What Is Religion? Essay

689 words - 3 pages

J. Köstlin, a German Protestant Theologian and a church historian, once said, “Religion means the conscious relation between man and God, and the expression of that relation in human conduct.” This was his definition of religion, and one of the more easily understandable definitions that exists. Our textbook shows us just how hard it can be to put a label one religion.
The compelling part of his definition is having a “conscious relation between man and God”. According to our text, this would fit Alston’s nine characteristics (17). However, in my opinion being aware of God and being aware that you have a relationship, in a way defines religion itself. But this doesn’t encapsulate everything that religion is.
For me, religion is the feeling of comfort that washed over anyone who has ever walked into his or her place of worship. It’s sights and sounds of being surrounded by people I’ve known your entire life. It’s congratulations or condolences on the day of any big event. It’s reassuring, loving, and always there when you seek it.
There are many symbols associated with religion. The one that I associate with my own experience is the feeling of comfort and familiarity. I’ve gone to the same church my whole life. I have known every individual to enter its doors. All these wonderful people have had a positive impact in my life. However, like Köstlin, this is only one definition of religion.
“The very fact that there are so many and so different from one another is enough to prove that the word ‘religion’ cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a collective name.” I agree with Köstlin’s definition mostly because I was raised as a Protestant and that’s the view I’ve held all my life. However, I also agree with this definition from William James. There are so many different religions that most of the time the only thing that they do have in common is their “collective name”.
No matter how much I agree...

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