Religion

From BiblePortal Wikipedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

Due to the wide range of its usage, the English word "religion" (from Lat. religio ) is not easily defined. Most commonly, however, it refers to ways in which humans relate to the divine (a presence [or plurality of such] or force [sometimes construed as plural] behind, beyond, or pervading sensible reality that conditions but is not conditioned by that reality). All such "ways" include a system of beliefs about the divine and how it is related to the world. Most also involve an attitude of awe toward the divine, and a pattern of actions (rituals and an ethical code). By extension, "religion" is often used to refer to systems of belief and related practices that play an analogous role in people's lives (e.g., Buddhism, Confucianism, and even humanism). The word is, thus, an abstract term adaptable to a great variety of referents.

Neither the Hebrew nor the Aramaic languages of the Old Testament have a word with a corresponding semantic field. For that reason, one does not find "religion" or "religious" in most English versions of these Scriptures. English translators of the New Testament do use these words at times to render various forms of three Greek terms: deisidaimonia [Δεισιδαιμονία], threskeia [Θρησκεία], and eusebeia [Εὐσέβεια]. Yet all three words also fail to fully capture the import of the more abstract English "religion."

Both Old and New Testaments speak pervasively about matters "religious." Every word in these writings is in one way or another focused on the Creator-creature relationship. Every line revolves around that thematic center of gravity: how the Creator relates to his creation, especially humanity, and how humanity does and/or ought to relate to the Creator. In fact, every line of Scripture seeks to evoke from the reader right ways of relating to the Creator. In that sense, "religion" is pervasively the theme of Scripture.

To be sure, the Bible speaks of all creatures, resounding to God: they do his bidding (angels,  Psalm 103:20;  Hebrews 1:14; storm winds,  Psalm 104:4;  148:8 ) and they rejoice before him with songs of joy and praise ( Job 38:7;  Psalm 89:12;  96:11-13;  98:7-9;  Isaiah 44:23;  49:13;  55:12; see especially  Psalm 103:22;  145:10;  148 ). But the concern of the biblical texts is to promote among humankind right beliefs about God, right attitudes toward God, and right conduct before the face of God. Biblically, religion has to do with human responses to the Creator.

That religion has a place in human life springs from two fundamental realities: (1) humans have been created in the image of God ( Genesis 1:26-27;  9:6;  Psalm 8:5;  1 Corinthians 11:7;  Colossians 3:10;  James 3:9 ), and so are both addressable by God and capable of responses appropriate to persons (beliefs, attitudes, and conduct that is consciously chosen); and (2) the Creator has disclosed himself to humankind and continues to address them. The whole visible world proclaims that its Creator has been and still is at work. It reflects his power, wisdom, righteousness, glory, and goodness ( Psalm 19:1-4;  29:3-9;  97:6;  Isaiah 40:12-14,21-22,26 ,  28;  Acts 14:17;  17:24-29;  Romans 1:19-20 ). What  Psalm 104 makes its central theme is elsewhere many times assumed or hinted: that the secure order of creation, sustaining as it does a profusion of life, is the visible glory-robe of the invisible Creator (see esp. vv. 1-2). So the creation itself is theophanous—and not just here and there in special "holy" places. The visible creation is itself the primal temple of God not built by human hands, where his "power and glory" are ever on display (  Psalm 29:3-9;  63:2 ).

Nor are the effects of the Creator's actions in and on the creation discernible only in what is commonly referred to as "nature." God is equally engaged in the arena of human affairs. So, for example, he knows both the external Acts of all human beings and the secrets of every human heart. And he deals with persons accordingly. He even intersects the flow of human affairs at their fountainhead, as the teachers of Yahwistic wisdom summed it up for ancient Israel: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" ( Proverbs 16:9 ); "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases" ( Proverbs 21:1 ); "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" ( Proverbs 19:21; cf.  Isaiah 10:6-7 ).

The arenas of such divine intersection extend from individual lives to the rise and fall of empires. God appoints nations their place and establishes their boundaries ( Deuteronomy 32:8;  Amos 9:7 ). He makes them great, and destroys them ( Job 12:23 ). He summons international armies to be "the weapons of his wrath" against an arrogant empire ( Isaiah 13:4-5;  Jeremiah 50-51 Ezek 50-5 30:25 ). To serve his historical purposes, God calls Assyria "the rod of my anger , the club of my wrath" ( Isaiah 10:5 ), Nebuchadnezzar "my servant" ( Jeremiah 25:9 ), and Cyrus "my shepherd" to "accomplish all that I plan" ( Isaiah 44:28 ).

Ancient peoples believed that the gods intersected human affairs, determining the outcome of battles and the fortunes of kingdoms. Hence, in the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires the peoples of ancient Israel's world assumed that they experienced the workings of the gods. In that environment, Yahweh's sovereign control over the fortunes of nations, kings, and peoples (especially their downfall) humbled human arrogance ( Genesis 11:1-9;  Psalm 9:20;  Isaiah 31:3;  Ezekiel 28:2 ), exposed the powerlessness of the gods that humans made to fill the void left by their "forgetting" the Creator ( Psalm 96:5;  115:4-7;  135:15-18;  Isaiah 44:9-20;  46:1-7 ), and testified to the sole rule of Yahweh ( Exodus 9:16;  14:17-18;  Psalm 106:8;  Ezekiel 25:11,17;  26:6;  28:22-24;  29:6,9 ,  21;  30:8,19 ,  25-26;  32:15;  35:15 ). Paul pointed to this divine disclosure in history when he said to the Greek intelligentsia, "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being" ( Acts 17:26-28 ).

So, according to the Bible, humankind is addressed by God through every component, process, and event in so-called nature and through every event, big and small, that makes up human history. Human beings live and move and have their being within the arena of God's creation. And through God's pervasive engagement with his creation as he sustains and governs it, they are always and everywhere confronted with the display of his power and glory. Wherever humans turn and by whatever means they experience the creation, the Creator calls to them for recognition and response. From this perspective, all human life is inherently "religious."

In two other ways "religion" (humankind's ways of relating to the divine) encompasses the whole of human life. First, humans are created in God's image to be his stewards of the creationas vocation, not avocation ( Genesis 1:26-27;  2:15;  Psalm 8:6-8 ). In whatever ways they act on the creation they do so as faithful or unfaithful stewards of God's handiwork. Second, humans live and prosper in all they undertake only by God's gifts and blessings (  Genesis 1:28-29;  9:1-3;  Deuteronomy 7:13;  Psalm 34:8-10;  127;  Hosea 2:8-9 ). Thus in everything humans have to do with God.

But a breach has brought alienation between the Creator and humankind. Humanity has claimed autonomy as the implication of human freedom to make moral choices ( Genesis 3:5-6 ) and self-sufficiency as the implication of humankind's power to "rule" and "subdue" God's earthly creatures ( Genesis 4:19-24;  11:3-4 ). As Job said of the "wicked": "They say to God, Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?'" (21:14-15). They lean on their own understanding ( Proverbs 3:5 ), being wise in their own eyes ( Proverbs 3:7;  26:5,12;  Isaiah 5:21 ). In a very real sense, as Habakkuk (1:11) wrote of the Babylonians, they have become people whose own strength is their god.

Still, this alienation from the Creator has left a void at the centerand there are obviously powers in the world not subject to human control that impinge on human existence and radically relativize humanity's self-sufficiency. So people have conceived of many gods, composed mythologies expressing what is believed about them, and devised ways to worship and appeal to them. Religion has broken up into many religions. Yet these have all been responses to the inescapable manifestations of the Creator's glory in the creation and the pervasive experience of humanity's existence being conditioned by a power or powers other than its own ( Romans 1:21-23 ).

This radical breach and its massive consequences have occasioned a second work of God, a work that rivals the first in its disclosure of the Creator's glory. Not willing to let the alienation stand or to yield his glory to other gods ( Isaiah 42:8;  48:11 ), the Creator has undertaken to effect reconciliation. It is with this mission of God to his world that the Bible is centrally concerned. It bears witness to God's "mighty Acts" of redemption in the history of Israel, and to the culmination of those Acts in the earthly ministry and heavenly reign of Jesus Christ. By this invasion of the alienated world with its many gods ( 2 Kings 17:29-33;  Jeremiah 2:28;  1 Corinthians 8:5 ), the Creator calls all peoples of the world to turn from the sham gods they have made and return to him. Only as people rightly relate to him, "the true God" ( Jeremiah 10:10; cf.  1 John 5:20 ), can their religion be "true."

What, then, constitutes the religion that God accepts as pure and faultless?

First, it believes the testimony of the spirit of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments that arose in conjunction with God's saving Acts in Israel's history and culminated in Jesus Christ.

Second, it is filled with reverent awe before the majesty of the One who discloses himself in creation, history, and redemption. It bows in humble repentance before the Holy One for the alienation that turned to other gods and corrupted the "heart" from which springs every belief, attitude, and action. It receives in faith the grace of God offered in Jesus Christ. And in gratitude it dedicates the whole of self to the service of the Creator-Redeemer.

Third, certain activities or life expressions fall within its sphere: worship, prayer, and praise, both private and communal, and proclamationtelling the story of what the one true God has done ( Isaiah 43:10,12;  44:8;  Matthew 28:18-20;  Acts 1:8 ). But to Israel God gave directives for more than cultic worship. All of Israel's life was to be brought into accordance with the will of the Creator, whose concern about his whole creation remained undiminished. And because no listing of do's and don'ts could be adequate in themselves, an all-encompassing commandment had to be appended: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength [power and resources] [and] love your neighbor as yourself" (  Mark 12:29-31; and parallels cf.  Leviticus 19:18,34;  Deuteronomy 6:4-5;  John 13:34;  Romans 13:9;  Galatians 5:14;  James 2:8 ).

In biblical perspective, no human activity is any less "religious" (how humans relate to God) than worship, prayer, and praise. For that reason the apostle Paul instructed the church at Corinth, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" ( 1 Corinthians 10:31 ). And for that reason James wrote, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (1:27).

John H. Stek

See also God; Providence Of God; Worship

Bibliography . R. A. Clouse, The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories  ; R. Otto, The Idea of the Holy  ; J. Wach, The Comparative Study of Religion .

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

The uses of the word ‘religion’ in the apostolic writings may be classified under three heads.

1. In  Galatians 1:13 f. Ἰουδαϊσμός is twice translated ‘the Jews’ religion.’ St. Paul reminds the Galatians that they had heard of his manner of life aforetime when he followed Judaism, and that they knew his proficiency in Judaism. In this context the literal rendering ‘Judaism’ is to be preferred, for the factious rather than the religious aspect of Judaism is prominent. The English Version‘Jews’ religion ‘is an unfortunate’ translation, because ‘it implies a definite separation between the two religions which did not then exist, … and it puts this view into the mouth of Paul, who steadfastly persisted in identifying the faith of Christ with the national religion.… Here Ἰουδαϊσμός denotes Jewish partisanship, and accurately describes the bitter party spirit which prompted Saul to take the lead in the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the Church, … He advanced beyond his fellows in sectarian prejudice and persecuting zeal’ (F. Rendall, in Expositor’s Greek Testament, ‘Galatians,’ London, 1903, p. 153 f.).

2. The Greek adjective δεισιδαίμων is rendered in  Acts 17:22 ‘superstitious’ (Revised Version) and ‘religious’ (Revised Version margin). The derivative noun δεισιδαιμονία is rendered in  Acts 25:19 ‘religion’ (Revised Version) and ‘superstition’ (Revised Version margin). The dominant meaning of the words in classical Greek is ‘due reverence of the gods,’ but in the 1st cent. a.d. they had a depreciatory sense and signified ‘excessive fear of the gods’ (cf. E. Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, Oxford, 1889, p. 45). It does not, however, follow that ‘religion’ is an impossible rendering in the address of Festus to the Jewish king, Agrippa, who paid outward deference to the Jewish religion. But although Felix is not likely to ‘have used the term offensively … he may well have chosen the word because it was a neutral word (verbum μέσον, Bengel) and did not commit him to anything definite’ (R. J. Knowling, in Expositor’s Greek Testament, ‘Acts,’ London, 1901, p. 497). ‘Superstitious’ is more probably, though not certainly, the correct translation in  Acts 17:22. St. Paul was addressing Athenians, and they ‘would instinctively recall the literary associations of the word.… In point of fruit, the words ὡς δεισιδαιμονεστέρους give, in a form as little offensive as possible, St. Paul’s view of Athenian idolatry already noticed by the historian (v. 18), The ὡς brings out the fact that the word δεισιδαιμονεστέρους expresses the speaker’s own impression’ (F. H. Chase, The Credibility of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, London, 1902, p. 213).

3. In  Acts 26:5 and  James 1:26 f. ‘religion’ is the rendering of θρησκεία which in  Colossians 2:18 is translated ‘worshipping.’ The contemporary meaning of the word is religion in its external aspect-‘cultus religiosus, potissimum externus’ (Wilke-Grimm, Clavis Novi Test., 1868). It is appropriately used by St. Paul in his address to Agrippa ( Acts 26:5). Calling to remembrance his life as a Pharisee, the Apostle claims to have been ‘a zealous and diligent performer … of the outward service of God’ (R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the NT11, London, 1890, p. 175). In  James 1:6 f., when the word is rightly understood, there is no support for those who disparage inward and spiritual religion, nor for those who so exalt its outward aspects as practically to identify it with morality and works of benevolence. What St. James asserts of such works is that they are ‘the body, the θρησκεία, of which godliness, or the love of God, is the informing soul.… The apostle claims for the new dispensation a superiority over the old, in that its very θρησκεία consists in acts of mercy, of love, of holiness, in that it has light for its garment, its very robe being righteousness; herein how much nobler than that old, whose θρησκεία was at best merely ceremonial and formal, whatever inner truth it might embody’ (R. C. Trench, op. cit. p. 176, who says, ‘these observations are made by Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, 1825, p. 15’).

J. G. Tasker.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [3]

Is a Latin word, derived, according to Cicero, from rilegere, "to re-consider;" but according to Servius and most modern grammarians, from religare, "to bind fast." If the Ciceronian etymology be the true one, the word religion will denote the diligent study whatever pertains to the worship of God; but, according to the other derivation, it denotes that obligation which we feel on our minds from the relation in which we stand to some superior power. The word is sometimes used as synonymous with sect; but, in a practical sense, it is generally considered as the same with godliness, or a life devoted to the worship and fear of God. Dr. Doddridge thus defines it: "Religion consists in the resolution of the will for God, and in a constant care to avoid whatever we are persuaded he would disapprove, to despatch the work he has assigned us in life, and to promote his glory in the happiness of mankind."

See Godliness The foundation of all religion rests on the belief of the existence of God. As we have, however, already considered the evidences of the divine existence, they need not be enumerated again in this place; the reader will find them under the article Existence Of God Religion has been divided into natural and revealed. By natural religion is meant that knowledge, veneration, and love of God, and the practice of those duties to him, our fellow-creatures, and ourselves, which are discoverable by the right exercise of our rational faculties, from considering the nature and perfections of God, and our relation to him and to one another.

By revealed religion is understood that discovery which he has made to us of his mind and will in the Holy Scriptures. As it respects natural religion, some doubt whether, properly speaking, there can be any such thing; since, through the fall, reason is so depraved, that man without revelation is under the greatest darkness and misery, as may be easily seen by considering the history of those nations who are destitute of it, and who are given up to barbarism, ignorance, cruelty, and evils of every kind. So far as this, however, may be observed, that the light of nature can give us no proper ideas of God, nor inform us what worship will be acceptable to him. It does not tell us how man became a fallen sinful creature, as he is, nor how he can be recovered. It affords us no intelligence as to the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and a future state of happiness and misery. The apostle, indeed, observes, that the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts, and are a law unto themselves; yet the greatest moralists among them were so blinded as to be guilty of, and actually to countenance the greatest vices. Such a system, therefore, it is supposed, can hardly be said to be religious which leaves man in such uncertainty, ignorance, and impiety. (

See Revelation

On the other side it is observed, "that, though it is in the highest degree probable that the parents of mankind received all their theological knowledge by supernatural means, it is yet obvious that some parts of that knowledge must have been capable of a proof purely rational, otherwise not a single religious truth could have been conveyed through the succeeding generations of the human race but by the immediate inspiration of each individual. We, indeed, admit may propositions as certainly true, upon the sole authority of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and we receive these Scriptures with gratitude as the lively oracles of God; but it is self-evident that we could not do either the one or the other, were we not convinced by natural means that God exists; that he is a being of goodness, justice, and power; and that he inspired with divine wisdom the penmen of these sacred volumes.

Now, though it is very possible that no man, or body of men, left to themselves from infancy in a desert world, would ever have made a theological discovery, yet, whatever propositions relating to the being and attributes of the First Cause and duty of man, can be demonstrated by human reason, independent of written revelation, may be called natural theology, and are of the utmost importance, as being to us the first principles of all religion. Natural theology, in this sense of the word, is the foundation of the Christian revelation; for, without a previous knowledge of it, we could have no evidence that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are indeed the word of God." The religions which exist in the world have been generally divided into four, the Pagan, the Jewish, the Mahometan, and the Christian; to which articles the reader is referred. The various duties of the Christian religion also are stated in their different places.

See also, as connected with this article, the articles Inspiration, Revelation and Theology and books there recommended.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Θρησκεία (Strong'S #2356 — Noun Feminine — threseia — thrace-ki'-ah )

signifies "religion" in its external aspect (akin to threskos, see below), "religious worship," especially the ceremonial service of "religion;" it is used of the "religion" of the Jews,  Acts 26:5; of the "worshiping" of angels,  Colossians 2:18 , which they themselves repudiate ( Revelation 22:8,9 ); "there was an officious parade of humility in selecting these lower beings as intercessors rather than appealing directly to the Throne of Grace" (Lightfoot); in  James 1:26,27 the writer purposely uses the word to set in contrast that which is unreal and deceptive, and the "pure religion" which consists in visiting "the fatherless and widows in their affliction," and in keeping oneself "unspotted from the world." He is "not herein affirming. ... these offices to be the sum total, nor yet the great essentials, of true religion, but declares them to be the body, the threskeia, of which godliness, or the love of God, is the informing soul" (Trench).

2: Δεισιδαιμονία (Strong'S #1175 — Noun Feminine — deisidaimonia — dice-ee-dahee-mon-ee'-ah )

primarily denotes "fear of the gods" (from deido, "to fear," daimon, "a pagan deity," Eng., "demon"), regarded whether as a religious attitude, or, in its usual meaning, with a condemnatory or contemptuous significance, "superstition." That is how Festus regarded the Jews' "religion,"  Acts 25:19 , AV and RV marg., "superstition" (RV, "religion"). See Religious , Note (1), and under Superstitious

 Galatians 1:13,14Jews

King James Dictionary [5]

RELIGION, n. relij'on. L. religio, from religo, to bind anew re and ligo, to bind. This word seems originally to have signified an oath or vow to the gods, or the obligation of such an oath or vow, which was held very sacred by the Romans.

1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion. 2. Religion, as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law.  James 1 . 3. Religion, as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law.

Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.

4. Any system of faith and worship. In this sense, religion comprehends the belief and worship of pagans and Mohammedans, as well as of christians any religion consisting in the belief of a superior power or powers governing the world, and in the worship of such power or powers. Thus we speak of the religion of the Turks, of the Hindoos, of the Indians, &c. as well as of the christian religion. We speak of false religion, as well as of true religion. 5. The rites of religion in the plural.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [6]

RELIGIOUS.  James 1:26-27, Threeskos , Threeskeia ; distinct from Eulabees ("Reverent"; From The Old Testament Standpoint; "Cautious Fear Toward God") , "devout" ( Luke 2:25); Theosebees , "godly"; Eusebees , "pious." "If any man seem a diligent observer of the offices of religion ( Threeskos ) ... pure and undefiled religion (Not The Sum Total Or Inner Essentials Of Religion, But Its Outer Manifestations) is to visit the fatherless," etc. The Old Testament cult or "religious service" ( Threeskeia ) was ceremony and ritual; the New Testament religious service consists in acts of mercy, love, and holiness. "Religion" refers to the external service, "godliness" being the soul. James as president of the Jerusalem council ( Acts 15:13-21) had decided against ritualism; so he teaches, instead of Judaic ceremonialism, true religious service is (1) active, (2) passive ( Micah 6:7-8;  Matthew 23:23); compare  Acts 26:5, "our religion";  Colossians 2:18, "worshipping," Threeskeia .

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 Acts 17:22 Acts 25:19 Acts 17:22 Acts 25:19 2 Acts 26:5  James 1:26-27  Acts 26:5  James 1:26-27 sebomai   Acts 13:43  1 Timothy 2:10  John 9:31 1 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:5 1 Timothy 5:4  Colossians 2:23 thelo Ioudaismo   Galatians 1:13-14 6 Amos 5:21 Amos 8:10 Colossians 2:16 Hebrews 10:11

Chris Church

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( n.) The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety; as, ethical religions; monotheistic religions; natural religion; revealed religion; the religion of the Jews; the religion of idol worshipers.

(2): ( n.) Strictness of fidelity in conforming to any practice, as if it were an enjoined rule of conduct.

(3): ( n.) Specifically, conformity in faith and life to the precepts inculcated in the Bible, respecting the conduct of life and duty toward God and man; the Christian faith and practice.

(4): ( n.) A monastic or religious order subject to a regulated mode of life; the religious state; as, to enter religion.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [9]

RELIGION . The word ‘religion,’ wherever it occurs in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , signifies not the inner spirit of the religious life, but its outward expression. It is thus used of one form of religion as distinguished from another; as in 2Ma 14:36 , where the same word is translated in the middle of the verse ‘Judaism,’ and in the end of it ‘the religion of the Jews.’ It is also used by St. James (  James 1:26-27 ) to contrast moral acts with ritual forms.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [10]

See Christianity .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

(Lat. relego, religo). This word, according to Cicero (Div. Instit. 4), is derived from, or rather compounded of, re and legere, to read over again, to reflect upon or to study the sacred books in which religion is delivered. According to Lactantius (De Civit. Dei, lib. 10:c. 3), it comes from re- ligare, to bind back, because religion is that which furnishes the true ground of obligation.

Religion has been divided into natural and revealed. By natural religion is meant that knowledge, veneration, and love of God, and the practice of those duties to him, our fellow-creatures, and ourselves, which are discoverable by the right exercise of our rational faculties, from considering the nature and perfections of God, and our relation to him and to one another. By revealed religion is understood that discovery which he has made to us of his mind and will in the Holy Scriptures. As respects natural religion, some doubt whether, properly speaking, there can be any such thing; since, through the fall. reason is so depraved that man, without revelation, is under the greatest darkness and misery, as may be easily seen by considering the history of those nations who are destitute of it, and who are given up to barbarism, ignorance, cruelty, and evils of every kind. So far as this, however, may be observed, the light of nature can give us no proper ideas of God, nor inform us what worship will be acceptable to him. It does not tell us how man became a fallen, sinful creature, as he is, nor how he can be recovered. It affords us no intelligence as to the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and a future state of happiness and misery. The apostle, indeed, observes that the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts, and are a law unto themselves; yet the greatest moralists among them were so blinded as to be guilty of, and actually to countenance, the greatest vices. Such a system, therefore, it is supposed, can hardly be said to be religious which leaves man in such uncertainty, ignorance, and impiety. (See Natural Theology).

Revealed religion forms the correlate of natural religion, or the religion of reason. It is not the result of human investigation, but being the result of an extraordinary communication from God, is therefore infallible; whereas, on the contrary, all processes of human thought are more or less subjected to error. Hence we can explain why it is that religion gives itself out to be, not a product of the reason merely, not anything which originated from human inquiry and study, but a result of a divine revelation. The religious feeling is undoubtedly a propension of human nature; yet without a divine revelation the mind would sink in dark and perpetual disorder. Of the whole family of man, existing in all ages, and scattered over every quarter of the globe, there is not one well-authenticated exception to the fact that, moved by an inward impulse, and guided by revelation or tradition, man worships something which he believes to be endowed with the attributes of a superior being. Even the occasional gleamings of truth found in the various idolatrous systems are but the traditions of ancient revelations, more or less corrupted, which have descended from the first worshippers. Revealed religion comprehends, besides the doctrines of natural religion, many truths which were beyond the reach of human reason, though not contradictory thereto, and for a knowledge of which we are indebted directly to the Old and New Testaments. While other religions had been variously accommodated to the peculiar countries in which they flourished, Christianity was so framed as to be adapted to the whole human family. It is the one thing needful for the elevation of our race, and is destined alike to universality and perpetuity.

In all forms of religion there is one part, which may be called the doctrine or dogma, which is to be received by faith; and the cultus, or worship, which is the outward expression of the religious sentiment. By religion is also meant that homage to the Deity in all the forms which pertain to the spiritual life, in contrast with theology, the theory of the divine nature and government. (See Theology).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

rḗ - lij´un  : "Religion" and "religious" in Elizabethan English were used frequently to denote the outward expression of worship. This is the force of φρησκεία , thrēskeia , translated "religion" in   Acts 26:5;  James 1:26 ,  James 1:27 (with adjective thrḗskos , "religious"), while the same noun in  Colossians 2:18 is rendered "worshipping" ("cult" would give the exact meaning). And in the same external sense "religion" is used by the King James Version for λατρεία , latreı́a , "worship" (so the Revised Version (British and American)), in 1 Macc 1:43; 2:19, 22. Otherwise "Jews' religion" (or "religion of the Jews") appears in 2 Macc 8:1; 14:38 (the Revised Version (British and American) bis);  Galatians 1:13 ,  Galatians 1:14 ( Ἰουδαΐσμός , Ioudaismós , "Judaism"); and "an alien religion" in 2 Macc 6:24 (ἀλλοφυλισμός , allophulismós , "that belonging to another tribe"). The neglect of the external force of "religion" has led to much reckless misquoting of  James 1:26 ,  James 1:27 . Compare  Acts 17:22 . See Superstition .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [13]

A sense, affecting the whole character and life, of dependence on, reverence for, and responsibility to a Higher Power; or a mode of thinking, feeling, and acting which respects, trusts in, and strives after God, and determines a man's duty and destiny in this universe, or "the manner in which a man feels himself to be spiritually related to the unseen world."

References