Six billion people on earth are religious. Chances are you have neighbors that are of a different religion than yours. But there are so many religions, how can you possibly understand them all?
Garry has provided a comprehensive look at over twenty religions. He begins with the largest religion, Christianity, with believers numbering nearly a third of the world's population. He reviews the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity, as well as Protestant and Evangelical Christianity.
He has six chapters on Islam, the world's second largest religion. He covers its beginnings, the Five Pillars, additional core beliefs, its theology, its varieties and issues, and finally, the very unorthodox Nation of Islam.
Other religions have extended treatment too, such as three chapters on Hinduism, the world's third largest religion, and three chapters on the various sects of Buddhism.
The other religions have brief reviews, generally just four pages. These are meant to be introductions to the topics and are by no means exhaustive or complete. He has included secular humanism since it fits his “working definition of religion as an organized system of beliefs that answers ultimate questions about life.” (138)
I learned that the newest religion is Baha'i, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, and emphasizes peace and unity of all religions. Ethical dualism, the concept of weighing good and bad deeds, originated in Zoroastrianism. People will often mix religions, such as the American Christian who looks at her horoscope every morning or the African Christian who takes his ill son to the native healer.
This is a good introduction to the major world religions. It is easy to understand. Each chapter takes just a few minutes to read so it won't for you to have a better understanding of those whose beliefs differ from yours.
Garry Morgan is Professor of Intercultural Studies at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He spent eighteen years of ministry in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania. He and his wife live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Bethany House, 175 pages. Publisher's product page.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for the purpose of this review.