Introducing World Religions

A Christian Engagement

Materials available for professors by request only


1. The Persistence of Religion

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you see the relationship between so-called traditional religions and world religions? For example, are they mixed or does one form of religion entirely substitute for the other?
  2. What are the features of Freud’s perspective on religion that seem to be valid? What features seem incomplete or invalid? Why? In what ways are Freud’s ideas still influential today?
  3. How does religion emerge from social gatherings, and in what ways does religion seem to emerge from outside of social experience? Related to this, how might religion be a result of social and cultural processes and how might religion be sui generis (“unique” or “of its own characteristics”)? What are the implications of the answers to these inquiries?
  4. Memory is important to the continuity of religion. How do Christians seek to “remember” and what biblical and theological insights provide the content of that memory? That is, what are we to remember?
  5. Karl Barth juxtaposes religion and revelation. What are your thoughts about the relationship between religion and revelation? Can the two co-exist? What are the implications for our understanding of culture, knowledge, and truth?
  6. Of Winston King’s characteristics of religion, which do you find compelling or troubling? What elements of religion are missing from King’s description?
  7. What do you find attractive about liberation theology? For instance, how helpful would it be to employ Marxist social analysis in the construction of Christian theology and Christian practice? What are the drawbacks? What other social scientific perspectives may be useful for Christian witness?
  8. What do you think of Eliade’s argument about the fundamental separation between the sacred and the profane? What are the implications of his ideas for Christian witness?
  9. The Hindu affirmation that truth can be carried in non-historical myth may challenge Christian notions of history as linear and as the arena of God’s revelation. Discuss the importance of history to understanding Christianity and Hinduism.
  10. How would you describe the religious life in your neighborhood or campus? Do you see examples of mixing of religious traditions or competition between them? Should religions today be lived out in the public sphere, or should they be a private matter?