Big Apple Chapel is a New Testament based church in New York City, modeled after the pattern of the early church, with a strong emphasis on following Christ as a community of His disciples.

  • Sunday - 10:30 am
  • 520 8th Ave, 16th floor
    New York, NY
  • phone: +1 (973) 837-1041

Major Religions

Rite or Right? How do the major religions compare?

Are religions many paths leading up the same mountain? Or not even on the same mountain? Consider their view of God, the purpose and destiny of man, what is required of man, and exclusivity.

Does religion get a man to God? Can a man have a relationship with God apart from religion? Do sincerity, preference, majority, taste, or "narrowness" determine truth or make something right or wrong?

A system of thought, feeling, and action shared by a group that gives members an object of devotion; a code of ethics governing personal and social conduct; and a frame of reference relating individuals to their group and the universe.

A spirit or force residing in every animate and inanimate object, every dream and idea, gives individuality to each.

Belief that the human personality survives death and can communicate with the living through a medium.

Belief in a plurality of gods, not necessarily equal in importance, each distinguished by a special function.

Ancestor worship
Ritualized propitiation & invocation of dead kin, based on belief that spirits influence the fate of the living.

Belief in one GOD.

Identifies the universe with GOD. Some pantheists view God as primary and the universe as a finite and temporal emanation from God; others see nature as the great, inclusive unity.

Philosophy and religion of China.

The philosophical system derives chiefly from the Tao-te-ching, a book traditionally ascribed to LAO-TZE but probably written in the mid-3d cent. BC. It describes man's ideal state of freedom from desire and of effortless simplicity, achieved by following the Tao {Chin., = path}, the spontaneous, creative functioning of the universe. Quietistic in outlook, the Taoists condemned as symptoms of excessive government the social virtues expounded by Confucius. Philosophical Taoism was later expounded in the brilliant satirical writings of Chuang-tze (c.369Äc.286 BC). Later Taoism stressed the search for effects, such as immortality, supposed to flow from the Tao, and encouraged the study of ALCHEMY. By the 5th cent. AD Tao had adopted many features of Mahayana Buddhism and offered a fully developed religious system for those who found the largely ethical system of Confucianism inadequate. In the 1950s, after the establishment of the Communist regime, Taoism was officially proscribed in China, and since the Cultural Revolution (1966-69) the religion has flourished mainly in Taiwan.

Moral and religious system of China.

Its origins lie in the collection of sayings known as the Analects attributed to Confucius, and in ancient commentaries such as that of Mencius. Before the 3d cent. BC, Confucianism was a system of ethical precepts for the management of society, based on the practice of jen, sympathy or human-heartedness, as shown in one's relations with others and demonstrated through adherence to li, a combination of etiquette and ritual. A person who wishes to be properly treated when in a subordinate role must, according to the Confucian Golden Rule, treat his own inferiors with propriety. Traditional Chinese ethics and culture still stem from Confucian teachings.

Founded: About 525 BC, reportedly near Benares, India.

Founder: Gautama Siddhartha (ca. 563-480), the Buddha, who achieved enlightenment through intense meditation.

Sacred Texts: The Tripitaka, a collection of the Buddha's teachings, rules of monastic life, and philosophical commentaries on the teachings; also a vast body of Buddhist teachings and commentaries, many of which are called sutras.

Practice: Varies widely according to the sect and ranges from austere meditation to magical chanting and elaborate temple rites. Many practices, such as exorcism of devils, reflect pre-Buddhist beliefs.

Divisions: A wide variety of sects grouped into 3 primary branches:
1. Therevada (sole survivor of the ancient Hinayana schools) which emphasizes the importance of pure thought and deed;
2. Mahayana, which includes Zen and Soka-gakkai, ranges from philosophical schools to belief in the saving grace of higher beings or ritual practices, and to practical meditative disciplines;
3. Tantrism, an unusual combination of belief in ritual magic and sophisticated philosophy.

Beliefs: Life is misery and decay, and there is no ultimate reality in it or behind it. The cycle of endless birth and rebirth continues because of desire and attachment to the unreal self. Right meditation and deeds will end the cycle and achieve Nirvana, the Void, nothingness.
The four noble truths:
1. existence is suffering;
2. the cause of suffering is desire;
3. there is a cessation of suffering, called Nirvana, or total transcendence;
4. and there is a path leading to the end of suffering, the eightfold noble path of: right views, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

Buddhism defines reality in terms of cause-and-effect relations, thus accepting the doctrine common to Indian religions of samsara, or bondage to the repeating cycle of births and deaths according to one's physical and mental actions.

Founded: Ca. 1500 BC by Aryan invaders of India where their Vedic religion intermixed with the practices and beliefs of the natives.

Sacred texts: The Veda, including the Upanishads, a collection of rituals and mythological and philosophical commentaries; a vast number of epic stories about gods, heroes and saints, including the Bhagavadgita, a part of the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana; and a great variety of other literature.

Organization: None, strictly speaking. Generally, rituals should be performed or assisted by Brahmins, the priestly caste, but in practice simpler rituals can be performed by anyone. Brahmins are the final judges of ritual purity, the vital element in Hindu life. Temples and religious organizations are usually presided over by Brahmins.

Practice: A variety of private rituals, primarily passage rites (eg. initiation, marriage, death, etc.) and daily devotions, and a similar variety of public rites in temples. Of the latter, the puja, a ceremonial dinner for a god, is the most common.

Divisions: There is no concept of orthodoxy in Hinduism, which presents a bewildering variety of sects, most of them devoted to the worship of one of the many gods. The 3 major living traditions are those devoted to the gods Vishnu and Shiva and to the goddess Shakti; each of them divided into further sub-sects. Numerous folk beliefs and practices, often in amalgamation with the above groups, exist side-by-side with sophisticated philosophical schools and exotic cults.

Beliefs: There is only one divine principle; the many gods are only aspects of that unity. Life in all its forms is an aspect of the divine, but it appears as a separation from the divine, a meaningless cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara) determined by the purity or impurity of past deeds (karma). To improve one's karma or escape samsara by pure acts, thought, and/or devotion is the aim of every Hindu.

Founded: 622 AD in Medina, Arabian peninsula.

Founder: Mohammed (ca. 570-632), the Prophet.

Sacred texts: Koran, the words of God. Hadith, collections of the sayings of the Prophet.

Organization: Theoretically the state and religious community are one, administered by a caliph. In practice, Islam is a loose collection of congregations united by a very conservative tradition. Islam is basically egalitarian and non-authoritarian.

Practice - Every Moslem has 5 duties:
1. to make the profession of faith ("There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.),
2. pray 5 times a day,
3. give a regular portion of his goods to charity,
4. fast during the day in the month of Ramadan,
5. and make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca if possible.
There are also injunctions against wine, touching or eating of pork, gambling, usury, fraud, slander, and the making of images.

Divisions: 2 major sects of Islam are the Sunni (orthodox) and the Shi'ah.
1. The Shi'ah believe in 12 imams, perfect teachers, who still guide the faithful from Paradise. Shi'ah practice tends toward the ecstatic, while the Sunni is staid and simple. The Shi'ah sect affirms man's free will.

2. The Sunni is deterministic. The mystic tradition in Islam is Sufism. A Sufi adept believes he has acquired a special inner knowledge direct from Allah.

Beliefs: Strictly monotheistic. God is creator of the universe, omnipotent, just, and merciful. Man is God's highest creation, but limited and commits sins. He is misled by Satan, an evil spirit. God revealed the Koran to Mohammed to guide men to the truth. Those who repent and sincerely submit to God return to a state of sinlessness. In the end, the sinless go to Paradise, a place of physical and spiritual pleasure, and the wicked burn in Hell.

Founded: About 1300 BCE.

Founder: Abraham is regarded as the founding patriarch, but the Torah of Moses is the basic source of the teachings.

Sacred Texts: The five books of Moses constitute the written Torah. Special sanctity is also assigned other writings of the Hebrew Bible the teachings of oral Torah are recorded in the Talmud, the Midrash, and various commentaries.

Organization: Originally theocratic, Judaism has evolved a congregational polity. The basic institution is the local synagogue, operated by the congregation and led by a rabbi of their choice. Chief Rabbis in France and Great Britain have authority only over those who accept it; in Israel, the 2 Chief Rabbis have civil authority in family law.

Practice: Among traditional practitioners, almost all areas of life are governed by strict religious discipline. Sabbath and holidays are marked by special observances, and attendance at public worship is regarded as especially important then. The chief annual observances are Passover, celebrating the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt and marked by the ritual Seder meal in the home, and the 10 days from Rosh Hashana (New Year) to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a period of fasting and penitence.

Beliefs: Strictly monotheistic. God is the creator and absolute ruler of the universe. Men are free to choose to rebel against God's rule. God established a particular relationship with the Hebrew people: by obeying a divine law God gave them they would be a special witness to God's mercy and justice. The emphasis in Judaism is on ethical behavior (and, among the traditional, careful ritual obedience) as the true worship of God.

Quotes on Religion
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Nobody can deny but religion is a comfort to the distressed, a cordial to the sick, and sometimes a restraint on the wicked; therefore, whoever would laugh or argue it out of the world, without giving some equivalent for it, ought to be treated as a common enemy. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)

The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as eqully true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful. Edward Gibbon

Man is a being born to believe. And if no Church comes forward with its title-deeds of truth to guide him, he will find altars and idols in his own heart and his own imagination. Benjamin Disraeli

It matters little what profession, whether of religion or irreligion, a man may make, provided only he follows it out with charitable inconsistency, and without insisting on it to the bitter end. Samuel Butler

Religion is by no means a proper subject of conversation in a mixed company. Lord Chesterfield

Religion would not have any enemies if it were not an enemy to their vices. Jean-Baptiste Massillon (1663-1742)