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How to Use This Book
The Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements comprises fifteen volumes, treating many of the most important groups and belief systems confronting the Christian church today. This series distills the most important facts about each and presents a well-reasoned, cogent Christian response. The authors in this series are highly qualified, well-respected professional Christian apologists with considerable expertise on their topics.
We have designed the structure and layout to help you find the information you need as quickly as possible. All the volumes are written in outline form, which allows us to pack substantial content into a short book. With some exceptions, each book contains, first, an introduction to the cult, movement, or belief system. The introduction gives a brief history of the group, its organizational structure, and vital statistics such as membership. Second, the theology section is arranged by doctrinal topic, such as God, Christ, sin, and salvation. The movement's position is set forth objectively, primarily from its own official writings. The group's teachings are then refuted point by point, followed by an affirmative presentation of what the Bible says about the doctrine. The third section is a discussion of witnessing tips. While each witnessing encounter must be handled individually and sensitively, this section provides some helpful general guidelines, including both dos and don'ts. The fourth section contains annotated bibliographies, listing works by the groups themselves and books written by Christians in response. Fifth, each book has a parallel comparison chart, with direct quotations from the group's literature in the left column and the biblical refutation on the right. Some of the books conclude with a glossary.
One potential problem with a detailed outline is that it is easy to lose one's place in the overall structure. Therefore, we have provided graphical 'signposts' at the top of the odd-numbered pages. Functioning like a 'you are here' map in a shopping mall, these graphics show your place in the outline, including the sections that come before and after your current position. (Those familiar with modern computer software will note immediately the resemblance to a 'drop-down' menu bar, where the second-level choices vary depending on the currently selected main menu item.) In the theology section we have also used 'icons' in the margins to make clear at a glance whether the material is being presented from the group's viewpoint or the Christian viewpoint. For example, in the Mormonism volume the sections presenting the Mormon position are indicated with a picture resembling the angel Moroni in the margin; the biblical view is shown by a drawing of the Bible.
We hope you will find these books useful as you seek 'to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have' (1 Peter 3:15).
---Alan W. Gomes, Ph.D. Series Editor
Part I: Introduction
I. Historical Background (Ancient)I. Historical Background (Ancient)
A. Hinduism as It Relates to India
1. Hindu is a Persian term that means 'the people and culture of the Indus River region.'
a. The Indus River runs from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
b. The Indus River region includes Pakistan and western India.
c. In time the term has come to commonly refer to the majority of the Indian population.
2. Hinduism is more than just a religious term to Indian Hindus.
a. To them it is more a way of life than a set of beliefs.
b. According to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a former Indian president and one of the leading Indian philosophers, 'Hinduism is more a culture than a creed.'1
3. A knowledge of the cultural history of India is imperative in understanding Hinduism.
a. Yet it also should be noted that Indian scholarship has not been concerned with chronology.
b. Hence, the lack of reliable historical data handicaps an exact examination of the development of their religious philosophies.
B. The Harappan Civilization
1. Archaeological artifacts indicate that the Harappan civilization, also known as the Indus Valley civilization, probably thrived from about 2700 to 1750 B.C.
a. Contemporaneous with the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations, it was one of the most advanced civilizations of this time period.
b. Its two major capitals were Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, which, like the other cities of the Indus civilization, featured a high citadel, lower domestic dwellings, an extensive sanitation system, and elaborate water baths.