Special Spiritual Leaders
In Esposito’s book, World Religions Today, Esposito takes the “family resemblances” approach in defining religions. He lays out six things that religions have: experience of the sacred, myth, ritual, community, morality, and leadership. The family resemblances approach says that each religion has these six things, while they may not be similar from religion to religion. For example, both Catholicism and Islam have rituals such as mass and salat, respectively; but these are two very unique rituals. In the same way, religious leaders among religions can vary. Religious leaders are one of the fundamental elements of religions today; however, through the lives of Jesus, Siddhartha Gautama, and Muhammad one can see the differences among these famous religious leaders.
For Christians, Jesus Christ is the most famous religious figure. Jesus was born around 4 BC and died around the age of thirty-three. Jesus did not start preaching publicly until the age of thirty. During his three years of preaching, Jesus amassed a great following, which Biblical accounts say surpassed 5,000 people. Many of these people followed Jesus because of his teaching and miracles. Jesus’ teaching superseded the current Jewish law and was personally given through Jesus. Jesus’ most famous teaching was the Sermon on the Mount, in which he said that those who are less in this life will be greater in the next life. Along with these teachings, Jesus advocated non-violence. At the end of his life Jesus had a supernatural experience when he was resurrected from the dead. For Christians, Jesus is the spiritual leader as well as the model for how to rightly live life.
For Buddhists, Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha, is the most famous religious figure. Siddhartha was born in 563 BC and died at the age of 80. Siddhartha, much like Jesus, did not start his public ministry until the age of twenty-nine. Siddhartha obtained nirvana at age thirty-five, which is a supernatural state of complete enlightenment. He was the first person to achieve enlightenment and shortly after instructed five men on how to obtain enlightenment. He...