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Religions - definition and resources

Note: the links shown on this page direct you to sites which you may find interesting and helpful. The fact that a site is listed here does not necessarily mean that the chaplains or Deakin University agree with what is presented in it.

Christianity

Christianity is the predominant religion in Australia, and has been built around the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet, rabbi and healer who lived about 2000 years ago. Christians believe that Christianity is the fulfilment of the Jewish religion, since Jesus has come as the Messiah, the anointed one, promised by the Jewish prophets to establish the kingdom of God. There are numerous denominations of Christianity, incorporating a considerable range of diverse beliefs. Christians believe that Jesus was God incarnate or the 'Son of God', and that it is not his teachings, but his death and resurrection, that are paths to 'salvation'.

Christians would affirm that all religions have truth to teach us about the world, including the spiritual, since God has revealed himself in his creation and that knowledge is open to all people. However Jesus claimed to be the only way to God and Christians believe that in his coming we have the ultimate revelation of the nature and purpose of God. (Source: The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean C. Halverson, Editor, 1996, Minneapolis: Bethany House)

Church sites

Additional resources

  • Zadok Perspectives - Zadok Institute for Christianity and Society
  • Essentials - Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC) quarterly magazine
  • Christus Rex - Catholic information, links to on-line art, pictures of the Vatican, including a tour of the Sistine Chapel and a variety of other places.
  • The OMNI-LIST of Christian Links Gold - links to various Christian sites
  • Christian answers.Net - information and links to a variety of Christian sites as well as links for a number of other religions, including Buddhism and Islam.
  • Spirithome - a resource site on spirituality, the Spirit, religion, and faith as seen from a Christian viewpoint.
  • Liturgy: Christian worship & spirituality - serves individuals and communities seeking to have worship and spirituality that is vital, transforming, and faithful.

Islam

Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is a monotheistic religion (i.e. there is only one God). It is the second largest religion in the world (20% of the population) and, even more so than Judaism, is a religion of practice rather than idea. Islam means submission to the will of God, and the guide to the will of God is the Qur'an, a compilation of revelations believed to have been given by God, through the angel Gabriel, to Mohammed, starting in 610 A.D. when he was 40. Mohammed died in 632. (Source: The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean C. Halverson, Editor, 1996, Minneapolis: Bethany House)

Judaism

Judaism is no more homogeneous than Christianity, and may be considered to have the equivalent of the denominations in Christianity; however, all trace their evolution from the covenant that, in this tradition, was made between God and the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Judaism is a religion of deed, not creed, and its story is the history of God's saving acts on behalf of the 'Chosen People', and their response. (Source: The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean C. Halverson, Editor, 1996, Minneapolis: Bethany House)

Buddhism

Buddhism is founded on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who lived between 563-483 B.C. Through meditation he attained enlightenment and became the Buddha (enlightened one). He taught the Middle Way, a path to enlightenment which requires holding opposites in tension, avoiding the extremes of affluence and asceticism, and founded upon four noble truths:

  1. Life consists of suffering 2. Everything is impermanent and ever–changing 3. Liberation from suffering is through elimination of all desire 4. Desire can be eliminated by following the 8–fold path, organised in the three sections: wisdom, ethical conduct and mental discipline.

(Source: The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean C. Halverson, Editor, 1996, Minneapolis: Bethany House)

Hinduism

Hinduism can be traced back at least 3500 years in what is now India, where it began as a polytheistic (many gods) and ritualistic religion It eventually developed a more sophisticated concept of God as the One reality (Brahman) behind the many gods. Humanity's primary problem, according to Hinduism, is that we are ignorant of our divine nature, and have mistakenly attached ourselves to the desires of our egos, and thereby to the consequences of the actions of the ego – the law of Karma. Reincarnation allows for the belief that the consequences of our actions follow us from lifetime to the next. (Source: The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean C. Halverson, Editor, 1996, Minneapolis: Bethany House)

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