Christianity and World Religions: An Introduction to the World's Major Faiths


Derek Cooper examines the rival worldviews found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and irreligion. He engages these worldviews from a Christian perspective, first by showing how the biblical authors engaged other religions and then by surveying the way Christian theologians have done so. Each chapter contains six parts: (i) a creation story, (ii) the religion’s historical origin, (iii) its beliefs, (iv) religious writings, (v) worship practices, (vi) as well as Christian reflections ...

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Derek Cooper examines the rival worldviews found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and irreligion. He engages these worldviews from a Christian perspective, first by showing how the biblical authors engaged other religions and then by surveying the way Christian theologians have done so. Each chapter contains six parts: (i) a creation story, (ii) the religion’s historical origin, (iii) its beliefs, (iv) religious writings, (v) worship practices, (vi) as well as Christian reflections on the religion. For those who would like to read more, the appendix includes lists of helpful primary and secondary books.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Lodahl
In adopting the compelling motif of "rival stories of the world," Derek Cooper has written a conversational and eminently accessible introduction for Christian students to other religious traditions. Charmingly reminiscent of Paul in Athens (Acts 17), the beautiful thing about this introduction is its deep rootedness in Christian confession, conviction and practice - and its generosity of spirit toward other traditions. Peppered with engaging personal anecdotes and supplemented with helpful charts, tables and sidebars throughout, Cooper has authored a truly helpful book for thoughtful Christians seeking meaningful "points of contact" with their non-Christian neighbors.
Paul D. Kooistra
“Christianity and World Religions is a special book. It is certainly information written for our times, and communicated in such a way that it will appeal both to those who have some understanding of the great religions of the world, as well as those who have very little understanding. It is an easy read not because the material is easy but because of the author’s engaging, clear and concise style. Any Christian who reads the newspaper on a regular basis will want to read this book in order to relate to current events, and also to their neighbors from different religious backgrounds.”
Paul Louis Metzger
Christianity and World Religions is a clear and concise exposition of many of the world's prominent religions. Derek Cooper's discerning and winsome exploration also provides practical recommendations on how to engage adherents of these traditions. This volume will be welcomed by all Christians seeking to be more faithful, knowledgeable and effective witnesses in our increasingly multi-faith society.
J. Nelson Jennings
Cooper’s book clearly and carefully explains many of the complexities and nuances of world religions – no small task. But even better is how Cooper encourages U.S. Christians to interact meaningfully with real live adherents of other religious traditions. Readers, especially those with little interreligious experience but with a heart to learn and serve, will be both enriched and enriching to new friends of other faiths.
William Edgar
Christianity and World Religions fills a great need. In a world where most of us increasingly live together with people of other faiths, Christians are largely ignorant of the history and content of some of the most important religions. As a result they tend to live is a fool’s paradise. Derek Cooper here supplies abundant information on the worldview of five major religions, and adds wise suggestions for interacting with their adherents. Ideal for classroom or small group study, the book is both very learned and yet also accessible to the non-expert. In the bargain, assiduous readers will find themselves more confident as they reach out to their neighbors.
Dennis Okholm
Derek Cooper's Christianity and World Religions is a timely and accessible resource for Christians (let alone a general public) who are largely uneducated about the stories, history, beliefs, and scriptures of major world religions. Cooper's intent is not to preach but to prepare the disciple of Christ to share the Good News in a biblically and theologically informed manner that respects the devotees of other religions without compromising the identity and saving work of the God revealed in Jesus Christ. This text functions very well as a handbook of religions and Christian responses or as an introductory textbook in a Christian-oriented class on world religions.
Michael Horton
Only the best-informed writers can summarize diverse religious traditions in a brief but insightful manner. That is precisely what Derek Cooper has done in this book. More than a factual survey, each chapter explores the founding stories of various world religions and the resulting beliefs and practices. While helping us communicate the truth of the gospel within our religiously diverse neighborhoods, the author treats each religion with care and its adherents with respect. Especially for its size, this book fills an important gap.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596384460
  • Publisher: P&R Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/16/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 311,757
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Derek Cooper (MA, MDiv, Biblical Seminary; PhD, Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia) is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and Historical Theology, Associate Director of the DMin program, and Director of the LEAD MDiv Program at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books, including Thomas Manton: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Pastor.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

Reflecting on the Biblical Message Today xviii

Closer to Home xix

Part 1 The Six Rival Stories of the World

Chapter 1 Hinduism: The Story of Diversity and Devotion 3

Part 1 The Beginning 3

Part 2 Historical Origin 7

First Hindu Layer: Indus Civilization 8

Second Hindu Layer: Vedic Period 9

Third Hindu Layer: Philosophical Tradition 10

Fourth Hindu Layer: Devotional Hinduism 11

Part 3 Religious Writings 13

Part 4 Beliefs 14

Nine Beliefs of Hinduism 15

Part 5 Worship Practices 18

The Different Types of Yoga as Illustrated in the Bhagavad Gita 19

Part 6 Point of Contact 21

Discussion Questions 23

Further Readings 23

Chapter 2 Buddhism: The Story of Enlightenment 25

Part 1 The Beginning 26

Part 2 Historical Origin 29

Part 3 Beliefs 34

Two Main Traditions: Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism 34

Important Buddhist Teachings 37

Part 4 Religious Writings 40

Scriptures of Theravada Buddhism 41

Scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism 43

Part 5 Worship Practices 45

Part 6 Point of Contact 47

Discussion Questions 48

Further Readings 49

Chapter 3 Confucianism and Daoism: The Stories of Order and Nature 51

Part 1 The Beginning 51

Confucianism 51

Daoism 53

Part 2 Historical Origin 54

Pre-Origins 55

Early Period 56

Medieval Period 58

Modern Period 59

Contemporary Period 60

Part 3 Beliefs 61

Confucianism 62

Daoism 64

Part 4 Religious Writings 67

Confucian Texts 67

Daoist Texts 69

Part 5 Worship Practices 71

Confucianism 71

Daoism 72

Part 6 Point of Contact 73

Discussion Questions 74

Further Readings 75

Chapter 4 Judaism: The Story of Tradition and Identity 77

Part 1 The Beginning 78

Part 2 Historical Origin 79

Origins and Kingdom 80

Dispersion 81

Contemporary 83

Part 3 Religious Writings 84

The Bible 85

The Talmud 86

Other Jewish Writings 88

Part 4 Beliefs 89

Religious Denominations 91

Reform Judaism 92

Orthodox Judaism 93

Conservative Judaism 94

Reconstructionist Judaism 94

The Unifying Factor 95

Part 5 Worship Practices 96

Part 6 Point of Contact 97

Discussion Questions 98

Further Readings 99

Chapter 5 Islam: The Story of Submission 101

Part 1 The Beginning 101

Part 2 Historical Origin 103

Early Origins 104

Rightly Guided Caliphate 106

Dynastic Period 108

Modern Islam 111

Part 3 Religious Writings 114

The Qur'an 114

The Hadith and Sunna 117

Part 4 Beliefs 118

Part 5 Worship Practices 122

Part 6 Point of Contact 126

Discussion Questions 128

Further Readings 129

Part 2 Christian Responses to These Stories

Chapter 6 Biblical Responses to Other Religions 133

The Old Testament and Other "Gods" 134

Other "Gods" in the Rest of the Old Testament 136

"Gods" as Real Beings? 138

"Gods" as Mere Idols? 140

The New Testament and Other Religions 141

Paul and Other Religions 143

Humankind's Inclination to Fabricate Religion 145

Conclusion 147

Discussion Questions 149

Further Readings 149

Chapter 7 Theological Responses to Other Religions 151

Inclusivism 152

Exclusivism 156

Pluralism 158

Universalism 161

Particularism 164

Conclusion 167

Discussion Questions 168

Further Readings 169

Conclusion 171

The Rival Stories of the World 171

Acts 17 and Engaging Other Religions 172

The Real Mission Field 174

Discussion Questions 174

Appendix A Projects, Essays, and Worldview Questions 175

Appendix B Online Links to Religious Writings 193

Appendix C A Guide to Visiting Non-Christian Worship Spaces 197

Glossary 203

Credits 211

Index of Subjects and Names 213

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