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Spirituality        < Previous        Next >


What the Different Faiths Believe,

In a Nutshell


Today's Snack: Peanuts in the shell! We're not trying to imply or even joke that these religions are NUTS. It's just that old expression - "in a nutshell" - meaning, the basics and the most important facts to know about each religion are described here.

As for eating peanuts: they're good for you, but if you're allergic to nuts, do NOT eat them - choose something else you like.

Opening and eating peanuts -- cracking those soft shells and getting the nuts out -- it's pure food fun. Nourishing, too - just like understanding the similarities and differences between these faiths will nourish your spirit. Enjoy!





Print out one copy of this game for each student,

but conceal the answers, below




Here is a list of six major religions or "belief systems" of the world. Underneath the list are paragraphs that describe them. They are NOT listed in order! They are scrambled up! You have to read the paragraphs and decide which is which.


Write the letter of the descriptive paragraph beside each religion.


How well did you do? Answers below - but don't peek!



Buddhism: ________


Islam: ________


Christianity: ________


Hinduism: ________


Judaism: ________


Cults / Occult Belief Systems: ________







God is worshipped and the Old

Testament of the Bible is studied.

The 10 Commandments are followed.

Moral behavior here on Earth is the

focal point, with a strong emphasis on

equality and social justice. Everything

relates to the good of the community.

There are many rituals and celebrations

pointing back to this religion's history.

God is good, loving, holy and just.








Most of the mysteries of life are hidden

and it takes special rituals, potions or

secret concepts and sayings to "make

things happen" for you. Only a select few

get "initiated." There is no personal, distinct

God in the sense that other religions revere

a Creator Being. "God" is more often defined as

a force, or a "divine spark" present everywhere,

especially in nature itself. Humans are basically

on their own. There is no clearly-defined difference

between "right" and "wrong." Everything is relative:

what's "good" to one person may be "bad" to another,

but that's OK; there are no rules for living. There's no

distinct way to get to heaven and everybody can go there.

There may be many lesser spirits acknowledged and

sometimes worshipped or "served."

Some cause good and some cause evil.





Ignorance, not sin, is the roadblock to

salvation. The world and your self are

just illusions, not reality. Life means

suffering because we are greedy and

grasping, so to stop suffering, we have

to stop craving. Through self-discipline

and meditation, we can become happy

and unselfish enough to reach

"nirvana," a state of self-less perfection.

There is no defined "God" to worship.

Believers follow the Five Precepts: no killing,

including animals; no stealing,

no sex outside of marriage, no wrong speech,

such as gossiping; and no drugs or alcohol.

There are statues and images of key people

and figures in this faith, but they are not

worshipped, just respected and revered.





God, or "Allah," is worshipped as having

all power and majesty, but not as a god

of love, who can be known. Instead, he

guides, and going to heaven depends

on each person's actions, not anything

that Allah does personally. To memorize

the scriptures, called the Qur'an, you

improve your chances of doing the right

things and getting to heaven. A man

named Muhammad who could neither read

nor write is believed to have heard these

rules for living in 610 A.D., but he is not

worshipped as God, only honored. Allah

is not the same God described in the

Bible because there is no Holy Spirit or

Jesus Christ - no trinity of three persons

in one essence. However, Jesus is revered

in this faith as a divine being, though not as

God per se, just a prophet like Muhammad.

Prayers to Allah must be recited five times a day,

facing a city called Mecca in Saudi Arabia.




Reincarnation is the chief feature of this

faith, but the goal of life is to perfect

yourself to escape the endless rebirths

and dissolve your personality into the

unimaginable abyss, called "Brahman."

Your lot in life is considered set, and your

fate is predetermined. It's called "karma."

You improve yourself by four "yogas," or

"ways": study; worshipping divine

beings; doing good, and meditating. It is

considered mature to deny yourself of

rewards. Some believers revere cows,

monkeys and snakes, and some have

"house gods" they have contact with,

as they believe they acquire spiritual

gain whenever they worship things.

But there is no distinct, personal "God."





God is Three Persons in one essence:

Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both Old

and New Testaments of the Bible are

studied. The 10 Commandments are

followed. You get to heaven by

believing that Jesus Christ came to

Earth as a man and let Himself be killed

to pay for everybody's sins. It is through

God's grace and mercy, not your own good deeds,

that you're saved. You can have a personal

relationship with Jesus and commune

with Him in prayer. You signify your faith

by baptism and communion. You don't

have to give money to the poor or

attend worship, but most believers do.























A: Judaism

B: Cults/Occult Religions

C: Buddhism

D: Islam
E: Hinduism

F: Christianity


By Susan Darst Williams Spirituality 02 2011



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