Religions of the World
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me"
~ John 14:5
The 20th Century was a time of dramatic shifts in religious profession. In light of the ever-broader values – including secularism, pluralism and liberalism – that globalization imposes onto the world, many regions, countries and ethnic groups react by reasserting a more traditional or fundamental expression of their faith.
Listed below are the religions with largest percentage of adherents in the population .
|RELIGIONS||% OF POPULATION|
Nominalism; Many traditional Christian populations know nothing of a personal faith, true repentance from sin and working out their salvation in relationship with the living God. The majority of those who identify themselves as Christian do not actively practice their faith.
Christo-pagans; These are "Christians" practicing as occultists, shamanists, fetishists and others under a veneer of Christianity. Evangelizing such people and making them into disciples of the Lord Jesus are just as necessary as winning those of other religions, but the strategy required to do so effectively needs to be radically different.
"Christian" cults and marginal groups; There are millions who define their own church or group as the sole possessors of the Truth – some such as the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and many smaller groups. They need to be freed from the teachings that ensnare them.
Muslims live largely in the great arc or territory stretching from West Africa through the Middle East, Central Asia, to Indonesia. Their growth in the past 100 years has been rapid – from 12.3% in 1900 to 22.9% in 2010
- The eyes and hearts of Muslim individuals and families to be opened to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The opening up of the Muslim world on a macro level.
- Muslim background believers in Christ whose numbers are beginning to multiply much more quickly
- Christian ministries to Muslims
Hinduism has made notable missionary inroads in the West though the wide acceptance of transcendental meditation, yoga, New Age thinking, sects such as Hare Krishna, and Indian gurus. It has also become more militant and repressive of Christians in its heartlands of India and Nepal, reacting against the evangelism and growth of the Church.
- The Indian sub-continent has the largest concentration and variety fo least-reached peoples and people groups on earth. The gospel has spread most to the poor and marginalized, while the main body of caste Hindus remains unevangelized.
- Reaching out to caste Hindus and the burgeoning middle class of India is a great need
- Contextualized, culturally appropriate patterns of Christian lif, worship and community are needed. Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring the light of the gospel to influential Hindus.
The non-religious, or secular, bloc has shown the most massive growth in the past century, from a tiny 0.2% of the world's population in 1900, to 13.6% in 2010 – mainly Europeans and Chinese. Christians have generally proven singularly ineffective in communicating the gospel to secular, postmodern culture. But secularism is very effective at undermining Christianity.
- Effective ways to be found to guard against and reach out to this "faith".
- Pray that the ultimate emptiness of this worldview might be exposed and the tide of secular materialism reversed
Buddhism is the state religion of 4 nations in Asia, the majority in a further 3 and a significant minority in yet another 9. The majority of this total is actually a mixture of Buddhism with Chinese religions (Daoism, Confucianism and Shinto). The various religious systems are so intermingled that a clear differentiation is hard to make.
If observers of all these religions were added together, the total virtually doubles the population of the Buddhist world.
- A breakthrough in the Buddhist world; thus far, the only major movements to Christ have been in places where Communism or foreign oppression first shattered the grip of Buddhism
Confucianism and Taoism, plus Buddhism (Chinese Religions), constitute the "three teachings", philosophical frameworks which historically have had a significant role in shaping Chinese culture. Elements of these three belief systems are incorporated into folk or popular religions.
Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand exclusive adherence, allowing the practice or belief of several at the same time.
Demographically, the largest group of religious traditions is popular religion, or folk religion, which overlaps with Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism but includes further elements. These traditions include respect for the forces of nature, gods of human groups, ancestors and figures from Chinese mythology.
- Millions of Chinese who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are stuck in the bonds of cultural and ancestral beliefs
Ethnic religions and animism actually see a resurgence throughout much of the world. In traditional cultures, such religions might in relative decline, but they continue to deeply influence and underlie the four major world religions that have supplanted them.
Many followers of world religions remain, in practice, shamanists, idolaters, spiritists, ancestor worshippers, fetishists, wiccan and othes.
In the Western world, widespread fascination with the occult, mysticism and new religious movements is an indication of the fierceness of the spiritual conflict in which we are engaged.
Sikhism, originating in northwest India, is one of the more recent world religions. Many Sikhs have migrated to other countries. Few Christians hav ever sought to understand their religion ato find ways of sharing the Gospel. Christians from a Sikh background remain relatively few, but this is beginning to change as believers start to reach out to Sikhs both in India and in the Sikh diaspora.
Jews are declining in number in most countries. Nearly 37% of all Jews now liv in Israel. Of the world's 14,8 million Jews, some estimate that there may be about 150 000 Messianic Jews, the majority in the USA.
That Jews should find salvation in Messiah Yeshua remains a key concern for Christians.