Moratorium on “Religion” Talk

“Religion in the abstract does not actually exist, and almost no one (apart from politicians) would profess any allegiance to it. Rather, there are a very great number of systems of belief and practice that, for the sake of convenience, we call ‘religions,’ though they could scarcely differ more from one another, and very few of them depend upon some fanciful notion that religion itself is a miraculous exception to the rule of nature. Christians, for instance, are not, properly speaking, believers in religion; rather they believe that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified under Pontius Pilate, rose from the dead and is now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, present to his church as its Lord. This is a claim that is at once historical and spiritual. As for ‘religion’ as such, however, Christian thought has generally acknowledged that it is an impulse common to all societies, and that many of its manifestations are violent, superstitious, amoral, degrading, and false. The most one can say from a Christian perspective concerning human religion is that it gives ambiguous expression to what Christian tradition calls the ‘natural desire for God,’ and as such represents a kind of natural openness to spiritual truth, revelation, or grace, as well as an occasion for any number of delusions, cruelties, and tyrannies.” -David Bentley Hart

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