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Major World Religions. Belief Systems, Connections, & Religious Conflicts. Hinduism. Indus River Valley Civilizations (modern-day Pakistan) about 2000 BC Arrival of the Aryans about 1500 BC Vedic Culture Spread throughout India. Vedas Karma Castes Dharma Reincarnation. Upanishads

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Major World Religions


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    1. Major World Religions Belief Systems, Connections, & Religious Conflicts

    2. Hinduism • Indus River Valley Civilizations (modern-day Pakistan) about 2000 BC • Arrival of the Aryans about 1500 BC • Vedic Culture Spread throughout India

    3. Vedas Karma Castes Dharma Reincarnation Upanishads Brahman Maya Hindu Trinity Yoga Atman Moksha Scriptures & Beliefs

    4. Vedic Hinduism • Karma: a force created by a person’s actions that comes back to affect them later • Castes: a social structure: a person born into a certain caste must accept the status and duties assigned to that caste • Dharma: “Duty”; a person must fulfill the duties of the religion and caste • Reincarnation: a cycle of birth, death, & rebirth; the status of the rebirth depends upon a person’s karma and fulfillment of dharma in previous life

    5. Classical Hinduism * Focused on figuring out ways to break the continual cycle of rebirth (samsara): • Brahman: ultimate reality; eternal life force; only thing that really exists; “…is in all things, and is all things, is above all things.” All gods are manifestations (forms) of B. • Maya: “magical spell”—a part of Brahman; the world we experience is an illusion (see, hear, feel, taste, smell, joy, pain: all maya)

    6. Hindu Trinity * 3 highest manifestations of Brahman: • Brahma the Creator: and recreator of the universe (maya) every cycle ( many thousands of years) • Vishnu the Preserver: keeps the illusion going; also considered the protector and benefactor of humans (Krishna) • Shiva the Destroyer: eventually destroys the universe leading to its recreation (cyclical time)

    7. Spiritual Liberation • Yoga: spiritual and physical meditations & exercises to gain control over the mind, body, & will; “yoke” the mind, body, and soul to get closer to understanding Brahman • Atman: our true self (B. is all that really exists, A. is a part of B., we are all B.) • Takes many lifetimes to fully understand this; when we do, we reach Moksha (breaks the cycle of reincarnation, & A. rejoins B.)

    8. Classical Stories of the Upanishads:Hindus Learning from their Gods • “The Spirit of Hinduism: Narada and Vishnu, the Preserver” • “Nachiketas and Yama, Lord of the Dead”

    9. Buddhism • Prince Siddhartha Gotama (NE India, born in 563 BC; now Nepal) • Discovery of suffering in the world (533 BC) • Buddha (528, “Awakened One”)

    10. Teachings Four Noble Truths • Existence of Suffering in the world • Cause of Suffering—desires, cravings, selfishness, attachments to this life • An End to Suffering—becoming aware of one’s desires/attachments and ridding oneself of them • Eightfold Path—method of ending attachments by changing one’s thinking and behavior and achieving enlightenment

    11. Right Understanding Right Thought Right Speech Right Action Right Work Right Effort Right Mindfulness Right Concentration Eightfold Path—”The Middle Way”

    12. Reincarnation • Caused by Karma—desires and attachments to life & things in this life cause a karmic spark at the time of death that causes another life to begin in this world of suffering • Nirvana—Extinction (“blowing out”); breaking the cycle of rebirth

    13. Theravada Traditional—religious life is a solitary individual journey (monk) Reaching Nirvana is simply “ceasing to be” Mahayana Focus on helping others reach enlightenment Bodhisattva / (“buddahood”) E.g., Tibetan & Zen Two Types of Buddhism

    14. Meditation: achieving emptiness • Mandalas • Music and chimes • Mantras (chants) • Postures and mudras • Prayer wheels

    15. Religious Conflict #1 Tibet • Communist China & the Dalai Lama

    16. Mesopotamia (Iraq) Hebrew Tribe Covenant w/ Abraham (1800s BC) (Promised Land– Canaan & Multitude of Nations-12 Tribes) Famine & Slavery in Egypt Moses—delivery, late 13th Cent. BC; the Torah (Law); JHVH / YHWH (Jehovah or Yahweh) Judaism: History & Terms

    17. Kingdom of Israel (1020--Saul, David, & Solomon; *Monotheism; *Temple of Jerusalem-offering) Split in Kingdom (922 BC, N—Israel / S—Judah (Jews)) Captivity & Exile: Assyria (720s) Babylon (587) Destruction of Temple (586) Time of Prophets & Teachings of the coming Messiah Judaism: History & Terms

    18. Messiah (Anointed One/Chosen One—Religious King to Reestablish Israel; “Christ” in Greek) Persia (539) Greeks (331) *Alexander the Great: Hellenic Empire: (Ptolemians—Egypt; Seleucids—Syria) --”Septuagint” Hasmonaean (Maccabean) Independence (168) Judaism: History & Terms

    19. Roman Empire (conquers Jerusalem, 62-47 BC) Sadducees (priestly caste; JHVH is the only divine being; Torah is the only law; Sheol is a neutral place) Pharisees (newer group; believed in development of the Law; Beliefs in Angels, Satan, Holy Spirit, Resurrection, & Hell) Judaism: History & Terms

    20. Roman Persecution following Jewish Revolts (66-70 & 132-135 AD) Diaspora (Dispersion) out of Holy Land; Jews throughout the world Modern Judaism: *Rabbi (Teacher) *Synagogue (Lesser Temples-House of Worship) *Elimination of Altar Sacrifices *Hebrew Torah & Talmud (Oral Law) Judaism: History & Terms

    21. Judaic Rituals & Beliefs • Shema (3 Statements of Belief) • Circumcision (sign of covenant) • Bar/Bat Mitzvah (13/12) • Daily Prayer (Morning, Afternoon, Evening) • Charity (Tithe) • Shabbat (Sabbath--sundown Fri.-sd. Sat.)

    22. (Kosher) Dietary Laws • Sensitive slaughter & draining blood • All vegetables & plants acceptable • Split-hooved animals that chew cud • Fish having fins & scales • Certain types of bird & fowl

    23. Jewish Holy Festivals • Rosh Hashanah (New Year); Yom Kippur (Atonement/Repentance); Sukkōt (Booths/Wandering after Egypt); Hanukah (Lights/Minora/ Maccabeean Temple); Purim (Esther & Jews from Persia); Pesach (Passover); Shavuöt (Pentecost-Torah); Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial; Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Independent Israel)

    24. Modern Branches • Orthodox (including Hasidic)-more traditional in dress, observance of laws & diet, Hebrew, separation of sexes • Conservative-moderate (most popular in US) • Reform-more liberal in dress and diet, more spiritual than law abiding, messianic age, vernacular language, ordains women

    25. Zionism • Movement to bring the return of the Jews back to the former Holy Land (now Palestine—inhabited by Arabic speaking Muslims since 638 AD) • Began in Switzerland (1897) • Reestablished State of Israel (1948)

    26. Christianity • 3-7 BC: Birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem in Judea during Roman census • Age 30 began ministry (Messiah/Christ) • Pharisaic Teachings (Angels, Satan, Heaven, & Hell), but new teachings also, including: • New concept of Messiah (humble teacher & Son of God, not a worldly military king like David)

    27. Christianity • New Covenant—Faith in the Trinity (3 persons in one God/Father, Son, Holy Spirit), Faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, and… • New Commandment—love, forgiveness, and service toward others  Eternal Life in heaven with God

    28. Major Beliefs • Trinity • Incarnation (2nd Person—Word—became the Human Son of God) • New Covenant (Faith in the Son & following his teachings = eternal life) • Greatest Commandment = LOVE (Forgiveness, Service, Charity, Humility)

    29. Major Beliefs • Sacrifice for Sins (Jewish teaching that blood covers sins-offering a life to make up for actions against God) / eternal life requires eternal forgiveness (a perfect sacrifice) *Communion Celebration (Eucharist) = Passover Meal (unleavened bread, 4 cups of wine, lamb shank bone, = Christ was the sacrificial lamb (through the Crucifixion)

    30. Major Beliefs • Resurrection & Ascension of Jesus • Holy Spirit (3rd Person: Paraclete—Advocate/Counselor) • Baptism & Evangelization • Second Coming of Christ (Resurrection, Final Judgment, & New Paradise)

    31. History of Christianity • Early Christians (Missionaries; Diverse Social Communities; Persecution by the Romans; Heresies) • Constantine (313-Edict of Milan—religious freedom; establishment of the Roman Church; Bishops & Pope; Councils; Creed (325); Latin Bible)

    32. Division in the Church • 330 AD, Constantine moved the capital of his empire from Rome to Constantinople • Early Christian Metropolies (Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria) • 476, Fall of the Roman Empire in the West; the Byzantine Empire remains strong in east = Patriarch of Constantinople (Head of the Eastern Orthodox Church); 1054, Great Schism; (Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Poland)

    33. Protestant Reformation • 1300s, John Wycliffe (English Bible) • Renaissance (Humanism) • Criticism of Roman Church in 1500s • 1517, Martin Luther (Germany) • John Calvin (Calvinist, Reformed) • King Henry VIII (Anglican, England) • Anabaptist (Brethren, Mennonite, Amish) • Others (Arian, Monophysitist, Anti-Trinitarian, Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses)

    34. Religious Conflict #2 Northern Ireland • Catholic Separatists vs. Protestant Loyalists • Northern Ireland & United Kingdom

    35. Islam • Early Arab people of the Arabian Peninsula (now Saudi Arabia) were tribal, with each city/tribe having their own gods. Many were animists or pantheists (worshipping many gods or spirits in the desert, sometimes inhabiting stones, trees, springs, or animals) • The city of Mecca worshipped Allah (Arabic for “God”).

    36. Islam • There were many Jews and Christians in Mecca as well, bringing an influence of Monotheism also (belief that only one god exists) • Muhammad, born in Mecca (late 6th Cent AD. When in his 20s, he began to go into the hills to pray and fast. During one trip, the angel Gabriel appeared, proclaimed him a prophet of God, and gave him a revelation of the truth of God.

    37. Koran • Muhammad recorded these revelation and they became known as the Koran , the word of God and sacred scriptures of the followers of Islam (the name means “surrender or obedience to the will of God”). Followers were called Muslims. • Allah is the only God, and is the same God as Jehovah, worshipped by the Jews.

    38. Spread of Islam • Muhammad created the 1st Muslim city in Medina; he conquered Mecca in 630 AD. • Granted religious tolerance of “people of the book” (Christians and Jews). • Died in Medina in 632. • Followers, called Caliphs, conquered Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Palestine (630s). • 7th-13th Centuries ruled: North Africa, Spain, Balkans, Hungary, Southern Russia, Persia, Turks of Central Asia (-stan)

    39. Beliefs • Angels are the messengers of God. • God has sent many Prophets (25-124) with the truth (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, John the Baptist, Jesus, etc.), but the sinful peoples misinterpreted them or corrupted their messages. • Muhammad was God’s last and greatest prophet.

    40. Beliefs • Final Judgment—at the end of time, all of the dead will be raised (resurrection) and judged according to their faith and deeds. Allah is absolutely supreme and in total control of the universe, but allows human beings to have free will and choose their own actions. • Nonbelievers and sinners will suffer in eternal Hell.

    41. Beliefs • True believers—those who believe in Allah, Muhammad, the Koran, and put the divine law into practice in life—will be rewarded with the delights in one of the seven layers of Heaven. • Salvation comes from obedience of God’s laws in the Koran, and following the Five Pillars of Islam. • Imam is the prayer leader at mosques.

    42. Five Pillars • Shahadah—Confessing your faith (“There is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is His prophet.”) • Salat—Daily prayer (5 times a day) • Zakat—Charity or alms giving • Sawm—Fasting during the month of Ramadan • Hajj—Pilgrimage to Mecca (Kaaba)

    43. Jihad • Often the most misunderstood teaching of Islam by outsiders (non-Muslims); • Jihad is the obligation to defend the faith and struggle against enemies of Islam. • While some interpret it as Holy War, it really means any action to defend their religion and people. (The true focus is “defensive”, not “aggressive.”)

    44. Divisions in Islam • Most Muslims are Sunni (believe in local control of the Muslim community; religious faith is very individual and personal and leaders may be elected). • Some, in Iran and surrounding areas, are Shiite(believe in central authority of a divinely appointed leader)—Husayn. • Sufi—mystical/spiritual relations w/ God through love, devotion, music, dance, etc.

    45. Islam and Law or Government • Islam requires that everything be surrendered to Allah and obedience to divine law must come before human law. • Therefore, even the government and political affairs must be guided by Islam, the official religion has the force of law. • Shari’ah—religious laws governing Muslim communities, based upon Koran, traditions about Muhammad, accepted decisions over the centuries, and the modern interpretations of Jurists. Defines as obligatory, recommended, permissible, reprehensible, or prohibited. The last two categories of actions are punishable.

    46. Religious Conflict #3 Kashmir • Hindu India vs. Muslim Kashmir and Pakistan

    47. Religious Conflict #4 Palestine • Arab Muslim Palestinians vs. Jewish Israelis