Introduction to the world’s great religions and to the social scientific methods and approaches used to study and compare religions. Students will survey, explore and describe: the nature of religion; the indigenous religions of Africa, the Americas, China, and Japan; the great religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; their own Biblical understanding of religion; their own faith commitment and religious perspective.
It has been said of religions, “He (or she) who knows one, knows none,” which is to say that a missionally-minded follower of Jesus may learn more about her or his own faith by learning how other people believe, think, feel and conceive of gods, the supernatural, and their world order, the founders and leaders of their faith, means of grace and salvation, sacred texts and narratives, religious experience, ritual and practice, and religious communities. Student needs are served by surveying the history, significance and contemporary status of these themes in order to help in the understanding and appreciation of different belief systems. Christian missionaries who understand other religions are better suited to proclaiming the Gospel in pluralistic and cross-cultural contexts.
Familiarity, understanding and appreciation of the history of religions can be a powerful tool for understanding and appreciating the individuals who identify as members of the faith communities. For those who are called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in interfaith contexts this familiarity, understanding and appreciation is indispesible.
This course begins with a study of the Bible’s definitions of religion, including James 1:27, Deuteronomy 10:12, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Micah 6:8, Romans 13:10, Mark 12:33 and 2 Kings 17.
The aim of this course is to contextualize the Christian faith within the broader realm of the history of religion, as a missional-relational belief system that is fulfilled by satisfying the Great Commission in light of the Great Commandment.
Students will formulate a basis and approach to proclaiming the Gospel and making Christ-like disciples among the nations.
Students will understand and appreciate how religion works so that they can listen and hear members of other faith communities on their own terms, build meaningful relationships, and share their faith in cross-cultural and religiously pluralistic settings.
Real-life situations and case study examples of Christian relations with different religious groups will be utilized so that students can begin to imagine and prayerfully implement interactions among people with non-Christian belief systems.
This course presumes that God’s Holy Spirit is already at work among the nations and that the Missional University student whose commitment to sharing the Gospel with people from a different religion will also go in the Incarnational, redemptive and transformational power of the Spirit with boldness, unhindered (Acts 28:31).