One of the best reference books available on the religions and cults present in our time, Handbook of Today's Religions combines, for the first time, four books by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart on religions, cults, and the occult into one easy-to-use volume. The four books, which each became a section of the compilation, are: Non-Christian Religions; The Occult; Secular Religions; The Cults. Powerful individually, together the books are a powerhouse of vital information for Christians on those worldviews which challenge and attack Christianity.
In part one, McDowell and Stewart focus on cults. The define what a cult is and offer some characteristics of cults. This is then contrasted with historical, biblical Christianity. The author's also offer detailed background information about numerous cults affecting our society today, including: Hare Krishna, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Transcendental Meditation, Theosophy and others. Ministries dealing with each cult are listed, along with an extensive annotated bibliography.
Part two looks at the occult, offering information on its popularity and growth. Occultic practices ranging from astrology to hypnotism to witchcraft are explained and contrasted with biblical beliefs. This part also includes two informative appendices, one on the presence of magic and the occult in literature, and another on the authority of the believer.
The third part offers a great look at the ten most familiar and prevalent non-Christian religions in the world. In this section you will find brief, but informative, looks at Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism. The extensive annotated bibliography is a great place to start further research on each religion.
Part four looks at what McDowell and Stewart term secular religions. Though the term seems somewhat oxymoronic, the authors point out just how much each worldview in this section has in common with religions. The worldviews looked at are: atheism; agnosticism, skepticism, Marxism, secular humanism, and existentialism.
In part five, there is an essay by Norman Anderson explaining and describing a Christian approach to comparative religions, as well as a look at the four spiritual laws.
All told, this reference book offers one of the best looks (from a Christian perspective) at each of the various religions and worldviews which exist currently. Understanding what motivates adherents of each system can help us to reach out to them with the truth of Christianity. Slightly Imperfect.