Most religions try to address certain issues relative to the existence of an individual and the correlation to his or her society. Religions address them in the below order:
2. Creation of the universe.
3. Formation of life.
4. Birth of humankind.
5. A spokesperson of God.
6. Codified protocol for living as conveyed by God.
7. Sects and institutions that guide people to adhere to God’s teachings.
8. Duties of an individual towards God.
9. An afterlife abode either in heaven or hell.
Religions adhere to a particular view about the world codified in a belief system. Most religions believe that their religion, God, prophet, and books are the only true elements. Staunch religious followers live and act with the conviction that all other systems are false and mislead the world. They portray vastly different and vivid caricatures about heaven and hell.
All religions fall under either of the two classifications depending upon how they came into existence.
1. Ethnic or indigenous. Examples are Judaism and Hinduism.
2. Came from a person who had direct access to God. Examples are Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.
Is this information enough to find out what are the 3 types of religion?
Parameters for Classifying Religions
There are about 10,000 religions. Most attempts to classify them into different segments involved two major parameters.
Grouping of Common Communities: Religious denominations with common elements based on their traditions and beliefs are included in a single cluster.
Structure of Experience: Designating religious experiences based on their structure into entities with common phenomena.
Challenges in Classifying Religions
All attempts to decode and classify various religions faced major setbacks in the initial stage. It was necessary to distinguish a religion from a sect. Most sects masquerade as a religion to meet the goals of their propagators. Organized religions depended on apologetics to give plausible explanations to the flaws pointed out by critics in the texts and philosophy. These explanations lacked logic and proof. This was an encouragement to sects that were flourishing on the naivety of their unsuspecting followers. Researchers and theologians alike failed to agree on what are the 3 types of religion.
Centuries of study and research broadly classified religions into three.
1. Abrahamic religions.
2. Dharmic religions.
3. Spiritual religions.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are widely accepted as Abrahamic religions as their texts speak of a common ancestor- Abraham. They have one God who is supreme. They have three different texts which codify the revelations from this supreme God to mankind.
Judaism – Torah.
Christianity – The bible is mostly referred to as the New Testament.
Islam – Koran.
Messengers from God
In Judaism, the knowledge contained in the Torah was from various prophets and recorded over a long period by masters of the religion. Judaism has many prophets.
Jesus Christ is the prophet of Christianity. The major content of the New Testament is the life and times of Jesus, as recorded by four of his disciples. Christianity accepts all prophets of Judaism.
Koran is the recording of what God told Mohamed through various interactions. Islam considers Mohamed as the last prophet. God will not send any more prophets and the words imparted through Mohamed are final.
Four religions popularly known as Eastern religions originated in the Indian subcontinent. Sometimes scholars use the term Indic religions to refer to these Indian religions. They are:
They focus on improving a person’s deeds or Karma to lead a life based on universal principles of Dharma. The Sanskrit word Dharma is unique in the fact that languages outside the subcontinent do not have an equivalent single term.
Path of Righteousness
Dharma means the path of righteousness, which leads to eternal liberation from the vows of a material world. This becomes possible by doing the right deeds or Karma.
Spiritual religions are comparatively new and took root mostly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They took certain concepts about spirit expounded by existing religions to give it a new outlook. Their ultimate aim is to recover the original shape of man. The spirit that resides within the body is not different from God. The true essence was forgotten over a long period and should be restored.
The popular practices of modern-day spirituality have the following branches. They were formulated by thinkers and philosophers who were well researched in their fields.
· Theosophy, anthroposophy, and the perennial philosophy
· Transcendentalism and Unitarian Universalism
· Spiritual but not religious
The origin of this religion has its root in Indian religions and esoteric traditions of the west. It got disengaged from organized religions and their institutions. During its evolution, spiritual religions started identifying with many sociopolitical movements like green politics, liberalism, and feminist theology.
In this quest to find out what are the 3 types of religion, it is necessary to glimpse at the origin of religions. Cultural anthropology is an avenue that has shed light on the riddle. Scholars of the branch have put forth three theories.
Paying Homage to Ancestors
Ancient civilizations believed that the spirits of their departed relatives came back to spend time with friends and relatives. It was the duty of the living to ensure that those visiting souls were lavished with attention.
Appeasing a Supreme Super Natural Entity
The supreme one could not be defined by mortals. Its blessings were invoked through various rituals by holy men.
Worship of Natural Forces
Prehistoric societies looked at the forces of nature with awe and fear. They worshiped them for good luck and abundance.
When trying to find an answer for what are the 3 types of religion, it should be kept in mind that many popular studies were conducted. These researches on theology and its origins classify world religions based on their geographical presence into another three sets.
1. Ethnic Religions.
2. Animist Religions.
3. Universalizing Religions.
Each has its characteristics and huge followings. Universalizing religions believe that their group is well-formed to cater to the needs of the souls of every human being irrespective of geography. Other religions have not adopted conversion as a policy.