Why Study Major Religions

The study of major religions of the world does help us to become both a better human being and a better follower of our own faith.

After studying briefly the various major religions of the world, I could realize the universality of this quest for meaning and the eternal, despite of the many scientific developments. The further development of religions is an indication that even though we have developed materially we still are in need to develop spiritually. The dissatisfaction inside and search for fulfillment is well reflected in the way the various religions are followed. The realization of this human condition spurs me even more on the search for the truth. Even as a Christian I realize that there are still many questions that are left unanswered. This, probably, helps me to be more spiritually oriented and thus be a better human being. It is amazing to find how great a role worship and belief play in a religion. Faith in a God is indispensable to life. Tolstoy said that it was faith that gave him meaning in life. Perhaps, this understanding of the significance of faith could only be realized after studying the pathos of people of other religions.

I believe that if every individual man and woman studied the major religions with an open mind they would grow to learn to respect each other and relate to each other in ways that are more efficient. This would surely help them to be better humans. I think that instead of remaining in my own well and desiring to limit everything to and bringing everything in to it, one must get out of that well, survey the whole expanse of human spiritual experience. This would surely help him to be more sympathetic to his fellow humans. I am not encouraging here compromise. I only am emphasizing the need of a knowledge of other religions for an understanding of the human quest for spirituality, the human quest for salvation, and what that means to me as a human myself.

A study of the major religions also helps me to become a better follower of my own faith. By studying the major religions, I sense the need of studying my own religion more deeply. This, in order that I may find myself in a sure ground when proclaiming to other people that my faith is the truth. To say that I know the truth does seem to be ambitious and to say that I do not know the truth seems to be humble enough to many in this post-modern world, which follows the rule that absolute truth cannot be known. But one who has tasted and proved the truth must equip himself must also be ready to prove and confirm the truthfulness of his testimony. That is what makes a witness a witness. This forces me to study my faith more deeply.

After observing the plurality of religions, I am also forced to be committed to the truth that I know and follow it more diligently. I understand that if I didn’t do so I would not be able to proclaim to these searchers of truth the truth that I know. Unless I believe and practice my faith how can I preach it? The study of religions does challenge me to be more careful in my conversations with, behavior before, and relations with the people of other religions.

Therefore, study of major religions is very significant, especially to one undergoing ministerial training.

© Domenic Marbaniang, ACTS Academy of Higher Education, Bangalore, February 2003.


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