Western Religions

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Religion is known to be difficult to define as it transcends so many boundaries in human experience and from an academic perspective; it is difficult to find any distinction between the world religions 1, 2, 3. Ninian Smart approached religion as a religious studies specialist and instead of trying to define religion, he identified certain recognizable elements that religion in general possess and focused on studying them 3, 4, 9. He identified seven such elements or dimensions for the religion; practical and ritual, experimental and emotional, narrative or mythic, doctrinal and philosophical, ethical and legal, social and institutional and material dimension 3. The purpose of this paper is to use three of Smart’s dimensions and describe the three western religions. An example from each of the three religion pertaining to a chosen dimension will be provided and explained in the context of the religion and how it informs one of the core aspects of the chosen religion.

The first dimension chosen to describe the western religions is Experiential and emotional dimension. This dimension entails the subjective and the human experience of the religion 6. The experience can be as simple as a religious impulse to understand the meaning of a tragic event to an awe-inspiring divine intervention that changed the entire course of life of the devotee 6. God appearing to Moses from the burning bush in Mount Sinai, conversion of Paul en route to Damascus and the visions of Muhammad in which archangel Gabriel disseminated the Qur’an are examples of religious experiences given in the western religions 9. Moses is recognized as a national liberator, religious reformer and lawgiver and the main prophet of Judaism 7. This position of authority was g...

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...ligion and of Religious Experience.” Accessed on 4 December 2013, 7.50 pm.

6 “Ninian Smart's Seven Dimensions or Religions”. Accessed on 4 December 2013, 7.50 pm.

7 Thomas A. Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues, World Religions: A Guide to the Essentials. (Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 2006), pp. 44

8 Peters, Francis. “The Words and Will of God.” Princeton University Press, (2003), pp. 12–13.

9 Smart, Ninian.”The World’s Religions: Old Traditions and Modern Transformations.”
Cambridge University Press, (1989), pp. 10–25.

10 Vaught, Carl. “The Sermon on the mount: a theological investigation.“ Baylor University Press, (2001), pp. 11–14.

11 Thomas A. Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues, World Religions: A Guide to the Essentials. (Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 2006), pp.132
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