This course is an introduction to the major religious traditions of the world, particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam; and consideration of neo-pagan and cultic phenomena in the contemporary world. Emphasis is on the historical development, key figures, as well as major doctrines and practices. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the similarities and differences between the world’s religions and how they differ from Christianity.


This course is designed to introduce you to the major religions of the world—Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the end of the course you will have increased your awareness of the important elements of the major religions—their myth, symbols, ritual, doctrine, moral codes, and artistic expression. You will recognize the differences among the religious traditions. You will better understand the religious issues and conflicts in the modern world.

There are no Prerequisites or Corequisites for this course.

Frank, Jr., Kenneth L.

Registrar and Director of Admissions
Full Time
B.A. (1973), Ambassador University; M.A. (2014), Grand Canyon University.
Subject Matter: 

Mr. Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA where he attended Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) for one year, majoring in history and government. Following that, he attended the three campuses of Ambassador College (later Ambassador University) in Big Sandy, Texas, USA; Bricket Wood, England; and Pasadena, California, USA.

In the summer of 1971 he participated in an archaeological project jointly sponsored by Ambassador College and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Upon graduation from Ambassador College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, he trained for the ministry in Canada and was ordained an elder in 1975. He pastored Canadian congregations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario for twenty-six years before returning to the United States where he served as a Living Church of God pastor in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. He is married, father of four children (one of whom is Living University faculty member, Annette Triplett) and grandfather of seven. In 2014, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian Studies with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry at Grand Canyon University. Presently, he serves at the Living University campus as instructor, Registrar and Director of Admissions. 

Course Credit: 
Three (3) semester hours
Instructional Objectives: 

On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Describe characteristics used to identify a religion and the patterns shared by indigenous religions;
  2. Describe features of devotional Hinduism practiced by the majority of Hindus;
  3. Distinguish among the three major branches of Buddhism and discuss modern developments in Buddhism, including its emergence in the West;
  4. Describe the key beliefs and ethical practices of Jainism and discuss the origins of Jainism and the similarities and differences among Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism;
  5. Discuss Daoist values and ideals, the images used to convey them, and the focus and goals of Confucianism, especially in terms of the Five Great Relationships, the Confucian Virtues, and the notion of the “noble person”;
  6. Describe the focus and practice of Shinto and discuss the tensions and accommodations among Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism;
  7. Describe Jewish religious practices and explain the characteristics of the major divisions within Judaism;
  8. Discuss the growth of Christianity and explain the origins of the major branches of Christianity and traditional Christian doctrines and practices;
  9. Discuss the fundaqmental Christian conflict with Islam, the Muslim view of Allah, its socio-cultural political nature, the Five Pillars of Islam, and the significance and content of the Qur’an for Muslims;
  10. Discuss the reasons for the emergence of new religious movements, the difference between a cult and a sect, major examples of alternative religion, and the process of religious change and accommodation.
Required Texts: 

The textbook for this course is:

  • Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World's Religions.  5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. ISBN 9780073407500.

The three required books you ar to citique in this course are:

  • Esposito, John L. What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. 2nd ed. NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 9780199794133. 
  • Lotker, Michael. A Christian's Guide to Judaism. New York: Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004. ISBN 9780809142323.
  • Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity Changed the World. Zondervan, 2004. ISBN 9780310264491

Students may order these through the University Bookstore.

The books used in this course are commercial publications. They represent the views and ideas of their authors, editors, and publishers. Living University does not endorse these texts nor vouch for their accuracy. We simply employ them in helping you master the content of the course.

Additional Readings: 

Optional books for reference are:

  • Armstrong, Karen. The Great Transformation: the Beginning of Our Religious Traditions. Reprint ed. NY: Anchor, 2007. ISBN 9780385721240.
  • Corduan, Winfried. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012. ISBN 9780830839704.
  • McDermott, Gerald. The Baker Pocket Guide to World Religions: What Every Christian Needs to Know. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008. ISBN 9780801071607.
  • McDowell, Josh. Understanding Non-Christian Religions: Handbook of Today's Religions. San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Pub., 1982. ISBN 9780866050920.
  • Prothero, Stephen. God is Not One - The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World. Reprint ed. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2011. ISBN 9780061571282.
  • Richardson, Joel. The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast. Los Angeles, CA: WND Books, 2009. ISBN 9781935071129.
  • Scotland, Nigel. The Baker Pocket Guide to New Religions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. ISBN 9780801066207.
Course Calendar: 

Lesson 1 Introduction

Topic 1 - Understanding Religion
Topic 2 - The Post-Christian World
Topic 3 - The Rise of Neo-Paganism
Topic 4 - Indigenous Religions

Lesson 2 Eastern Religions - Part 1

Topic 1 - Hinduism
Topic 2 - Buddhism

Lesson 3 Eastern Religions - Part 2

Topic 1 - Jainism and Sikhism
Topic 2 - Daoism and Confucianism
Topic 3 - Shinto

Lesson 4 Judaism and Christianity

Topic 1 - Judaism
Topic 2 - Christianity

Lesson 5 Islam

Topic 1 - The Essentials of Islam
Topic 2 - Important Concepts in Islam
Topic 3 - What We Need to Know About Islam
Topic 4 - The Mahdi, the Muslim Jesus and Islam in Prophecy

Lesson 6 Conclusion

Topic 1 - Alternative Paths
Topic 2 - The Modern Search
Topic 3 - Concluding Thoughts

Course Requirements: 

Icebreaker assignment
To officially begin this course, students must complete an icebreaker assignment by which youu introduce yourself to your classmates through posting a short autobiography on the course Discussion Forum. A student can earn points by posting the Icebreaker assignment on time. These points could make the difference between an A or B, passing or passing this course. 

  • The icebreaker assignment must be submitted by the stated deadline
  • Post your biography as a reply to the "Icebreaker" topic on the lesson "Welcome and Overview" Discussion Forum
  • Please read and comment on at least two other bios by the due date in order to get credit
  • Full credit for this assignment will only be given if all three of the above requirements are met

Do NOT create a NEW discussion. Simply tell the class about yourself and your goals. This is not a place for a profession of faith, or the details of your conversion experience, or problems you have had with previous fellowships, as that information is more of a private nature. Here you are to inform your classmates what you would like them to know about you. As we have people from all over the world enrolled in this course each autobiography will help us know, understand and appreciate each other.

Due dates and extensions
Submit assignments on or before the due dates. No late or make-up assignments will be accepted except for extreme circumstances (permission of instructor is necessary). Students must complete the course by the last official day of instruction as set forth in the academic calendar.

Reading and writing exercises
Refer to individual lesson webpages for reading assignments. When you undertake your critical book reviews you may find the reviews of these titles on helpful.

Viewing assignments
This course include several lectures by Mr. Frank and Dr. Germano. Links to lectures are in the lessons.

Filing writing assignments
All writing assignments in this course shouls follow the MLA style as set forth in Writing Reseach Papers: A Complete Guide by Lester & Lester.  Please cite your sources and use quotation makrs where needed. The Files feature on an assignment submission page lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for downlad, review, and grading. 

Discussion Forums
Each student will have the opportunity to post online comments to a forum question for each lesson. This will enable students to interact with eachother and withe the instructor.

Writing Assignments 
All writing assignments in this course should follow MLA 8 format, common to many universities. Documents and links to learn this format are provided in this course. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The Files feature on an assignment submission page allows you to submit your work so your instructor can have in handy for download, review, and grading.

Critical book reviews
Students will read and write critical book reviews throughout the course on three (3) selected works assigned be the instructor. Reviews should include an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion. Assertions should be supported with internal citations using the Bible and other sources, employing quotation marks where appropriate, and including a Works Cited page. Each review should be 4-5 pages in length (not counting the Works cited page) and written in MLA 8 format.  

Quizzes and examinations      
The lessons have associated online exams of 20 to 60 questions each. Students have sixty minutes to complete each exam. Exams are objective tests with may include true/false, matching, and multiple choice questions covering lectures, readings, vocabulary words, and any discussion topics. The Final Exam is to be proctored (see proctoring instructions below).

Study tips
Distance learning emphasizes self-motivation. The instructor functions as a facilitator with the student as the driving force in mastering course content. Students are encouraged not to put off completing their readings and assignments.

A course grade will be determined based on the number of points a student has earned over the semester as follows:

  • Icebreaker 30 points
  • Discussion Forums (six, each worth 30 points, for a total of 180 points)
  • Critical Book Reviews (three, each worth 50 points, for a total of 150 points)
  • Lesson Writing Assignments (five, each worth 45 points, for a total of 225 points)
  • Exams (two: Midterm and Final with the Final to be proctored, each worth 90 points, for a total of 180 points)
  • Course Evaluation 35 points
  • TOTAL 1,000 points

Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 800 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have.

We want this course to be competency-based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades. Mastery of the material is what one’s goal should be.

Grades, assigned by points, are as follows:

A 900-1000 points
B 800-899 points
C 700-799 points
D 600-699 points
F Below 600 points

Proctored exams
The Final Exam is to be proctored in this course. A proctored exam is one that is overseen by an impartial individual (called a proctor) who monitors or supervises a student while he or she is taking an exam. The proctor ensures the security and integrity of the exam process. The proctoring process helps assure that the student who takes a proctored examination in a course is the same person who enrolled in the course and that examination results reflect the student’s own knowledge and competency.

Students should present valid government-issued photo identification to their proctor before taking an exam to confirm their identity unless the proctor presonally knows the student being tested. In order for a proctored exam grade to be recorded, a signed Proctor's Signature Form (PSF) must be sent to LU. The form is unnecessary in the case of ProctorU.

At LU students have several choices for completing proctored exams:

  • A student can come to campus for an exam. The instructor will establish a specific campus classroom, date and time for the student to come to LU and complete the exam with the instructor or his or her representative.
  • A student can utilize a Living Church of God church officer (i.e. elder, deacon or deaconess), or an appointed, minister-approved church leader. In the case of the latter, the minister should provide an email endorsing the appointed proctor.
  • A student can use ProctorU online. ProctorU is a service that LU faculty may utilize for proctoring online exams. ProctorU allows students to conveniently and securely complete assigned exams using almost any webcam. With a computer and approved webcam, a student can take online exams at home, at work, or almost anywhere they have Internet access. ProctorU connects students directly to their proctor via webcam so they both see and talk to one another. ProctorU can also monitor a student's computer while the student completes the exam. Students pay ProctorU directly for this service. LU does not reimburse students for proctoring fees incurred. To view a demo video on how this service works, or to sign up and schedule testing appointments, the Living University portal is located at For ProctorU no Proctor's Signature Form (PSF) is needed.
  • A student can use a college or university testing center. There is usually a fee for this service. LU does not reimburse students for proctoring fees incurred.
  • A student can have an approved proctor. This may be a school offical, such as a teacher or registrar, or a librarian who is not related to the student.
  • In a case of unusual hardship a student may request an alternate arrangement. To do so please contact Mrs. Michelle Broussard at 704-708-2294.

Academic Irregularity

Students have the responsibility for conducting themselves in such a manner as to avoid any suspicion that they are improperly giving or receiving aid on any assignment or examination. An academic irregularity not only includes cheating but also includes plagiarism (taking another's ideas and/or words and presenting them as if they were the writer's own) and the submitting of the same paper in separate courses without prior consent from the faculty members concerned. In cases of suspected academic irregularity, faculty members may refuse to grade such papers or examinations, completely or in part, and to record each of them as a failure. If an academic irregularity is sufficiently serious, the University may take one or more of, but not limited to, the following actions:

  1. Drop the student from the course with a grade of F
  2. Place the student on academic probation
  3. Dismiss the student from the University

Students With Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

Technology Access
This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

Course Evaluation
Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.