Dr. Lewis Keizer

Required Core Course for Home Temple School of Sacred Studies
M.Div. and D.D. Divinity Degrees



COURSE TEMPLATE (Click here for *.rtf Download):

Each of the twelve Modules requires about 30 pages of reading for objective information in the text, Religions of the World. The Modules are arranged into four SECTIONS. The information from each Module will be interpreted and entered by the student into a COURSE TEMPLATE that identifies each world religion by geographical and cultural origin, historical development, founder or founders, doctrines, calendar or festivals, and other common criteria. The completed COURSE TEMPLATE is e-mailed to the instructor at the end of the course to verify the credit toward a Divinity Degree. This fulfills requirements for acquisition and interpretation of objective information in each Module.

Issues in Contemporary Spirituality
Additionally, the student reads short, high interest sections from Embarking on the Way. Although this book is an introduction to Western Taoism, it is pan-denominational and engages the reader with issues in contemporary spirituality, especially the problem of adapting ancient religious philosophy to the issues of modern spirituality. These readings are supplemented with the excellent classic selections of two to five pages at the end of each topic in Religions of the World, and augmented by suggested web sites representing contemporary schools of the religion studied. The student is required to comment on issues of interest from these readings at the end of each SECTION in the Course Template.

Course Description

Religious beliefs differ from person to person and culture to culture: yet there is often a commonality among both formal and informal religions that speaks to humankind's deepest character. This course explores and compares the modern world's major religions, analyzing how they are intertwined with cultural and personal diversity, and engaging the student in the process of interpreting traditional religion to meet modern human spiritual needs.

Course Goals and Module Objectives:

1. To develop a general knowledge of major world religions.
2. To gain an overview of the teachings and principles of each religion
3. To become familiar with the founders of major religions.
4. To develop analytic skills in historical, comparative, and phenomenological approaches to the study of religions of religions.
5. To identify common elements and themes in human religious culture.
6. To track the evolution of human spirituality from ancient to modern times.

7. To better understand contemporary spirituality through an overview of the history and development of major religious traditions.
8. To understand the historical evolution of human spirituality and find those streams which are relevant for us.
9. To confront the issues that separate modern spirituality from its medieval and ancient roots, such as sexuality, asceticism, male-female relations, other-worldly orientation, and patriarchy.
10. To better integrate an approach to personal spirituality and the religious cultures of the world.

Required Textbooks (two):

Hopfe, Lewis M. and Mark R. Woodward, Religions of the World, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998
Used at

Religions of the World (8th Edition)

Towler, Solala, Embarking on the Way: A Guide to Western Taoism,
Oregon: Abode of the Eternal Tao, 1991 Garfield Street, Eugene, OR 97405 (
Or used at:  
Embarking on the Way: A Guide to Western Taoism