Definition of Religion

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What is the definition of religion?

The definition of religion is not easy to find. There are many interpretations of what defines a religion but not one that can be said to be the most accurate.

Some of them are:
  • A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.
  • An institution to express belief in a divine power.
  • A belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the practices and institutions associated with such belief.
  • The sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe.
In dictionaries, religion is defined as “any specific system of belief, worship, or conduct that prescribes certain responses to the existence (or non-existence) and character of God.” Also, “a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices pertaining to supernatural power.”

The problem lies when the definition includes a deity or superhuman power. For example, atheism is called a religion but the belief denies any power other than man.

Other “religious definitions” are so broad as to include cosmology and ecology which most people regard as scientific studies and non-religious in nature.

The terms “spiritual” and “sacred” add to the complexity of defining religion. Unless there are supreme beings or deities, most beliefs would not fall into this religious category.

Native Americans believe their spiritual beliefs are a necessary part of their existence and cannot be separated from their life experience.

The beliefs of atheists and agnostics are that there is or is not a God and ethics do not necessarily matter. So are they a religion?

New Age is sometimes called a religion, but in reality they embrace whatever appeals to them the most and add them to an existing religious order.

Christians do not define Christianity as a religion but as an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the only religion that you do not have to work to be saved, it is by the freely given grace of God.



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