Master of Religious Philosophy Final Essay
By Rev. Patricia Buben
The Master of Religious Philosophy is a great class. It describes what religion is, how it developed historically, and even discusses a study in which religiosity can be viewed as genetic in nature. I loved the definition of religious legitimacy. Basically it says 'although a religion may seem obnoxious or illogical to some, it need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to be considered legitimate'. In other words, you can open up any kind of a church you want and it is legitimate.
The course goes on to describe how to identify cult. Essentially, most anthropologists adhere to a 'five point system' in determining whether or not a specific group — religious or otherwise — should be classified as a cult. These five points can be presented in the form of questions about the group. These are:
· Does the group have a charismatic, powerful leader (or leaders)?
· Does it display a group mentality that denies individuality and personal, independent thought?
· Is there a denial of intimacy by excluding or alienating friends and relatives?
· Do they apply financial pressure and abuse for the welfare of the group, even at the personal expense of the adherent?
· Is there a separation and isolation from the surrounding community?
The more affirmative answers you get, the more likely the group is to be a cult. Unfortunately, many conservative religions will call others "cults" simply because they don't like the other religion.
There are approximately 5,000 different religions in the world today. So, how do they differ? Some ways in which they can differ are by:
· Doctrine (dogma);
· Scripture; and,
· Sacred Space.
Although there are many religions out there and a lot of variation, it inevitably means that humans are looking to connect with God in some way and develop a sense of communion with something greater than themselves. I like the course because it presents so much data. You can research it, believe what you want and take what makes sense. In summary, there is a lot of information presented and the author does a great job in making it as objective as possible.
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