Q&A: Religion and the Divine

Religion and the Divine

Question

What is the relationship between religion(s) and the Divine? In what way do religions strengthen living and knowing the Divine, and in what ways does religion enervate the relation to the Divine?

Answer

Hmm, I'm not really sure how to tackle this question. Unless I am misreading it, the question is not specifically about Christianity, but rather about religion in general. Since my own position is that Christianity is the only legitimate religion, I cannot offer an answer that will apply both to it and to other religions. Also, the definition of "religion" is somewhat vague. Does it refer to bodies of doctrine? To schools of thought? To practices? To some combination of these? The best shot I can offer without further information is as follows:

The Christian religion relates to the Christian God in a number of ways, including but not limited to:
  • God's special revelation is the authoritative standard of truth accepted within Christianity.
  • God is the author, creator and sustainer of Christianity.
  • Christianity teaches and practices the worship of God.
  • Christianity teaches and practices the love of God.
  • Christianity includes a personal relationship with God.
  • God rescues from damnation faithful individuals within Christianity.
Perhaps the relationship between Christianity and God might be summarized as follows: God created Christianity as a means for communicating with, relating to and redeeming men.

Christianity strengthens living by providing a relationship with God, who within that relationship spiritually enlivens, strengthens and sustains those who depend on him, as well as provides for their emotional, psychological, and even physical needs. Christianity strengthens knowing God by giving Christians increased knowledge about him (via Scripture), and a living, growing, direct relationship with him.

Christianity itself (i.e. in its pure form) never enervates relation to God, though corruptions and perversions of it can. Such corruptions and perversions are always present in real life since Christians are imperfect people. Only error, corruption, perversion, etc. can weaken the relation to God, and only when God does not choose to overcome the obstacles humans create through their imperfection. God is always capable of, and often does, use even human shortcomings as an opportunity to strengthen his relation to his people within Christianity.

Non-Christian gods do not exist, at least not as gods (what other religions call gods may be supernatural beings, but not divine beings). In religions which worship entities not recognized as cognizant by Christianity, the religions neither strengthen nor enervate the relation between the worshipers and their "divine," except insofar as the worshipers themselves alter these relations through their own actions (e.g. a worshiper who makes an offering to "nature" changes the relationship between himself and nature insofar as his own mindset toward nature changes). In religions which worship entities recognized as cognizant by Christianity, the religion strengthens and/or enervates the relationship between the worshipers and their "divine" in ways similar to those in which actions and relationships between two human beings affect the relationship between those human beings. For example, in the ancient Roman emperor cult, worshipers might gain the emperor's favor by worshiping him. In this way, the religion affected the relationship between the parties, even though the "divine" was not really divine.

In all non-Christian religions, religion never strengthens the relation between the Christian God (the real God) and the worshipers. Rather, it can only enervate this relation, increasing God's anger toward and condemnation of these worshipers.


Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.