As humans we are privileged to seek elucidations of God, because His ways are not ours. Indubitably, it is special that as limited as we are, we’re given a chance to enter His world and share the Good News to our Brothers and Sisters. Through Him, we will have enlightenment; through him we will be free. Furthermore, let us examine closely the world’s melting pot of cultural influences, thus giving rise to differences in religious sects, denominations and the enigmatic Occult.
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, to date over one billion registered followers live in India alone. Evidently, because of its numerous beliefs and its caste system, Hinduism itself is complicated and lenient having no standard articles of faith and an outright freedom to practice monotheism, polytheism and atheism. In addition, Hinduism is based on the one of the oldest sacred scriptures named Vedas, (Veda- knowledge) and epics (Puranas) , which contain legendary accounts about gods and men and these three are the Mahabharata (composed between 200 BC and AD 200) and the Ramayana all were authored in Sanskrit. Furthermore, the Hindus believed in the existence of the Brahma or the creator god, father and lord above all. Moreover, the exhibitions of many Hindu deities serve as manifestations of Brahman where everything begins and returns. With this in mind, Hinduism stresses the concept of reincarnation and metempsychosis where all animate beings from the flora and fauna to the gods above belong to the universal system, an infinite cycle of revival and decay. Thus, the law of karma played its role in which rebirth depends on the moral behavior of a believer’s previous life.
When it comes to their religious practices, Hindus perform it within the framework of the caste system, which focuses on the occasions of birth, marriage and death. Normally, they will perform such actions in the deities’ Hindu temples and bring offerings for the gods. Also, pilgrimages are made in the Benares on the Ganges River. These were done in order to set themselves free, cleanse and heal the believers while cantillating to Genga, wife of Siva, the personification of the river Ganges. Through their ceremonial songs, they were able to believe that their sins for the past 3 cycles of life will be forgiven.
On one hand, Buddhism, another religion established in India by Sidhartha Gautama, started when his father confined him in his kingdom in order to avoid being a universal monarch. However, Gautama escaped, became a homeless wanderer in the deserts, moved by disappointments until he found the Tree of Enlightenment in which he lived in meditation until he became the “Enlightened One” or “Buddha”. He was able to come up with the Four noble truths namely: 1) The truth of suffering, in which all things must face; 2) the origin of suffering, which leads to rebirth 3) that it can be destroyed; 4) and the way that leads to the resolution of pain. In addition, the Noble Eightfold Way, a rule of practical Buddhism, which talks about right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right concentration, and right ecstasy and according to the Enlightened One these are the ways to end suffering. Buddhism gatherings are situated in the houses of monks and church lay brothers, whose houses became places of worship in the long run. In the 3rd century, King Ashoka made Buddhism India’s main religion, but was later on destroyed by persecutions of antagonistic Brahmans and splits. At the beginning of the Christian Era, there occurred a division within two groups: the Hinayana (Little Vehicle) or Southern Buddhism and Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) or and Northern Buddhism. A distinctive feature between the two is that the former is more individualistic and traditional thereby followed conservative practices, in which did not recognize any personal god and the latter followed a sociable, polytheistic cult. Moreover, the writings of this said denomination contain 31 books arranged in 3 collections or baskets called Tripitaka in Sanskrit. Additionally, Buddhists believe in the Nirvana or the status of eternal peace, which can be achieved by its followers through emptying oneself from desire, passion, love, fear, sickness, need and hate. Likewise, sects were able to flourish such as the following: the Amida Buddha, where salvation is promised and given new life in paradise where men and gods co-exist, Zen Buddhism, which teaches that study, good works and rituals are not so important and awareness can be reached through meditation and the Lamaismo or Buddhism in Tibet employing the Mantrayana (Vehicle Mantra), because of the use of lengthy rituals, prayer and worship.
Another, sect is Confucianism, which was established by Confucius or (Kung Fu-tzu) born in the state of Lu (Northern China) from 551-479 B.C. Ancient Chinese literary collections and proverbs became drivers for Confucianism. These Analects (Lun Yu) are collections of Confucian sayings. He was able to emphasize the significance of (li) an antiquated Chinese concept of proper conduct, (T’ien) heaven and ancestor worship an expression of filial piety, which he advised to be the highest of all values. Likewise, he was able to point out that a practical way for a society to have an organized composition is for it to act accordingly to his status and accountability. During the time of Emperor Wu Ti, Confucianism became a state religion. To boot, sacred scriptures are the four books namely (Ta Hsueh) Great Learning- foundation of education, (Chung Yung) Doctrine of Steadfast Mean, advancing the nature of man through moderation, (Lun Yu) the Analects- collection of sayings of Confucius, (Meng- tze) sayings of Mencius – sayings of the great disciple of Confucius, Mencius.
One more religion is Shintoism, which was able to absorb Taoism, Confucianism and more on Buddhism comprises the religious ideas and cult indigenous to Japan. Their gods or kami are considered divine forces of nature and may be residing in rivers, trees, rocks, mountains, animals or any celestial body. Their centers of worships ar e confined in shrines in which believers approach them in torii (gateways). Meanwhile, worshipping of ancestors also became vital as their deceased family members become gods, who protect them. As for their literature, they have the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, which were gathered during the 2nd Century A.D., though it was not considered sacred. Importantly, this religion has no exact doctrine, no detailed theology, no statues or laws to follow. Today, Shintoism knows no higher power.
China’s Taoism, which means way or path was founded by Lao Tze in the 6th century BC. Tao’s spiritual path is silence, connecting with nature and modesty. In the published document, “Tao Te Ching”, states that Tao already existed before before heaven and earth, so it suggest that it is the mother of all things. Furthermore, Taoism, braced Yoga exercise, dieting, sexual practices, amulets and walking in still water and flying, the yin and yang (male and female). An infusion of Buddhism in the Taoism practices was made possible during the Tang Dynasty wherein each on worships his favorite god for protection from evil. Moreover, priests are hired to aid in looking for an appropriate living location, casting evil spirits, sorcery and holding feasts.
Islam, which means surrender to the will of Allah is a religion founded by the Prophet Mohammed in Arabia in 610 and 632 A.D. More than a billion of Islamic supporters are found in countries stretching from Morocco to Indonesia. Furthermore, the ordinary man turned prophet was born in Mecca and was a part of the Quraysh tribe, at the young age of 25 he joined the trade route from Mecca to Syria. Then and there he was employed by a rich widow named Khadiji, whom he married. However, despite of his fortune Mohammed took a contemplative life in the desert, where he received a series of revelations from an angel named Gabriel, who appeared before him and dictated Islam’s Holy Bible the Qur’an.
Moreover, the Five Pillars or the primary duties of Islam are confessing the oneness of God and Mohammed, prayer to be performed five times a day, alms giving to the poor, fasting during the Ramadan in the daylight hours and pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.
In Judaism, the story of creation is deemed to be important and also they know that there is an alternative dark force, which remains to be God’s adversary. This religion believes that God created man and woman in his image and likeness. However, human beings became domineering and evil, thus God called Noah to send off a warning, that a final judgment will happen. From generation to generation, the Lord conversed directly to all His prophets. Thus, these instruments became vital to inscribe His messages in a book, known as the Scriptures. Furthermore, God promised Abraham, that He will make a new covenant and He will forgive those who sinned against him.
Genuine Christianity is a change of heart through the gospel and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus offered his body to save us from all our sins. Through their faith, Christians confess their wrongdoings from their hearts and accept that Christ died for their forgiveness and salvation. Nowadays, there are millions of Christians all around the world who hold the teachings of the Bible alone as the sole source of faith. Furthermore, they believe that Christ will come again and he will appear before the people on earth and all the saints. The Apollyon, Satan and the wicked will be casted to hell at His Coming.
The Roman Catholic Church holds the belief and practice of the Roman Catholic faith under the authority of the Pope. The Catholics believe that their religion is one, holy, catholic and apostolic qualities of an authentic church. Their belief is thought to be identic with that of the teachings of the apostles and Christ as contained in the Bible. Furthermore, once a person is baptized under the catholic faith, it becomes a basis of the whole Christian life and an admission to other six sacraments Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick in their later life.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith and they believe that God is embodied in the Eternal Father, Father, Son, Holy Spirit and One God, that takes into the body of flesh and bones. Furthermore, they place confidence in that God made all things spiritually before crafting the world’s natural environment. In contrast, teachings were astray from the facts that were presented in the Bible, because they do not accept the bible as an exclusive book of the Lord, for they are using their own Mormon book given by an angel Moroni, who claimed to have full knowledge of the gospel.
For them God’s name is Jehovah and Jesus Christ is not one God with the Father. In addition, they consider the Holy Spirit as an active force not a person. And came up with a conclusion that trinity came from an infernal doctrine. Furthermore, they attest that Jesus Christ is the first creation of God. Moreover, they taught that Christ’s death and resurrection is an impeccable model of human life and not as a sacrifice for us. On contrary, aberration of truth is seen as they denied Christ as being at par with the Father. Also, naming Him Jehovah was dissimilar to Moses’ and the prophets’ revelation naming God as YHWH/Yahweh. Another one is that they fail to express that Jesus died to save us from our since and not just a mere human death.
Church of Christ
(Iglesia ni Kristo)
The church’s central message is that “If anyone wants to be saved he must enter and be a member of the church of christ.” Furthermore, they believed that God is a spirit, the Father is an unequal God and Jesus Christ is not God, but is a human being. In addition, they affirm that the Holy spirit is only a power or force and it does not personify God.
Members Church of God International
This sect is headed by Eliseo Soriano and they avouch the following that its followers must keep God’s commandments; Jesus Christ is the way to the Father , the “Old Path” is the right way to salvation, and Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father to save us from eternal damnation. Furthermore, the bread and wine are the God’s words that they share in gatherings.
The Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name
This spiritual group is headed by Apollo Quiboloy and its main headquarters is in Davao City, Philippines. Belonging to the group called Oneness, they believe that there is only one God. When the Lord transformed into a human being, He became the Son of God. In addition, Quiboloy adduced that he is God’s newest son and claimed to have revelations of God by stating that “Jesus Christ is not the Son anymore.”
Seventh Day Adventist
The Seventh Day Adventist was founded by an American Mr. William Miller. They were named as such, because they found out that the seventh day is a Saturday or Sabbath Day. Moreover, they believed in the central message that there must be faith in Jesus Christ and in His death.
Summary of the other denominations
Cults happen to deny the saving power of Christ. Evidently, they decline the teachings; death and the resurrection of Christ, who saved us from eternal punishment. In addition, they should listen to what the gospel says, ask forgiveness and believe in the saving power of the Lord.
The Occult carries the ideas of being hidden, sacred and mysterious. Apparently, they are operating beyond human power, supernatural demonic forces and practice Mephistophelian worship. Moreover, their ideologies concentrate on Astrology, fortune telling, palmistry, hypnotism, superstitions, card reading, incantations and santanism. In addition, people get involved, because of various personal reasons either they are curious of the unknown or it is their desire to exercise such acts.