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Who is my Neighbor?. A study of world religions. October 31, 2012. First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. Week 2: What is a Cult? OCT. 10 - Megan Scholarly vs. Popular Definition Common Traits Examples

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Who is my Neighbor?

A study of

world religions

October 31,


First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh

  • Week 2: What is a Cult? OCT. 10 - Megan

  • Scholarly vs. Popular Definition

  • Common Traits

  • Examples

  • Week 3: Hinduism Brief History OCT. 17 – Megan (Kittie will contribute TM materials)

  • Vedas

  • Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Goddess followers

  • Beliefs & Practice

  • Week 4: Buddhism OCT 24 – Megan

  • Brief History

  • Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana

  • 4 Truths, Eight-fold Path

  • Mahayana Sects (Zen/Chan, Pure Land, etc.)

  • Beliefs & Practice

  • Week 5: "Minor" Religions OCT. 31 - Megan

  • Zoroastrianism

  • Sikhism

  • Jainism

  • Taoism

  • Shinto

  • Week 6: Judaism NOV. 7 – Kittie

  • Brief history

  • Ancient vs. Modern

  • Orthodox vs. Reformed

  • Beliefs and Practices

  • Week 7: Christianity NOV. 14 - Kittie

  • Brief History

  • Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Other

  • Beliefs & Practice


  • Week 8: Islam NOV. 28 - Kittie

  • Brief History

  • Four pillars

  • Shiite vs. Sunni

  • Sufism

  • Week 9: New Religions (post 1800) DEC. 5 - Kittie

  • Mormonism

  • Jehovah's Witnesses

  • Scientology

  • Neo-Paganism/Wicca

  • Various New Asian Religions

  • Week 10: Overview/Summary: What Does All This Mean for Christians?

Minor religions

“Minor” Religions

Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism

Minor religions in pittsburgh
Minor Religions in Pittsburgh

  • Hindu Jain Temple

  • Zoroastrian Association of Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh

  • Pittsburgh Sikh Gudwara – Monroeville (below)


  • Began in India between the 9th and 6th centuries BCE.

  • Has about 6 million followers in India alone.

  • Mahavrata (“Great Vows”): 5 principles by which Jains live.

    • Ahimsa – non-violence; applies to animals as well as people, even insects and microorganisms

    • Satya – truthfulness; second to ahimsa. In a situation where telling the truth would lead to violence, one should remain silent.

    • Asteya – non-stealing; one should always give a fair wage to laborers and a fair price for products, in addition to not taking something belonging to another.

    • Brahmacharya – celibacy; monks and nuns are completely celibate, lay people are prohibited from being in sensual contact with anyone besides their spouse.

    • Aparigraha – non-possession; one should not seek after possessions, and should not possess more than one needs.


  • 24 Tirthankaras – lit. ‘ford-builder’; 24 people who became ‘pure souls’ who can help others achieve liberation. Only the last two are considered to have been historical by scholars.

  • Karma – in Jainism, karma is conceived of as a sort of soot-like substance which clings to the soul and keeps it from rising out of samsara.

Jain practices
Jain Practices

  • Monks carry small brooms and sweep the ground ahead of them so that they do not accidentally step on any insects.

  • Vegetarianism – Jains are strictly vegetarian; they also do not eat root vegetables.

  • Fasting, prayer, offerings, and meditation

  • Sallekhana – when a Jain is close to death, they may willingly chose to abstain from food and drink. This is seen as a way to remove a lot of karma.

Taoism daoism
Taoism (Daoism)

  • Approximately 400 million adherents in China

  • Part philosophy, part religion

  • Main texts: the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi

  • Dates back to the Han Dynasty in China (c. 200 BCE – 200 CE)

  • Not a single, coherent, organized religion

Taoist beliefs
Taoist Beliefs

  • Tao – ‘the way’; both ‘path’ and ‘doctrine’

    • Te – the expression of Tao; ‘power’ or ‘virtue’

  • Wu-wei – ‘nonaction’; one must be like water, in harmony with their surroundings/the universe

  • Ziran – ‘naturalness’; the original state of all things

  • Sanbao – ‘Three Treasures’; compassion, moderation, and humility

  • Qi – ‘life force’

  • Yin and Yang – the two main components of all things; nothing can be reduced to pure yang or pure yin

    • Yin – cold, wet, dark, feminine

    • Yang – hot, dry, bright, masculine

Taoist beliefs and practices
Taoist Beliefs and Practices

  • Pantheon – differs between sects, but generally mirrors the traditional Chinese bureaucracy, with deities being promoted/demoted based on their actions; headed by the Jade Emperor.

  • Exorcisms

  • Alchemy – goal of prolonging one’s life

  • Astrology/Divination


  • Confucius (Kong Fuxi) lived from 551-479 BCE, during a period of political disunification.

  • Non-theistic

  • Six books

    • Classic of Poetry – prophecy

    • Book of Documents – history

    • Book of Rites – laws

    • Book of Music – rituals

    • Classic of Change – divination

    • Spring and Autumn Annals – chronicle of the state of Lu

Confucian ethics
Confucian Ethics

  • Five virtues

    • Ren - humaneness

    • Yi – righteousness/justice

    • Li - etiquette

    • Zhi – knowledge

    • Xin – integrity

  • Sizi (four virtues)

    • Loyalty

    • Filial piety

    • Continency

    • Righteousness

Confucian ethics1
Confucian Ethics

  • Five Relationships

    • Ruler to Ruled

    • Father to Son

    • Husband to Wife

    • Elder Brother to Younger Brother

    • Friend to Friend

  • The gentleman – typically described as a scholar/literate person, is supposed to cultivate morality, filial piety, and ren

  • Rectification of Names – the need for things to be properly recognized as they are

Confucian controversy
Confucian Controversy

  • Ancestor Worship

    • Argument between the Pope and Jesuits as to whether Confucianism was a philosophy or a religion

    • Were ancestor veneration rituals worship or just to respect the dead?

  • Women and Confucianism

    • Traditionally constrained by gender roles

      • 'three subordinations': be subordinate to her father before marriage, to her husband after marriage, and to her son after her husband died.

    • Considered virtuous to die as a widow


  • 30 million Sikhs worldwide

  • Follow the ten gurus, first was Nanak Sahib

    • Born in the 15th cent., CE

  • Main scripture: Gurū Granth Sāhib Ji

    • monotheistic

Sikh beliefs
Sikh Beliefs

  • God is not fully knowable

    • Can only be seen through the heart, by meditation

    • God is genderless, formless

    • Final destination is spiritual union with God

  • Maya – ‘unreality’

    • Results in separation from God

    • Five evils: ego, anger, greed, attachment, lust

  • All are equal in God’s eyes

    • Women can lead in prayers

Sikh practices
Sikh Practices

  • Langar – community meal

    • Served at the Gudwara (Sikh place of worship) to the entire community

  • Naming ceremony

    • All boys are given the last name Singh (‘lion’) and girls the last name Kaur (‘lioness’)

    • Guru Granth Sahib is opened randomly and the child is given a name with the first letter on the top left hand corner of the left page.

  • Sikhs are required to marry when they reach a certain age; divorce is prohibited

Sikh practices1
Sikh Practices

  • The Five K’s

    • kēs(uncut hair)

    • kaṅghā(small wooden comb)

    • kaṛā(circular steel or iron bracelet)

    • kirpān(sword/dagger)

    • kacchera(special undergarment)

  • Prohibitions:

    • Cutting hair

    • Intoxication

    • Adultery

    • Blind spirituality

    • Material obsession

    • Sacrifice of creatures

  • Non-family-oriented living

  • Worthless talk

  • Priestly class

  • Eating meat killed in a ritualistic manner

  • Having premarital or extramarital sexual relations


  • Originated in Persia c. 6th-18thcent. BCE

    • Founded by the prophet Zoroaster

  • Monotheistic – God is called ‘Ahura Mazda’ (means ‘Lord of light and wisdom’)

Zoroastrian beliefs
Zoroastrian Beliefs

  • Asha – truth/order

  • Druj – falsehood/disorder

  • Agra Manyu – lit. ‘evil spirit’; the antithesis of Ahura Mazda

  • Saoshyant – a messiah-figure who will appear at the end of time to resurrect the dead.

  • The universe is egg-shaped, created to stop Agra Manyu

  • The dead must cross the Bride of Judgement to paradise or hell

    • Hell is unpleasant but not eternal; punishment fits crimes

Zoroastrian practices
Zoroastrian Practices

  • Dead are exposed in ‘towers of silence’

    • After some corpses poisoned birds of prey, some communities have switched to cremation or burial.

    • Do not want corpses to pollute creation

  • Free will is embraced, predestination is not accepted

  • Water and fire are seen as bringing about ritual purity

    • Fire Temple – a Zoroastrian place of worship

    • Worship through fire, do not worship fire

  • Do not accept any form of monasticism

  • Men, women, and children must all keep their heads covered.