"How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?" -- Romans 10:14
THUMB -- an acronym to remember the 5 major blocs of unreached peoples of our world
T - Tribal
H - Hindu
U - Un-religious / Chinese
M - Muslim
B - Buddhist
- Tribal (usually Animist)
- Believes in spirits that live all around us: in trees, in fields, in rocks, in rooftops.
- People must try to keep these spirits happy and enlist their help.
- Animists usually live with a certain amount of fear that a spirit will be unhappy with them. [ Animistic case studies ]
- Believes in hundreds or thousands of gods (which are likely appearances of one divine essence).
- God, as the Christians understand Him, may be divine, but what the Christians call "God" is only one of millions of gods.
- Believes in reincarnation -- that is, when you die, you come back to life as an insect or a cow or even a better (or worse) person. [ Hindu case studies ]
- Un-religious / Chinese
- This conglomerate category includes the following:
- The largest bloc of unreached peoples in the world are in China. Some follow Confucius; others follow a mixture of animism and even Buddhist teachings.
- Believes there may or there may not be a God. The Bible is an interesting historical book, but it is not divinely inspired.
- Believes that to worship God and to be a part of God's people (the church) is to be out of touch with real life.
- Nominal Christian
- May have been baptized as a child.
- Considers himself / herself a Christian, but has no connection with the church now. Goes to church only for funerals and weddings.
- Believes in one God.
- God is to be worshiped, but He is too high and far away to think of as "father." In fact, to call him "father" would be blasphemy.
- Jesus was a great prophet, but He was not God.
- Christ was not crucified for our sins; he actually lived to be an old man. [ Muslim case studies ]
- Follows a path of discipline in order to reach enlightenment
- Often there is no conception of a god at all [ Buddhist case studies ]
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax:
Updated: January 29, 2019
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Article by Howard Culbertson. For more original content like this, visit: http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert