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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.