a kind of patron deity who has bestowed his favor on Abraham. The religion of the patriarchs was simple, and centered on the agreement between Abraham and God. Religious practice consisted of sacrifice and prayer at a sacred altar, stone pillar, or sacred tree. Circumcision was the defining mark of the religious community. Its eschatology was the promise of land and many descendents.


From Egypt to Sinai: Moses and the Covenant

According to biblical tradition, a famine caused the Hebrew tribes to migrate to Egypt, where they were enslaved. God rescued them from bondage by afflicting the Egyptians with successive plagues then drowning the Egyptian army in the Red Sea to allow the Hebrews to escape. At Mount Sinai, God established the nation of Israel (named for Abraham's grandson Jacob) as his own, and gave them the terms of his covenant with them. He then sustains the Israelites through 40 years of journeying in the wilderness before leading them into Canaan, the land promised to Abraham. Central to all these events is Moses, who, like Muhammad, fulfills many leadership roles, including religious, political, legislative and military. This general sequence of events is accepted by most scholars as historically reliable. As one source explains, "To disallow these events would make their centrality as articles of faith in the later religious beliefs of Israel inexplicable." Mosaic religion centers on the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The covenant required exclusive loyalty to Yahweh, who rescued them from bondage in Egypt. Worship of other gods, veneration of idols (even of Yahweh), and magical practices are prohibited. Rituals and festivals are established to celebrate God's historical and continuing provision.

Conquest of Canaan and the Judges

The conquest of Canaan is narrated in the biblical book of Joshua, with miraculous events (walls fell at a shout, the sun stood still) rivaling those of the Exodus. The process of occupation has been judged by scholars as more complex than that described in Joshua, incorporating a combination of military victories and treaty agreements. After the conquest of Canaan, Israel was led by leaders called "judges," during which time the Israelites are described as repeatedly falling into idolatry and apostasy. Figurines discovered in the Israelite levels of archeological digs in Palestine support such a report. At the same time, numerous altars to the God of Israel sprung up, and the Levites rose to the priesthood to conduct sacrifices at many of them. The ark of the covenant was housed and carefully protected at the Shiloh sanctuary, which was staffed by priests of the family of Eli.

The United Monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon

To maintain occupation of the Promised Land, it became necessary to have centralized authority and organized armies that could hold off external enemies. Two diverging views of the prospect of a monarchy arose: a rejection of God's kingship (1 Sam. 8-12) or


a God-given way to defend Israel (1 Sam. 9:16). The former view is represented by the prophet-judge Samuel, who reluctantly crowned the first king. Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, was made king (in c. 1020 BCE) after defeating the Ammonites. He ruled from his hometown of Gibeah, a few miles north of Jerusalem. Saul's reign was marred by conflicts with the prophet Samuel, who held ongoing authority over the kingship. King David, Saul's successor, solved these problems by combining religious and political authority in one person (David and his descendents) and in one place (the city of Jerusalem). David was succeeeded by his son Solomon, whose history is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 Chronicles 1-9. Solomon succeeded his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen years of age. His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons. His elevation to the throne took place before his father's death, and is hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah. During Solomon's long reign of 40 years the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendour. This period has well been called the "Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. In a single year he collected tribute amounting to 666 talents of gold, according to 1 Kings 10:13. The first half of his reign was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell, mainly, accordingh to the scribes, from his intermarriages. According to 1 Kings 11:3, he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. As soon as he had settled himself in his kingdom, and arranged the affairs of his extensive empire, he entered into an alliance with Egypt by a marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh.

The Divided Monarchy and Exile

After Solomon's reign the nation split into two kingdoms, Israel (in the north) and Judah (in the south). Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser V in the 8th century BCE. The kingdom of Judah was conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BCE. The Judahite elite was exiled to Babylon, but later at least a part of them returned to their homeland, led by prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, after the subsequent conquest of Babylonia by the Persians. Already at this point the extreme fragmentation among the Israelites was apparent, with the formation of political-religious factions, the most important of which would later be called Sadduccees and Pharisees.

The Hasmonean Kingdom and the Destruction of the Temple

After the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great, his demise, and the division of Alexander's empire among his generals, the Seleucid Kingdom was formed. A deterioration of relations between hellenized Jews and religious Jews led the Seleucid


king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to impose decrees banning certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Consequently, the orthodox Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family, (also known as the Maccabees). This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BC to 63 BC. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated as a result of civil war between the sons of Salome Alexandra, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The people, who did not want to be governed by a king but by theocratic clergy, made appeals in this spirit to the Roman authorities. A Roman campaign of conquest and annexation, led by Pompey, soon followed. Judea under Roman rule was at first an independent Jewish kingdom, but gradually the rule over Judea became less and less Jewish, until it became under the direct rule of Roman administration (and renamed the province of Judaea), which was often callous and brutal in its treatment of its Judean subjects. In AD 66, Judeans began to revolt against the Roman rulers of Judea. The revolt was defeated by the Roman emperors Vesesapian and Titus Flavius. The Romans destroyed much of the Temple in Jerusalem and, according to some accounts, stole artifacts from the temple, such as the Menorah. Judeans continued to live in their land in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion, until the 2nd century when Julius Severus ravaged Judea while putting down the bar Kokhba revolt. After 135, Jews were not allowed to enter the city of Jerusalem, although this ban must have been at least partially lifted, since at the destruction of the rebuilt city by the Persians in the 7th century, Jews are said to have lived there. Various responses developed to Roman rule, ranging from armed revolt (the Zealots) or withdrawal from the world (the Essenes) to a renewed focus on preserving tradition in a new situation (the Pharisees), to integration with Greek society (the Sadduccees) and thought (Jewish Neoplatonists).

Rabbinical Judaism
Rabbinical Judaism developed out of the Pharasiac movement and in response to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The rabbis sought to reinterpret Jewish concepts and practices in the absence of the Temple and for a people in exile. Aside from some small side movements (such as the Karaites), Rabbinical Judaism was the dominant form of the Jewish religion for nearly 18 centuries. It produced the Talmud, the Midrash, and the great figures of medieval Jewish philosophy.

The Fall of Rome

The Eastern Roman Empire, under assault from barbarian invasion, passed a number of laws in the early Middle Ages, including the legislation of Justinian which culminated in the principle of taking away civil rights from heretics and unbelievers and of making their

existence as difficult as possible. The restrictive laws of Constantine and Theodosius were renewed with increased rigor. The public observance of their religion was forbidden the Jews. The loss of their civil rights was followed by disregard for their personal freedom. In the wars waged by the Iconoclasts (eighth and ninth centuries) the Jews especially had to suffer, and mostly at the hands of iconoclastic emperors who were suspected of being heretics with Jewish tendencies. Many Jews fled to the neighboring states of the Slavs and Tatars, which were just coming into existence, and found refuge and protection on the lower Volga and on the northern shores of the Black Sea in the realm of the Khazars. While the East-Roman empire was prolonging its inglorious existence by perpetual warfare with neighbors who were ever growing stronger, the Western Roman Empire fell prey to the barbarians. With the exception of the restrictive laws of the first Christian emperors, which still remained in force, the Jews were not troubled on account of their faith.

The Early Middle Ages

Not until the beginning of the ninth century did the Church succeed in drawing all humanity within her jurisdiction, and in bringing together and definitely settling the regulations in canonical law which the authority of the Church ordained for believers and their treatment of non-believers. Intercourse with Jews was almost entirely forbidden to believers, and thereby a chasm was created between the adherents of the two religions, which could not be bridged. On the other hand, the Church found herself compelled to make the Jew a fellow citizen of the believer; for she enforced upon her own communities the Biblical prohibition against usury; and thus the only way left open to her of conducting financial operations was to seek loans at a legally determined rate of interest from the adherents of another faith. Through these peculiar conditions the Jews rapidly acquired influence. At the same time they were compelled to find their pleasures at home and in their own circles only. Their sole intellectual food came from their own literature, to which they devoted themselves with all the strength of their nature. This was the general condition of the Jews in Western lands. Their fate in each particular country depended on the changing political conditions. In Italy they experienced dark days during the endless wars waged by the Heruli, Rugii, Ostrogoths, and Longobardi. The severe laws of the Roman emperors were in general more mildly administered than elsewhere; the Arian confession, of which the Germanic conquerors of Italy were adherents, being in contrast with the Catholic characterized by its tolerance. Among the Burgundians and Franks, who professed the Catholic faith, the ecclesiastical sentiment, fortunately for the Jews, made but slow progress, and the Merovingian rulers rendered only a listless and indifferent support to the demands of the Church, the influence of which they had no inclination to increase.


In the Pyrenean peninsula, from the most ancient times, Jews had lived peaceably in greater numbers than in the land of the Franks. The same modest good fortune remained to them when the Suevi, Alani, Vandals, and Visigoths occupied the land. It came to a sudden end when the Visigothic kings embraced Catholicism and wished to convert all their subjects to the same faith. Many Jews yielded to compulsion in the secret hope that the severe measures would be of short duration. But they soon bitterly repented this hasty step; for the Visigothic legislation insisted with inexorable severity that those who had been baptized by force should remain true to the Christian faith. Consequently the Jews eagerly welcomed the Arabs when the latter conquered the peninsula in 711. Those Jews who still wished to remain true to the faith of their fathers were protected by the Church herself from compulsory conversion. There was no change in this policy even later, when the pope called for the support of the Carolingians in protecting his ideal kingdom with their temporal power. Charlemagne, moreover, was glad to use the Church for the purpose of welding together the loosely connected elements of his kingdom when he transformed the old Roman empire into a Christian one, and united under the imperial crown all the German races at that time firmly settled. When, a few decades after his death, his world-empire fell apart (843), the rulers of Italy, France, and Germany left the Church free scope in her dealings with the Jews, and under the influence of religious zeal hatred toward the unbelievers ripened into deeds of horror.

The Crusades
The trials which the Jews endured from time to time in the different kingdoms of the Christian West were only indications of the catastrophe which broke over them at the time of the Crusades. A wild, unrestrained throng, for which the crusade was only an excuse to indulge its rapacity, fell upon the peaceful Jews and sacrificed them to its fanaticism. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France suffered especially. Philip Augustus treated them with exceptional severity. In his days the Third Crusade took place (1188); and the preparations for it proved to be momentous for the English Jews. After unspeakable trials Jews were banished from England in 1290; and 365 years passed before they were allowed to settle again in the British Isles. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds' Crusades of 1251 and 1320.

Persecution and Blood Libel

The justification for these deeds was found in crimes laid to the charge of the Jews. They were held responsible for the crime imputed to them a thousand years before this; and the false charge was circulated that they wished to dishonor the host which was supposed to represent Jesus' body. They were further charged with being the cause of every calamity. In 1240 the plundering raids of the Mongols were laid at their door. When, a hundred years later, the Black Death raged through Europe, the tale was invented that the Jews had poisoned the wells. The only court of appeal that regarded itself as their appointed protector, according to historical conceptions, was the "Roman emperor of the German nation." The emperor, as legal successor to Titus, who had acquired the Jews for his

special property through the destruction of the Temple, claimed the rights of possession and protection over all the Jews in the former Roman empire. They thus became imperial "servi camer." He might present them and their possessions to princes or to cities. That the Jews were not utterly destroyed was due to two circumstances: (1) the envy, distrust, and greed of princes and peoples toward one another, and (2) the moral strength which was infused into the Jews by a suffering which was undeserved but which enabled them to resist persecution. The abilities which could find no expression in the service of country or of humanity at large, were directed with all the more zeal toward the study of the Bible and Talmud, toward ordering communal affairs, toward building up a happy family life, and toward bettering the condition of the Jewish race in general.

Everywhere in the Christian Occident an equally gloomy picture was presented. The Jews, who were driven out of England in 1290, out of France in 1394, and out of numerous districts of Germany, Italy, and the Balkan peninsula between 1350 and 1450, were scattered in all directions, and fled preferably to the new Slavic kingdoms, where for the time being other confessions were still tolerated. Here they found a sure refuge under benevolent rulers and acquired a certain prosperity, in the enjoyment of which the study of the Talmud was followed with renewed vigor. Together with their faith, they took with them the German language and customs, which they have cultivated in a Slavic environment with unexampled faithfulness up to the present time. As in Slavic countries, so also under Muslim rule the persecuted Jews often found a humane reception, especially from the eighth century onward in the Pyrenean peninsula. But even as early as the thirteenth century the Arabs could no longer offer a real resistance to the advancing force of Christian kings; and with the fall of political power Arabic culture declined, after having been transmitted to the Occident at about the same period, chiefly through the Jews in the north of Spain and in the south of France. At that time there was no field of learning which the Spanish Jews did not cultivate. They studied the secular sciences with the same zeal as the Bible and Talmud. But the growing influence of the Church gradually crowded them out of this advantageous position. At first the attempt was made to win them to Christianity through writings and religious disputations; and when these attempts failed they were ever more and more restricted in the exercise of their civil rights. Soon they were obliged to live in separate quarters of the cities and to wear humiliating badges on their clothing. Thereby they were made a prey to the scorn and hatred of their fellow citizens. In 1391, when a fanatical mob killed thirty thousand Jews in Seville alone, many in their fright sought refuge in baptism. And although they often continued to observe in secret the laws of their fathers the Inquisition soon rooted out these pretended Christians or Maranos. Thousands were thrown into prison, tortured, and burned, until a project was formed to sweep all Spain clean of unbelievers. The plan matured when in 1492 the last Moorish fortress fell into the hands of the Christians. Several hundred thousand Jews were forced

from the country which had been their home for 1,500 years. Many of them fled to the Balkan peninsula, where a few decades before the Crescent had won a victory over the Cross through the Osmanli Turks. These exiles have faithfully preserved the language of the country they were forced to leave; and to-day, after a lapse of more than 400 years, Spanish is still the mother tongue of their descendants.

The Enlightenment and Haskalah

During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes were happening within the Jewish community. The Haskalah movement paralelled the wider Enlightenment, as Jews began in the 1700s to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. Secular and scientific education was added to the traditional religious instruction received by students, and interest in a national Jewish identity, including a revival in the study of Jewish history and Hebrew, started to grow. Haskalah gave birth to the Reform and Conservative movements and planted the seeds of Zionism while at the same time encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided. At around the same time another movement was born, one preaching almost the opposite of Haskalah, Hasidic Judaism. Hasidic Judiasm began in the 1700s by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, and quickly gained a following with its more exubarent, mystical approach to religion. These two movements, and the traditional orthodox approach to Judiasm from which they spring, formed the basis for the modern divisions within Jewish observance. At the same time, the outside world was changing. Though persecution still existed in some European countries (hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed in pogroms in the 18th and 19th centuries), Napoleon invited Jews to leave the Jewish ghettos in Europe and seek refuge in the newly created tolerant political regimes that offered equality under Napoleonic Law (see Napoleon and the Jews). At the same time, Jewish migration to the United States (see Jews in the United States) created a new community in large part freed of the restrictions of Europe.

The Holocaust
Anti-Semitism was common in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s (though its history extends far back throughout many centuries during the course of Judaism). Adolf Hitler's fanatical anti-Semitism was laid out in his 1925 book Mein Kampf, largely ignored when it was first printed, but which later became popular in Germany once Hitler acquired political power.


On April 1, 1933 the recently elected Nazis, under Julius Streicher, organized a one-day boycott of all Jewish-owned businesses in Germany. This policy helped to usher-in a series of anti-Semitic acts that would eventually culminate in the Holocaust. The last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany were closed on July 6, 1939. In many cities throughout Europe, Jews had been living in concentrated areas. During the first years of World War II, the Nazis formalized the borders of these areas and restricted movement, creating modern ghettos to which Jews were confined. The ghettos were, in effect, prisons in which many Jews died from hunger and disease; others were executed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Concentration camps for Jews existed in Germany itself. During the invasion of the Soviet Union, over 3,000 special killing units (Einsatzgruppen) followed the Wehrmacht and conducted mass killings of Communist officials and of the Jewish population that lived on Soviet territory. Entire communities were wiped out by being rounded up, robbed of their possessions and clothing, and shot at the edges of ditches. In December 1941, Hitler finally decided to exterminate European Jews. In January 1942, during the Wannsee conference, several Nazi leaders discussed the details of the "Final Solution of the Jewish question" (Endlsung der Judenfrage). Dr. Josef Buhler urged Reinhard Heydrich to proceed with the Final Solution in the General Government. They began to systematically deport Jewish populations from the ghettos and all occupied territories to the seven camps designated as Vernichtungslager, or extermination camps: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibr and Treblinka II.

Holocaust Aftermath and the State of Israel

The Holocaust and its aftermath left millions of refugees, including many Jews who had lost most or all of their family members and posessions, and often faced persistent antiSemitism in their home countries. The need to find a homeland for the Jewish refugees led to many of them fervently joining the Zionist movement. Many Zionists, pointing to the fact that Jewish refugees from Germany and Nazi-occupied lands had been turned away by other countries, argued that if a Jewish state had existed at the time, the Holocaust could not have occurred on the scale it did. The sudden rapid growth of Zionism and the post-Holocaust displacement resulted in the emigration of a great many Jews to what became the modern State of Israel soon after. This immigration had a direct effect on the regional Arabs, many of whom firmly opposed a Jewish state in the Middle East. Some would say this stemmed from a lack of understanding of a need for a Jewish Homeland. While the Holocaust stands as a reminder that modern, "civilized" nations can engage in the most horrific of organized group behavior, it is also important to remember that during the Holocaust, many nonJews risked (and often lost) their lives attempting to aid Jews and other victims of Nazi

persecution, for no conceivable gain other than to satisfy their own consciences. In order to recognize these examples of the most noble of human behaviors among the most debased, the Israeli government through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial set up a Righteous gentiles program to honor and memorialize as many of these heroic individuals as can be found.

Overview of Judaism
What is Judaism?
Judaism is one of the oldest religions still existing today. It began as the religion of the small nation of the Hebrews and through thousands of years of suffering, persecution, dispersion, and occasional victory, has continued to be a profoundly influential religion and culture. Today, 14 million people identify themselves as Jews, and nearly 3.5 billion others follow belief systems directly influenced by Judaism (including Christianity, Islam, and the Bah'ai Faith). Modern Judaism is a complex phenomenon that incorporates both a nation and a religion, and often combines strict adherence to ritual laws with a more liberal attitude towards religious belief.

Beliefs of Judaism
The central religious belief of Judaism is that there is only one God. Monotheism was uncommon at the time Judaism was born, but according to Jewish tradition, God himself revealed it to Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people. Beginning with Abraham, God has always taken special care of the Hebrews (who would later become the Jews). After rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, and many more religious and ethical guidelines in the Torah ("the Law"). Many of the guidelines (mitzvah) emphasized ritual purity and the importance of remaining set apart from the surrounding polytheistic cultures. Aside from its staunch monotheism, Judaism has few essential beliefs. Jewish identity arises primarily from belonging to an ancient people and upholding its traditions. Dogma, while important, is secondary. Although the medieval thinker Rabbi Maimonides once enumerated "13 Articles of Faith," many Jews do not accept all these, and Jewish beliefs vary widely on theological matters such as human nature and the afterlife.

Divisions in Judaism
Divisions within Judaism, known as "movements," have developed in modern times as varying responses to secularism and modernity. Orthodox Judaism is the most

conservative group, retaining nearly all traditional rituals and practices. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Reform Jews retain their Jewish identity and some traditions but take a liberal approach to many Jewish beliefs and practices. Conservative Judaism lies in the middle of the spectrum, taking a moderate approach in its application of Judaism to the modern world. Jews of all movement celebrate many special days throughout the year and throughout each person's life. Major religious holidays include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Hanukkah, historically a minor holiday, has become more prominent in the last century for Jews who live in areas that celebrate Christmas. The Sabbath, a day of rest and worship at the synagogue, is observed each Saturday. In Judaism, all days begin at sunset, so all holidays begin at sundown and end at sundown.

Events in Judaism
To recognize the role of God and the Jewish community in each person's life, numerous life cycle events are observed with traditional rituals. At the first Sabbath after the birth of a child, the proud father is called forward in the synagogue to recite blessings for mother and child. Eight days after birth, baby boys are circumcised. At the age of 13 (12 for girls), a boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah, or "Son of the Commandment" and a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah, "Daughter of the Commandment." The occasion is marked by the youth's first public reading of the Torah in the synagogue (only boys may do this in Orthodox congregations), followed by a large and joyous celebration. Jewish wedding ceremonies incorporate many ancient traditions and symbolic gestures (including the well-known breaking of glass), and divorces are obtained within the Jewish community. At death, a Jewish person's body is cared for by the chevra kiddisha, the "holy society," who wash the body and prepare it for burial. The deceased is treated with great respect and never left alone. After burial, the deceased's loved ones enter a formal period of mourning, which decreased gradually over the course of a year. The dead is then remembered and honored each year on the anniversary of death. In addition to these special days and ceremonies, the Jewish life is marked by regular religious observance. Each Saturday, Sabbath is observed by ceasing work and spending the day in worship at the synagogue and at home with family. The study of Torah and other Jewish scriptures is considered very important, and many Jewish children attend Hebrew school so they can study it in its original language. In everyday life, traditional Jews observe the laws of kashrut, eating only foods that God has designated "kosher." Among non-kosher, or prohibited, foods are pork, any meat that has not been ritually slaughtered, shellfish, and any meal that combines dairy with meat.


Jewish Beliefs
What Do Jews Believe?
Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism has no official creed or universal doctrinal requirements for membership. In general, a person can be considered "Jewish" whether he adheres to a complete system of beliefs about God and the afterlife, holds only a few simple beliefs that give meaning to ritual, or even (at least in liberal Judaism) does not believe in God at all. This diversity in Jewish belief arises in part because actions (good deeds and the mitzvot), not beliefs, are the most important aspect of Jewish religious life. In addition, the term "Jewish" can be used to describe a race and a culture rather than a religion, so some who identify themselves as Jewish may have little interest in the beliefs and practices associated with the religion of Judaism. Nevertheless, the Torah and Talmud have a great deal to say about God, humanity, and the meaning of life, and Jewish history has seen significant theological and mystical inquiry into religious concepts. These beliefs are of great significance not only for Judaism itself, but also for their direct influence on Christianity and Islam, currently the two largest religions in the world.

The 13 Articles of Faith As noted above, Judaism has no creed and beliefs of individual Jews can vary widely. However, the great 12th-century rabbi Maimonides put together "13 Articles of Faith" that he believed every Jew ought to adhere to, and this is often used as a summary of core Jewish beliefs. Jewish Beliefs about God In Judaism, ultimate reality is a single, all-powerful God. It is this belief that made the Jews unique among other ancient Semitic peoples and that became the legacy Judaism has passed on to the entire Western world. God's name in Hebrew is YHWH, which simply - but significantly - means "I am." Jewish Beliefs about the Messiah Many of the world's religions have hope in a future heroic figure who will rescue the righteous, judge the wicked, and restore peace to the world (Krishna in Hinduism, Maitreya in Buddhism and the Second Coming of Christ in Christianity). In Judaism, this figure is the Messiah.


Jewish Beliefs about Human Nature When Genesis 2:7 says "God formed man," it uses the Hebrew word vayyitzer ("formed"). The Talmud finds special meaning in the unique spelling of the word in this context, with two yods instead of one. The two yods, the rabbis explain, stand for the two impulses found in humans: the yetzer tov and the yetzer ra. Olam Ha-Ba: Jewish Beliefs about the Afterlife Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death, which may seem surprising to non-Jews since the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam, both of which have their foundations in Judaism, elaborate rather fully about the afterlife.

The Thirteen Articles of Faith

What does Judaism teach and believe?
Many of the "Beliefs" sections on ReligionFacts begin with an official list of essential beliefs agreed upon by all orthodox followers of the faith. But as noted in the introduction, Judaism has no such list.

Rabbi Maimonides and his signature. Image: Jewish Encyclopedia.

However, the great 12th-century Rabbi Maimonides put together "13 Articles of Faith" that he believed every Jew ought to adhere to. These have been widely accepted as a proper expression of the Jewish faith and they still appear in Jewish prayer books today.


So while it is not necessary to believe all of these articles to be Jewish (and in fact many Jews would likely question one or more of the articles) they serve as a good general summary of religious Judaism. The 13 Articles of the Jewish Faith proposed by Maimonides are these:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. God exists God is one and unique God is incorporeal God is eternal Prayer is to God only. The prophets spoke truth. Moses was the greatest of the prophets. The Written and Oral Torah were given to Moses. There will be no other Torah. God knows the thoughts and deeds of men. God will reward the good and punish the wicked. The Messiah will come. The dead will be resurrected.

These beliefs are discussed at greater length in the articles that follow.

Jewish Beliefs about God

What does Judaism teach about God?
In Judaism, ultimate reality is a single, all-powerful God. It is this belief that made the Jews unique among other ancient Semitic peoples and that became the legacy Judaism has passed on to the entire Western world. The sacred name of God, as revealed to Moses in the book of Exodus, is YHWH. Since ancient Hebrew was written without vowels, we do not know the original pronunciation of this word. The common pronunciation "Jehovah," however, is incorrect. It is derived from combining the vowels for Adonai ("Lord") with the four consonants of YHWH. A more "correct" pronunciation, and that which is used among scholars, is "Yahweh." The discussion is irrelevant to observant Jews, however, as they do not pronounce this holiest of names. When the Torah is read aloud, Adonai ("Lord") is read in its place. This practice is reflected in most English translations, in which YHWH is rendered "LORD." Jews also refer to God as Hashem, "the Name." The word YHWH is sometimes referred to as the Tetragrammaton, from the Greek for "four-lettered." It is also called The Forbidden Name or the Unutterable Name. The prohibition against pronouncing this name does not originate with the command to not take the Lord's name in vain, as is sometimes thought.


Although traditionally this only applies to the Name in Hebrew, some modern Jews also refrain from writing the word "God," replacing it instead with "G-d." Opinions vary within Judaism as to the necessity of such a practice.

The Messiah in Judaism

Who is the Messiah?
Many of the world's religions have hope in a future heroic figure who will rescue the righteous, judge the wicked, and restore peace to the world (Krishna in Hinduism, Maitreya in Buddhism and the Second Coming in Christianity). In Judaism, this figure is the messiah. Christians believe the messiah has come in the form of Jesus of Nazareth; Jews emphatically do not.

Identity of the Messiah

The concept of the messiah seems to have developed in later Judaism. The Torah contains no specific reference to him, though some Jewish scholars have pointed out that it does speak of the "End of Days," which is the time of the messiah. The Tanakh gives several specifications as to who the messiah will be. He will be a descendent of King David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Jeremiah 23:5), observant of Jewish law (Isaiah 11:2-5), a righteous judge (Jeremiah 33:15), and a great military leader. Jews do not believe that the messiah will be divine. A fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity is the Jewish conviction that God is so essentially different from and beyond humanity that he could never become a human. Moreover, Jews find no foundation in the scriptures for such a belief about the messiah. Passages viewed by Christians as indicating a divine messiah (such as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53) are viewed by Jews as speaking of the people of Israel. In general, only the following passages are accepted as referring to the messiah:
Isaiah 2, 11, 42; 59:20 Jeremiah 23, 30, 33; 48:47; 49:39 Ezekiel 38:16 Hosea 3:4-3:5 Micah 4 Zephaniah 3:9 Zechariah 14:9 Daniel 10:14


When Will the Messiah Come?

The "when" of the messiah's arrival is not made clear in the Tanach, and has been a source of much scholarly speculation. In general, attempts to predict the exact date are discouraged. Though millennial fervor has never been as strong in Judaism as it has been in Christian and Islamic movements, there have been those who either claimed to be the messiah or to know the date of the messiah's arrival. One notable example of the former is Shabbatai Tzvi, a 17th-century man who claimed to the messiah, then converted to Islam under threat of death. A wide variety of opinions have been given by Jewish scholars as to the circumstances that will prompt the messiah's arrival. Some say the messiah will come when the world is especially good; others say when the world has become especially evil. The biblical clues that are offered suggest the messiah will come after a period of war and suffering (Ezekiel 38:16).

The Messianic Age

When the messiah does come, he will inaugurate the messianic age (sometimes called the Olam Ha-Ba, World to Come). The Tanakh employs the following descriptions about this period:
Peace among all nations (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3) Perfect harmony and abundance in nature (Isaiah 11:6-9) (but some interpret this as an allegory for peace and prosperity) All Jews return from exile to Israel (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5) Universal acceptance of the Jewish God and Jewish religion (Isaiah 2:3; 11:10; 66:23; Micah 4:23; Zechariah 14:9) No sin or evil; all Israel will obey the commandments (Zephaniah 3:13; Ezekiel 37:24) Reinstatement of the Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-27)

Ezekiel 37:24-28 sums up many of these requirements when it proclaims:

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. they shall also follow my judgments and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their God and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.


Jewish Beliefs about Human Nature

What does Judaism teach aboout human nature?
A fundamental Jewish belief about human beings is that they are created in the image of God. This does not mean that people look like God, for God is incorporeal. The general rabbinical interpretation of this concept is that humans have the ability to reason. When Genesis 2:7 says "God formed man," it uses the Hebrew word vayyitzer ("formed"). The Talmud finds special meaning in the unique spelling of the word in this context, with two yods instead of one. The two yods, the rabbis explain, stand for the two impulses found in humans: the yetzer tov and the yetzer ra. According to this view, the yetzer tov is the moral conscience that reminds a person of God's law when one considers a specific action or choice. The yetzer ra is the impulse to satisfy one's own needs and desires. There is nothing intrinsically evil about the yetzer ra, as it was created by God and is natural to humankind. It is also what drives us to good things such as eating, drinking, having a family, and making a living. However, it can easily lead to sin when not kept in check by the yetzer tov. The idea of human free will is fundamental to Judaism. The concept of original sin is rejected, and every person has the ability to choose good or evil. The following rabbinical teaching is illustrative of the Jewish view of the soul:
This may be compared to the case of a king who had an orchard containing excellent early figs, and he placed there two watchmen, one lame and the other blind. He said to them: "Be careful with these fine early figs." After some days the lame man said to the blind one: "I see fine early figs in the orchard." Said the blind man to him: "Come let us eat them." "Am I then able to walk?" said the lame man. "Can I then see?" retorted the blind man. The lame man got astride the blind man, and thus they ate the early figs and sat down again each in his place. After some days the king came into that vineyard and said to them: "Where are the fine early figs?" The blind man replied: "My lord, the king, can I then see?" The lame man replied: "My lord the king, can I then walk?" What did the king, who was a man of insight, do with them? He placed the lame man astride the blind man, and they began to move about. Said the king to them: "Thus have you done, and eaten the early figs." Even so will the Holy One, blessed be God, in the time to come, say to the soul: "Why have you sinned before Me?" and the soul will answer: O Master of the universe, it is not I that sinned, but the body it is that sinned. Why, since leaving it, I am like a clean bird flying through the air. As for me, how have I sinned?" God will also say to the body: "Why have you sinned before Me?" and the body will reply: "O Master of the universe, not I have sinned, the soul it is that has sinned. Why, since it left me, I am cast about like a stone thrown upon the ground. Have I then sinned before You?" What will the Holy One, blessed be God, do to them? God will bring the soul and force it into the body, and judge both as one. (Leviticus Rabbah 4:5) 97

Jewish Beliefs on the Afterlife

What does Judaism teach about the afterlife?
Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death. This may seem surprising to non-Jews, since the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam (both of which have their foundations in Judaism) elaborate rather fully about the afterlife. But Judaism is much more focused on actions than beliefs, so it is actually to be expected that its prophets and sages have not spent as much time on speculations about the world to come as elaborations on the mitzvot to be performed in this life. The Torah and Talmud alike focus on the purpose of earthly life, which is to fulfill one's duties to God and one's fellow man. Succeeding at this brings reward, failing at it brings punishment. Whether rewards and punishments continue after death, or whether anything at all happens after death, is not as important. Despite the subject's general exclusion from the Jewish sacred texts, however, Judaism does incorporate views on the afterlife. Yet unlike the other monotheistic religions, no one view has ever been officially agreed upon, and there is much room for speculation. This section will begin with a look at biblical texts addressing the afterlife, then explore various Jewish views on subjects such as the resurrection of the dead, judgment, heaven and hell, and the messianic age. The Hebrew word Olam Ha-Ba ("the world to come") is used for both the messianic age (see below) and the afterlife (see Gan Eden, below). The world to come is important and something to look forward to. A Mishnah passage says, "This world is like a lobby before the Olam Ha-Ba. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall." The tractate Moed Katan teaches, "This world is only like a hotel. The world to come is like a home." Yet it is also emphasized that this world provides the ability and privilege of doing good works and performing the mitzvot: "Rabbi Yaakov also used to say, 'Better one hour in repentance and good deeds in this world than all the life in the world to come. And better one hour of tranquility of spirit in the world to come than all the life of this world.'" (Pirkei Avos, Chapters of the Fathers)

The Afterlife in the Torah

For the most part, the Torah describes the afterlife in vague terms, many of which may simply be figurative ways of speaking about death as it is observed by the living.


An early common theme is that death means rejoining one's ancestors. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and other patriarchs are "gathered to their people" after death (see Gen. 25:8, 25:17, 35:29, 49:33; Deut. 42:50; 2 Ki. 22:20). In contrast, the wicked are "cut off (kareit) from their people" (Gen. 17:14; Ex. 31:14). Other imagery emphasizes the finality of death: the dead are like dust returning to dust (Genesis; Ecc. 3:19-20) or water poured out on the ground (2 Samuel 14:14). Another recurring biblical image of the afterlife is as a shadowy place called Sheol. It is a place of darkness (Psalm 88:13, Job 10:21, 22) and silence (Psalm 115:17), located in low places (Numbers 16:30, Ezekiel 31:14, Psalm 88:7, Lamentations 3:55; Jonah 2:7, Job 26:5). In 1 Samuel 2:6, God puts people in She'ol. In Isaiah 14:9-10, the departed in Sheol rise up to greet leaders who have now been brought low as they are. The author of Psalm 88 laments his impending death with these words:
I am sated with misfortune; I am at the brink of Sheol. I am numbered with those who go down to the Pit; I am a helpless man abandoned among the dead, like bodies lying in the grave of whom You are mindful no more, and who are cut off from Your care. You have put me at the bottom of the Pit, in the darkest places, in the depths. (Psalm 88:4-7)

Taken together, these early biblical descriptions of death seem to indicate that the soul continues to exist in some way after death, but not consciously. Later in the Torah, the concept of conscious life after death begins to develop. Daniel 12:2 declares, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence." Neh. 9:5.

Tehiyat Hameitim: Resurrection of the Dead

More developed concepts of the resurrection of the dead and afterlife seem to have entered Judaism under Hellenistic influence after the Torah was completed. It became one of the fundamental beliefs in rabbinic Judaism, the intellectual successors of the Pharisees. The Sadduccees, familiar to New Testament readers as those who denied the resurrection, were an exception. As seen above, the resurrection of the dead is one of Maimonides' "13 Articles of Belief," and the frequently-recited Shemoneh Esrei prayer contains several references to the resurrection. How this resurrection might occur has been a matter of speculation. Rabbi Hiyya ben Joseph suggested that "the dead will come up through the ground and rise up in Jerusalem... and the righteous will rise up fully clothed" (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Ketubot 111b). Saadia ben Yosef al-Fayyumi (892-942 C.E.), the head of the academy of Sura, offered this explanation:


Even fire, which causes things to be burned so quickly, merely effects the separation of the parts of a thing...causing the dust part to return to ashes....It does not however, bring about the annihilation of anything. Nor is it conceivable that anyone should have the power to annihilate anything to the point where it would vanish completely except its Creator, who produced it out of nothing. Since then the matter can be thus explained, in view of the fact that none of the constituent parts of the human being who has been devoured could have been annihilated, they must all have been set aside, wheresoever they may have taken up, whether it be on land or sea, until such time as they are restored in their entirety. Nor would such restoration be any more remarkable than their original creation.

Today, most traditional Jewish movements accept the concept of the resurrection of the dead. A notable exception is Reform Judaism, which official rejects the doctrine.

Traditional Judaism includes belief in both heaven and hell, as we will see below. How is one's destination decided? The School of Shammai offered this description:
There will be three groups on the Day of Judgment: one of thoroughly righteous people, one of thoroughly wicked people and one of people in between. The first group will be immediately inscribed for everlasting life; the second group will be doomed in Gehinnom [Hell], as it says, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence" [Daniel 12:2], the third will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on My name and I will answer them" [Zechariah 13:9]... [Babylonian Talmud, tractate Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a]

The school of Hillel suggested a more merciful view, in which the middle group are sent directly to Gan Eden (Heaven) instead of Gehinnom after death. Rabbi Hanina added that all who go down to Gehinnom will go up again, except adulterers, those who put their fellows to shame in public, and those who call their fellows by an obnoxious name [Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Metzia 58b]. The Talmud teaches that all Israel will have a share in Olam Ha-Ba, but makes some notable exceptions:
All Israelites have a share in the world-to-come... [However], these are they that have no share in the world-to-come: one who says there is no resurrection of the dead prescribed in the Torah, and that the Torah is not from Heaven, and an Epicurean. (Sanhedrin 10:1)

General Jewish belief is that one need not be Jewish to enjoy Heaven. "Moses Maimonides, echoing the Tosefta to Sanhedrin, maintained that the pious of all the nations of the world have a portion in the world-to-come [Mishneh Torah, Repentance 3:5]."

Gan Eden: Heaven

In Judaism, the eternal destination for the righteous is Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). It is generally described as a place of great joy and peace. Talmudic imagery includes:

sitting at golden banquet tables (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Taanit 25a) or at stools of gold (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Ketubot 77b), enjoying lavish banquets (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Batra 75a), or celebrating the Sabbath, enjoying sunshine and sexual intercourse (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berachot 57b). On the other hand, other sages have offered a more spiritual view of Gad Eden. Rav suggested that there will be neither eating nor drinking; no procreation of children or business transactions, no envy or hatred or rivalry; but sitting enthroned, their crowns on their heads, enjoying the Shechinah [Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berachot 17a (3rd century CE)] . Maimonides agreed, explaining:
In the world to come, there is nothing corporeal, and no material substance; there are only souls of the righteous without bodies -- like the ministering angels... The righteous attain to a knowledge and realization of truth concerning God to which they had not attained while they were in the murky and lowly body. (Mishneh Torah, Repentance 8)

Gehinnom: Hell
The Jewish concept of the afterlife for the wicked is less developed. Known as Gehinnom (Gehenna in Yiddish) or Sheo'l, it has its foundations in the dark pit described in the Torah (see above) and an actual place where a pagan cult conducted rituals included burning children (see the description in II Kings 23:10 and Jeremiah 7:31). Gehinnom is the postmortem destination of unrighteous Jews and Gentiles. In one reference, the souls in Gehinnom are punished for up to 12 months. After the appropriate period of purification, the righteous continue on to Gan Eden (Rabbi Akiba and Babylonian Talmud, tractate Eduyot 2:10). The wicked endure the full year of punishment then are either annihilated ("After 12 months, their body is consumed and their soul is burned and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous (Rosh Hashanah 17a)") or continue to be punished. This belief is the basis for the Jewish practice of mourning and asking blessings on deceased loved ones for only 11 months (one would not wish to imply that the departed needed the full 12 months of purification).

The Messianic Age

The messianic age is a period in human history that will be initiated when the messiah comes. At that time the righteous dead will be resurrected, but the wicked will not. The messianic age will be a time of peace and the restoration of the land and organizations of Israel.


Jewish Holidays and Festivals

What are the Jewish Holidays?
Like the rituals marking important events in the life cycle of each Jewish person, holidays and festivals are an important part of Jewish life. They help to keep tradition alive, contribute to a sense of community and belonging, remind believers of important historical events, and ensure regular reflection and celebration of the sacred. The most important Jewish holy days are the Sabbath, the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot) and the two High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). It is forbidden to work on any of these days.

Jewish Calendar Purim This page contains information on the dates Purim is a joyful spring Jewish holiday that of Jewish holidays froom 2013-2016. features a festive meal, gift-giving, costumes, and noisemakers in the synagogue, commemorating Esther. Shabbat (the Sabbath) Many people know that the Sabbath is Saturday, the day of the week on which Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) Jews are forbidden to work. From the Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year" and Jewish perspective, the Sabbath is not about is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. rules but about joyful celebration and rest. This Jewish holiday is a solemn and holy time. Days of Awe The Days of Awe are the 10 days from the Festival of Booths (Sukkot) beginning of Rosh Hashanah to the end of Sukkoth is known by several names: the Yom Kippur. This time, which occurs in the "Festival of the Ingathering" (Khag ha-Asif), autumn, is devoted to introspection, the "Festival of Booths" (Khag ha-Sukkot); repentance, and atonement for sin. "The Festival" (Khag), and the "Season of Rejoicing" (Zeman Simkhateinu). Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights) This Jewish holiday is not the "Jewish 15th of Shevat (Tu B'Shevat) Christmas" - it historically predates The Jewish holiday Tu B'Shevat, or the "15th Christmas and is an entirely different of Shevat," is the New Year for Trees. It is celebration. the day chosen to count the age of a newlyplanted tree for the purposes of obeying a Levitical law. Passover (Pesach) Passover is a spring holiday in Judaism, which commemorating the Exodus - the The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Yom Kippur, celebrated on the 10th day of


Egypt in the time of Moses.

Tishri, is the most important and solemn of Jewish holidays. Yom Kippur is the occasion on which otherwise non-observant Jews are most likely to attend synagogue, refrain from work, or fast.

The Jewish Calendar

The Jewish calendar is significantly different from the calendar with which most westerners are familiar. This is primarily because the Jewish calendar is lunar, or based on the cycles of the moon. The Gregorian calendar is solar, based on the cycles of the sun.

The Jewish Year

A lunar year has twelve months of either 29 or 30 days each, which yields a 354-day year. To ensure the same festivals always fall in the same season each year, an additional month (Adar II) is added seven times in every nineteen years to make up the difference. Determining what marks a new year is a bit complicated. Based on Exodus 12:2, Nisan is considered the first month of the year. However, the year number changes on Rosh Hashanah, which is on the first of Tishrei, the seventh month of the religious year. Then there is Tu B'Shvat (15 Shvat), which is the new year "for trees." The best way to understand this is that the Jewish calendar simply has different "years" for different purposes, just as the secular world recognizes as fiscal year, a school year and a calendar year. The bottom line: Nisan is the first month on the Jewish calendar and Rosh Hashanah (on 1 Tishrei) is the "Jewish New Year." The year number on a Jewish calendar is based on a traditional date of creation, based on adding up the geneaologies in the Tanakh. The Jewish year 5764 began on September 27, 2003. For convenience, many Jews use the Christian dating of years, but with the designation CE (Common or Christian Era) instead of AD (anno domini, "in the year of our Lord"). To use the latter expression, even in abbreviation, would be to falsely (and blasphemously) imply faith in Jesus as Lord.

Jewish Months
Each Jewish month begins with the new moon, which is called the Rosh Khodesh (Head of the Month). Rosh Khodesh was a major holiday in the First Temple period, celebrated with special sacrifices and feasts, but it was downgraded to a minor holiday after the Babylonian exile and not generally recognized today.

The months of the Jewish calendar are as follows:

Number of Days Nisan Iyar Sivan Tammuz Av Elul Tishri Kheshvan Kislev Tevet Shevat Adar Adar II 30 29 30 29 30 29 30 29 or 30 29 or 30 29 30 29 (30 in a leap year) (29 in a leap year) Gregorian Equivalent March-April April-May May-June June-July July-August August-September September-October October-November November-December December-January January-February February-March March-April Tu b'Shevat (15th) Purim (14th) Purim (14th; leap year only) Hanukkah (25th) Rosh Hashanah (1st) Yom Kippur (10th) Sukkot (15th) Tisha b'Av (9th) Shavuot (6th) Holidays in This Month Passover (15th)

Jewish Days
Finally, the Jewish day begins and ends at sunset. Thus the Sabbath begins not at midnight Saturday morning but on Friday at sundown and the first Hanukkah candle is lit on the night of 24 Kislev.

Jewish Denominations
Differences between Jewish denominations, which are more commonly known as "movements," reflect varying responses to changing times and cultures. The historical Jewish movements (Pharisses, Sadduccees, and Essenes) were responses to the Roman rule of Israel, while the major modern movements (Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative) are responses to the modern, secular culture of Europe and America. Thus, while Christian denominations differ chiefly in matters of doctrine, Jewish denominations differ from one another primarily with regard to practice. Hasidism and Kabbalah are mystical approaches to the Jewish faith. Like monasticism in Christianity and Sufism in Islam, Jewish mysticism emphasizes inward, spiritual experiences over intellectual and rational knowledge.


This section explores the major modern Jewish movements: Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Hasidism, and Kabbalah.

Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism is the most traditional expression of modern Judaism. Orthodox Jews believe the entire Torah - including "Written," the the Pentateuch, and "Oral," the Talmud) was given to Moses by God at Sinai and remains authoritative for modern life in its entirety. According to a 1990 nationwide survey, 7 percent of American Jews are Orthodox. American and Canadian Orthodox Jews are organized under the Orthodox Union, which serves 1,000 synagogues in North America.

Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism is the most liberal expression of Judaism. In America, Reform Judaism is organized under the Union for Reform Judaism (known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations until 2003), whose mission is "to create and sustain vibrant Jewish congregations wherever Reform Jews live." About 1.5 million Jews in 900 synagogues are members of the Union for Reform Judaism. According to 1990 survey, 42 percent of American Jews regard themselves as Reform.

Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism may be said to be a moderate position between Orthodox and Reform Judaism. It seeks to conserve the traditional elements of Judaism, while allowing for modernization to a less radical extent than Reform Judaism. The teachings of Zacharias Frankel (1801-75) form the foundation of Conservative Judaism.

Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic (or Chasidic) Judaism arose in 12th-century Germany as a mystical movement emphasizing asceticism and experience born out of love and humility before God. The austere religious life of these early Hasids ("pious ones") is documented in the Sefer Hasidim ("Book of the Pious"). The modern Hasidic movement was founded in Poland in the 18th century by Israel ben Eliezer, more commonly known as the Baal Shem Tov ("Master of the Good Name") or "the Besht" (an acronym for Baal Shem Tov).

The mystical form of Judaism is Kabbalah. Broadly speaking, Kabbalah refers to Jewish mysticism dating back to the time of the second Temple. For many years a carefully guarded oral tradition, it became systematized and dispersed in the Middle Ages. The kabbalistic viewpoint was expressed most importantly in the Yalkut Re'uveni by Reuben

Hoeshke in 1660, but also made its way into prayer books, popular customs and ethics. The focus of the Kabbalah is the simultaneous transcendence and immanence of God, with the latter described in terms of the sefirot, or attributes of God.

Jewish Rituals and Practices

Jewish rituals and religious observances are grounded in Jewish law (halakhah, lit. "the path one walks." An elaborate framework of divine mitzvot, or commandments, combined with rabbinic laws and traditions, this law is central to Judaism. Halakhah governs not just religious life, but daily life, from how to dress to what to eat to how to help the poor. Observance of halakhah shows gratitude to God, provides a sense of Jewish identity and brings the sacred into everyday life.

The Mitzvot
The Hebrew word mitzvot means "commandments" (mitzvah is its singular form). Although the word is sometimes used more broadly to refer to rabbinic (Talmudic) law or general good deeds ("It would be a mitzvah to visit your mother"), in its strictest sense it refers to the divine commandments given by God in the Torah.

The 613 Commandments

The important Jewish philosopher Maimonides made a list of the 613 commandments he found in the Jewish Bible, and here they are.

Rabbinic Law
In addition to the 613 mitzvot, Jewish law incorporates a large body of rabbinical rules and laws. These are considered just as binding as the mitzvot, although the punishments for violating them are less severe. Another difference is that it is possible, though unlikely, for the rabbinical laws to be changed, but no rabbi can change the Torah mitzvot. The rabbinical portion of halakhah falls into three groups: a gezeirah, takkanah, and minhag.

The Synagogue
The Jewish house of worship is a synagogue. The synagogue predates the destruction of the Second Temple, but it became central to religious life after the Temple was lost. The synagogue replaces ritual sacrifice with Torah readings, prayer and teaching.


Jewish Worship and Prayer

Guide to characteristics of Jewish worship and prayer, the weekday and Sabbath prayer services and etiquette for visitors.

Keeping Kosher: Jewish Dietary Laws

One of the most well-known Jewish religious practices is that of eating kosher foods. The laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) may be puzzling or meaningless to the outsider, but they have held great meaning for the Jewish people throughout their history. Not only are they an opportunity for obedience to God, they also strongly contribute to Jewish unity and identity.

The 613 Commandments

What are the 613 Commandments?
The Jewish philosopher Rabbi Maimonides made a list of the 613 commandments he found in the Jewish Bible, and they have since become a standard list of what God requires of Jews. The 613 mitzvot are listed below, with their biblical references.
Link: http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/practices/613.htm First 35 Commandments Ex. 20:2 Ex. 20:3 Deut. 6:4 Deut. 6:5 Deut. 10:20 Lev. 22:32 Lev. 22:32 Deut. 12:4 Deut. 18:15 Deut. 6:16 Deut. 28:9 Deut. 10:20 Lev. 19:18 Deut. 10:19 Lev. 19:17 Lev. 19:17 Lev. 19:17 Ex. 21:22 Lev. 19:16 Lev. 19:18 Lev. 19:18 Deut. 6:7 Lev. 19:32 inquire into idolatry Lev. 19:4 Num. 15:39 Ex. 22:27 107

Ex. 20:5 Ex. 20:5 Ex. 20:4 Lev. 19:4 Ex. 20:20 Ex. 23:13 Deut. 13:17 Deut. 13:17 Deut. 13:18

Jewish Sacred Texts

The People of the Book
The Jews are known as the "People of the Book," an appropriate title. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the subsequent exile, sacrifices became impossible and Jewish religious life turned to Torah study and prayer in the synagogue. Study of Torah and other Jewish texts has been central to religious life ever since. The Torah, the Talmud, and other Jewish writings are precious sources of Jewish history and divine commandments (the mitzvot), both of which continue to play a dominant part in Judaism. To remember the great things God has done for the Jewish people in history, and what he asks of them in return, selections from the Torah and the Prophets are read in the synagogue several times a week. To assist in proper interpretation and application of the mitzvot, a great body of rabbinical writings has developed and continues to develop to this day. Study of Torah (prefably in its original language, Hebrew) is an integral part of a Jewish child's education, and even Jewish mysticism is focused on intensive textual study.

The Jewish sacred text is the Tanakh, whose name is an acronym of Torah, Nebi'im and Ketuvim (Law, Prophets and Writings). It consists of the same books as the Christian Old Testament, although in a slightly different order and with other minor differences.

Although the word "Torah" is sometimes used to refer to the entire Tanakh or even the whole body of Jewish writings, it technically means the first five books of the Tanakh. These books are also known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch.

Talmud: The Oral Torah

Another important Jewish text is the Talmud, a collection of rabbinical writings that interpret, explain and apply the Torah scriptures. The Talmud was written between the second and fifth century CE, but Orthodox Jews believe it was revealed to Moses along with the Torah and preseved orally until it was written down. The Talmud is thus known as the "Oral Torah," with the first five books of the Tanakh designated the "Written Torah."

A third group of Jewish literature is the Midrash, which is a large body of rabbinical material derived primary from sermons (the Hebrew word for "sermon" is d'rash). The primary collections of Midrash were compiled between the fourth and sixth centuries, but the midrashic form continues to the present day.

A further set of Jewish writings is the responsa, a vast collection (thousands of volumes) of answers to specific questions on Jewish law. If the Talmud is a law book, the responsa are case law.

The Septuagint
An ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating to before the time of Jesus Christ, and used extensively by New Testament writers and the early church.

The Sefer ha-Zohar (Book of Splendor) is the central text of Kabbalah, the mystical branch of Judaism.
Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



Overview of Christian History

Christian history begins with Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew who was born in a small corner of the Roman Empire. Little is known of his early life, but around the age of 30, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and had a vision in which he received the blessing of God. After this event, he began a ministry of teaching, healing, and miracle-working. He spoke of the "kingdom of God," condemned religious hypocrites and interpreted the Mosaic law in new ways. He spoke before crowds of people, but also chose 12 disciples whom he taught privately. They eagerly followed him, believing him to be the longawaited Messiah who would usher in the kingdom of God on earth. After just a few years, however, opposition mounted against Jesus, and he was ultimately executed by crucifixion by the Romans. Most of Jesus' followers scattered, dismayed at such an unexpected outcome. But three days later, women who went to anoint his body reported that the tomb was empty and an angel told them Jesus had risen from the dead. The disciples were initially skeptical, but later came to believe. They reported that Jesus appeared to them on several occasions and then ascended into heaven before their eyes. The remainder of the first century AD saw the number of Jesus' followers, who were soon called "Christians," grow rapidly. Instrumental in the spread of Christianity was a man named Paul, a zealous Jew who had persecuted Christians, then converted to the faith after experiencing a vision of the risen Jesus. Taking advantage of the extensive system of Roman roads and the time of peace, Paul went on numerous missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire. He started churches, then wrote letters back to them to offer further counsel and encouragement. Many of these letters would become part of the Christian scriptures, the "New Testament." In the second and third centuries AD, Christians struggled with persecution from outside the church and doctrinal debates from within the church. Christian leaders, who are now called the "church fathers," wrote defenses of the false claims made against Christians (apologetics) as well as arguments against false teachings spreading within the church (polemics). Doctrines were explored, developed, and solidified, the canon of the New Testament was formed, and the notion of "apostolic succession" established a system of authority to guard against wrong interpretations of Christian teachings.


A major turning point in Christian history came in the early 4th century AD, when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. The Christian religion became legal, persecution ceased, and thousands of pagans now found it convenient to convert to the emperor's faith. Allied with the Roman Empire, Christianity gradually rose in power and hierarchy until it became the "Christendom" that would encompass the entire western world in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Emperor Constantine hoped Christianity would be the uniting force of his empire, so he was distressed to hear of a dispute over Arianism, which held that Christ was more than a man but less than God himself. In 325 AD, Constantine called the Council of Nicea so that the bishops could work out their differences. They condemned Arius and Arianism and declared the Son (Christ) to be of "one substance" with the Father. After the council, St. Athanasius of Alexandria continued to battle the Arians, but the orthodox view eventually won out for good. The church then turned to issues about Christ's divine and human natures, which were essentially resolved at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD). In the meantime, the considerable religious, cultural, and political differences between the Eastern and Western churches were becoming increasingly apparent. Religiously, the two parts of Christendom had different views on topics such as the use of icons, the nature of the Holy Spirit, and the date on which Easter should be celebrated. Culturally, the Greek East has always tended to be more philosophical and abstract in its thinking, while the Latin West tended toward a more pragmatic and legal-minded approach. As the old saying goes: "the Greeks built metaphysical systems; the Romans built roads." The political aspects of the split began with the Emperor Constantine, who moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople (in modern Turkey). Upon his death, the empire was divided between his two sons, one of whom ruled the western half of the empire from Rome while the other ruled the eastern region from Constantinople. These various factors finally came to a head in 1054 AD, when Pope Leo IX excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of the Eastern church. The Patriarch condemned the Pope in return, and the Christian church has been officially divided into West ("Roman Catholic") and East ("Greek Orthodox") ever since. In the 1400s, some western Christians began to publicly challenge aspects of the church. They spoke against the abuse of authority and corruption in Christian leadership. They called for a return to the gospel and a stripping off of traditions and customs like purgatory, the cult of the saints and relics, and the withholding of the communion wine from non-clergy. They began to translate the Bible - then available only in Latin - into the common languages of the people. However, these early reformers did not have widespread success, and most were executed for their teachings. Legend has it that when Jan Hus, a Czech reformer whose surname means "goose," was burned at the stake in 1415, he called out: "Today you roast a goose, but in 100 years, a swan will sing!"


In 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther (who bore little resemblence to a swan) posted 97 complaints against the practice of selling indulgences on a church door. He had experienced a personal conversion to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and also shared many of the ideas of those early reformers. Growing German nationalism and the invention of the printing press ensured that Luther would have greater protection than his predecessors and his teachings would be spread quickly. He was excommunicated and barely escaped with his life on more than one occasion, but Luther lived out his life spreading the Reformation, and died a natural death. His ideas had already spread throughout Germany, and similar reforming movements sprung up in England and Switzerland. Soon much of Europe was embroiled in a civil war, with Protestant nationalists fighting Catholic imperialists for religious and political freedom. In the 17th century, Christians of many ideologies embarked on the hazardous journey across the Atlantic, to the promise of religious freedom and economic prosperity in the New World. Quakers came to Pennsylvania, Catholics to Maryland, and Dutch Reformed to New York. Later came Swedish Lutherans and French Huguenots, English Baptists and Scottish Presbyterians. With the exception of some Puritan communities, there was no attempt to impose religious uniformity in America. The period from about 1648 to 1800 was an age in which reason (as opposed to revelation and dogma) became increasingly important, but so did religious revival. Benjamin Franklin exemplified his time's general attitude towards religious matters when he remarked, a few weeks before his death:
As to Jesus of Nazareth...I have...some doubts as to his Divinity, tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it.... I see no harm, however, it its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence...of making his doctrines more respected and better observed.

At the same time that religious skepticism and toleration were growing in the west, so too were revival movements that sought to return to masses to genuine faith in Christ and the gospel of salvation. George Whitefield arrived in the colonies from England in 1739, and experienced wide success with his revival sermons. Jonathan Edwards was famous for his fiery sermons in which he described in detail the torments of those who do not have personal faith in Jesus Christ. John Wesley was revivalist preacher and a personal friend of Whitefield, but he differed strongly from his Presbyterian friend on the doctrine of predestination. Wesley founded a small group of preachers and bible students, who focused on holy living and came to be called the "Methodists." Today, Christianity is the largest world religion, with about 2 billion adherents. It is the majority religion of Europe and the Americas, and there are churches in almost every nation in the world. There are perhaps thousands of Christian denominations, all of whom believe in the basic doctrines established at the Council of Nicea but differ in other matters of doctrine and practice. In recent years, there has been a growing movement among these denominations to work together in unity for the good of the world. In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded to that end.


Overview of Christianity
What is Christianity?
With nearly two billion professed adherents worldwide, Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world. It has dominated western culture for centuries and remains the majority religion of Europe and the Americas. Christian belief centers on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, a teacher and healer of first-century Palestine. The primary source of information about the life of Jesus are the Gospels, four books written by different authors 30-100 years after Jesus' death. The Gospels eventually became the first four books of the New Testament.

Jesus Christ
The Gospels describe a three-year teaching and healing ministry during which Jesus attracted 12 close disciples and other followers who believed him to be the Messiah. This is the basis of Jesus' title "Christ," which comes from the Greek word for "Messiah." Jesus' teachings focused on the themes of the kingdom of God, love of God and love of neighbor. Along with some of his teachings, his growing popularity with the masses was seen as dangerous by Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government, leading to his execution by crucifixion. Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead three days after his burial, and in so doing made it possible for those who believe to be forgiven of sin and attain eternal life. Much of Christian belief and practice centers on the resurrection of Christ. The most distinctive belief of mainstream Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity, which views the one God as consisting of three Persons: the Father, the Son (Christ) and the Holy Spirit.

The Bible
The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible, which consists of the Old Testament (roughly equivalent to the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament. The New Testament contains 27 books: four gospels (narratives of Jesus' life), one account of the apostles' ministry after Jesus' death, letters from church leaders (the earliest of which predate the Gospels), and an apocalyptic work. Nearly all Christians regard the Bible as divinely inspired and authoritative, but views differ as to the nature and extent of its authority. Some hold it to be completely without


error in all matters it addresses, while others stress its accuracy only in religious matters and allow for errors or limitations in other areas due to its human authorship.

Branches of Christianity
Christianity has divided into three major branches over the centuries. Roman Catholicism represents the continuation of the historical organized church as it developed in Western Europe, and is headed by the Pope. Distinctive beliefs of Catholics include the doctrines of Transubstantiation and Purgatory, and distinctive practices include devotion to the saints and Mary and use of the rosary. Eastern Orthodoxy (which includes the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches and several others) is the continuation of the historical organized church as it developed in Eastern Europe. It differs from Catholicism in its refusal of allegiance to the Pope, its emphasis on the use of icons in worship, and the date it celebrates Easter. Other cultural, political, and religious differences exist as well. Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism separated in 1054 AD, when the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope excommunicated each other. Protestantism arose in the 16th century during the Reformation, which took place mainly in Germany, Switzerland, and Britain. Protestants do not acknowledge the authority of the Pope, reject many traditions and beliefs of the Catholic Church, emphasize the importance of reading the Bible and hold to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Protestantism encompasses numerous denominational groups, including Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians (or Anglicanism), Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Evangelicals.

Practices of Christianity
Christian practices vary by denomination, but common elements include a Sunday worship service, private and corporate prayer, study and reading of the Scriptures, and participation in rites such as baptism and communion. Distinctive Catholic practices include recognition of seven total sacraments, Sunday mass, devotion to the Virgin Mary and the saints, and veneration of relics and places associated with holy figures. Eastern Orthodoxy holds many practices in common with Catholicism, but is especially distinguished by the central role of icons: ornate images of Christ and the saints believed to provide a connection to the spiritual world.

Sacred Days of Christianity

The most important Christian holiday is Easter, a spring festival that celebrates Christ's resurrection from the dead. Easter is immediately preceded by Holy Week, which includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. The 40 days prior to Easter form the Lenten season, a time of fasting and repentance. Another holiday that came to be culturally important is Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus on


December 25. Saints' days are also important. Some of these, such as St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day, have come to play a prominent role in popular western culture.

Christian Beliefs
Christianity tends to take beliefs quite seriously. The early fathers and councils carefully distinguished between "orthodoxy" from "heresy" in an effort to preserve what they saw as the true Christian message. In the Middle Ages, established doctrine was carefully safeguarded, and in the 16th century, reformers called for the stripping away of superfluous doctrines and emphasized true faith as the only requirement for salvation. And Christian beliefs remain important today: the many denominations within Christianity center primarily around matters of doctrine rather than practice. Given the great historical attention that has been devoted to it, the 2,000 years' worth of available writing on its many subjects, and its sometimes complex philosophical arguments, Christian doctrine can be an intimidating subject to tackle, especially for the beginner. The following articles therefore attempt to summarize the general consensus of Christian beliefs on everything from God to the afterlife, with historical development and denominational differences taken into account as much as possible.

The Christian God

Who is God?
Christianity is one of the three major monotheistic world religions. Like Jews and Muslims, Christians believe one God who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. This article explores what Christians believe about the characteristics and nature of God. The major theological belief that Jews and Muslims do not share - the doctrine of the Trinity - will be explored separately. (See article on the Trinity)

God in the New Testament

The authors of the New Testament took for granted the existence of the God of the Old Testament. They believed in Yahweh, "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," whom the Jews worshipped as the one true God (Ac 13:32; Ro 3:29, 4:3). Like the Old Testament, the New Testament teaches that there is only one God (Mk 12:29; Eph 4:6; Jas 2:19), who is pure spirit (Jn 4:24; 1 Jn 4:12), the creator of the world (1 Ti 4:4; Heb 3:4), holy and good (Ro 3:4; Eph 4:24; Rev 4:8), all-powerful (Mt 19:26; Mk 2:7, 10:18) and worthy of mankind's worship and love (Mt 6:24; Mk 11:22; Lk 2:14).


God expects ethical behavior (Jn 6:29; Ac 8:21, 24:16; 2 Co 9:7; 1 Th 4:9; Jas 1:27; 1 Jn 3:9) and will judge wrongdoers (Ro 2:16, 3:19). The New Testament especially emphasizes God's love for the world and his desire to save all people (Jn 3:16; Ro 5:5,5:8; Php 4:191 Jn 4:7-9). Where the New Testament differs from the Old Testament in its teachings about God is in its proclamation that God has chosen to reveal himself to mankind through Christ, the Incarnation of God. Especially in the Gospel of John, it is emphasized that Jesus alone knows the Father completely and he came to help humans know God ("the Father") better:
John 3:35 - "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands." (John the Baptist) John 7:16: "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me." John 14:9-10: "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?' Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?" Romans 1:17: "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed."

God in Early Christian Theology

The early Greek fathers made extensive use of reason and philosophy in their attempt to defend Christianity in the cultured world around them. Justin Martyr, influenced by Platonism, emphasized the ineffability, omnipotence and impassibility of God, while Athenagoras and Theophilus focused on God's simplicity, indivisibility and universal providence. Irenaeus developed his doctrine of God in reaction against the Gnostics, and thus emphasized the self-sufficiency and perfection of the one God. By the time of the Council of Nicea, the chief divine attributes of eternity, immutability, omniscience and omnipotence were undisputed by all Christians.

A Personal God
The Christian God is a personal God. This does not mean that God is a human being, but that God has "personality" and the capability of both relationships with other personal beings. This is seen clearly in both the Old and New Testaments, in which God is described in strongly personal terms (father, shepherd, etc.) and establishes relationships with human beings. In this belief, Christianity is like Judaism and Islam but very different from deism or the theism of Greek philosophy. In the latter systems, God is an impersonal force that causes the world to exist but does not interact with it.


Is God Masculine?
Throughout the Christian Bible, masculine language is used to refer to God. The Greek word for God (theos), the pronouns used to refer to God, and most of the analogies used to describe God are masculine. But it has never been a part of Christian doctrine that God is male, or that God has gender at all. In Christian thought, a distinction between male and female exists in the created order, but not in God. In Genesis 1:27, God creates both male and female in his image. God thus incorporates the fullness of both masculinity and femininity within himself. In fact, the notion of God having gender is a pagan one, associated especially with the fertility cults that were explicitly rejected by the authors of the Old Testament. So why is masculine imagery used for God? Christians explain that traditionally masculine human roles seemed to the biblical writers to provide the best analogies for God. They used masculine language because they wished to emphasize that God is a leader, a provider, and a strict disciplinarian, all of which were roles associated with men. But as Oxford professor Alister McGrath points out:
The statement that "a father in ancient Israelite society is a suitable model for God" is not equivalent to saying that "God is male" or that "God is confined to the cultural parameters of ancient Israel."

Christians throughout the centuries have recognized this. One notable example is the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, who wrote of one of her visions:
I saw that God rejoices to be our Father, and also that he rejoices to be our Mother... He is the true Father and Mother of what things are by nature.

In light of increasing concerns about language and gender, some Christian denominations have made official statements rejecting the notion that God is male (or female). One notable example is the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains:
By calling God "Father," the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. ... We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman; he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard.

Many individual Christians have also begun to emphasize the importance of genderinclusive language when talking about God. This usually involves replacement of masculine terms such as "Father" and "Son" with neutral terms such as "Parent" and "Child," and avoidance of pronouns for God altogether, both of which can present a linguistic challenge. It is also controversial - critics argue that these changes can result in loss of meaning and do not give enough weight to God's self-revelation.


Denominational Statements about God

Although the theological beliefs described later in this article are broad enough to apply to all mainline Christian denominations, it may be of interest to the reader to explore the manner in which various confessional agencies have chosen to officially express these beliefs. Following, therefore, are excerpts from official doctrinal statements about God made by several Christian traditions. United Methodist Church:
With Christians of other communions we confess belief in the triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This confession embraces the biblical witness to God's activity in creation, encompasses God's gracious self-involvement in the dramas of history, and anticipates the consummation of God's reign.

Assemblies of God:
The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent "I AM," the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind. He has further revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod:

On the basis of the Holy Scriptures we teach the sublime article of the Holy Trinity; that is, we teach that the one true God, Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons, but of one and the same divine essence, equal in power, equal in eternity, equal in majesty, because each person possesses the one divine essence entire, Col. 2:9, Matt. 28:19.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Church never ceases to proclaim her faith in one only God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Southern Baptist Convention:

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. ... The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

Presbyterian Church (USA):

Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.

Greek Orthodox Archidiocese of America:

While the inner Being of God always remains unknown and unapproachable, God has manifested Himself to us; and the Church has experienced Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is central to the Orthodox Faith, is not a result of pious speculation, but the over whelming 118

experience of God. The doctrine affirms that there is only One God in whom there are three distinct Persons. In other words, when we encounter either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, we are truly experiencing contact with God.

The Doctrine of the Trinity

What is the Trinity?
Christians regards their religion as monotheistic, since Christianity teaches the existence of one God - Yahweh, the God of the Jews. It shares this belief with two other major world religions, Judaism and Islam. However, Christian monotheism is a unique kind of monotheism. It holds that God is One, but that three distinct "persons" constitute the one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This unique threefold God of Christian belief is referred to as the Trinity (from Latin trinitas, "three").

Fast Facts on the Trinity

The word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible The word "Trinity" was first used by Tertullian (c.155-230) The doctrine of the Trinity is commonly expressed as: "One God, three Persons" The doctrine is formally defined in the Nicene Creed, which declares Jesus to be: "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father." Past and present Christian faiths who do not believe in the Trinity include: o Arianism (4th century) o Some Radical Reformers (16th century), such as Michael Servetus o Jehovah's Witnesses o Mormonism o Unitarianism Reasons given for rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity include: o It is not mentioned in the Bible o It does not make philosophical sense o It is not compatible with monotheism o It is not necessary in order to explain the "specialness" of Jesus Reasons given for believing in the Trinity include: o It is taught indirectly in various statements in the Bible o It explains the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit while affirming monotheism o It would not be expected that the nature of God would make sense to human minds o The early ecumenical councils (primarily Nicea) are authoritative


History of the Doctrine of the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity took centuries to develop, but the roots of the doctrine can be seen from the first century. The word "Trinity" is not found in the New Testament, nor is the doctrine explicitly taught there. However, foundations of the concept of the Trinity can be seen in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John, one of the latest and most theologically developed of the New Testament books. Hints of Trinitarian beliefs can also be seen in the teachings of extra-biblical writers as early as the end of the first century. However, the clearest early expression of the concept came with Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early third century. Tertullian coined the words "Trinity" and "person" and explained that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were "one in essence - not one in Person." About a century later, in 325, the Council of Nicea set out to officially define the relationship of the Son to the Father, in response to the controversial teachings of Arius. Led by bishop Athanasius, the council established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and condemned Arius' teaching that Christ was the first creation of God. The creed adopted by the council described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father." Nicea did not end the controversy, however. Debate over how the creed (especially the phrase "one substance") ought to be interpreted continued to rage for decades. One group advocated the doctrine that Christ was a "similar substance" (homoiousios) as the Father. But for the most part, the issue of the Trinity was settled at Nicea and, by the fifth century, never again became a focus of serious controversy. Most post-Nicene theological discussion of the Trinity consisted of attempts to understand and explain such a unique concept. Gregory of Nyssa, in his treatise, That There are Not Three Gods, compared the divinity shared by the three persons of the Trinity to the common "humanness," or human nature, that is shared by individual human beings. (Ironically, this initially promising explanation has been seen by some to yield a conclusion quite opposite than the title of his work.) Saint Augustine, one of the greatest thinkers of the early church, described the Trinity as comparable to the three parts of an individual human being: mind, spirit, and will. They are three distinct aspects, yet they are inseparable and together constitute one unified human being.


Modern Denominational Statements on the Trinity

There are many differences in doctrine between various mainstream Christian denominations, but the doctrine of the Trinity is not one of them. The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. -- Roman Catholicism The fundamental truth of the Orthodox Church is the faith revealed in the True God: the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. -- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America We teach that the one true God. is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons, but of one and the same divine essence, equal in power, equal in eternity, equal in majesty, because each person possesses the one divine essence .-Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) We trust in the one triune God. -- Presbyterian Church (USA) The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being. -- Southern Baptist Convention There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. -- United Methodist Church

Critics of the Trinitarian Doctrine, Past and Present

Despite its widespread acceptance among Christians, the doctrine of the Trinity has been a stumbling block to many non-Christians throughout its history. The fiercely monotheistic Jews rejected the idea of the Trinity since it first arose, it has been similarly rejected by Islam since that religion was founded, and many other men and women of all backgrounds have found the concept difficult to understand or accept. This section provides a brief summary of groups and individuals who have rejected the Trinity, presented in roughly chronological order. Judaism In the New Testament, Jews are described as rejecting Jesus' claims apparent claims to divinity, accusing him of blasphemy. In the Gospel of Mark, for instance, Jesus forgives a man's sins and some Jewish teachers thought to themselves: "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 5 In the Gospel of

John, some Jews began to stone Jesus, explaining that they did so "for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides also rejected the Trinitarian beliefs of Christians.
In his aversion to what he considered to be Christian dilutions of pure monotheism, especially in its doctrine of the Trinity, much of Maimonides' philosophical critique of Christian theology is similar to Islamic arguments against it. In his earlier work, Maimonides translated his theoretical disdain of Christianity into practice. He deemed Christians to be idolators and bemoaned the fact that political necessity forced many European Jews to live in Christian societies.

Today, Jewish counter-missionary movements like "Jews for Judaism" seek to educate Jews about why belief in the Trinity is incompatible with Judaism. Arianism Arianism is the name given to an anti-Trinitarian belief system taught by Arius, an elder in the Alexandrian church, in the early fourth century AD. Arius affirmed the uniqueness of God and denied the complete divinity of the Son (Christ). He taught instead that Christ was a created and changeable being, who, while superior to humans, is not of the same order as the one God. Arius and Arianism were condemned at the famous Council of Nicea in 325 AD, which proclaimed that the Son was of "the same substance" as the Father. After Constantine's death, however, Arianism flourished again for some decades and almost overcame the Nicene party. Arianism was finally condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. Islam The sacred text of Islam, the Qur'an (or Koran), explicitly denies the doctrine of the Trinity. It appears to understand the Christian Trinity as being the Father, Son and Mary:
And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): 'O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ! Did you say unto men: Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?' He will say: 'Glory be to you! It was not for me to say that which I had no right (to say). 8

Jehovah's Witnesses The Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian group founded in the United States, rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. Instead, it teaches a doctrine similar to that of Arius in the fourth century - Christ is the Son of God, a special being, created by God before the beginning of time, but not equal with God. Witnesses regard Arius as a forerunner of Charles Taze Russell, their movement's founder. 9 A Jehovah's Witness brochure entitled "Beliefs and Customs that God Hates" includes the Trinity, saying:

Is Jehovah a Trinity-three persons in one God? No! Jehovah, the Father, is "the only true God." (John 17:3; Mark 12:29) Jesus is His firstborn Son, and he is subject to God. (1 Corinthians 11:3) The Father is greater than the Son. (John 14:28) The holy spirit is not a person; it is God's active force.-Genesis 1:2; Acts 2:18.

In addition to the Bible verses cited above, Witnesses point out that it was the secular Emperor who proposed the doctrine of Christ as "same substance" with God, not the bishops present, and that the doctrine of the Trinity (i.e., including the divinity of the Holy Spirit) was not actually brought forth at Nicea at all. Jehovah's Witnesses also argue that the Athanasian Creed, which sets forth the doctrine more clearly, was not only probably not written by Athanasius himself, but may not have been composed until the fifth century. Finally, they note the presence of Trinitarian-type beliefs in pagan religion, and argue that paganism is the source of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as well. Mormonism (LDS) Mormons believe that the Godhead is made up of three distinct beings who are "one in purpose" but not in being. Jesus is affirmed as Son of God, but not God himself. He is a created spirit. Unitarianism "Unitarianism" is the doctrine of the oneness of God, with the resultant denial of the Trinity. Today, the doctrine of unitarianism is expressed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and similar groups, which have their historical roots in sixteenth-century eastern Europe. Historically, Unitarian Universalists are defined by their rejection of the Trinity and their belief in the ultimate salvation of all humanity. Today, however, Unitarians draw from a variety of religious traditions and do not focus on doctrine and creeds as much as love and justice between human beings. Because of this de-emphasis on doctrine, modern Unitarian Universalist arguments against the Trinity are scarce. However, the official Web site of the Unitarian Univeralist Association describes the early history of their beliefs this way:
During the first three centuries of the Christian church, believers could choose from a variety of tenets about Jesus. Among these was a belief that Jesus was an entity sent by God on a divine mission. Thus the word "Unitarian" developed, meaning the oneness of God. Another religious choice in the first three centuries of the Common Era (CE) was universal salvation. This was the belief that no person would be condemned by God to eternal damnation in a fiery pit. Thus a Universalist believed that all people will be saved. Christianity lost its element of choice in 325 CE when the Nicene Creed established the Trinity as dogma. For centuries thereafter, people who professed Unitarian or Universalist beliefs were persecuted. 11

The Da Vinci Code Although neither a scholarly nor a religious source, Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code is mentioned here because it has been widely read and it claims to present numerous "historical facts" about the development of the Trinity and other aspects of early Christianity. At one point in the novel, a learned character explains that the Trinity was unheard of until the Emperor Constantine enforced the foreign idea of Christ's

divinity on Christendom. Brown writes, "until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless." This is not historically accurate.

Who Was Jesus? Beliefs about Christ

Who was Jesus?
"Who was Jesus?" is a question asked in many cultures, and by many people, no matter their religion or worldview. Some say Jesus is Lord. Others say Jesus was only a man. No matter how a person answers the question, "Who was Jesus?" people everywhere are fascinated by his life. Jesus Christ is undoubtedly one the most fascinating and enigmatic figures in history. Despite his humble origins as the son of a carpenter from the Judean countryside, his short life of about 33 years, and his short public career, which was between one and three years, Jesus is the central focus of the world's largest religion and he has meant many things to many people since his death almost 2,000 years ago. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions calls Jesus "arguably the most important figure in the history of western civilization." This article is intended to begin to answer the question, "Who was Jesus?" This topic is known to Christian theologians as "Christology," a field that seeks to answer the question. The article that follows will focus on five major answers that Christians have traditionally given to this question: he was a real human being, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of God, and God.

Who was Jesus? A Historical Human Being

Few today question that at least part of the answer to "Who was Jesus?" is he was a real, historical person, who was born in Bethlehem between 7 and 4 BC. The humanity of Jesus is now one of the least controversial areas of Christology, but this was not always so. In the early years after Christ, some taught that Jesus' body, Jesus' suffering, and Jesus' death were merely appearances. Scholars call this view "docetism," from the Greek word meaning "to seem." Docetism arose from the Gnostic view that all matter is evil, and concluded that God could not have been actually associated with it. Most atheists and all Christians believe that Jesus was a real person who lived in space and time 2,000 years ago. However, not everyone says that Jesus is Lord.


Who was Jesus? The Messiah

Christians answer the question, "Who was Jesus?" saying that Jesus is the Messiah, the "anointed one" predicted in the Jewish Scriptures. The word "Christ" comes from the Greek for "Messiah," (it is actually a title, not a surname). According to the Hebrew prophets, the Messiah is a king-like figure from the line of David who would, among other things, rescue Israel from her oppressors, return Jerusalem to the Jewish people, and usher in an age of peace. There is evidence that Jewish messianic expectation was high at the time of Jesus, associated with hope of liberation from Roman occupation. Jews and Christians disagree, of course, as to whether Jesus was the Messiah. The arguments given for both sides and the history of this disagreement is worthy of fuller treatment, and will be the subject of a future feature article. In the meantime, an overview of Jewish beliefs about the Messiah can be found in the article on Jewish Beliefs. In the New Testament, affirmations of Jesus as the Messiah are found in abundance in the four Gospel narratives and the Acts of the Apostles. The Pauline and other epistles, many of which predate the Gospels, also attempt to show that Jesus is Messiah, yet they refer to him almost exclusively as "Christ." In the Gospels, various people identify Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus himself reinforces this perception:
After meeting Jesus, Andrew runs to tell Peter that he has found the Messiah (Jn 1:41) In a conversation with Jesus, a Samaritan woman says she knows the Messiah is coming. Jesus replies, "I who speak to you am he." (Jn 4:25-26) When Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is, Peter answers, "You are the Christ." (Mt 16:16; Mk 8:29; Lk 9:20) During the Triumphal Entry, the crowds shout, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" and the Gospel author explains that this fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. (Mt 21:4-9) When Jesus stands trial before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish high court), the high priest asks him if he is " the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" and Jesus replies, "I am." (Mk 14:61-62)

In Acts, one of the primary messages of the apostles is that Jesus is the Messiah:
"Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they [the apostles] never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (Ac 5:52) "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and one three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,' he said." (Ac 17:2-3) Before King Herod Agrippa II, Paul insists, "I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen - that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles." (Ac 26:22-23)

It is interesting to note that although Jesus appears to see himself as the Messiah in the Gospels, he does not go out of his way to identify himself as such, and those who do are commanded not to tell anyone about it. This is known as the "messianic secret," and its significance relates to the timing of revealing his identity to the public.


Who was Jesus? The Son of Man

Many people answer the question, "Who was Jesus?" by saying that he was the Son of Man. The "Son of Man" is used 81 times in the Gospels, and always by Jesus himself. No other person in the Gospel narratives nor any other New Testament writer uses the term. Various explanations have been offered as to why Jesus employed the term and others did not. It may have been a term Jesus could use early in his ministry without inciting much hostility, because of its various meanings, but that would later encompass his messianic claims. The early Christian writers may have been reluctant to use it because the Greek phrase is somewhat ambiguous (Jesus would have used the simpler Aramaic term). To determine what Jesus meant by the phrase, biblical scholars turn to its use in the Old Testament. There the term "Son of Man" is used in three main contexts:
an address to the prophet Ezekiel (e.g. Ezekiel 2:1); to refer to humanity in general, especially its lowliness when compared to God and the angels (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 8:14); and to refer to an eschatological figure whose coming signals the end of history (Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus appears to use the phrase especially in the third sense. He uses the phrase "Son of Man" when speaking of his roles of saving and judging (e.g. Mk 10:45; Mt 25:31) and of the future coming of an exalted, heavenly figure (e.g. Mt 13:41, 24:30; Mk 14:62; Lk 18:8).

Who was Jesus? The Son of God

Christians answer the question, "Who was Jesus?" by saying he is the Son of God. Another title used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament is "Son of God." In the Old Testament, this phrase had a general meaning of "belonging to God." It was applied to the people of Israel in general and especially its rulers (see e.g. Ex 4:22; 2 Sa 7:14). [{Jesus does refer to himself as the Christ, Son of the Living God in the Gospels (Mt 16:16-17, 22:41-45, 26:63-63)] and the term is used in the writings of Paul (e.g. Ro 1:4, 8:31) and in the epistle to the Hebrews (4:14). The Gospel of John refers to Jesus simply as "the Son," which may have a similar meaning. Paul uses the term for both Christ and Christians, but distinguishes between the two. Christians become sons of God by adoption, but Jesus is the rightful Son of God by nature.

Who was Jesus? God

Christians answer the question, "Who was Jesus?" by saying Jesus is God. Christians often build the case for their answer on New Testament verses, such as the following:


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:1,14) Thomas said to him [the resurrected Jesus], "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) But about the Son he [God] says, "Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever." (Hebrews 1:8)

In addition, some important titles and functions applied to Christ in the New Testament indicate early belief in his divinity. The statement "Jesus Christ is Lord (Greek kyrios, Hebrew adonai)" is found throughout the New Testament and was one of the earliest Christian confessions of faith. Due to the substitution of the word "Lord" in place of YHWH (the holy name of God that may not be pronounced) in Torah readings, "Lord" had come to be almost synonymous with God in Jewish thinking by the time of Jesus. This associated can be seen in the Jews' refusal to address the Roman emperor as "lord," even under penalty of death. Finally, as noted by Alister McGrath, the New Testament writers apply the following functions to Jesus that are associated only with God:
Jesus is the savior of humanity (Mt 1:21, Ac 4:12, Lk 2:11) It is appropriate to call on the name of Jesus in prayer (1 Co 1:2) and to worship him (Mt 28:9) Jesus reveals God directly: "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (Jn 14:9)

Christian Beliefs about Human Nature

The Image of God
Fundamental to the Christian understanding of human nature is the belief that the first humans were created in the image of God (imago Dei). This derives from Genesis 1:2627, which declares:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God? Certainly it does not mean that humans look like God, for all monotheistic religions believe God to be incorporeal (nonphysical). But theologians have found in this doctrine a rich variety of other meanings, all of which give great dignity and honor to the human race. Closely related to the imago Dei is the belief that humans were created perfectly good, on which Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are agreed. The concept of original goodness is based in part on humanity's creation in the image of God, as well as the observation that God looked upon his creation of human beings with


satisfaction and pronounced them "very good." There is a philosophical basis as well: it is reasoned that since God is absolutely good, he cannot be the origin of anything evil.

A Fallen Nature
All monotheistic faiths also agree, however, that humankind has fallen from this original state of innocence. The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought negative results that endure to this day. The most widely agreed upon result is the entrance of physical death into the world. Beyond that, Christians views differ as to the effect Adam's sin had on the rest of humanity. Most have taught that when Adam fell and was cast from the Garden of Eden, permanent damage was done to the human soul such that every human being since Adam is born with a tendency towards sin. In addition, sin is universal: every human being has fulfilled the inborn tendency and actually committed sins. This concept begins in the New Testament with the Apostle Paul, who declared that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. there is no one who is righteous, not even one."

Original Sin
Some Christians have also taught the doctrine of "original sin," in which all humans are born not only with a predisposition to sinful behavior, but with an inherently sinful nature. The result is that every person is born deserving eternal damnation, whether or not they have actually committed a sin yet. The doctrine of original sin has been especially emphasized by St. Augustine and most of the Protestant Reformers; it is rejected by Jews, Muslims, and some Christian denominations.

Christian Beliefs about the Afterlife

Christian beliefs about the afterlife vary between denominations and individual Christians, but the vast majority of Christians believe in some kind of heaven, in which believers enjoy the presence of God and other believers and freedom from suffering and sin. Views differ as to whether those of other faiths or none at all will be in heaven, and conceptions of what heaven will be like differ as well. A slightly lesser majority of Christians believe in the existence of hell, where unbelievers or sinners are punished. Views differ as to whether hell is eternal and whether its punishment is spiritual or physical. Some Christians reject the notion altogether.

Catholic Christians also believe in purgatory, a temporary place of punishment for Christians who have died with unconfessed sins. For more specific Christian views about the afterlife, following are doctrinal statements from several different Christian denominations and organizations on the afterlife. Assemblies of God: The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church. The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years. This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel, and the establishment of universal peace. There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Christianity Today Magazine: At the end of the age, the bodies of the dead shall be raised. The righteous shall enter into full possession of eternal bliss in the presence of God, and the wicked shall be condemned to eternal death. Evangelical Free Church of America: We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord; of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment. Friends United Meeting (Quaker): We believe, according to the Scriptures, that there shall be a resurrection from the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, (Acts 24:15) and that God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ whom He hath ordained. (Acts 17:31) For, as saith the apostle, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor 5:10). We sincerely believe, not only a resurrection in Christ from the fallen and sinful state here, but a rising and ascending into glory with Him hereafter; that when He at last appears we may appear with Him in glory. But that all the wicked, who live in rebellion against the light of grace, and die finally impenitent, shall come forth to the resurrection of condemnation. And that the soul of every man and woman shall be reserved, in its own distinct and proper being, and shall have its proper body as God is pleased to give it. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body; (1 Cor 15:44) that being first which is natural and afterward that which is

spiritual. ... We believe that the punishment of the wicked and the blessedness of the righteousness shall be everlasting, according to the declaration of our compassionate Redeemer, to whom the judgment is committed, "These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (RV, Matt 25:46) Lutheran Church (Augsburg Confession, 1530): Also they [Lutheran churches] teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils. They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed. Mennonite Church in the USA: We believe that, just as God raised Jesus from the dead, we also will be raised from the dead. At Christ's glorious coming again for judgment, the dead will come out of their graves"--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." The righteous will rise to eternal life with God, and the unrighteous to hell and separation from God. Thus, God will bring justice to the persecuted and will confirm the victory over sin, evil, and death itself. We look forward to the coming of a new heaven and a new earth, and a new Jerusalem, where the people of God will no longer hunger, thirst, or cry, but will sing praises: "To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! Amen!" Presbyterian Church in the USA: If there is a Presbyterian narrative about life after death, this is it: When you die, your soul goes to be with God, where it enjoys God's glory and waits for the final judgment. At the final judgment bodies are reunited with souls, and eternal rewards and punishments are handed out. As the Scots Confession notes, final judgment is also "the time of refreshing and restitution of all things."And it is clearly the case that both the Scots Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith want to orient the present-day life of believers around this future. But the Bible spends more time focusing on new life here than on life after death. So do all our more recent confessions. Although the Confession of 1967 mentions life after death, it does so only briefly. Its focus is on new life now and on the church's ministry of reconciliation.


Southern Baptist Convention: God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord. United Church of Christ: God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace,the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end. United Methodist Church (on purgatory): The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshiping, and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God.

Christian Beliefs on Hell

What is hell?
In Christian theology, hell is the place or state into which unrepentant sinners pass after this life. Hell is generally thought to be eternal, and to include both punishment (poena sensus) and separation from God (poena damni). Although not central to the Christian faith, the doctrine of hell has been a significant part of historical Christian theology throughout its history. Hell was a strong incentive to lead a righteous life in the early church. It was the setting for Dante's literary masterpiece The Inferno. It was fear of hell and judgment that terrified Martin Luther before his spiritual enlightenment. The doctrine of hell was central to the Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God" and many others like it. For some, however, especially since the Enlightenment, hell has also been a major stumbling block to acceptance of Christianity. Some Christian groups no longer believe in an eternal hell, or at least regard belief in it as unnecessary.


This article will explore the doctrine of hell as it developed first in the sacred texts of Christianity and then in the hands of Christian theologians over the centuries. It concludes with a summary of modern Christian beliefs about hell, by way of quotes and excerpts from Christian groups.

The Word "Hell"

The word "hell" in English Bibles is used to translate the Hebrew word Sheol (and its Greek equivalent Hades) and the Greek word Gehenna. The English word derives from the Anglo-Saxon meaning "to conceal" or "to cover," which is similar to the meanings of Sheol and Hades. In the Old Testament, Sheol (which is also sometimes translated "grave" or "pit") denotes the underworld or the place of departed spirits. "The notion reflects an undeveloped and shadowy belief in the future life which was gradually superseded by the more defined beliefs of later Judaism." Gehenna ("the Valley of Hinnom") is the Greek translation of a Hebrew word that seems to refer to an actual place on earth. The identity of Hinnom is not known for certain, but scholars have suggested an area southwest of Jerusalem near the Cedron. Gehenna is mentioned in Jos. 15:8 and 18:16, and in 2 Kings, it is described as a place of human sacrifice (16:3, 21:6) that was polluted (23:10-12). Jeremiah warned that one day would be renamed "Valley of Slaughter" (Jer. 7:32, 19:6). In later Jewish thought, Gehenna was a place of punishment for apostates and other great sinners (e.g., 1 Enoch 27:2, 90:26; 2 Esdras 7:36-38). A statement dating to 1200 AD that fires were continually kept burning in the Valley of Hinnom is generally regarded as reliable, although no earlier reference has yet been found.

Hell in the Old Testament

The idea of hell (as understood in Christianity) is virtually absent from the Old Testament, which has very little to say about the afterlife at all. A possible mention hell in the Old Testament is this prophecy about the end times:
"Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2, NIV)


Another notable passage that likely contributes to Christian imagery of hell is Isaiah 66:24, which also refers to the end times:
"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.

Other passages that speak of the afterlife seem to indicate extinction of the soul after death (see, e.g., Ecclesiastes 9:10). Rabbis have generally the taught the existence of a hell-like place for the unrighteous, but many Jews, both historical and modern, do not believe in hell or an afterlife.

Hell in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the notion of hell is more clearly expressed, but still not in a systematic way. In many cases, "death" and "destruction" are the only mentioned penalties for rejecting God (e.g., Matthew 7:13, John 3:16, Acts 4:12, Romans 6:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, James 1:15). Also, as noted in the section above, the same terminology is often used in the New Testament that in the Jewish context may have suggested nothing more than physical death and destruction of the soul. [New Testament passages that have suggested eternal torment include the following:]
"Anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:22, quoting Jesus) "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:29, quoting Jesus; see parallel passage in Mark 9:44, which adds, "where the fire never goes out.") "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28, quoting Jesus) "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:40-42, quoting Jesus) "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:30) "Then he [the King] will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Matthew 25:41) "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:6) "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:13-15) "The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile...the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulpher. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8) 133

The Doctrine of Hell in the Church Fathers

In the church fathers (post-New-Testament Christian leaders and theologians), the doctrine of hell quickly becomes more well-defined as a place of eternal torment, which is generally seen as physical in nature: "The way of darkness is crooked, and it is full of cursing. It is the way of eternal death with punishment." (Pseudo-Barnabas, c. 70-130 AD) "You should fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who will be condemned to the eternal fire. It will afflict those who are committed to it even to the end." (Letter to Diognetus, c. 125-200) "[The martyrs] despised all the torments of this world, redeeming themselves from eternal punishment by the suffering of a single hour.... For they kept before their view escape from that fire which is eternal and will never be quenched." (Martyrdom of Polycarp, c. 135) "Sinners will be consumed because they sinned and did not repent." (Shepherd of Hermas, c. 150) "Those who have not known God and do evil are condemned to death. However, those who have known God and have seen his mighty works, but still continue in evil, will be chastised doubly, and will die forever." (Shepherd of Hermas, c. 150) "We believe...that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merits of his deed. ... Sensation remains to all who have ever lived, and eternal punishment is laid up." (Justin Martyr, c. 160) "Hell [Gehenna] is a place where those who have lived wickedly are to be punished." (Justin Martyr, c. 160) "Some are sent to be punished unceasingly into judgment and condemnation of fire." (Justin Martyr, c. 160) "We who are now easily susceptible to death, will afterwards receive immortality with either enjoyment or with pain." (Tatian, c. 160) "We are persuaded that when we are removed from the present life we will live another life, better than the present one...or, if they fall with the rest, they will endure a worse life, one in fire. For God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, who are mere byproducts. For animals perish and are annihilated. On these grounds, it is not likely that we would wish to do evil." (Athenagoras, c. 175) "To the unbelieving and despisers...there will be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish. At the end, everlasting fire will possess such men." (Theophilus, c. 180)

"Eternal fire is prepared for sinners. The Lord has plainly declared this and the rest of the Scriptures demonstrate it." (Irenaeus, c. 180) "All souls are immortal, even those of the wicked. Yet, it would be better for them if they were not deathless. For they are punished with the endless vengeance of quenchless fire. Since they do not die, it is impossible for them to have an end put to their misery." (Clement of Alexandria, c. 195; from a post-Nicene manuscript fragment) "We [Christians] alone make a real effort to attain a blameless life. We do this under the influence of... the magnitude of the threatened torment. For it is not merely longenduring; rather, it is everlasting." (Tertullian, c. 197) "Gehenna... is a reservoir of secret fire under the earth for purposes of punishment." (Tertullian, c. 197) "There is neither limit nor termination of these torments. There, the intelligent fire burns the limbs and restores them. It feeds on them and nourishes them. ... However, no one except a profane man hesitates to believe that those who do not know God are deservedly tormented." (Mark Minucius Felix, c. 200) However, some early church fathers, such as Origen of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa, questioned the eternality of hell and the literal interpretation of it as a fiery place.

Modern Christian Views of Hell

Modern Christian views of hell tend to emphasize its spiritual aspects over the notion of physical suffering or material fire. Hell is seen as a logical extension of the free will of mankind to reject God's gracious advances, even for eternity, and its punishment as a realization of one's mistake and the great remorse that would follow. Many modern Christians also question hell's eternality in favor of some form of universalism (all are saved in the end) or annihilationism (wicked souls are destroyed). Following is a sampling of the positions of various Christian denominations on the issue of hell.
It is impossible to describe the glory and splendor of heaven and the terror and torment of hell. Whether taken literally or figuratively, the meaning is the same: Hell is a place where one will experience total separation from God; heaven enjoys the total presence of God. Knowing that this is the horrible end awaiting the wicked, the Assemblies of God is strongly motivated to win the lost before it is too late. (Assemblies of God) To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." (Catechism of the Catholic Church) The statement of Christ in Matthew 25, and elsewhere, are taken at face value. It is believed that after death each man must come before God in judgment and that he will be judged according to the deeds done while


he lived (Hebrews 9:27). After judgment is pronounced he will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. (Churches of Christ) We believe that glorious and everlasting life is assured to all who savingly believe in, and obediently follow, Jesus Christ our Lord; and that the finally impenitent shall suffer eternally in hell. (Church of the Nazarene) This hope for the final salvation of humanity and the eternal universal restitution of all things in heaven and on earth ... is drawn from the unlimited promise of the Gospel and the magnitude of God's grace made known to the world through Christ. (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord; of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment. (Evangelical Free Church of America) The moral progress of the soul, either for better or for worse, ends at the very moment of the separation of the body and soul; at that very moment the definite destiny of the soul in the everlasting life is decided. ... The Orthodox Church believes that at this moment the soul of the dead person begins to enjoy ... the life in Paradise or to undergo the life in Hell. There is no way of repentance, no way of escape, no reincarnation and no help from the outside world. (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

Arguments For An Eternal Hell

Among the common arguments advanced for the existence of an eternal hell are these:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Words and pictures in the New Testament imply finality. The doctrine of hell has been believed for a long time by eminent theologians. Offers of pardon are restricted to the present world. The judgment occurs at the close of the redemptive era, and hence is final. Character tends to final permanance. The conscience expects and demands retribution in another life.

Arguments Against An Eternal Hell

Commonly presented arguments against the existence of an eternal hell include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Words and pictures in the New Testament imply death and destruction (i.e., annihilation). "Eternal punishment" can refer to results that are eternal, not an eternal process. Vindictive justice is not compatible with the God of love and compassion revealed in the New Testament. The punishment does not fit the crime (i.e. non-eternal sin and disbelief). Hell contradicts the Christian assertion of the final victory of God over evil.

Christian Denominations
Over the centuries, Christianity has divided into numerous denominations. Each denomination has its own distinctive beliefs or practices, but they are commonly considered branches of the same religion because they agree on such fundamentals as the Bible, the Trinity, and the teachings of the Nicene Creed. The way in which members regard other denominations varies from mutual respect and acceptance to suspicion and denial that the other group is really "Christian."


The three main branches of Christianity are Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant (some would add Anglican as a fourth). Most of the denominations that exist today developed in the 500 years since the Protestant Reformation and fall under the "Protestant" branch. This section provides information on some of the major denominations that exist today, along with a brief history of how there came to be so many and many comparisons of their similarities and differences.
Roman Catholic Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian group that exists today, with more than a billion adherents. Eastern Orthodox The Orthodox Church became a distinct branch in the 11th century "Great Schism." It is prominent in Russia, Greece and nearby areas. Protestant Protestantism encompasses numerous denominations and embraces a wide theological spectrum, but all share certain distinctives. Anglican/Episcopalian Anglicanism is characterized by a via media (middle way) between Catholicism and Protestantism. Amish The Amish are members of an Anabaptist Christian denomination who are especially known for their separation from society and rejection of modern technology. Baptists Baptists are the largest of the Free Church denominations and are characterized by adult baptism and encouraging religious freedom and separation of church and state. Lutheran Lutheranism, based on the teachings of Martin Luther, is one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world today.

Pentecostalism Pentecol Christianity, just over 100 years old, is the largest Christian denomination in the world.
Presbyterian Presbyterian and Reformed churches share a common origin in the 16th-century Swiss Reformation and the teachings of John Calvin. Quakers Quakers are a 17th century Reformation movement started by George Fox well-known for their peace testimony. Seventh-day Adventists A group known for its Sabbath observance, expectation of Christ, and emphasis on physical health.


Comparison of Facts and Statistics of Christian Denominations

Catholic Orthodox Lutheran Reformed/ Presbyterian Methodist/ Wesleyan Anglican/ Episcopalian

Gradual Date Founded development; 1054 AD (Great as Distinct Denomination Schism between East and West)

Gradual development; 1530 1054 AD (Augsburg (Great Confession) Schism) (see GOAA)
Constantinople, Eastern Roman Empire

c. 1520 (Reformed); 1787 1560 (Presbyterian)

1534 (King Henry's Act of Supremacy)

Place(s) Founded

Rome; Western Roman Empire


Switzerland, Scotland


England King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley English Reformation 70 million in 161 countries in the Anglican Communion (CofE); 2.3 million in the US (Encyc. Britannica) England

Founders (in addition to Jesus, Apostles & Church Fathers)

St. Peter (Catholic view); various bishops of Rome

various eastern church fathers; Patriarch Michael Cerularius (1054)

Ulrich Zwingli, Martin John Luther, Calvin, Philip Melanchthon Theodore Beza, John Knox
Reformed Theology, Scottish Reformation

John Wesley

Reformation Roots

Catholic/Countern/a Reformation

German Reformation

English Reformation

Number of Adherents

65 million in the US (Encyc. Britannica); 1.5 billion worldwide (Adherents.com)

5.9 million in the US (Encyc. 66 million Britannica); 225 worldwide million (LWF) worldwide (Adherents.com)

2.5 million in the PCUSA

8.3 million in UMC in 2003

Dominant Regions

France, Italy, Spain, Latin America, USA

Russia, Greece

Germany, Scandanavia

Switzerland, Scotland

England, USA


Original Language Worship Guide Church Government



German Book of Concord

French Directory for Worship presbyterian

English Book of Discipline

English Book of Common Prayer

Roman Missal


episcopal Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Orthodox Church in America; Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America British Orthodox Church; Serbian Orthodox Chuch; Orthodox Church of Finland; Russian Orthodox Church some yes; some no

episcopal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS)

"connectional" episcopal

Major Churches in the USA


Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA)

United Methodist Church (UMC)

Episcopalian Church in the USA

Other Churches


Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy; Church of Norway (for more, see LWF)

Presbyterian Church of Wales; Reformed Church of France

Methodist Church in Great Britain

Church of England (CofE); Scottish Episcopal Church

World Council of Churches Member?


ELCA - yes; LCMS - no






Lutheran Presbyterian


Methodist/ Wesleyan

Anglican/ Episcopalian



In Christianity, a dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit What is Pentecostal Christianity? How is it the same and different as traditional Christianity? What is speaking in tongues? These are a few of the common questions people have about Pentecostalism.

The largest and fastest-growing segment of Christianity today is Pentecostalism. It's estimated that the movement has 500 million adherents worldwide. While the modernexpression of Pentecostal Christianity began in America in the early 20th century, by the beginning of the 21st century, the movement gained significant strength in Africa, Asia, and South America as well. To understand the movement one must become familiar with its history and the individuals that comprise it. Like other expressions of Christianity, the movement has successes and failures, unification and division, heroes and villains. Yet what has united all Pentecostals is the testimony of having experienced a unique gifting of the Holy Spirit similar to the one that the early church experienced on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 in the New Testament.

Pentecostal Christianity Index

History Teachings and Groups

Origins of Pentecostalism Charles Parham, Bethel Bible College, and William Seymour

Summary of Pentecostal Theology

Pentecostal Christianity Comparison Chart

What distinguishes Compare church distinctions, Pentecostals from other numbers of adherents expressions of Christianity


The Azusa St. Revival Azusa St. was the location of a three-year revival

Assemblies of God

The Association of Vineyard Churches

The history and beliefs of John Wimber helped put this the largest Pentecostal church network on the map in denomination in the world the 1980's

The Charismatic Movement When Pentecostal experience entered non-Pentecostal churches

Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) The oldest, and second largest, Pentecostal denomination

Church of God in Christ The largest African-American Pentecostal denomination in the world

Oneness Pentecostalism International Church of the Foursquare Gospel Group outside of evangelical Christianity because of Coined by C. Peter Wagner, unorthodox views of the this term describes an Trinity important phase in Pentecostal history Third Wave

Neo-Pentecostalism Pentecostal experience in traditionally non-Pentecostal churches.

Speaking in Tongues Snake Handling The gifts of tongues Rare practice


The Church Fathers

Who Are the Church Fathers?
The term church fathers refers to Christian writers and theologians of the first eight centuries of the Christian church, especially the period of development up to 451 AD. The church fathers are sometimes further divided into Apostolic Fathers, who wrote in the first century, and the Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, who wrote before and after the Tertullian Council of Nicea (325 AD), respectively. The period during which the church fathers wrote is known as the Patristic Period and the academic study of these writers is called Patristics. Both terms derive from the Latin word pater, meaning "father." The church fathers are of great importance to Christianity because they formulated nearly all of the Christian doctrine that is accepted by Christians today. They interpreted the Bible in light of challenges from Greek thought and various heretical movements, determined Christianity's relationship to Judaism, elaborated on theological concepts such as the Trinity and salvation, and established the structure and organization of the church.

The Patristic Period

The earliest church fathers wrote in the latter part of the first century (80-100 AD), around the time the biblical canon was closed. These writers were especially concerned with practical matters like faith, righteous living and church organization. The writings of this period consist primarily of letters between churches and exhortations to keep the faith in the midst of persecution. These writers are known as the "Apostolic Fathers" for their close connection with the apostles, and include Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, Polycarp and Papias, as well as the unknown authors of the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle of Diognetus, 2 Clement, and the Didache. Around the turn of the first century, Christian writers began to turn their attention outward in defense of Christianity against false claims made by Roman persecutors and demonstrating Christianity's reasonableness to minds trained on Greek philosophy. These writings were usually addressed to Roman emperors or other pagan critics, and their authors are known as the "Apologists." Among the most important apologists are Justin Martyr and Tertullian. Augustine's lengthy City of God is also considered an apologetic work. The fathers of the second and third centuries also directed their efforts towards combatting what they saw as heresy, or false interpretations of the Christian faith. After

the conversion of Emperor Constantine and the end of persecution in 313 AD, Christian writers turned from apologetics to focus almost exclusively on this task. No longer threatened from without, the church still faced threats from within. By the turn of the first century AD, most Christian converts were Gentiles, not Jews. These converts brought with them many ways of understanding Christianity, and often their perspectives on Christianity were quite different from that of most church leaders. Thus the church fathers from the fourth century onward were focused especially on the defense of what they saw as the true Christian faith (orthodoxy) against corruptions or misunderstandings (heresy). Further complicating the situation, the conversion of the emperor had made theology a political matter. After Constantine's conversion, many new converts flooded into the church, for now Christianity was not only legal, it was the religion of the emperor and therefore politically advantageous. Furthermore, Constantine and his successors viewed Christianity as a means for unifying the empire, and they had no patience for what they regarded as petty doctrinal differences. Thus Christian teachers who taught unorthodox doctrines were not only excommunicated from the church but exiled from the empire. Not surprisingly, the success of a particular theological position was sometimes directly related to who had the ear of the emperor at the moment. Athanasius, honored by all Christians today as a great defender of orthodoxy, was exiled and reinstated no less than eight times as the political winds shifted.

Theological Schools in the Early Church

Three important geographical areas emerged in the patristic period, each with a distinctive theological approach. These are sometimes called schools, as in schools of thought, not universities.
Alexandria. Alexandria was a busy port town in northern Egypt founded by Alexander the Great. As the birthplace of both Neoplatonism and Philo, Alexandria had already established itself as a center for Greek philosophy by the first century. Not surprisingly, then, the theology of Greek-speaking Alexandria is characterized by its close connection with Platonic philosophy. Its Christology tended to emphasize the divinity of Christ and its interpretation of Scripture was often allegorical. Among the most prominent Alexandrian fathers are Clement, Origen and Didymus the Blind. Antioch. Another Greek-speaking city, Antioch was an important city in the region of Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey). Christianity was established early here - the city even plays a prominent role in the New Testament book of Acts. Antiochene theologians tended to emphasize the moral example and humanity of Christ and to interpret Scripture in light of its historical context. The philosophy of Antioch was more influenced by Aristotle than Plato. Important Antiochene fathers include Diodore of Tarsus and John Chrysostom. Also from this region are the eminent "Cappadocian Fathers": Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. Western North Africa. Located primarily in modern-day Algeria, this region included the great city of Carthage, which for a time rivaled Rome in power. North African theologians wrote in Latin, and tended to be more practical than their philosophically-minded Greek counterparts. Notable theologians of this region include Cyprian, Tertullian, and Augustine.


With this "big picture" in mind, below are brief guides to the lives and writings of some of the most important church fathers, presented in chronological order.

Clement of Rome
Traditionally held to be the third bishop of Rome (i.e., pope) Author of 1 Clement, a letter to the Corinthian church Many other writings ascribed to him that are probably not authentic (including 2 Clement, the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions) For more information, see Clement of Rome.

Lived in Rome Nothing is known of him except that he is the author of The Shepherd, a record of visions regarded by much of the Eastern Church as scripture and is included immediately after the New Testament in the early manuscript Codex Sinaiticus

Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107)

Bishop of Antioch Traveled under guard from Asia Minor to Rome to be martyred Met with at least five churches along the way (Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, Smyrna) Author of letters to each of these churches plus one to Rome and one to Polycarp, which were collected and venerated shortly after his death Viewed the office of bishop as an important safeguard of the unity of the Church

Papias (c.60-130)
Bishop of Hierapolis (Asia Minor) Wrote Expositions of the Sayings of the Lord (known only from quotations in Irenaeus and Eusebius), which contains oral traditions and legends His Expositions is especially important for its information on the writing of the gospels

Polycarp (c.69-c.155)
Bishop of Smyrna (in Turkey) Only his Epistle to the Phillipians survives According to The Martyrdom of Polycarp, a contemporary account, he was arrested during a pagan festival and burnt to death when he refused to recant his faith Feast day is February 23

Justin Martyr (c. 100-c.165)

Born in Samaria 144

Converted from paganism after a long search for truth Considered the greatest of the Apologists Wrote First Apology, Second Apology, and Dialogue with Trypho the Jew Argued that God had provided hints of Christ in Greek philosophy through the logos spermatikos ("seed-bearing word") Beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods

Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-c.200)

Born in Smyra (in Turkey), moved to Rome, then settled in Lyons Disciple of Polycarp Bishop of Lyons (France) from c. 178 to c. 200 Wrote against Gnosticism, especially that of Valentinus Most significant work is Against Heresies (full title Detection and Overthrow of the Falsely Named "Knowledge") Major themes include the Christian doctrine of salvation and the importance of holding to apostolic tradition in the face of other interpretations Taught the notion of "recapitulation," in which Christ is the consummation of creation and God's purpose for the world For more information, see Irenaeus of Lyons.

Hippolytus of Rome (c.170-c.236)

Roman priest Wrote against Sabellianism Criticized Pope Callistus for lax policy of readmitting penitents to communion and may have been elected by a group of dissidents as a rival pope Principal work is Refutation of all Heresies (discovered in the 19th cent.), which argues that all heresies derive from pagan philosophy Historically important is his treatise The Apostolic Tradition (written c.215), which describes in detail the sacraments of ordination, baptism and the Eucharist Feast day: August 13 (West) or January 30 (East)

Origen of Alexandria (c.185-c.254)

Widely regarded as the most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Greek church. Born of Christian parents in Alexandria, Egypt Father was martyred and Origen was prevented from also seeking martyrdom by his mother's intervention Lived an ascetic life and legend has it that he castrated himself so he could teach women without scandal Worked as a teacher in the Alexandrian catechetical school, an unordained preacher, and a prolific theological writer Major work is the Hexapla, a synopsis of six versions of the Old Testament Other works include the Stromateis (Miscellanies), On the Resurrection, On First Principles, On Prayer, and numerous commentaries and sermons Origen's theology focused on the goodness of God and the freedom of mankind Some of his teachings have been controversial, such as his suggestion of the preexistence of souls, the inferiority of the Son, and eventual salvation of all beings including Satan


He is regarded as a saint by some and a heretic by others, and was never canonized by the church. The eminent church historian Henry Chadwick puts it this way: "If orthodoxy were a matter of intention, no theologian could be more orthodox than Origen, none more devoted to the cause of Christian faith." For more information, see Origen of Alexandria.

Tertullian (c.160-c.225)
Born in Carthage, North Africa First important Latin church father Converted to Christianity sometime before 197 AD Wrote numerous theological, moral, and polemical works, including Apology, The Soldier's Crown, On Penitence, On the Incarnation of Christ, Against Heretics, Against Marcion, and Against Praxeus Was rigorous in his insistence on separation from pagan society and adherence to the faith under any circumstances Though he made use of philosophy and rational argument, he is known for arguing that pagan philosophy has no place in the church: "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" and "It is certain because it is impossible." Another famous quote is: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

Athanasius (c. 296-c.373)

Bishop of Alexandria Fought against any compromise with Arianism after the Council of Nicea (325 AD) Was repeatedly deposed and exiled as the Arian party gained power, then restored to his position as the other side ascended Finally restored in 366 Wrote On the Incarnation of Christ sometime before 318 Also wrote Life of Antony, making monasticism known to the West For more information, see Athanasius.

Jerome (c.342-420)
Born in Italy, lived for four years in Palestine as a hermit, was a secretary to Pope Damasus in Rome, then settled in Bethlehem in 386 to study and write Translated the Bible from Greek to Latin (Vulgate) Advocated for the exclusion of the Apocrypha from the canonical Old Testament Tradition has Jerome helping a lion by removing a thorn from its paw, so he is often depicted with a lion in Christian art Feast day: September 30

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

The most important Latin church father Has had a lasting impact on Catholicism, especially in the area of ecclesiology, and his theology of original sin and unmerited grace has been embraced by Protestantism Born in North Africa of a pagan father and devoutly Christian mother


Studied rhetoric in Milan, where he indulged in pride and lust and began his search for truth Briefly joined Manicheanism, but found it intellectually unsatisfactory According to his spiritual autobiography (Confessions), after listening to the sermons of Ambrose and observing the self-discipline of Christian monks, he converted to Catholic Christianity in a garden while reading Romans Unwillingly became Bishop of Hippo not long after his baptism Wrote an apologetic work (City of God), a handbook for Christian living (Enchiridion of Faith, Hope and Love), a theological work On the Trinity and a great deal of polemic works against the Manicheans, Pelagians, and Donatists. For more information, see Augustine of Hippo.

Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



Roman Catholicism
Catholicism as a Denomination
What is the Catholic Religion?
For the first thousand years of Christianity there was no "Roman Catholicism" as we know it today, simply because there was no Eastern Orthodoxy or Protestantism to distinguish it. There was only the "one, holy, catholic church" affirmed by the early creeds, which was the body of Christian believers all over the world, united by common traditions, beliefs, church structure and worship (catholic simply means "universal"). Thus, throughout the Middle Ages, if you were a Christian, you belonged to the Catholic Church. Any Christianity other than the Catholic Church was a heresy, not a denomination.

Being Catholic Today

Today, however, Roman Catholicism is not the only accepted Christian church. Thus to be a Roman Catholic means to be a certain kind of Christian: one with unique beliefs, practices and traditions that are distinct from those of other Christians. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church continues to maintain that it alone has carried on the true tradition of the apostolic church and has traditionally regarded dissenting groups as heresies, not alternatives (Martin Luther was swiftly excommunicated). However, the recent Second Vatican Council declared all baptized Christians to be "in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church." Although it did not begin at a specific point in history like the Protestant denominations, in its long history Roman Catholicism has evolved into a distinctive branch of Christianity with beliefs, practices and organization that differ from both Protestantism and Orthodoxy.

The Makeup of Catholocism

Roman Catholicism is by far the largest Christian group. With more than one billion adherents, Catholics constitute about half of the world's Christians. Catholicism is the majority religion of Italy, Spain, and nearly all Latin American countries. In 2001, about 24 percent of Americans identified themselves as Catholic, making Catholicism the

largest Christian denomination in America (if the Protestant denominations are counted individually). The next largest denomination, Baptist, was claimed by 16 percent of Americans. Yet if Protestants are considered as one group, Catholics remain a minority among America's Christians.

History of Catholicism
Roman Catholicism traces its history to the apostles, especially the Apostle Peter. St. Peter is considered the first pope, and every pope since him is regarded as his spiritual successor. This gives the leader of the church spiritual authority and provides a means for resolving disputes that could divide the church. Through trials like persecution, heresy, and the Reformation, the notion that the church leadership represents the continuation of an unbroken line from the apostles and their teachings ("apostolic succession") has contributed to the survival of Christianity.

The Catholic Pope

However, the idea of the "pope" did not exist from the beginning of the church. It was not until several centuries after Christ that the church began to develop into the "Roman Catholic Church" as we think of it today, with its particular doctrines, practices, and hierarchical system of authority. Thus Catholics and non-Catholics alike are able to claim they are most faithful to the message of the apostles and the early church. From the Catholic perspective, the early church is faithfully continued in the developments of later centuries, while non-Catholics tend to regard the church as having corrupted the original message of Christianity. In the years of persecution prior to the Emperor's conversion, the church was focused primarily on survival. There were prominent church leaders whose authority was recognized - primarily those who had known the apostles - but no central authority. But with the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 318 AD, the church began to adopt a governmental structure mirroring that of the Empire, in which geographical provinces were ruled by bishops based in the major city of the area. Soon, the bishops of major cities in the empire emerged as preeminent, including the bishops of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, and Constantinople. It was natural that Rome would eventually become the most important of these. It was not only the capital of the empire, but the city in which the apostles Peter and Paul were believed to have been martyred. The Roman bishop Leo I (440-461) is considered the first pope by historians, as he was the first to claim ultimate authority over all of Christendom. In his writings one can find all the traditional arguments for papal authority, most notably that which asserts Christ had designated Peter and his successors the "rock" on which the church would be built. Leo's claims were strengthened greatly by his own impressive career as Bishop of Rome. In 445 he earned the express support of Emperor Valentian, who said the Bishop of Rome was the law for all. In 451, he called the important Council of Chalcedon, which put to

rest Christological issues that had been plaguing the church. In 452, he impressively saved Rome from Attila the Hun. It is said that the Pope met the warrior at the gates and somehow persuaded him to spare the city. Legend has it that Attila saw Peter and Paul marching along with Leo to defend their city. In 455 he was not as successful with Vandal invaders, but led negotiations with them and succeeded in preventing the burning of Rome (it was, however, plundered).

Catholic Beliefs
Roman Catholic beliefs do not differ drastically from those of the other major branches of Christianity - Greek Orthodoxy and Protestantism. All three main branches hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, and so on. But on more minor doctrinal points, there are clear Catholic distinctives in belief. Distinctive Roman Catholic beliefs include the special authority of the pope, the ability of saints to intercede on behalf of believers, the concept of Purgatory as a place of afterlife purification before entering Heaven, and the doctrine of transubstantiation - that is, that the bread used in the Eucharist becomes the true body of Christ when blessed by a priest.

Distinctive Catholic Practices

Catholic Mass
With the possible exception of some Anglican churches, the Catholic liturgy tends to be more formal and ritualized than its Protestant counterparts. Services follow a prescribed liturgy and priests wear more elaborate vestments than most Protestant ministers. Catholics usually celebrate the Eucharist more often than do Protestants, usually weekly. In Catholicism, the Eucharist is called the Mass.

Catholic Sacraments
Catholics observe seven sacraments, which are religious rituals believed to be commanded by God and effective in conferring grace on the believer. There are several Catholic monastic orders, the most well known being the Jesuits, Dominicans, Fransciscans, and Augustinians. Catholic monks and nuns take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and devote themselves to a simple life focused on worshipping God. Unlike their counterparts in both Protestant and Orthodox churches, Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. This practice is rooted in the papacy's early connections with monasticism, but has become controversial in recent years in part as a result of child abuse scandals. Other distinctive Catholic practices include veneration of saints, use of the crucifix, and the use of rosary beads in prayer.
Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.



(ECCE and W & L Publications, 1994)



SCRIPTURE Sacred scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. (DV9) And (Holy) Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. ( II - 81 p 33, DV9). As a result, the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence. (II - 82 p 33).

OUR PARTICIPATION IN CHRISTS SACRIFICE 618 The Cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the one mediator between God and man. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, the possibility of being partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery is offered to all men. He calls His disciples to take up(their) cross and follow (him), for Christ also suffered for (us), leaving (us) an example so that (we) should follow in his steps. (618 p 152) CHURCH 780 The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men. (780 p 191). 805 The Church is the body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own body. (805 p 197). 846 Outside the Church there is no salvation. How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his body. (846 p 206) Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the council teaches the church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation; the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed as the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that through Christ, would refuse either to enter in, or to remain in it. (846 pp 206 - 207) The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in theirs successors, the Pope and the college of bishops. (869 p 212)


FORGIVENESS OF SINS 985 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins; it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit. (985 p 234). 986 By Christs will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance. (986 p 234)



In the forgiveness of sin, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification. (987 p 234, Roman Catechism 1,11,6)

RESURRECTION 998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (998 p 237) PURIFICATION (At Purgatory) 1030 All who die in Gods grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (1030 p 234) 1031 The Church give the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. Council of Trent. (1031 p 244) JUDGMENT DAY 1059 The holy Roman Church firmly believes and confesses that the Day of Judgment, all men will appear in their own bodies before Christs tribunal to re nder an account of their own deeds. (1059 p 249/Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 859; cf DS 1549) THE MASS 1069 The word liturgy originally meant a public work or service in the name of/on behalf of the people. In Christian Tradition it means the participation of the People of God in the work of God, through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of redemption in, with and through his Church. (1069 P 255) 1105 The Epiclesis (invocation upon) is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful, by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God. (1105 p 267)

THE SACRAMENTS OF FAITH 1122 Christ sent his apostles so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize because the sacrament is prepared by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to his word. (1122 p 270) 1123 The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ and finally, to give worship to God. (1123 p 271) 1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptize, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The father always hears the prayer of His Sons Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms everything it touches, so as the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power. (1127 p 271/ Council of Trent (1547) DS 1605; DS 1601) HOLY IMAGES 1159 The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ. It cannot represent the invisible and incomprehensible God, but the incarnation of the Son of God has ushered in a new economy of images. (1159 p 280) Previously God, who has neither a body nor a face, absolutely could not be represented by an image. But now that he has made himself visible in the flesh and has lived with men, I can make an image of what I have seen of God and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face unveiled. (St John Damascene, De imag.1,16; PG 96:1245 - 1248) 1192 Sacred images in our churches and homes are intended to awaken and nourish our faith in the mystery of Christ. Through the icon of Christ and his works of salvation it is he whom we adore.


Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the persons represented. (1192 p 287)

BAPTISM 1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives accesses to other sacraments. Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word. (1213 p 293/Roman Catechism II,2,5,c.f. Council of Florence: DS 1314; CIC, cann. 2041; 849; CCEO, can, 6751) 1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of new birth in baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism. (1250 p 300/ Council of Trent (1546) DS 1514 cf. Col 1.12-14) NECESSITY OF BAPTISM 1257 The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see all who can baptized are reborn of water and spirit. Go d has bound salvation to the sacrament of baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. (1257 p 301/ cf. Jn 3.5, Mt 28:19-20; Council of Trent (1547) DS 1618; LG14; AG5; Mk 16:16) Grace of Baptism, for the forgiveness of sins 1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing, neither Adams sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. (1263 p 302, Council of Florence (1439)); DS 1316 EUCHARIST 1367 The Sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: the victim is one and the same; the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different. In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in as bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. (1367 p 323, Council of Trent (1562); DS 1743 cf. Heb 9.14, 27) 1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christs body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the church in efficacy of the word of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. (1375 p 325, St, John Chrysostom, Prod, Jud, 1.6; PG 49, 380 St. Ambrose, De myst . 9, 50:52: pL 16, 405 - 407 PENANCE 1486 The forgiveness of sins committed after baptism is conferred by particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance or reconciliation. (1486 p 350) AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE 1495 Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ. (1495 p 351)


EFFECT OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE 1496 The spiritual effects are: reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin. (1496 p 351) ANOINTING OF THE SICK 1532 The special grace has its effects: the forgiveness of sins, if not able through the sacrament of Penance the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul the preparation for passing over to eternal life (1532 p 358) HOLY ORDERS 1592 The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service to the people of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi). (1592 p 373)

FUNERALS 1689 The Eucharistic Sacrifice when the celebration takes place in the church, the Eucharist is the heart of the Paschal reality of Christian death. In the Eucharist, the church expresses her efficacious communion with the departed: offering to the Father in the Holy Spirit the sacrifice of the death and resurrection of Christ, she asks to purify his child of his sins and their consequences, and to admit him to the Paschal fullness of the table of the kingdom (1689 p 393, cf OCF 57) GODS SALVATION: LAW & GRACE 1949 Called to beatitude but wounded by sin, man stands in need of salvation from God. Divines help comes to him in Christ through the law that guides him and grace that sustains him: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (1949 p 447, Phil 2.12-13) THE NEW LAW OR THE LAW OF THE GOSPEL 1980 The old Law is the first stage of revealed law. Its moral prescriptions are summed up in the Ten Commandments. (1980 p 453) 1984 The Law of the Gospel fulfills and surpasses the Old Law and brings it to perfection: its promises, through the Beatitudes of the kingdom of heaven; its commandments, by reforming the heart, the root of human acts. (1984 p 454)

GRACE AND JUSTIFICATION 1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ and through Baptism. (1987 p 454, Rom 3.22 cf. 6.3-4) 1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of Gods righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or justice) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. (1991 p 455) Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered Himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. 154


Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. (1992 p 455, Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529, Rom 3.21-26) 2019 Justification includes remission of sins, sanctification and the renewal of the inner man. (2019 p 461)

THE CHURCH, MOTHER AND TEACHER 2030 It is the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the church he receives the word of God containing the teachings of the Law of Christ. From the church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the way. (2030A p 462 Gal 6.2) 2032 The Church, the pillar and bulwark of truth, has received this solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth. To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or salvation of souls. (2032 p 462, 1Tim 3.15, LG 17, CIC Can 747 & 2) The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endo wed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them the faith to be believed and put into practice. The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teaches the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for. (2034 p 463, LG25)


INFALLIBILITY 2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far does of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained or believed. (2035 p 463, cf. LG; CDF decl. Mysterium Ecclesiae 3)

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS Ex 20.2-17 Deut 5.6-21 Traditional Catechetical Formula 1. I Am the LORD your God: You shall not have strange Gods before Me. 2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. 3. Remember to keep holy the Lords Day. 4. Honor your father and your mother. 5. You shall not kill. 6. You shall not commit adultery. 7. You shall not steal. 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 9. You shall not covet your neighbors wife 10. You shall not covet your neighbors goods. ( pp 466 - 468) NOT MAKE GRAVEN IMAGES 2129 The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. He is the all, but at the same time He is greater than all His works. He is the author of beauty. (2129 p 486 Deut 4.15-16, Sir 43.27-28)


JUSTIFICATION OF MAKING GRAVEN IMAGES 2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed toward salvation by the Incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the Ark of the Covenant and the cherubim. (2130 p 486, cf. Num 21.4-9, Wis 16.5-14 Jn 3.14-15 Ex 25.10-22 1Kngs 6.23-28, 7.23-26) 2131 Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate word the seventh ecumenical council at Nicea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons- of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new economy of images. (2131 p 487) 2131 The christian veneration of images is not contrary to the First Commandment which proscribe idols. Indeed, the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype, and whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it. The honor paid to sacred images is a respectful veneration, not the adoration due to God alone: but tends toward that whose image it is. (2131 p 487, St. Basil, De Spiritu Santo 18,45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicea II: DS 601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821 -1825 : Vatican Council I: SC 126; LG 67; St Tomas Aquinas, STh 11 -11, 81, 3 ad 3) PRAYER 2564 Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man. (2564 p 572) IN COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD 2674 Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties. Jesus the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, his mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him; she shows the way (hodigitria), and is herself the Sign of the way, according to traditional iconography of East & West. (2674 p 595, LG 62) 2682 Because of Marys singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with Virgin Mary, to magnify, with her the great things the Lord has done for her and to entrust supplications and praises to her. (2682 p 597)

History and Development of the Papacy

The preeminence of the bishop of Rome over the entire Catholic church, an institution known as "the papacy," took centuries to develop. In the first few hundred years of the church, the term "pope," which means father, was used for any important and respected bishop, and the bishop of Rome was one of several important bishops in Christendom. Rome had always been honored for her association with Peter and Paul and her position as the church in the Empire's capital, but especially after Christianity was legalized under


Emperor Constantine, the special status of that office grew even more with each passing Roman bishop. The doctrine of the supremacy of the pope finally reached its height in the late 13th century, when Pope Boniface VIII claimed full religious and secular authority over every human being. The article that follows traces the gradual rise of the papacy from Saint Peter in the first century to Pope Boniface VIII in the thirteenth.

Saint Peter's Keys

Most of the claims for the authority of the pope have rested on one basic argument:
1. 2. The bishop of Rome is the successor of St. Peter; and Jesus gave St. Peter authority over the entire church.

The second claim is based on a passage in Matthew 16. In this passage, Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is. Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus replies:
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Because the word "Peter" means "rock," the Catholic Church has long interpreted Jesus to be teaching that Peter is the foundation of the Church and that Peter has spiritual authority over it. (Protestants argue that "this rock" refers not to Peter but to his confession of faith.) The Matthew 16 passage is also the basis for the imagery of St. Peter guarding the gates of heaven. Additional biblical support for the primacy of Peter over the church has been found in the Gospel of John, in which the resurrected Jesus commands Peter: "Feed my sheep."

Bishops in the Early Church

In the early history of Christianity, five cities emerged as important centers of Christianity: Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Although the Roman church was always highly respected, the churches in the East generally had more numbers and more authority than those of the West. After the Edict of Milan granted Christianity legal status, the church adopted the same governmental structure as the Empire: geographical provinces ruled by bishops. This bishops of important cities therefore rose in power.

Rome was not the only city that could claim a special role in Christ's Church. Jerusalem had the prestige of being the city of Christ's death and resurrection, and an important church council was held there in the first century. Antioch was the place where Jesus' followers were first called "Christians" and, with Alexandria, was an important early center of Christian thought. Constantinople became highly important after Constantine moved his capital there in 330 AD. By the fifth century, however, the bishop of Rome began to claim his supremacy over all other bishops, and some church fathers also made this claim for him.

Why Rome?
The primary theological reason for the eventual primacy of Rome is the city's association with Peter. Tradition held that Peter visited Rome during his lifetime and, more importantly, was martyred there (his remains are believed to reside beneath St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City). St. Paul was believed to have been martyred in Rome as well. But there were political reasons for the upsurge in the pope's authority as well. First, Rome was the historical capital of the empire and an important city politically, so it was natural that the bishop of that city would also be important. And when Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Constantinople in 330, the pope was the most powerful figure that remained in Rome. Also influential were the barbarian invasions of the fifth century. Leo I, who is regarded by many as the first pope in the modern sense, was instrumental in persuading Attila the Hun not to attack Rome in 452. When the city finally fell to the Vandals in 455, Leo convinced their leader not to burn the city. These accomplishments added to the prestige to the bishop of Rome. Moreover, when Rome fell to the barbarians in 455 AD, the church became the defender of order, justice, and what was left of ancient civilization. The Roman bishop was instrumental in regaining the unity and stability that had been shattered by the invasions. In the East, on the other hand, the empire survived for another 1000 years, so the bishops there did not have the same opportunity for political importance as their Roman counterpart. Another important development for Rome came in 756, when Pepin the Short (Charles Martels son and the father of Charlemagne) donated land to the Roman church. This "Donation of Pepin" established an alliance between the pope and the rulers of the future Holy Roman Empire. This important alliance culminated with Pope Leo III's crowning of Charlemagne as emperor on Christmas Day, 800 AD. A final factor that must not be overlooked in analyzing the rise of the papacy is the personalities who held the office of bishop of Rome. These men - some of which were worldly, some of which were very devout - regarded themselves as holding a special place in Christendom and did not hesitate to claim this supremacy.

Damasus I (366-384)
An important early figure in the rise of the papacy is Damasus I. A Spaniard, Damasus came to the chair of Rome amid great scandal. He was elected in October 366, but an Arian group wished to see Ursinus as bishop instead. In 367, the Emperor Valentinian recognized Damasus and banished Ursinus from Rome. During his reign as bishop of Rome, Damasus contended against the heresies of Apollinarianism and Arianism, presiding over two Roman synods in 368 and 369 and sending his legates to the important Council of Constantinople in 381, all of which condemned these and other heresies. He also commissioned the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, which became the standard translation used by the church throughout the Middle Ages, and built a marble monument in honor of Peter and Paul. Damasus was the first to declare himself the Apostolic See. St. Jerome, Damasus' secretary and the translator of the Vulgate, clearly agreed with this designation. The church father wrote in a letter to Damasus: As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none save your Beatitude, that is, with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the Rock on which the Church is built. This is Noah's ark, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood overwhelms all. ... In 381, during Damasus' reign, the Council of Constantinople granted the bishop of Constantinople "primacy of honor next after the Bishop of Rome."

Siricius (384-399)
Siricius was the first to apply the term "pope" to himself and the first to issue a formal decretal - a ruling with binding legal precedent - on disputes in the Church. It remains the Catholic view today that "in all his decrees the pope speaks with the consciousness of his supreme ecclesiastical authority and of his pastoral care over all the churches."

Innocent I (402-416)
During Innocent's pontificate, the Emperor Honorius moved the capital of the Western Empire from Rome to Ravenna, in northwest Italy, in 402. Rome was no longer a strong political center, and it would not regain its political strength until the rise of the papal states in the 8th century. Taking advantage of this weakness and the absence of a strong emperor, Alaric and the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410. As would not be the case later, the pope was powerless to stop the barbarian invasion. However, Innocent did advance the idea of the supremacy of the pope further by introducing the concept of "primacy of jurisdiction. Replying to African bishops who had appealed to the pope to support them against Pelagianism, Innocent wrote:


...nothing which was done even in the most remote and distant provinces should be taken as finally settled unless it came to the notice of this See, that any just pronouncement might be confirmed by all the authority of this See, and that the other churches might from thence gather what they should teach.

Pope Leo the Great (440-461)

Leo I has been called "the master builder of the papacy." He is considered by many to be the first pope in the modern sense of the term, for he put the idea of primacy of jurisdiction fully into practice. Leo was ideal for the task; by all accounts he was a good man, highly disciplined, and a true Christian. Leo took the title pontifex maximus, "chief priest," which had been used by the Roman emperors in reference to the state cult. In his writings appeared all the traditional arguments for papal authority, including the idea that Jesus had made Peter and his successors the rock on which the church would be built, and that the bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter. Several important events for the development of the papacy occurred during Pope Leo's reign. In 445, Emperor Valentinian said the Bishop of Rome was the law for all. In 451, Pope Leo convened the important Council of Chalcedon although that job had traditionally been reserved for emperors. But most important of all, Pope Leo was instrumental in saving Rome from Attila the Hun. In 452, the Huns had taken a nearby Italian city, the road to Rome was open to them, the Western emperor was weak in character and resources, and the East gave no indications it would help. It seemed certain the Huns would sack Rome, but Leo left Rome and marched to meet Attila himself. We do not know what was said between the two men legend has it that Attila saw Saints Peter and Paul marching with Leo and threatening the barbarian. In any case, Attila decided not to attack Rome. He turned to the north instead, and died shortly thereafter. Three years later, Pope Leo saved Rome from the Vandals. This time couldnt stop them from invading, but he led negotiations with the Vandal leader and prevented the burning of the city.

Gelasius I (492-96)
Pope Gelasius was the first to take the title "vicar of Christ." He taught a dualistic power structure in which the pope held ultimate spiritual authority while the emperor held temporal authority.


Gregory the Great (inaugurated 590)

Gregory the Great, who is widely regarded as one of the best popes in history, fought with all his might to avoid being elected to that office. Gregory was a monk, an abbot of St. Andrew's, and he loved the monastic life. But in 590, in a time of disastrous flooding and rampant disease, Pope Pelagius II died, and Gregory was unanimously elected to take his place. Gregory begged those that had chosen him to be relieved of the election and wrote to the Emperor personally to plead that the rule not confirm the election. But the letter was intercepted and six months later Gregory received word that the Emperor had confirmed his election. The abbot contemplated flight, but he was forcibly brought to St. Peter's Basilica and consecrated pope on September 3, 590. Despite his reluctance for the job (which never abated throughout his reign), Gregory threw himself into his appointed role and became only the second pope to receive the appellation "the Great." Pope Gregory the Great organized the distribution of food to the needy, oversaw the rebuilding of aqueducts, and negotiated peace with the barbarian Lombards. In his theology, Gregory was heavily influenced by St. Augustine. The pope elaborated and developed Augustinian ideas such as purgatory and the just war.

The Donation of Constantine

The so-called "Donation of Constatine" was a document that claimed Constantine said on his deathbed: I give my lands and authority to the bishop in Rome. It was made public in the eighth century, but was later proven to be inauthentic and dating from after Pope Gregory by the textual criticism of Valla.

Period of Instability
The ninth and tenth centuries saw a major decline in the power and stability of the papacy. Some unfortunate signs of the times included:
The reign of Pope Nicholas I (858-867) was called a pornarchy In the 58 years between 897 and 955, there were 17 popes Simony was rampant men were buying ecclesiastical positions (and were rarely qualified to hold them) Nicolaitanism (Rev 2:6, 14, 15) breach of clerical celibacy was common. Some married, but most just took concubines.

The period of instability and corruption began to wane due to a revival at Cluny in 910. Although it was a reform movement within monasticism, it affected whole church positively.

Gregory VII/Hildebrand (1073-1085)

The pontificate of Gregory VII began a movement towards the peak of the papacy. Gregory made many uncontested decisions and demanded that all priests be celibate. He was also involved in the famous investiture struggle with Henry IV that ended with Henry standing barefoot in the snow at Canossa for three days until he was forgiven by the pope.

Innocent III (1198-1216)

The rule of Pope Innocent III represents the zenith of papal power. At his inauguration, Innocent quoted Jeremiah 1:10 in reference to himself: See, today I appoint you over nations He also taught that the Pope stands between God and man as a mediator and vicar of Christ. It was on Innocent's watch that the Fourth Lateran Council developed the doctrine of transubstantiation. The Pope also showed his political power on several occasions: he caused King Philip II to take back his queen because he had unjustly divorced her; he caused another king to get a divorce because his wife was too closely related to him; and King Peter of Aragon received his kingdom as a fief from the pope.

Boniface VIII (1294-1303)

Contemporaries said of Pope Boniface that he crept in like a fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog. Today, his Catholic Encyclopedia article admits, "Though certainly one of the most remarkable pontiffs that have ever occupied the papal throne, Boniface VIII was also one of the most unfortunate. His pontificate marks in history the decline of the medieval power and glory of the papacy." Pope Boniface's reign was characterized by pomp and circumstance from the very first:
The ceremony of his consecration and coronation was performed at Rome, 23 January, 1295, amid scenes of unparalleled splendour and magnificence. King Charles II of Naples and his son Charles Martel, titular king and claimant of Hungary, held the reins of his gorgeously accoutred snow-white palfrey as he proceeded on his way to St. John Lateran, and later, with their crowns upon their heads, served the pope with the first few dishes at table before taking their places amongst the cardinals.

During his pontificate, Boniface was known to wear imperial robes and a richly jeweled crown, and cry, I am Caesar. I am emperor. Pope Boniface made even higher claims than Innocent but could not support them. He taught that the pope held both the temporal and spiritual swords, meaning that he is the ultimate authority in both realms. In his capacity of spiritual leader, Pope Boniface instituted the first Holy Year with the Jubilee of 1300: he announced a full and copious pardon of all their sins for all who reverently visited the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul in that year. The papacy made a great deal of money from the pilgrims who poured into Rome as a result. In 1301,

tradition holds that he was visited by the great poet Dante, but this is doubted by some scholars. The Pope's story is included in Dante's Purgatorio. Boniface also oversaw a great deal of restoration of churches, revived the Vatican Library and was apparently a great lover of the arts. Boniface was not as successful in the temporal realm. His attempts to resolve conflicts in Naples, Venice, Genoa and Tuscany were failures. In 1296 Boniface issued Clericis laicos, which threatened excommunicated for anyone who taxed clergy, but both Philip of France and Edward I of England wanted to tax the clergy to finance their military campaigns so Philip put an embargo on export of jewels from his domain. This deprived the pope of much of his revenue, so Boniface backed down, saying an exception to the non-taxation rule was for defense in dire need After another run-in in 1301, Philip's minister said Philip's sword was made of steel but the pope's was made only of words. A few months later, Boniface issued the unam sanctam, declaring that every human being is subject to Roman pope. Undeterred, King Philip prepared to depose Boniface on grounds of illegal election, heresy, simony and immorality. Several Roman churches had called for this in 1297 as well. Boniface was 86 and summering in foothills of Apennine Mountains at Anagni, his birthplace, Philip's troops broke into the aged pope's bedroom and kept him prisoner for three days. The people of Anagni rescued him and he was escorted back to Rome, but Boniface died within a few weeks of the ordeal. He was buried in a marble tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. The ignoble end to Boniface's reign is significant: it "marks the first open rejection of papal spiritual dominance by the rising national monarchies of the West."
Religions and Belief Systems. Religion Facts. 3February2014< http://www.religionfacts.com/>.


In Acts 11:26 the disciples were first called Christians. During the time of the apostles and the early Christians there were no statues or idols made or introduced to represent God, Jesus, Mary and the saints. It gradually crept into the church when it was made a state religion in Rome by Emperor Constantine. Roman Catholicism was a result of the mixture of Christianity and paganism at the time of Constantine around 300 AD onwards. Many new teachings came in that were not scripturally sound. Teachings of purification in purgatory, worshiping images , praying the rosary, praying to the saints, praying for the dead, indulgences, revision of the Ten Commandments (not to make idols were deleted which is commandment number two), traditions came in, papacy introduced, forgiveness of sins through the priests, salvation only through the church, the sacraments and keeping the Ten Commandments. The gospel (good news) that Christ died for our sins and resurrected for our salvation and redemption and that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (Luke 24:44-47 John 3:16, 3:36) has been the belief of the early Christians and also today all over the world. Christians differ from Roman Catholicism in many major ways. Christianity is based on a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son. They dont worship God through images, dont pray to the saints, and dont pray for the dead. The major doctrine they hold is that eternal life and salvation can be experienced now through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ after hearing the good news about Him. Forgiveness is through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. Roman Catholicism does not teach that salvation and eternal life is received now. The church does not believe it can only be receive by repentance and faith in Christ alone. Salvation is through good works, through the sacraments, keeping the commandments. Their souls should be purified at purgatory at death before going to heaven. This doctrine contradicts the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. By His crucifixion and death on the cross and the offering of His body purified us and by His resurrection we were justified. The repentant believers need not any of the works or rituals. Roman Catholics today are open to the saving knowledge about Christ and about the kingdom of God. They are open to the bible and the word of God. What is needed is someone has to share them the gospel. They already believe Jesus as God. They have to understand that Jesus already finished the work of salvation on the cross, that He was crucified, died and resurrected for the forgiveness of our sins and redemption of our souls. What they are experiencing is a historical Jesus. They are experiencing only head knowledge of Christ. Relationship only happens when they repent from heir sins and truly trust Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. They should hear and believe the gospel. Paul said, I am not ashamed of the gospel of God, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes Romans 1:16


Man was really created by God not as an independent being but a person with soul and heart. It is innate in him to know God. Through his inner spirit and deep soul he gropes and looks for the Divine and Creator whom we call God. Studying all the religions that we have listed, there are few things that I found common among them and realized something different. some men saw that the world was evil, there were sufferings around him and to give solace to his spirit he tries to find peace within himself and those around him by virtuous deeds, goodness, good thoughts, good words etc. these men began to teach many of their noble thoughts and goodness, they wrote their teachings others find solace by separation from worldly desires and passion others find communion with nature and self others think that there is no god but there is a force out there why all these are happening their followers later deified or made their founders as god and worshipped them which in the beginning was not even thought of by these men others because of fear try to offer sacrifices to spirits and worships their ancestors others just worship anything, believe anything another wrote the revelations from spirits such as a certain angel gabriel but contradicting the original revelation of the original angel Gabriel about Christ and earlier Scriptures introduced a new god and a new book and claimed that the same god introduced is also the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, that their book is the only book left uncorrupted, this book denied the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His being the Son of God, Lord and Savior which the earlier Books confirmed and boldly declare. one religion believe its roots from Christianity but as hundreds of years passed by new doctrines, teachings, traditions, beliefs, rituals and idolatry came into the church. It became a mixture of paganism (idolatry) and Christianity.

Difference of Christianity:
There are many things we can find in the course of these studies that make Christianity and the God whom we love and worship different. YAHWEH created and revealed Himself to Adam and Eve, the first man and woman It was God who searched for man. He talked and appeared to Noah He made a covenant with Abraham

He appeared to Moses and gave the Ten Commandments He directly called, talked and sent His prophets They proclaimed and wrote His words in progressive revelation He declared the past and the future He is the God of all mankind, the dead and the living He sent His Son to the world and spoke the truth In these last day He has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ







Eternal Father Father, Son, Holy Spirit one God Moroni 4.4, 5.2, 10.4, 31 D&C 20.77, 79 Alma 11.44 3 Neph 11.27 Mormon 7.7 D&C 20.28 A Faith 1 Ether 3.15-16 Moses 6.9 D&C 130.22 Moses 3.5,7

Father has a body of flesh and bones Created all things spiritually before naturally

Son of the Eternal Father Father of heaven and earth The Eternal Father Father because conceived by the power of God Father & Son God & Christ seen Appearance to John 14.23 is personal Appeared to Nephi, his people, chose twelve gave a doctrine 1 Neph 10.17, 11.7, 21 Mosiah 3.8, 15.4, 16.15 Alma 11.38-39 Ether 4.7 Alma 11.38-39 Mosiah 15.1-5 Helaman 16.18 Mosiah 15.3 Ether 3.14 Mormon 9.12 D& C 93.3-4 Ether 3.13-16 D & C 76.23, 110.2-10, 137.3 D&C 130.3 3 Neph 11.1-2, 7-10, 12.1, 20 3 Neph 11.25-31, 37-41, 21.6

Personage of Spirit D&C 130.22

Adam fell; man might have joy, redeemed by Messiah according to the commandments of God 2 Neph 2.25-26 Moses 5.10-11

Created in the image of God, has body Was a spirit before made man Ether 3.15-16 Moses 3.5,7

Eternal/ Endless Punishment D&C 19.11-12

Doctrine of Christ only true doctrine of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit The Bible not only the revealed, written Word Books of Authority: 2 Neph 31.21 2 Neph 29.3, 7-8, 10 2 Neph 32.3-6, 33.1-2, 5, 10-11 Jacob 1.6, 4.4


Alma 6.8 3Neph 28.33 Pearl of Great Price Book of Mormon is the most correct book of any book on earth; keystone of our religion, man gets nearer to God by abiding by its precepts.

Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants,

Joseph Smith received revelations from an angel Moroni at Manchester, New York on September 21, 1823 and onwards. (Introduction, par 6, Book of Mormon)

Similitude (image, semblance or likeness) of the only begotten Moses 1.16

Celestial World where Gods throne is where Mormons go be like gods Terestial World for good men not Mormons Telestial World for evil, wicked men, Hell D&C 137.1 D&C 76.50-70 D&C 76.58, 121.28, 32,132.20, 37 D&C 76.71-80, 98-101 D&C 76.81-84, 103-106

Atonement of Christ by obedience to the Laws & ordinances of the gospel all mankind may be saved Articles of Faith 3 Forsake sins and obey commandments D&C 93.1 Mosiah 2.41 Alma 38.1, 12.30,32 By the church D&C 76.50-54, 94, 84.88 Receive the servants Neph 26.20-22 D&C 99.1-4, 76.50-52 Without Order of Priesthood no one will see God D&C 84.14-22,27 through repentance, baptism by water and the doctrine of Christ in the book 2 Nep 31.17-21

Central Message: First principles and ordinances of the gospel are: Faith on the Lord Jesus Christ Repentance Baptism for remission of sins Laying of hands for gifts of the Holy Spirit ( A of Faith 4 & 3) Gospel of repentance, baptism, remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments D&C 84.26-27, 76.50-52 This is my gospel teaching peaceable things of the kingdom D&C 39.5-6 Churches deny the more parts of the gospel 4 Neph 1.27 Fullness of the gospel contained in the Book of Mormon J Smith-H 1.34 Eternal life, know true God & Jesus Christ, receive Law D&C 132.24, 21, 27 Ask the Father in Christ Name if the Book (of Mormon) is true the Holy Spirit reveals Mormon 10.3-5


Jesus Christ is the Son of God, all come to him, obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel may be saved (Introduction par 5, Book of Mormon)

SIX STEPS (Study) in Membership

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon Gospel of Christ - repentance, baptism and the commandments Restoration of the Church Family and the Temple To be perfect like Christ To be a member of the church


1. 2. 3. 4. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. We believe that man will be punished for their sins, and not for Adams transgression. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, Repentance, third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now revealed, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. We claim the privilege of worshipping the Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12. 13.



Mormon teachings deviate from the truths that are in the Bible. They do not accept the bible as the only inspired book of the Lord. They have the book of Mormon given by a certain angel Moroni who claimed to have the fullness of the gospel. They have teachings that are contrary to the original revelations. Salvation they say is by the atonement of Christ but includes obedience to its laws and ordinances and entry to their church. They believe that the Christian churches today are not the true church of our Lord Jesus Christ. The true Church holds only to the Bible for its final authority, faith and practice. The true church proclaims the only one gospel that Jesus sacrificial offering is enough for mans forgiveness and salvation. The requirement in the Bible is true repentance and faith in Christ. God warned not to add words or remove words from this prophecy for curse shall come to them. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19 They get their teachings from the Doctrines and Covenants and from the Book of Mormon which came from a spirit that carried a different gospel message from what God has previously revealed and written. These books are not biblically sound and do not conform to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to Bible truths. This is accursed in Galatians 1:8-9, 1Cor 4:6, 2John 9.



Gods personal Name is Jehovah. ( The truth shall make you free., p.17) Only Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting. (Make sure of all things, 1965, p486) Jesus Christ is not one God with the Father (MS p. 485) Holy Spirit is Gods active force, not a person (MS p. 487) There was a time when Jehovah was alone in universal space. All life, energy and thought were contained in him alone.( Let God be true, 1952 p.25) Elohim is the plural of majesty. It does not mean he is mysteriously a trinity. (New Heavens and New Earth p 36) The obvious conclusion is that Satan is the originator of the trinity doctrine. (LG p.101)

Not Jehovah God. He was the first son that Jehovah God brought forth. (LG p.32) The first creation by God. (MS p. 282) Jesus Christ had a pre-human existence (LG p.34) Michael the archangel is no other that than the only-begotten Son of God, now Jesus Christ (NH p. 38) At baptism Jesus was anointed to become the Messiah, or Jesus the Christ(Anointed) (LG p. 38) He shows his subjection to God by humbling himself to a most disgraceful death on a torture stake. (LG p.35) God raised him as a mighty immortal spirit Son (LG p.40)

The Holy Spirit is the invisible force of Almighty God, which moves his servants to do his, will. (LG p.108)

Sin is falling short of Gods mark of perfection, transgression of his righteous law. (MS p 456) At death, Adam was to return to dust, a return to non-existence (NH p88) All are born in sin (imperfect, with wayward tendencies)(MS p 456)

The soul is not eternal or immortal. Shall not suffer eternally in hell.


Jesus Christ laid down in sacrifice a perfect HUMAN LIFE, equal to that which Adam forfeited (You may survive Armageddon p. 39). His perfect human life with all its rights and prospects was laid down in death, but NOT FOR SIN AND IN PUNISHMENT. (LG 116) That which is redeemed or brought back is perfect human life with its rights and earthly prospects. (LG p.114) The value of the perfect human life was now available for use on behalf of faithful men. (LG . 116) The Bible plainly shows that 144,000 will share heavenly glory, while others will enjoy blessings of life here on earth. (LG p 298) Faith in Jehovah God and Christ Jesus and do Gods will and faithfully carry out their dedication, rewarded with everlasting life. The righteous shall resurrect in the last day after sleeping in the grave.

There is no Hell. The Dead are inactive, unconscious. Destruction is annihilation. (LG p 99 MSP 143 LG p 270)

Founded by Charles Tze Russell (1852 - 1916) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He couldnt believe God can condemn a sinner in eternal fire, text were Jeremiah 7.31, 19.5, 32.35 1John 4.8,9 July 1879 Started the Publication of Zions Watch Tower & Herald of Christs Presence which is known worldwide as the Watch Tower- Witnessing the Kingdom of Jehovah. 1888 Non-profit Bible Society- Zions Watch Tower Tract Society now known Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 1914 Prophesied Christ Second Coming an important event in man s history. Context is Christ coming is not seen. Mt 24.3-22 Lk 21.7-33 1920-1930 The Bible Students gave impetus to house to house preaching Act 20.20 1931 They bonded together to witness the Name of Jehovah and be called and known that way. Is 43.10-12 Mt 28.19-20 Act 1.8 1935 Believed only 144,000 sealed Christians will rule with Christ in heaven and the kingdom, heavenly rule will be for the rest of mankind in earth. Rev 7.4, 9, 10, 14.1-3 Rom 8.16,17 Therefore their goal is a worldwide witness to this millions of people looking for God. 1942 Trained ministers in WatchTower Bible School of Gilead. 1946 Held weekly meetings of study of the bible in Kingdom Halls and from here it spread though out the world.

Proclaim the coming of Jehovah on earth. Witness the Name of Jehovah There is only one religion Ps 37.9-11, 29 Rev 1.5, 3.14 IJn 4:14-16 Is 43.10-12 Mt 28.19,20 Act 1.8


Here we have a deviation from the truth. They denied the deity of Christ as equal to the Father. They have named God as Jehovah. This is not the Name revealed to Moses and the prophets and the scriptures but it was YHWH/Yahweh. The death and resurrection of Christ they taught was an example of perfect human life and not the sacrifice for sins. The Bible teaches otherwise, Christ was sacrificed for sins once and for all. 10By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, Heb 10:10-12 They do not believe the existence of Hell and everlasting consciousness of the wicked in the Lake of Fire. The wicked dead dont exist anymore according to them. The Bible says otherwise and opposite they shall perish forever and the saints saved because of the sacrifice of Christ for sin. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-14 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne Then He will also say to those on His left, Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:31, 41, 46


(Iglesia ni Kristo)

PROPHECY Apostasy of the First Century Church Another flock to be gathered From the Far East, ends of the earth (Philippines) Ends of the earth (time before the end of age) Messenger sent. Felix Manalo (1914) from the ends of the earth

1Tim 4.1 Jn 10.16 Is 43.5-6, 41.9 Mt 24.3, 6-7 Is 41.9-10, 46.11 Rom 1.16

THE CHURCH Christ built Name of the church He is the head Purchased by his blood Gave His life for it The holy city, new jerusalem He is the savior, no other name Entrance through faith in : God and Christ (man) the gospel (doctrines) messenger (Felix Manalo) be baptized in their church

Mt 16.18 Rom 16.16 Col 1.18 Eph 1.22 Act 20.28 Eph 1.7 Jn 10.11 Eph 5.25 Rev 21.2 Act 4.12 Rom 5.2 Jn 14.1-2 Mk 16.15-16 Jn 6.29 Mt 28.19 Act 2.38 Mk 16.15-16

SALVATION Central Message: If anyone wants to be saved he must enter and be a member of the church of christ. Enter the sheepfold Jn 10.7,9,1 Be a member of the body Eph 3.6, 5.29-30 1Cor 12.12-13 Christ is the savior of the body Eph 5.23 1Cor 6.13

GOD The Father is the only true God God is a spirit God cannot be man and man God The Father is greater Jn 17.3 1Cor 8.6 Eph 4.5 Is 43.10-12, 63.16 Mal 2.10 Jn 4.24 Hos 11.9 Num 23.19 Jn 10.29 1Cor 11.3


JESUS CHRIST Jesus is not God, he said he is a man Apostles taught it Has flesh and blood He died, God cannot die Prayed to God the Father He has a Father and God Existed only as man Authority came from God Power from the spirit of God Made holy only from God Glorified by God and commanded to worship Made above all creation But to be subjected to God Made Lord, Savior and Mediator HOLY SPIRIT He is not God, only power or force Sent by the Father and Son Seven spirits sent by God MANS DEATH Into the grave Sleeps No knowledge Raised in the last day Soul also dies Cleaves to the dust HELL Only at the judgment day It is the lake of fire FOOD Eating blood is sin Sin against the Holy Spirit Cast out of the church JUDGMENT On the coming of Christ Wicked shall be gathered No condemnation to those in Christ which the church he built The name is church of christ Resurrected

Jn 8.40 Act 2.22 1Tim 2.5 Lk 24.37-40 Rom 5.6 Act 2.23 Mt 26.39 Jn 20.17 1 Jn 4.2 Mt 28.18 Act 2.36, 22 Jn 5.30 Act 10.38 Lk 10.21-22, 11.20 Mt 12.28 Jn 10.36 Mk 10.17-18 Phil 2.9-11 Eph 1.20-22 1Cor 15.27-28 Act 2.36, 5.31 1 Tim 2.5

Jn 14.26, 15.26 Rev 5.6

Ps 88.5, 146.4 Act 2.29,34 Jn 11.11-4 1Thess 4.14 Eccl 9.5,10 Job 7.9-10 Jb 14.10, 12 Jn 11.11-14, 5.28 1Thess 4.15-16 Dan 12.1-2 Ezek 18.4 Ps 119.25

Mt 13. 38-40, 16.27 Jn 12.48, 5.28-29 Rev 20.10-15

1Saml 14.32-33 Mt 12.31-32 Act 15.28-29 Lev 17.10

Jde 1.14-15 2 Pet 3.7, 10 Rom 8.1 Mt 16.18 Rom 16.16 1 Thess 4.16-17

after 1,000 years satan and the wicked turned into the lake of fire So each member should be in peace inside the church of christ stay until the end

Rev 20.5, 7-10 2 Pet 3.14 Col 3.15, 1.18 Mt 24.13

INDOCTRINATION (For those who wants to be a member) 1. The word of God is written in the bible 2. The true God taught in the bible 3. Not all churches are of God 4. Christs commandments whoever wants to be saved must be a member of the church of christ 5. Why were born Catholics and not church of christ 6. Teachings Catholic turned away from 7. Christ built the church of christ in the Philippines through prophecy 8. Felix Manalo messenger of God in the last day 9. Why the church of Christ is persecuted and the reward of not falling 10. Right way of membership into the church of christ 11. The true nature of Christ according to the bible 12. The use of wrong texts and translations are the basis of those who teach that Christ is the true God 13. Responsibility of the members of the church of christ to change life 14. Responsibility of the members to attend all church worship 15. God commanded offerings, thanksgiving and gifts 16. God commanded to love the brethren 17. God prohibited eating of blood and marriage to different faith 18. Be baptized to be a disciple of christ 19. All members should bring converts and pray 20. All members should be registered and under an administration 21. Judgment, resurrection of the dead and the inheritance of the church of christ 22. The foundation of unity of the church of Christ


This group blatantly and boldly proclaims and teaches that Jesus is not God nor does He possess divine nature. Jesus is a created Son of God and Lord. They stress Jesus as man only. The Lord Jesus took the form of a man. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, Philippians 2:5-8a Never can they read from the Scriptures that Jesus is not God. They remove words from the Scripture by simply not teaching them. They twist and dont read the scriptures that declare the Godhead of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures declare Jesus is God in nature (John 1:1-3, 20:28-29, Philippians 2:5-11, Colosians 1:13-18, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:5-13, 1 John 5:20 Revelation 1:7-8). They say they worship Jesus and call Him Lord because the Father has commanded. What kind of worship and lordship do they attribute to Him like God? Jesus said, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:23

Jesus asked the religious leaders of His time. If David then calls Him Lord, how is He his son? Matthew 22:45
They believe that Christ died for the church and that church is the church of Christ. He is the savior of the church so if you want to be saved you must be a member and enter that church. They corrupt the Scripture. They make use of the name of the church church of Christ as the church Jesus built and whom He shall saved. So you should enter it to be saved. They interpreted the scripture erroneously. Jesus said He is the door of the sheep and that whoever enters in the door shall be saved and whoever enters in not by through Him is a robber and a thief. It is in Jesus the head that we enter as the door by faith in Him and not go directly into the church which is the body. I am the door; If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, John 10:9 Faith therefore here is faith directed to Christ as Lord and Savior and it is He that is received (John 3:16, 1:12). The true church are the believers who repented, accepted Christ, believed and entered through the gospel - His finished work in Calvary enough for their salvation (Mark 1:15, Hebrews 3:6, Ephesians 3:6).



Leader Eliseo Soriano Wiseman Sent Stewards of mysteries Book sealed until end of time Understood by the wise True preacher Eccl 9.15 Rom 10.14-15 1Cor 4.1 Dan 12.4 Dan 12.10 Jn 7.17, 3.34

Built by God where the name of God is the house of God Church of God International Both has the Father and Son Ps 127.1 Deut 12.5 1Tim 3.15 1Thess 2.14 Mt 16.18 Jn 14.10

From Gods wrath defer anger for His Names sake Name of the Lord, strong tower, You are safe This house were His name is Church of God International Be a member which is good Follow the head of the body 1Thess 1.10 Is 48.9 Prov 18.10 2Chrn 7.16 1Tim 3.15 1Thess 5.21 Eph 3.6 1Thess 5.21 Col 1.18 Eph 1.22

Central Message Keep his commandments Mt 28.19-20 Jesus is the way to the Father by following his commandments Jn 14.6 Col 2.6-7 To be saved have faith on the doctrines from the true preacher Rom 10.14-15 Dating Daan/ Old Path the right way were salvation is. Baptism- for remission of sins Act 2.38 to be born again Jn 3.3-5 to receive the Holy Spirit Act 2.38 to become member of the 1Cor 12.13 church, accepting the doctrines Mt 28.19-20


There are many gods on heaven and on earth Father, Son and the Holy Spirit Father- greater than the Son King of kings, Lord of lords in heaven (the Son only on earth) Not know all things (limited) only after man has decided Not present everywhere (limited) The Lords Suffer is not literally practiced, it is spiritual The bread and wine are the teachings they share on gatherings

Into the grave sleeps(soul/body) no knowledge at death raised in the last day souls also dies cleaves to the dust Ps 88.5, 146.4 Act 2.29, 34 Jn 11.11-14 1Thess 4.14 Eccl 9.5, 10 Jb 7.9-10 Jb 14.10, 12 Jn 11.11-14, 5.28 Ezek 18.4 Ps 119.25

will exist at the judgment day Mt 13.38-4=, 16.27 Jn 12.48, 5.28-29

(For those who wants to be a member)

Commandments/ Laws 1. The teacher to be heard to be saved 2. Prayer 3. Evil part of man 4. Conduct toward brethren 5. Conduct toward outsiders 6. Conduct Prohibited 7. Clothing 8. Gathering 9. Giving 10. The Sower 11. Thanksgiving 12. Sin against the Spirit 13. Baptism

Mt 28.19-20 Mk 7.6-7


Church General Declaration and Doctrines DOCTRINES Section 1 We believe in the Almighty God, the Father, the Creator of the universe, in Christ Jesus, the Fathers begotten son, a true and Mighty God, the only savior of mankind and the only way to the Kingdom of God in heaven ( Acts 14:15; I Cor. 8:5-7; John 14:6; 14:1 ). Section 2 We believe that only the Bible or the Holy Scriptures, composed of 66 inspired books, teaches the full wisdom of God for the salvation of man and that no other books should be used as basis for serving God and Christ Jesus ( Romans 1:16-17; 2:16; Gal. 1:8-9; II Thes. 1:1-9; John 20:31; Isa. 34:16; John 5:39 ). Section 3 We believe that the God the Father sent His son Jesus Christ, instrumental in the establishment of the CHURCH OF GOD INTERNATIONAL, INC., the congregation of the Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, etc; first planted in the city of Jerusalem, and later on scattered and preached by the Apostles in different places of Asia Minor ( Matt. 16:18; Acts 8:1; Gal. 1:22; I Thes.2:14 ). Section 4 We believe that the Gentile nations including the Philippines, are partakers of the promise, the ETERNAL LIFE, through belief in Christ Jesus and the Gospel and are not authorized by God TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN CHURCH, but are mere members associated with the same body or Church written in the Gospel by accepting and executing the doctrines written by the Apostles ( Ephe. 3:6; Col. 1:18; I John


Jesus said He that believed and is baptized shall be saved. Repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15, 15:15-16). Baptism follows after repentance and faith in the gospel. It is evident in this group in their 13 topics on indoctrination there is no gospel preached. They teach doctrines and baptize believers. This is man made. The way of the apostles is they preach first the Lord Jesus death and resurrection (the gospel) to the Jews and the Gentiles before teaching the doctrines. Faith in Christ should first be developed in the believer to be saved. Christs crucifixion and resurrection for our salvation is not proclaimed in their indoctrination. It is not to teach the doctrines first and be baptized. Nowhere in their 13 topics make one to have faith in Christ to be his Lord and Savior. Paul asked the believers in Galatians 3:1-2, Did you receive the Spirit of God by obedience to the Law or by faith?... Is not Christ crucified clearly portrayed before you eyes? There is nothing wrong with the commandments of Christ being taught. We are to obey it but wrong application of the commandments is not acceptable. The believer has to be in Christ first when he puts his trust in Him and is baptized. Then the commandments follow. The leader claims to have great knowledge of the Scripture but do not know the gospel truth. The truth is that Christ was sent by the Father from heaven to redeem man from his sins through his death and resurrection. Whoever shall repent and believe the gospel that is faith in Christ shall not see death but have eternal life. Salvation is not by the church or any group. Satan has many ways in using religions to hide the gospel. We are saved by the gospel. If one does not understand the gospel he shall not be saved. In Iglesia ni Kristo, Satan hides the gospel by teaching doctrines and entering their church which is named church of christ. The group of Soriano falls into the same error denying the Lord. For them, to be saved is to keep the commandments of Christ and be a part of the church of god international (their group) according to them Christ built in Jerusalem. This is the kingdom of God where one must enter according to them. These teachings move away the trust and faith in Christ finished work of salvation on the cross. It is God who puts you in the true Church (Acts 2:47). Salvation is only through the death and resurrection of Christ and that whosoever repents and believes the gospel shall be saved. Obedience to His commandments follows because he is saved (Acts 16:30-31, 20:20-21, 2:47, Ephesians 2:8-10). The true Church of Jesus Christ holds this gospel truth. These are the believers who heard the gospel, have repented and trusted Jesus for their salvation. These Christians are all over the world today.



Leader/Founder Apollo S. Quiboloy Davao City, Davao, Philippines

Claims and Teachings: Apollo S. Quiboloy belongs to the group they call Oneness. Oneness believes that there is one God and that God is the Father alone. When God took the form of man He became the Son of God. Jesus is in heaven now as God the Father. Now he pronounced himself as inheriting the sonship. He claims revelations from the Father: Jesus Christ is now the Fatheris my Father. Jesus Christ is not the Son anymore. God masterfully maneuvered the completion of his work through meas an instrument in fulfilling His will. Do you know why the Lord sufferedunderwent that cruel sacrifice on the cross? That was to produce me! What Jesus Christ the Jewish Son of the Father failed to dowhat my Fatherfailed to do among the chosen people. The model of being a Son of God now is me. John 3:5was fulfilled in me. I have become the Sonthe Fathers completion of salvation is already done in me. Gods Newest Son

Message from the Son: Apollo Quiboloy whose ministry is named The Kingdom of Jesus Christ


God the Father has given him This great opportunity of sharing to you the divine wisdom and revelations He has bestowed upon me as His Designated Son in these last days. Dont miss your visitation. Harken unto the voice of the Father now as He speaks through his son. Treasure each word and each moment for this privilege is graced only to those who are true children of God, chosen and handpicked by the Father to receive His revelation through His Son. Apollo holds to the Oneness Pentecostal view of God, that denies the tri-unity of the Father, the Son and the Comforter. Along with this, he has a mix of Latter Rain teachings (ie. Manifest son of Godspecifically- Him) The idea he presents is that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one and the same Person. Ignoring the words spoken to Jesus, His Son from the Father in heaven (twice Mt.3:17; Lk.17:5) This is my beloved Son, in whom I am pleased. He Apollo himself is the Son of God and not just a son but the Son of God. He quotes the verses that directly apply to Jesus Christ. He states publicly that he is the sent one of God and quotes John 7:29 and 8:18 which are reserved for Jesus Christ ONLY. Their Website (www.kingdomofjesuschrist.org) says I am the way the truth the life no man cometh unto the Father except by ME Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy servant son of God (meaning Him). Under a sign outside his church in Hawaii it says Rev. Apollo Quiboloy Son of God. On his website it explains-September 13, 2003 eighteen years after powerfully declaring the revolution in the spirit and in the hearts and minds of the children of God, Pastor Apollo was ushered into his private ministry- the reign of the Father through the Son. The Official Turning of Power from the Father to the Son, Pastor Apollo received a message from the Father that all power in heaven and earth; and the riches, wealth, prestige and authority will be handed over to him as the son. According to Quiloboy's teaching, it was necessary that the Son of God to appear in the flesh of a Gentile. On his website it is asked Are you Jesus Christ in the Gentile body? More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ came in the flesh to testify to all that God can dwell in a human body, in the life of a man. It is here now. The life that lived in Israel before is now here. He is now using a Gentile body. If He was able to come to the Jewish people, He can also come to the Gentile people. John 5:23 says, That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him. My works bear witness of me. And the Father Himself, who sent me, has borne witness of me. On his website his answer to What

is the role of the Son?

If you're appointed as the Son, you're like the ruler of the house. You are the president of all the children of God who are born in the Spirit, because the Kingdom of God is the nation of God.

When God called you, were you aware that your ministry would become that of the Son? As I grow in the spirit with the Father, He reveals many things to
On his websiteme from time to time. He appointed me the position of feeding His people His words, the spiritual bread. Luke 12:43-44 says, Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. The meat in due season are the revelations that would be revealed as time passes. You don't learn everything in just one sitting. Slowly, God will reveal everything until everything becomes clear in your mind. On his website When did you realize that your ministry would be the ministry of the Son? The Book of Jeremiah 1:4 states how the Word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah. That is also how the Word of the Lord came unto me. What happened to the prophet Jeremiah also happened to me. When He had directed me, I did not know back then what His plan for me was. While growing up in the 184

spiritual learning, you still wouldn't know what would become of you. I was being led into something. I did the things that I was being led to do. Then, I began to understand that I already have a calling. One of the works this new Son of God claims to exhibit is the spirit o f obedience, but obedience to whom may be the question. To Him of course, they obey his word and how He uses the Bible. the complete essence of the message of the Spiritual Revolution, which is the message of the Son of God. The purpose why Jesus Christ came is for us to become co-heirs and children of His Kingdom. The purpose of Spiritual Revolution which Jesus Christ started is to topple down the old spirit of disobedience and receive the new spirit of obedience to the will of God. John 3:5 states that if you want to enter the Kingdom of God, you must be born again in the Spirit. If you're born again in the Spirit, you become a child of God. It's not enough to remain just a servant. A servant will not abide in the house forever, but only the children will abide in the house of the Father forever.

Gods Kingdom has Arrived on Earth

With Quiboloy as the new Son of God (Messiah) the new Jerusalem will arise in Davao because as he previously stated the church age had ended. On one TV program he said it is also the same in the days of the son in the Gentile city now is the fulfillment of his salvation (Kingdom of Jesus Christ program on LeSea, Dec.26, 2004) As Noah has finished so have I finished the work of salvation In his invitation for salvation he said Become one of the 3 millionenter the ark of salvation, the new Jerusalem . (Kingdom of Jesus Christ program, LeSea Dec.26, 2004) Under the title on his website- THE KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST The Name Above Every Name-Centuries after centuries have passed and the revelation of truth has progressed until the Kingdom of God has grown to its fullness. From Jerusalem , the truth extended to the farthest reaches of Asia particularly in the far-flung area of Tamayong, at the foothills of Mt. Apo , Davao City , a historical place wherein Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy was born, anointed and trained by God in the spirit. The holy Bible says in the book of Exodus that wonders have taken place in the mountains. The Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses on a mountain. Worlds greatest sermon was preached on a mountain. Greatest prayers were prayed and answered on mountains. Christ was transfigured on a mountain. And as prophesied in the book of Zechariah, Christ will make His future return on a mountain.

In these last days, God has once again chosen a mountain where He could let His children live. As our beloved Pastor Apollo had said in his fellowships, Tamayong, the site
of the Covenant Mountain and Prayer Center, then was a place you would never wish to live in. It was nothing but a place of uncivilization. That was Tamayong before. But an extreme twist has happened when God manifested his divine providence to His chosen Son. Tamayong, the place that you would never want to live in before has become a haven closest to heaven. It has become a pilgrimage for the children of God.. (website-WHAT IS THE COVENANT MOUNTAIN AND PRAYER CENTER) Here we have a NEW Mecca of sorts that he claims is directed by God himself. Calling it the seat of Gods governance on eartha haven closest to heaven He likens it to Mount Sinai or The Mount of Transfiguration. On the website he is asked

What is the difference between you and Jesus Christ?

The only thing that is different between Jesus Christ and me is that Jesus Christ was God Himself in the flesh. He was the firstborn of the brethren. His Father, the One who formed Him in the womb, was a Spirit. He was clothed in human flesh because He was born of a woman. My father was flesh; my mother was flesh. I was born from the fallen Adamic nature. The Adamic race which is the object of His love. His love was manifested through redemption and salvation.


While he admits that Jesus Christ was God Himself in the flesh, he is claiming equality with him when he says he is the newest Son of God on earth. Newer in this sense does not mean equal, it means ANOTHER, in place of Christ. On his website it says- Son

of God: fulfillment of the Old and New Testament

The life of Jesus Christ is in me. If there will be another book that will be included in the Holy Scriptures, it will be the book of the fulfillment of the Old and New Testament . This fulfillment happened in my life when God called me. The purpose of the Old and New covenant is to save us from sin, while the purpose of the Old and New Testament is for the Lord to produce a new man from the fallen Adamic race. Kingdom Youth statement:

Pastor Quiboloy is True... he is really the Son Of God in these last days. Many people didn't know because they have the mentality of religions and denomination and that's the old paradigm... I want to let the Whole World know that THE MESSIAH that we've been waiting for is already here! Those that are not children of God will not going to believe it, but we people of God believe that the deliverer is in our midst...Come and enter now into the KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST (the name above every name). Your Salvation is here... hear the Father's audible voice, his anointed and appointed SON...PASTOR APPOLO C. QUIBOLOY.


Apollo Quiboloy teaches we as children of disobedience, we should surrender to God in repentance. God shall take that seed of the serpent and put the seed of the Son. He uses the name of JESUS CHRIST THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME but forgot the gospel truth that all the CULTS are GUILTY OF. Through this they indirectly deny the gospel truth that Christ came to die for our sins for our atonement and salvation. God calls all to repent and have faith in Christ to be saved and not repent alone. They only teach repentance to enter into the Kingdom of God and they forgot Christ crucifixion as the ultimate payment for our sins. This false prophet claims that the Father finished the work of salvation in him but the truth is it is finished by and in Christ (John 19:30, Hebrews 9:26-28, 10:10-12). He is Christ in the Gentile body. Repent of your sins and believe the Son (Apollo S. Quiboloy) and you shall be saved and he is the way the truth and the life. Jesus attributed these words to Himself alone (John 3:36, 14:6). Christ will not come again visibly as Christians believe all over the world because according to him Christ is here already, himself (Quiboloy). Jesus said many shall come in my Name and shall deceive many. A. Quiboloy is a false prophet. He has the spirit of the anti-christ which means literally a substitute for Christ. How can he be saved and his followers if they dont have faith in the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ who died once and for all at the cross for our redemption. The leader and the followers were deceived by Satan by believing into a lie. The big lie was Apollo Quiboloy is now the Son of God and he is to be believed as the way. Salvation in Christ alone was hidden. The plan of Satan is always to move people out of their pure devotion and faith to Christ alone. For salvation is through repentance and faith in Christ as the only Lord and Savior to the glory of God the Father. The gospel was hidden by the Satan by exalting Apollo Quiboloy as the appointed Son of God and the Christ in the Gentile body.



Founded by William Miller from US. First called Adventist, believing the Second Coming of Christ. Predicted to come at 1844. His prophecy failed and called the Great Disappointment. Study of Scripture he found that the Seventh day is Saturday or Sabbath. Then they were called Seventh Day Adventist.

At death, not know anything the soul sleeps resurrected at the last day righteous not yet in heaven wicked not in hell, in the grave Ps 146.4 Eccl 9.10,6,5 Ps 115.17, 6.5 Jn 11.11-14 Jn 5. 28-29, 11.23, 24, 19.25-27 Act 2.29, 34 1Cor 15.22, 23, 51-55 1Thess 4.16-17 Phil 3.20-21 Mt 13.38-40 Rev 20.5, 9, 14, 15

10 Commandments binding on Christians Kept forever Christ came not to delay Tells us what sin and not transgress Keep the Sabbath Mt 22.37-40, 19.17 Js 2.10 Jn 14.15, 15.10 Ps 119.152 Mt 5.17-19 1Jn 3.4 Rom 7.7 Ex 31.18, 20.8-11 Is 66.22-23, 58.13-14 Lk 4.16 Ezek 20.12, 22.26 Is 8.16, 20 Mt 15. 3,9,13 Act 17.2, 16.13, 13.42,44 Gen 7.2 Lev 11.9, 11.3, 6-7 Is 66.15,17 Act 15.29 Deut 29.18 Prov 20.1 Lk 21.34 (1Cor 10.31 2Cor 6.17)

Pork, blood, food, herbs and wine prohibited

Central Message: Faith in Jesus Christ in His death Mt 1.21 on the cross Act 16.30-31, 3.19 Ijn 1.9 Keep the commandments (Keep the Sabbath) No salvation without it Eccl 12.13-14 Rev 14.12, 22.14 Js 2.10 Belong to the true church Rev 14.12 Act 2.41,47 Mt 12.30, 25 Jn 10.1,7,16 Eph 4.5 Baptism door to the church 1Cor 12.12,13 Keeping not all this is Prov 28.9 unpardonable sin Jn 14.21,26, 16.8,13


Especially the 10 Commandments If not followed he will be lost

Mt 12.31 Js 4.17 Heb 10.26

Only Second Death No hell now, not in torment Annihilation, destruction, burned by fire After which no fire left Results of fire are eternal not eternal fire Rev 21.8 Mt 10.28 Mt 13.38-40 Ps 145.20, 37.20, 21.9 Mal 13.38-40, 16.27 Jn 12.48, 5.28-29 Is 47.14 Ps 37.20,10 Jde 7 Rev 20.10,9

All shall appear Jesus advocator of the righteous Judged according to what is written according to our works 2 Cor 5.10 Act 17.31 Dan 7.9,10 1Jn 2.1 Heb 4.15,7.25 Rev 20.15 Phil 4.3 Rev 20.12 Mt 12.36 Eccl 11.9 Rev 22.11-12

Today the Adventists are no longer considered as cults because they believe salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ and not by the Ten Commandments.

This group began teaching that to be saved you must keep the Ten Commandments, keep the Sabbath and enter their church. But now among its leaders and people they have shown strong convictions that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ not of works, which we have done. They still keep the Ten Commandments as a way of life and worship on the Sabbath and not on the first day of the week as observed by Christians. What is important here is whom they trust for the salvation of their souls. The basic truth is that if you hold the true gospel as the apostles of Jesus Christ have taught you are not cast out or damned.



Cults have the cloak of Christianity but deny its saving power in Christ. The most central and noticeable character of all the cults we have studied is that they deny in their teachings the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to be enough for mans forgiveness and salvation and one should hear this gospel, repent and believe to be saved. This gospel truth is hidden, lacked and not preached by them. Below are the lists of errors that are common among these cults. Satan through the guise of religion and a false church hides the gospel by exalting the leader, the name of the church and their new found unbiblical and unsound doctrines the Bible is not enough for them they have new revelations contradicting the original written word these revelations comes from spirits, they where given new books and new teachings from their leaders by these they begin to deny Christ as the only Lord and Savior, Christs death and resurrection is not sufficient for redeeming man from his sins by substituting with obedience to their doctrines corrupting the Scriptures the gospel is not clear to them, they believe that the word of God is the gospel which are composed of doctrines they concocted erroneously from the scriptures

but the word of God clearly shows us that the gospel is about the Son of God who died on the cross and resurrected from the dead for our salvation and forgiveness Jesus becomes a small god, a man, a prophet, some accepts He is divine but denies He is enough for salvation they all teach in order to be save you have to enter and belong to their group their leader is the only messenger of God today They do maintain that God is the Father, some deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God and all deny the deity of the Holy Spirit


If we or an angel from heaven preach another gospel contrary to what you have received let him be accursed Galatians 1:8-9 Do not believe every spirit, but test every spirit whether they are from God, because many false prophets have come out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God 1John 4:1-2 But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1Timothy 4:1 For many will come in my Name, saying I am the Christ and will mislead many. Matthew 24:5 Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; No one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19



Occult comes from the Latin word occult. It carries the idea of things hidden, sacred and mysterious.

1. 2. 3. 4. Deals with the things hidden or secret. Deals with operation of events beyond human power. Deals with super natural presence of demonic forces. Deals with satanic and demon worship and influences.

Astrology, fortune telling, magic, spiritism, palmistry, card reading, superstition, hypnotism, witchcraft, parapsychology, amulets, mediumship, incantations and satanism.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

Why people get involved superstition offspring curse fortune due to incurable diseases curiosity conformity dissatisfied with religious experience power of satan draws and blinds ambitious to powers no faith in God looks for experience searches the way have not known God not know the truth not know Gods word poverty family curse transfer of spirits spells



When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who call up the dead.

For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD you God. Deuteronomy18:9-13 But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them- I place no other burden on you. Revelation 2:24 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and SORCERERS and IDOLATERS and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8



Dear friend: GOD LOVES YOU We can end the search. God looked down and searched for man. He has sent His Son Jesus Christ and reached out for us. May the God of heaven and earth and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ enlighten you with these truths. Come to Jesus by faith and believe that He died for you and rose from the dead for your redemption and forgiveness. Confess and receive Him now as the Lord of all and Savior and you shall be saved and receive eternal life.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other Name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved JESUS CHRIST Act 4:12, 10


The Bible says, but for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is called the second death. Revelation 21:8 Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God from heaven and He took the form of a man, came down to earth to bring us the true will of His Father. He said, I came as the Light to the world, anyone who believes in Me shall not remain in darkness. John 12:46. The Son of Man came to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. 1Peter 3:18 He who believes the Son has eternal life. John 3:36. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 1John 5:11-12


that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." Romans 10:9-13

Friend, do you want to be saved from the penalty of sins and from hell? You need to have the Son of God. He wants to save and dwell in you. He came from heaven, suffered, died on the cross and has risen from the dead to pay for our sins and for us to have eternal life.

This is what you should do:

Ask forgiveness from God for all of your sins. Mark 2:5 Repent from all of your sins and forsake them. Luke 13:3 Call upon the Lord Jesus in prayer and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Romans 10:9

Follow this prayer:

Heavenly Father, Im coming before You. Forgive me from all of my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord. He died and resurrected for our sins. Cleanse me with the blood of Jesus. Lord Jesus, I receive You as my Lord and Savior. I receive now the eternal life and forgiveness of all my sins. Lord fill me with Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name. Amen.


The Religion Chart

Scott.World Religion Chart.The Prodigal Thought.3 gfebruary2014.<http://prodigalthought.net/2009/11/06/charts-on-worldreligions-denominations/>


Comparison/Contrast of Various Religions & Christianity



Differences between the Religions

Hinduism Buddhism Islam Christianity

Ultimate Reality

no god;or impersonal essence; impersonal or many gods "buddha essence" divine in our essence trapped in reincarnations in an illusionary world, due to ignorance & karma deliverance from the world through knowledge, works, or devotion merging with ultimate reality, or heavenly bliss in the presence of gods

a Creator who is a creator who is personal & who has unknowable made himself known


created by god, created by God and no personal essence but nothing is at in his image all like him trapped in reincarnations in a world of suffering, due to desire and karma deliverance from the world of suffering through the cessation of desire extinction of suffering, desire, and individuality (nirvana) under the judgment of allah, due to failure to keep the law deliverance from judgment through obedience to the law under God's judgment, due to sinful rebellion deliverance from judgment by faith in God's gracious provision of salvation through Jesus Christ

Humanities Problems


Final State

paradise or hell heaven or hell


Buddhism & Christianity Contrasted



Nirvana, an abstract void

Nirvana, an abstract void, but also an undifferentiated Buddha essence an impermanent collection of aggregates. For some, personal existence continues for a while in the Pure Land

A personal God who is selfexistent and changeless Made in God's image. Personal existence has value. We continue to exist as persons after death. We suffer because of the consequences of our sin. But we also suffer because, being made in God's image, we are fulfilled only when in relationship with God. Rebellion against God causes alienation from God. To be forgiven and reconciled with God. Finding permanence in the immutability of God

An impermanent HUMANITY collection of aggregates We suffer because of desire that which is temporary, which THE causes us to continue PROBLEM in the illusion of the existence of the individual self To cease all desire in order to realize the THE non-existence of the SOLUTION self, thus finding permanence

Same as Theravada

To become aware of the Buddha nature within


Self-reliance. The means vary from that following the Self-reliance. Must Eightfold path, to emptying Reliance on God. Repenting follow the middle path the mind, to accruing merit of sins and trust in the saving and accrue karmic by performing rituals, to work of Jesus Christ merit realizing the Buddha nature within, to depending on the merits of a bodhisattva The outcome varies from that of returning as a bodhisattva in order to guide others, to entering nirvana, to living in a Pure Land from which one can enter nirvana Our existence as individuals survives death, and we are fulfilled as we are in eternal fellowship with a loving and personal God

The enter Nirvana THE where the ego is OUTCOME extinguished


Buddha and Jesus

Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God. Buddha claimed to point to the way by which we could escape suffering and attain enlightenment Buddha taught that the way to eliminate suffering was by eliminating desire

Jesus did claim to have a special relationship with God Jesus claimed to be the way by which we could receive salvation and eternal life Jesus taught that the solution to suffering is found not in eliminating desire but in having right desire

Islam and Christianity Contrasted

Islam Christianity


A singular unity. No partner is to associated with God

A compound, or complex unity-one in essence, three in person

Humanity Good by nature

Sinful by nature Sin is serious in that it is spoken of as causing spiritual death. It reflects an attitude of moral rebellion against the holy God, which causes us to be alienated from him. An atonement is necessary before relationship with God can be restored The standard for salvation is the absolute holiness of God. Therefore, it can only be offered as a gift by God, based on his grace and Jesus' atoning work, and it can be received through faith. Salvation cannot be earned


is thought of in terms of rejecting right guidance. It can be forgiven through repentance. No atonement is necessary

The standard for salvation is having one's

Salvation good deeds outweigh one's bad deeds.

Therefore it is based on human effort


One of the major prophets. To associate Jesus with God is blasphemy. Muslims affirm the virgin birth of Jesus and the miracles that he performed According to Islamic tradition, Jesus did not die on the cross. Instead, he ascended to heaven, and Judas died in his place on the cross. Muslims believe that it is disrespectful to believe that God would

The one and only begotten Son of God

Death of Jesus

Jesus died a physical death and gave his life as the substitutionary atonement for our sins. He then rose from the dead in a physical but immortal body and appeared to hundreds of witnesses. The


allow one of his prophets-and especially one of the most honored of the prophets-to be crucified.

end was not that of dishonor but that of the highest exaltation.

The Bible Corrupted. Abrogated by the Qur'an

Authentic. Divinely inspired. The final authority in all matters of faith and truth

The God of the Qur'an & The God of the Bible

Both are One Both are transcendent Creators of the universe Both have spoken to humanity through messengers or prophets, through angels, and through the written word Both will judge the wicked Both are sovereign Both are omnipotent Both know in intimate detail the thoughts and deeds of mankind

The God of the Qur'an & The God of the Bible (Differences)
Qur'an Bible

God is a singular unity

God is a compound unity who is in essence & three in person

God is not a father, and he has begotten no sons

God is a tri-unity who has eternally existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

God broke into history through a word that is written

God broke into history through the Word who is Jesus Christ

"loves not the prodigals"

Jesus tells the story of a father, a metaphor for God the Father, who longs for the return of his prodigal son

Allah loves not those that do wrong & are treacherous, sinful

Comparison/Contrast of Various Religions & Christianity.Tkoh.Org.3February2014.<http://tkoh.org/traingmanuals/cog/comparisoncontrast_of_various_r.htm>.