Politicians and the military come and go, time erases their memory. However, not everyone knows who was at the origins of this or that religion.
In fact, these leaders during their lifetime often did not even have time to create some kind of organized structure of believers around them. So in the end, the responsibility for the actions of the followers falls not on the shoulders of the religious leader, but on the believers themselves.
Below is a list of some of the most prominent religious figures in history. They are ranked according to the degree of their influence on history and the role they still occupy today. Although it must be borne in mind that not only these people determine religion. After all, there are denominations with tens of millions of followers that simply do not have a specific founder.
It is also worth noting the important place in world religion and such figures as Lao Tzu (Chinese philosopher), Charles Taze (founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses movement), Helena Blavatsky (founder of Theosophy), Ron Hubbard (invented Scientology). There are quite a few religious figures, as well as the beliefs created by them, but we will tell you about the most significant such people in history.
Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). Although the founder of the religious movement "Christian Science" does not have many followers (currently about 30 thousand people), the role of this woman and her influence on religious beliefs in America in the nineteenth century cannot be underestimated. Her controversial views on many religious issues, ranging from the illusory nature of the material world to the actual rejection of a personal God and the concept of hell, definitely place women outside the orthodox views. Nevertheless, many of her ideas survived and found application in some of the churches founded in our time. Her other metaphysical and mystical approaches to faith are also used. It’s fair to say that much of Eddie’s theology is not her invention. These are the revised views of the ancient Gnostics, the mystical branch of Christianity. It was in vogue during the first few centuries of our era, until it was driven underground by the 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 spiritual and religious people is growing. Eddie's followers are known today for refusing medical treatment. They believe that diseases are part of the illusory material world, and they can be dealt with through prayer. The result was a large number of court hearings as Christian parents refused to heal their children. In general, it must be remembered that Eddie challenged the traditional beliefs of the era. She became something of an early feminist, proclaiming women's suffrage.
Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844). This man 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, based only on his own conviction that he is the Prophet of God, organized his own church. It is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, he has an estimated 13 million followers, most of whom are known as Mormons. Not bad at all, as for a person with low education, a tendency to violence and a short life span. The controversy of the figure of this leader was his polygamy (no longer practiced by modern Mormons) and insistence that he is a prophet. Smith argued that God sent him to bring believers and the church back on track. Such views led to aggressive perceptions of his non-Mormon neighbors. This led to outbreaks of violence, in the end Smith declared a real war on his opponents. The governor of Illinois was even forced to muster troops to stop the bloodshed between believers. As a result, the prophet surrendered, but in prison he was shot dead by the rioters who burst in there. After Smith's death, his spiritual work was continued by Brigham Young, who headed east with 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 for it in writing. Allegedly, the angel Moroni appeared to him, who showed the prophet the burial place of gold plates with ancient scriptures. And Smith himself wrote a few more texts that became the basis for the Mormon movement. It is quite clear that without the literary legacy of its leader, the church could not have developed like this after the death of the leader. And so she became as important for Western Protestantism as Luther was for Catholicism (he will be discussed below). Smith is revered by Mormons around the world, being considered the main prophet in this church. And the importance of this person only increases over 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, from kings David and Solomon to the prophets Elijah and Ezekiel. However, no other person had the same influence as Moses. Without his leadership and leadership, the modern Jewish religion simply would not exist. Moses had a fairly 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 the Jews' wandering in the desert is known to everyone, it took as long as forty years. By some estimates, Moses led about half a million men, women and children. Although these numbers may be inflated. 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 wrote the Torah, the most revered of all Hebrew scriptures and the basis for the first five books of the Old Testament. It is believed that Moses died at a ripe old age at the age of 120 just before entering the Promised Land. However, it was this leader who gave the Jews their moral and ethical foundation for the next thousand years. As an example of how important Moses is to all Western religion today, we can point to his canonical Ten Commandments. They are at the core of Western spirituality to this day.
Martin Luther (1483-1546). Several dozen significant leaders took part in the formation of the doctrine of Christianity. It was they who allowed this religion to acquire a modern look. However, few have had as much influence on the church as a whole as this German theologian from Eisblen. Luther was originally ordained a Catholic priest. However, he soon became disillusioned with this form of religion. Luther saw all the abuses that characterized the Roman papacy. As a result, the rebellious priest literally exploded with criticism of the church, outlining it in his 95 theses. He attached them to the door of the Wittenberg church on October 31, 1517. After that, Luther began to actively preach his views, which eventually led to the emergence of a reform movement. The church was split in two, and religious strife dragged on for four centuries. The confrontation was carried out even with arms in hand, not ending in full to this day. Luther's greatest contribution to Christianity was his teaching that salvation is possible through faith in Christ, not through obedience to the Pope. This changed the faith significantly, because salvation became much more accessible. As a result, the church received an unprecedented boost in its growth and development. Luther unwittingly began such a movement; he did not at all seek to split the church, but simply wanted to reform it. Protestantism eventually split into small groups. However, all these confessions, which we observe today, appeared precisely thanks to Martin Luther. Without it, the history of the church and the entire Western civilization would look very different.
Zarathustra (approximately VI-V centuries BC). This ancient Persian prophet founded the first historically recognized world religion. She received the name Zoroastrianism. According to Zend-Avesta, the sacred book of this religion, Zoroaster was born in Northern Persia. True, many scientists believe that he was born even earlier than the 7th century BC. They say that Zarathustra received a vision, from which he became aware of the great cosmic war that is being waged between Ahura Mazda, the god of Light, and Ahriman, the power of Evil. The Prophet said that man is given the right to choose between good and evil. Such dualism has become the driving force for monotheism in the Middle East. But Zarathustra himself became a guiding star for the Persian civilization. Elements of his philosophy have penetrated Western culture through Judaism and Platonism. It is even defined as one of the key moments in the development of all philosophy. One can often come across the idea that Heraclitus, for example, was fascinated by the ideas of Zarathustra. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, Zoroastrianism began to gradually disappear, but to this day this religion exists in India, where it serves as the basis for the Parsi belief.
Confucius (551-479 BC). Confucius is the Latinized version of the Chinese name Kun Tzu. It is difficult to call him a religious figure; rather, he was a philosopher. Confucius thought a lot about personal and state morality, justice and sincerity. He has greatly influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese philosophy and worldview. In the end, by the end, the ideas of the thinker formed into a philosophical system known as Confucianism. Europe got acquainted with it in the sixteenth century, thanks to the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci. Since then, the Chinese philosopher has been popular in the West as well. None of the writings of Confucius have survived to this day, and his teachings have been carried through the centuries by followers. As a result, scientists continue to argue whether there was really such a real philosopher or Confucianism - a common 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 another what you do not want to do for yourself." Therefore, whoever this philosopher was, he was clearly a large-scale religious and philosophical figure.
Krishna (c. 3228-3102 BC). As in the case of the Buddha, it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between historical facts and fiction when it comes to ancient religious figures. This is especially true of Krsna. It seems that there was part of man in him, and part of God. Krishna was able to do many unusual things. Actually, this is quite expected from one of the most powerful incarnations of Vishnu, a Hindu deity. Usually Krsna is presented as a real person. According to myths, he was the nephew of the evil king Kamsa Mathura and lived in northern India. It is believed that Krishna led a rather carefree life, especially he loved to herd cattle and play his flute. But a series of unusual events constantly took place around him. So, even in early childhood, Krishna allegedly killed numerous demons, he is credited with cleansing the waters of the holy river Yamuna from the poison. In modern Hinduism, there are practically no traces of Krishna, however, its basic principles are still present in various Eastern religions. Among all other incarnations of Vishnu, it is Krishna who remains the most popular and closest person. That is why this man-god has been remembered for five thousand years.
Gautama Buddha (circa 563-483 BC). The term "Buddha" is often used as a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment and wisdom, rather than as a real person. Meanwhile, mythology tells exactly about such a creature, made of flesh and blood. Siddhartha Gautama, who would later receive the name of Buddha, was a prince. He spent the first 29 years of his life in luxury, but then he left everything and began to search for the meaning of life. The Buddha became a stubborn ascetic who survived by eating only a handful of nuts a day. After spending several years in complete poverty, he realized that it makes no sense in looking for answers to his questions. One day Buddha was sitting 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 achieve the state of nirvana, or enlightenment. The new teaching quickly gained a legion of disciples, thus laying the foundation for one of the greatest Eastern religious structures. Now there are about 400 million Buddhists on our planet.
Muhammad of Mecca (571-632 AD). It is difficult to overestimate the influence of this middle-aged merchant on the entire history of the world. He turned out to be a religious leader and military commander, holding a place in the hearts of nearly a billion people today. One-sixth of the total population of the planet considers him the last and greatest prophet. It was Muhammad who wrote the Quran, one of the most famous and readable scriptures in the world. In fact, the prophet himself was not the author. According to the legend, the scriptures through visions were given to him by the angel Jabrail, who had been coming for twenty years. Those records were recorded and collected in a single book known to this day. In any case, Muhammad created one of the most violent monotheistic religions in the world and paved the way for the rapid spread of Islam within the then known world. Islam believes that God is one, and Judaism and Christianity are the wrong interpretation of the true faith by people.
Jesus of Nazareth (circa 7 BC-36 AD). This saint and man has over a billion followers all over the world. Christianity is still the largest religion on the planet. Even if she was not the largest in the number of her followers, the influence of the itinerant rabbi from Galilee turned out to be fateful for our entire civilization. The life story of Jesus says that he was conceived immaculately. His mother was the earthly woman Mary, and his father was God himself. It is especially interesting to note that his public ministries and speeches lasted just over two years. During his lifetime, Jesus had only a few thousand followers. Christ did not leave behind any personal scriptures. In the end, Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities for attempting to rebel. All this could make his place in history tiny, and Jesus himself - mentioned only in ancient sources. Instead, he is revered in the world today as a great prophet and moral teacher. Many believe that Jesus was the physical embodiment of God on earth. This status is confirmed by the canonical story that Christ was resurrected three days after his death. According to legend, 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 Islam recognizes him as a prophet and Messiah, but Judaism does not see either one or the other in him.