Friday, March 6, 2009

Religions of the World

I just finished reading a book about world religions last week. In spite of the fact that it was very educational, I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it as an interesting and quick (for a textbook) read.

In reading this book, I discovered that there is much of goodness and truth in the religions of the world. I came to understand, in part, how the light of Christ is "in all things". And I gained a testimony that people all over the world have had their eyes enlightened by their Creator, who loves them.

I have come to appreciate the many founders of world religions. Just as I learned long ago to love the story of Joseph Smith and his quest to find--and then restore--truth to a floundering world, I now love the stories of many other enlightened leaders.

Like Buddha, who urged his followers to be freed from their worldly desires and seek spiritual knowledge instead.

Like Mohammad, who led an idolatrous people away from their false pantheon to the God of Abraham.

Like Confucius, who taught the importance and eternal nature of family relationships.

Like Zarathustra, who preached of one God, who could save His people from sin and death.

But of all the stories and all the philosophies, none impressed me so much as the story and teachings of Christ. Although I found some portion of His influence in all the religions I studied, there was only one that actually had a correct understanding of Him.

When I read the opening paragraphs of the chapter about Christianity, I felt the Spirit wash over me with great strength, testifying of His divinity and His glorious mission.

In that moment, I knew again that He really was the Son of God, a being of power and perfection, and that he died to atone for our sins. I knew that he really did rise again and can accomplish that same miracle for all of us. I knew that it is only through Him, the Only Way, that we can be made holy and worthy to enter our Father's presence.

Although it is important for the peoples of the world to practice moral thinking and behavior, it is imperative for them to believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. There is transformative power in learning of and accepting His atonement, power we all need. Because of this, Christianity offers the truth that really matters: the truth about Christ.

I am grateful to be a Christian.


Katherine said...

Hi, Carolyn!

"But of all the stories and all the philosophies, none impressed me so much as the story and teachings of Christ."

Since the book was written by Latter-day Saints (I assume, given the "A Latter-day Saint View" subtitle), it seems to me that the authors, whether consciously or unconsciously, would be likely to write the book so that it would favor Christianity. Would it not make more sense to read accounts of world religions written by believers and practitioners of those religions?


Katherine said...

(After reading that over, I realize I should have replaced the words "make more sense" with "be more informative". K.)

Carolyn said...

I am actually working on something like that right now. I'm now reading a book called "The World's Religions" by Huston Smith, which is much more detached from the subject matter. I am finding it very enlightening but it doesn't change my conclusions at all.

It would be interesting to move from this book to more focused literature on individual religions, written by believers.

I was already planning on reading Confucius's Analects, because he impressed me so much, but a modern volume on Confucianism as well might be very informative. I am especially curious about Buddhism, since it is the most-widely practiced religion.

I don't think I'll let this research rest with what, you're right, was a very biased study. Nevertheless, studying that particular text was a good beginning.

But none of this can refute the experience that I had while reading. While reading about Jesus Christ, I felt an undeniable burning in my heart. A powerful and unsolicited spiritual experience occurred as I read the stark facts of the life of my Savior. The Holy Spirit spoke to me in a way that I cannot deny, testifying of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the reality of His power to save.

Katherine said...

Ah, cool. I'm curious about Buddhism too! I don't know much about Confucius, but Chinese culture always seemed interesting. (One of my exes hailed from Taiwan originally.) I started a Chinese course in college but had to drop it. I don't remember what I took instead.