Q&A: Who Created Religion?

Who Created Religion?

Question

Who created religion?

Answer

Whether people desire to admit it or not, everyone has religion of some sort. In Romans 1:18-32 Paul shows that we are aware of the existence of God and of our own fallen condition (Rom. 3:23). Although, without God's Spirit this knowledge is imperfect and incomplete and we may not desire to admit it, ultimately it is inescapable as man is created in the image of God (Gen 1:28) and was created to be in fellowship with God (1 Cor. 1:9). So, everyone has religion of some sort: (1) through false reason and living on sin we try to quash the true sense of God and drown out our own fallen condition, (2) we misunderstand the true God through false religions, or (3) we embrace the one and true living God (John 14:6; 17:3).

We are image bearers (Gen. 1:27-28). Ecclesiastes 3:11 states: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." God has placed eternity in the human heart - in your heart and mine! Mankind has a desire to live forever. However, the Fall corrupted our understanding of God and put up a wall of separation in regards to fellowship with Him (Eph. 2:11-22). But this sense of eternity lives on. These facts alone drive us to be religious, one way or another.

There is some truth to the old adage that we have a Jesus-size hole that only Jesus can fill. Mankind seeks out many inventions (Eccl. 7:29), but only God can fill our void! Only God can give us rest. God says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Matthew 11: 28-30).

Church history is full of men who recognized some of these facts. Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica:

Eternal life is the perfect fulfillment of desire, because each of the blessed will have more than he desired or hoped for. In this life, no one can fulfill his desires, nor can any creature satisfy a man's craving. God alone satisfies and infinitely surpasses man's desires, which therefore can never rest except in God.

Augustine, before his conversion to Christianity, was considered a playboy and sought many religions. These did not satisfy. Later he would write:

You have made us, O Lord, for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you (Confessions of St. Augustine

We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated. How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.

So, God created religion.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).