The Study of Religion

Cover of book The Study of Religion
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LASSIFICATION OF RELIGIONS. THE question as to the proper classification of religions is manifestly one of great importance. Before the rise of the historical study of religion the problem was solved in a very simple fashion. A particular religion was set down as true and the balance were designated as false, though within the pale of the false religions, certain distinctions were drawn. Thus, Christian theology, which after the decline of the Mohammedan power swayed men's minds completely, started from the assumption that a special revelation was vouchsafed to ancient Israel, and that the covenant made between God and his chosen people, and recorded in the Old Testament, 'was abrogated by the advent of the Messiah?Jesus. The New Testament was viewed as the sole depository of religious truth. This theory was defended and elaborated with great learning and acumen. Viewed merely as intellectual achievements, the writings of the Christian scholastics merit profound respect; nor must it be supposed that facts were wanting which appeared to justify, beyond reasonable doubt, the system of religious philosophy that was reared upon the theory in question. The necessity, for example, of a Divine Revelation to man rested upon comparatively solid foundations. Even to this day, the problem of how a being with definite limitations in all directions could conceive the idea of the Infinite, is one for which it is difficult to find a satisfactory solution. As a working hypothesis, the supposition that the Deity had of His own will communicated to man a certain knowledge of Infinite Power, answered many of the questions that otherwise appeared hopeless conundrums. Scholastic theology, moreover, had certain broad aspects which in a superficial estimate of it are frequently ov... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

The Study of Religion
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