What do you need to know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Maybe more than you think. The swelling numbers of visiting students and immigrants from India, China, and the Middle East are compelling Westerners to learn more about these ancient religions. Understanding these worldviews enables Christians to more meaningfully engage and minister to people migrating amongst us in North America. If you have not interacted substantially with adherents to these religions, you probably soon will. If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to be ready.
To get a reasonably brief overview of these three religions, listen to Dr. Timothy Tennent's lectures - Essentials of Hinduism, Essentials of Buddhism, and Essentials of Islam - at biblicaltraining.org. Dr. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and has served as a Methodist missionary in India for many decades.
Each series is comprised of four to seven lectures. They are summaries of full-length seminary classes. Eastern religions present learning challenges to Westerners who must become acclimated to a whole new vocabulary, history, and culture. While there is a sense in which it would be best to study under tutors from the East, I find it helpful to have an instructor who understands the background of Western students for these introductory lectures. I serve with one ruling elder and one seminary student intern who are each converts from Hinduism, and they found the lectures on Hinduism instructive as an external analysis. Because of the rapidly changing political climate, some portions of the lectures on Isalm and Hinduism are slightly dated; listeners who have lived through the last five years will be able to project the implications of the analysis onto recent history.
Dr. Tennent does his best to present the material fairly and as simply but thoroughly as possible. I cannot verify the accuracy of all the material (I'm told that his pronunciations are not always correct), but Dr. Tennent is well studies and has lived in these cultures. The lectures are a good starting point at least. Others in our own congregation have found them to be quite accessible and enriching as they seek to minister to friends and neighbors from these religious backgrounds.
The lectures can be found at biblicaltraining.org and the Biblical Training app is quite cconvenient as well.
Reformed Christians may also be fascinated to learn that Dr. Tennent and his wife, committed Arminians as they are, actively promote Psalm-singing. Their site to promote the singing of the Psalms is quite rich.
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