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Charts of World Religions
'The essence of religion consists in the feeling of absolute dependence.'
'Religion is the belief in ... a Divine mind and will ruling the universe and holding moral relations with mankind.'
C. P. Tiele
'Religion is ... that pure and reverential disposition or frame of mind which we call piety.'
F. H. Bradley
'Religion is ... the attempt to express the complete reality of goodness through every aspect of our being.'
(1854--1941) '[Religion is] ... a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man.'
'[Religion is] ... a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, ... which unite into one single moral community.'
'Religion is that which grows out of, and gives expression to, experience of the holy in its various aspects.'
'Religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of the meaning of our life.'
J. Milton Yinger
'Religion is a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggle with the ultimate problem of human life.'
(1922-- ) 'Religion constitutes our varied human response to transcendent Reality.'
Six characteristics or dimensions of religion: 'the ritual, the mythological,
the doctrinal, the ethical, the social, and the experiential.'
'[Religion is] ... the establishment through human activity of an allembracing sacred order, that is, of a sacred cosmos that will be capable of maintaining itself in the ever-present face of chaos.'
James C. Livingston
'Religion is that system of activities and beliefs directed toward that which is perceived to be of sacred value and transforming power.'
Roy A. Clouser
'A religious belief is any belief in something or other as divine. 'Divine'
means having the status of not depending on anything else.'
'[Religion pertains] to a distinction between an empirical and a superempirical,
transcendent reality: the affairs of the empirical being subordinated in significance to the non-empirical.'
What Is Religion?
Existential Faith and religious experience
Intellectual Formal statements of belief (a religion's central beliefs or truth claims)
Institutional Organizations advocating and transmitting beliefs
Ethical Teachings and beliefs that relate to moral conduct
Four Functional Modes of Religion
In order for a religious belief system to be properly and rationally accepted, conclusive evidence must be provided that proves the belief system in question to be true.
Religious belief systems cannot (or ought not) be subjected to rational evaluation.
Critical Rationalism Religious belief systems can and should be rationally criticized and evaluated, even though conclusive proof of such systems is impossible.
Three Basic Views on Faith and Reason
Belief A statement that is taken to be true; a truth claim.
An event one lives through (either as a participant or as an observer) and about which one is conscious or aware. Such events are not merely emotional states; rather, they involve concepts and beliefs about the Being or Reality that is experienced.
Religious Statement A truth claim about God or Ultimate Reality and his or its relationship to the world.
An event that is (1) contrary to ordinary human experience, and (2)
the result of divine activity. On one view, this divine activity 'breaks,'
'suspends,' or 'counteracts via a supernatural force' the laws of nature. On another, this divine activity causes occurrences that do not conform to the way in which reality is normally experienced.
Terms Relating to Religion
Charts 2, 3, 4
Experiential Personal spiritual experiences
Ritual Sacred activities expressed in worship, sacrifice, and other formalized practices
Myth Stories that encapsulate fundamental beliefs of a group
Social Institutional forms of religion
Ethics Moral codes and guides to behavior
Doctrine Systematization of beliefs
Six Dimensions of Religion
Position Viewpoint Advocates1
There are elements of truth in other religions, but only one religion is comprehensively and fundamentally true.
One religion alone provides the way of salvation.
Old Testament Judaism
God might reveal himself and acts graciously in various ways and in diverse places. At the same time, it is affirmed that religious claims are either objectively true or objectively false.
Post-Vatican II Roman
There are many valid religions and life-transforming religious experiences. Different religions embody varying responses to the same divine reality. Most religions can successfully facilitate salvation, liberation, or self-fulfillment.
Do All Religions Lead to God?
1 The list of advocates is only representative, not complete.
2 Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (1888--1975) was a professor at Oxford University who later became the second president of India.
3 Dr. John Hick (1922-- ) is a philosopher of religion and theology, who taught at Claremont Graduate
University in California and at the University of Birmingham in England.