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Why Study World Religions
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Is it important to study world religions? It is probably true that most Americans know very little about other religions and that is probably true for believers of other faiths around the world. Global religious doctrine involves a replacement understanding of theology within a philosophy spiritual world within which theology should speak to quite one spiritual tradition and be capable of dialogue with several alternative a new systems.
It's impossible to wander through any of the major art museums in the world and fail to recognize that the sculptures, paintings, figurines, pottery, and statues beg an understanding of world religions. The stories, beliefs, hopes, dreams, fears, and deepest convictions of peoples throughout history have been captured visually in art and intellectually in sacred texts. These faith traditions have shaped human history in multiple ways - political, military, social, cultural, and intellectual.
Studying world religions enables the student to integrate the accumulated knowledge of the centuries into a holistic understanding of human societies. Sociology, literature, history, political science, anthropology, and art all draw on religious contexts to give a fuller dimension to their own disciplines.
In generations past, foreign cultures and religions were rarely encountered. They remained two-dimensional descriptions in textbooks. Today we may sit in class next to a Muslim, work with a Baha'i, and travel through India; the woman in line next to you at the grocery store may be a Buddhist or a Wiccan. In a world where technology has made multicultural and interreligious contact commonplace, we all need to be prepared to live as neighbors with those of different faiths. Integrated markets and cultures demand the sensitivity and mutual respect that comes with understanding of belief systems.
Students of world religions are prepared to work side-by-side with people of different faith traditions in the larger efforts shared by all faiths. Every religion instructs its faithful in ethics of compassion, personal integrity, and social responsibility. Finding common ground and working together toward the needs of the community is made possible through a fuller vision of world religions.
So how do we go about learning about global faiths? We can certainly read books about it or go online to research the various faiths or we can take courses that cover world religions, either individually or collectively. The ultimate goals may even be to earn a Master of Theology Online degree in world religions. However, we choose to explore different religions, it seems to be a very worthwhile endeavor to know about other faiths.
Jean Conley is author of two books, workshop presenter & MTh in Contemporary Christianity. He is also an Instructor/Life Coach of Master of Theology Online.And Director/Founder of Celebrant program.
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