Politicians and the military come and go, time erases the memory of them. But religious figures continue their invisible life for centuries. That is why millions of people revere them for hundreds, even thousands of years, even after their death. However, not everyone knows who was at the source of this or that religion.
In fact, these leaders during their lifetimes often did not even have time to create some organized structure of believers around them. Themselves of religion was formed after their departure from life. So in the end, responsibility for the actions of followers does not fall on the shoulders of the religious leader, but on the believers themselves.
Below is a list of the most striking religious figures in history. They are located in the degree of their influence on the history and role that is still occupied today. Although we must take into account that not only these people determine religion. After all, there are denominations with tens of millions of followers who simply do not have a specific founder.
It is also worth noting an important place in the world religion and such figures as Lao Tzu (Chinese philosopher), Charles Teiz (founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement), Elena Blavatsky (the founder of Theosophy), Ron Hubbard (invented Scientology). Religious figures, as well as their beliefs, quite a lot, we’ll talk about the most significant in the history of such people.
Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910).
Although the founder of the religious movement “Christian Science” and not so many followers (currently about 30 thousand people), one can not underestimate the role of this woman and her influence on religious beliefs in America in the nineteenth century. Her controversial views on many religious issues, ranging from the illusory nature of the material world and to the actual abandonment of a personal God and the notion of hell, definitely have women outside of orthodox views. Nevertheless, many of her ideas survived and found application in some churches, founded already in our time. Other metaphysical and mystical approaches to faith are also used. For the sake of justice, it should be noted that most of the theology of Eddie is not her invention. These are the altered views of the ancient Gnostics, the mystical branch of Christianity. It was in vogue for the first few centuries of our era, until they were driven into the underground by larger and more powerful Roman churches. In addition, the woman expressed most of the views of the famous theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart (1260-1327). Today, its popularity among the spiritual and religious people is growing. Eddie’s followers are now known for their refusal of medical treatment. They believe that diseases are part of the illusory material world, and they can be combated through prayer. As a result, a large number of court hearings appeared, as Christian parents refused to treat their children. In general, we must remember that Eddie challenged the traditional beliefs of that era. She became something of an early feminist, proclaiming women’s suffrage. Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844).
This person was one of the most controversial figures in the first half of the nineteenth century. Today it is difficult for us to imagine how he, alone, on the basis of his own conviction, that he is a prophet of God, organized his own church. It was called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, the number of its followers is about 13 million people, with most of them known as Mormons. Quite good, as for a person with low education, a tendency to violence and a short time of life. The controversy of this leader’s figure was his polygamy (no longer practiced by modern Mormons) and persistence in allegations that he is a prophet. Smith claimed that God sent him to return the faithful and the church on the right path. Such views led to an aggressive perception of his non-Mormon neighbors.This led to outbreaks of violence, in the end Smith declared a real war to his opponents. The Governor of Illinois was even forced to gather troops to stop the bloodshed between believers. As a result, the prophet surrendered, but in prison he was shot and killed by rioters who burst into it. After Smith’s death, his spiritual work was continued by Brigham Young, who headed to the east at the head of several hundred Mormons. As a result, the believers settled in Utah, where the church developed in the form in which we know it today. But it was Smith who laid the foundations in writing. Allegedly he was the angel Moroni, who showed the prophet the place of burial of gold plates with ancient writings. And Smith wrote several more texts, which became the basis for the movement of Mormons. It is perfectly clear that without the literary heritage of its leader, the church could not have developed so after the death of the leader. And so it became as important for Western Protestantism as Luther for Catholicism (it will be discussed below). Smith is revered by Mormons around the world, being considered in this church as the main prophet. And the significance of this person only increases with time, as the church itself is constantly growing.
Moses (circa 1391-1271 BC).
In the history of Judaism in general there were quite a few famous prophets and leaders, beginning with the kings of David and Solomon and ending with the prophets Elijah and Ezekiel. However, not a single person had such influence as Moses. Without his leadership and leadership, the modern Jewish religion simply would not exist. Moses had a rather strong political weight, as he grew up in the house of the pharaoh. However, he left everything he had to lead his people and create his own state for him. The odyssey of wandering Jews through the desert is known to all, it took forty years. According to some estimates, Moses led about half a million men, women and children. Although these figures can be bloated. But as a result of this cruel campaign, the people not only survived in the desert, but also recovered in the land of Canaan. Presumably, it was Moses who composed the Torah, the most revered of all Jewish writings and the basis for the first five books of the Old Testament. It is believed that Moses died in extreme old age at the age of 120 years before the very entrance to the Promised Land. However, it was this leader who gave the Jews their moral and ethical basis for the next thousand years. As an example of how important Moses is today for the whole of Western religion, one can note his canonical ten commandments. They are the basis of Western spirituality to this day. Martin Luther (1483-1546). Several dozens of significant leaders took part in the formation of the doctrine of Christianity. They made it possible to acquire this religion a modern look. However, few had such an impact on the church as a whole, like this German theologian from Eisblen. Luther was originally initiated into Catholic priests. However, he soon became disillusioned with this form of religion. Luther saw all the abuses that are peculiar to the Roman papacy. As a result, the rebellious priest literally exploded with criticism of the church, having stated it in his 95 theses. They attached them to the doors of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517. After this, Luther began actively preaching his views, which eventually led to the emergence of the reform movement. The church was split into two parts, and religious strife was dragged on for four centuries. Confrontation was carried out even with weapons in hand, not ending in full measure and to this day. The greatest contribution of Luther to Christianity was his teaching that salvation is possible because of faith in Christ, and not through obedience to the Pope. This greatly changed the faith, because salvation has become much more accessible. As a result, the church received an unprecedented boost in its growth and development. Luther involuntarily began this movement, he did not at all seek to split the church, but just wanted to reform it. Protestantism as a result broke up into small groups.However, all these confessions, which we observe today, appeared precisely thanks to Martin Luther. Without him, the history of the church and of the entire Western civilization would look quite different.
Zarathustra (tentatively VI-V centuries BC).
This ancient Persian prophet founded the first historically recognized world religion. It was called Zoroastrianism. According to Zend-Avesta, the sacred book of this religion, Zoroaster was born in Northern Persia. True, many scientists believe that it came into being even earlier than the 7th century BC. It is said that Zarathustra received a vision from which he became aware and the great cosmic war that is waged between Ahura Mazda, the god of Light, and Ahriman, the power of Evil. The prophet said that man was given the right to choose between good and evil. This dualism has become the driving force for monotheism in the Middle East. But Zarathustra himself became a guiding star for Persian civilization. Elements of his philosophy penetrated into Western culture through Judaism and Platonism. It is even defined as one of the key moments in the development of the whole philosophy. It is often possible to find the idea that, for example, Heraclitus was fascinated by Zarathustra’s ideas. After the conquest of Persian by Alexander Macedonian, Zoroastrianism gradually began to disappear, but to this day this religion exists in India, where it serves as the basis for Parsi’s belief.
Confucius (551-479 BC).
Confucius is a romanized version of the Chinese name Kun Zi. It is difficult to call him a religious figure, rather it was a philosopher. Confucius thought a lot about personal and state morality, justice and sincerity. He had a great influence on Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese philosophy and worldview. At the end, the end of the thinker’s ideas formed into a philosophical system known as Confucianism. Europe became acquainted with it in the sixteenth century, thanks to the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci. Since then, the Chinese philosopher is popular in the West. Up to now, none of Confucius’s writings has come down, and his teachings have been carried through centuries by followers. As a result, scientists continue to argue, was there really such a real philosopher or Confucianism – the usual term for a collection of ancient knowledge from different sources with a single philosophical construction? In any case, it is Confucius who is credited with the well-known principle: “Do not do to others what you do not want to do for yourself.” Therefore, no matter who this philosopher was, he was clearly a large-scale religious and philosophical figure.
Krishna (about 3228-3102 BC).
As in the case of the Buddha, it is sometimes difficult to draw a line between historical facts and fiction when it comes to ancient religious figures. This is especially true of Krsna. It seems that there was a part of man in him, and a part of God. Krishna was able to create many unusual things. Actually, this is quite expected from one of the most powerful incarnations of Vishnu, a Hindu deity. Krsna is usually a real person. According to myths, he was the nephew of the evil king Kamsa Mathura and lived in the north of India. It is believed that Krishna led a rather carefree life, especially he loved to graze cattle and play on his flute. But around him there was a series of unusual events. So, even in early childhood, Krishna allegedly killed numerous demons, he is credited with cleansing from the poison of the waters of the holy river Yamuna. In modern Hinduism there are practically no traces of Krishna, but its main principles are still present in various Eastern religions. Among all other incarnations of Vishnu, Krsna remains the most popular and intimate person. That’s why this man-god is remembered for five thousand years.
Gautama Buddha (about 563-483 BC).
The term “Buddha” is often used as a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment and wisdom, and not as a real person. Meanwhile, mythology tells exactly about such a creature, from flesh and blood.Siddhartha Gautama, who later receives the Buddha’s name, was a prince. The first 29 years of his life he spent in luxury, but then left everything and set about finding the meaning of life. The Buddha became a stubborn ascetic who survived, eating only a handful of nuts a day. After spending several years in complete poverty, he realized that this also makes no sense in seeking answers to his questions. One day the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree, meditating. And then suddenly he realized that you can achieve enlightenment by getting rid of all your desires. This allowed the Buddha to attain the state of nirvana, or enlightenment. The new teaching quickly gained a legion of students, so the foundation was laid for one of the greatest Eastern religious structures. Now there are about 400 million Buddhists on our planet.
Muhammad from Mecca (571-632 AD).
It is difficult to overestimate the influence of this middle-aged merchant on the whole world history. He turned out to be a religious leader and military commander, occupying a place in the hearts of almost a billion people today. One sixth of the world’s population considers him the last and greatest prophet. It was Muhammad who wrote the Quran, one of the most famous and widely read scriptures in the world. In fact, the author was not the prophet himself. According to the legend of the scripture through visions, the angel Jabrail, who came in the course of twenty years, gave him. Those records were recorded and collected in a single book, known to this day. In any case, Mohammed created one of the most rigid monotheistic religions in the world and prepared the ground for the rapid spread of Islam within the then known world. Islam believes that God is one, and Judaism and Christianity are a misinterpretation of true faith by people.
Jesus of Nazareth (about 7 BC-36 AD).
This saint and man has more than a billion followers around the world. Christianity is still the largest religion on the planet. Even if it were not the largest in the number of its followers, the influence of the wandering rabbi from Galilee proved to be crucial for our entire civilization. The story of Jesus’ life says that he was conceived in an immaculate way. His mother was the earthly woman Mary, and the father is God himself. It is particularly interesting to note that his public services and speeches lasted just over two years. During his life, Jesus had only a few thousand followers. Christ did not leave behind any personal writings. As a result, Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities for attempting a mutiny. All this could make his place in history tiny, and Jesus himself – mentioned only in ancient sources. Instead, he is revered today in the world as a great prophet and moral teacher. Many believe that Jesus was the physical incarnation of God on Earth. This status is confirmed by the canonical story that Christ resurrected three days after his death. According to tradition, Jesus later ascended to heaven. That is why hundreds of millions of Christians are anxiously awaiting his promised return. The figure of Jesus is so large that he is recognized as a prophet and Messiah by Islam, but Judaism does not see in him either one or the other.