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The Challenge of Comparative Religion

  • William Grassie

Abstract

There are some preliminaries that need to be addressed. We think we know what religion is and what religions are at first consideration. There is Christianity, with its Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox varieties. There is Judaism, which now comes in the flavors of Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox, as well as its Ashkenazi and Sephardic ethnic variations. There is Islam, which comes in the form of Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi, the latter being a somewhat mixed category. There is Hinduism, which comes with a huge pantheon of gods, philosophies, and practices—too many to list. Buddhism, on the other hand, is neatly divided into two streams—Theravada and Mahayana—although this turns out to be quite misleading. In China, we find a synchronistic mix of Taoism and Confucianism, which also picked up a lot of Buddhism along the way. To this survey, we might add a few smaller but significant sects, including Sikhism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism from South Asia, as well as innumerable primal religions from surviving indigenous peoples all around the world. Shintoism in Japan and other ancestor-worship cults might be best understood as surviving primal religions. The absence of Baha’i from this list will disturb some, but then I did not include Yoruba religions either. This is the basic typology of the standard “Introduction to World Religions” course offered to undergraduates at colleges and universities all over the United States.

Keywords

Human Language Grand Unify Theory Truth Claim World Religion Christmas Tree 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Another source puts the number of distinct religions in the world at ten thousand, of which 150 have 1 million or more members. These statistics are put together to support Christian missionaries in David Barrett, George Kurian, and Todd Johnson, World Christian Encyclopedia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). The authors count some 33,830 denominations within Christianity.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© William Grassie 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Grassie

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