What is Religion?

The questions below come from chapter 1 of Louis Berkhof’s Summary of Christian Doctrine.

1. Is religion limited to certain tribes and nations?

No.  All men were created in the image of God, and even though all men are fallen, all show some form of the corrupted seed of religion still operating in them.  It is the character of sinful man that he constantly rebels against the knowledge of God naturally implanted within him.

2. How can we learn to know the real nature of true religion?

Even though all men are suppressing a natural knowledge of God, and even though nature itself testifies to his being, it is only by the study of God’s special revelation to man – His Word – that we can have a knowledge of “true” religion.

3. What terms are used in the Old and New Testament to describe religion?

Old Testament – the fear of the LORD

New Testament – faithfulness to Jesus Christ

4. How would you define religion?

Religion is the love and fear of God (piety) and a love for fellow man (charity).

5. What mistaken notions are there as to the seat of religion in man?

Intellectual – religion is agreeing to a set of propositions

emotional – religion involves a certain tenderness or emotion regarding our relation to God

will – religion involves moral forbearance and good works

6. What is the center of the religions life according to Scripture?

The Scriptures teach that the heart is the true seat of religion in man.  Out of it flows his thoughts, feelings, desires, emotions, and morals.

7. What different explanations have been given of the origin of religion?

Various theories have been put forth, but none of the theories imagined by psychologists or historians can explain man’s natural desire to connect to his creator and to search for meaning in the universe.

8. What is the only satisfactory explanation?

God created man (in his first estate) with an ability and desire to know Him and to have fellowship with him, but man has fallen and severed this relationship through rebellion and sin.  Man constantly suppresses this knowledge and will never embrace true religion unless powered by God to understand His special revelation of Himself given in His Word.



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