Sunday, May 31, 2009

Discovering the religions of the world

Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions - A Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions of the World
By James A. Beverley
Published at Thomas Nelson

About the book.
A comprehensive introduction to the religions of the world analyzed from a Christian perspective
Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions covers more than 200 religions, sects, and cults, most of them ones the reader might encounter on any given day. It is the most complete and up-to-date Christian guide to world religions. Perfect for the student as well as the layperson. Written by leading expert in religions, James A. Beverley. Benefits include: Easy-to-follow format and comprehensive content make this the perfect resource for both scholars and laypersons Reader's knowledge of world religions is expanded, providing a new context for their own faith and world view

Who is James Beverley?
James A. Beverley is Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Canada and Associate Director, Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara. He has specialized in the study of new and world religions for three decades. He is the author of many books, including Religions A to Z, Christ and Islam, and Islamic Faith in America. Dr. Beverley has taught in Africa, Europe, India, South America, and throughout the United States and Canada. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, Evangelical Theological Society, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

My thoughts
This is a reference book that anyone should have on their bookshelf. This book is packed with information and data about many world religions. Some of the religions you would learn more about are: Baha’I, Branch Davidians, Buddhism, Christian Science, Christian Sectarian Groups, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judaism, Mormonism, New Age, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Satanism, Scientology, Sikhism, Unification church and Witchcraft.

This book introduces us to the major religions in the world as well as their leaders, doctrines, beliefs and practices. The author also provides some criticisms on important points. I enjoyed reading about the religions I knew more like Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam and I must honestly say that I look forward to learn more about other religions in the world. This book is necessary I think for any Christians because it introduces us to the beliefs of other religions and gives us some material to work on when we interact with people following that religion. As Christians, I think it is important that we know our Bible but I think it is also important that we know what someone else belief if we are to have a good interaction about religion.

The author also presents various internet sources for the religions included in the book. These internet resources can also help us to identified sites that are not supporting the Christian belief. These sites are not always easy to identify sometimes. I’m glad that Mr. Beverley took the time to list these.

With each new chapter in the book there is a lesson 101 on the religion presented. I think it is important to get a basic level of what the beliefs of that religion are before starting to read about it. For each religion presented in the book, the author takes the time to explain the practices and doctrines. For example, for the Catholic faith, he explains how a new pope is elected which is a process that some do not understand. He also highlights the various investigations encountered by various religions. You will also find some questions and answers to help you understand the belief system of the religion you are looking into. Mr. Beverley also gives a chronology of the various religions presented in his book.

The author also identifies ten tests for Truth in religion. I think anyone should approach their own faith tradition by going through these tests – God test, Christological test, biblical test, love test, spirit test, freedom test, psychological test, social/political test, prophetic test, and rational test.

In conclusion, I think this book is well done and gives us an insight on the various religions we can find in the world. Again, I seriously believe that it is important as Christians to understand our neighbors and to love them – one way of doing this is to get a proper perspective of their faith. Then we can discuss with them and present the Truth of following Christ.

This guide is available at every bookstore and even on the internet like and

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