REL 134 Week 5 Learning Team Assignment Contemporary Issues in Western Religions Paper
REL 134 Week 5 Learning Team Assignment Contemporary Issues in Western Religions Paper
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Date Created: 11/12/15
Contemporary Issues of Religion REL/134 Contemporary Issues of Religion One major factor that contributes to stress between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and causes struggles are the historical connections between the three religions. In the context of theology all three religions share similarities and also have many differences between them (Hickock, Encyclopdedia of Philosophy). Judaism was the first of the three religions to develop and with it came the monotheistic foundation that all three religions have, which is the one of biggest factors connecting all three. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam also share some general theological beliefs, morale values, and even some traditions that have developed in all three throughout the generations they have been practiced. Despite these similarities differences in other areas of the three religions have caused struggles between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Two key factors in understanding Christianity are the elements of faith and the understanding of the multiple belief systems. Practitioners of Christianity are known as Christians, a word that is rooted from their belief in Jesus Christ, and believe that salvation can be attained through following the teachings of Jesus. The teachings that Jesus gave are rooted in Judaism, which had a presence before the life of Christ. Jesus taught that accepting the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God. Both the aspects of faith and history have important roles in Christianity. One deviation of Christianity from what is considered normal in a philosophical is the religions focus on specific experiences and historical events (Hickock, Encyclopedia of Philosophy). What makes Christianity unique is that there is no list of definitions that universally define the faith. Christian beliefs and traditions are often adapted by the individual communities that devote themselves to the religion (Hickock, Encyclopedia of Philosphy). Some of the general beliefs common in Christianity are incarnation, creation, the trinity, heaven, hell, judgment, redemption, and the church. Christianity’s and Judaism’s belief concerning creation are very similar. Incarnation beliefs in Christianity include that Jesus was born in approximately 5 BCE in Palestine and was later crucified in Jerusalem in approximately 30 CE. The New Testament gospels were soon written through the convictions of Jesus’ followers, which gave birth the foundations of the Christian church. The four gospels give witness to the Jesus’ divine status and the power of salvation that God offers through Him. (Hickock, Encyclopedia of Philosophy). In Christianity the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together are called the trinity. This idea was developed to bridge the historical and spiritual aspects of Christian beliefs. Currently there are many interpretations of the trinity in existence. A basic definition of the trinity that can be used is the affirmation of the metaphysical structure of the Christian God and His transcendence. The bond between the three divine realities, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is mysterious but the three realities have a distinct individuality. One perspective that gives the three realities more individuality than other interpretations is that each of the three parts of the trinity has its own consciousness. Another theory about the trinity is about God and his relationship with the world that is His creation. This theory states the belief that the same God or same individual divine power has acted in three different ways in attempts to intercede and interact with mankind. These three methods of interaction and intercession are creation and providence, redemption, and sanctification and inner guidance. The theory also holds the position that God must interact with people and creation in these three distinct ways but these three forms of interaction do not reveal three distinct but related divine entities (Hickock, Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Christian redemptions is the experience of reconciling with God and has the consequence of bringing reconciliation with other people, circumstances in life, demands of life, and with oneself. A large part of the reconciliation belief is that God is forgiving to the people He created. In addition to redemption heaven, hell, and judgment are also important ideas of Christianity. Jesus repeatedly expressed the need for right action of the deeds people carry out during their life in the world. Jesus’ perspective was that people are free to make their own decisions but should be responsible for the decisions made and their own well-being and happiness depended on what actions they decided to take part in during their lives. Results of these actions can be rewarded with Heaven or punishment through eternity in Hell. Until recently heaven was understood as being above the sky outside of the Earth and Hell was thought of as being a place beneath the surface of the Earth. In modern times heaven is thought of as being enjoying the full presence of and acceptance by God and being allowed to participate in His divine Kingdom. The divine Kingdom of God is now thought of as His purpose for creation, while hell is considered by many to self exclusion from the Kingdom of God (Hickock, Encyclopedia of Philosophy). In Christianity community and the church play an important role. The largest Christian institution is the Roman Catholic Church, which believe community can be seen through continuity and succession of leadership. In some countries Catholicism is not even considered Christianity and this may be more accurate. Protestant ideas of community hold to the idea that institutions associated with Christianity need continuity (Hickock, Encyclopedia of Christianity). The original Greek word used in Scripture to describe church and community was not in reference to institutions but was in reference to the people of community itself; therefore both these definitions are invalid and wrong. The historical and theological connections between Christianity and Judaism were first present in Judaism. Both Christianity and Islam have their roots in Jewish history. Not only are the three religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, connected through historical events but they are also connected through geographical locations of their origins. In Jewish and Christian scripture the Jewish people are the creator’s chosen people and became a nation during the time of their tribes slavery in ancient Egypt. God’s covenant with Abraham was continued with his descendants through the delivery of the Ten Commandments to Moses after the time of slavery to Egypt ended. In Christianity the belief is that God manifested Himself in the form of His divine Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was meant not only for bringing God’s teachings and prophesy to the world and its people but to die as atonement for the shortcomings of mankind, which is an act that brought reconciliation between God and man when and if man chooses to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice. Christian scripture states the belief that although the Jewish people are God’s chosen people the Gentiles (non-Jewish) are able to be grafted into the Jewish people inheritance of God’s kingdom and this can be done through acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Many of the first Christian teachers and leaders were converts from Judaism that later became the first missionaries and church builders. The God of Abraham and the God of Jesus is the same God and Christianity also accepts Jewish scripture as historically accurate. Therefore Jewish and Christian history and theology are very similar. The most prominent similarity between the theology of Christianity and the theology of Judaism is that both are monotheistic belief systems. Christianity and Judaism both have their historical roots with the same historical figures and teachings. The Islamic scripture is the teaching of Muhammad and also mentions Jesus and the work He did. Islam is also a monotheistic and includes beliefs that their god, Allah, is the supreme divine creator. Another major part of Islam is the complete surrender to Allah, which should be willing and sincere. In order to come to complete surrender to Allah a Muslim should conform to God’s commandments that were delivered by Muhammad, a prophet sent by God to deliver the message to the world. Islam incorporates many of Jesus’ teachings into their belief system although Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus and view him as another one of the prophets sent by God. Table 1 Basic similarities between Christianity, Judaism and, Islam. Christianity Judaism Islam Monotheistic: God is Monotheistic: God is Monotheistic: Allah or established as the established as the God is established as creator creator the creator Heaven or Hell Heaven or Hell, The Paradise or Hell dead will be resurrected Bible, Christian and Hebrew scriptures, the Qur’an as the spiritual Hebrew scriptures Torah ancestors Birth of Jesus: recognize Birth of Jesus, recognize Birth of Jesus: Jesus as a Jew Jesus as a Jew Note. From Comparison of Islam, Judaism and Christianity copyright 2004- 2010 Religion Facts. The struggles each religion face are unique to the traits of the religion. Some of the struggles Christianity faces are denominations, science, and interpretation. Some of the aspects that have a history of being part of Judaism have been reinterpreted with a different meaning in Christianity. This interpretation can be different either through the literal translation and what it means or the spiritual translation internal to individuals. Many different perceptions can be found within one religion, and this can cause additional struggle. In the context of different interpretations Christianity has a wide variety of different denominations. A denomination can be defined as a religious group consisted of many churches, usually a large group of churches. The reason for Christianity having many denominations is that different groups of Christians have different interpretations of the religion. Denomination is not a term found in Christian scripture. It was one of Jesus’ teachings that the church should not be divided by major differences in doctrinal interpretations (Why so many denominations of Christianity, 2002). This raises the question of why there are so many different denominations of Christianity if Jesus taught there should be no divisions. Christian scripture states that instruction was passed down through the generations orally, as was the work of many of the prophets. Paul, the author of much of the Christian New Testament commended one of his churches for not straying from what he had taught them about being followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:2). Different traditions can also originate from human practices that have been present for a long time that cause spiritual revelation to be displaced. Some of these divisions are caused by following the practices of man and politically correct ideas instead of adhering to the original teachings and ideas (Religious facts, 2010). In the case of the Christian denominations many of these denominations formed because of a specific focus on different parts of Christian scripture. One denomination adopted their name from the protestant movement founder Martin Luther and the method he taught of attaining spiritual growth. One denomination called Baptists has a strong belief in baptism. As Christians the entire religion needs to share some of the fundamental essentials of Christian faith (Religious facts, 2010). These many denominations have developed over the course of many centuries. Although each denominations has its own different practices and beliefs they are to be considered as different branches of the same religion because of agreement on basic and fundamental theological aspects set forth in the Bible (Religious facts, 2010). Christianity also faces the struggle of being discredited because of scientific evidence and theories. Two sources of struggle caused by scientific advancement are the theory of evolutions and the advancement of technology. The theory some outside observers of Christianity have is that with the presence of technology a Christians faith can be tested and sometimes lost. Science and technology versus faith is something some consider a struggle for the religion but from an internal perspective these are minor occurrences that are not at all disruptive since evolution has never been proven and technology was spoken of in Christian prophecy. Judaism also has its own struggles in modern times. Some of these struggles come from the incorporation of ancient customs, the freedom to practice Judaism, and persecution of Jews. Throughout its history Judaism and the Jewish people have been subject to persecution. Judaism began with a small tribe that became the Hebrews thousands of years ago. Judaism incorporates nationality, genealogy, and religion with strict laws liberal religious values (Religion facts, 2010). Throughout history the Jewish considered themselves chosen by god for blessings and to serve Jesus (Religion facts, 2010). Because of this perspective it has, at times, been difficult to practice Judaism. There are also many struggles that currently exist for Islam. Some of the struggles Islam faces in the modern world are the how the world perceives Islam, Islamic oppression of women, and old traditions that do not fit into the modern world. Many non-Islamic people in the world view Islam as a religion that is radical and dangerous. Like Christianity and Judaism Islam can be translated both in literal context and a spiritual context. To the Muslim people the literal word of God can be found the Qu’ran, which was supposedly revealed to a prophet name Muhammad by an angel named Gabriel. Contained within the Qu’ran are warnings, instruction, parables, and encouragement (About.com, 2010). In the modern world the Islamic oppression of women is not well accepted. Although the Qu’ran states men and women are equal the evidence of oppression of women is very obvious to outside observers. While Western thought on the different treatment of men and women in the Islamic world the Muslims consider it to be a difference in the roles of men and women. This does not consider how modern women are trying to find their own place in Islam or the position these different ‘roles’ put the women in. Traditions not suitable for modern times are necessary for Islam. The idea that Islamic religion should be political law does not fit into the modern world and its process of globalization. Islamic philosophy does not separate the church, the laws, and society, and there is intense debate in the Muslim over how to proceed with the future of Islam in Muslim countries (Molloy, 2010). Like Christianity and Judaism modernity has brought many struggles to confront Islam, which must be overcome for the continuity of the religion. The fact that many similarities and differences exist between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam has been well demonstrated. From a religious context there are literal and spiritual interpretations, traditional practices, modern practices, and extremities in all three of the religions discussed. The issues that face these different religions will either determine the strength of the religion in question or reveal the weaknesses of longstanding traditions and beliefs. In a modern globalizing world adaption may be necessary for the continuation of one or more of these three religions. References About.com. (2010). About.com Islam Qur'an. Retrieved from http://islam.about.com Bennette, D. (2010). The Christian Tradition: lining Holy and Relevant. Retrieved from http://www.anicent-future.net/traditon.html Christianity. (n.d). Retrieved from XRefer XML database Essential Beliefs of Islam. (2009, March). Islam religion part 3 of 4. Retrieved from http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/4/ John, H. (n.d). Christianity. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2245-251. Retrieved from Gale: Gale Virtual Reference Library (PowerSearch) database. Jerusalemites. (n.d.). Jerusalem and Christianity. Retrieved from http://www.jerusalemites.org/ Jerusalem/Christianity/24.htm Molloy, M. (2010). Experiencing the World’s Religion (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill. Public Broadcasting System (PBS). (2002). Global Connections the Middle East. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/themes/religion/ Religion Facts. (2010). Judaism Religion Facts. Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/ Religion Facts. (2010). Christian Denominations. Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations.html Why So Many Denominations of Christianity. (2002). Denominations of Christianity. Retrieved from http://www.allaboutreligion.org/denominations_of_christianity_faq.htm
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