Friday, July 3, 2009

Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions: a Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions of the World

By James A. Beverley
Thomas Nelson, 2009

The author's credentials are impressive. As Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, and Associate Director at the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, along with three decades of specialization in the study of new and world religions, he is the perfect choice to pen such a volume as this.

Covering all the major world religions, as well as a number of smaller ones, and fringe groups, the book offers the following features:
  • historical information on each major religion with detailed timelines
  • profiles of each group's primary leaders
  • an inventory of key principles and beliefs of each religion
  • an analysis and critique of religions from a Christian perspective
  • opinion and commentary on the controversial issues related to specific religious groups
  • recommended resources - bibliographic information and extensive Internet sources for further study
  • new groups explored - including The Lord is Our Righteousness Church and the Sold-Out Discipling Movement
  • ten tests for truth in religions - a set of multifaceted tests that Christians should apply when approaching the faith traditions of others - and their own faith

With some of the smaller groups, I did find that there was very little information, but this was probably a reflection of the fact that little information was available to the author as well. I was a bit surprised to see that there was nothing on the Shinto faith (Japan), but it was the only "obvious" omission.

Excellent for high school, college and university students, as well as the interested layperson. A solid addition to public library shelves and to one's personal bookshelves. I will turn to this again and again to become more knowledgeable about the various belief systems that exist, and to be better able to respond to door-to-door missionaries from different faiths.

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