Our quote for today is from Ravi Zacharias. He said, "My premise is that the popular aphorism that 'all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different' simply is not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different."
In this podcast, we are making our way through Garry R. Morgan's book, "Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day."
Our Understanding World Religions topic for today is, "Cults, 'Isms,' and Contemporary Religious Movements"
In the last few episodes of this podcast, we will deal with belief systems not typically categorized as world religions, even though some of them are global in nature and have many millions of followers. The number of adherents to Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), for instance, far exceeds the number of adherents to Judaism, Jainism, or Baha'i, and Mormons are in nearly every country though usually categorized as a cult. Conversely, Sikhism is small in numbers and followed by just one ethnic group (though it has spread somewhat through migration), but is nearly always found in books on world religions. How do we distinguish a cult from a religion?
At the outset, we must know there is no "Central Board of Religions" that decides what "gets in" and what doesn't. Some books include Baha'i and some don't. Some books on contemporary religious movements include it as well, just as most would include the Nation of Islam.
By our working definition, all these are religions—organized sets of beliefs that answer ultimate questions. So how does one end up as a religion and another as a contemporary religious movement? Some criteria does help distinguish one from another. A few belief systems are rather obviously one or the other. With some we might make the case either way.