Expert Answer Forum
What is Religion? QUESTION from Jo Moskop April 5, 1999 What is religion? By that I mean what defines a religion, not just Christianity, but all religions?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on April 9, 1999 Hi:
Religion, the word, comes from the Latin religio, which probably comes from relegere, meaning to treat with care, plus religare, meaning to bind such as binding man and God.
Definitionally, religion is:
Religion is a virtue by which men give due worship and reverence to God (St. Thomas Aquinas)
The usual definition of religion is that it is a system of beliefs and practices having reference to man’s relation to God.
Classically, it is thought that Religion was to answer the following questions:
Who and what is God?
Why and how are we here?
Where do we go after death?
How are we guided and helped to attain and fulfill the answers to the first three questions?
An informal, but revealing definition of Religion is those sets of beliefs and practices and thoughts that lead man to search for, and reach up to God.
In this informal sense, Christianity is not a religion for in Christianity man is not reaching up to God (for which we know we can never find Him no matter what our efforts), but God reaching down to man.
Hope that helps a little.
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