« Ch. XIV. Q. 86. The Image and Likeness | Main | Ch. XIV. Q. 88. Man's Primitive State »

August 12, 2005

Ch. XIV. Q. 87. Religion

A RELIGION, speaking in the concrete, is a working system whereby the relations and obligations by which men are bound to God are placed on a proper footing, cherished, expressed and fulfilled.1

2. The end for which man was created is to enjoy divine communion and fellowship.2 He is therefore made incapable of self-realization apart from God, and is by nature religious. The employment of God by creatures depends upon a crtain spiritual congeniality between them and God—i. e., upon their development after His likeness. The supernatural privilege's of true religion condition, and minister to, this development; and religious obligations are determinative data of a sound and adequate moral science.3

3. But, although righteousness is essential in the practice of true religion, as also are certain exercises of feeling and intelligence, neither orthodoxy, feeling of dependence nor morality constitute the definitive element of religion. This is found in the relations between God and man with which religion has to do.4

4. The characteristic and abiding function of religion is worship; and this is primarily fulfilled by sacrifice, or by the offering up to God of some gift, whereby self-oblation and accompanying devotions of adoration, praise, thanksgiving and prayer are signified and made effectual in a manner divinely approved.5

5. A true religion is one which brings men into authentic relations with God, and exhibits these relations in a manner which conforms to His revealed will. Other religions no doubt preserve important truths, forr they couid not otherwise maintain themselves and they are unquestionably overruled by God as means whereby to prepare men for true religion. But the religion of Jesus Christ alone properly fulfils the requirements of true religion.6

6. The science of comparative religion analyzes and compares all religions. Its study is both legitimate and valuable for Christian students.7 But the assumption often made that Christianity is merely one among other religions, having no higher claim to human allegiance than its comparative superiority as an embodiment of human progress, is not one which the truth of Christian doctrine permits us to accept.

1 On what religion is, Creation, ch. vii. 1; H.P. Liddon, Some Elements, Lec. i; Max Müller, Origin of Religion, pp. 10 et seq.

2 Creation, ch. vi. 9.

3 Idem, ch. vii. 6.

4 H.P. Liddon, as cited.

5 St. Thomas, II. II. lxxxiii-lxxxvii; Thos. B. Strong, Manual of Theol., pp.18-20; Cath. Encyc., s. v. "Sacrifice"; J.A. Macculloch, Compar. Theol., ch. viii; F.B. Jevons, Introd. to the Study of Compar. Religion, pp. 175-210.

6 Creation ch. vii. 4; J.H. Newman, Arians, ch. i. § iii.5; F.B. Jevons, pp. 239-265.

7 On comparative religion, L.H. Jordan, Compar. Religion; Chas. Hardwick, Christ and Other Masters; A. Lang, The Making of Religion; J.A. Macculloch, op. cit.; F.B. Jevons, op. cit.; Cath. Encyc., s. v. "Religion"; Non Christian Religious Systems (Series, pub. by S.P.C.K.); and many contemporary studies.

Posted by AKMA at August 12, 2005 09:02 AM