Essay on the Religious Roles

(b) The Prophet is an important religious leader. He may be a priest or a mystic. He serves as a spokesman for some divine power, issuing warnings, giving commands, and revealing the course of future events. The role of the prophet is set by the culture. The disruption in the established Church hierarchy may give rise to the emergence of mystics and prophets.

(c) The Messiah is the divine leader or prophet who is recognised as having supernatural attributes. He often assumes the role of final judge. The messiah comes from among the people themselves, who at a time of crisis look to him to save their society from disaster. Jesus Christ, Moses, Prophet Mohammed, for example, were regarded as the messiahs or redeemers

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(ii) The religious executives include the priests, teachers and the missionaries,

(a) The Priest or Pastor carries on the religious rituals and expounds or explains the theology. He officiates at the Church ceremonies and cares for both spiritual and temporal or worldly affairs.

(b) Religious Teach­ers or Philosophers have played a significant role in the history of the great world religions. Jesus Christ, St. Paul, Mohammed, the Buddha, Mahavira, Shankaracharya, Basavanna are all well known instances.

(c) The Missionary is a special teacher whose task is to carry the message, rituals and symbolism of an established religion to non-believers.

(d) The Religious Executive may be, like St. Paul, Shankaracharya, Allammaprabhu, both missionaries and organisers. Sometimes these execu­tives may undertake the priestly work as well as social-service work and management.

The mystics and the religious thinkers are likely to be innovators and disturbers of the estab­lished order. On the other hand, the religious executives are generally conservative, who always prefer the old to the new.

There is, in fact, a sort of continuous struggle in religious organisations between these two kinds of persons. “Some would confine religious expression within rather defi­nite limits set by symbols, rites, traditions, and established theology. Other would not unduly ham­per religious experience by such established patterns of thought and action but would leave much to the individual’s unique experience.” (Young and Mack)

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