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Teachers and instructors

In other religions, the individual believer is expected to approach the divine directly, without an intermediary. But it still has to be done correctly! This means that in those religions it is very important that the correct information is spread about the expected relationship to the divine. In these religions, the role of the religious teacher comes to the fore.

In Protestant Christianity, this is the role of the pastor, preacher or minister . They deliver sermons in which they explain the meaning of scriptures and how scriptures can be applied to everyday life. In Hinduism the guru instructs people in the proper meaning of Hindu teachings, and in Tibetan Buddhism such a person is called a lama . In Islam this is the role of the imam , and in Judaism it is done by the rabbi .

Then there are people who also teach, but on a more academic level, and who are less directly involved with the practice of religion. In Hinduism such a person is called a pandit . In the western world we find the theologian and the scholar of religion . Theologians research one religion (their own) intensively, while scholars of religion study religious thought and activity more widely.

Did you know?

Imams and rabbis also have another important task – apart from their teaching duties, they also have to interpret religious law. So they have to be both religious teachers and lawyers!


Every religion needs people just to run the organisation efficiently. In many cases, this is taken on as an additional job by the priest, minister or pastor. In fact, many of these people surely wish that there was less administration and more time for their real jobs!

But very often, there is simply too much work for one person to do. And in many religions, this leads to people who are not ordained (lay members) being drawn in to the running of the organisation. Different religious traditions may call them by different names, but we can collectively refer to them as elders .

Despite what the name suggests, you don't actually have to be very old to be an elder. But you should be widely respected for your sober lifestyle and your ability to work efficiently. Many elders are also successful people in their daily lives outside the religious organisation: they may be businesspeople, legislators or administrators (professors, not so much). In fact, most elders are not full–time religious professionals.

One religious organisation, a Christian church known as the Quakers, refuses to appoint any member to any role higher than that of elder. In other religious organisations, elders are formally placed below the minister or pastor, but in practice a strong–willed elder of long standing can have far more influence over the congregation than a young, inexperienced priest or minister!

In some religious organisations, you may also find a level of commitment greater than that of the elder, but not quite on the level of the ordained priest or minister. Again, let us borrow some Chriatian terminology and call such a person, in any religion a deacon . Deacons' status and responsibilities vary greatly from one religion (and one denomination) to another, but wherever we find them, they seem to be taking on the organiser's role.

I hope you realise that we have been painting with a very broad brush here. What one church calls a deacon may be called an elder in another. Some organisations will have a kind of ordination for the people they call "elders", but have laypeople serving on a parish council that serve the same purpose.

The division into believers, mediators, teachers and organisers, however, seems to be fairly fundamental and we can find at least three of these four roles in all religions. Not all religions have mediating figures, but they all need to have the mass of common believers, somebody to keep reminding the believers what the religion is all about, and somebody who takes care that the lights in the group's meeting place stay on.

One last remark: in religious organisations that do not ordain women, the elder and deacon roles are often open to them, and many religious organisations would come to a complete halt if it were not for the organisational skills of their female members.

Will the rule of priestly celibacy one day be regarded as something quaint that people did in the old days? Keep in mind that other rules once thought very important, like not eating meat on Fridays, have gone by the wayside.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Learning about religion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 18, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11780/1.1
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