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Pocket Guide to World Religions

by Winfried Corduan

Urbanization has been a worldwide reality for several decades. As a result, the peoples and their religions have been clustering in the cities of the world for some time.

InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515, 2006, 144 pages, $7.00.

Reviewed by David Ripley, research coordinator, Ethnic Ministries Department, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

Urbanization has been a worldwide reality for several decades. As a result, the peoples and their religions have been clustering in the cities of the world for some time. Due to immigration, this includes the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, there will be no ethnic majority in this country by the middle of the twenty-first century.

This is the reality in which the Church worldwide must live and minister as it moves into this changing era. InterVarsity provides a handy book that helps the Church interact with their changing world with some understanding. Written by Winfried Corduan, professor of philosophy and religion at Taylor University, Pocket Guide to World Religions provides insight regarding these new neighbors.

As a pocket guide rather an encyclopedic tome, this is a book all Christians can readily use. In 144 pages the author provides information on fourteen of the world’s religions along with seventeen classified as new (i.e., Falun Gong). While several pages are devoted to each of the established religions, a paragraph or two suffices for those described as new.

Along with major religions like Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, there is also helpful information about the smaller ones such as Daoism, Parsiism and Jainism. The section on Christianity will help explain to enquirers the relationship between different Christian groups. There is also an overview of doctrine and history.

The overviews give beliefs, history, number of adherents, their scriptures, history, worship practices and religious buildings, as well as home practices, clothing and diet. Understanding the more personal aspects can provide a relational bridge which leads to ministry.

Short and compact, this guide provides an excellent starting point for those wanting to know more about the new world of religions around them. It would be an excellent tool for churches wishing to educate and train their congregations to engage them in their own neighborhoods with some understanding. If Christians want to know more on any specific religion, they can take the next step via an Internet or library search.

Check these titles:
Corduan, Winfried. 1998. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Enroth, Ronald, ed. 2005. A Guide to New Religious Movements. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Hexham, Irving. 2002. Pocket Dictionary of New Religious Movements. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

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