Origin The Challenge to the Global Community of Religions
"In this new ecological age of developing global community and interfaith dialogue, the world religions face what is perhaps the greatest challenge that they have ever encountered. Each is inspired by a unique vision of the divine and has a distinct cultural identity. At the same time, each perceives the divine as the source of unity and peace. The challenge is to preserve their religious and cultural uniqueness without letting it operate as a cause of narrow and divisive sectarianism that contradicts the vision of unity and peace. It is a question of whether the healing light of religious vision will overcome the social and ideological issues that underline much of the conflict between religions." ~ Dr. Steven C. Rockefeller, Middlebury College, Spirit and Nature, p. 169
CONTENTS | INVOCATION | INTRODUCTION | PROLOGUE | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21


Title Page
This Archive
Advisors and Contributors
Foreword by Ninian Smart
How to obtain a printed (hardbound/paperback) version


The Truth in Many Paths
Tolerance and Respect for All Believers

The Purpose of World Scripture
The Organization of World Scripture
The World's Religions and Their Scriptures

World Scripture and Education for Peace

Ultimate Reality and the Purpose of Human Existence

CHAPTER 1: Ultimate Reality
Traces of God's Existence
The One
Formless, Emptiness, Mystery
Transcendent, All-Pervasive Reality
Sovereign and Omnipotent
Immanent and Near at Hand
Eternal -- in a World of Transience
The Creator
Goodness and Love
Divine Father and Mother

CHAPTER 2: Divine Law, Truth, and Cosmic Principle
Eternal Truth
Moral Law
The Decalogue
The Golden Rule
Polarity, Relationality, and Interdependence
Cosmic Justice

CHAPTER 3: The Purpose of Life for the Individual
Joy and Happiness
For God's Good Pleasure
Image of God and Temple of God
Inborn Goodness and Conscience
Original Mind, No Mind
True Love

CHAPTER 4: The Purpose of Life in the Family and in Society
The Family
Parents and Children
Husband and Wife
Unity and Community
The People of God
The Ideal Society

CHAPTER 5: The Purpose of Life in the Natural World
The Sanctity of Nature
Reverence for Life
The Microcosm
The Lord of Spirits
Creation Rejoices

CHAPTER 6: Life Beyond Death and the Spiritual World
The Spiritual World: Mystery, Multiplicity, Analogy, Harmony
The Immortal Soul
Prepare Now for Eternity
Passage Beyond
Spiritual Benefactors
Spiritual Error and the Occult

Evil, Sin, and the Human Fall

CHAPTER 7: The Human Condition
The War Within
Pride and Egotism
Selfish Desire, Lust, and Greed

CHAPTER 8: Fall and Deviation
The Human Fall
Demonic Powers
Degraded Human Nature
God's Grief

CHAPTER 9: The Major Sins
Good and Evil
Lying and Deceit
Slander, Gossip and Foul Speech

Salvation and the Savior

CHAPTER 10: Salvation-Liberation-Enlightenment
Universal Salvation
Atonement and Forgiveness of Sins
Crossing the Waters
Reversal and Restoration
Help and Deliverance
The Refining Fire
Born Anew
Eternal Life
The Unitive State

CHAPTER 11: The Founder
Call and Awakening
Rejected by the World
The Victor
He Who Subjugates Satan
The Revealer of Truth
The Man for Others
The Living Presence
The Person and Character of the Founder: Divine Person
Human Person
The Succession of Founders and Messengers

The Religious Life

CHAPTER 12: Responsibility and Predestination
Individual Responsibility
Karma and Inherited Sin

CHAPTER 13: Self-cultivation and Spiritual Growth
Spiritual Growth
Cultivate the Good
Preparing the Start
Perseverance and Patience

CHAPTER 14: Faith
Devotion and Praise
Fear, Submission, and Obedience
Argument with God

CHAPTER 15: Wisdom
The Search for Knowledge
Scripture and Tradition
Poverty of Conceptual Learning
Scripture Teaches in Parables
Learning and Practice
Teacher and Disciple
New Wine and Old Wineskins

CHAPTER 16: Worship
The Name of God
Beyond Ritual

CHAPTER 17: Offering and Sacrifice
Persecution and Martyrdom

CHAPTER 18: Self-Denial and Renunciation
Self-denial and No-self
Repentance, Confession, and Restitution
Restraint and Moderation
Control Anger
Subdue Desires and Passions
Detachment from the Senses
Renunciation of Wealth
Asceticism and Monasticism
Separation from Family
Separation from the World

CHAPTER 19: Live for Others
Serving Others
Sacrificial Love
Giving and Receiving
Charity and Hospitality
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Judge Not
Love Your Enemy
Turn the Other Cheek
Good Deeds
Labor and Industry
Honesty and Expediency

Providence, Society, and the Kingdom of Heaven

CHAPTER 20: Good Government and the Welfare of Society
The Pillars of Society
The Prophet and Reformer
War Against Evil
Respect for Legitimate Governments
Government by Divine Law
Consideration for the People
Leadership by Example and Honest Government
Judgments and Punishments
Providence and the Mandate of Heaven

CHAPTER 21: Eschatology and Messianic Hope
The Last Judgment
The Messiah
The Kingdom of Heaven

Interspirit Network for global illumination
- 1 -

View previous page View next page

       The compassion and grace of God know no bounds.  In some passages
from scripture, the extent of God's saving work is predicted eventually to
embrace all humankind.  Thus does the Divine Parent's heart yearn for all
His children.  In Buddhist terms, the essential purpose of absolute Truth
is to liberate all sentient beings, and Mahayana Buddhist scriptures
express the universality of grace in the vow of the Buddha Amitabha.  His
vow is similar to the Bodhisattva Vow to save all beings, and in popular
Buddhism the great Bodhisattvas who attend the Buddha are revered as
manifesting gracious aspects of Ultimate Reality.

       Universal salvation is compatible with the belief that there is
only one valid and true religion.  Salvation may come to all people
through one central point: thus in Abraham 'shall all the families of the
earth be blessed' (Genesis 12.3).  For those who believe in one religion
as the only way, the divine mandate to save all humankind is a powerful
impetus to missionary activity.

       We conclude with several passages which offer salvation to souls in
hell. If salvation is to be available universally, to every soul who has
ever lived regardless of his or her earthly life, the doctrine may appear
at odds with beliefs about hell and the Last Judgment.  If God is most
essentially just, how can the wicked receive salvation?  On the other
hand, if God is most essentially gracious and compassionate, how can He
permit any creature to suffer in hell eternally?  Compassion and justice
must go together.  Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism reconcile these aspects
of Ultimate Reality by regarding all states of hell as purgatories,
designed to mete out punishments for a limited period of time, that evil
karma might be burned up and the soul have a future opportunity to find
the Path.  Christian and Islamic theologians dispute this question among
themselves--some upholding an eternal hell, others looking to universal
salvation.  The Latter-day Saints practice baptism for the dead, thereby
emptying hell of its dead through the efforts of the living.

God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth.

                  Christianity.  Bible, 1 Timothy 2.3-4

The daily concern of the Parent is single-heartedly how best I can advance
arrangements to save all of you.

                        Tenrikyo.  Ofudesaki 14.35

We will make offering unto thee with worship, O Lord, and to the Right,
That you may achieve through Good Mind the destiny of all creatures in the
Dominion. For the salvation of the man of insight among such as you, O
Wise One, will hold good for everyone.

                   Zoroastrianism.  Avesta, Yasna 34.3

The Dharma of the Buddhas
       by the constant use of a single flavor
Causes the several worlds
       universally to attain perfection,
By gradual practice
       all obtain the Fruit of the Way.

                         Buddhism.  Lotus Sutra 5

"As I live," says the Lord God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Ezekiel 33.11

When Israel crossed the Red Sea, the angels were about to break forth in
song, but the Holy One rebuked them, "My children are drowning, and you
would sing?"

                      Judaism.  Talmud, Megilla 10b

- - - - - - - - - - - -
1 Timothy 2.3-4: Cf. 2 Timothy 2.13, p. 507; Torah Yesharah, p. 506.
Yasna 34.3: The passage asks that these prayers to God cause all
creatures, not just the wise man, to achieve their destiny in God's
Kingdom.  Lotus Sutra 5: This is the conclusion to the long Parable of the
Rain Cloud, pp. 142f.  Megilla 10b: 'My children' are the Egyptians who
drowned in the waters while the Israelites escaped--Exodus 15.1-11, p.
564.  On God's love for Israel's enemies, cf. Amos 9.7, p. 281.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

God it is who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Religion of
Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the
idolators may be averse.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 9.33

Turn to me and be saved,
       all the ends of the earth!
    for I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn,
    from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
       an irrevocable decree:
"To me every knee shall bow,
       every tongue shall swear."

            Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Isaiah 45.22-23

Miqdad reported that he heard God's messenger say, "There will not remain
on the face of the earth a mud-brick house or a camel's hair tent which
God will not cause the confession of Islam to enter, bringing both mighty
honor and abject abasement.  God will either honor the occupants and put
them among its adherents, or will humiliate them and they will be subject
to it."  Miqdad said, "God will then receive complete obedience."

                         Islam.  Hadith of Ahmad

God is on the watch for the nations of the world to repent, so that He may
bring them under His wings.

                  Judaism.  Midrash, Numbers Rabbah 10.1

I testify that Thou art the Lord of all creation, and the Educator of all
beings, visible and invisible.  I bear witness that Thy power hath
encompassed the entire universe, and that the hosts of the earth can never
dismay Thee, nor can the dominion of all peoples and nations deter Thee
from executing Thy purpose.  I confess that Thou hast no desire except the
regeneration of the whole world, and the establishment of the unity of its
peoples, and the salvation of all them that dwell therein.

      Baha'i Faith.  Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 115

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
       my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him,
       he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
       or make it heard in the street;

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Qur'an 9.33: Cf. Qur'an 22.56, p. 1111.  Isaiah 45.22-23: Cf. Isaiah
2.2-4, p. 1112; 56.7, p. 243; Zechariah 14.9, p. 1111.  Hadith of Ahmad:
Cf. Qur'an 21.104-05, p. 1111.  Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah
115: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 111, p. 274;
'Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 290, 1119.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

a bruised reed he will not break,
       and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
       he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not fail or be discouraged
       till he has established justice in the earth;
       and the coastlands wait for his law.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Isaiah 42.1-4

The Tathagatas do not enter ultimate liberation until all living beings
have entered ultimate liberation.

                Buddhism.  Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 4

God did not call me for myself.  He called me expecting that I would
develop the universal personality [that can relate well with all people
and things].

               Unification Church.  Sun Myung Moon, 4-14-57

I establish the Vows unexcelled,
And reach the highest path, Bodhi.
Were these Vows unfulfilled,
I would never attain Enlightenment.

I will be the great provider
Throughout innumerable ages.
Should I fail to save all in need,
I would never attain Enlightenment.

Upon my attaining Enlightenment,
If my Name were not heard anywhere
In the ten quarters of the universe,
I would never attain Enlightenment.

Practicing the Holy Way--selflessness,
Depth in right reflection and pure wisdom,
Aspiring toward the highest path,
I will be the teacher of devas and men.

My wondrous power by its great light
Brightens countless lands throughout,
Removes the darkness of the three defilements
And delivers all from suffering and pain.

          Buddhism.  Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra 9.1-5: Juseige

Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire... they will dwell therein for
all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord
wills; for your Lord is the sure Accomplisher of what He plans.

                         Islam.  Qur'an 11.106-07

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the
unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the
flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the
spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited
in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark.

                  Christianity.  Bible, 1 Peter 3.18-20

It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten
with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between
the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other--and behold what
is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead.  For we without them
cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.
Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the
gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of
the fullness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in,
that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of
dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place.

        Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Doctrine and
                             Covenants 128.18

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Isaiah 42.1-4: This 'servant song' is understood differently by Jews and
Christians.  Jews interpret the servant to be Israel, and view the passage
as a statement of Israel's vocation to be a light to the world. Christians
understand the fuller meaning of the servant as realized in Christ.
Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra 9.1-5: This is one of the chief hymns of the
Pure Land school.  One should not interpret this passage as speaking of
God's love in the western sense of the divine Being's love for his
creatures.  Rather, the ideal of the bodhisattva illustrates the Mahayana
Buddhist principle that Ultimate Reality is itself all-embracing,
inclusive of every living being and of the nature of compassion.  One who
truly understands this principle cannot help but feel suffering as long as
there is even one individual who suffers, for that unfortunate individual
is one's very self.  This is the essence of the Bodhisattva Vow; see
Sikshasamuccaya 280-81, pp. 979f., and Garland Sutra 23, p. 980; see also
the Eighteenth Vow of Buddha Amitabha, Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra 8.18,
p. 639.  Qur'an 11.106-07: Based on this verse, some Muslim theologians
have deduced that the penalties in hell are not eternal, for 'the time
that the heavens and the earth endure' has a limit; in the end they are to
be dissolved and renewed.  1 Peter 3.18-20: This passage is usually
interpreted to mean that Jesus preached to the spirits in hell. Or, if the
doctrine of eternal hell is to be upheld, then the 'prison' may be
interpreted as an intermediate state of purgatory.  Compare Markandeya
Purana 13-15, p. 981.  Doctrine and Covenants 128.18: The baptism for the
dead is an important rite of the Latter-day Saints, bringing salvation to
those who have passed away in ignorance--'those who have died in the
gospel' are Christians ignorant of the new dispensation--and bringing
wholeness and complete salvation to the cosmos.  Notice the Bible
references to Malachi 4.6 and Hebrews 11.39-40.  Cf. Doctrine and
Covenants 76.54-93, p. 322.
- - - - - - - - - - - -